As usual, I didn’t have time for What I’m Into in December, so this’ll be a slightly supersized post!
My brother got married on New Year’s Day! He and his now-wife have been off and on since college, and I couldn’t be happier to have her officially in the family and get to say “my sister-in-law.” The whole event was at a rustic lodge in Kansas – a rehearsal dinner and New Year’s Eve party, and the ceremony the next day. We celebrated New York midnight and everyone got good rest for the wedding. It was the best NYE I’ve had in years!
It snowed the first Friday of the month. That may be our only snow this season, but if so, it was still more than last year, when we barely got one dusting.
I marched in the Memphis Women’s March on January 21 with several family members. It was a positive, empowering experience that I’ll always remember, and I would absolutely do it again. It also resulted in more opportunities to overcome my people-pleasing nature, and not waste energy on the world’s disapproval or wrong assumptions about me or my actions. Now more than ever, this is the hard internal work of my adult life.
Anna Kendrick’s memoir is the best and funniest I’ve read since Mindy Kaling’s. Just don’t listen to the audiobook around your kids! I got Shauna Niequist’s latest book for Christmas and read the whole thing on the plane to KC. One of her underlying points, which I’ve been thinking about a lot, was about finally becoming the adult her child-self thought she would be. I’m in a similar place. It’s a good thing.
After an all-time moviegoing low for most of 2016, I’ve been seeing and loving a lot of movies! Hidden Figures is so great I saw it twice.
Memphis got an IKEA right after Thanksgiving! I’d never been to one before, and waited until after the holidays to make my first pilgrimage. An hour or so into our wandering, my dad declared it “a casino for furniture.” Accurate. I left with new curtains, pillowcases, and bookcases for my guest room.
Ghost River has been advertising a food-truck brunch at their new taproom, so my friends and I checked it out after church one weekend. It lived up to the hype. We ate delicious chicken and waffles and got up to 32 levels of Jenga (at which point everyone in the room was watching).
I saw The Bodyguard at the Orpheum with my mom and Kelsey. They’ve changed the story to incorporate most of Whitney’s catalog, and Deborah Cox killed it.
The Brooks Museum had another outdoor art installation, Intrude, consisting of giant illuminated rabbits. I was very excited about it and went twice! The people-watching there was also amazing.
With my parents’ help, I finished my guest room remodel and will henceforth refer to it as “the study.” I love it and am basically living in it full-time. Rufus is enjoying it too and seems to sense how well the decor complements his fur. My bedroom seems bland and boring now, so I’m going to do an accent wall in this color.
This 5-Ingredient White Chicken Chili is very adaptable to time constraints or even the five ingredients. I didn’t have salsa verde, so I used green enchilada sauce instead and it was still good.
After wanting one for a long time, I made this race bib and medal holder. It’s in the style of one I saw on Amazon but was half the cost to put together myself. It makes me happy to look at it!
I wanted to feel beautiful at my brother’s wedding, and succeeded! The New Year’s Eve sequined dress is a Michael Kors I bought on Poshmark; my wedding outfit was a formal high-low skirt and fitted tank from a local boutique, The Attic. A friend who was moving to Florida gave me the mink stole about a year ago, and it was great for warmth as well as added fabulosity.
I like to get a piece of jewelry for my One Word. A few weeks ago I learned the ammonite (the fossil of the nautilus shell) is an ancient symbol of abundance, so I ordered an ammonite necklace! I’ve had a nautilus shell tattoo for several years, so this connection is a big deal to me.
I’ve talked about Garnier Naturals Coconut Cocoa Butter conditioner before, but the matching leave-in conditioner is also a win. I picked some up when I didn’t have time to go to Sally for more of what I was using, and I think it’ll be my go-to for the foreseeable future.
I have a lot of small scars – from acne, cuts and scrapes, having moles removed, and many years of cat ownership. I’ve been spot-treating with Mederma PM scar cream before bed for a couple of months, and it’s helping, especially on my face. Hoping for a more even skin tone this summer!
Your Monthly Rufus:
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
On The Blog:
♥ Kelle Hampton: Happy New Year: There Is More
♥ Tina Muir: Why It’s Okay to Admit You Are Struggling. (I love her!)
♥ Bailey Steger: When Belief Becomes a Work
♥ Bradbury-esque flash fiction by Ruby Bastille that haunted me for DAYS: Half an Hour
♥ Michael Kramer at Grok Nation: Back to the Present: Trump, Nixon, and Taking Protest to the Streets. (I’m hanging on every word of our elders lately, and appreciated this perspective.)
And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. – II Corinthians 9:8
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10
There is always more on its way – more opportunities, more ideas, more love. – Glennon Melton
Scarcity tells us the table is full, that we have to fight for a spot or fight to keep ours, that the spots will run out, or that we better pick a different table. But Abundance, abundance has endless wings to add to the table. Abundance has an endless supply of chairs. Abundance says yes! you can come! Bring your friends! There is plenty. – Abby Norman
2017 will be my fifth year of One Word. Choosing a word is sort of a mystical experience. Around October, I start listening for words that are resonating with me and/or coming up frequently. I decide what I need and what I want to work on in the coming year. I pay attention to how each possibility makes me feel.
Early last year, I was depressed. I believe many long-term life experiences have a snowball effect, a cumulative impact that’s hard to understand from the outside. Over recent years, I’d taken so many blows big and small that all my fight was gone. The future looked bleak. I couldn’t trust God at all. I felt so hopeless and exhausted that even professionals (both faith and medical) had no practical advice for me. Then help started to arrive: a good, supportive relationship, for a while. A small group full of quirky, honest people and holistic approaches to spiritual things. People I value consistently expressing confidence in me, no matter how little others thought of me. An inner spark that enabled me to do more and more on my own behalf. I’d felt neglected and even abandoned by God, like I was an inconsequential cog in His sovereign machine, and I thought I had to accept that fate with a smile on my face. I couldn’t do that, which created additional angst. I’m privileged in many ways, but in the deepest sense, scarcity had been my reality for a long time, and it seemed increasingly unlikely that that would ever change. But as my general circumstances improved, I let myself believe these were not isolated bones being thrown to keep me hovering just above despair. I let myself believe that the tide was rising, and started stepping out accordingly.
