December 13, 2013

the first semester: a recap

At noon today, I finished my first semester as the resident director of the freshmen girls dorm. There are a lot of things that surprised me about the past four months. Some things were good surprises, some things were hard surprises. But, as I look back over these past couple of months, I am overwhelmed with how good they were. The good always outweighed the bad. Even in moments of defeat, there was always someone who offered an encouraging word without knowing how important those words were in that moment.
One of the more difficult lessons that I've learned is how to successfully be a boss. There are seven very different young ladies on my staff and each one of them have different strengths and different weaknesses. This means that my approach with each one is unique. It can't be the same because they aren't all the same. Unfortunately, I've learned that the hard way a couple of times. In addition to learning how to effectively guide different personalities has been learning how to toe the balance between boss and friend. When you live and work in the same environment, lines are blurred. Girls are in my home, I am in their home, we experience life together and that makes our bond very close. At the end of the day, I am in charge of them and have to remember that I'm not their friend. We get to be friendly, but I can't interact with them in the same way that I would interact with a friend. 
Some of the best moments have been the unexpected moments: the times where you're up till two am just laughing about life, sharing stories about boys, and seeing everyone's distinct and fun personalities. I look at this group of girls that live in this dorm and I'm just blown away. They are so funny, talented, caring, and creative. They are just incredible. My RA's? I could go on forever. They are the biggest blessings. I didn't choose them but God surely provided the loveliest group of girls to help me through this year. I took them out to brunch on Sunday and told them that I never expected to fall in love with them. I knew I would like them and knew that we would have fun together, but I really do love them. 
What have I learned about myself this semester? I've learned that I need to be gracious with myself. It's okay to need do-overs. It's okay to need second chances. It's okay to fail. I need grace on a daily basis, and that's okay. I've also learned that I have to take time for myself. I need to get a good night of sleep. I need to take hot baths filled with epsom salts and listen to relaxing music. I need to sometime lock the door to my apartment and spend quality time with Netflix. I really value time spent alone and I've realized that if I am not giving myself an adequate amount of time alone that I can't effectively care for the girls. I can't pour into them when I'm empty. 
The first thing I did after the girls all checked out was ate a delicious lunch and took a two hour nap. It was the perfect way to start off this break. Next week, I head home for a wonderful twelve day break. I'm excited for warmth, sunshine, and sister time.

November 27, 2013


Oh friends, Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays! There is just something that warms my heart when people gather together and share thanks for their numerous blessings. Unfortunately, I won't be spending the holiday with my immediate family, but luckily I have family here in Idaho that is providing me with a delicious meal and a cozy environment. This will be the third Thanksgiving I've spent away from home, but one of the things I am so thankful for is that I've had a really great community around me to make me feel "at home" even when I'm away from home. 

In addition to the things I gave thanks for last year, here are some of the things I am thankful for this year, in no particular order of course: 

1. Sisterhood
To me, sisterhood is not only the bond between blood sisters, but just the solid, unbreakable, beautiful bond between sistafriends. I am so grateful to have sistas from otha mista that are just like blood. I think that because I now work with 147 women, I appreciate true sisterhood more than ever. I think it takes maturity to be able to truly be a friend to another woman- you have to abandon jealousy, comparison, and celebrate one another entirely. 

2. Coffee
Oh coffee, I'm so thankful for you. You wake me up gently in the morning, you are the coziest beverage around (tea & cocoa ain't got NOTHIN' on coffee), and you take on many flavors. I'm currently sipping on some Thanksgiving blend from Starbucks (oh gosh it is so good) with a dash of pumpkin spice creamer and eating a donut. Can you even imagine a more perfect morning? Not only am I thankful for the delicious taste of coffee, I'm thankful for the community that happens around coffee. In a small town, like Nampa, so many of my "get togethers" with friends happen at our local coffeehouse, The Flying M Coffee Garage. To me, there's nothing more lovely than getting together with a friend over a cup of coffee and a sweet treat. You lose all track of time and before you know it, the faces at the tables around you have changed many times and your cup has been empty longer than it was full. 

3. Taste Buds
I know that there are people who have the unfortunate curse of not being able to taste food, I (THANK GOODNESS) am not one of those people! I taste. I taste a lot! I am currently tasting my coffee. I hope to taste some quiche for lunch today. What a bland world it would be if nothing had flavor. 

4. Sparkles
I firmly believe in the power of sparkles. I realize how goofy that sounds, but I've said it before and I'll say it again, I am positive that they have healing powers. Having a bad day? Put a coat of glitter on your nails and your bad day has become your best day! Experiencing heart ache? Put on that sparkly dress and it's like a bandaid was put right over the fracture. I have a pair of glitter flats that just seem to make dull days bright again! 

5. Education
I'm so grateful to have received a great, well rounded education. Though I'm still paying that education off, and will be for a while, it was worth every penny I spent. I was lucky enough to have professors who cared about me holistically- they invested in me both inside of and outside of the classroom. I am now getting my Master's in Social Work. I have about two years ahead of me until I graduate which feels like forever, but in two years I will be a master. You will all call me master (at least once, please) and I will be the proud new owner of a piece of paper that equips me to do things I can't do now. 

I pray that this holiday season, you are surrounded by love and have numerous reasons to give thanks. I know that in some seasons of life, giving thanks is more difficult, but I encourage you to find the blessings in every day life. I've been there. I've struggled to see the silver lining or to find things to give thanks for, but they are there. I promise. What are you thankful for? 


November 17, 2013

it's the freakin' weekend

Because my job is so crazy and there's always a chance that I could be up in the middle of the night or making emergency room trips on the weekend (five times since September!), I attempt to take moments of relaxation whenever they are presented. Luckily, weekends have calmed down a bit and I get them (mostly) to myself. 

