Woman Wednesday: Jess

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Jess, Howard County, Maryland 

“If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake(s) again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.”

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m passionate about self-improvement in all areas of my life. I am constantly reflecting on how I can become the best possible version of myself, the person that I visualize when I think “this is who I want to be.”

As a third-grade teacher, I am always looking for better ways to engage and instruct my students, whether it’s something small like using a magnifying glass to be “Story Problem Detectives,” or something big, like transforming my classroom into a tropical rainforest, complete with a humidifier and real plants. Every lesson that I teach, I ask myself, “What went well?” and “What could I do differently to make this lesson better?” The book that I’m reading now, “The Wild Card: 7 Steps to an Educator’s Creative Breakthrough,” is a great source of inspiration, and it also provides concrete steps to help me improve my teaching.

I strive for self-improvement in other areas of my life as well. I want to be physically stronger, I want to be more organized, I want to be more financially secure, and I want to be more fearless in pursuit of things that excite me. I’m always working on some part of myself.

It can be hard not to beat myself up when I make mistakes that put me further away from reaching my goals. But it’s something that I’ve been working on a lot lately.

 

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Pictured: Jess in her classroom. She does whatever she can to make learning fun for her students. 

 

Q: What is something valuable you’ve learned that you’d like others to know?

A: Striving for perfection doesn’t work. It’s an absurd amount of pressure to place on yourself, and it’s setting yourself up for failure. You are a human being. You’re not perfect, and you never will be. Perfection is an unattainable goal, and it’s unreasonable to expect it of yourself.

You can, however, always strive for improvement. I personally have started changing my mindset to think “progress, not perfection,” and that has done wonders for my stress level.

I wrote a lot about this in a post about my New Year’s resolutions on my blog, which you can find here if you would like to read it: https://averageadventuress.blogspot.com/2019/01/new-year-new-words.html

 

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Pictured: Jess rock climbing. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: One of the stories I’ve heard the most about my childhood is the one that my dad likes to tell: When I was about three years old, my family was getting ready to leave the house (we may have been going out to dinner or to the park, that’s the part that no one really remembers). I was sent upstairs to get my shoes. After several minutes, my dad hollered up the stairs that if I didn’t come back down with my shoes soon, I would be left behind. No response from three-year-old me. He came up the stairs to investigate, and there I was, on the floor of my room, silent tears streaming down my face as I fiercely struggled to tie my own shoelaces.

I like to say that this story sums up two of my three main personality traits: stubbornly independent (to the point of pigheadedness at times) and a perfectionist, holding myself to high standards (sometimes impossibly high). This simultaneously drives my desire for self-improvement and makes me very anxious.

 

 

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Pictured: Jess at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. 

 

My third main personality trait: I’ve always been an introvert. As a kid, I remember feeling tortured every time my parents made me order my own food at a restaurant or introduce myself to someone new. Speaking to strangers was the absolute bane of my childhood existence.

I started playing the violin in 3rd grade, but I was hands-down the quietest in the entire orchestra until high school when the director decided he was going to bring me out of my shell. Throughout my four years of high school, he pushed me to take on leadership roles within the orchestra, and he even tutored me during the summer (to the point that I became concertmaster of the orchestra and played a solo in the spring concert my senior year). This was something beyond unthinkable to my ninth-grade self.

That one teacher had such a profound impact on my life. The confidence I found in orchestra spilled over into other areas of my life. It also cemented my desire to become a teacher. I want to do for students what my high school orchestra director did for me.

I’m still an introvert. I’m still stubbornly independent. And I’m still a perfectionist. I think these things are the anchors of who I am. But I’ve found ways to make these traits work for me, rather than allowing them to be obstacles between me and my goals; I’m turning them into strengths.

 

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Pictured: Jess playing kronum (a hybrid sport of soccer, handball, and basketball, played on a circular field with 4 goals). 

Q: What would you like others to learn from your story? 

A: To become the person who you want to be, you must make a plan; it’s not just going to happen on its own. I start with the big goals I want to achieve, and I look for small steps to get me closer to achieving that goal, one step at a time.

For example, reducing the amount of trash I send to the landfills is one of the big goals that I’m working on. Small steps toward this goal include using reusable grocery bags and produce bags, using reusable water bottles and coffee cups, and saying “no” to freebies that I don’t need. As I master each “baby step,” I move on to another small goal. Big changes don’t happen all at once; the small changes add up to big change.