At the start of 2017, I feel stronger than I have in years, maybe in all of my 30s so far. Some important needs are still unfulfilled and I’m dealing with a lot of the same crap, but my inner fire is back, and I think I might be coming into my best self. My pastor says people tend to face the difficulties of life in one of three ways: Denial, Determination, or Despair. It’s Determination time, but no matter what I do to change my life, I already know there are things I can’t make happen. I need help. I need God to SHOW UP. A year ago, I couldn’t even ask Him to show up in any specific way because one more no would have broken me. It was less painful just to try to deal by myself. Now I’m in a better place. Now I have evidence that I might not be a cosmically designated short straw, and that sometimes the courage to ask makes all the difference. So I accepted my boldest One Word yet, a word easily perceived as selfish and Joel Osteen-y, a word that seems incongruous with the alarming state of our world, a word that feels like a culmination of all my words so far:
Here’s what Abundance means to me:
♥ Abundant options. I’ve experienced a legitimate scarcity of career and relationship options. I’d like reassurance that there’s plenty to go around, so I’m not tempted to act out of fear. I’ve successfully kept my dignity and said no to things that weren’t right or fruitful for me, but I don’t know if I can continue if every rare opportunity looks like my last, best, only chance. I’d like to consider a buffet of good things instead of one appetizer, to feel like a well-fed daughter instead of a starving beggar unsure if she’ll ever have another meal. I’d like to be happily surprised. Paradoxically, I’d take one Right, True Thing over lots of options in a second, but either way, abundance is needed.
♥ Abundant love. I’m lucky to have abundant friends and family to love, and I want to love them better. I want to show love to myself by maintaining good boundaries and self-care. I want to be in love with a man who is in love with me. On a wider scale, I am determined to choose love over hate, continue learning what that looks like, and do whatever I can to encourage that behavior in others.
♥ Abundant life. The state of my Christian faith can’t be summed up in even one post, but it’s often sucked the life out of me more than it’s given me life. I’ve thought about this a lot lately, and I believe that since Jesus came to bring me abundant life, I need new perspective. I don’t know what that will take, besides the courage to let go of some things and draw further disapproval from fundamentalist types… but I’m already on that path, so bring it. Also (hang with me), I’ve been getting more connected to the Holy Spirit, and I’d like to continue exploring that.
On a real-world level, abundant life involves finding and fulfilling my purpose, which takes us back to the options thing. I think it also involves abundant words. My words dried up last year, but when I am able to write, it feels really good. I want to reclaim the right to express myself purely because it brings me joy, even if it’s not especially meaningful, even if it’s a non-defensible sharing of my heart (like this) in a time when some people won’t let anyone speak without “proof.”
I’m asking God for abundance not because I deserve anything, not because I’m good, but because He is, and I want to know that in a new way. Officially I don’t believe in name-it-and-claim-it, but… I’m kind of claiming it. Whatever you believe about God’s role in suffering (and all I have to offer is a big question mark), I’ve suffered, and I’ve milked it for all the growth I could. Now, I need Him to SHOW me that He is good, loves me, and wants good things for me. Right or wrong, that’s just where I’m at. It’s not as selfish as it sounds; an overflowing cup waters everything around it. If I operate from a place of abundance and security, I have more to give.
Common themes start to emerge after you’ve been practicing One Word for a while (something I’d love to discuss with other long-termers). I don’t think that’s bad or wrong. In December, in a moment when I wasn’t thinking about my word at all, I got a sudden clear image of my progression in the form of an airplane. Enough, in 2015, was the plane pulling away from the gate. Light, in 2016, was excess baggage being removed and the runway lights coming on to point the way. But Abundance is about taking off. Buckle up, because in 2017, I’m going to fly.
This used to be a linkup with Emily Freeman. I’m not sure if it’s happening this year, but I have learnings to share, so gather round!
♥ Run on different sides of the street. Not a metaphor. While training for a 15K at the beginning of the year, I developed some IT band problems. Up to that point, I had always run on the same side of the street. I’d never thought about the fact that I did this OR that it might matter. When I started switching it up, the problems went away and haven’t come back!
♥ Do not automatically accept blame. I cannot count the number of times this year I was accused of not doing something or other. But it almost always turned out I did do the thing – the other person forgot, didn’t check, or wasn’t paying attention. So, over time, I’m conquering my knee-jerk panic and self-abasement, and checking my facts and reality before proceeding. This skill is improving my quality of life and becoming more useful all the time.
♥ St. John’s Wort can work. For those who don’t know, this herb is widely considered to be nature’s antidepressant. I started taking it in the spring, I think, with no real expectation that it would do anything (making me a good test case). I’d been mildly depressed for a long time, but I can now say semi-confidently that I’m in a better place, and I attribute some of that to St. John’s Wort. My emotional baseline is much higher and my lows are less low, which is how many friends have described the effects of “real” antidepressants. So if you’re interested, it’s definitely worth a shot! Just know that it can take several weeks to kick in, and the effect is subtle. I didn’t really stop and take note until recently.
♥ Don’t buy shoes on Poshmark. Unless they’re new in the box and you already own a pair of the same size and brand. Even then, it’s a gamble.
♥ Treating others well is not only right, but also an investment in your future. I’ve seen people’s behavior come back around to them in sometimes-shocking ways this year.
♥ We all need to drive more carefully. Becoming a frequent pedestrian has changed my perspective. I ran hundreds of miles on the streets of Midtown in 2016, and almost got hit by a car many, many times. I’ve never been nervous behind the wheel before, but the defensive anxiety from city running has started to seep over into my driving. I’m still figuring out how to handle this better.
♥ There are many valid ways to pray, and we may need different ways at different times. After years of angst over my prayer life failing to adhere to a prescribed formula, I learned this year that prayer really can be as natural as breathing. Rather than working hard at maintaining a Right Relationship with God (e.g. “If you feel far from God, guess who moved?!?”), prayer can be about opening ourselves up to what God is already doing all around us. It can be more about listening than talking, more about peace than discipline. Processing this concept has been revolutionary and restorative for me.
♥ Pho is life. I could happily eat pho and El Porton’s chicken tortilla soup alternately for most of the year.
♥ The more you challenge yourself and do hard and scary things, the easier it is to do so and the more you can achieve.
♥ I was not made to be single. I’ve always believed this, but my six-month relationship removed any growing inkling of doubt. I know who I am both as an individual and in a relationship, and being in a healthy relationship makes me feel like the fullest expression of myself. I feel more peaceful, grounded, and alive. I didn’t fully appreciate what an energy suck singleness is for me until I didn’t have it for a while. Facing life alone while hustling in an endless beauty pageant will never be a natural fit for me. What I’m good at is being part of a team and loving someone with everything I have. I soaked up every minute, but it still wasn’t enough time. It just wasn’t enough time.
What did you learn this year?
This is the chronological soundtrack of my 2016! The rules: no repeat artists (duets and feat.s don’t count) and the final product has to fit on a CD. You can listen to this playlist here, or to the longer unedited version here here. I make no apologies or excuses for my musical taste, and am pleased by how this year’s soundtrack came together. Fun fact: five of 20 songs directly include my One Word for the year.
1. A Beginning Song – The Decemberists
Let’s commence to coordinate our sights
Get them square to rights, get them square to rights
Condescend the calmest riot in your mind
Find yourself in time, find yourself in time
I was very into the latest Decemberists album at the end of 2015. I listened to this song on New Year’s Day and decided it was a good check-in for the start of my year.
