For five years, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I’ve participated in One Word 365. I usually start putting out intuitive feelers for my next word around Thanksgiving. I think and pray about what I’ve been struggling with, what I want to work on, my hopes and goals for the new year. I make a mental shortlist, spend time with each option to see which feels right, and don’t make a final decision until the last minute. Well, that process didn’t quite play out this year. 2018 came to me earlier and more clearly than any of the others. I like to get a word-related piece of jewelry each year, and I was so sure of my choice, I went ahead and ordered a bracelet.

On New Year’s Day, I got a sense that 2018 will be a quieter year for me, more about rooting than charging out and conquering. I could be wrong – and I don’t intend to sit on the sidelines – but I think it’s a time to be peaceful and enjoy reaping a harvest. As I thought about this, I suddenly wondered if I made a mistake, if I chose an aggressive word on autopilot because that’s just what I do now. But I’ve decided these hunches and my word are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I need some external peacefulness to have the internal capacity to wrestle with this word. So I give you:


There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – I John 4:18

Be truthful, gentle, and fearless. ― Gandhi

Becoming fearless isn’t the point. That’s impossible. It’s learning how to control your fear, and how to be free from it. ― Veronica Roth

There are no guarantees except this one: if we dwell on our fears, we will definitely miss the joys of the unexpected. — Arianna Huffington

Fear is not real. It is a product of thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice. — Will Smith

In our particular historical situation, waiting is even more difficult because we are so fearful. One of the most pervasive emotions in the atmosphere around us is fear. People are afraid – afraid of inner feelings, afraid of other people, and also afraid of the future. – Henri Nouwen

We get used to living one way, even if it’s a bad way or a hard one. When that’s gone, there’s a hole to fill. It’s in our nature to try to fill it with anxieties and fears. It can take time to fill it with good things instead. ― Cassandra Clare


On the far side of any life-altering trauma, fear is a tricky thing. On one hand, surviving something awful gives you the strength and confidence to feel like fear should have no more power over you. On the other hand, you have a permanent limp and are unsure how much more you can survive. As an Enneagram Six, I’ve struggled with fear and anxiety all my life, but the last eight years have changed the landscape. I’m stronger than I ever thought I could be, but I’ve also felt sure at times that one more blow would do me in. Even the improvements in my circumstances have produced new fears, from taking more chances and having more to lose. The continuing evolution of my faith and how I’m living it out freaks me out here and there. Meanwhile, on a macro level, the world is an increasingly scary and unstable place.

In 2017, I found myself paralyzed by fear regularly. Rarely for more than a few moments, but more often than I deemed acceptable. I think I’ve dealt with it okay, but in a momentary get a hold of yourself type way. Growing beyond that is what I’m after with Fearless. From the first moment it popped into my brain, I’ve never meant it to be about crazy stunts or anything. This is about my mind and heart. I prayed for abundance, and amazingly, I got it. Now I have a lot of fears to shake off:

♥ Fear of failure as I learn a job I haven’t done before.

♥ Fear of consistently being vulnerable with my boyfriend, trusting the process of a relationship between two imperfect people, and maintaining that it doesn’t have to conform to anyone else’s expectations.

♥ Fear of permanently returning to an emotionally and spiritually low place. Always waiting for the other shoe to drop.

♥ Fear of God (and not the “good” kind). My relationship with God is mostly on a sliding scale between wariness and outright fear. Ultimately, I believe most of my spiritual reconstruction has been healthy and good. This part needs more work. I have to overcome my fear of God in order to trust him again. I don’t have a clue how to accomplish that, but this word is my way of offering up good intentions. I also subscribed to a daily “fear not” e-mail (“fear not” is the most frequent command in the Bible, though the actual number of times is debated).

♥ Fear of disapproval as I stand up for my beliefs and rights, and the rights of others. I’ve made progress in this area – I’ve had to – but it’s still excruciating. That fear is part of what’s kept me pretty silent here. I know there’s a cost for writing more honestly.

♥ Fear of disappointing people as I continue to set boundaries and say no to things. Turns out I’m not superhuman and cannot do everything everyone asks of me, even when they think I should.

So there you go. #Fearless2018. If you have a word for this year, tell me about it!

Wrap bracelet by Sunchaser Fine Art


About my previous One Words:
2017: Abundance // 2016: Light // 2015: Enough // 2014: Alive // 2013: Focus

1 Comment + Posted in: one word: fearless


This is a linkup with Emily Freeman that I’ve done for several years!

[ICYMI: The 2017 Survey // The 2017 Soundtrack // Best Books 2017 // Best Beauty 2017]


I am employable. When you’ve had the same job since you were 21, and it took a while to find that one, and you’ve been passed over for promotions multiple times, it’s easy to feel like no one else would ever want to hire you (hello scarcity!). But in 2017, I had multiple proofs that that was not true (hello abundance!). In my few weeks at my new job, I have felt consistently empowered, validated, and capable. I’m in a completely new field and haven’t done anything major yet, but so far, my knowledge and experience translates. Every connection I make feels amazing. I’ve had a career impostor monkey on my back my entire adult life, and I cannot express how freeing it is to be rid of it.

Feliway works! Rufus is affectionate and likes people, but he also has a little bit of a biting problem. Over the first half of the year, he got more and more aggressive until my arms and legs were so cut up I was afraid people were getting concerned about me. It was also affecting our relationship, as you might imagine. In desperation I shelled out for this pheromone plug-in and he calmed down almost immediately. Now I can tell by his behavior when it’s time for a replacement. BTW, I have a few theories about why he bites, one of them being the dog next door.

Sometimes you have to choose growth and health over convenience. I gave up a short drive, a weekly at-home day, midday exercise, a co-pay health plan, abundant PTO, work I could do in my sleep, and a lot of flexibility to take this new job. I had a well-ironed-out (if also burned out) life, and now I barely know which end is up. I grieve the loss of those things here and there, but IT WAS WORTH IT. Every day I’m away from the old chaos, my mind is a little clearer and I feel a little more centered. I chose adventure in an environment where I can become my best self, and that’s what’s important. Everything else will work itself out over time. Repeat to self daily.

♥ On a related note, it takes a long time to recover from burnout. An excessively long time. By my estimation, I’ve been actively burned out for at least a year and probably longer. I’ve been professionally advised that it could take a year from this point to get up to “full strength.” So I’m in a constant battle not to give up on myself in those moments when I don’t know why I can’t handle life.

I need to take more steps. My parents got me a Garmin Vivosmart HR for Christmas, and the last few days have been eye-opening. It started me at 7500 steps a day. On my first day, I got 2600. I have a lot of work to do.

Lake Michigan looks like an ocean but smells like a lake, and that is very confusing.

Editing a book is enjoyable but harder than I thought. I forgot to add this to my list of “things I’ve never done before,” but I edited my sister’s best friend’s novel. I figured I’d just read it and make some comments. I didn’t realize how many cylinders in my brain would be firing. I was analyzing grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, plot, scene structure, character development, etc. etc. etc. But the work felt really natural and satisfying to me, and Erin was pleased. So if you need someone to take a pass at your book, I’m available, but I’ll be charging accordingly. ;)

Like pregnancies (so I’ve been told), no two half-marathon trainings are alike. Preparing for my first half in May 2016 was joyful and empowering. The second was tougher. The third, this month, was a straight-up slog. I’m not sure if I peaked at the beginning of my running career or what. I’m registered for a ramp-up race series that starts next month, so we’ll see how that goes.

Do not have your checking account and savings account at two different banks. Just don’t.

