As much as I love sharing new recipes or unsolicited health and fitness advice, I figured it was about time to lay out a little bit about why I chose to start this humble little blog. Everyone has a story, and here's a little glimpse into mine. I hope that this little peek into my life can somehow help someone else, even if it is in the smallest way. Here it goes...
THE (LONG) WHY.
I graduated college with two Bachelor's degrees, one in English and the other in history. I passed up on majoring in education because I wasn't totally in love with what I envisioned my future being like. I wanted to be IN LOVE with what I did. I wanted to love being "grown up". Oh well, I thought. There's probably more opportunities for people who didn't want to be teachers anyway.
Post-grad life stinks if you don't have a SUPER SPECIFIC game plan, and the means in which to carry that game plan out. The job market isn't the greatest for those who majored in the humanities. At least it seemed so to me after I graduated. I spent countless months applying to jobs online, writing cover letter after cover letter, polishing up my Linkedin profile and trying to "network" with contacts. In the meanwhile, I took a job as a server in a restaurant because it allowed me to subsist on my awkward post-grad schedule. ---> up all night, sleep in late, have lunch or breakfast (whichever I felt like at noon), go to the gym, shower, go to work, rinse & repeat.
After awhile, I got fed up with the rejection. Perhaps it wasn't even the rejection that hurt the most, it was more so from companies I applied to that didn't even care to send an automated 'thanks, but no thanks' email after they had completed their selection processes. Maybe it's because there are so few jobs and so many candidates that the unlucky masses never hear back from their dream jobs.
Maybe the dream jobs aren't out there for the taking just yet. Maybe they are. For whatever reason, I chose to continue working in the restaurant instead of taking an office job. A recruiter called and offered me a full time office assistant job with a 25 minute commute and I turned him down. I turned him down because I knew I had more potential than that. I turned him down because I didn't want to settle. (Am I settling by keeping my job at the restaurant instead of pursuing my real dreams? Kind of, but go with me on this one.) Working a part-time job lets me work on my "skills" in my off time, and also affords me the luxury of not being too tired to break free from the chains of the tiresome 9-5. It has its ups and it also has its downs.
MY TURNING POINT.
I always knew I was in love with writing. When I was a young kid, I would always write in a diary/journal/any bit of loose leaf paper I had. The subject I was writing about didn't matter as much as the simple action of putting pen to paper. Writing was my stress-relief, my confidant. When I was having a bad day (as all 12 year-olds do), I would write. When that boy I had a crush on talked to me, I would write about that (to which I must ask: why are these the things we wrote about?!) I don't know how or when I began reading Andie Mitchell's blog Can You Stay for Dinner?, but something within her writing sparked a flame inside me. Her words were brilliant, her sentences were cohesive thoughts married with beautiful analogies, and her posts were so complete that they made you contemplate your life when you were through with reading them. As many self-proclaimed writers are, I am also an avid reader. You can grow to be a better writer by being a better reader, or so I've been told.
I went to a job interview where the interviewer told me if I wanted to be a writer (or even to be considered in a field where writing is the main component of the job), I needed to have an online portfolio. I thought to myself, alright, I kind of understand what you're getting at. You want to see what I'm capable of writing, creating and managing...but I'm assuming you don't want to see a 6 page analytical response to Herman Melville's Moby Dick. I get it. I like literature and Moby Dick, but I also realize it doesn't have the allure that say, a homemade pizza does.
In the time after I graduated college, I found myself in the kitchen a lot more often. Whether it was whipping up something of my own design or following a recipe very rigidly from a cookbook, I found a sense of peace in the kitchen from creating. I would be up late making muffins, out to the grocery store at all hours of the night (shout out to the 24 hour Shoprite!) and making meals for my family as frequently as I could manage. I love to cook for others because it's one of my favorite ways to show I truly care about you.
