What's not to love about Jess from 26 and Not Counting? Not only does she have an amazing blog but she's probably one of the sweetest people you will ever meet -- this is how I knew I wanted her to be the first official post in my new series focused on influential women in Chicago.
I was hoping to gain a little insight on what goes into keeping her blog up and running, how she stays inspired and why she started in the first place. Just last year Jess took the leap and moved to Chicago after spending most of her life in Kansas City. As a twenty-something eager to join the workplace and possibly move to a new city, I wanted to know what inspired her to take that big jump.
What inspired you to start blogging?
Back in July 2013 I accepted a new position in marketing and turned 26 all in the span of a few weeks. It was a little bit of a wake-up call in a sense and a clear reminder that there is no better time than the present to start the things we daydream about. The name came about quite organically – nothing to write home about. I had just turned 26, but I started to notice a trend in the way I was approaching birthdays. The thrill was replaced with dread and I knew it wasn’t a healthy mindset to be in. I’m learning to appreciate each and every year as it comes and I can honestly say, they keep getting better and better. Blogging was, and still is, my escape. It has forced me to grow in ways that I could never have imagined and I’ve learned so much about myself through the process!
When did you start blogging?
July will mark 4 years of blogging for me! I always do a big giveaway to celebrate each year and I'm excited to start brainstorming ideas for this year!
What is your favorite part?
There is nothing better than getting an email, tweet, comment, whatever it might be from someone saying that a post I wrote resonated with them and had a positive impact on their life.
How would you describe your blog style?
I like to think I'm pretty open when it comes to sharing my life experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I've never been one to hold back on what's happening in my personal life. I understand that's not for everyone, and rightfully so, but it's the only way I know how to blog. If I'm not being honest about what's going on behind the scenes it shows in my writing.
What's your ideal work environment?
I'm a big fan of coworking with other creatives. It's always nice to have someone to bounce ideas off of and I find the creative juices flow a little more freely when I'm surrounded by people. Oh and if there's not music playing in at least one of my headphones, all bets are off.
Goals for your blog in 2017?
My main goal is to get back to a consistent posting schedule after a rather rocky start to the year (and a fairly sporadic 2015 to boot).
Favorite part about living in Chicago?
Two words: Summertime Chi. The words "patio season" are also interchangeable here.
What is currently favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Do I have to pick just one?! Even though I'm a pretty picky eater (okay, a really picky eater), I love dining out. If I'm sticking around River North, the chicken nachos from Hub 51 are my go-to. For brunch, it's Summer House Santa Monica over in Lincoln Park (sneak over to Sweet Mandy B's for a frosted sugar cookie afterward, you won't regret it), and if you're after an amazing adult beverage, the G&T at the Dearborn is super refreshing.
If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
St. Lucia has been on my radar for quite some time now, mostly because I want to hike to the top of the Gros Piton mountains! But there's that whole Zika thing. So right now, I'd probably book the next flight to the Amalfi Coast. As a Cancer, I'm naturally drawn to water, and the Mediterranean Sea is calling my name!
Greatest achievement outside of blogging?
I'd have to say surviving my first winter in Chicago without a car (seriously, haha). Walking in what feels like -18 degree temps is no easy feat!
Any advice for twenty-somethings thinking about taking the jump and moving to a new city?
If you have even the slightest inkling, make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen for yourself. I say sacrifices because I'm not one to advocate quitting your job and making the leap hoping you will fly. I planned and saved for months so that when the stars aligned, I was ready. No one wants to wake up one day wondering, "What if?" If you don't like your new city, you can always move somewhere else. But from my experience, if you're feeling the pull from the Universe, she won't let you down (and yes, I like to think the Universe is female).
Make sure to check out her blog!