This weekend was quiet, or at least it has been so far, and I spent my Saturday crafting, drinking coffee, and listening to some new music. I wanted to share a little project with you because it's SO STINKIN' EASY and you guys know I'm all about the easy crafts. I like to call this project, "Make Magnets." 

Here's what you'll need:

Magnets (I picked the ones with adhesives on the back)
Mod Podge
Glass disc bulby things (Can be found near the tinier guys that you'd put in a fish bowl)
A paintbrush or a sponge thing
Scrapbook paper
A cup of coffee in a Narnia mug

The last item on that list is optional, but trust me, it makes the process so much more enjoyable. Sidenote- one of my resident's mamma's blessed me with a Starbucks gift card and a package of Thanksgiving Blend. Thanksgiving Blend is perfect. I am currently sipping on some right now and it's perfect. 

Are you ready for the directions? Trace the little disc bulbs (what are they even really called?) on your scrapbook paper, cut it out (oh yeah- you'll need scissors), and then glue it on to the flat side of the disc with the mod podge. After that is completely dried, stick a magnet on the back and VOILA! You've got a cute new set of magnets. 

Here's where I tell you how to learn from my mistakes. See that super cute glitter paper? I did not work because it was too thick. You need more pliable paper that will adhere to the disc. The green paper that I have down there is also more of a cardstock and didn't stick easily either. I purchased magnets that already had adhesive on the back of them and they did not work. The glass was too heavy for it and they slid off of my fridge causing me to become very frustrated. I recommend buying heavy duty magnets and using a glue gun to keep them on. I ended up finding some better magnets and now they aren't slipping off of my fridge. 

After you finish the easiest project of all time, you are left with some super cute magnets that hold up super cute pictures of your super cute friends. 

This project was super cheap and would be a fun little gift to add into a hostess gift or something. I do have to admit that I was inspired to make this from my friend who has these all over her fridge. She's used glitter, letters, and scrapbook paper and no matter how different they are, they don't seem to conflict! 

I hope you all had a lovely weekend. Although mine was enjoyable, I am anxious for it to pass because on Wednesday, my baby sister arrives and I get to spend six whole days with her! My heart is just in a complete state of anticipation as I await the arrival of Sophia! It's been 108 days since I've seen her, and for anyone that has a sister, you know that's just unacceptable.  


November 6, 2013

on being alone

The message of this post has been weighing on my heart for a very long time. It's something I've sat down to write only to end up deleting everything, shutting my laptop, and vowing not to revisit the topic for fear of not saying what I actually mean or saying exactly what I  mean...

I am hopeful that this post will be exactly what I mean it to, but if it falls short or seems uncomfortable, I apologize. 

I am twenty five. That is nowhere near old. I recognize that in the grand scheme of things, I am very young. Most (not an exaggeration) of my dear friends are in serious or committed relationships. I am not. I am the unmarried pal and that is a role that I have never begrudged. I realize that my relationship status does not define me, but it is a big part of who I am. I think that there is this huge push in Christian culture to get married early, find your soul mate (If you want to know what I think on topic, read Hannah's post here. I agree with her entirely.), and start reproducing precious little felt board loving, scripture memorizing babies. That is not necessarily my path and I am learning to forgive myself for that. It's a weird concept, forgiving yourself for something that you really don't need to forgive yourself for, but I think that I had some strange expectations and I am okay with realizing that's not how it is going to be. 

When the topic of singleness is brought up, my friends are so completely encouraging. 

"How are you still single?" 

"You are such a great catch!"

"Any guy would be lucky to have you."

I appreciate their words, but on the flip side of that, it can almost makes me think, "Well what the hay is wrong with me then? What am I missing that they can't see?" It makes me feel like I am incomplete because I am just me, there is no Mister or beau. Just me. Just Jess.

I recently put myself out there in a way that made me feel terrified and very alive. I got a sudden burst of bravery and decided to just go for it. I knew that I was facing rejection, but I also felt like I needed to be honest with myself and take ownership of my feelings. I was describing it to my sister as though I were applying to a school I knew that I wouldn't get into. I said, "Camille, it's like if I were to apply to Harvard- I know I'm not getting in." She quickly reminded me that this particular gentleman was no Harvard. Just a guy. You know what I mean though. There was no false illusion of running off into the sunset holding hands. I just got brave and decided to be honest. Honesty is the best policy, right? I was rejected, in a very polite but real way and you know what? I'm okay. I cried because that's basically my spiritual gift and I just feel very intensely, but I didn't feel bad about myself at all. I was proud of myself for being vulnerable. It's not something that comes easily for anyone, but relational vulnerability adds this layer that seems to make everything even scarier. I was okay though. It reminded me that I am a person with feelings and I have the right to be honest about those feelings, I don't need to be embarrassed or lie about them. 

I have no idea what the future holds for me in regards to romantic relationships. I work at a university where the majority of my interactions are with college aged boys or with married coworkers. The city I live in isn't exactly a bustling metropolis. I don't want this to come off as whiney or like I feel like I'm missing something. I know that I'm okay. I know that I'm equally as wonderful single as I would be in a relationship. It can just be such a peculiar thing being single when the majority of people that I share my time with are married or dating. 

I don't really know what I think about being "called" to a certain thing or another. I think we sometimes have a way of projecting our desires onto what God wants for us. I certainly do not think that I am being called to singleness, but I am being called to faithfulness, regardless of what my relationship status is. I wouldn't say that I'm waiting, because that makes me feel like some damsel in distress and that is not what I'm about, but I am "waiting" for someone who makes the vulnerability, the emotions, and the honesty worth it. For now, I've got a new sparkly dress (I'm pretty sure they have healing properties) and episodes of Grey's Anatomy to watch. There are ten seasons of that show to watch- I will have enough to keep me busy for quite a while. 