2. Same Old Love – Selena Gomez
Where I stood romantically at the beginning of 2016: fully fed up with the BS doled out by most single dudes.
3. Stars – Demi Lovato
My favorite ironic-but-not ode to GOING OUT WITH MY CREW YO!!! It never fails to provide simple joy.
4. Cheap Thrills – Sia
The conclusion of this trio of enjoyable party-girl tunes. Sia is my current spirit animal. I am so attuned to her style that recently, while watching The Voice, I correctly recognized a song I hadn’t heard before as written (and not even originally recorded) by her.
5. Stressed Out – Twenty One Pilots
We used to play pretend, give each other different names
We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away
Used to dream of outer space, but now they’re laughing in our face
Saying, “Wake up, you need to make money”
Probably the best-written and most relatable pop song of the year.
6. Wait For It – Leslie Odom Jr. (from Hamilton)
I am the one thing in life I can control
I am inimitable, I am an original
I am not falling behind or running late
I’m not standing still, I am lying in wait
As everyone knows, this was my Year of Hamilton, and as everyone also knows, choosing a best or favorite Hamilton track is nearly impossible. But Wait For It consistently strikes closest to my heart and life experiences.
7. Gold – Kiiara
This first perked up my ears before a keynote session at the Festival of Faith & Writing. Lack of actual lyrics aside, it has a great vibe and is good for driving with the windows down.
8. Make Me Like You – Gwen Stefani
I was fine before I met you, I was broken but fine
I was lost and uncertain, but my heart was still mine
I was free before I met you, I was broken but free
All alone in the clear view, but now you are all I see
My feelings upon entering my first relationship in six years, appropriately written by my celebrity role model since high school, when I last knew him.
9. Be Okay – Oh Honey
Fresh cut grass, one cold beer
Thank the Lord I am here and now, here and now
Summer dress, favorite park
Bless your soul, we are here and now, here and now
A great expression of a couple of early-summer months when I was very happy.
10. Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
No 2016 Memphis wedding or event was complete without the latest JT!
11. Send My Love (To Your New Lover) – Adele
We’ve gotta let go of all of our ghosts
We both know we ain’t kids no more
One of the more fun tracks from 25 later turned out to be pretty applicable.
12. Never Be Like You – Flume + Kai
I’m only human can’t you see, I made, I made a mistake
Please just look me in my face, tell me everything’s okay
‘Cause I got it, I’ll never be like you
When I realized I was starting to relate to the rather unhealthy perspective of this hit song, I knew I had to rethink my relationship. On a purely musical note, I think the glittery chime effects juxtaposed with the dubstep and dark subject matter make this song really interesting.
13. How We Love – Ingrid Michaelson
We hate the rain when it fills up our shoes
But how we love when it washes our cars
We love to love when it fills up the room
But when it leaves, oh we’re cursing the stars
I was #blessed to see Ingrid Michaelson in Kansas City in October, with my sister, soon-to-be SIL, and her best friends. Though a longtime Ingrid fan, I wasn’t super familiar with the Human Again album and heard this song for the first time live. She played it quietly on a ukelele and everyone was transfixed. I think I may have cried a little. I definitely cried a little on subsequent listens.
14. 22 (Over Soon) – Bon Iver
Where you gonna look for confirmation?
And if it’s ever gonna happen
So as I’m standing at the station
It might be over soon
Everything about this weird little tune captured my exact mood when I first heard it one downhearted Wednesday morning. One of those time-capsule musical moments.
15. Morning Comes – Delta Rae
Oh, rain don’t change the sun
Jealous is the night when the morning comes
But it always comes
Delta Rae rocked my world when I blindly went to their September show at the Levitt Shell, and I feel like this song represents the arc of my whole year… the slowly increasing hope that my long night is ending.
16. Don’t Let Me Down – The Chainsmokers feat. Daya
Running out of time, I really thought you were on my side
But now there’s nobody by my side
I can’t stand most contemporary Christian music, but I have a tendency to find God in songs that aren’t about Him at all. Right or wrong, it hit me one day that this is my current prayer and psalm. It indirectly helped to inspire my One Word for next year. I generally love Daya – “Hide Away” and “Sit Still, Look Pretty” were contenders for this list.
17. White Flag – Joseph
Noises closing in from all sides, warning all the ways to die
They say “you’d better give up, you’d better give up”
I say “I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up”
The 2016 Gryffindor Anthem. Every year needs one! (See also Johnnyswim, “Diamonds,” previously)
18. When God Closes a Door – Larkin Poe
When God closes a door, He leads you up the stairs
Leave your earthly cares on the second floor
Then God cracks a couple skulls, God cracks a couple more
His plate is full on the second floor
I heard about Larkin Poe via Jayson Bradley‘s Instagram, investigated them on Spotify, and loved this song immediately. I don’t necessarily condone all the lyrics, but this image of God as biker vigilante amuses me. Jayson is correct that these sisters ROCK. They’re like Haim meets Johnny Cash.
19. Reflecting Light – Sam Phillips
Now that I’ve worn out, I’ve worn out the world
I’m on my knees in fascination, looking through the night
And the moon’s never seen me before
But I’m reflecting light
I really enjoyed the Gilmore Girls revival, and thought this closing song was beautiful.
20. Finish Line / Drown – Chance the Rapper feat. …errrbody
All my days, I prayed and prayed, and now I see the finish line
I’m gonna finish mine.
I kept hearing Chance the Rapper described as the most joyful rapper in the game, so I added a few of his recent songs to my running playlist. This one happened to come up as I was running through the campus of St. Jude during the St. Jude half-marathon, which everyone will tell you is an emotional experience, and it seemed perfect for the moment. Watching Chance perform it on SNL last weekend confirmed to me that it’s the right song to end 2016 on. I’ve been thankful to hit some important personal milestones this year, even as others remain ahead. My brother is getting married New Year’s Day, and I’ve already told him we need to dance to this at the pre-wedding New Year’s Eve party. May we all cross our finish lines in 2017!
I’ve done the same year-end survey every year since (I think) 2001. It’s a good tradition.
1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Ran a 15K; ran a half-marathon; ran two half-marathons; ran for St. Jude; got a membership to a yoga studio; learned to play poker; attended the Festival of Faith & Writing; had surgery; regularly worked from home; regularly attended a 6 am exercise class; took a certification exam; actually saw whales on a whale-watching tour; rode a San Francisco cable car; saw 20/20 with my own eyes; joined a weekly trivia team. Among other things.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My One Word for 2016 was Light. While I didn’t write much about it, I’ve reflected on it all year. I definitely feel lighter in every sense than I did in January. I’ll talk more about it when I share my word for 2017, which I’ve just decided on after weighing two options for several weeks.
3. Did anyone close to you have a child?
Two of my longtime closest friends, Kathy and Myla, had sons, and my SIPster Kelly had her second set of twins!
