Main Events:

On April 16 I celebrated two years of living in the heart of the city I love. It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Midtown that long, and I still don’t take it for granted. One of the best decisions I ever made!

My mom suggested I host her and my dad for Easter this year and invite a few friends. I enjoy cooking for a small group and don’t get to do so often, so I was on board. I made a favorite menu from an old issue of Real Simple – mustard-crusted pork tenderloin, sauteed collard greens, and Parmesan polenta, with lemon coconut cake for dessert. Church that morning was wonderful, I watched the Justin Timberlake concert movie on Netflix while I cooked, the food turned out perfectly, and we all had a happy, relaxing time. It was a great day!

 

Reading:

April was a quality book month. Two of my books had similar conventions: Sleeping Giants, the latest take on alien robots (very entertaining and sure to be optioned if it hasn’t already), and American War, a terrifyingly believable dystopia about life during the second American Civil War. I picked up Everything That Makes You in a Kindle sale and discovered it’s set right in my neighborhood. Not many books are set in Memphis (probably, like, five if you take out John Grisham), so that was a pleasant shock! I’ve been reading Anne Lamott since college, but I think Small Victories is my new favorite of hers. I just loved it.

 

Listening:

My favorite band has a new single and a forthcoming new album!

 

Watching:

I’m far behind on New Girl, but when I heard the potential finale had aired, I streamed it and was very pleased with how everything ended up. I also watched the Banksy documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, which had been on my watchlist for a long time. I have a lot of feelings about the artist it actually profiled instead of Banksy. Mainly confusion.

 

Travel:

I took a spring break/mental health vacation the whole first week of April! My first stop was in Nashville to celebrate my BIL’s birthday. I also went to Murfreesboro to see my college roommate and her family – I rarely have time to go out there when I’m in the area. I flew from there to Jacksonville for a few days with Bethany, one of my best friends and travel companions, who’s made many appearances on this blog. We enjoyed her waterfront yard (complete with alligator), got massages, had Hamilton singalongs in the car with her kids, shared a beer flight in Five Points, and ate meals at Maple Street Biscuit Company and M Shack that restored me to life.

We also went to the beach two days in a row, which was the most life-restoring part of all!

 

At Home:

After my trip I had a blessed few days off at home to relax. My only real to-do was to buy plants for the empty area in front of my fence. I spent a few happy hours wandering Urban Earth, and finally chose two camellias and some Asiatic jasmine, which I hope will spread out. Later I filled in with a few daylilies.

I’ve wanted to participate in a CSA for years, and my company just started a Bring It Food Hub delivery straight to the office. I got my first bag of veggies this week and am very excited!

 

Around Town:

There’s nothing like playoff time in Memphis – maximum excitement and civic unity, minimum productivity and sleep. I went to one of the last Grizz home games of the season, then to Games 3 and 6 against the Spurs. After losing last night, we’re now done for the season. I feel like Christmas is over and also like I just graduated.

Brandi joined me for Overton Square Crawfish Fest this year – her first encounter with mudbugs! Per tradition, Wes, Kelsey, and I went to Battle of the Birds (Cardinals vs. Redbirds) with a bunch of friends to kick off baseball season. I saw a ballet in and about Earnestine & Hazel’s, our most famous dive bar – it was really creative. My mom and I saw The Sound of Music at the Orpheum and I was reminded how I prefer some aspects of the stage version (I’m a lifelong Sound of Music fan and have seen it all a million times). Ashley and I went to another Ignite event (they’re like 5-minute TED talks), this one focused on education. I ran the second annual Grizz 5K, and did well considering I’ve hardly run since the St. Jude and signed up the night before.


Photo credit: my mom

On Friday of my break, Mums and I went to the zoo to see the new baby hippo, Winnie, on her first day out in public. We got to watch the mom teach her to swim and get in and out of the pool. It was heartwarming!!