November 2, 2013


This past weekend I took a lovely little getaway to Seattle to visit my brother and some friends. Seattle is one of my favorite places. It's always wonderfully gloomy and there's something about being near water that my makes my heart so happy. 
I ended up needing this little trip more than I ever could have imagined. It was so refreshing to spend time with some dear friends and just recharge. I felt completely restored by the end of the weekend and was completely ready to come back to Idaho and finish the semester like a champ.

My first stop was to meet up with my oldest brother Nicolas at the restaurant where he is a chef. We had planned to meet up for dinner and he definitely spoiled me. We started off with some homemade donut holes, moved on to the "ultimate grilled cheese" (brie, cheddar, & fried chicken on brioche toast with a side of poutine), and then split a pork chop. I consumed so much food. SO MUCH FOOD. 

One of my favorite things about the Pacific Northwest are all of the beautiful trees. I love the evergreen trees mixed in with the colorful fall leaves. I am not sure how to describe how it makes me feel, aside from the fact that it just warms my heart. 

There is something so special about people who know you and know you well. I was able to just exist this weekend. I didn't have to facilitate anything, be "on," or entertain anyone. I just got to be me and just got to rest. There was nothing overly incredible about the weekend, but it was my favorite because it was everything I needed in order to recharge. There's something so good for the soul in being surrounded by people who just love you, warts and all. 

I sort of hate that saying because I don't want you guys to think I have warts. I don't have ACTUAL warts, just personality warts or whatever they mean in that quote. 


October 23, 2013


Octobers are for a lot of things. They are for making you fall in love with fall all over again. They are for introducing colder weather without making you freeze your little (or big) booty off. They are for changing leaves that coincidentally mimic the inevitable life changes that come with the tenth month of the year. 

They are seeing friends off as they embark on adventures. That's my dear pal Chad and he just left to go on tour with The Head and the Heart. He'll be back in five weeks and I can't wait to hear all of his stories. 

Octobers are for making applesauce and using cute little measuring cups. I just love Russian dolls. Did you know that? I just think they are the cutest. Oh, and somehow a bunch of these apples ended up on some vanilla ice cream. It was delicious.


Octobers are for seeing surprise shows. This show was "The Blow." I didn't think I knew their music, but it turns out that I did. You probably do to. They put on the weirdest show I've ever seen and that's saying a lot because I saw Prince at Coachella. Prince has nothing on these women. 

One of my most favorite parts of Octobers are that it is completely acceptable, if not expected, that you bake anything and everything pumpkin. Those are pumpkin spice cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Heaven's to Betsy! I don't want to toot my own horn, but toot stinkin' toot. 

I do love October. I really do. I also love November and the cooler parts of late September. I just really love fall. If I could find a place where it felt like fall year round, I would probably spend the rest of my life living as happily as a person could be. 


October 10, 2013

we interrupt this broadcast to announce...

that I am going to be an aunt!

That little bean, in the sideways ultrasound (because for the life of me, I could NOT figure out how to rotate it), is my future niece or nephew! I found out today that my brother and his fiance are expecting. She's three months along and I can't wait to see her in two weeks! She's going to have the cutest little belly. I can't believe that we will be adding a little babe to the Novello family! This will be the first grandchild for my parents and I know it's a role that they will excel in! 

Isn't life just so exciting? 

September 22, 2013

s h a m e

My heart has been abuzz lately with the movement of the Lord. This post is about to get all sorts of religious, so if that scares you, now is a good time to go. But, if that scares you, maybe you should read on because God is good and you need to know that.

I work with freshman girls. Some people have told me I'm crazy and there are seriously moments where I feel crazy. Then there are moments where I'm entirely convinced that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be doing what I am meant to do. I had a conversation the other night with one of my girls about sin, shame, and God's grace. We talked about our hearts and how they have been damaged. We talked about the sin and shame we carry from decisions we've made. You know what else we talked about? We talked about how God is so gracious and loves us in spite of every nasty thought we think, damaging word we utter, and poor decision we make. 

I feel like there is sometimes this thought that sneaks into Christian culture where people begin to think that a "good" Christian doesn't struggle. Baby girls, let me tell you. That is not true. We all struggle. We all make mistakes. And we all do things that we are not proud of. You know what we need to start doing? We need to start vocalizing those struggles out loud with our sisters. We need to take that very thing we are desperately trying to keep hidden and bring it right into the light. There are things about my life that I don't share with everyone. Things I think, "Well, I'll just deal with it on my own. I don't want anyone to think poorly of me." These thoughts plague me all the time, especially now that I'm in a position of leadership. There's parts of me that feel yucky, used, and filled with shame. But, I refuse to allow that to take hold of me. I am a slave to my sin no longer. 

Satan would love for you to keep your dirty laundry in the dark so that he can continue making you feel dirty, shameful, and worthless. Satan wants you to be ashamed of who you are. As long as you keep things hidden, he continues to use them against you and hold you in bondage. Bring those things to the light. Keep nothing hidden. There is nothing that you could say or do to shock anyone. It is such a scary thing but it is also the truest thing that I know. There is nothing more powerful than us speaking the name of our sins. Once we whatever it is we are trying to keep buried to light, it loses its power. Satan can no longer use that against you. There is no shame, there is no hiding, and their is no brokenness. There is power in our vulnerability and power in our desire to grow. 

I see a revival happening, primarily with the students I work with on a daily basis, but I know it's happening elsewhere. I see women choosing freedom, choosing the light, and choosing community. I see women speaking out against shame and speaking truth into each other's lives. 

I can't even begin to tell you how excited this makes me. It gives me butterflies. It makes me tap my feet. It makes me smile. God is so good. He wants to use you. He wants to heal you. You are a part of the story. You are important. He wants you to know the all encompassing power of His grace and redemption. 

