Yesterday was my 25th birthday. I was my parent’s  first-born child and they had no clue what to do with me. (Heck isn’t first-time parenting a crap shoot?) A quarter of a century later and I am convinced they still have no clue what to do with me! There is something to be said about being the first-born. We are the guinea pigs for everything in parenting: potty training, starting school and learning how to drive. I give my parents a lot of credit for everything they have done and gone through with me for the last 25 years.

I woke up yesterday not only feeling proud of myself but my parents for the fact they have put up with me for 25 long years! Life is hard but being able to wake up and say that I’ve made it to 25 is a blessing.  Every day up to this point has been. I thought I would be slightly depressed about getting older but honestly it’s the best birthday I have had in a while. I have accomplished a lot in the last 25 years.

My grandmother once told me that when she turned 30 she realized she was at her peak in life and that things were just going to keep getting better and better each year. I want to inherit this philosophy. Things keep getting better with each birthday and each milestone. Turning 25 may only mean I can rent a car but personally it’s also the age I will be getting married at. My life will change for the better. And though I will be gaining a husband-a handsome one at that-I am still Shannon. Still the petite, nerdy, talkative and fun-loving girl I’ve always been just a year older!

photo (7)

My first Halloween with my mom. I was a bunny. :)


Farewell 2013, Hello 2014!

Happy New Year!! It’s amazing how quickly a year can pass us by. 2013 was a big year for me personally. I started a new job in my field, got engaged to my best friend, spent more time with my family and reconnected with old friends. It was year with many ups and a few downs but never the less a great year at that. I am proud of the things I have accomplished and the goals I continue to work towards. 2013 was a year of growth. Like every year, I strived to become more financially stable, something not many young adults can admit. I also tapped into my inner chef and began experimenting in the kitchen launching my blog segment “Cooking My Way Through Pinterest.” It helped me branch out from the normal chicken and rice or pasta we had been cycling for the past 3 years! Overall, 2013 was a great year filled with moments and memories that will last a lifetime!

2014 is looking to be a big year! I turn 25 in just twenty days and with that I will be considering what my quarter life crisis should be. Don’t worry, it won’t be a sports car or an extreme hair color change-I’ve grown out of that phase! More than likely it will be a change in attitude and outlook on life. A positive outlook on life and the obstacles that come along the way. This year will be filled with moments I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. I will be marrying my best friend in the fall surrounded by family and close friends. Marriage is a journey that Judd and I are ready to begin. It is also a joining of our two families as one.

In terms of resolutions, I want to work on being a better person. A better daughter, sister, girlfriend/wife, friend and coworker. Every year is a chance to make things better and what better way then to start on January 1. Happy New Year friends and followers! Your support means so much to me!

Shannon Judd Esess-156


Photo by the talented Steph Owens Photography.

A Letter to my 18 Year Old Self

Do you remember what you were like at 18 years old? If you could write a letter to yourself then from the age you are now, what would you say?

I feel like I have come into my own these past few years and I found the need to pen a letter to my 18-year-old self about what to expect, things to not worry about and that you will make mistakes.

Dear 18-year-old Shannon,

Greetings from your 24-year-old self! Didn’t think you would ever survive 18 huh? Well you do so suck it up. I am going to give you some helpful advice that might make the next 6 years make some sense.

You are going to make a lot of mistakes: whether it be flunking a college algebra class your first semester or dating a complete a-hole(which you will do), you will screw up. You’re human and we are not perfect. You will get bored like you always do and find something to fill your time-i.e. how you failed math. You may feel terrible about it at first but trust me, you will learn to appreciate the stupid mistakes you made. They made you a better person.

Don’t pass up the opportunity to work and save money. Pick up extra hours, stay in on weekends, don’t drive to Orlando every other day. When you start paying off those student loans, you are going to need that extra money. It’s not cheap!

Indulge in your photography classes. Shoot so many rolls of fill, work in the darkroom from open to close and don’t get intimidated when people don’t like your work. One day you will have a full-time job unrelated to photography and you will miss the crap out of photo school. So quit bitching about having to print your entire portfolio the night before it’s due. Enjoy it!

Spend more time with you parents. Go ahead, roll your eyes but one day when you live 2 hours away from them it won’t be so easy to just walk into the living room and have great conversations with them. Spend more time with your brother too. Sure you think you are bigger and better because you are older but one day he will be your age and want to have nothing to do with you. (Because older sisters are lame..) Work on your sibling relationship instead of fighting over who’s going to drive to the mall.

Take time to enjoy your friends. That means your high school friends, photo classmates and coworkers. One day you all will live in opposite areas of the country-heck even Europe! Don’t take the time you spend with them for granted. You will miss them!

Don’t be so hard on yourself. You are a great person with wonderful qualities. You probably won’t believe this until you are at the lowest point of your life but it will happen and you will be grateful. Just keep your head up and know that everything has an outcome, it will all turn out alright!


Your wiser, 24-year-old self.

P.S. You will meet a great guy and he will propose. So stop telling yourself he doesn’t exist. He is real. :)


18 Year-Old Me.