Guest Post: Jess from The Happiness Project, on 3 Books, CDs and Quotes to Share With the World

photo credit: Guys, we've gotta get off this rock!!! via photopin (license)
photo credit: Guys, we’ve gotta get off this rock!!! via photopin (license)

Jess Witkins has this endearing clumsiness to her.

guest postAnd I do mean endearing. One of my favorite posts on The Happiness Project is about her busting her face at Circus World. It’s so pathetic it’s adorable. The whole world loves a the girl to whom physical comedy is a gift.

Jess wrote once of a serendipitous meeting with a favorite actor. Read it here because I don’t want to spoil it. You must read this.

She’s brought her show to the CD today to talk about the three songs, three books and three CDs she’d gift to the world. Jess has had, as have many of us, a whirlwind, topsy-turvy kind of holiday season so far.

I’m grateful she took the time to guest post here today. You’ll be, too.

Be sure to check out the Happiness Project when you’re done here.


photo credit: T-shirts via photopin (license)
photo credit: T-shirts via photopin (license)

Hi Friends,

My name is Jess Witkins and I write a humor blog over at Jess Witkins’ Happiness Project. Much thanks to Eli for bravely letting me commandeer his cyberspace to share a few of my favorite things with you all. (Things have been known to get weird at my blog. I’ll try to be on my best behavior.)

If there’s anyone who understands holiday stress, it’s me. I spent six years in retail working my way up a ladder I realized I didn’t want to climb. In my past career life, I’ve spent eight straight hours wrapping presents for other people, inventorying each and every piece of jewelry you see on those counter-top spinners, I’ve sprained my wrist from carrying too many winter coats over my arm, trained and on-boarded six new hires on their first day how to handle a shoe stockroom on Black Friday, and chased bats around a mall department store with nothing but a butterfly net and badminton racket. Don’t ask. 

Anyway, my point is that holidays can be stressful. I don’t know about your household, but mine has been getting some heavy hits lately. My job is once more transitioning which means training someone else and learning a new job myself, because of re-budgeting my hours and pay are getting cut, my sister just found out she most likely has cancer (again), there have been several sudden deaths in and around my family, and if that’s not enough to deal with…my pants ripped while I was giving a talk at a middle school.

Needless to say, I could use a pick me up.

Eli asked me to share three songs, three books, and three quotes that would inspire the world. No small task! I don’t know about the world, but here are a few things that make my day brighter, and I hope they do the same for you.

Three Songs

Photo courtesy of Jess Witkins
Photo courtesy of Jess Witkins

I’m excited to talk music with you because I’m currently working on TWO musical projects. My hubs and I are recording a cd for our family of some of our favorite tunes, and I’m making my annual Phenomenal Women Mix for my mom and sis. It’s basically a mix tape and don’t make fun of me because I was that kid that sat by the radio and pressed record on CASSETTE TAPES when her favorite song came on. Now, I put them on CDs and you can win a copy by leaving me music suggestions on my blog!

1) Stompa by Serena Ryder

Serena Ryder might be my favorite musician of all time! (Well, and my husband – they’re tied). The song lyrics are all about slowing down and giving yourself some space and time to just DANCE! I dare you to listen and not bob your head or start tapping your feet.

2) Stay Gold by First Aid Kit

Another favorite band of mine, First Aid Kit’s Stay Gold has a similar storyline as Stompa, but is more bittersweet in its sound. Grab a warm cup of your favorite winter beverage and sit by the window and listen. Tell me what you think about. It always makes me nostalgic.

3) True Colors by Cyndi Lauper

Ok, let’s just bask in the gloriousness that is Cyndi Lauper’s hair in this video. No really, let it sink in. Or stand straight up? It’s part of what makes this such a gem. More importantly though, the lyrics. This is a song about friendship, and we all know some…times in our lives…we all have pain…we all have sorrow. Hmmm, sensing another tie. Adding in Bill Withers’ Lean On Me!

Courtesy of Jess Witkins
Courtesy of Jess Witkins

Three Books

Let’s just say you don’t have to twist this bibliophile’s arm to talk about books. Half my christmas list is bookish and writerly. (And I’m completely allowed to make up those words because I AM bookish and writerly.)

1) The 10 Letters Project by Jen Lee and Tim Manley

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Jen Lee in person, and I hang out on twitter with Tim Manley sometimes. They are two of the most down to earth, kindred spirits you could meet. They met each other while telling stories. I didn’t explain that well, they’re storytellers. That makes more sense. Anyway, they got tired of listening to podcasts where creative people talked about their past and just kind of glossed over the gritty work. So they started writing to one another about the creative process – making things, editing them, sharing them with the public, gearing up for a show, reflecting on how it went. What came of that is a beautiful, intimate archive of two people living in the moment with their work.

Fun Fact: I get to recreate this project for my town’s local arts and culture magazine. I’ve been writing to another author every other month and our letters are published in the magazine. That’s been pretty cool.

2) Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

If you haven’t read Jenny Lawson before, you’re missing out. In her second book, Furiously Happy, Lawson writes about feelings. Lots and lots of deep, dark, sad, crazy feelings. But then she infuses them with taxidermied raccoons and sneaking up behind her husband while he’s on a business call and talking in funny voices with hand puppets! It’s everything you’ve felt and dreamed of doing and didn’t know how badly you wanted.

3) I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

You can’t go wrong with Nora. She just gets people. And, she is anti-egg-white-only omelettes. I think more of us should live that way. Pro-yolk!

Three Quotes

jess quote 1

Everyone has a story to tell. 🙂

jess quote 2

Amelie is my favorite feel good movie and this quote gets its own scene!

jess quote 3My hubs and I both like Kurt Vonnegut a lot and this phrase appears in Slaughterhouse Five quite a bit. My hubs incorporated it into his wedding vows. To me it means, time goes on.

Well that’s my 3 songs, 3 books, and 3 quotes, everyone!

What are some of YOUR favorites that help you deal with stressful times?

jess mug

Jess Witkins claims the title Perseverance Expert. From party crashing as an Oops Baby to paving her way through pop culture, Jess explores it all. Her special skills include: pretending to be an orphan, severe allergic reactions to the sun, hanging out in coffee shops, and quoting movie lines from the Oscar winning film, Spaceballs.


  1. walkerkaty0 says:

    Love checking out new music and books. I’m a nerd, I know (and proud of it) 🙂

    1. Jess Witkins says:

      Do share your recommendations with me too!!

      1. walkerkaty0 says:

        There’s so many lol. I’ll think of a couple and get back to you 😊

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’ve got some good material here then, Katy. Nerd on (I’m a nerd of a different sort, I think.)

  2. Lyn says:

    Another great guest blogger post 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It’s an all-star lineup, isn’t it Lyn?

  3. What great suggestions and I admit I haven’t heard of a few of the books and two of the songs. So off to check them out and thanks for sharing here with us.

    1. Jess Witkins says:

      I’m guessing it’s the first two. I haven’t found a Serena Ryder or First Aid Kit song I don’t like. I love them all. Check out Little Bit of Red by Ryder! It’s an earlier song but it’s the one that hooked me.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      Do you know Jess, Janine? I think you’d dig her stuff.

  4. ksbeth says:

    she is really funny, i’m following her now. love the suggestions –

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      you won’t be disappointed, beth.

  5. kismaslife says:

    Awesome post, but I have to ask, tell me more about the bats because that sounds like something I’d find myself in. Ha!
    Looking forward to checking out the songs and books during my upcoming vacations!

    1. Jess Witkins says:

      We would occasionally get bats that flew in through the dock doors and got in the store. Our manager was deathly scared of bats so she hid in her office until the all clear, and the rest of the sales managers ran around trying to catch and release it. Bats are endangered and have to be caught carefully. Our net didn’t close so we used the badminton racquet to hold over the top while we walked outside and let it go. #truestory

      1. Eli Pacheco says:

        bats make a succulent stew, just in case you got a little heavy-handed with the racket.

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      there’ll be a test, Tiff.

  6. Rosey says:

    Happy to meet your guest blogger! I’m headed over to her place to say hello, and here to wish you a Merry Christmas!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Stick around over there, Rosey. You’ll love it!

  7. stomperdad says:

    Excellent lists. I’ll have to check out those books. I’ve never heard of them. My parents used to get bats in their house. My dad would catch them in a fishing net and take them back outside. I love the little creatures 🙂 And I read Slaughter House 5 in University. That’s the book that got me hooked on Vonnegut.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ve had other guest posters write on these, and it’s always awesome. Adds quality titles to your reading list.

      Bats in the house isn’t the same as bats in the belfry, right? Bats are pretty cool, with the sonar and all.

  8. Charlotte says:


    Oh, my goodness…. I love her. Also have requested the books on her list to read from my library because she also loves Furiously Happy and I believe that we are kindred book nerd spirits. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful voice with us, Eli–I’m looking forward to hopping over to her blog. XOXO

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Jess is going to love you as much as you will love her, Charlotte. I can get audio books at the library, right?

  9. vicki says:

    She sounds like a blast! I would love to hang out with her for just 10 minutes- I think I would have coffee spit out my nose by that time!! hehe….. Thanks so much for sharing her with us Eli!! Jess- Great JOB!!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Just wait until you read about Jess and Keanu, Vicki!

      1. vicki says:

        I did!! I cannot believe she actually talked with him! I totally would have chickened out!!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Wonder what the chances Kristi Swanson will be in Target today when I go?

      3. vicki says:

        Sorry, but not likely.. But if she is, you have GOT to get a picture and share it on your blog!

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        I looked and looked. No Kristi Swanson, no Amber Heard, not even that girl from the AT&T mobile commercials.

  10. If I had to summarize my year in one song (i.e., the one I’ve blasted in my car and sung at the top of my lungs repeatedly), it’s would have to be Sick of It by Skillet. Love this post! 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Not that it would be my 2015 song, but “Crave You” by Flight Facilities is on my mind at the moment, Jenn.

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