September 17, 2013

tunesday: interview with torrey summer

I brag on these girls a lot, that's what happens when you have such talented friends. Summer and I have been friends for about eight years and with that friendship, I inherited her little sister Torrey as my surrogate little sister and dear friend. Although life has separated us a bit over the past couple years, we take every opportunity to see each other and when we're all together, it's always the best time. It has been so much fun to watch them journey through this experience over the past couple of years. They are so talented and I'm so excited that their EP is out now! I got to  do a mini interview with them earlier today and wanted to share some sneak peeks at what the future holds for my gal pals!

When did you two decide to make music together?
We have both been singing our whole lives and writing songs for as long as we can remember, but it wasn't until about five years ago that we realized we had something special together. After that point we discovered what a huge passion it was of ours and we knew we had to pursue it. 
What's your favorite venue that you've played and why?
The Roxy! It's such an awesome venue. The staff is super nice, the sound is amazing, and there's so much history there. It's fun being on a stage that you know countless legends have also been on!

What's your favorite song off of the new EP?
That's a tough one, but probably Kiss N Ditch. It tells such a great story while still being up beat and fun!

We've seen the video for Kiss N Ditch and what a hunk of a costar you had- who would be your dream video costar?
Summer: Zachary Levi! He's so nerdy, cute, and seems really genuine! And he's 6'4! Holla!
Torrey: The hottest guy I can find with long, curly hair and bare feet! He'd probably become my boyfriend afterwards haha. 
What sort of events inspired this EP?
This is a collection of songs that tell stories of love (or our dreams of love) and heartbreak. Lots of guys have made us really mad and really happy over the past two years that we've been writing this album. These songs are a journal of all those experiences. 

Who would you love to write music with?
Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic! He is such an incredible song writer. We would also love to write with Jason Mraz. 
What can we expect in the future from Torrey Summer? 
Lots of new videos, songs, and photos. And hopefully a tour with Ed Sheeran! 
For more info on Torrey Summer visit their websitefacebooktwitter, or instagram! You can find their EP on Itunes and it's less than six bucks. Good music and a cheap price tag? That's a win/win.

September 4, 2013

jessica makes something

I do not consider myself to be crafty in the slightest. I have attempted many a Pinterest projects and they usually just leave me feeling embarrassed (but not really). I wish I was a Martha, minus that whole insider trading thing. I wish I could see random things and have a vision of how they could go together in the cutest most lovely way. Alas, I have no such talent. 

I recently spent way too much money on my apartment but I needed dish towels. I looked at Target and didn't see anything that I wanted. I had a vision of what I was looking for in my head but I was not down for paying much. I decided to hand stamp some flour sack towels. It was seriously the easiest project ever and they turned out perfectly. If I can do this- you can do this. Trust me. 

wooden dowel
flour sack towels
acrylic paint
cardboard or newspaper
paper plate

The supplies cost me a whopping total of $6.66. I realize that the total is not ideal, but I was beyond frustrated and had to get out of the store so I had no energy to buy gum to change my total. The point is that I now have four super cute dish towels that cost me less than seven dollars!

The dowel I used was 5/8" in diameter and I felt like it was the perfect size. The dowel was pretty long so I broke it in half to make it easier to use. Now I have two dowels! Look at me, Thrifty Thelma! I also decided to use gold paint because gold is so festive and it just matched with my kitchen so well! I have been having a love affair with gold since I was in middle school and now that I'm grown up (ha!), it has found its way into a lot of my decorating/clothing. Also, please take note of my Mary Kate and Ashley coffee table book. It is such a fabulous read. Not even joking.

After dipping that little dowel thing in paint, I proceeded to make dots all over the towel. I recommend putting something beneath the towel since it's not very thick and will leave marks on whatever is beneath it. I learned this the hard way and spent a chunk of time scrubbing gold dots off of my coffee table. Blast. 

Gold also happens to go just perfectly with my beautiful red mixer! I can't wait until the weather cools a bit and baking becomes the norm. There's just something not so fall-ish about baking when it's still 90 degrees outside. I can't really enjoy pumpkin flavored baked goods until I can comfortably wear jeans. I also refuse to drink a pumpkin spice latte (just arrived in Boise!) until I can wear fall clothes. You can't rush the seasons and unfortunately while it should feel like fall, we've still got a lot of summer going on here. 

It's a good thing I'm not a DIY blogger because I basically gave the worst directions of all time. You're lucky that the project is so fool proof that you don't even really need directions. You just make dots and voila! You're left with a super cute towel that makes your kitchen infinitely more aesthetically pleasing while simultaneously leaving your wallet fuller. I am in favor of all of those things! Also, this project was pretty perfect because I was able to watch Jeopardy while doing it, and everything is better while Jeopardy is on. 

September 2, 2013

salt city

I am intentionally leaving the "lake" out of Salt Lake City because I was there for a whole twenty four hours and never even saw it, so I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist. What a sham! If it's such a great lake, wouldn't it be visible from anywhere in the city? Oh Salt City, I'm on to you.

Aside from Salt City losing their lake, the mini getaway to Utah was absolutely perfect. With the freshman off to a retreat for the weekend, I knew I had to take this opportunity to get out of town, relax, and spend some quality time with my best gal. We started devising this plan a couple of months ago when we realized that we both desperately needed to make trips to Ikea. Unfortunately, Idaho is void of an Ikea so that left us with Seattle, Portland, and Salt Lake City (Okay, so maybe we just missed the lake...) as options for a quick shopping trip. Lacey and I, being the frugal babes we are, made a big list of what our trip would cost at each destination. After doing our calculations, it appeared as though Salt Lake would be our cheapest (and closest!) destination so we decided to Hotwire a hotel. 

Sidenote- have you ever done that before? I did that for a trip to NYC a couple of years ago and it turned out perfectly, but for some reason, I was super nervous this time! We ended up getting a lovely hotel right in the downtown area that put us just minutes away from everything we wanted to see. Way to go Hotwire!

