From Planning to Bonding

There is something very special about a bride’s relationship with her mother. I have always looked up to my mom and how she has kept a successful marriage of almost 30 years thriving. As I approach my wedding day, I find myself turning to her for guidance and advice. (After all, mothers do know best!) My mom has been nothing short of amazing when it comes to helping me plan. She helped me find my dream wedding dress and has been my therapy when I feel stressed or anxious about planning. I hear horror stories of some mothers controlling their daughter’s wedding plans attempting to live vicariously through them. But my mom is my rock. She keeps me calm and level-headed about planning.

My mother was always very close with her mom up until her passing in 1998. I used to admire the closeness they shared and hoped that one day I could have that with my mom. This wedding planning process has drawn us much closer. We bounce ideas off each other and conceptualize with the overall vision of the “big day.” She did plan her own wedding without the help of a planner but enlisted her mother’s love and support to get her through the process. I find myself emotional at times during planning where I always turn to my mom for the right thing to say. When I put my dress and veil on for the first fitting, I saw myself in the mirror and couldn’t hold back tears. I turned to her with teary eyes and she just smiled. It was comforting in a moment that felt so real and honest in my heart. I don’t know what I would do without her.

One of the hardest parts about planning this wedding for me has been missing my grandmother-my mom’s mother. When I was little and would get injured playing outside she used to comfort me by saying “That scar will be gone by the time you get married and I promise you I will be there to make sure of it!” It’s hard thinking she won’t be there physically to see me marry my best friend but I know she is there in spirit. My mom has done a great job keeping me from letting her absence affect my emotions in the present day and on the wedding day.

I feel very lucky to have a supportive and understanding mom throughout this planning process. I would probably become a “Bridezilla” of some sorts if it weren’t for her bringing me back down to earth! I don’t care what anyone tells you-you will get stressed planning a wedding. There is a lot that goes into planning an event like this alone or with your significant other. Enlisting support from family and friends can ease the stress and make planning seem like a piece of cake. I felt the need to really lean on my mom to provide me with the kind of love and support only mothers can give. I am thankful for the memories my mom and I have made during this planning process and look forward to seeing our relationship flourish over the years.



Keeping The Dreams Alive

When I was little, I would pretend I was a professional ballerina. I would play Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker  and make up routines that I would perform in front of my stuffed animals. Deep down, I knew I would never become a professional ballerina-thanks to my weak ankles-but it never stopped me from dreaming. I have found that as I have gotten older, the dreams I used to have now become suppressed. A reality of bills, full-time job and responsibilities cloud what these childhood dreams once were.

My question is, why suppress our dreams because of age? Why not keep these dreams alive? You may be older but you can still dream the way you did when you were a kid. Have something that you love to do but don’t have the time to do-devote time to do it! Have something that makes you feel happy-practice it more! Who says your dreams have to be given up!

Lately, I have found myself creating more: whether it be photographing more, painting or just crafting things for my wedding. Creativity has been an outlet of expression for me my entire life. I dream to create more and more no matter how busy or stressful life gets. It’s a part of who I am.




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!

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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.

A Little Walt Wisdom

Over the past week I have found myself a little stressed. I came home from work one night this week and opened up my Pinterest to a board I call “Wise Words” my collection of inspirational quotes. I came across this Walt Disney quote that really pulled on my heart-strings:


It takes risk and courage to achieve things you dream of. Walt took many risks in his life and career that made every single dream he had become a reality. The quirky little mouse drawings became a national icon and his theme parks  play host to some of the best vacations a family can have. If it weren’t for his courage, Walt may never have been able to make his dream possible. His wise words have inspired me to continue to pursue my dreams.

What do you dream to do? Whether it be a job, an art project or a life goal you would like to achieve know that anything is possible with the spark of courage in your heart.

A Photograph, A Memory

I’ve been cleaning my apartment lately which has been full of digging through boxes of things I never use or haven’t seen in years. Today I found a case of old photo disks back from high school and I decided to check them out.

This photograph was taken of me when I was 15 years old. It was a my freshman year of high school and my dance teacher wanted us to get our head shots done. My father took this one.


I love this photo. I was in a bit of an awkward phase (i.e. braces and frizzy hair) but this image really captured who I am.

I admire who I have become in the last 24 years. I love the direction my life is taking and I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for those awkward years.