05 January 2015

Auntie love

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Yesterday, I watched at least 10x a one-minute video of my nephew laughing, which was captured by my SIL’s phone.

It was so fabulous.

The sound of his laughter is my new favorite sound (well, actually champagne popping is still my absolute favorite, so, sorry nephew).

You guys, auntie love is the absolute best.

My nephew is only 4.5 months old and I fucking love that kid so much, it is the best kind of overwhelming.

His face, ears, nose, mouth and smile are so cute, I love them.

Sure, he cries, loudly sometimes, and spits up…a lot, and on a regular basis I’m smelling like formula or trying to detangle his fingers from my hair or necklace, but when he looks at me and smiles, like he kinda maybe knows who I am, it just melts my cold dead heart.

When I was home, sometimes, we sat in the back seat together and I sang to him or sang along to music for him and we just stared at each other. He probably thought “who the hell is this person and why is she sitting next to me?” And me thinking/saying, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH.” Creepy!!

Each time I saw him this fall, it was like something new was happening. He was smiling, giggling, chewing his hand (or anything he can fit in his mouth) and then…ROLLING OVER. And now, I won’t get to see him for a few months and it kind of breaks my heart. He’ll be so different then! Different? He’s so cute now!

The photos on my phone are now 90% of him. I even marked some as “favorites” just so I can streamline what I show others. For real.

When I said goodbye to him after Christmas, I cried. Hard. Like really hard. Holding him as tight as I could, kissing his head and cheeks and his perfect nose, ears, etc. It just killed me that I won’t see him again for a while. What if he forgets about me???

The hardest part about loving him so much is that I’m not local. So I miss these moments with him, seeing him daily, seeing him do new things (like roll back over again), hearing his voice and that look he gives me when he sees me and just is like “HI HOW ARE YOU. I MAY KNOW WHO YOU ARE.”

My SIL and brother do a great job of sharing photos but I just wish I could put a camera on him so I could see him at any second. Yeah, it sounds creepy, but it’s family, so it’s okay.

So, that’s all I have for now. Given the heavier topics covered here lately, I thought I’d just write about how much I love my nephew. Because I do, a lot.

Do you guys feel this way about your nieces or nephews?

01 January 2015


By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random


It is officially 2015. And, as I’m sure you can all imagine. I’m NOT unhappy to see 2014 end. Which is weird because I prefer even-numbered years. But as you know, this one kicked my ass a bit so….NOPE NOT SAD.

Today, I re-read my post welcoming in 2014 and this time, I didn’t feel emotional reading it. Maybe it’s because I have a small cold and am on the couch resting. Or maybe I’m still feeling just a bit unemotional about stuff.

But in looking back at this year, despite the bad, there have been some great moments too.

Highs: Soldier Field 10-mile race (AMAZING), Paris and Amsterdam, birth of my nephew (who is so cute I cannot even handle it), reconnecting with a friend from college (who I still talk to regularly), connecting with new people in the city, depression under control, reconnecting with family at hospice while waiting for my grandma to pass.

Lows (quick revisiting): Job loss, grandma dying, stress fracture, giving up the marathon, temporary-ish weight gain from medication.

Now that 2014 is done, I don’t forget the lows, but choose to focus more on the highs, so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Because they were still great things.

So, what have I learned?

I learned about loss.

Real loss. Loss of security, identity, and realizing that no matter how much you think you have your shit together in life, it can change in an instant. And you have no control over it and how it is resolved.

I learned that life is really too fucking short to be unhappy. And that choosing to be happy is really fucking easy, for those who want it.

And sadly, I know people who choose not to be.

I spent so much time in the last few months and years feeling unhappy about things I could change, but didn’t. Or feeling guilty because I wanted things and instead, denied myself them.


Choosing to be happy is really simple. You ask yourself what you want, and you go after it. Or, outline the steps you need to take to get you there. And if you don’t know, what are you going to explore to maybe help you find it. And don’t give negative people, things, or moments any more energy than needed. Because they will suck you dry (TWSS) and bring you to their own unhappy level.

I’ve had a long look in the mirror, reminding myself of the following: If you’re not happy, change it. Or don’t, but then don’t complain about what the results you don’t get. And if you choose to complain, acknowledge your choices that affected those outcomes.

After everything that’s happened, I learned that decisions are really that easy.

So hopefully this realization and change in perspective serves me well in the next year.

Happy New Year everyone, I hope you had a great evening celebrating and my best wishes to you and yours for 2015.

I’ll be back again before I leave, not sure what my posting schedule will be while I’m gone, if I will. Internet where I’m going isn’t the most reliable. So we’ll see.











15 December 2014

Let’s go on an adventure!

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Sounds like fun right??

As you guys know, travel is a true passion of mine. It fills my need for adventure, and my need to see new places, and try new things. It indulges my love of history and passion for art. And makes me feel like a different version of me, one that can get perspective and a change from her daily life, and wonder about new things. And come back inspired.

The last time I took a solo adventure, it was March 2014 to Paris/Bordeaux and Amsterdam as part of my promotion celebration.

Life is very different now.