As soon as Laceface and I arrived in SLC, we checked into our hotel, changed, and ventured to Temple Square. Temple Square is a ten acre area downtown that houses the temple, monuments, statues, a visitor center, and tons of beautiful flowers. While Lacey and I aren't Mormon, we were excited the temple and explore the grounds after being stuck in the car for five hours. 

The temple was beautiful and the way that the light was shining through the clouds made it feel all sorts of dreamy. I attempted a jumping picture (I seriously love them- no shame) and failed so hard that it was just perfect. The number one rule of jumping pictures is you can't try them again. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo. 

We explored City Creek Mall which may be my new favorite shopping destination EVER. They have everything. E V E R Y T H I N G. West Elm? Check. Anthro? Duh. Lush? You betchya. Nordies? You fool, you really think that they wouldn't have Nordies? OF COURSE THEY HAVE NORDIES. I may have indulged a little bit at Lush and picked up some bath goodies. There's nothing like spoiling yourself and I'm pretty sure one of the best ways to do that is putting your laptop on your toilet seat, turning on 30 Rock, and taking a hot bath. I can't wait to add those Lush treats to my bath and feel extra spoiled.

The next day, Lace and I got down to business. It was time to conquer Ikea. I came prepared with a list printed from the website complete with aisle & bin information so that I would make the most of my short time in that Swedish warehouse. Three hours, a dollar amount that I won't divulge for fear of my father reading this, and a plate of Swedish meatballs later, it was finished. I had everything I came for, with a few added extras. That's just a given though. You can't go to Ikea and not pick up something that you never knew you needed. It's science, you wouldn't understand. 

 As I sit amongst a pile of boxes with my morning cup of coffee, I'm beginning to realize that I have the longest, most frustrating day ahead of me putting together all of this stuff. I have a screwdriver. Do I need much more than that? While you all rest today, I will labor. I will labor and as God as my witness, I will have a house full of furniture by the end of the day. 


August 24, 2013

it takes a village

You know that saying, "It takes a village to raise a child?" While I think that it is super applicable to raising children and growing up, I think it's bigger than that. I think the saying should be, "It takes a village to love a person" or something like that. It sounded a lot more eloquent in my head when I was thinking about it, but who needs eloquent when you have true, genuine love?
As some of you know from instagram (@jessnovello), yesterday was my first real day of work. I've been employed with the university since August 1st, but my residents arrived yesterday. If this all sounds very foreign to you, check back HERE where I Kristen Wiig out a bit over my new job. I have been nervous about yesterday for the entire summer. I knew that day was coming. I knew it was the day I would meet my residents, their parents, and run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I hoped that the day would go smoothly, but I was fully prepared for tears.
My tears, not the girls... although I knew that would come as well.
I received countless text messages that day from friends and family who let me know they were praying for me, affirming me in my job, and encouraging me. My heart grew fuller with each message received. What a blessing to be thought about, prayed for, and encouraged with out asking for any of it. 
What a blessing to be genuinely cared about and loved by a community.
You know what? The day went perfectly. We had a couple hiccups, but I was never stressed out. I was calm. My RA's were prepared and we took care of everything that was presented to us. I could not have asked for a better day and I really believe that the power of prayer and positivity is what made the day go so seamlessly. 
So forget about children and villages, just know that it takes a village to love a person and support them. Be a part of that village. Love on people and love them well. 
EDIT: My bestie showed up about an hour ago with spinach/artichoke dip, brie, crackers, and nail polish. UGH. SO MUCH LOVE. 

August 9, 2013

i won't grow up (but one day i sort of did)

Today was an adult day. I don't know how else to explain it. I did so many grown up things in one day which is peculiar seeing as how I still very much feel like this cheeky babe:

Are you dead from seeing that picture? It is probably my favorite picture of myself in existence. Look at that foot pop! I was in pre-school. The 'tude has been in full effect since I was birthed in 1988. 

I digress.

Can you sit tight for a second while I tell you all about my grown up day? Pretty please? I started my day off at a meeting with Human Resources. I've never worked in a job before where there was a real human resources office. Actually, that is sort of a lie. I'm sure I have, but my sole interaction with them was signing new hire paperwork. There was nothing more to it than my name, the date, and probably a signature indicating I wouldn't do drugs. That one sure was hard to abide by. Not. There was a whole stack of paper regarding benefits, which I am still blown away by. I can go to the dentist without paying for everything out of pocket. What is this, Heaven? I signed up for a 401k which seems so strange because I really had no idea what it was before this morning. I had heard of it, obviously, but I didn't know exactly what it was nor did I understand what a great program it is. One of the perks (I actually don't think it can be called that) is that with my full time employment, I get a basic life insurance policy without having to pay into it or anything. It's just a small little chunk of money that I imagine would go towards burial, funeral, and all of those lovely things. Since I am oh so single (tell your brothers, ladies!), I chose my younger twin sisters as my beneficiaries with the thought that if anything were to happen to me (Morbid City, USA. Population: Me), the twins could put a portion of that money towards their education (I'd totes stick my parents with funeral fees. You brought me into the world, now pay to bring me out). Before that happened, I texted both of them and asked "Would you kill someone if you knew that when they died you were to receive a portion of money?" Luckily, both of them said they wouldn't, so I felt confident writing their names down. If I die and things seem wonky- it's the twins. Please make sure my story is made into a Lifetime Original Movie and please ensure that I'm not played by some dumpy d-list "actress." The twins can be played by Zack and Cody from that Disney Channel TV show. Yes, my sisters are girls, but they lost their ability to be played by cute girls in my movie when they decided to kill me. 