 

Random Happiness:

A year ago, I had to take down the white twinkle lights on my patio after a cranky neighbor decided they were “tacky” and got my HOA to threaten a fine. He moved out this month. I waited until the moving truck pulled out with the last of his stuff, and then I re-strung lights on the inside of the fence, where no one should be able to see them. JOYFUL RESISTANCE!!! Just in time for patio season.

A lot of my co-workers have been getting standing desks. Standing all day doesn’t sound great for my feet, but I wanted to do something, so I asked for an exercise ball chair. After a few weeks, I’ve noticed a difference in my posture and back muscles. The only real drawback, other than getting tired as the day wears on, is it’s a pain to get up and sit down and realign myself, especially in a skirt or dress. Still, I’m glad to work a little toning into my day! I also started My Fitness Pal – I’m already in a healthy weight range, but I just want to lose a few pounds so my jeans will feel good again. When I felt weak and sick by the end of the first week, I realized 1200 calories a day isn’t going to cut it for me and I’m going to have to try a higher range. I’ve gotten much better at listening to my body, and I don’t know why I thought I could semi-stop feeding it and expect it to respond well. :P But it is working!

I also signed up with Charity Miles and joined the Hogwarts Running Club. I haven’t been running much, but I also try to get those miles in for Gryffindor when biking or just walking somewhere.

I’ve been growing my hair out for about a year, and its current length pleases me. I haven’t had longer hair in a long time.

 

Your Monthly Rufus:

Rufus has been jumping the patio fence for several months. Now he’s a fencewalker. He can make it all the way around to the gate.

 

Quote of the Month:

Bethany saw this quote tile at a craft fair and got it for me. I must be doing something right! ♥

 

On The Blog:

I wrote nothing of substance in April, but I’m sitting on a post about how life is hard for everyone no matter your life stage. I had a Facebook thread on this topic go to about 100 comments, so clearly it’s not something I’m processing alone.

 

Good Reads:

“You are not someone who half-asses anything. You are an overachiever and a perfectionist. Your letter is dynamic, crystal clear, and concise. You set your mind on losing weight, and you lost it. You set your mind on attaining multiple advanced degrees and an amazing career, and you achieved those goals… You are selling hard because in your mind, you are working with flawed goods. You’d better be convincing… If you keep asking for feedback, you will crack the code. You will satisfy your clientele. You will win the big prize of Happily Ever After.” This piece hit me right between the eyes. I’ve been thinking about it for a week. Ask Polly: What Am I Doing Wrong With Men?

♥ Lisa Nielsen at Keen IO: The Best Benefit You Can Give Your Employees is Free

♥ Elle Berry: Be Brave

♥ Emily Freeman: Unhealthy Hustle: 3 Signs You’ve Crossed the Line

♥ Kerry Smith: Reflections of an Iris Farmer

♥ Heather Strong Moore: You’re Better Off Alone

♥ Mark Titus at The Ringer: The Perpetually Overshadowed Life of Mike Conley

What I'm Into

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I caught a beautiful sunrise while leaving my morning yoga class the other day, and had to dash over to Tiger Lane to get a picture of it coming up over the Liberty Bowl. One of those happy Midtown moments!

Okay, let’s dive in!

 

Reading:

Sorrow’s Knot (my next stop in Erin Bow’s bibliography) is YA fantasy about three friends in a mystical, matriarchal native society, and reminded me of Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue. For American Band, Kristen Laine embedded with a state-champion Indiana marching band for its longtime director’s final season. If you, like me, have band in the fiber of your being, this will take you back. The book is about fifteen years old, and when I was done I wanted to look up all the key players and find out how they’re doing – some of their stories are pretty incredible. Today Will Be Different is a quick, intriguing read. I haven’t read Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but people who have say this one is similar.

 

Watching:

Normally I don’t do horror movies, but I made an exception for Get Out for its cultural significance. If you can tolerate suspense at all, you need to see it. I didn’t fully appreciate its genius until a few hours later after I’d started to process all the layers.