Once I realized food blogs were a valid thing, I researched more into what made them work and what wouldn't. Long story short (is this really a short story though?), I taught myself Photoshop, read a textbook on Adobe Indesign, bought a DSLR with what little money I had left over from making student loan payments, read a textbook on photography, and brushed up on my very rudimentary HTML knowledge I had stored away in the depths of my brain. I bought a domain name, signed up for web hosting and then sat down to brainstorm what I should call this little slice of mine. (If anyone is interested, I can certainly write up a more informative/less rambling post on how to start a blog.)
So there I sat pondering--what's something that makes me happy? What makes me strive to be better every single day? What's my driving force that takes me from one part of life to the next? What is this blog a symbol of for me?
Without getting too emotional on you all, I chose Citrus Blossom Bliss to honor the memory of my late Aunt Peg. Her real name was Margaret, but I never called her that. Although my memory fails me sometimes, I do recall her saying a few words about this cute little orange tree she had kept alive for many, many years. It was a small tree, and produced sometimes sour (perhaps even bitter) orange fruits every year as I came over to visit her when I was growing up.
Whether or not this is truthful remains to be known, but it seems right to honor a deceased woman's story. Her younger sister, Susan, died tragically at a young age in a car accident in February of 1977. That season, the little citrus tree bore several blossoms and sweet fruits. When my grandma (Aunt Peg's mother) passed away in 1999, the tree blossomed beautifully again.
Is it because in our time of greatest despair we look the hardest for life's most beautiful pleasures? Maybe. But perhaps in our time of profound grief and sadness there is beauty to be found in the rebirth of new life, new ideas, and new experiences.
So here it is, my blossoming rebirth of ideas and experiences. I hope you'll come along for the ride as I try to make the most out of the "ordinary" and attempt to truly appreciate the little things in life. As Kurt Vonnegut so finely put, "I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'"
What's your driving force? What keeps pushing you forward in life?
I was an English major too! I started my blog earlier this year when I was unhappy with my job, and it's been great having a place to just share the random things that make me happy (recipes, crafts, travel snapshots, etc.). Thanks for sharing your story here!
Also, I LOVE that Vonnegut quote. Such a good reminder for all of us.
Thanks so much, Heather! I know exactly how you feel. I love your craft posts on your blog! I'm so not crafty but wish I could be!
Yay for English majors! I actually started blogging at a weird point in my life. I love my job enormously (HS English teacher), but I also missed writing. Blogging made that possible! I like how we all have our own reasons for winding up here.
I missed writing too! It was one of the reasons I really decided to take the plunge and get back into it. I love reading why others got into blogging too!!
Beautiful. What a great story Jessica! You were right for turning down that assistant job. And the jobs that didn't call back weren't meant to be. If you would have gotten those jobs who knows what would've happened. You may have become too comfortable with your steady pay check and wouldn't have been motivated to start Citrus Blossom Bliss! That happens to a lot of us. We become comfortable in our mundane existence and put our dreams to the side.....sometimes forgetting about them all together. My desire to teach others everything I'm learning about health and holistic healing, and to be my own boss (Can't wait for that day!) is what keeps me going. There's nothing wrong at all with having a 9 - 5 job, working for 40 years, and retiring when you're 60, but that's not me!! And I am certainly not waiting until I'm 55 or 60 before I can finally relax and enjoy life. I want that NOW!! And why shouldn't we have it? If we work hard and truly love what we do, we will be successful. To me SUCCESS doesn't mean being rich. For me, it just means to be able to make a decent living doing what I love and enjoying the beauty of the world around me WHENEVER I want, not for the 40 hours of vacation time my boss gave me that can only be used when they say. But don't get me started! Haha! I could talk about this forever. Good luck on your journey. You will succeed! 🙂
You really hit the nail on the head with all of what you said--life is totally meant to be enjoyed now and forever, not just in some distant future. Thank you for your kind words. My best wishes to you on your journey as well. You can do anything you set your mind to!