After all that paperwork, I went to my bank that shall remain nameless and decided to close my account. The bank was recently bought out by a different chain that's located solely in the Pacific Northwest. While I currently call that area home, I enjoy traveling and I spend a great deal of time in California so it would be a hassle to bank while I was elsewhere. I decided to open up with a new institution that has killer perks ($300 in cash just for opening a new account with direct deposit? Sign me up.) and super impressive customer service. This was my first time going through this process alone because I've had my other bank account since I was sixteen. It was exciting and now my mom can't have access to my money. Marmee would never touch a dime without permission but I like to tease her and pretend like she steals my money and uses it for street rat activities.

You probably don't think a day can get more adult than that, do ya? You're in for a big surprise seeing as how I also signed up for my own car insurance today. Yeah, that's right. My own policy. No more Poppa or Marmee on the insurance. Just me! I was so nervous because I figured it would be super expensive, but luckily I've never had a ticket, accident, or any other issue so I got a smokin' deal with State Farm. I also just knocked like crazy on my desk to ensure that my car doesn't explode tomorrow since I basically just bragged on my driving history. I originally just wanted to go with All State since President David Palmer is in the commercials, but his hands didn't give me as good of a deal as All State. Sorry Prez. 

You must be thinking, "Surely since her day was so adult-ish, her night must be equally as chic and grown up!" You know I would never let you down, so I'll give you a little peek into my super suave evening: Liz Lemon Greek Froyo (TO DIE FOR. TO. DIE. FOR.) in the carton with just a spoon, Frank Sinatra, and Netflix. It surely is a glamorous life I lead, friends.

I just realized that there should be a manual for growing up. There's so much that you need to know just about the logistics of adult paperwork that I feel like a handbook of some sorts would be incredibly helpful. Don't even get me started on taxes, that's a whole different animal that I'm terrified of. Maybe I'm the only 25 year old who feels like they are an adult because they pick beneficiaries, open a bank account, and start their own car insurance policy, but a little piece of me tells me that I'm not alone in this. 

So here's to growing up, resisting growing up, seeking the perfect balance between kid and adult, and hoping your sisters don't murder you for your life insurance policy. 


July 23, 2013

la famiglia

I've been spending time in California for the past couple of weeks with my family. It has been so good for my heart. I have loved spending time with my sisters and parents. Now that I'm an adult, I appreciate my family in such a new and special way. I see my parents as beautiful, incredible individuals and my sisters as such special and precious souls. I think I've started to see them like I've started to see myself, both as individuals and also as an integral part of a very special family unit. 

My family has always been close, but this year, there seems to be a renewed sense of closeness. I've noticed that with the passing of my uncles, hugs have gotten tighter, conversations have become more intentional, and any shared moment has been cause for celebration. 

This week, my family would have been gearing up to celebrate Uncle Tony's 60th birthday. It would have been the biggest, most joyous party filled with the best food imaginable. Instead, this Saturday we will visit his grave. My father will share a cigar and some red wine with his tombstone and we will celebrate a truly beautiful life that was taken way too soon. 

I know that everyone always says that you need to never leave your family or loved ones without declaring your love or being upset, but it's true. You never know the last moment you'll share with someone. Hug your loved ones tightly and shower them with affection. 

June 21, 2013

reflections (and not the mulan kind)

I've been feeling very inspired lately to reflect on the past couple of years and the inevitable growth that has taken place. I've been packing, preparing for the big move (...across campus), and have discovered some old journals. As I've cracked them open, my heart has broken over the words scribbled across the pages. There's a lot of sadness in there, a lot of confusion, but a glimmer of hope. I wish that I could go back to 2006 and give recent Vista HS grad Jess some wisdom and a sneak peek into her future. If I could go and do so, this is what I would say:
Oh Jess. First of all, please stop cutting the necks out of your shirts. I know that you saw a picture of Mary Kate and Ashley wearing shirts like that, but please cease and desist immediately. You should probably also stop pulling your hair back and bumping it up to create that pouf you love so much. You'll have a good laugh at yourself in the coming years.

Don't forget your flat iron when you go to Paris otherwise you will wear a pony tail EVERY DAY. 
Don't be embarrassed that you're staying in Oceanside and going to Mira Costa. You are making a smart financial decision that will put you in a much better place in the years to come. You are a smart cookie, never doubt that. You will meet some great people at Mira Costa. You will meet a boy. He will value you. He will listen to you. You will fall... hard. He will get back together with his ex-girlfriend. You will befriend her and  you will be in their wedding. It will make for a great story and you will be okay with how everything unfolds. 

You will end up moving to Idaho. I know that it's random and I know that it doesn't make sense, just trust me on this one. You will fall in love with that state and you will make some incredible friendships there. You will blossom. Your humor will attract people but make sure you are careful of using it to edify people. You will end up studying Criminal Justice and you will be really successful in your studies. I know that you wanted to end up in Broadcast Journalism, but this path is much better. 

Happy 23rd Birthday to you!
Don't fear what comes after college, because let me tell you babygirl, it is wonderful. You will move to a foreign country, explore new places, pay off some loans, and make some of the truest friendships you've ever known. In that country you will finally make peace with your body. You will learn to enjoy exercising and you will start fueling your body with whole foods. Through that process, you will learn so much about yourself. You will still have slip ups, but you will not spend time or energy crying over yourself like you have. 

These are the Ferguson's and they will become some of your best pals.
When you say goodbye to South Korea, you'll end up back in Idaho and you will start to work for the institution that shaped you so much. You will get a big girl job and be surrounded by people who love you, respect you, and genuinely enjoy you. Your life will not look anything like the speech you gave in Senior Exhibition at Vista High School in 2006, but it will be so much better. Trust me. 
2013 Jess

June 11, 2013

adjusting to rest

I will admit that things have been a teensy bit hard lately. A lot of things have been changing and I think I'm adjusting to being an adult. I know that might sound weird, but although I'm 25, the past several years of adulthood have contained exciting adventures. Life is now settling into the routine, and I love routine, but it's still an adjustment. I went from college, to Korea, back to Idaho, and will be starting a dream job in August. That's so exciting, but there's something in the pit of my stomach that is afraid of that. I think I'm afraid of it because it's an adult job, it's a big responsibility, and now it's my life for the next however many years. 