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
No new countries, and Kansas was my only new state.
6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked this year?
Balance. A better prayer life. A life partner.
7. What dates from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
April 4: the night my ex Matt and I decided we were Dating. May 28: ran the Memphis in May half with Bethany, with many of my favorite people waiting for me at the finish. That night Bethany, Alanna, and I went to Overton Square and had a Chad Michael Murray sighting. For these reasons and others, it was the happiest day of my year. June 23: vision surgery. November 8: Election Day.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I achieved a lot this year, but passing the Certified Paralegal exam on the first try after two months of independent study was a Very Big Deal.
9. What was your biggest failure?
I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer these days. I published nothing all year, and my only blog post of significance was Why I Quit Tinder in January. Even worse, I’ve pretty much dropped the private blog I kept up for fifteen years (primarily due to access issues, not lack of interest, but still). In summary, for the first time in my adult life, I am not writing reflectively or even documenting my days anywhere. I didn’t even make it to March with The 5-Minute Journal (I was depressed at the time, and it made me more depressed to write daily goals such as “don’t cry at work”). My reading is also at an all-time low – I’m not even going to hit 50 books this year. This is all unhealthy for me and I’m anxious about whether and how I can bounce back.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing notable, and even my recovery from PRK was as easy as it could have been. I feel really fortunate health-wise.
11. What was your best purchase?
My turquoise 1920s dresser. I wanted an adult chest of drawers for years (I’m still using my childhood dresser), and my friend Christina found an amazing one for me on a resale forum. I also paid off my car and upgraded my four-year-old phone!
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
This will sound terrible, but I’m just going to say it: ME. 2016 did its best to kick our collective ass, but I personally feel like I returned the favor. More than ever before, I believed in my own worth and strength. I took risky action to back up that belief, and consistently succeeded (though it didn’t always look like success). I refused to be mistreated or manipulated. I said no to things. I challenged myself and did things that scared me. I attempted to do all this as wisely and humbly as possible. I am faaar from perfect, but I’m very proud of my growth this year. In response to my hesitance to write this answer, a good friend said, “You carried your own light often, and that is admirable in every way and evidence of courage and healing.” So there, I’m owning it.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Someone with the initials DJT.
14. Where did most of your money go?
Tickets to events – concerts, sporting events, beer fests and classes, supper club, etc. I didn’t travel much, but I certainly did a lot close to home.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Having a boyfriend; my running progress; my brother’s engagement; passing the exam; seeing!
16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
“Cheap Thrills” by Sia. Also anything by Twenty One Pilots.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier; fatter (I Can Run 13.1, but None of My Jeans Fit: The Brenda Wilkerson Story); about the same.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Writing, reading, cooking, beach trips.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Dealing with broken items. Crying.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
I’ll spend it here in Memphis with my parents and brother.
21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
22. What concerts did you attend this year?
Sister Hazel, HAIM, Julien Baker, Young the Giant, Weezer, Weird Al Yankovic (bucket list!), Delta Rae, Lera Lynn, NEEDTOBREATHE with Mat Kearney, Ingrid Michaelson (also bucket list!).
23. What was your favorite TV program?
This Is Us
24. Do you dislike anyone now whom you didn’t dislike this time last year?
My opinions of people are holding pretty steady.
25. What was the best book you read?
The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer.
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The cast of Hamilton. ;)
27. What did you want and get?
Hope. Confidence. A real relationship. More men in my life in general. A new phone. A few moments of Perfect Happiness.
28. What did you want and not get?
Career progress. A longer-term relationship. A reliable, functioning vacuum cleaner.
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t think I saw even five movies in the theater this year, which is really sad. I guess Captain America: Civil War. It was awesome.
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 37. It was a Tuesday, so I went to work, and then my parents took me and Matt to Flight (my favorite restaurant).
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
I continued to simplify and hone in on my core style (those closest to me would sum it up in one word: cardigans). I’ve let go of having every color of the rainbow in my wardrobe, and eliminated colors I just don’t feel good in. I’ve gotten more casual overall as a result of my office allowing casual attire year-round (though I’m not completely phoning it in). Also, I now own more running and yoga clothes than I ever imagined, yet it never seems to be enough.
33. What kept you sane?
My loved ones and my cat. Also, unexpectedly, St. John’s Wort. I’ll talk more about this in What I Learned in 2016.
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
With great difficulty, I’ll limit it to two: Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of Hamilton and one of the most brilliant humans alive. Mayim Bialik, actress, neuroscientist, founder of Grok Nation, and all-around incredible person.
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
I am unable to choose just one in a year when the world was an ongoing dumpster fire.
36. Who did you miss?
My siblings and nieces, though they all live closer than they did at this time last year.
37. Who was the best new person you met?
I’ve met a LOT of great new people, but special props to my wonderful small group at church (I knew some of them before, but not well), and my friend Brandi, a new Memphian who loves the Midtown life as much as I do.
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Whisper, move the air
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Sometimes it’s all I’ve got to spare
Can you hear me? Can you hear me?
Noises closing in from all sides, warning all the ways to die
They say “you’d better give up, you’d better give up”
I say “I’ll never give up, I’ll never give up”
I’ll be an army, no, you’re not gonna stop me getting through
I’ll sing a marching song and stomp through the halls louder than you
I could surrender, but I’d just be pretending
No, I’d rather be dead than live a lie
Burn the white flag!
Somehow, we all survived November. I know I’m not alone in feeling like I’ve aged a year since November 8. I haven’t written about the election because my thoughts would be irrelevant; those who share them don’t need another log on the fire, and those who don’t share them will not be moved. Like many Americans, I’m still cocooning, remaining attentive, and figuring out how best to conduct myself and defend myself and others heading into the next few years. And that’s all I want to say about that. On with the countdown.
The highlight of my November was finding out I passed the certified paralegal exam I took in September! I worry that I’m talking about it too much or seem boastful, but here’s the deal: This test was hard. Many people go to school for years before taking it. Most of the content was totally new to me. My employer wanted me to wait until 2017 to take the exam, but I wasn’t having that (don’t tell me what I can’t do!). I taught myself the material in two months with one textbook, a pile of flashcards, endless Quizzle matching games, Law & Order and How to Get Away with Murder, determination, and prayer. Passing it all on the first try is one of the proudest accomplishments of my life to date. I was sure I’d be taking at least a couple of sections again, so when I opened the envelope and saw my certificate, I was so shocked and relieved I cried for ten minutes. All my adult life, I’ve wished for irrefutable paper proof that I Am Qualified to Do a Thing, and here it is. Wherever my life is going, this certification is something I will be thankful to have.
I’ve been in the thick of training for the St. Jude half-marathon on December 3. It’ll be my first St. Jude and second half. After a rough start, I’ve felt good and gained speed and strength the last couple of weeks, but yesterday something weird happened to my hip on my final 3-mile run. It doesn’t seem serious, but I’m a little freaked out. Praying I can stretch it out and have a good race.