It’s okay to pursue joy now, because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. I know I’m not alone in the sense that America as we’ve known it is dancing closer to a precipice. Since last fall I have been gradually robbed of my faith that “it can’t happen here” (fill in the blank with whatever “it” is to you). I’m not rending my garments or doomsday prepping or anything, but I am very aware that our society already looks different than it did a year ago, and despite the best efforts of good people, it might continue to get worse. Anything could happen, slowly, or in one fell swoop. So I’m really appreciating my current bounty and privileges, and enjoying what makes me happy without feeling weird guilt about it.

A total solar eclipse is worth going out of your way for. Taylor and I drove to Nashville to see the eclipse with my sister and her family. Memphis was getting 90-something percent totality and I honestly didn’t think it would be that different, but it seemed worthwhile to go under the circumstances. Well, the difference between a 99% and 100% eclipse is EVERYTHING. I will never forget the sudden darkness in my peripheral vision, feeling the air get cool around me, and the 360-degree sunset. Experiencing that changed me on some sort of cellular level. The next total solar eclipse in North America is in April 2024, and if it’s at all possible for you to get into the path, I cannot recommend it enough. I plan to be there!


What did you learn this year?

Add a Comment + Posted in: reflections, year end

I put an embarrassing quantity of my resources into researching and experimenting with beauty products, and it’s time for everyone to benefit! I get zero kickbacks from these recommendations or links. Just having fun!



NYX HD Professional Eyeshadow Base // Makeup Revolution New-trals vs. Neutrals Eyeshadow Palette // L’Oreal Colour Riche Shadow Quads in Haute Hazel // Maybelline The Falsies Push-Up Angel Waterproof Mascara // Cover Girl Perfect Point Plus Eyeliner

2017 was my year for learning about primer, and I lucked out on the first try with this NYX eye primer. Even after a long run at the end of the day, my eyeshadow still looks fresh. It’s pretty amazing.

Technically I started using the New-trals vs. Neutrals palette in 2016, but it remained my favorite this year, and that’s saying a lot given my MR palette haul in September! The reds and purples are on trend without being too much. I’ve also gotten compliments every time I’ve used this L’Oreal quad. Blue eyeshadow will always seem really 80s to me, so I feel fun and rebellious wearing it.

Best In Show: I tried MANY mascaras this year, including the revered Benefit They’re Real!, but none came close to this Maybelline mascara with the Victoria’s Secret name. It lifts, curls, and enhances. I think I’m ready to put a ring on it.

I’m very picky about eyeliner, and remain pleasantly surprised by Cover Girl’s Perfect Point Plus, which I have in green and burgundy. The only other brands that pass my muster are L’Oreal Colour Riche and Rimmel Exaggerate Smoke n’ Shine. All other chalky, clumpy, and goopy eyeliners are dead to me.




L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte 24 Hour Foundation // Real Techniques Concealer Brush // Oz Naturals Ultra Ageless Eye Creme // NYX Tinted Brow Mascara

As I frequently gripe, the struggle of being a grown woman with a 16-year-old complexion is REAL. In my experience, most skincare and beauty companies have no idea what true oily skin is. But Infallible Pro-Matte is a very decent effort, even better than Maybelline Fit Me Matte, which I was using before. With the Pro-Matte foundation and powder, I can stay shine-free for about four hours. Woo!!

I use mostly Real Techniques makeup brushes and am glad I picked up the concealer brush this year. I think you have to buy it individually, as I haven’t seen it packaged with any of the face brush sets.

Despite my oily skin, my undereye area is starting to need more serious attention. After trying a few meh options, I found this Oz Naturals cream in an Amazon search and have been really happy with it! I use this at night, and Garnier Moisture Rescue gel cream during the day.

This NYX brow mascara is the easiest brow product out there if you’ve used all your primping time on other stuff (i.e. me every day). I use Brunette (Chocolate was too light).



Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy Longwear Nail Enamel in Hold ‘Em and Double Down // OPI Do You Sea What I Sea?


First of all, I couldn’t save a product photo, but CVS Beauty 360 Pro Strength Nail Polish Remover has CHANGED MY LIFE. I keep my nails painted 90% of the time, not for vanity, but because they split and break otherwise. I’m good at doing them myself, but when I feel an urge to go to the salon, it’s often largely so someone will remove old polish for me. I used to spend 10 minutes scrubbing it off. Then I discovered this stuff. Even glitter polish is no match for it. Best $5 ever spent.

This year I mostly wore Revlon Colorstay Gel Envy, which is cheap (especially at Target or Kroger), lasts a week or more, and comes in great colors. Here are two of my favorites. I also fell in love with this blue OPI shade on one of my occasional trips to Spa Nail.




Babyliss Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer // Brush Cleaning Mat // Palette Organizer

After replacing the same Conair hair dryer for most of my 30s, I decided to upgrade to this Babyliss Portofino dryer. It has a five-year warranty, and I have been VERY happy with it! Don’t bother with the matching Babyliss finger diffuser – get the generic $5 diffuser from Sally Beauty or Amazon instead. I felt the Babyliss one made my hair too flat. (Oh, and speaking of Sally, I love their coconut-infused comb so much I bought a second one for travel.)

Cleaning my makeup brushes used to feel like an ordeal, so I rarely did it, which we all know is no good. This makeup brush cleaning mat is efficient and makes the process a strangely satisfying BREEZE. The vendor on Amazon keeps changing, but the mat is the same and should never run you more than $6. Again, well worth it.

My aforementioned palette spree made my eyeshadow drawer hard to navigate, so I splurged on this pretty organizer. I love having all the palettes where I can see them, and everything is getting used more often!



I’m looking for tips and recommendations for the following:

♥ Eyeshadow crease brush. The Sonia Kashuk one I have isn’t really working.

♥ How on earth to use highlighter. I have a lovely Makeup Revolution highlighter palette that I occasionally take out, admire, and then put away with a shrug.

♥ Better eyeliner application. I’m pretty terrible at it.

♥ Oily skin products and/or curly hair products you’re using and loving!

♥ I enjoy makeup videos and tutorials, so share your favorites! (Bonus if they focus on affordable brands – point of reference, the only beauty vlogger I watch semi-regularly is ShanShortcake.)

2 Comments + Posted in: beauty, year end

Remember when I used to post in-depth monthly recaps of everything I read? And sometimes individual long reviews of ARCs I would get from Netgalley and BookLook Bloggers? Ha ha!! That’s too much for me these days, but I can handle a year-end book roundup. My reading time has become too precious to waste on books that aren’t enjoyable OR edifying to me, so I’m getting better at DNF-ing without guilt or shoulds. As a result, most of the following selections fall into obvious categories. I guess there are worse things than self-awareness about what your reading catnip is.


The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace, #2) – Erin Bow
The Scorpion Rules was my Best Fiction of 2015, and this sequel did not disappoint! Describing the plot will spoil the first book, so I’ll just say these stories are so original and worth your time.

Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices, #2) – Cassandra Clare
The latest Shadowhunters novel is probably Cassandra Clare’s best work to date. Emma, Julian, and the rest of the Blackthorn family find themselves in a politically charged race to find a powerful spellbook before someone worse does. This book is so incredibly relevant that I’m amazed it wasn’t written this year.

American War – Omar El Akkad
It’s the 2070s. The East Coast is underwater, and the Second American Civil War rages on. Born in Louisiana, Sarat grows up in a refugee camp in the sovereign state of The Mag (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia) after her father is killed. There, she becomes the protegee of a mysterious man and is molded into a patriot and assassin. I wouldn’t call this an enjoyable read, but I read it six months ago and it still haunts me regularly. If you can stomach it, I think it’s important. El Akkad is a decorated war journalist and has created a very believable scenario.