A lot of things over the past couple years have been very "go, go, go," but right now I'm experiencing a period of rest, routine, and normalcy. Isn't it weird how that can sometimes be infinitely more daunting than an adventure that takes you thousands of miles from anything familiar and comfortable? 

A dear, dear friend of mine sat with me as I cried the other day (I cry, it's basically my spiritual gift) because things just felt so weird, I felt distant from God, and like there was this routine so foreign to anything I knew. He related it to the time in the church calendar that we're experiencing and I never even thought of it that way. We're currently in ordinary times. We've had the anticipation of advent, the sorrow of the crucifixion, and the joy and hope of the resurrection. He said, "Have you thought that maybe this is just an ordinary time in your life? There's nothing bad with the ordinary, you just need to enjoy this time of resting in God."

Leave it to smart friends to say exactly what you need to hear. 

There have been a lot of adventures over the past couple years and a lot of anticipation. I think that these next couple years hold a lot of ordinary (but also anything but ordinary) times for me. I know what the next couple years look like which should feel refreshing after having life change so drastically every year over the past five years. 

So just as my friend suggested, I will seek rest in the Lord over this period of ordinary in my life. I will embrace the routine, invest deeply into the community surrounding me, and cultivate experiences and relationships that can only be had/created in this exact environment at this exact time. 

June 1, 2013

a little getaway

I have been itchin' to get out of Idaho lately. Don't get me wrong, I love living here, but I have been missing my family and my home state. I haven't seen my older sister since Christmas or my older brother since late January. My sister's bridal shower was this past weekend and I decided to make a little getaway of it instead of flying out just for the weekend. 

The first evening I was there, my brother, future brother in law, and I went to a Rivercats game. I love baseball and I love sporting events in general, so I was super excited to go! The Rivercats are a minor league team that are affiliated with the A's. There's really nothing than summer nights spent at a baseball game if you ask me. 

One of my favorite things about California is how diverse the state it. You have the rustic beauty of northern California and the coastal perfection of southern California. My sister had some stuff to pick up for her wedding in Apple Hill so we spent the day exploring, playing bocce ball, and consuming some really delicious strawberry beet juice. 

I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend who's spending his summer in Sacramento. His older brother is a dear friend of mine and I've gotten to know Michael more over the past couple months. We grabbed coffee and explored the Oak Park farmer's market. I picked up some kale and made yummy kale chips that afternoon. It was super easy. I just used sea salt and olive oil. Hello delicious, healthy, and easy snack!

My brother, sister, and future brother went out to dinner at one of these yummy places where they cook the food right in front of you. I love these places except I'm always nervous when they try and toss the food in your mouth. I'm horrible uncoordinated and usually end up getting smacked in the forehead with it. Well, this chef homeboy decided to toss a piece of cooked egg in my mouth and instead of making it in my mouth, it went right down my shirt. The woman sitting a couple people down from me looked at my brother (who was sitting right next to me) and said, "Go in and get it!" He looked back at her and said "That's pretty awkward because she's my sister." The woman was so embarrassed. It was a pretty great moment except I had a red burn mark on my chest from where the egg hit it. Thanks a lot dude.

My sister's shower went absolutely wonderfully and I was so pleased with how it all turned out. She has the greatest friends who were such a big help with planning and executing the event! The shower was at my aunts house and I was able to spend some quality time with my grandma. My sassy Grandma Gemma is 90 and is dead set on me getting married. She told me that if I don't get married soon, I won't get a good present from her since she'll be dead. The next day, out of nowhere she says, "Don't you want nice pillows? You better get married then!" I told her I'm not opposed to getting married, but I don't know anyone I want to marry. It then became a very sweet moment as I asked her how she knew my grandfather was the one. She told me what a great man he was (he passed away when I was 9) and how he was the best father. Then said, "Jessie, I'm not trying to be rude or sexy, but what size underwear do you have? Lizbeth bought me the wrong size." No thanks Grandma, I don't want your hand-me-down panties. Way to turn our sweet moment super weird. 

I'm actually getting to go back to Sacramento in two weeks and I'm beyond excited because I get to see my Marmee this time! I haven't seen that sweet lady since late January and I'm missing her! We're going to spend a week with my grandma while my aunt and her family (who she lives with) go on vacation. Brace yourself for more sassy Grandma Gemma stories. 


May 31, 2013

c i n c o

I have compiled a list of five things that you probably didn't know about me. Chances are that you actually don't really care about them, but that's why I made a list of only five instead of the twenty five I've seen on other blogs. Actually, I take that back. If you're reading my blog, you probably wouldn't hate to read five random facts about moi. I'm sort of interesting, sometimes.
1. I met former president George W. Bush.... twice.
If you're like the internet (yes, if you are like the internet) then you are probably screaming "PICS OR IT DIDN'T HAPPEN." You're in luck. I have a picture. You're welcome. First things first, let me tell you the story. My older sister used to be a partner in a fundraising company. I got to meet a lot of cool people by volunteering at these events or just tagging along like the presh little sister I was. It doesn't matter what political party you belong to, meeting the POTUS (How West Wing of me!) while he's in office is pretty dang cool. You know what's not pretty dang cool? Not knowing to do with your hands, a la Ricky Bobby, and ending up with this: 

2. My bachelor's degree is in Criminal Justice.
I took an intro class my freshman year because I needed a random credit and I fell in love. I was originally a communications major because I wanted to work in the magazine industry. What did I think my life was? 13 Going on 30? I quickly dropped comm, picked up criminal justice, and never looked back. Though I might never actually do anything in that field, it's still, BY FAR, my favorite thing I've ever studied. I was in the first graduating class of CJ majors at my university and I was the first girl. I'll milk that one for all it's worth. I would be a great crime solver and I stinkin' love justice, so it's perfect. Move on over Liv, there's a new SVU detective in town (except I would never, ever work SVU). 