Rebecca Traister’s All The Single Ladies has been on my TBR list since before it came out. The first few chapters enlightened and empowered me, the middle section bogged me down with depressing statistics about the many difficulties single women face, but by the end I felt cautiously hopeful again. This is an important book for anyone interested in how and why the balance of our society is changing, and it’s even more relevant now.
My only other book this month was Clinton Kelly’s new memoir, I Hate Everyone, Except You, via Netgalley. It was a fun read and I liked hearing about his family and the many turns his career has taken.
I watched all of Pitch, a fantastic all-star sports drama about the first female pitcher in major league baseball. It is SO, SO GOOD. Ginny’s workouts and general badassery have inspired me to push harder on many a training run. Over Thanksgiving weekend, I indulged in the whole Gilmore Girls revival. I’m only a middling fan, but I thoroughly enjoyed these four episodes, and Emily Gilmore was my MVP. I mean: “It’s in an envelope labeled ‘Body Shipping Cash.'”
PS: This Is Us is still the best show on television.
My general running playlist has about 300 songs on it, but I created a shorter second one for MY JAMS. Feel free to borrow if you need tunes for a 5K or 10K.
November brings my favorite arts event of the year, New Ballet Ensemble‘s Nut Remix. It’s a reimagined Nutcracker set in Memphis and incorporating blues, jazz, and other types of dancing. This was my fifth (?) year, and I was psyched that Lil Buck was back!
The Voice of the Heart is So Hot Right Now at my church. I still haven’t read it, but one Friday night this month, we had a seminar on related topics with two counselors from Chip Dodd’s counseling firm. I always appreciate church-sponsored events focused on real spiritual and emotional health instead of, like, holiness formulas. This event happened to be the day after I found out I’d passed my paralegal exam, and my friends’ heartfelt hugs and congratulations gave me so much joy. I think it was the first time in my life I felt truly celebrated by an official group of Christian women for something unrelated to my relationship status. Christ City: We’re not perfect, but we’re still kind of rocking it.
I went to my first You Look Like a Comedy Show, where local comedians roast each other in five-minute increments. Thankfully, they only take one audience volunteer per show, and there are usually plenty of those for some reason.
In local craft beer activities, we had a Supper Club at High Cotton catered by Sushi Jimmi, and I went to a “Pre-Black Friday Black IPA” class at Wiseacre.
Tiger basketball season has begun, and after some initial misgivings after his hire, I am on board the Tubby Train. I like his relaxed vibe and the renewed energy I see in the players, and even though we’re basically playing high-school teams, 5-1 isn’t a bad start for a brand-new coach. I think it’s going to be a fun season! We also closed out football by beating top-20 Houston. I came back early from Nashville to be there and it was a great game. FYI, this is the first time all three major Memphis sports teams (Grizzlies, Tiger football, and Tiger basketball) have had new coaches at the same time.
I went to our new pedestrian bridge with Ashley, Becky, and Brandi (who wouldn’t get in the picture :)). I look forward to exploring it more on whatever warmish days we get in the coming months!
After visiting my soon-to-be SIL and her carefully curated home, I decided to take the plunge and make my second bedroom into a space I can really use and enjoy. I sold my large guest bed and bought this comfy, well-structured sofa sleeper (which the delivery men got upstairs in one try, God bless them). The rest of the updates should happen in December!
I went to Nashville twice: once for a high school band reunion that got canceled (long story), and once for Thanksgiving. On the earlier weekend, the Opryland Hotel had just put up their Christmas lights, so Debra and I went with my BIL and nieces to see them! I’m generally opposed to any Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I love the Opryland lights and knew it would be a madhouse if we waited for the appropriate time.
Your Monthly Rufus:
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
Someone tweeted this passage from the Episcopal Liturgy for Social Justice, and I still want to letter it for my inspiration wall.
On The Blog:
I participated in Hollywood Housewife’s annual One Day! I have many actual posts I want to write in December. Fingers crossed for adequate time and a non-burned-out brain.
♥ Sara Benincasa: What David S. Pumpkins Taught Me About Life
♥ Heather Caliri: You Can Be Weirdly Whole in the Worst Relationships
♥ Jody Casella: The Day Had Started Out Lovely
♥ This challenged me in the best way: Yeah Charleston: Safety pins, symbolism, and why I was like “naw, Son”.
♥ Felicia Horowitz: An Unlikely Meeting of Hope
♥ From our local paper, a Geoff Calkins piece about a great former Tiger: Will Coleman trades dunking for doughnuts
Every November, Hollywood Housewife hosts a linkup called One Day, in which everyone posts the minutiae of their regular day that normally go undocumented. I’ve learned that these are the kinds of things you look back on and see how much in your life has changed (or not). While One Day is meant to happen on Instagram throughout the day, I prefer to post it all here as a photoessay!
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
5:30 am: On Wednesdays I get up an hour earlier than usual to go to 6 am yoga. I’m not a morning person in any sense of the word, but I’ve been attending this early class for a few months because I can (more on that shortly), and I’m getting used to it. Last week I felt too lethargic to go and regretted that decision all day. Anyway, I didn’t remember it was One Day until I’d been up for a few minutes, hence the later timestamp.
5:50 am: Brush teeth and head to yoga in my beloved Marc Gasol matador shirt, available here. Note the car temperature of 68 degrees, before 6 am, on November 2. Most years, I’m taking out my winter clothes around this time. This year, I haven’t even worn a jacket yet.
6-7:15 am: It’s a good class, even though my legs are so visibly tight from running that the teacher is concerned and brings me a block. I end up talking to her for a few minutes after class. She decides we should have a free recovery class the day after the St. Jude marathon/half for all the runners. Woo!
7:20 am: Get home, start the coffee, complete quickest shower/hair/makeup job yet.
My primping area/inspiration wall is one of my favorite spots in my house. I wanted a vanity all my life and never had one until I moved here. I actually bought this desk the day after I moved, from a guy who sells handmade furniture on Craigslist from behind his house on North McLean. It felt like the Midtowniest thing ever on my first full day as a Midtowner, and I still smile when I think about it.
My go-tos: Real Techniques brushes and Makeup Revolution eyeshadow palettes. So glad I can get some MR products at Ulta now instead of placing an annual order to England.
8:00 am: Since May, I’ve been working from home one day a week on Wednesdays. My VP offered us the option, and it is the best. Having my day in the middle of the week is also great because I’m never in the office for more than two days in a row. I actually get a lot done with no one distracting me, and the overall impact on my emotional/mental health has been huge. I don’t have a home office space, so I work here at my dining table.
