A PIECE OF JENNIFER'S STORY
Meet Jennifer Spoelma, a writer in Tucson, AZ! She's passionate about the book she is writing to help women discover how to share their stories with confidence. Jennifer's encouraging spirit inspires us, and we hope she inspires you!
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO RIGHT NOW?
I am becoming a pretty well-adjusted desert dweller. I’ve lived in Tucson, AZ for almost two years now with my handsome husband, Trevor. I think I’ve made it to the sweet spot where both my hometown and new city feel equally like home.
This is a busy season in life, I have a lot of projects I’m juggling. At times this totally energizes me and keeps me enthusiastic about my work while at other times I feel like I am one deadline away from a burn out. I have a “day job,” and I also do a bit of freelance writing work on the side. My passion project that keeps me awake at night is a book I am writing to help women discover how to share their stories with confidence and authenticity. I hope for it to be published and ready for you to read by early Fall!
WHAT'S YOUR DAILY ROUTINE TYPICALLY LOOK LIKE ON A WEEKDAY?
I am a total routine girl! Most weekdays the alarm goes off at 5am and I get up and start the coffee. My husband and I love slow mornings so we usually snuggle in bed while checking emails and social media until our first cup of coffee is finished.
I always try to get a workout in before leaving for work. I’ve found that working out first thing in the morning improves my focus and motivation. It also helps me make healthier decisions throughout the day.
Then it’s off to work! I work from 8-5 at a software company. My role is training new clients how to use our system. It is an exciting field and I get to work with a lot of interesting, smart people which motivates me to keep learning and growing professionally.
After work, I cook dinner for my husband and I. I love trying new recipes, so we rarely have repeat meals. I try to keep the meals fresh and healthy, but also super simple. After dinner is usually when I find time to work on my side projects. Whether it’s writing, blogging or freelancing, I try to do at least some work every night. It’s not always easy to get to work after a long day, but I know it’s worth it.I aim to get to bed between 9pm-10pm, because that 5am alarm always feels early!
WHAT INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU TO BLOG? WAS THERE A CERTAIN EVENT/MOMENT YOU KNEW YOU WANTED TO DO IT?
I started my blog, Jenuine Life, in August of 2013. I wanted to explore the topic of beauty in a new way and encourage women to look for beauty in themselves and others in a deeper way. To me, common sayings such as, "it's what on the inside that counts," "your beauty is within you," felt true, but also extremely vague. I wanted to learn how to develop my inner beauty and help others do the same.
My goal starting the blog was to create a little community online where women learned to identify the tangible traits of beautiful women that started from within. Things like courage, patience, resilience, joyfulness, justice, vulnerability. When you know how to recognize characteristics like these, you are empowered to develop them further in yourself and also to speak specific encouragement into others.
That’s why I chose to focus on interview-style blog posts. Not only are the women I interview encouraged through the celebration of their inner beauty, but everyone who reads the posts gets to learn from their example!
HOW DO YOU REPRESENT THE TRAIT ENCOURAGING?
Encouragement is all about celebration. Every time we see something positive in another person we have the choice to either become jealous and insecure or to celebrate it and learn from it.
I have spent enough time on the jealous, insecure side to know that it just isn’t worth it. Not only did it hurt my relationship with myself, but it also hurt my relationships with others. Jealousy and insecurity isolate us. On the other hand, celebration and encouragement connect us!
Encouragement comes easy for me when I have an attitude an expectation to learn from others. When I see characteristics or skills someone is really good at, instead of comparing myself to them and becoming jealous, I choose to acknowledge their ability and celebrate it.
DO YOU SEE YOUR ENCOURAGING PERSONALITY TRANSLATED IN THE WORK YOU ARE DOING NOW?
My biggest desire is for women to understand how valuable and loved they are. Pretty much all the work I do and projects I start stem from this desire. The big project I’ve been working on recently is writing a book to help women reflect on their stories and find the confidence to share it with others. I hope that the book encourages everyone who reads it!
I also lead a meetup group of creative entrepreneurs in Tucson. Every month we meet to discuss relevant topics related to building creative, small businesses. The motto of our group is “Community over Competition,” with is totally in line with my heart to celebrate others rather than compare.
TELL US MORE ABOUT WRITING YOUR FIRST BOOK. WHAT INITIALLY INSPIRED YOU?
WHAT OBSTACLES HAVE YOU FACED? HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
Oh man – so many! The greatest obstacle by far though has been self-doubt. It is so scary to put myself out there and be vulnerable like I’ve had to. I question myself a lot and there are times when the entire project seems silly. Sometimes I’m afraid no one will read it, or worse, people will read it and hate it. This type of fear is horrible, because it paralyzes you. The last thing I want to do is live a small, timid life though, so I’ve been working to overcome the fear and self-doubt.
When I start thinking this way, I take some time to myself to journal and pray. I write about all the things I’m feeling and then label which ones are rooted in truth, and which ones are rooted in lies. Usually the fear and self-doubt is rooted in lies I’m believing. I pray and ask God to show me truths to replace the lies with, and usually find them in scripture. That way, when the lies and fears come back to mind, I’m able to replace them with the truth and persevere. It’s definitely a long, ongoing process, but I’ve noticed a lot of growth in myself over the past year!
WHO ENCOURAGES YOU? WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST ROLE MODEL AND WHY?
This is the hardest question for me! So many people encourage me. If you want to see a list of some of my biggest encouragers and role models, you can find them on my blog! But as far as my biggest encourager, that would be my husband, Trevor. He loves me so well. I would not be able to do the work I do if it weren’t for his steady encouragement, support and love.
- Determined- I definitely have some stubbornness in my personality which when I channel correctly can be very beneficial. I don’t give up on challenges very easily and I am always looking for ways to learn new things or develop new skills. Sometimes I slip into the perfectionist mindset, but for the most part I feel like I have a healthy relationship with failure. I understand that failure is just a part of the process, and I am intent on finishing the projects I start.
- Bold- Sometimes the trait of boldness is seen as being loud or opinionated. To me, boldness is the willingness to do the right thing, even when it is difficult and uncomfortable. For me this looks like speaking up against injustice and learning how to be a voice for the vulnerable. I’m still on the journey of learning how to do this most effectively, but I know that boldness is a trait I want to steward well.
- Compassionate- My heart breaks really easy. When I see people in need or in pain everything in me wants to help them. I find it easy to relate to others and empathize with them. Compassion is probably why encouragement is so important to me – I understand how meaningful a kind word can be!
WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE TO ANOTHER YOUNG WOMAN ABOUT SHARING HER STORY AND ENCOURAGING OTHERS?
The most powerful thing is to know how valuable you are and find confidence in that. Have confidence in the unique woman you have been created to be and the unique journey you have experienced. Confidence is a radiant attribute in a woman; it shines a beautiful light that also illuminates the beauty of those around her. Finding confidence in yourself can unlock purpose and self-worth in the women around you which is the best form of encouragement.
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