Wednesday, July 5, 2017

via pin here

In the interim while I figure out what to do with this thing, I thought I might press on with corralling some of my best recent finds... this is seriously one of my favorite kinds of posts, as I am perpetually that girl who has to tell absolutely anyone and everyone who will listen about the latest cool thing I've happened upon. So... you're welcome.

  • Canceled my cable recently (jubilance!) and I try to listen to TED talks in the morning when I get ready in the absence of my morning news. With this one though? I found myself breathless and tear-stained between blowdrying my hair and refilling my coffee. 
  • I love the idea of curiosity cabinets... so dreamy and classic. What do you think?
  • After nearly a year of searching, my beloved church announced its new lead pastor this week (a cool message from him here). The general consensus I've heard is that everyone is really, really excited. 
  • Such an achingly beautiful piece on motherhood. 
  • I just won this cookbook as part of an instagram giveaway (lucky me!) and am really loving it. Homegirl is local and I have the hugest girl crush. 
  • Speaking of local... Paul McDonald is the latest jam master who I can't get enough of. Listen to this really cool version of one of his latest singles. Careful--it's addicting. 
  • Pictures of hipsters, taking pictures of food. Because you haven't seen enough of it IRL. 
  • I just, rather impulsively, hacked my hair off at my shoulders and am loving the playful, summery update. I end up wearing it like this a lot... what's your favorite summer go-to style?
  • The Madoff scandal remains deeply fascinating to me (one of my favorite books came from that, here). Did you watch the HBO movie too? I thought it was pretty intriguing, based on what I've read of the stories. 
  • Trader Joe's snack round-ups are the best... probably because I'm so accustomed to shopping for the same ol' things, I usually overlook the goods (prep yourself for mango overload here). One noticeable item absent from this list? Jalapeño lemonade. Y-U-M. 

Hope you and yours had the loveliest Fourth!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I've been around these parts for a while. I've dashed to the keyboard to discuss a lot over the years--mostly light-hearted banter and ridiculous commentary, but being the open book I am, I've never found much to be off limits. And yeah, from time to time, I spilled out something deeply meaningful to me--usually about big loss--but lately, I find myself flailing when it comes to my role as a blogger. I know so many of you've been here too.

Blogging for me began forever ago... (xanga, anyone?). I prided myself on not selling out to what blogging has evolved to. Yet as blogging has become less and less about quality written content and more about sleek graphics, linked shopping sites and splashy ads, I find myself more and more disoriented. I feel a sense of contentment getting my words on a screen, but never set out to lock down any amount of income with them. Not all that suddenly, there doesn't feel like a ton of room for my "brand." (and yes, I shuddered a little, typing that).

I've long considered an aesthetic revamp, but deep down, I don't know that that will ignite the mind shift that I need to earnestly keep at this in a way that I'm proud of. I can't see myself falling away indefinitely, but I definitely need to adjust a bit.

A big portion of my back-burner blogging can be blamed on all of the life I've been living, which is a pretty fantastic reason for an inadvertent hiatus: new job (that isn't exactly limited to 9-5), all of the extra-curriculars, a wonderful boyfriend, my attempts at a social life, the very occasional night to myself... on one hand, there's plenty to discuss--and on the other, there's just no time or energy. Similarly, while my unbridled efforts of covering every detail of early 20-something life really fit that era of who I was as a human being, I don't exactly subscribe to the same manner of thinking anymore. I still firmly believe there's a beauty in vulnerability that may be unparalleled by anything else--but there's also something to be said for clutching the sweetest of memories close to heart.

So, I think I'll be back... soon I hope. But it'll be a little different... plenty of list round-ups of what I've stumbled across lately, lots of photo coverage of Maizie, and sure, a peek into my personal life here and there--but different, too. So much has yet to be determined, but I hope you'll stick around.

In the meantime, I've also dreamt up a little Nashville blog that I hope to dive into in the not too distant future.


Monday, May 22, 2017

It's about time for a summer soundtrack, no? Here's a little of what I've been listening to... some funkier beats and lots of hometown heroes, naturally. 

(original photo via.)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Best laid plans and all that, right?

I'd long been plotting a little 2016 recap post, because hey... I do it every year! I genuinely love looking back and beholding a smattering of my memories in one neat, sequential nook... no sifting through blurry candids or unedited versions necessary. It's always served as a little self-indulgent reflection and reminder of both the grandiose and mundane moments from the past twelve months, as opposed to being passable as quality post material for the masses, but you know... I guess I make the rules around here. Maybe I'll get around to it, maybe I won't.