Every other morning of the week, my breakfast consists of a package of Bel Vita biscuits eaten in the car, but on Wednesdays I can have a real breakfast and coffee in a real mug! It’s amazing how such a small thing can make you feel more like a human being. I usually have two poached eggs and some sort of fruit, which I eat while checking the overnight e-mails.
9:30 am: The St. Jude corral list is out, and this is probably where I should be. This will be my second half-marathon, and training isn’t going as well as it did the first time. I’ve been struggling to convince myself that I should be proud of myself just for doing this (again) and it doesn’t matter how slow I am. Sigh. Also: typical convo with the BFF, today about the new furniture I’m having delivered later. (Spoiler alert: I tipped them well, because they totally earned it.)
10:00 am: The best thing about working from home is a whole day of togetherness with Rufus. However, he likes to jump onto and around the keyboard, and it’s probably a matter of time before he accidentally sends an e-mail and I’ll have to tell someone, “Please excuse that e-mail from my cat.”
10:30 am: I pinned this narwhal glass a year ago, and finally bought it last weekend, when I was at Anthropologie trying to find a dress for my brother’s wedding. It’s pretty small, but I’m going to use it for some iced tea anyway!
I’m the type who needs a physical planner I can write in, and I don’t trust my memory of my schedule unless the planner is in front of me. I’ve been using this Filofax for a couple of years and still love it. I make it more exciting with Project life cards. The little shell notebook is for grocery and to-do lists. (Spoiler alert: I forgot to take it with me when I went to the store later.)
12:00 pm: My new sleeper sofa is here! I’m on a quest to make my second bedroom into a room I can actually use and enjoy. Last week I sold the queen bed that used to be in there, and this is Step 2. I wasn’t sure it would fit up my narrow staircase and through the narrow door, but the delivery men assessed the situation and got it upstairs on the first try. Excited!!
12:45 pm: Today is the grand opening of my neighborhood Kroger that has been in process and under construction for at least two years. It is a huge deal. I was going to wait a few days to go, but Kelsey texted me to exclaim about it, and I do need a couple of things. So I take a quick break to check it out. It’s very tidy and has lots of cool amenities!
1:30 pm: On the way home, I hear this song for the first time. I’m not a huge Bon Iver fan, but something about it really resonates with me in this moment.
Back to work while finally eating some lunch. I grabbed a cup of broccoli cheese soup from the brand-new salad bar area.
2:15 pm: It rains lightly for about five minutes (drops barely visible on the patio planter). We’re in a drought, so this is worth noting. Between the overcastness and this Ingrid Michaelson song, I feel really melancholy for a few minutes. For various reasons, I’ve been pretty down this past week or so. Life.
3:30 pm: Because I need to appear in my own day, here’s what I’m wearing. Usually I do get presentable and wear actual clothes when I work from home, because you never know what a day will bring. This shirt is distressed in the back and I like it a lot.
5:10 pm: It’s a pretty evening now, and here’s the extent of our fall color so far, from my patio.
6:20 pm: Domestic tasks. I hang the clean shirts to dry; I don’t put my tops in the dryer. (Yes, there are five gray shirts there. So what?) I also have time to make a pot of one of my favorite soups and eat some before small group.
7:30 pm: Last summer, I joined a prayer class through my church. When the class was over, some of us stayed on and evolved into a “story group” (our current term for small groups; I’m sure it’ll be something else next year). We meet weekly and take turns hosting, and tonight is my turn. I made pumpkin pie dip. It’s a hit!
My lifetime track record with small groups isn’t great, but I can honestly say this group is one of the best things in my life right now. We’re “age and stage” diverse, and every one of us has Been Through It in one way or another. It’s the church island of misfit toys I’ve looked for all my adult life. We talk about last week’s sermon, some things I’m dealing with (because Dianne notices that I look upset), and crazy things that have happened to other members of the group. At the end, they kindly pray for me and then we turn on Game 7 of the World Series. We’re all rooting for the Cubs. Meanwhile, Rufus goes from lap to lap and chair to chair being adored.
11:00 pm: Bedtime routine. The mascara tube is a combo of castor oil and almond oil for healthier eyelashes. I’m constantly looking for eyelash helps, since they’re still getting flattened by my sleep mask.
The last friends have gone home, but I’m sticking with this game till the end because I refuse to miss history!! To stay alert, I replace some earring hooks. I recently found a pack of non-allergenic hooks on Amazon, and am systematically switching them out on all the fake earrings that hurt my ears. Yay for budget-friendly solutions!
11:45 pm: CUBS WIN! CUBS WIN! I’ve never been super into MLB in general, but I know many devout, lifelong Cubs fans, and I’m incredibly happy for them. They earned this! (Sorry, Indians, I would have rooted for you under any other circumstances.)
12:03 am: Okay, it’s technically tomorrow. But this is where my day concludes. Good night!
Hi. I really miss writing, but, you know. Life.
So far, I’m struggling to get ready for my second half-marathon. I didn’t run much over the summer because I couldn’t handle the heat, and, well, the heat is still around. I never expected this to be a factor in training for St. Jude, which is December 3. I’m doing my best to power through and not beat myself up about how slow I am. Hopefully it’ll cool off for the race and I’ll feel like I can fly.
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed has been on my list for months, and it’s more relevant than ever. This book examines the lives of people who have been destroyed by one mistake or stupid comment, and how our society arrived at its current merciless state. Very important read. I also finally read Sweetbitter, one of the current It Novels. While I felt removed from the characters, it’s beautifully written and I wanted to discuss it with someone as soon as I finished it.
I’m obsessed with David S. Pumpkins. ANY QUESTIONS?!?
Banks finally released a new album!!! I’ve also been enjoying some Delta Rae after seeing them at the Shell last month. I have a lot of Daya songs on my running playlist, and “Don’t Let Me Down” has become my unexpected pop prayer of 2016.
Luke’s Diner came to City & State! While I’m not rabid about Gilmore Girls, I was still excited to go with my mom. I watched the PBS Hamilton documentary at Rec Room with other passionate Hamilfans. My friend Wes had his plate party at Flying Saucer (200 beers!). I ran a 5K at Shelby Farms for Operation Broken Silence, one of the charities I support. It was my first visit to Shelby Farms since its renovation, and the park looks amazing.
Other social events: I checked out River Arts Fest for the first time. I went to a mini-high school reunion and talked to some people I hadn’t seen in forever. I’m suddenly reconnecting with a lot of people from high school this year!
In Midtown, October means Cooper-Young Beerfest, and this was another great one! My favorite new source was Exit 6 Brewery out of St. Charles, Missouri.
Two new friends I’ve been hanging out with in October: Vada, who’s in my small group at church, and Brandi, who recently moved here from Montana. We went to South Main Trolley Night together last week and all loved the LeMonster exhibit at Memphis College of Art!