Last month, in the wake of losing my grandma and working through my change in perspective from it, I realized what I needed.

I need a break. And a change in scenery.

February 2015 will be my 10-year anniversary living in Chicago. I still love this city, but right now, I’m slowly (and not literally) being smothered by it and my feelings of grief, anger and sadness that eat at me inside.

So, I’ll be leaving Chicago for a little-ish bit. Because before I can get back to being a full fledged daughter, friend and employee, I need to take care of me.

That includes getting out there and going on an adventure, one that will hopefully bring me back to life.

Am I scared? Yes. Am I worried about how things will go and what things will be like when I get back? Yes and yes.

But maybe it’s time to be scared and take a few risks. Because whatever I was doing before didn’t exactly work out. So let’s see how it goes.

More to come.

19 November 2014

Change in perspective

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

Death casts a long shadow. And for someone with little experience with it, I still learning how to emerge from it.

It’s been a week since my Grandma passed. One week. And it’s been almost two weeks since we got the news about her health and I rushed back to Wisconsin.

Now, I’m back in Chicago and trying to get back in to a routine.

But it feels, weird. The sun still shines, wind blows, and breakfast needs to be made, showers taken, etc. But it just feels different.

The best way to describe how it feels is this:

Imagine a table with cards on it. Organized, meticulously placed in various spots. You stare over the cards, pleased with where things are, how to find them, and adjust them accordingly. Now, imagine someone comes over and flips the table, Real Housewives-style. For a moment you stare at the mess and are like WTF do I do now?? Slowly, you start picking the cards up, and try to place them back on the table where they were before. Then, someone else comes over, watches you work and then flips the table again, cards scattering everywhere. Only this time, you don’t know how to pick the cards up again.

That’s kind of how I feel in this moment.

So for now, I get up and slowly get back to what I did pre-passing.

But the biggest change since I’ve been back is that in my perspective. Things that seemed “earth shattering” before, no longer do. Relationships that bothered me before, or didn’t really make me happy, seem all the more stark and toxic. And, the direction you thought you were heading, even after losing my job, suddenly seems fuzzier. It’s a very confusing time.

Mostly though, I’m trying to just no feel all the time. Take a break from the intense emotion of the last few weeks, and just kind of…be.

I know this will all get better in time. So given the rather downer turn this blog has taken in the last few weeks, I hope you guys will bear with me too.


12 November 2014

Losing a loved one

By: Jessica B.
Tagged: Random

It’s been a tough week and I’ll explain why.

The last funeral I attended was that of my paternal grandfather, around five years ago. In fact, I can count on one hand how many funerals in total I’ve attended in my life.

Losing a loved one is something I don’t have a lot of experience with.

But now, I have a bit more.

I always knew my maternal grandparents would pass. It’s a reality of life, they are 91 years old, and grandma was in shakier health due to the cruel disease of dementia/early on-set Alzheimers. In fact, recently, family and I had been doing some funeral planning for them. But just because we were planning for it, doesn’t mean I thought it would happen so soon.

And there is nothing that prepares you for when you get the call. Jess, Grandma had a small stroke. She is in the hospital. Then, the next day, you hear that grandma had another stroke, this one more serious. She has about 72 hours, you should come home now.

I will never forget hearing that last part. Standing in my apartment, dressed to go to a job interview and feeling the wind be knocked out of me.

The next 6 days are a blur. It starts with throwing clothes in a suitcase, crying on the train ride home, crying at the hospital when you hold her hand daily, telling her you’re there, and enjoying her last few lucid moments – where she tells you she loves you and that you were a good granddaughter. That breaks your heart.

Then things get more real. You are the one going to the funeral home to plan her cremation, getting the paperwork together for your grandpa to sign. Your 91-year-old grandpa who was married to grandma for 44 years and who is so heartbroken to lose the love of his life, that you cannot help but sob for him too.

Then, you see her in hospice, where she has far fewer lucid moments, in fact, soon she stops talking and opening her eyes altogether. She struggles to breathe and one day when you say goodnight and sweet dreams, you know that could be the last time you see her alive.

And you wait.

Waiting is the hardest part because you try to enjoy the time you have with her, but you know the woman you want to remember is gone. She has been gone for a while, mentally, but you selfishly don’t want her to go just yet. Or sometimes, you do, because the pain of seeing her hooked up to morphine and struggling to breathe is so unfair.

And then it happens. And as ready as you think you are, and as okay as you were with your last goodbye, when you see her for the last time, it brings you to your knees, literally.

The next few hours are a blur again, and you are so sad, but honestly….kind of relieved.

They say bad things happen in “threes.” And I really hope this is my third. I don’t know what I’m supposed to learn from fracturing my leg, losing my job and now losing my grandma, but it’s just cruel.

And now, I grieve, and I keep moving forward from here.


  • Early holiday decorations (not before Thanksgiving!)
  • Muffin tops (not the bakery-kind)
  • Bar Louie restaurant
  • Laundry machine hogs
  • County sales tax (10.25 percent - come on!)
  • Michael Scott
  • Harry & David
  • Chicago meteorologists