Magical Cats Mysteries by Sofie Kelly
On the other end of the spectrum, I have loved this cozy mystery series about a newly transplanted small-town librarian and her two cats who help her solve crimes using their special abilities. Kathleen and her friends, and of course the cats, are so real and lovable. Just suspend your disbelief and soak it up. I’m on the fifth book, Final Catcall, right now.

All Our Wrong Todays – Elan Mastai
“Every person you meet introduces the accident of that person to you. What can go right and what can go wrong. There is no intimacy without consequence.”
As sometimes happens, this became my Best Fiction of 2017 later upon reflection – I didn’t fully realize how good it was while I was reading it. Tom Barren lives in an alternate utopian 2016 that exists due to discovery of a clean, renewable energy source in his 1965. Full of ennui, he hijacks his father’s newly invented time machine and takes a trip with disastrous results. Now, in our 2016 that seems like a nightmare to him, he has a lot to figure out about family, love, purpose, and fixing his mistakes. This story will shake you up and make your head hurt at times, but it is SO, SO GOOD, and the “accident of a thing/person” concept referenced above is the truest thing I’ve read in a long time.

Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods (The Themis Files, #1 and #2) – Sylvain Neuvel
When Rose was a child, she fell through a hole in the ground behind her house and into a giant, glowing metal hand. Now she’s a grown-up physicist recruited by a nameless Keyser Soze figure to figure out what the hand is and discover its purpose. As Rose builds her team and puts the puzzle pieces together (sometimes literally), the big picture becomes less and less clear. These novels were my most purely enjoyable of the year. They’re smart, funny, suspenseful, and IMHO very visual in a way that would make them excellent movies. Love.

Maybe in Another Life – Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m a sucker for a Sliding Doors concept, and this novel tells the parallel stories of 29-year-old Hannah after she returns to Los Angeles to live with her best friend. In one version, she goes home with her high school sweetheart after running into him at a bar, and in the other, she doesn’t. It’s interesting to see how different plot points translate across the stories.

Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth
In Veronica Roth’s follow-up to the Divergent series, two ethnic groups are fighting for control of the planet Thuvhe. Akos, a farmer’s son, is taken by the minority Shotet in a raid, and becomes a servant to the ruling Noavek family. Cyra Noavek is forced to use her “currentgift” of chronic pain against her dictator brother’s enemies. As she and Akos get to know each other and grow closer, a rebellion begins to take shape. I waited a while to pick up this book, but there’s a lot to dig into here, and I liked it.



Essay Memoirs by Strong, Famous Women

Scrappy Little Nobody – Anna Kendrick
Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person – Shonda Rhimes
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare – Gabourey Sidibe

What can I say – this is my current favorite genre and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. People, especially creative people, are so interesting! None of these women were quite what I expected, and in fact, Anna Kendrick is the only one whose work I was really familiar with before reading her book. (I am of course aware of the Shondaland empire, but haven’t watched any of her shows, other than a few episodes of How to Get Away with Murder.)

Faith Evolution

Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity – Dianna Anderson
An examination of the long-term damage done by evangelical purity culture, and a proposal to build a new Christian sex ethic around consent and doing no harm to yourself or others. This book is controversial to many, but I appreciated the thought and care that went into it, and found it helpful.

Girl at the End of the World: My Escape from Fundamentalism in Search of Faith with a Future – Elizabeth Esther
“These men can just sit here on my shelf and argue with each other. I am done listening to their voices in my head. If I am going to find my way back to God, I will start from scratch. I will choose the way of the illiterate… I want to experience the God who inspired me as a child, the God who found me long before I could comprehend a single word in my Bible. I want to experience God pursuing me for once. I am tired of seeking, striving, and knock-knock-knocking on heaven’s door. I no longer want to know that silent, capricious, harsh God who would just as soon throw me into the fires of hell as save me. I am challenging God to pursue me like someone who has never been exposed to the Bible. Love me, God. I dare You.”
I think I would have named this memoir my Best Nonfiction of 2017 on the above passage alone. Thankfully, there’s a lot more where that came from. Esther pulls no punches in telling the story of her upbringing in a fundamentalist cult, how she and her husband got out, and the messy process of rebuilding their faith and life. While my background is a lot less extreme than hers, her words really resonated with me.

Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace – Anne Lamott
More funny, deep thoughts from St. Anne. I think this is my favorite of her recent books.

Other Stuff

Just My Type: A Book About Fonts – Simon Garfield
This is what it sounds like. I’ve always been kind of a font nerd and thought this was informative and entertaining.

Ask Polly’s Guide to Your Next Crisis – Heather Havrilesky
I’ve been an avid reader of New York Magazine’s The Cut all year, and Ask Polly’s advice columns are my favorite. Her writing is tender, wholehearted, and profound. This is the shorter of two collections that are out now.

American Band: Music, Dreams, and Coming of Age in the Heartland – Kristen Laine
A season with a national-championship high school marching band in Indiana, which, unbeknownst to the students, is their longtime director’s last. This book took me straight back to my marching days, and has such a tight narrative and high drama that it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s real (but that’s band life, right? :)). It had been on my TBR list for years, but I ended up reading it right before I met my boyfriend, who’s a drummer and has instructed BOA-bound drumlines for years.


Everything else I read this year:

Sorrow’s Knot – Erin Bow
Maud – Melanie Fishbane
We Are the Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson
Love, Lucy – April Lindner
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon and The Handsome Man’s Deluxe Café (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, #14 and #15) – Alexander McCall Smith
From a Distant Star – Karen McQuestion
Everything That Makes You – Moriah McStay
Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories – Stephanie Perkins et al.
Steelheart (The Reckoners, #1) – Brandon Sanderson
Today Will Be Different – Maria Semple
Beast – Brie Spangler

Nothing to Prove: Why We Can Stop Trying So Hard – Jennie Allen
You’ll Grow Out of It – Jessi Klein
May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga, and Changing My Mind – Cyndi Lee
Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living – Shauna Niequist
Congratulations, By the Way: Some Thoughts on Kindness – George Saunders
Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste – Carl Wilson
Tables in the Wilderness: A Memoir of God Found, Lost, and Found Again – Preston Yancey


Final 2017 book count to date: 40, but I’m confident I’ll finish one or two more before New Year’s Eve. Although this is a low annual total for me, it’s actually not as bad as it’s felt. Either way, I’m aiming higher next year. I am also down to fundraise for a Memphis Library app with book availability and location info, preferably one that integrates with Goodreads. Let’s bring reading into this century!

Add a Comment + Posted in: book reviews, year end


I’ve completed this survey every year since 2001! This time, I’m incorporating my favorite pictures from the year. Most of them have been posted here previously at some point, but So What, Who Cares?

1. What did you do in 2017 that you’d never done before?
Saw a total solar eclipse; left my full-time job for a new one at a new company; attended a vow renewal (my parents’!); shopped at IKEA; marched and protested; contacted my representatives regularly; got a sister-in-law; participated in cat yoga, and was in a short film about it; almost got hit by a truck, and was on the news about it; went on a family vacation with someone I’d been dating for less than a month (a gamble, but I won); hosted Easter dinner; attended a gala; hired a regular house cleaning service; volunteered at legal clinics; joined a CSA; registered for the M-Town summer race series, and only missed one race; went moderately viral on Twitter; visited Chicago for real.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My One Word for 2017 was Abundance. It felt like an audacious choice, and it was. But MAN DID IT DELIVER. Or I guess I should say God delivered. My word for 2018 came to me earlier than usual… more on that after the new year!