When I moved a year and a half ago, I had to combine my previously separate guest room and office/craft room. There’s no consistency to the space and I hardly spend any time in there. This month I suddenly remembered I can change things to make it a room I can actually use and enjoy. I really don’t have guests often enough to justify keeping a queen bed that dominates the room, so I sold the bed and bought a nice sofa sleeper, which will be delivered this week. I’m still picking out a new desk, bookcases (IKEA is coming soon!), and a new paint color. Hashtag excitement!
I forgot to mention last month that my brother got engaged!! Kevin and Stefanie have been on and off for eight years, and I’m thrilled to have her in the family. I truly feel like I’m gaining a sister. They’re getting married New Year’s Day. My mom, Debra, and I went to Kansas City this month for Stefanie’s bridal shower. We spent quality time with Stef’s family and friends, hung out at her beautiful house, checked out some of the hot spots, AND saw Ingrid Michaelson, who has been on my concert bucket list for years! I knew it would be a great show, but it surpassed my high expectations. I’d never been to KC before, but I really like it and am looking forward to future trips back.
In a fit of retail therapy last weekend, I bought some Madden Girl over-the-knee boots. I’ve wanted over-the-knee boots for two years. If anything, I needed black tall boots, but I don’t think I’ll regret these!
Since my old phone was needing to recharge three times a day, I finally upgraded to an iPhone 6s! (Headphones are important to me, so I’ll avoid the no-jack phones as long as I can.) I’m pretty enamored with it. My only complaint was that it wasn’t connecting to the Bluetooth in my car, but I found a fix after extensive Googling.
I’ve been meaning to share the Gospel of the JavaSok for a while. I got tired of my drinks condensing all over the place at work, and figured if there are koozies for coffee and beer, there must be one for your standard plastic cup. Eight bucks on Amazon. Game changer!
Non-materialistic happiness: in Tiger football news, the Tigers completed their first kickoff return for a touchdown since 1996, when we beat UT and Peyton Manning. I was there when the 20-year streak was broken. It was awesome, and I’m especially thankful for that moment since we’re now on a three-game losing streak.
Your Monthly Rufus:
In a distressing/amusing development, Rufus learned how to jump the patio fence this month. He now has to be supervised very closely outside… but if he lets me put his harness and leash on him, I can take him for walks, and maybe eventually to the park or something! Now that he’s conquered the fence, he’s generally climbing higher than ever.
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
♥ I loathed Kesha back in her early dollar-sign days, but this piece by Taffy Brodesser-Akner in the New York Times gave me new respect and sympathy for her. Kesha, Interrupted
♥ Alison Gary: ’90s Fashion: The Great Equalizer
♥ Anna Smith: I’m Not Busy. Do I Still Exist?
♥ Jonalyn Fincher: New Smartphone Habits for Election Season
♥ This piece by Elana Rabinowitz at Solo-ish hit me in the gut: ‘You’re beautiful,’ he said. I didn’t believe him.
♥ Nelle Smith: A Blessing for Having Reached This Point
♥ “I’ve come a long, long way, and I’m only able to learn from the healthy advice in Boundaries in Dating because I now believe things that my old, evangelical, on-fire-for-God self would see as completely blasphemous.” Perfect Number concludes her readalong of one of the Boundaries books, and as usual, there’s a lot to chew on.
♥ Smile of the month: Lori Shandle-Fox at Grok Nation: Meeting My Straight Mr. Right at a Gay Soiree
I just got home from a weeklong, multi-city trip, so this post is late, but I couldn’t let last month go undocumented. As is the case with most Septembers of my life, A LOT happened.
In mid-September, I took the CLA/CP exam to become a certified paralegal. After throwing paralegal law at myself for two months via any means I could find, I took all five sections of the test over the course of two days. Whatever sections I don’t pass, I can re-take indefinitely, starting next January. The first-time pass rate is only 40%, but for various reasons, I felt very driven to hit a home run on the first try. I worked really hard, did the best I could, and am proud of myself for that. We’ll find out in November if it was enough.
It’s Tiger football season! Our group kept our existing season ticket seats, which have been upgraded to actual stadium seats instead of benches. Woo! We were 3-0 in September, making our new coach the first in Tiger history to hit that milestone in his debut season! But we lost to Ole Miss last weekend. I don’t want to talk about it.
Serious/sad news: Matt and I broke up over Labor Day weekend. It was amicable and we’re on good terms – I’m thankful for that. I’m doing okay, though I still have low moments.
My September book count was decent due to a minor binge at month end, but I felt meh about most of my choices. I really enjoyed Hannah Brencher’s If You Find This Letter and the Young House Love book, Lovable Livable Home (I allowed myself a few pages of fun, soothing interiors in between study sessions). I’d heard a lot of hype about Boy21; it was a tough read in some ways, but I give it props for its uniqueness and rawness. I was excited to check out Sarah Vowell’s biography of America’s Favorite Fighting Frenchman, but struggled through it for some reason.
Parenthood heir apparent This Is Us is the first show I’ve fallen in love with in a long time. I’m also excited about Designated Survivor and Pitch, though I haven’t seen the latter yet. Well done, networks!
Kelsey and I went to NEEDTOBREATHE’s Tour de Compadres, with Mat Kearney. It was my fourth NTB show and the closest I’d ever been to the stage! In September I also saw Delta Rae at the Shell (they blew me away) and Sheryl Crow at Live at the Garden. We were way in the back, but she played all the hits and it was still great.
No one lacks for things to do in Memphis in the fall and spring! My favorite fall event is Cooper-Young Festival, or as local media calls it, Midtown Christmas. I ran the CY 4-Miler on the Friday night, despite 95-degree temperatures and taking four sections of an exam earlier the same day. (This gives me a little hope for my second half-marathon training, which I haven’t started yet.) Saturday was the actual fest, and Alanna and I wandered around for several hours. We ran into friends, bought jewelry, discovered cool new makers (Crybaby Girl Gang!!), and basked in the Midtown-ness.
Alanna and I also went to BreakFest, a brunch festival that started (and sold out) last year. This year’s event was smaller and HOT, but we won some Grizzlies tickets while eating delicious breakfast foods.
My mom and I attended a Tour of Homes in my historic neighborhood – we wanted to go last year, but were out of town. One of the homes had original works by Chagall and Dali. I got heart palpitations just standing next to them.
My friend Gwen moved to Chicago for a new job. We had a goodbye dinner for her at the Majestic, which was the first place she ate when she moved to Memphis!
This magnetic organizer is bringing me joy. I used to keep my often-used kitchen utensils in a vase, but having them over the sink keeps them in closer reach and makes the countertop less cluttery. I wish I’d gotten this a year ago.
Last week I went to Miami for the best work conference I’ve ever been to! I had fun with my co-workers and met other legal peeps from around the world. We had dinner and dancing at the beach and stayed at a fairly swanky hotel in Brickell. Our last night was a Miami Vice party, which ended up a full-blown 80s party. One team dressed up like a flock of Richard Simmonses, and, at one point in the evening, swept me off my feet. Expect to see this on the Christmas card.