3. I visited Korea in 5th grade.
I get it, Korea is sort of a random country for some people, but when I moved there, it wasn't the first time I had visited. My aunt's husband was a fancy shmancy business man and was sent over to Seoul with his family to plant a branch for his company. My aunt decided to fly me over for my spring break in fifth grade. It was so interesting to revisit some of the same places that we traveled when I moved there in 2011. Good thing I still don't look like a twelve year old boy.

4. I grew up attending/working at a camp in the mountains. 
People generally assume that I'm "indoorsy." It makes me laugh because I grew up spending a portion of my summers at a camp, but not a "hip" camp, a very old fashioned camp. I grew up doing archery, creek walking, identifying constellations, and hiking. In fact, I'm a certified archery instructor. This camp is so special to me. I started attending when I was 8 years old and had my last summer when I was 19. When I was fifteen, I went through a two year long leadership program that trained me to lead activities (I often led the outdoor adventure class) & be a counselor. This camp is actually how I met Kasey. One of my best friends in the whole entire world, Elyse, is someone that I met at camp. I was a counselor, she was on kitchen staff. We were basically a mountainous Romeo & Juliet (just not the whole in love thing). You still can't get over the fact that I'm a certified archery instructor, can ya? I'm so Katniss. 

5. I competed a national improv competition.
There's not really much I can say about this. I have a background in theater, and by that, I mean that I did children's theater and school plays. I loved being on stage and sort of realized that I was witty in high school. I took a couple of improv classes and then was asked to be on a team that would compete with other high school aged improv teams at a national competition. My team didn't win, but I was named MVP of my team. I have a trophy. Don't h8 me cuz u 8nt me.

So there you have it... five things you probably didn't know about me. What's something random that most people don't know about you? 

May 16, 2013

the time i survived a worst case scenario

I'm sort of the queen of "what if" situations. 
"What would you do if I just passed out and hit my head and blood was all over the ground?' 
(I seriously said this one today as I was leaving lunch with a friend)
For some reason, I like to look at situations and think of something horrible to test my reaction. I feel so dysfunctional as I'm typing this. This is probably most definitely a result of watching too many suspense/crime shows. My roommate from college always calls me out on it when I do it because I rarely even realize that it's happening. It's a part of who I am though, it's my spiritual gift. 

I've never really lived one of these "worst case scenarios" until last week. Not only did I live a WCS (worst case scenario- duhhhh), but I survived it. I Braveheart. 

I decided recently that I'm going to start being healthier. I'm going to put whole foods in my body and exercise. There's not a goal associated with this, just a desire to be healthier. I ate tacos for lunch today though so I'm obviously off to a very slow start. Forget that, taco's are like manna from Heaven. I shouldn't have to apologize for street tacos.

I digress. 

In my effort to be healthy, I decided that I would start taking advantage of the beautiful greenbelt with a very convenient path perfect for running, jogging, walking, or the very weird mix of all three that make me look like I'm dying. The other night, after eating some deliciously healthy dinner like quinoa or whatever, I decided to go on a little run/jog/walk/die. I took off towards the greenbelt (which is a little over a mile from my house) and was feeling really great as I was movin' and groovin' to Today's Hits Pandora station. I get to the greenbelt and take off to the left where I am feeling basically like a fitness model because I know that I'm looking oh so fly and healthy. 

I get about a quarter mile down the greenbelt when it hits me.

I have to go to the bathroom.

This wasn't a "find some bushes and sprinkle a quick tinkle" type of trip. This was an "I ate quinoa for dinner and too many healthy things and what is happening to my body right now" type of bathroom trip. Are you picking up what I'm putting down? Don't make me say it. It's too embarrassing. I realized that I needed to turn around and go home because if not, I was going to get to the point where I was going to use the nature potty but the greenbelt is lined with houses so basically I had no choice but to high tail it home. I turn around and am using coping mechanisms (future counselor, heyo!) and distractions to take my mind off of the impending doom that is my bowel situation. Is this too much information for a blog? Whatever. We're all friends here, right? 

I start to panic and get the cold sweats. I know what's happening. I need a bathroom. There's basically no place where I can go to the restroom aside from my home. There's a Jack in the Box down the road but it's over a mile away and I knew I couldn't run for fear of agitating the beast inside of me and expediting the inevitable. I start walking home, with purpose. Sign me up for the Olympics because I'm a speed walking queen. I get about half a mile down when it hits me. I've got five minutes until show time. That's when I realize that I have found myself a way out of this worst case scenario. My best friend and her husband live in an development off the road I was run/jog/walk/dying along and I decided that getting to her house was the best option. I jetted as fast as my squatty legs would take me and then got lost in her subdivision. I found my way to her house, knocked ferociously, and felt a wave of relief (not that much relief you sickos) wash over me when she answered the door. I quickly said "I'M HAVING A WORST CASE SCENARIO I HAVE TO USE YOUR BATHROOM I'LL EXPLAIN LATER" and ran faster than Usain Bolt to her bathroom.

I made it. I did not have an accident and my friend (who happened to be the college roommate I mentioned earlier) laughed so hard that I thought she was going to have an accident herself!

There are so many morals to this story: 1. Always play the WCS game because one day you'll live it, 2. Don't run/jog/walk or you will DIE, 3. Never eat quinoa, and 4. Being healthy will cause you to almost soil yourself- so avoid it at all costs. 
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