3. Did anyone close to you have a child?
This feels like a trick question, because I don’t think so?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?
I stayed in the USA again, but new states: Oklahoma and Wisconsin! And my jaunt to Kenosha with my friend Becca and her husband was a BLAST. Four words: donut glazed chicken wings.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked this year?
More margin in my schedule. A better balance of cardio and strength training. Another “big” trip – I stayed pretty close to home this year.



7. What dates from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
January 1: Not just New Year’s Day anymore – my brother got married! February 16: Emergency church member meeting where we got some bad news that would change our church forever. April 25: Taylor’s and my first in-person meeting. We had drinks at Slider Inn, one of my favorite hangouts. I realized after the fact that it was the perfect date. :) July 15: I saw Hamilton in Chicago with Becca! November 17: I gave notice at my job of 16 years. December 11: My first day at my new job!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Protecting myself against further burnout: recognizing unhealthy and unsustainable situations, naming them, and doing something about it. Learning to endure the disapproval of a variety of authority figures for what I believe to be right and for the sake of my own health. Two huge accomplishments for a people-pleaser like me.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Always leaving something important undone. Over the last few years I’ve felt capable of less and less in my daily life; to quote a Twitter definition of adulthood, “overbooked and failing everyone all the time.” I keep waiting to bottom out and start getting “better,” but it still hasn’t happened. I struggle every day. On a related note, I’m constantly burdened that I’m not doing enough to help refugees, the homeless, etc.



10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I’m still healthy, other than some mild sinus problems and running injuries!

11. What was your best purchase?
Two boring but impactful items: my Shark Lift-Away vacuum and my three-compartment recycling bag. I was going to add a few beauty purchases, but I might indulge in a whole Brenda’s Best Beauty 2017 post!



12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My former boss, Janell, for functioning amazingly well with stage four cancer while marking her 50th (FIVE OH) anniversary at the company. My friend Katie from church for helping out and going to bat for me when I really needed it. Also, ALL THE MOMS AND TEACHERS. You have the hardest jobs in the world.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
It’s 2017, so that’s a long list, but a few big ones: The leader of the free (?) world and his enablers. Gannett Media for systematically killing Memphis’s local newspaper. The host of my first (and last) Airbnb stay, who put me in an extremely shady situation.



14. Where did most of your money go?
Nothing really stands out, but I know I bought a lot of clothes and shoes. :\ And a quality purse, finally.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Seeing Hamilton. Witnessing a total solar eclipse with family and my boyfriend. Redoing my guest room/office and my own bedroom without spending too much. Seeing Hanson again with my sister and Bethany. Tiger football going 10-2. Take That For Data. Doing Yoga With Adriene WITH Adriene on her FWFG Roadshow. Baby hippos – I’m a big fan of both Fiona and our zoo’s Winnie!


Credit: Sharon Wilkerson


16. What song will always remind you of 2017?
Some years I struggle to answer, but 2017 is a no-brainer: Shape of You by Ed Sheeran. Which I can never take seriously again after watching this. Runner-up: Feel It Still by Portugal. The Man.


17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
Happier; fatter (ugh); richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Reading and writing – I’ve scaled way back on both, which isn’t good for me. Spending time with my friends. See also #9.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Mindlessly and excessively checking social media. I’m happier when I stick to my second 2017 guiding principle, “Never read the comments.”



20. How did you spend Christmas?
I’ll spend it here in Memphis with my parents, then with Taylor and his parents. (Note: I’ve been single for seven Christmases and am really enjoying this holiday season! ♥) My siblings and nieces are arriving later next week.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?
Yes. :)

22. What concerts did you attend this year?
Garth Brooks; Ben Folds; Johnnyswim; Norah Jones; Journey; Hanson; James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt. At Beale Street Music Fest this year I saw The Strumbellas, Grouplove, Jill Scott, Dawes, Jimmy Eat World, Snoop Dogg, Kings of Leon, X Ambassadors, Death Cab for Cutie, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper, and Soundgarden. Yep – I saw Chris Cornell for the first time two weeks before he died. Still a little stunned by that.



23. What was your favorite TV program?
This Is Us for the second year in a row!

CHANGING QUESTION 24 because it’s really negative and I’ve never liked it: 24. What was the best gift you received?
A few weeks after we started dating, Taylor bought me a set of Moscow Mule mugs. I’d offhandedly mentioned that I wanted some, and it was a great surprise!

25. What was the best book you read?
I think I’ll do a best books post too, but my instinctive #1 choices are All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai (fiction) and Girl at the End of the World by Elizabeth Esther (non-fiction).



26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
As I mentioned in my 2017 Soundtrack post, I became a Kesha fan this year, which I definitely never expected.

27. What did you want and get?
Last year, my answer to “What did you want and NOT get?” was “Career progress. A longer-term relationship. A reliable, functioning vacuum cleaner.” I remain gratefully shocked that I GOT ALL THREE OF THOSE THINGS IN 2017 and so many others.

28. What did you want and not get?
Spiritual “progress,” even though I don’t even know anymore what that looks like. At this point, I’m letting a lot stuff lie dormant and not forcing it. I think I just need to rest longer before trying to bloom again faithwise.



29. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hidden Figures. I saw it twice! I also LOVED The Last Jedi, and enjoyed Lady Bird, and Kedi, a documentary about street cats in Istanbul.

30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 38. It was a Wednesday, so per my Wednesday routine at the time, I went to early-morning yoga and then worked from home. My mom and I had lunch at Casablanca. After work, Taylor took me to a nice dinner at the Majestic, followed by Belle Bistro for British Bingo.

31. What would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Not living under a cloud of legitimate anxiety about the future of my country.



32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
I continued to narrow down my preferences and make my wardrobe a little more simple, cohesive, and appropriate for my age. After several years of “casual attire” at my old job, my new job is in a more traditional office environment, so I’m still reassessing and filling in gaps.

33. What kept you sane?
My sister. Taylor. Yoga. Stephen Colbert.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I feel overwhelmed by this question, so I’ll just say Mindy Kaling – I’m excited for all her projects coming up next year (and congrats on her new baby girl!).



35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Keeping last year’s answer: I am unable to choose just one in a year when the world was an ongoing dumpster fire.

36. Who did you miss?
As always, my siblings and nieces, but my brother especially.

37. Who was the best new person you met?
Taylor. :) I also genuinely like all my new co-workers, which is nice!


Credit: Kevin Wilkerson


38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
I’ve been learning this for most of my 30s, but I really settled into it this year: doing everything right and not making any mistakes is not the goal of life.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

We gon’ be alright, put that on my life
When I open my eyes, hope I see you shine
We’re planting our flag, they don’t understand
The world is up for grabs

I feel glorious, glorious
Got a chance to start again
I was born for this, born for this
It’s who I am, how could I forget?
I made it through the darkest part of the night
And now I see the sunrise
Now I feel glorious, glorious
I feel glorious, glorious. – Macklemore


2 Comments + Posted in: year end


Previous annual soundtracks: 2016 // 2015 // 2014 // 2013 // 2012 // 2011

My rules: no repeat artists (duets and feat.s don’t count) and the final product has to fit on a CD. As usual, I make no apologies or excuses for my musical taste. Listen here on Spotify!

1. Someone in the Crowd – Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe (from La La Land)

Someone in the crowd could be the one you need to know
The one to finally lift you off the ground
Someone in the crowd could take you where you wanna go
If you’re that someone ready to be found

I saw and loved La La Land right at the end of 2016, too late to include it in any of my year-end wrap-ups. Right away I latched on to this song to set my tone for 2017. (Spoiler alert: it worked.) I also like the prominent flute part.

2. Chained to the Rhythm – Katy Perry feat. Skip Marley

They stumblin’ and fumblin’ and we about to riot
They woke up, they woke up the lions

Although Katy Perry is my homegirl, I haven’t gotten into Witness and am mildly freaked by all its eye imagery. But I enjoy this song and associate it with the Women’s March, which was an amazing experience.