I flew in a little early to spend some time with my grandparents and nearby uncle and cousins. It was a good visit! On Monday night, my grandfather was keen to watch the presidential debate. I told him if he wanted me to get through that, I was going to need a drink. So he broke out the Chardonnay for me. Good times.
As a huge Makeup Revolution fan, I was intrigued by their New-trals vs. Neutrals palette at Ulta. It looked like a potential semi-dupe for the Too Faced Sweet Peach palette I’d been eyeing. Well, dupe or not, it’s fantastic! I used it almost exclusively in September and am not bored with it yet.
I chose my garden plants to attract bees and butterflies, so it’s been exciting to see lots of both in August and September. One day I was eating lunch on my patio and noticed two unusual creatures in the plants. They looked like bees but flew like hummingbirds. This was the best picture I could get. After extensive Googling, I found out they’re a type of hummingbird moth (a snowberry clearwing). SO COOL. The next week, I thought I saw them again, so I went outside and a pair of actual hummingbirds swooped down, flew right around my head for a few seconds, then flew away. It was amazing. My friend Sara and I are both currently into sensing God’s presence in nature, so I told her about it right away and we were extra excited.
Your Monthly Rufus:
We celebrated his first Gotcha Day on September 16! I’m so glad I have him.
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
Posts I Loved:
Similar themes this month. Sorry-not-sorry?
♥ Stacy London at Refinery29: How I Moved On From My “What Not to Wear” Style
♥ Matt Fray: The Magic of Boundaries: Date Well, Marry the Right Person, and Love Hard Forever (I thought about this one for days.)
♥ My friend Becca: On Fear-Based Silence
♥ Mandy Stadt at The Cut: “I’m remarried, so why does my divorce still feel like a failure?”
Another birthday month has come and gone. I celebrated 37 at Loflin Yard a few days in advance, in a co-birthday party with Alanna and a lot of great friends. On my actual birthday, my parents took Matt and me to Flight, my favorite restaurant!
The current focus of my life is the CLA/CP exam to become a certified paralegal. I’ve been classified as a paralegal at work for a year and a half and decided I might as well be a licensed one. I’m taking the exam in mid-September, i.e. attempting to teach myself in two months what many people go to school for months or years to learn. So I know it’ll be understandable if I don’t pass all five sections on the first try, but I’m trying for a sweep. In any case, I wasn’t willing to wait until January (the next test period) to do the only thing I can really do for my career right now. I naturally test well and there’s no reason not to give it a shot. Even if I fail a couple of sections, it’ll be progress. I’m hoping to share tips and some of my experience after the fact.
I won Glennon Melton’s new memoir, Love Warrior, on Goodreads and read the entire thing under a tree in Overton Park one Sunday afternoon. With this book, Glennon claimed her permanent place on my panel of personal gurus. I connect with her and her message on a level I don’t have words for.
I’m still not sure how I feel about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I enjoyed it, but it felt… unreal, in the context of the wizarding world we know. Maybe I’ll like it more and/or sort out my thoughts on subsequent readings.
I finally checked out the first volume of the latest Shadowhunters trilogy, and I think its themes are the most interesting and complex yet! I also love the increasing overlap between old (some really old) and new characters.
With so many words in my head from studying, Netflix has been more appealing this month. Matt convinced me to start Parks & Rec at last, and I started How to Get Away with Murder because it’s set in law school and might help me. It’s not my usual type of show, but I’m loving it. I also watched The Big Short last week and think it should be required viewing for everyone. Preferably before the election. Seriously.
Like everyone else, I spent most of August watching the Olympics. It’s a biennial sobfest for me. I’ve always felt attached to Michael Phelps, I think because he reminds me a lot of my brother, and am so glad he had a great last Olympic experience.
I signed up for Sling TV so I could watch all the Olympic channels, then found out the basic package I chose didn’t include them. I think I’ll hold onto it for at least another month, though, since it comes with two ESPNs and football is about to start. I got rid of cable several years ago and only miss the sports.
The Shipping Room podcast (about all kinds of fictional couples) has become my personal runner-up to Best of Friends Podcast. I also enjoy the occasional Hamilcast!
Gwen and I went to Crosstown Arts for Fish, an immersive experience with light and digital images projected onto line paintings of fish and other marine stuff. It was a refreshing activity on a hot summer afternoon.
My church held another Civil Pour event at Loflin Yard, inviting people to come discourse politely about our current political climate. I showed up to honor this bravery, though I didn’t say anything, and everyone did remain civil. It’s possible!
In honor of Elvis’s Death Week, the Flying Saucer made an elf Elvis pint glass. My birthday has been overshadowed by Elvis’s death day all my life, so I had to have it.
A big group of us went to Choose 901 slash Grit & Grind night at the Redbirds. #MemphisUnited
A few months ago I splurged on a perfect pair of leopard-print flats on Poshmark. Unfortunately, the previous owner had stretched them out so badly, they wouldn’t stay on for one step, despite multiple attempts to shrink or pad them. This month I finally caved and spent as much again on a brand-new pair from the Steve Madden website. Moral of the story: never buy shoes with no return policy, even if it’s a brand I know.
Matt and I went to Land Between the Lakes for a weekend. I’d been once with my parents two years ago, but that was a Jetski-focused trip. We did a couple of short hikes and checked out the nature center, elk and bison range (twice!), and planetarium. One year from our visit, LBL will be directly in the path of a solar eclipse, and the planetarium staff are very excited! Due to rain, we never got to swim, so I still don’t know where the good public beaches are. But it’s a very pretty area with lots of animals!
Over the summer I participated in a prayer class through my church, and a few of us are continuing on in a “story group” (one of the new types of groups my church launched this month). Being involved in this diverse group, getting to know these people and learning about prayer in a new and liberating way, has already had a noticeable positive impact on my life. I feel a sense of security and connection that I didn’t have just a couple of months ago. The plan is for us to start serving on the prayer team too, which is crazy to me, since a stalled prayer life is what drove me to the class in the first place. (One of the many things I’d love to write about here if I had time.) I’m thankful and a little excited.
Your Monthly Rufus:
Pinterest Quote of the Month:
Posts I Loved:
♥ Abernathy Bland, making me cry as usual, wrote a beautiful reflection on the life and death of her Aunt Sissy.
♥ Mark Manson: Is It Just Me, Or Is the World Going Crazy?
♥ Abby Norman on the Final Five: Patriarchy and Performance
♥ Heather Caliri: Do You Wish You Could Change Your Story?
♥ Mayim Bialik on O.J.: Made in America (when is this coming to streaming?).
♥ Amy at The Messy Middle: Holding the Long View in Mind
♥ C. Jane Kendrick’s desert adventure with her three young daughters made me smile.