Unsurprisingly, I loved the Beauty and the Beast remake. The movie is a visual feast, and the extra depth and backstory keeps it from being a frame-for-frame reboot. I especially enjoyed LeFou’s character arc, or maybe I just love Josh Gad.

In March I watched all seven-plus hours of O.J.: Made In America. I was in high school when all that happened and had forgotten how truly insane it was. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up. The documentary does a great job of establishing the setting and history that led to him being acquitted.

 

Listening:

I saw Ben Folds at Minglewood. He is a musician’s musician and a nerd’s nerd. I had heart-eyes the entire time. Tonight I’m going back to Minglewood to see Johnnyswim!

 

Around Town:

This month’s Supper Club was a beer dinner at High Cotton catered by Stanley’s Sweet Street Treats (which, despite its name, is not a dessert truck). Everything was delicious and it was one of the best-attended Supper Clubs yet. Two days later I was back at High Cotton for their annual Girl Scout cookie pairing, an event I LOVE. My favorite pairing was Baller Brown Ale with Samoas.

A few co-workers and I helped out at a free legal clinic. I need to start earning CLE hours, and this is a great way to do it. Wanting to help people is one of the reasons I got my paralegal certificate, so I was happy to put that to use, and plan to volunteer there again.

I made it to one Grizz game in March, in connection with a monthly networking event I go to sometimes. We’re getting closer to the playoffs, and Tiger basketball is over (and how :(), so I’ll be attending more games soon!

For the first time, I went to the Beale Street St. Patrick’s Day parade. It was funny and extremely Memphis.

I’m a member of the Ronald McDonald House Red Shoe Society, and the Red Shoe Gala in March is our biggest fundraiser of the year. My friend Justin went with me and we had a great time (and yes, I wore red shoes).

 

Travel:

All the sibs (minus my BIL) and nieces gathered at my brother and SIL’s house in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Kevin moved there last summer and this was my first visit. It’s a pretty nice place. We drove over the bridge so I could cross Oklahoma off my states-visited list, and my mom and I made a quick trip to the Fort Smith art museum to see a Peanuts exhibit. (Unable to resist the siren call of their children gathering, my parents came too and camped in their RV a few miles away. But they took my nieces for one night so we could have a sibs night on the town!)

 

At Home:

With my parents’ help, I completed a little bedroom redo this month! It started with a new accent wall the same color as my study. After that the room looked unbalanced, so I bought new curtains, repainted my bedside lamps, and hung new art that I painted myself. The next day, I remembered this large square mirror that was left in my attic by the previous owner. We detached the child-sized mirror from my dresser and hung up this one instead. It was exactly what that long wall needed, and I am THRILLED with the results!

 

Eating:

My mom and I went to a soul food place, The Choo, for Memphis Black Restaurant Week. (I’ll be back!) I was excited to find a McDonald’s in Fort Smith with Shamrock Shakes (PS, proceeds go to the Ronald McDonald House!). I gave up bread for Lent, which has been more difficult in terms of convenience than anything else. But I’m doing okay… brunching on a lot of potato hash!

 

Beauty:

In my eternal quest for makeup for real oily skin, L’oreal Infallible Matte has been a solid discovery. Primer makes it even better. I’m also always looking for strongly pigmented eyeliners that don’t clump, break off, or do anything weird, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by these Cover Girl Perfect Point eyeliners. Finally, though I object to mascara named like a bra, I’m reluctantly impressed by Revlon The Falsies Push-Up Angel.

My hair dryer died at the beginning of March. It was my third or fourth Conair Infiniti, and while I still like that model, it seemed like a good opportunity to see what else is out there. I finally settled on the Babyliss Pro Nano Titanium Portofino. It was more than I’ve ever spent on a hair dryer, but it has a four-year warranty, and so far it’s totally worth it!

 

Random Happiness:

After a fun late snow on St. Patrick’s Day night, spring arrived for keeps, and it’s glorious! I cannot overstate how beautiful my neighborhood is in spring.

I painted another shirt for International Women’s Day!

