Learning to Laugh

I’ve built my personal brand around “Jess Knows Best.” I like to teach and people often seek me out for advice.  The brand will definitely continue, but I wanted to clarify the scope of my blog.

Learning to Laugh

AppleOrchard2017(33of84)One of the most curious things I’ve had to understand with Nicholas is his general lack of laughter.  The most glaring aspect of most kids with autism is their social skills.  Now, of course, this isn’t a gold standard.  Some kids with autism have a great social skills and lack in other areas.  He has always giggled when he was tickled but never expressed  humor outside of that.  I never struck me as weird, until he started imitating laughter.

Since the end of April 2017, I’ve realized just how little I know about being silly, smiling, laughing, and enjoying myself.  Six years were spent bending over backwards for kids that weren’t mine, relatives that didn’t respect me, and a man who twisted my every thought and word.  Life was a challenging, if not downright awful.  I lost myself.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t know if I ever knew who I was in the first place.  I’m a very flexible person, so I melt from situation to situation, learning how to blend because it helped me to be likeable.


What I lost was individuality and my own way.  I began a journey over a year ago toAppleOrchard2017(70of84) find myself.  It didn’t sit well with my significant other.  He bucked against my individuality with gas lighting, accusations, inconsistencies, and manipulation.  As I reached into deep corners of myself, finding motivation and strength I never knew before, he got more manipulative in his tactics.  Finding ways to make me feel less than human, a failure as a mother, an absolute failure as a wife, unable to earn through my own avenues.  I felt more defeated than ever, but felt more determined to do what was best for Nicholas and I.

I had to learn to laugh again too.

IMG_20180120_143350_983And I am still learning.  We are rapidly approaching the first anniversary of our world changing irreparably.  And as I sit here on Leland and I’s 6 month anniversary, I can’t say I wouldn’t change anything.  There’s plenty of things I’d change.  I’d do sooner.  Would do better.  But what I can tell you is I am learning to laugh right alongside my baby boy and that is something I wouldn’t change for the world.

Its worth it.  Every crappy thing you have to go through leads you to something better, if you manifest it for yourself.  Stay strong and love hard.



Relationship Gut Check

Twin Flames. Soul Mates. Best Friends.AppleOrchard2017(70of84)

Whatever you call it, you’ve found your person.  Save the cutesy “they complete me stuff.” The right person doesn’t complete you – they accept you completely. Ever experienced the wrong relationship that you thought was right at one point?  You think they’re just right for you, but your gut knows its not.  Maybe its a harmful relationship.  Abusive, mentally, emotionally, or perhaps even physically.  And somehow you feel so attracted to and stuck with that person.  I want you to know right now that you are NEVER stuck with the wrong person, no matter how hopeless it seems. Trust. Your. Gut.

Trust your gut.  It knows what you need better than you do.

Once you’ve been through the wrong ones, its time to be open and ready for the “right” one.  Being open to the experience sounds ridiculous, but its the key.  If you’re closed off to the possibility that your other half will walk into your life, it simply won’t happen.  That means not making snap judgments about the people who come into your life.  That means not ruling out people because they didn’t immediately appeal to you.  That means being open minded to people you previously would have instantly “friend zoned.” That doesn’t mean everyone gets an opportunity to take a shot at you.  It does mean you stop making yourself crazy worrying about who might be right for you and just let it happen.

You’ll know you found them when…

Your heart feels at home with them.  It literally doesn’t matter where you roam; when you’re together, you feel at home.  You understand each other on a level deeper than you’ve ever imagined. You connect – you don’t necessarily always agree – but you are on the same wavelength.  Maybe your attraction began with your eyes.  You might have been initially attracted to their looks but now their physical beauty is secondary to the attraction to who they are.

In the past, your ability to empathize and feel others’ emotions might have caused you trouble.  Perhaps it ended up trapping you in a toxic relationship or caused you to become entirely overwhelmed.  Now, you’ll find that you can sense and adapt to your partner’s emotions with sensitivity and they can in return. You’d do anything to ensure their happiness, except for sacrificing your own – you don’t have to do that with the right person.

You’ve got goals in life, and so do they.  And you each challenge and encourage each other to reach for them.  None of this placating apathy.  You push each other to achieve your goals and work together to get there.

AppleOrchard2017(75of84)I’m getting teary just thinking of all this.  If you’ve ever looked at relationships before and thought “that’s a fairy tale” or “I bet its totally different behind closed doors” (we’ve watched too many Lifetime movies, amiright), you haven’t found the right person yet.  I’ve been there.  I’ve sacrificed everything but living and breathing for the wrong person.  When I came to my senses, it took my whole being to get out.  I got lucky.  I came to my senses.  I got out, via hell and high water. And then I found someone who my heart and soul is at peace and at home with.  All in less than a year.  You need it, you deserve it.  Be open to it.


Happy 6 months, love!


Photos by Kristin With An I Photography