Q&A with a ChicagoNow blogger: Jessica Gardner

There are sometimes people you come across that you know are destine to do great things. Let’s meet Jessica. Today, she is celebrating a birthday. She has two cats named Sammy and Zoey who are litter mates and rescues. She is single but do not mistake her for a crazy cat lady. She is hoping to get married one day.  When you first read Jessica’s bio you assume that she is an average person but she is way more than that. She is an excellent write who has a passion for what she does. I had the privilege to ask her a few questions to find out more about Jessica’s blog “Little Merry Sunshine.”

This is Jessica’s adventure.


FRANK: For that may not know, what’s your blog about?

JESSICA: I have a strong commitment to focus on the good in the world and to leave it a little better than I found it. I do this by sharing my passions and dreams, what inspires me, and furthering the discussion about how we can listen to our better angels. Some of my posts are deeply personal, while others are simply uplifting stories I find elsewhere. Even when I’m writing about a difficult or negative topic, I work to find the joy, the silver lining, and for the lessons I can glean. I also cover topics that are near and dear to my heart, like mental illness.

FRANK: What made you start blogging?

JESSICA: Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed and I’ve always travelled in a circle with writers - both professional writers and hobbyists. Over the years, I’ve received many compliments about my writing and have had some thoughts about possibly writing a book someday. Someday being the key word. On July 1, 2007, I was watching A Concert for Diana, a concert celebrating Princess Diana’s 46th birthday and the 10 years since her death, and I began thinking about the previous 10 years of my own life. That reminiscing turned into my first blog post on my original Little Merry Sunshine blog, 10 Years Ago. I remember being nervous and thinking that no one would read anything I had to say, but I kept writing. After I’d written a few posts, I sent the link to some of my writer friends. One of them, a very well-known New York Times Bestselling Author, wrote me back saying, “I love it. It’s you, it’s your voice and it’s beautiful. Keep writing.” After those words of encouragement, I started publicizing my blog to my friends and family, following other bloggers, and built an audience. In November 2013, I moved LMS to ChicagoNow and I couldn’t be happier about that decision.

JESSICA: How much time per week do you put into your blog?

JESSICA: I don’t know that there’s a “typical” week at Little Merry Sunshine. Most posts take me at least 90 minutes and some take far longer than that. That time doesn’t include time spent responding to comments or publicizing posts. It’s pretty rare that I bang out a post in under an hour. In fact, our monthly Blogapaloozas are incredibly stressful for me because I struggle to stay within the 1 hour timeframe. I do force myself to stay as close as possible to the Blogapalooza 1 hour time limit because I believe that, in the long term, it will help me shorten the time it takes me to write other posts.

FRANK: How do you come up with the ideas for your blog?

JESSICA: I get inspiration from music, movies, books, conversations, other bloggers, friends, emails I receive, and much more. I suppose I’m saying that life in general inspires me. Writing allows me to work through some of life’s challenges (see Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm & My Friends Were There). I try to make sure that my posts aren’t to niche-y, but Little Merry Sunshine is a platform for me to discuss topics that are important to me and I take advantage of that.

FRANK: What is your favorite blog post that you have written?

JESSICA: I don’t have a single favorite blog post. I have a few, including some from my original Little Merry Sunshine blog. On the original blog, my favorites are Who Are We Not to be Great? Or I Had a Chat with the Voices Inside My Head and Count Your Blessings Everyday. On the CN version of LMS, my favorite posts include Changing Lives With McDonald’s Hamburgers and Why I Can’t Lean In to Ban Bossy.

FRANK: Why do you love blogging?

JESSICA: Since moving to Little Merry Sunshine to ChicagoNow, I’ve fallen in love with the incredible community we have. Not only do ChicagoNow bloggers support and encourage each other, but they’re incredible people. For example, my mom is currently in the hospital and I put out a plea to my Facebook friends to send my mom cards. A couple of ChicagoNow bloggers, who are Facebook friends of mine, but not yet real life friends, stepped up and sent me cards to deliver to my mom. I also love interacting with my readers. They teach me things and open my mind to new ways of thinking all the time. Finally, I love having a platform to talk about issues that are important to me. Last month, during Mental Health Awareness Month, I wrote a series of posts about mental illness. Based on the feedback I’ve received, those posts touched lives and helped people. That makes me incredibly happy. If part of my life story can help someone else, then I’ve achieved my purpose.

FRANK: When you’re not blogging, do you have any hobbies?

JESSICA: In April 2013, I began a journey to have 100 new experiences in a year. When the year was up in April 2014, I had had 160 new experiences and decided to challenge myself to have 250 new experiences in the next 12 months. Living my life fully and in the moment is incredibly important to me and these experiences have helped me tremendously. They’ve pushed me outside of my comfort zone, taught me many lessons, and I’ve made a number of new friends because of them. Aside from that, I love gardening and swimming, spending time with my extended traveling, and researching my genealogy.

FRANK: What’s your most popular / most viewed post of all time?

JESSICA: I’m completely surprised by this one. Based on the number of visits to LMS on the days I published the posts, I would have thought it would have been one of my post 10 Things I Know About Mental Illness (#4) or Why I Can’t Lean In to Ban Bossy (#5), but that’s not the answer. The most viewed post of all time on Little Merry Sunshine is Join Me in the 100 Happy Days Challenge.

FRANK: Tell people where that can learn more about you?

JESSICA: You can find me on a number of social media platforms - Facebook.com/LittleMerrySunshine, @Jessica_Gardner on Twitter,Pinterest.com/JLGardnerLMS, and, of course, ChicagoNow.com/Little-Merry-Sunshine.



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