This recycling bag has changed my life. For two years, I’ve stacked a variety of makeshift bins on the back of my washer and dryer, and getting full ones to the car and then the recycling center has looked like the Before of an infomercial. Now I hang this huge, three-compartment bag on a wreath hook inside the laundry door, and when it’s full, I just pick it up and go! SO much easier.

I had my first regular eye checkup, nine months out from PRK. I’m solid at 20/20 and still SO THANKFUL to be able to see with my own eyes.

Oh and: I BOUGHT A TICKET TO HAMILTON IN CHICAGO!!! :D I think I was in shock at first. I’m going this summer, so by the time it happens I’m going to be insanely psyched.

 

Your Monthly Rufus:

 

Pinterest Quote of the Month:

 

On The Blog:

I talked about my ongoing struggle with burnout.

 

Good Reads:

♥ Victor Lodato in the New York Times: When Your Greatest Romance Is a Friendship

♥ “There is a certain shame associated with leaning into skepticism that keeps people of faith from openly, earnestly seeking answers, and, to be honest, I’m over it. It’s too uncomfortable to keep it all shoved inside, zipped up, on the verge of ripping at the seams. So, if you’ve ever sought permission to be like WTF, God? — with any authority I have as a person who loves Jesus, I’m here to grant it to you. Welcome to the club.” Tara B: The Search: My Fledgling Quest for Answers about Faith, God, and Theology

♥ Lavanya Ramanathan in the WaPo: We thought Gen X was a bunch of slackers. Now they’re the suits.

♥ This made me cry: Hannah Brencher: Things Fit, a note to those flying solo

♥ Addie Zierman: Yields vs. Abundance and the Slow Work of Cultivating Faith

♥ Bob Vulfov in the New Yorker: Kellyanne Conway Spins Great Works of Literature

What I'm Into

4 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into


 

I’ve always believed that everyone has a built-in failsafe, that people who are truly, legitimately overwhelmed by their lives will involuntarily shut down. They can’t get up, go to work, go out, smile. They’ll stay in bed, ignore their responsibilities, stop answering calls: the classic cliche of a depressed, burned-out person. Most people can understand that picture (and understanding and awareness is good!). But fewer understand someone who’s checking all her “should” boxes and appears strong and capable, yet confesses things like I can’t handle one more thing. I am barely making it through the day. I’m perpetually exhausted. I feel no hope for my future. I need help. I’ve said those things to friends and professionals at various points, and I’ve gotten responses like But you’re very high-functioning. But you seem to be doing great. I don’t know what to tell you. Those words are both encouraging and (unintentionally, I know) shame-inducing. When I hear them, I think, Nothing is really wrong and no one can help me, and I gather myself again and push harder.

I’ve already had two significant periods of burnout in my adult life, stress waves that threw me onto the shore so ruthlessly, there was no way I could miss the message. Both times, I listened and granted myself some rest and space. I thought, hoped, I’d finally “fixed it” – after all, how long or often is someone like me allowed to claim burnout? I’m a single, childless, healthy, financially secure woman. But about six weeks ago, I knew something was Wrong again. My chest felt tight, my stomach hurt, and I started waking up a lot in the night. I’d look at my dayplanner or my inbox and need to do yoga breathing. I’d receive a few aggressive e-mails and want to go have a quick cry in the bathroom. I needed brief naps after work to make it through evening social activities. I’d go to loud events where everyone was having fun and feel increasing physical anxiety. Every simple invitation and request felt like another thing I had to be “on” for. I felt incapable of handling small tasks, even as I did them anyway. I shouldn’t be talking about this exclusively in past tense, because I’m still struggling with it. But I have had a few helpful realizations:

I do not have a failsafe. When God was handing out failsafes, I was in line for the people-pleasing perfectionist hyperdrive, a device that, once healthy fuel has run out, can run on guilt, ambition, and any garbage within reach. Many people have, and will, use that hyperdrive for their own benefit with no respect or care for how it affects me. I forget that easily. Most likely, I will never have the Big Collapse that makes people say whoa, maybe we took too much from her. No, I can keep right on functioning until I drop dead, figuratively and/or literally. Therefore, it’s up to me to actively draw the line, to decide when I’ve had enough. No one is going to do that for me. There is no safety net.