3. I Dare You – the xx

I’ve been a romantic for so long
All I’ve ever heard are love songs

If I’d gotten back on any dating sites last winter, this song would have been a good profile.

4. Million Reasons – Lady Gaga

I bow down to pray, I try to make the worst seem better
Lord, show me the way to cut through all this worn-out leather
I’ve got a hundred million reasons to walk away
But baby, I just need one good one to stay.

This year’s addition to my “Psalms of Brenda” playlist, and in my opinion, Gaga’s best work to date. It takes a lot of talent to write something so simple yet so multilayered. This song encompasses my feelings about the hard things in my life, and my faith, which has felt old and worn-out for a while. But I keep trying to cut through the leather.

5. Die Young – Sylvan Esso

It’s not like I chose, not like I tried
But now I gotta wait around and watch you burn so bright

Points for a well-written description of unexpected hope. Extra points for making it sound cool.

6. It Ain’t Me – Kygo feat. Selena Gomez

I’ll take with me the Polaroids and the memories
But you know I’m gonna leave behind the worst of us

A fun song that’s come to represent me moving forward from the carefree phase I was living for a while.

7. In Cold Blood – alt-J

This song means nothing to me lyrically, but musically, it is TRANSCENDENTLY EPIC. Classic alt-J. I mean, just try not to play the air keyboard while listening to this.

8. The Sky is a Neighborhood – Foo Fighters

Heart is a storybook, a star burned out
Something coming up ahead
Don’t look now

This is my favorite Foo outing in a while, but its presence here also references our local Foo Fighters concert that was promoted ad nauseam for most of 2017 and then got rescheduled. Now we’ll continue hearing about it until next May.

9. Caught in the Middle – Paramore

I can’t think of getting old, it only makes me want to die
And I can’t think of who I was, ’cause it just makes me want to cry

Most people know Paramore is my favorite band. I was so excited for After Laughter, I bought it on CD and iTunes. Honorable mentions to Hard Times, Pool, and 26, but I had to choose this track as the most representative of my year.

10. Green Light – Lorde

This is a great song for running. I also enjoyed its usage in the finale of New Girl, which I hadn’t watched in years but checked out to see how they potentially wrapped things up. (It was renewed for one more season, but I would have been happy with that ending.)

11. 24K Magic – Bruno Mars

My song of the summer, and one of Taylor’s favorites. He loves Bruno.

12. Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato

Now I’m out here looking like revenge
Feeling like a ten, the best I’ve ever been

As I’ve gained confidence and the tide has started to turn in my life, this is my standard-issue burn to everything that stood and stands in my way. I recommend it.

13. This Way – Dilated Peoples

This time I’ve made up my mind
This time I’m back on my grind
I know there’s things in my life
That I’ma let go starting tonight

Another motivational song that got me through a lot of running.

14. Feel It Still – Portugal. The Man

My runner-up for the song I’ll most associate with this year, generally. The first few times I heard it start, I thought it was a cover or creative rework of Selena Gomez’s “Hands to Myself,” since the first line is the same. Also, Taylor accurately calls Portugal. The Man “every Midtowner’s automatic favorite band” based on the hipster name alone. :)

15. Everything Now – Arcade Fire

Every inch of sky’s got a star
Every inch of skin’s got a scar
I guess that you’ve got everything now

I originally included Creature Comforts on this playlist, but it’s pretty dark, so I went with this song instead. It also has the advantage of playing into my Year of Abundance (which I know I’ve neglected to write about all year).

16. Slow Hands – Niall Horan

Another favorite summer tune that just makes me happy.

17. Praying – Kesha

I am proud of who I am
No more monsters, I can breathe again
And you said that I was done
Well, you were wrong and now the best is yet to come
‘Cause I can make it on my own
And I don’t need you, I found a strength I’ve never known

Becoming a Kesha fan was my greatest musical surprise of 2017. There are few artists I actively dislike, but I could not STAND her back when she was brushing her teeth with Jack. This confident, warrior Kesha is something else. I still get goosebumps every time I listen to this song and I wish I could send it back to my 2010 self. Honorable mentions to Woman, which has been in heavy running rotation, and Learn to Let Go.

18. How Far I’ll Go – Auli’i Cravalho (from Moana)

If the wind in my sail on the sea stays behind me
One day I’ll know, if I go there’s just no telling how far I’ll go

I cannot tell the musical tale of my year without Moana. I started listening to the soundtrack heavily in April, on a mental-health week off from work. So many of the songs resonate in my soul and got me thinking deeply about identity and place (I expect nothing less from Lin-Manuel Miranda, one of the greatest creatives alive). I realized I’m confident and stable in who I am, and could declare myself and focus on getting off the islands that can no longer contain me.

19. I Was Born – Hanson

My heart is a weapon and my mind’s electric
I’ll shock the world when you least expect it
Everybody’s betting on the big guy
But don’t underestimate the sting of the butterfly

In September I went to my fourth Hanson show, and my sister’s first, despite her originally leading me to Hanson 20 years ago. It was fantastic. This song was their only new release this year. It’s given me joy and reminded me at key moments why I’m doing things.

20. Glorious – Macklemore feat. Skylar Grey

21. End of Time – Beyonce

These two closing songs are shouts of joy, which is how I want to wrap up 2017. For maybe the first time in my adult life, I’m making positive advancements in my career and am in a happy, stable relationship. I realize things could change at any time, but I feel hopeful, and am appreciating this moment for all it’s worth. I made it through the darkest part of the night, and now I see the sunrise.

1 Comment + Posted in: music, year end

Main Events:

For me, November is historically a powerful month of life-changing events. This November was no exception, and this time the event is positive: I’m leaving my job of 16 years to take another paralegal position at another large company here in Memphis! This decision had many factors, but they all boil down to Needing A Change. I started as a temp here when I was 21 years old. Many of my co-workers are living out their entire careers here, but while that’s impressive, it’s not what I want for myself. Like the nautilus tattooed on my heel, I need to move into a new chamber with room to grow. I need to have an adventure and learn new things, and I’m excited and hopeful about this opportunity! I’m also thankful to be taking a short break before I start my new gig in mid-December. I might have more reflections about all this at a later date. Tomorrow is my last day, and I feel a little like I’m about to graduate from high school.

Taylor’s birthday fell on a Saturday. We watched the Tigers clinch the conference division in the afternoon, and got lower level seats for Grizzlies vs. Rockets in the evening, so it was a good day and I was happy to spend it with him. ♥ (The Tigers finished the season 10-1 and play for the conference championship, and probably the Peach Bowl, on Saturday! I NEVER thought Tiger football would become the lone success and stability in Memphis sports, but here we are.)

For the first time in about a decade, my whole family was together for Thanksgiving, at my brother and SIL’s beautiful home in Arkansas. We’ve added some people since our last family photos, so we took advantage of the opportunity for a portrait session!

We also took advantage of the togetherness by throwing my parents a surprise vow renewal! Their 40th anniversary was last December, and they’d talked about celebrating with a vow renewal, but never got around to it. Several weeks ago, I was telling my sister about going to Taylor’s parents’ 40th anniversary dinner (what are the odds of two sets of parents married this long?) and mentioned they’d had a vow renewal. We decided it was dumb that our parents never had one, and within 48 hours, Debra had coordinated the whole thing. We told my parents about it after Thanksgiving dinner and had the little ceremony the following afternoon. Debra had ordered a dress for our mom that fit perfectly, Kevin had gotten my dad to bring a suit, and everyone had a role in the ceremony. The weather and the river location were beautiful. It was pretty great, and they were very happy. I know how lucky I am to have such an example.