If you have a setback in the process of achieving your goals, and you feel as though you’ve failed, take a moment to reflect on why you weren’t successful and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake again. Then forgive yourself and get ready for another try. Self-improvement is not an endgame; it is a constant process.

 

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Pictured: Jess during her recent skydiving adventure. 

 

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Pictured: Jess surrounded by Legos in Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Author, Dee J. Stone

*Note: Woman Wednesday is a part of our blog. Each Woman Wednesday post will feature a woman who would like to share information in the hopes of inspiring and motivating other women. Comments are welcome below. 


 

Q and A with Author, Dee J. Stone 

“Don’t be afraid to put your work out there. It’s very daunting at first, but it’s so rewarding when people read your book and tell you how much they love it. What makes us feel good is when we get a message from a reader telling us how she had a pretty hard day and our book made her feel better.”

 

Q: Who are you?

A: We are Dee J. Stone, a pseudonym for two sisters who write and publish young adult and adult novels on Amazon. We’ve been doing this for over five years. Here is our Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Dee-J.-Stone/e/B00BA4JK8S/ref=series_rw_dp_un.

 

Q: What got you interested in writing?

A: We were always creating stories since we were little kids, although we didn’t know that at the time. As young kids, we would sit with our dolls and play for hours, creating a story and running with it. When we were a little older, around middle school, we would draw comics and create stories that way. But we didn’t actually start writing until high school. We started off writing plays before moving onto novels.

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s most popular novel, “Merman’s Kiss.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Why did you choose self-publishing and can you explain it?

A: Self-publishing is when you write and publish a book all on your own, without reaching out to an agent and/or publisher. A self-published author has to handle every aspect of the publishing process including providing a good cover that would catch readers’ attention, editing, proofreading, and marketing. Many authors hire other people to take care of the cover and editing, though marketing is usually on their shoulders. The reason we chose the self-publishing route was that we like the freedom to make our own choices when it comes to our books.

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s novel, “Cruiser.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Can you tell us about some of the books you have published? 

A: Sure! Our most popular books are a part of a paranormal romance series called “Merman’s Kiss.” Here is the link to the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0772WT36Q/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. It follows the story of Cassie Price, who stumbles across a merman that has washed up on shore. The two of them become close and eventually fall in love.

Another series we have is a superhero series called “Keepers of Justice.” It’s about a school for kids with powers. Here is the link to the series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N0AO6N5/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. We also have a fairy-tale retelling series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07L6K6VT1/ref=series_rw_dp_sw. We write in many genres, such as paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, and romance.

 

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Pictured: Book one of the series, “Keepers of Justice.” Available for Kindle or paperback, click here. 

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers? 

A: Don’t be afraid to put your work out there. It’s very daunting at first, but it’s so rewarding when people read your book and tell you how much they love it. What makes us feel good is when we get a message from a reader telling us how she had a pretty hard day and our book made her feel better. Another piece of advice would be to make sure you give your book to someone to read before publishing it. Someone who is not a family member or friend and can give you honest feedback. A writer constantly needs to learn from her mistakes. And another piece of advice? Try not to take bad reviews too seriously. Every book gets them, and they hurt really badly, but try to focus on the good reviews and continue writing.

 

 

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Pictured: Dee J. Stone’s “Falling for the Genie,” available via Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: Is there anything valuable you have learned throughout the writing/publishing process?

A: Stay true to who you are and what you believe in. Many writers feel like they need to change themselves in order to fit in and sell more books. If you want to sell, you may need to make some changes to your writing, but you shouldn’t have to compromise your beliefs. Readers will love your story if you write it well and touch their hearts.

 

Q: What would you like others to learn from your stories?

A: We believe in writing characters who respect one another. When we write romance novels, we try to portray sweet and kind guys/men who treat women with the utmost respect. There are so many books out there that have male characters who don’t treat their women very kindly, and that is not something we believe in. Hopefully, readers will walk away from our stories with a better understanding of how people should treat one another.

 

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Pictured: “Chasing Sam,” written by Dee J. Stone, available via Kindle or paperback, click here. 

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: Expanding on the previous question, we believe that feminism is about people respecting one another. No two people are created the same, and there will always be a difference of opinion or arguments. It’s how a person treats other people that matters. Feminism is not only about women feeling equal to men, but showing men how to treat women, and how women should treat one another as well.

 

As the golden rule goes, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

 

 

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