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: Justine

*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 Justine, Somerset County, New Jersey

People always ask me how I can afford to travel as much as I do at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!”o

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I love my job and the field I am in! I am a book publicist so basically, I get to tell people how great certain books are and then organize events and book tours for authors. I have always loved books; this is absolutely my dream! I majored in creative writing and English, did a bunch of internships, got my master’s in English literature, and was hired at the last company I interned at! Now, I’m working at a company that works with a lot of books in translation that ranges in genre from thrillers to biographies and art books. I love being able to work on all different types of books and just talk about how amazing books are all day.

 

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Pictured: Justine in her element. As a book publicist, she loves reading books and helping authors.

 

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

A: Sometimes you can give something everything you have and work your very hardest and fall short. It doesn’t mean that you failed. So much of adult life is about timing, working hard, and luck. At times, you can go every extra mile, outwork people around you, and still not succeed as quickly or as much as you would like. These shortcomings put things into perspective, and when you can look back on them and actually say, “I gave that everything I had,” then you know you did your very best. Just because the outcome may not be exactly in our favor, we have to take these experiences and use them to make us stronger for the next time. In short, life is not always fair, and you can’t let it break you! Learn from it, and don’t give up! 

 

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Pictured: Justine in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. 

 

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I always liked to keep super busy when I was growing up. I loved shuttling between softball, soccer, basketball, piano, gymnastics, ballet, cross country, track, and any other summer camps or art classes I could weasel my way into. Looking back, I feel so sorry for my parents who had to drive me around everywhere, but I am also so thankful and grateful for them always encouraging me to try everything and practice everything I was doing. I learned about committing to something and following through from a young age, and I also learned how to be part of a team, which is something I think absolutely translates to adult life in work and relationships. Even growing up, I was obsessed with books! I remember being in second grade and spending every free second reading to win more personal pan pizzas from Pizza Hut’s Book It program. While pizza initially stimulated my infatuation with reading, I quickly knew that I just loved books! I still very fondly remember my first author event during a first-grade assembly where a children’s book author, Dan Gutman, came to visit us and gave us each a signed copy of his book. I spent all my allowance buying all his books and thought that him coming to visit us was just about the coolest experience ever. Now, I get to go to author events all the time!

 

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Pictured: Justine at the New Jersey Balloon Festival. 

 

A part of my story that I haven’t mentioned yet is my passion for traveling. I love taking vacations to countries that I haven’t been to yet and going on adventures. I do this at least twice a year. People always ask me how I can afford to do this at this age. Something I’d like others to know is that whatever you want to do is possible if you really want to make it happen. I look online on tons of different websites to find the most affordable flights and places to stay. I use my vacation days around small holidays to make the trips longer. I make traveling and seeing the world a priority. This isn’t to say that I spend an extreme amount of money on it either. I budget it into my expenses just like groceries. I need to see the world. And while I love my job, I always feel a constant urge to know that the world and my life is bigger than sitting at a desk or on a train. It’s always worth it, and it is totally possible!

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Pictured: Justine enjoying the water and beautiful views in Italia (Italy). 
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Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism means equality. I do not like being talked down to by men, being treated like I can’t do something as well as a man can, nor do I like being treated like I am a man’s property. However, to be honest, I’m not big on movements like the women’s march or large scale protests to assert feminism. I think that by showing the men you associate with that you are just as strong and smart(er) as they are, and asserting this belief into who you are is the best way to change the conversation. I think we need men to uplift women just as much as we need women to uplift women.

 

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Pictured: Justine and her significant other, Nick, traveling together in Iceland. 

 

I really think that the conversation about feminism needs to include men. I feel like there are two types of men: men who repress women and men who uplift women. The men who uplift women are able to do this because they are associated with strong women who are their equals. In my opinion, a great example of this is Barack and Michelle Obama. This may not be a popular opinion, but as much as I am rooting for women and “feminism,” I do think there is a lot of hypocrisy. I think that if a woman claims to be a “feminist,” she shouldn’t depend on her dad or her partner to do things like dealing with her car issues or squashing bugs. Once you get to this point, you can’t ignore other things that have become gender norms like men proposing to women, because we all still want our dream proposal and diamond ring. So, it’s not black and white for sure.

 

As a side note, I also believe that “feminism” is the cop-out men have been waiting for, and in 10 years, I believe “stay at home dads” will be the norm. So it’s a conflicting subject, to say the least, and this is a very loaded question. I could go on and on!