Most of my reading took place at the beginning of the month, so the November count is better than I thought. These books were all moderately enjoyable. I’m excited that a biographical novel of L.M. Montgomery exists, but wow, did she have a harsh life (like many women of her time). And this story only goes up to her late teens.



My favorite current show, The Mindy Project, ended this month. I wasn’t ready for it to be over, but it was a good ending with some satisfying plot bookends. I love Mindy Kaling and can’t wait to see what she does next.


Around Town:

Taylor and I attended an Indie Memphis screening of short films about the female Grizzlies fan experience. It was cool!

My mom and Ashley joined me for one of my favorite annual traditions, Nut ReMix starring Memphis native Lil Buck. PS, Ashley moved into my neighborhood this month, close enough to walk between our houses!! GOOD TIMES AHEAD.

I run the St. Jude half-marathon on Saturday! As I’ve said throughout my training, I’d love to PR this race, but I’m not pinning much on it. My current half PR is a 12:16 mile, and all my long runs so far have been around 12:45 (ugh). But I’ve been flying on my short runs. Either way, I fought hard for this one and will be proud of myself. And it’s all for the kids.

Fall has come late to Memphis, and I find a new showstopping tree every day. I had to pull over to look at this one!


(Wish I Was) Wearing:

Last Christmas I loved this holly dress from eShakti (left), but decided it was too indulgent to spend $50 on a dress I could only wear in December. I’ve had a year to regret that decision and now it’s no longer available. If anyone sees something similar, please alert me. Randomly, clockwise, some other dresses I would love to be wearing this holiday season: J. Crew // Target // Free People // Banana Republic


Your Monthly Rufus:

My friend Kelsey gave me this cat bed that her cat had lost interest in. Rufus loves it!


Quote of the Month:

Center Stage FTW. Always.


On The Blog:

I participated in Laura Tremaine’s #OneWordHH for the fifth year!


Good Reads:

♥ Bailey Steger: The Truth About Spiritual Compatibility

♥ Brianne Kohl at Catapult: Men Stop Me Running

♥ Mary Laura Philpott in the Paris Review: The Case for Seasonal Sentimentality

♥ Gabrielle Moss at Bustle: I Tried To Become A Psychic & It Was More Revealing Than Therapy

♥ Hannah Brencher: Single For the Season

♥ Heather Caliri at She Loves: I Hated My Church’s Small Groups. And Then I Returned.

♥ Kelle Hampton: Let’s Talk About Drinking: Alcohol Mindfulness

♥ Jody Casella: Dispatches From a Broken World

♥ Kelly Delp: We Said It Enough


What I'm Into

2 Comments + Posted in: announcement, what i'm into

Every November, Laura Tremaine hosts a linkup called One Day, in which everyone posts the minutiae of their day, the stuff that normally goes 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!

Past years: 2013 // 2014 // 2015 // 2016


Thursday, November 9, 2017

6:15 am:  My radio alarm goes off (for the second time) as Kesha’s “Praying” is starting. I love that song, so I let it run, then turn the light on and commence my morning phone check. After about a week of gloom, today is supposed to be sunny! Rufus leaves the laundry basket he’s been sleeping in and joins me for cuddles. I suddenly remember today is One Day and snap some pics before getting out of bed.


6:45 am: I start the coffee and am happy to see the sunlight for myself! (But not happy to keep seeing these piles of landscaping rocks that I excavated from my patio beds. I have nowhere to take them and have listed them for free in several online groups, but no one is willing to pick them up on nights or weekends. ?)


7:20 am: Hurriedly putting my face on. This is the Makeup Revolution Salted Caramel palette. I like it a lot. Oh and here are my current everyday hair products. A fellow curlyheaded friend recently asked about my routine, and after I told her (over multiple texts), her response was, “Oh wow.” LOL.


7:40 am: My breakfast on weekdays is a pack of BelVita breakfast biscuits eaten in the car. I’m NOT a morning person and am always struggling to get out the door. I think about how when I was a kid, I instinctively got up earlier than necessary to allow for a slow ease into the day. I need to figure out how to do that as an adult. Having a real breakfast would be nice.


8:05 am: In the office, plugged up and ready to go. I looooooove my widescreen monitor. Most of my co-workers have two monitors, but that confuses me. On this one I can see two pages side-by-side and that’s good enough for me.


9:35 am: Current lock screen.

10:00 am: Switch from coffee to Crystal Light. This Java Sok is one of the most useful things I’ve ever bought. I was tired of my cups “sweating” everywhere and found a cozy large enough for a standard drink cup. Also, I bring my old-man pill sorter to work when I’m running too late to take them at home. Current dailies: women’s multivitamin, fish oil, evening primrose oil, St. John’s Wort, and Allegra. Plus a probiotic that has to be refrigerated (ladies, I highly recommend it).


11:35 am: Since I can’t take pictures of my actual work, here’s the other side of my cubicle. My morning has consisted of problematic e-mail issues, transaction research, and explaining the same things to the same clients multiple times. In other words… Thursday.


12:25 pm: Outfit of the day: Uniqlo long-sleeved tee, Delia’s Morgan skinny jeans, favorite over-the-knee suede boots, Hilton Hollis silk scarf that I won in a raffle a few months ago. Pose by emoji.

12:40 pm: I’ve been doing twice-a-week lunchtime workouts at my company’s fitness room (or, as I call it, the exercise closet) for over ten years. I prefer the AMT machine (most efficient calorie burn) and I always watch How I Met Your Mother reruns, unless it’s an episode I’ve seen too often.


1:20 pm: THE SAGA (of my lunch) BEGINS. I go back to my building and eagerly heat up my Healthy Choice meal, only to drop it on the floor when the steam scalds me. The plastic seal inexplicably flies off and my lunch is ruined. Luckily for me, we’re having Food Truck Thursday today…

1:30 pm: After cleaning up the mess, I rush out to the food trucks and attempt to order tacos, but am told they don’t take cards. Just as I’m on the verge of hangry tears, she says the Merge Memphis Eats & Treats truck takes cards and still has food. I get a Turkey Bacon Ranch grilled cheese, inhale it in five minutes, and all is well again.

The sandwich was supposed to be more in the picture, but I was afraid I’d drop it too.


2:05 pm: One of our high-ranking lawyers is in town and has brought Muddy’s cupcakes! I get a Tomboy (chocolate with peanut butter frosting). I also go next door for my favorite drink from our free magical Coke machine.


2:30 pm: Another view of my cubicle. Meanwhile, my friend Ashley notifies our group text that she just closed on her first house! She’ll be living only a few blocks away. I’m very excited!! ♥

3:00 pm: Annual one-on-one meeting with our visiting attorney.


4:30 pm: News breaks that over SEVEN YEARS after his murder, police have found the gun that killed former Tiger and Grizzly Lorenzen Wright. For various reasons I have unusually strong feelings around his case, so to me this is huge. Hoping for answers and justice for his family.

5:05 pm: I’ve left work via these scary stairs for sixteen years and haven’t fallen down them yet. Knock on wood.


5:10 pm: My low tire pressure light is on AGAIN. One of the tires gets low almost weekly. I had to buy an air compressor. My dad, my boyfriend Taylor, and I have all inspected the tire and don’t see anything wrong. Yes I’m listening to Moana on the way home. This is pretty much my 2017 anthem.

5:25 pm: Taylor calls to talk about our days. I often go to trivia on Thursday nights, and sometimes he comes with me, but tonight I have to run and he has more work to do.