I've finally come to the conclusion and relief that while sure, I blog, I don't know that I'll ever fall under the "blogger" category, you feel me? Nothing is carefully curated, nor scheduled consistently. You won't find a watermark on my clumsily snapped iphone photos. No shiny affiliate ads docked on the sidebar. Four-and-a-half months into the year and here I go, post numero uno--and a messy, somewhat disjointed summary of my inner thoughts for 2017 thus far, at that. Killing it over here...

See also: reason 437 why this girl could never rely on blogging to be her bread and butter.


Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I feel peace... something I've yearned for, for as long as I can recall--a wish that varied in appearance from year to year, but something I'm so undeniably certain I have a firm grip now. While there's plenty that's unsettled in my life, and still some concern and anxiety surfacing now and again, in the depth of my core, I am swimming in a sense of contentment that I've never quite encountered. Some of it has been nurtured by age and experience, sure... but the bigger cause is due to being surrounded by some of the most incomprehensibly amazing people God has pieced together--and then somehow, someway, thankfully plopped into my life.

I want to dive into the concept of hindsight, but that treads dangerously near cliché phrasing, and I really try like hell to avoid that. But in the hope that warning you can relieve me of some of the responsibility, I'll go on:

it's absolutely mind-blowing to me how much you can learn about yourself if you just try. Change the scenery. Swallow your pride, listen to what you don't want to hear... be strong enough to listen to what you know is the truth. Dig up enough bravery to look back at yourself so you can measure how far you've come... or how much further you want to be. Then do whatever it takes to get there.

Fear held me back for such an embarrassingly long period--and it was a fear that I was unaware had permeated so many fibers of who I am--a fact that is even more humiliating, being that I've been referred to as "fearless" more than a handful of times in my life. By no means did I emerge from the rut solo or untarnished--I had more than a few people who thankfully and selflessly (and maybe even unknowingly) scooped up responsibility to get me back to being me. People who loved me enough to tell me what I didn't want to hear. People who put their own relationships with me on the line for the sake of somehow, someway breaking into my stubborn head. People who quite honestly yelled at me in an effort to have something sink in. People who dared to lift me up--over and over again--when I refused to hear it.

To all of the people in my tribe (again--overused, ridiculous word that is unfortunately the absolute best for this situation) who quite literally held me up,
who deftly countered my shallow defenses of someone who continually hurt me,
who have wiped the tears from my cheeks,
who have earnestly prayed for my tender heart, and promised there was a better tomorrow for me,
who knew when I needed the next generous pour of bota versus another unrelenting talking-to,
who feverishly attempted to convince me of my worth,
who've been invested and excited when I've encountered something good,
who patiently told me, "I love you, but you're wrong... and I'll still be here when it finally sinks in."
...I cannot thank you enough. It's not the slightest exaggeration that I am grateful daily for the depth of the way you've loved me.

I pour this out for so many reasons... it's been heavy on me, the gravity and peril of allowing fear and pain to pierce your actual identity. Gah, there is so, so much I have to figure out in this lifetime... and so much I'll never know. But maybe there's a truth you're ducking away from. Maybe you're the friend who desperately wants to pull your person out of something. Maybe you've been dancing your own charade as long as I did, and aren't even fully aware of it. There are countless faces to this, but fear is slapped across them all.

So much of this life is just the people at your side. There's a level of unparalleled authenticity that is unveiled when you discover the few souls who willingly go through your hell just to stick by you. The honest fact is that there are very few people you could reliably call on for absolutely anything in the world--and while the past few years have offered me the chance to drink up an immense amount about who I am and what I deserve, the most rewarding takeaway is knowing, unequivocally who is on my team.

And my gosh, I am a lucky, lucky girl.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Today, you're 31, and one month (and one day) old. The last thirty-ish days of the year are normally dripping with some reluctant anticipation of Christmas without mom and Mimi, but this year was different. Finally, the decorating and baking and hosting commenced without much of the once-familiar and overwhelming heaviness of being the last lady in line of a generation that has passed on.

