Two years ago, I was at an all-time low.

Sure, I had everything on paper: the dream job, a loving partner, a gorgeous little apartment just a half-block from a bodega stocked with over seven flavors of Smucker’s® jams, jellies, and ice cream toppings. But even with all those luxuries, I wasn’t happy. I was never satisfied, never present; I was so busy building the perfect life that I hadn’t given myself the opportunity to actually live it. I didn’t realize something that, now, is so obvious: self-love and real, lasting happiness go together like JIF® creamy peanut butter and Smucker’s® Squeeze™ grape jelly.

I vividly remember the moment I decided to change my life for the better. I was sitting on a bench in Union Square, having lunch with my lifelong friend, the Uncrustables® mascot, a six-foot-tall, sealed, crustless PB+J pocket with crimped edges, eyes, and blue limbs. I offered Uncrustable a bite of my lunch, like I always do: “Want a dip from my JIF-To-Go® creamy peanut butter cup? They’re ideal to share with friends and family.” Uncrustable does not speak, but gave me a look that communicated something I’ll never forget: “You’re always thinking of others,” said my dear friend’s wordless glance. “For once, why don’t you share the JIF-To-Go® creamy peanut butter cup… with yourself?

Those words from Uncrustable the Uncrustables® mascot lit a fire within me. I realized I’d spent so much energy shirking self-love that I’d barricaded myself from joy. I’d covered my true self in a Smucker’s® Magic Shell™ topping that had created a candy-coated shell over my emotions, just like it does on ice cream: in under five seconds. I realized there was only one spoon strong enough to crack me open. And that spoon? Was me.

Change didn’t come overnight. As they say, life isn’t a Folger’s® French Vanilla Instant Cappuccino Packet. Change comes in small increments, one ground of Folgers Classic Roast® coffee at a time. But I cultivated small changes in my life, and stuck with them. Soon enough, I had a 38.4oz canister of self-love stored up, and ready to brew in an instant.

I began by practicing mindfulness on a daily basis. I slowed down, got out of my head and took in the sights and sounds of the wild, weird, wonderful city around me. I’d been so consumed about my career and the future that I never really smelled the magnolia outside my apartment, or really listened to the church bells down the block, or stopped to talk to my bodega guy, Ronnie, who told me of a three-for-one promotion on Meow Mix® Paté Toppers® with real whitefish topped with flakes of tuna now through June 30.

One of the hardest things I did on my journey was write a list of 10 things I loved about myself. My ex with whom I’m still close, Snaucrates the Snausages® dog, is a bit of a self-love philosopher himself, and insisted I try it out. Now, I could write a million things I love about my friends, especially about Snaucrates. But, lovable things about me? I thought those were like pineapple-flavored Snausages®: non-existent.

But I tried it out. I picked up what I thought was a pen but was actually a Snaw Somes!™ beef and cheese stick (I do not own a dog). Then I picked up a real pen and started writing: I like my hair. I like my sense of humor. I like the way my hands feel after I bathe them in Crisco® for 24 hours straight. Soon, I discovered a whole laundry list of things I loved about myself! There are almost as many great things about me as there are recognizable brands that fork over a portion of their annual profits to their impressive and lucrative owners, the J.M. Smucker Company.

I even created a mantra. Every morning, I look in the bathroom mirror and say, “I am a jar of Smucker’s® Orchard’s Finest Red Tart Cherry Preserves. I am a premium line of all-natural snacks perfect for everything from brunch with the gals to Thanksgiving dinner. And I deserve to be treated as such.” After 15 times or so, my partner inevitably knocks on the door and asks me if I’m doing “that thing” again, and you know what? I am. No shame.

Now, I thank myself every day. For the big things, like working hard enough to get that promotion; and the little things, like brewing my Dunkin’ At Home® coffee in the comfort of my own kitchen, instead of going through the hassle of buying it at a Dunkin’® location. I root for myself. I give myself the space I need to really feel my emotions. I even spoil myself from time to time. (Trust me, your morning vitamin tastes so much better inside a Pup-Peroni® Pill Pocket™!)

I know I’m not perfect at practicing self-love. Far from it! I still have days where I get down on myself, where loving me for me seems less possible than zucchini bread sticking to a loaf pan that was thoroughly coated in Crisco® before usage. But all I can do is try my best. That’s life. Or, as they’d say on the Smucker’s® Canada website… c’est la vie.