Woman Wednesday: Jessica M.

*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 Jessica M., Baltimore, Maryland

“There will be messy days, 2-steps-backward days, and you’re-rocking-it days, but as long as you keep showing up to your life, it’s progress.”


 Q: Tell us about you! 

A: I’m a full-time working mom of an active, fun-loving 7-year-old, and I’m still trying to figure out how to balance all the moving parts. I work as an administrator for Atwater’s in Baltimore. I never expected to find myself in a field of finance because my brain runs toward creativity, but Atwater’s is an amazing company! The effort is worth it because I fully support their brand and values of bringing wholesome food to your table. Check them out, seriously!


Q: What are you passionate about?

A: I’m still in a place of discovering my passions and what lights my fire. I’ve always struggled with figuring out who I want to be, but most recently, my creative spark has gravitated toward disrupting photography. It’s become a tool on my journey through healing. Mostly what I create, from poetry to photography, has been for me and a select few, but I hope to one day take it a step further and share my truth to the world through an art series.


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Q: What were your younger years like?

A: My younger years were a little bit challenging but happy because I was surrounded by a loving family. When I was two, my parents discovered that I have severe bilateral hearing loss. I was immediately fitted with hearing aids and started speech therapy. One thing that many people don’t realize is that I don’t know sign language. Many people assume that I should know it. A lot of my understanding of speech comes from lip reading. Reading lips helps fill in the gaps of what I hear, distinguishing specific letters and sounds.






Those working with me (as a very young child) thought I belonged in a school for the deaf like anyone else with a hearing loss, but my parents felt I shouldn’t be limited by my disability, so in 2nd grade, they started me in a mainstream private elementary school. Most teachers were extremely supportive throughout my school years, from taking the time to make sure I was following along okay in class to ensuring I had the best seat to see them. I almost hit a roadblock when I was accepted into a private high school because once they knew I was hearing impaired, they didn’t think I would be a good fit due to a bad experience with a previous hearing-impaired student. My parents, tutor, and I went to the school and fought for my right to be there because I shouldn’t be judged based on the actions of another.


I admit that I spent a lot of years embarrassed by my disability and have actively tried to hide it, feeling like I didn’t fit in. But as I get older, I’m learning it’s not a weakness. My mother always reminds me of the strength I’ve had in overcoming it by mainstreaming into an educational world that did not cater to my disability. When my parents started this path with me, there wasn’t a lot of education and understanding out there for hearing loss. My parents have always been my biggest supporters and advocates, and I am truly grateful that they believed in me.


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

A: Three years ago, I lost my Dad to cancer and that has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through. He was gone 3 months after his diagnosis. My family and I barely had time to process one piece of information before being hit with something new. It rocked my world losing someone so close to me. It shaped the way I experience health anxiety and dropped me into depression. Each experience that struck after the loss of my Dad eventually set me on the path of taking care of my mental health. That has been my biggest goal this year by starting counseling and learning the tools to cope with my anxiety and depression.



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Some of the most valuable things I have learned are that talking about your pain instead of bottling it up truly helps, and healing is not a straight, upward line. There will be messy days, 2-steps-backward days, and you’re-rocking-it days, but as long as you keep showing up to your life, it’s progress. And I don’t just mean getting out there when you feel crappy and getting it done anyway. If I feel down and need to lay in bed for a while instead, that’s progress too, because I’m allowed to put down the “happy mask” and say, “I’m not okay,” and care for my mental health first.


Q: What does feminism mean to you?

A: In the past, I never really defined myself as a feminist, and I have thought, at times, all I was good enough for was caring for my home and family. The 1950s housewife seemed a normal thing. I personally think that if that’s what you want, then it’s okay. I wish I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom. But when it becomes a situation where you’re treated like that’s your only place and you’re not equal or you’re “less than” others, then it starts to get sticky. It’s all about choices and being able to have the freedom to make them without pressure, judgment, or fear.


When the #MeToo movement gained popularity, the education it provided made me realize certain experiences that happened to me in the past were not okay.
I’ve been in situations where I was made to feel “less than” and my consent was not given. I spent years trivializing those experiences because of a lack of resources and my own understanding.



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But the movement isn’t just for me, and I’m not the only one that needs a voice. I am married to a trans woman, which has opened my eyes to even more. Though the world seems to be becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community, there is still a lot of shame, bullying, and stigma placed on those who feel different in their skin. There is so much ugliness in this world, near and far, that it’s heartbreaking. I try to concern myself more with the fact that EVERYONE, regardless of gender, identity, race, religion, income level, who you love, etc. are valuable and deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. I value unity and working together to make the world a place we all can thrive in.



I’d love to connect with you! 


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jnmeola

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/blackbird_f1y



Thoughts, questions, or comments?