6:15 pm: Three weeks left until the St. Jude half-marathon. I already did my long-short run on Tuesday, so I only have to do four miles tonight. Running in the dark in Midtown without falling OR getting hit by a car requires a lot of gear. (I still trip and almost fall twice on this run.) Instead of my main running playlist that has almost 400 songs, I indulge in my Essential Running playlist with only my favorites on it, and am rewarded.


6:30 pm: I vary my routes as much as possible, but I love running past the House of Mews! Usually the cats are all in baskets in the window, but tonight they’re further inside, so I go to the door to snap a quick pic.


7:05 pm: I have run the first sub-11-minute mile of my life, and almost made it to two!!! On my last downhill I also saw that I was briefly sub-10. I FEEL AMAZING.


7:40 pm: After my shower, I hear Rufus meowing but can’t find him. I remember I put my hat away in the coat closet and check there. He flies out. Cats. Go fig.


7:45 pm: This flyer was on my front door essentially notifying me that my electric bill is going to go up. Whatever, time to cook! I decide to throw together a hash of sorts. I cook some ground venison (provided by my dad and brother), throw in some spinach and frozen roasted potatoes, and add chopped parsley and some Parmesan cheese. There, I gave you a recipe in under a thousand words, proving that I’m not meant to be a food blogger.


8:00 pm: I know it’s So Bad For You to eat dinner this late, but when I’m training, there’s not much I can do about it. As I chow down I read this week’s EW, seen on my nightstand earlier. CANNOT WAIT for I, Tonya. I was at the perfect age to be transfixed when the Tonya/Nancy feud happened. There were lots of leftover cupcakes at work, so of course I brought one home. It’s an excellent, clove-heavy carrot cake.


9:00 pm: Putting away some laundry while watching this week’s Mindy Project. This has been my favorite current show for years, supplanted only recently by This Is Us. Next week is the finale and I am NOT READY. I’m also enjoying some Honey Clementine votives. Taylor used to work for Yankee Candle and is very generous with his supply.


9:30 pm: I’ve completely redone my guest room/office since last year’s One Day, so here’s a pic of my IKEA Hemnes bookcases, and the corner of my desk. This is only a fraction of my library, mostly my childhood and teenage books.


9:45 pm: Feeling much less amazing now. Compression socks on, feet up, purr therapy applied.


10:15 pm: Channel 3 with the truly breaking and up-to-the-minute news. I’m pretty loyal to Channel 5, but they’re showing Thursday Night Football right now. Time for the evening beauty routine. I put the Mederma on acne scars and any other scars that are currently bugging me. It really works.


10:35 pm: My Jimmy Fallon love is well-documented and I still watch him sometimes, but these days I’m turning to Colbert to recap WTH happened today and help me laugh about it.

10:45 pm: I can no longer keep my eyes open. Good night!

1 Comment + Posted in: life lately, linkup

Main Events:

It’s an exciting time to be a Memphis sports fan! Tiger football is 7-1 and on track to play in (and possibly host!) the conference championship and then a good bowl. The “rebuilding year” Grizzlies are currently 5-2 and first in the Western Conference. Taylor’s family has season tickets and I’m really enjoying tagging along. Memphis Vs. Errrbody.

St. Jude training continues (if you’re not already running or supporting another runner, please consider donating!). For my other two half-marathons, I counted back from race day and added a mile per week to my long run. This time I’m trying a Runkeeper plan that jumps around in mileage and allows for shorter short runs, usually four or five miles (I used to do six-plus). Even on a good day, I’m still slower than I was last year and have more aches and pains, so I’ve given up on a PR and just want to finish well. Maybe I’ll get my fire back some other time. Anyway, I also did a 5K for Operation Broken Silence, a local organization I support that helps Sudanese refugees.

I attended our paralegal association’s annual fall seminar and got a full day of CLE hours. The presentations were really interesting, and I loved working downtown for the day.

Oh and I’m Brenda S. Pumpkins today. ANY QUESTIONS?!?



My sister’s BFF hired me to edit her 270-page manuscript! I told myself I couldn’t read anything substantial until I finished the job, so the only book I read in October was this short collection of Ask Polly columns by Heather Havrilesky. I love her.



After months of uncertainty about whether I could handle it, I finally started The Handmaid’s Tale and am taking it a couple of episodes at a time. It deserves all the awards it’s won, and I always turn it off with renewed gratitude to be a free woman who can take care of herself. I’m also looking forward to starting season 2 of Stranger Things ASAP!


Around Town:

I hadn’t been to a Wiseacre tasting tour in a while, but most of our old gang reconvened for a Witches’ Brew event with an exclusive candy apple beer that I went CRAZY over. Dangerous. We learned how all the accoutrements historically attributed to witches were actually used to make and sell beer, because until the 1500s, brewers were women. Currently there are only four female craft brewer CEOs in America. Let’s get on it, ladies.

We had church at Levitt Shell last week, followed by a chili cookoff and pie cookoff. I contributed black bottom oatmeal pie, chosen at random from my Pinterest desserts board. It turned out okay, but pie isn’t my area of expertise.


At Home:

It took me at least a month to figure out and execute this plant wall in my dining room, but it came together piece by piece. These are 75-cent plastic pots from IKEA, painted with metallic craft paint via sponge brush, filled with plants a woman was selling out of her yard near the Liberty Bowl, hung on hooks drilled into the wall. Originally I planned to hang the pots on a metal grid like so, but when the grid arrived, the squares were too small and I decided I didn’t like the look anyway. The plants get a couple of hours of direct sun in this spot, so fingers crossed that they do okay. Otherwise I’ll have to patch a lot of holes.

I also bought some cheap shelf units from IKEA and started working on the closets in my guest room/office, which have been a jumbled mess since I moved in over two years ago. I’m not finished but can already find things more easily.



This fall tree scene is my favorite painting I’ve ever done at one of those painting-and-wine places. We also played a game where you painted a house on a paper plate on top of your head, and I was pretty impressed with myself.



Before this month, I think the fanciest purse I’d ever purchased was my last one, from Kohl’s. I loved it and wore it out for a year and a half. But, realizing it and all my secondhand purses were falling apart, I splurged on a brand new Fossil Emma Satchel and Fossil wallet. I’m still excited about it!

I’m going through a weird body phase (please let it be a phase) and have been struggling to find jeans that fit. I was not expecting Levi’s Denizen jeans at Target to be my salvation, but I now have two pairs and might go back for another. Definitely worth a try if you’re a pear or hourglass.

A while back I ordered a Sseko Brave Bracelet, but couldn’t get the charms into the center where they belonged. A co-worker who makes jewelry took care of it for me in minutes and now I can wear it happily. These charms stand for Bravery, Generosity, and Perseverance.


Random Happiness:

My department at work had a really nice dinner at The Kitchen to celebrate my former boss’s 50th (not a typo, FIVE OH) anniversary at the company. She’s fighting liver cancer and is doing great, well enough to come to the party. We’re all thankful for her.

It was finally cool enough to get that First PSL! (On the same day, while working on my closet reorganization, with the cup still on my desk, I printed a label “Ribbons” with my label maker and suddenly felt like the most basic white girl ever.)

At work I’m the department representative on our “thrive committee.” I proposed a quiet area where people can meditate, pray, or collect themselves alone for a few minutes – it was something I wanted for myself! Surprisingly everyone liked the idea and we had it set up within a few days.

All of a sudden I’m very into hippos, particularly our zoo’s Winnie and the famous Baby Fiona. They just make me happy. Fiona photobombed a couple’s engagement this month. ♥


Your Monthly Rufus:

Rufus is mostly an indoor cat, but most days I supervise him roaming outside for a few minutes. There are three outdoor cats in my complex. Last week one of them saw Rufus on the patio and ran across the parking lot to my gate, where they stared at each other for ten minutes before a car startled the other cat away. Stay tuned for the next episode of Real Housecats of Central Gardens.