I think that this quote from the book,
“How to be Parisian,” sums up how I feel about feminism: “Of course you can open a bottle of wine by yourself. But let him do it. That’s equality too.”

 

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Pictured: Justine taking a stroll in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

 

 

 

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Woman Wednesday: Megan

*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 Megan, Baltimore, Maryland

“The future. Earth’s governments have fallen, succeeded by a unified military order. An elite group of soldiers, the Sentinels, protect Cotarion from marauders and neighbors alike. Within, shadowy forces at the highest levels conspire for the power they need to enact a mysterious agenda.

But now, something has changed.

Men and women have emerged, displaying superhuman abilities powerful enough to threaten the established order, and the High General commands Sentinel Cameron Kardell to track a superhuman gone rogue. A superhuman who holds the key to these powers’ origin. Who happens to be Kardell’s best friend. Who will reveal the truth of Cameron’s own origins.

The Altered now wake.” –Megan Morgan, Author of “The Altered Wake”

 

 

Q: What are you passionate about?

A: Stories are definitely my passion! I love reading them, writing them, and listening to them. I love figuring out what makes a story work and picking apart why some stories don’t work. I love discussing what stories mean to people. They’re everywhere, and we are all telling ourselves stories all the time about who we are and how we impact the world. They’re almost so ubiquitous that we often don’t realize just how important they are.

That impact of stories on our personal and larger social psychologies are why I’m so focused on writing stories that defy conventions. As a kid, I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and I loved how these kinds of stories could invert our perspective of the world. A lot of the main characters in the stories I read were male, and women usually had supporting roles. Things are better these days, but I still crave women as leading characters who drive the narrative of the stories they’re in, so that’s what I write. In fact, all of my characters defy stereotypes, or at least, that’s what I hope.
Now that my first novel, “The Altered Wake”, is out, I’m working on the second in the series, “The Altered Rise”. And like a lot of storytellers I know, I have more story ideas than I will ever have time to write!

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

A: I’ve been an army wife, and later, a single working mom to two awesome kids while writing my novels. I’ve written during ideal circumstances and completely awful circumstances. I’ve written when the words were easy and when they were hard. I’ve received heartbreaking rejection letters and even an email from a friend who was devouring my novel in a dental office. I boxed up all my manuscripts and put them on a shelf more than once. And eventually, I made the decision to get my work out into the world, even if I had to do it myself.

 
If there’s a lesson in all that, it’s that you just never stop. Surround yourself with people who believe in you. And don’t be afraid to work your butt off on what you believe in. Keep that little ember burning in the dark times, so that when there’s some kindling, it can ignite.

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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I grew up in Fairmont, West Virginia, which is a really beautiful place. As a kid, I spent a lot of time catching frogs and swimming. My mom loves to read, and so she took my siblings and I to the library on the weekends. My dad was a schoolteacher, and he read us books every night before bed with the most amazing voices. I was so lucky to grow up with two parents who believed in the value of reading and who encouraged me so much as I began to write my own stories.

In junior high, I started writing longer mini-novels for my friends, and as they devoured the chapters I supplied to them, I was hooked. I could make my own narratives, worlds, and characters. Then other people would believe in them. I found that, for me, it was the best way to reach other people. And sometimes, putting words down on paper is the best way for me to understand myself.

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

A: I think it’s really important to pay attention to the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we surround ourselves with. Not just books, TV shows, and movies, but the stories that are there in our minds. We all have narratives about who we are and what our value is, and we can absolutely change ourselves for the better by nudging those stories in different directions.
I had a college professor who, day one of class, talked about how we introduce ourselves to other people by telling them stories about our lives so far. It’s sort of how we package and present ourselves. I think it’s a good idea to look at those tales we’ve curated and see what they say about us, and also, to realize that the stories society tells us impact which narratives are worth keeping.

Question that!

 

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism means (to me) that people can be who they are without shame or ridicule. To me, it means we all have opportunities to fulfill our goals. The idea is that we have an even playing field, and “feminine” qualities aren’t ridiculed, and men aren’t shamed for having complex feelings. I see it as equality.

So, feminism means that my daughter can play in the mud (or not, as she prefers), and my son can paint his nails. We can be the complex people that we are. I think that’s good for everyone.
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Here are links to my social media places and the Clickworks Press site for the book! All the links for purchasing the book are right here:
My Twitter:
And the Facebook site for the novel:

 

 

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