Comment below! 🙂

Woman Wednesday: Leilani & The Little Things

*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. 


“I wrote this book about the little things. These are the little things in life we look over day by day, although they are always there. These are the little things that got me through the storm. These are the little things I want to share with you to cheer you up when you need a friend or when you need a reminder or a little sprinkle of sunshine. If we learn to see the world differently, our days may be a little brighter.  If we learn to see the good, the world becomes a better place to live.” –Leilani Romero, author of “The Little Things




The holidays are right around the corner! Although it’s all very exciting, it can also be stressful. Sometimes, we just need to remind ourselves of the little things in life.

You may remember Leilani Romero from one of our first Woman Wednesdays! We invited her back to discuss her book (which is now published), the self-publishing process (how to publish a book), and what motivated her to create and publish this book called, “The Little Things.”

Also, we get to see a sneak peek inside her book that is exclusively being shown here (and here only)! Keep reading for more:


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 Pictured: Lemons in watercolor by Leilani Romero (a sneak peek inside “The Little Things”).


Q: What is “The Little Things“?

A: “The Little Things” is a collection of happy things in one book! It is a yellow pocket of all things good, and it is a reminder of happy. This little book will lift your spirits, brighten your day, cheer up your soul, and encourage kindness. With the power of positivity, the world can change… I believe, one smile at a time. Meditate on these things, and good will come.



Q: What is the self-publishing process like? 

A: For those who have always wondered how the book publishing process works, it isn’t as difficult as it may seem! I have always said I wanted to publish one day, but I wasn’t sure how it would all go. Like all big projects, you have to take it one step at a time. Here are the steps that I have taken:


  1. Write and illustrate – Get all your ideas out there (the good and bad). As for illustrations, I created those by hand using watercolors and then scanned them in to digitize.


  1. Edit – Find a good editor who will understand your vision and trust the process. I am lucky enough to have an amazing brother (who is also a published writer) to edit my book!


  1. Find a printer – There are so many printers to choose from these days and not all force you to print in bulk. These days, some vendors will also handle the printing (ex. Amazon or Blurb)!


  1. Get an ISBN – Depending on the printer, this process might be included with the vendor, or you can independently purchase the ISBN on your own.


  1. Design the book by page and format – As a designer, I designed my own in Adobe In Design, but some printers can handle the PDF creation process for you!


  1. Print the darn thing!


  1. Launch on a jump-starting platform – I decided to have my 30-day campaign on Indiegogo, but there are quite a few others, such as Kickstarter!


  1. Apply to sell your book in stores, local shops, and online.


I hope this helps anyone who is interested in or considering the self-publishing route!


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Pictured: “The Little Things” exclusive “sneak peek” of what can be found inside. 



Pictured: “The Little Things” exclusive “sneak peek” of what can be found inside. 


Q: Why did you write this book?

A: A few years back, I was seriously struggling in the world. With creativity comes frustration, self-criticism, and heartbreak. Behind all the glitter-covered castles I built, were often anxious times that included 3:00 AM tears pouring down (that hard work and dedication brought along with them). Without these, there would be no success, growth, or marvelous magic. Fittingly so, I created this book at the end of college, not only as a project but as a suitable end to an era. In life, there’s good little things and bad little things. And these can pile up. These good little things may be some that are taken for granted. Truth be told, in life, we never know what others are going through. I, for one, am a bubbly soul by nature, and because of this, I have often times felt the expectation or burden to always appear so. The reality is that we all have our good days and gray ones too. And that’s okay.




I wrote this book about the little things. This book is about the little things in life we look over day by day, although they are always there. These are the little things that got me through the storm. These are the little things I want to share with you. To cheer you up when you need a friend or when you need a reminder or a little sprinkle of sunshine. The good is so much bigger than the bad.

I took great care to hand paint and illustrate and write all 64 pages. 64 pages of beauty, 64 pages of good. These are pages created to promote mindfulness and good mental health. These pages are meant to remind you of the small parts of your day that can make a huge difference in your quality of life –the genuine and the wonderful. These pages, I created, with the purpose of making others happy.


If we learn to see the world differently, our days may be a little brighter.  If we learn to see the good, the world becomes a better place to live.



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Pictured: Sunflower watercolor painting, a sneak peek inside “The Little Things,” by Leilani Romero. 


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

A: Our day-to-day lives are full of little things. Unfortunately, research and personal experience have shown that we tend to fixate on the negatives and brush small positivities to the side.

My goal when hand-painting and writing this 64-page book was to collect reminders of all the little soul-filling, uplifting, and encouraging moments – the little things – that we may take for granted. Whether you turn to any page or flip through over time, “The Little Things” makes the perfect bedside or coffee table book to pick up throughout the day. Once I have enough funding, I will be able to get this book into local stores and online shops (like Barnes & Noble). A successful first book will allow me to continue to write new books and pursue my dreams of illustration.