Pinterest Quote of the Month:


Good Reads:

Lots of heavy and long pieces here, but we’re living in heavy times.

♥ Tara Bender: OK Being the Moon

♥ Rachel Monroe in the New Yorker: How Essential Oils Became the Cure for Our Age of Anxiety

♥ Maureen Ryan in Variety: A TV Executive Sexually Assaulted Me: A Critic’s Personal Story

♥ Constance Grady at Vox: The YA dystopia boom is over. It’s been replaced by stories of teen suicide.

♥ Lindsey Coates: The Economy of Fear

♥ Jim Wright: The Myth of Judeo-Christian Values

♥ Michael Frost at Missio Alliance: A Christian Male Response to #MeToo: Smash the Patriarchy

♥ Avital Norman Nathman at Grok Nation: Is being childfree really the “selfish” choice many think?

♥ Alana Massey at Longreads: How to Replace a Ghost



What I'm Into

6 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into

Main Events:

I waited all summer for some beach time, and finally got it over Labor Day weekend when Taylor and I went to Orange Beach! We spent several days alternately staring at the ocean and enjoying great food. I bought a straw fedora and didn’t want to take it off. It was just the break we both needed.

We also went on a dolphin cruise that exceeded my expectations. After we spotted a dolphin, the captain said we were going to pull alongside another boat to create a wake for the dolphin to play in. I gave him some side-eye because I’d never seen this before and he was talking like he and the dolphin had a business agreement. But it leaped and jumped and gave us a great show, just like he said! Later we came upon THREE dolphins and they did the same thing. I was enthralled. ♥ (Full disclosure, that run ended when some hothead from a nearby jetski group decided to try to jump the wake and almost landed on one of the dolphins. As far as I could tell, they were all okay, but it was an upsetting end to an otherwise great experience.)

Mid-month, I went to Nashville for the sold-out Hanson Middle of Everywhere tour at the Wildhorse with my sister, and Bethany, who flew in from Jacksonville. I’ve been an unashamed Hanson fan for most of my life, and this was my fifth show (at least – I feel like I’m forgetting one) and second with Bethany! Somehow Debra had never seen them live, and I assured her there is nothing like being in a packed house of women in their 30s people who love Hanson and know every word. She had a blast and is now catching up on the last 17 years of their discography.

When I saw that I would be in Nashville the same weekend as Yoga With Adriene, I bought a ticket to her morning session immediately. It was enough for me to do yoga in the same room with her, but I actually had a couple of minor breakthroughs in my practice during the class. I’m so thankful I got to go. After, Bethany and I had an excellent late brunch at Biscuit Love and did a little thrift shopping before I headed back to Memphis.

Lingering heat continues to impede my running progress, but I’m slogging along three days a week. I was excited to run one of my favorite races, the Cooper-Young 4-Miler, and felt better than I did last year. When I bought new shoes this month, I decided to switch from my usual Asics to these more supportive-feeling Sauconys. I’m glad I didn’t wait to do so, because adjusting to a new style of shoe has set me back even more. Just over two months to go. I had a goal to cut ten minutes off my St. Jude time this year, but as of now I’m like HA HA LET’S JUST MAKE IT ACROSS THE FINISH LINE.



I’ve eliminated “should” reading for the time being and am only picking up books that really engage and/or relax me. In September, that translated into a lot of cozy mystery, the latest Shadowhunters novel, and a unique love story (which is not, I discovered, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast).



Demi Lovato’s latest burn and Macklemore’s “Glorious” have been my favorite running jams this month. You can listen to my 2017 playlist so far on Spotify (I’ve been adding to it all year, but keep forgetting to link to it)!


Around Town:

Tiger football is back! The Tigers played their first game in the remnants of Hurricane Harvey (we had great intentions of going and toughing it out, but ultimately did not attend), then landed in Orlando to play UCF moments before the game was canceled due to Hurricane Irma. But we’ve since beaten UCLA and SIU at home, and it’s great to be back on Tiger Lane.

My mom and I were excited about our second Central Gardens Home Tour! This year there was an interesting mix of truly historic and updated homes. (I also scored a new book about neighborhood history and talked to the author!)

The Redbirds won the Pacific Coast League Championship! Taylor, Brandi, and I went to one of the playoff games. I haven’t been to the Shell much lately, but I saw Brian Owens & The Deacons of Soul with my mom and Ashley, and they were fantastic.


At Home:

For over a decade, I’ve stored sugar in a standard round ceramic canister, consistently spilling it everywhere when I make iced tea several times a week. Well, it finally occurred to me to purchase a container designed to store and dispense sugar. GAME CHANGED for less than $15. I’m not so much with the spatial awareness.



We just got a new Hawaiian place, Ono Poke. I had lunch there with Dianne and it was DELICIOUS. More proof that Hawaii may be my heart’s true home.

I made some almond jam bars for our Tiger breakfast tailgate, and they were ridiculously good. The pumpkin oat bars I also brought came in a distant second.

I organized this month’s Supper Club – just a casual dinner at Mardi Gras, a Cajun place I had noticed near Crosstown. We all really enjoyed it, the staff was very hospitable, and the bread pudding is legit (though I took a picture of my shrimp and oysters instead.)

In an attempt to eat well and not gain weight this training cycle, I ordered a Runner’s World cookbook. It’s categorized by when the food is best to eat (pre-run, recovery, etc). I’m looking forward to trying more of the recipes.



I really went for it when placing my annual Makeup Revolution order (the prices are great, but shipping from England will kill you). I got the Salted Caramel palette I’d been eyeing forever, plus a few Freedom palettes (this is my favorite so far), a blush, and a couple of lip products. I also scored a free NYX Happy Birthday Palette from Ulta and was pleasantly surprised by the quality!


Random Happiness:

I’m thankful to go to a church that makes declarations like these. We had a seventh-birthday service at Playhouse on the Square this month (we normally meet in a school auditorium), and it was a great time. In related news, after being the coffee hospitality person at church for two and a half years, I’ve handed over the reins to the hospitality team. I’m not even trying to hide how happy I am about this. I took over the job shortly after becoming a member at Christ City, so I never got to experience much of attending as a regular person, or even NOT GOING sometimes when I needed a break. I recently joined the (very low-key) prayer team, and am looking forward to participating in that and otherwise chilling out for a while. Shoutout to my friends Stacey and Katie for being my faithful subs and pushing the issue with leadership to get me some relief.


Your Monthly Rufus:

Targeted advertising is getting a little scary.



Quote of the Month:

From an old Captain Awkward post that I found at just the right moment.


My Writing:

I wrote about running tips and resources for Hills and Harvest, and shared Memphis travel recommendations at the Hilton Suggests blog.


Good Reads:

♥ Katee Forbis: Tony Allen Forever.

5 Simple Running Tips That Don’t Matter Anymore Because We’re All Going to Die in a Nuclear War Maybe as Soon as This Week

♥ Abby Norman: I wasn’t anxious at the Apple Orchard: On coping with high functioning depression.

♥ Laura Jean Truman: Bonfire Night

♥ I’ve so appreciated Perfect Number’s posts leading up to her wedding, and this one gave me the most thoughts and feels: I Told Them We Already Live Like We’re Married

♥ Beth Woolsey: How I Became a Heretic (or How the Evangelical, Conservative Church Lost Me)

♥ Anastasia Basil at Think Progress: Ketchup sandwiches and other things stupid-poor people eat


What I'm Into

4 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into

Older Entries