The last few birthday celebrations came and went with dinner at one of your favorite Nashville restaurants, and a kick-ass Christmas concert offered by the illustrious and adored Kacey Musgraves. The endless slew of Christmas parties spattered their way throughout the calendar, and in the minimal spare time you etched out, you found a night to host your best girlfriends for a ridiculously fun pie party--complete with vintage vinyl blaring throughout, a bottomless charcuterie board, and cutthroat series of Catch Phrase battles, complete with high-decibel screeching and some spiking in laps of the game piece. You carried on the tradition of Christmas photos with the sweetest, sassiest pup known to man, and earnestly pressed on with the newfound cross-stitching side hustle.

There might have been a wicked stomach flu thrown in there on a Monday, but you countered with some fierce adulting, by finally getting new tires put on your car. Before you knew it, the parties had concluded, and with the unplugging of the tree lights, overflowing Samsonite suitcase, and snappy call to Calvin with Lyft, you were soon on a plane to Texas, pup and presents for family in tow.

All-in-all, the first month of being 31 served as a stream of reminders of how much love and promise you're wrapped up in, dear. Quality time and warm embraces far exceeded time spent shopping and making Christmas playlists, and thus the ever-present to-do list took a major back seat. You're not overly feverish to bid 2016 adieu, but thankfully and thoughtfully walking away with so many lessons learned, and reclaimed grace for the person, friend, daughter, and sister you are.

You're pondering a lot about what 2017 will bring, and it's all teeming with excitement... to quote your adopted, yet fictitious spirit animal, Penny Lane? "It's all happening." 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

(Disclaimer: this was written post-consumption of three glasses of Bota box's redvolution, whilst in the air from BNA to DAL last night...)

Four years ago to the day, I was on a flight home to Nashville after sitting at my mom's bedside for a week and a half, watching her die. She was hardly recognizable anymore, face stony and expressionless, her lower legs amputated two and a half years prior, her sunken body cocooned in a twisted web of wires and tubes. After ten days of slow, but steady deterioration, I finally and reluctantly reasoned that no one knew exactly how much longer she'd struggle to remain on earth, but that those days and hours were dwindling. After resolving that our family planned only for an eventual private service, I made as much peace with my decision to trudge back to the life I'd begun building for myself, even going so far as to forgive myself with the excuse that she'd want me to move on with my life and not dwell. Ironically, she was stubborn even in death, clinging to life for nearly two weeks after entering hospice until eventually passing away early on the morning of Christmas Eve.

Our relationship was at best, complicated--nothing at all like those I witnessed my friends sharing with their moms. For decades, I was so internally angry at the MS that robbed me of having a mom, and masked it with one more straight A report card, one more home run, another feeble accomplishment all in the name of trying to control what I could never control. My futile attempts at making her smile could never heal her tormented, ailing body, but it honestly took more than 20 years (and a pinch of therapy) for me to truly absorb that. 

In her absence, I am heartbroken still. Saddened for her colorful life that was crushed by a disease that was so horrific to watch unfold, I can truly never fathom what it'd be like to attempt fighting everyday firsthand, for over half your lifetime. But mostly, I am broken for the woman I never knew, and the relationship I never had. Missing what never was sometimes hurts most of all.

I often hear stories from her classmates and others who knew her as a kid--they tell me about how much of a spitfire she was: sharp-tongued and always laughing the loudest, adorable and endlessly sassy--akin to a Molly Ringwald in the same small town she and I both grew up in. I caught glimpses of that version of her as I was growing up, but never to the degree of which I hear strangers describe her. And yet, as distant as we always seemed to be, the tiniest shreds of her are undeniably woven within me: I'm an incessant gum popper and the habit unfailingly reminds me of riding in the passenger seat, next to her when she was still driving--the aroma of Extra wintermint wafting throughout the car. When I clear my throat, it sounds so much like her, it truly stops me in my tracks. If the sound wasn't emanating from my own throat, I'd look over my shoulder and expect to see her sitting there.

She's the one to blame for my insatiable taste for Mexican food, shameless love of 80s movies, and habit for turning the music up just a little bit more. Like her, I'm always the one laughing the loudest--a trait I really love. While there was an abundance of disconnect, in her own way, she fostered in me a desire to not settle--to always want more, laugh harder, live fuller, hope for a better day.

I don't have that heinous disease preventing me from living, like she always did. I strive to feel it all, to love so fiercely, to leave absolutely nothing unanswered.

I'll miss her forever, but with each passing year, the familiar ache is tempered ever so slightly, and in its place is growing a warmth and pleasure of knowing with utter certainty that she's so proud of who I've grown up to be, who I keep growing into everyday. 

I love you, Mom. We miss you.