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Pictured: “The Little Things” exclusive “sneak peek” of what can be found inside. 



Pictured: “The Little Things” exclusive “sneak peek” of what can be found inside. 



There are only a few days left of Leilani’s Indiegogo book sale!

To purchase a copy of “The Little Things,” click here. 

To follow Leilani’s blog, click here.



Leilani & My Lilianas would love to hear from you! Comment below! 

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Mindset, ready, go!

Have you ever wondered, “How can I be happier?” Have you ever Googled ‘How to be happy’? Or have you ever purchased a self-help book on how to find happiness? Keep on reading, and you will learn tips and tricks on how to be truly happy.


One of the things many happy people and successful people have in common is a positive mindset.

Think positively.

Have confidence in yourself.
We all know it’s easier said than done.
As someone who grew up with little self-confidence and lots of self-doubt, I know what it’s like to struggle with confidence.
Being verbally harassed in middle school and high school (by some of the people closest to me) certainly took a large toll on my confidence.

Here’s the thing: There’s always going to be someone who’s trying bring you down. So while everyone is trying to diminish your happiness, what can you do to make yourself happy?

First, the secret…that is not such a secret, but rather a true fact we need to internalize.

Here it is:

The worst enemy of all is not those trying to tear you down, the worst enemy of all is yourself.

Who was my worst enemy? My peers? My friends? My family?


My worst enemy was myself.

I was the one who believed what they said. I consumed their insults and took their words to heart. I chose to care about their opinions of me.
By believing in their words, I chose to not think very highly of myself.
I said the worst things imaginable to myself.

I found myself very unhappy and wanting to change that.

Did it happen overnight?

Confidence doesn’t happen overnight, but like many wise people say, “You gotta fake it till you make it!” Over time, you won’t be just ‘faking it’ anymore. You will realize how truly amazing and special you are.

So, how did I fake it?

Keep on reading, and I will tell you.
It will take effort and small changes each and every day, but start now, and it will pay off for you if you’re consistent and driven.


You can do it! I have confidence in you.


Here are a few strategies that have worked for me. 
1. Tell yourself 3 positive things about yourself each day. You can say them aloud, to yourself in the mirror, write them down, or just say them in your mind. I prefer to do this in the morning as my “self-love” routine–that way I don’t forget!


2. Remind yourself that no one is superior to you. Everyone is human–it is as simple as that. Others may have accomplished more, but who is saying you cannot accomplish what they have or more than what they have?


3. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your goals. What do you want to improve on? Write them down and hang them up somewhere you can see each day. Create steps to achieve those goals! Each step you take will feel like little successes helping you get to your end goal. In addition to this, pursue what you are passionate about. You only live once…(unless you believe in reincarnation)…so get moving!


4. Spread the love! Go up to at least one person a day and let them know you appreciate them.  It can be as simple as a genuine compliment. This will spread positivity, and you will feel its effects.


5. Take care of yourself. Gym? A hearty breakfast? Music to get you in the mood? I start my day with a workout and dancing to some music—even just five minutes of movement has a large positive impact on my entire day.


6. Smile with reckless abandon! Forcing yourself to smile more, to others, and in the mirror, will actually make you start to smile for real.


7. Help others. You can volunteer or it can be something small. For example, you can start by holding the door for someone, giving someone some spare change, give someone some good advice, or help a friend move into their new home. It will make you feel a sense of purpose.


8. Make changes. Are you too comfortable in your current job or position in life? Maybe you need to make a change and get out of your comfort zone. Maybe you want to try something new? Only you can make that decision!


9. Talk it out. Make connections with others. Sometimes, we need to just talk with someone else. Talk with a friend or family member. If there is not one who will willingly listen to you, seek other people or other outlets. Look up local events in your area, join an online chatroom, or just strike up a conversation with a stranger. There are many people in the world you can reach out to.


10. Recreate your favorite memory in your mind. Get in that mental happy place. Remember that happy memory, and keep it in storage for a rainy day! If it helps, think about it every day.


11. Going forward, what made your favorite memory your favorite memory? Are there aspects of it that you can bring into your current life? Make the changes in your life yourself. No one else is going to make them for you.




Most important of all:

When you are focused on yourself, accomplishing your goals, and working towards your dream, you will find that you are more happier than ever. 

When will you be your happiest? When you accomplish your dream.

So, do not give up! Have a positive mindset, and work towards everything you want!

You’ll notice that just by making these changes and taking steps to achieve your passions, you will be a lot happier.

When you are happy, it will pour into all facets of your life.

So, what are you waiting for?

Follow these steps, and go be happy! 🙂


We’d love to hear about you, your experiences, and your story! Please~ we encourage you~ to comment down below.