What energizes others often depletes me, and I need to evaluate that regularly. A big burnout signal for me is when many things I usually enjoy start to feel like burdens. It’s a good time to assess whether I even want to do those things anymore. Sometimes I just need a break. Sometimes I need to walk away. Sometimes I need balance. For months, instead of the real relationships and meaningful conversations I need, my social life has been mostly noise. I definitely enjoy a lighthearted good time, but living on relational cookies alone makes me sick. Thankfully, I have steak people in my life too.

Anything less than excellence feels like failure. The more I achieve, the more pressure I feel to keep it going. By my own yardstick, I veni, vidi, vici-ed the crap out of 2016. A normal person would probably feel entitled to chill out. Meanwhile, I’m panicking because I don’t have enough left in the tank to match and preferably exceed that right now, and I feel like that pace is what the world requires of me. But sometimes wholeheartedness means being a B student.

Valuing myself and my health means accepting disapproval, perceived failure, and even grief. This is the hardest part. I take every opportunity I can to improve myself and work toward my goals, but ultimately, my most important goals involve other people. I cannot get what I want in a vacuum. I can’t make the right people come into my life, or make them see me. Too often I’ve knocked myself out trying to be perfect for people who are going to reject me no matter what I do. I know logically that I can’t make them see my value, but a little part of me is still hell-bent on running up to kick the football. It’s an illusion of control that’s comforting at first but actually makes the situation worse. It’s that false American belief that you can have anything you want if you work hard enough, so if you don’t have it, it’s your fault. To stop burnout, I have to get off the hamster wheel and face the fears that rise up every time I “slack off”:

You’ll never get promoted.
You’ll never have a career that brings you joy.
You’re already too old, and if you don’t hustle twice as hard you’ll never make an impact.
You’ll never meet anyone, and your friends will forget you, if you don’t go out constantly.
You’ll never be impressive, exciting, or sparkly enough for a good man to love and choose you.

Courage means looking those fears in the eye and saying, Okay. It means deciding that being wholehearted and fully alive is more important than any of my dreams, that my peace and joy are too high a price to pay. I’ve visited that place. I’d like to take up a more permanent residence there.

I’m starting to accept that burnout is not something I can fix once and be done with it. It’s the cyclical dark side of my personality, fed by the culture I live in, and it’s an ongoing battle. All I can do is try to get a little wiser and have a little more grace with myself each time.

10 Comments + Posted in: life lately, wellness

Main Events:

My mom and brother both have February birthdays, so we usually celebrate both as a family on President’s Day weekend. This year was a milestone birthday for my mom! We had a birthday lunch for her at a farm-to-table restaurant followed by an IMAX and dessert at Muddy’s. (It was great having my new SIL there for her first official family event. I still feel happy every time I say “my-sister-in-law.”) We gave my mom a new record player and spent that whole evening having a dance party (nieces included) to her old records from the 70s. Great times.

The weather was beautiful that Sunday and we all enjoyed Overton Square: Belly Acres, the candy store, and some cornhole!

February was a difficult month for my church. Without getting into details, our founding pastor is no longer with us, and we’ll be working through that individually and collectively for a while. But I’m extremely proud of how the leadership is handling it, and hopeful we’ll come out of this stronger and more unified than before.

Real talk: this month wasn’t the greatest for me personally either. I’m clearly going through another cycle of burnout. I keep thinking I’ve resolved it, but it keeps coming back. I feel overwhelmed, even smothered by my schedule and responsibilities (sometimes to the point of physical anxiety), and also at a loss to do anything about it. Life is just hard. Also, I haven’t had a real vacation from work in about a year and a half.
 

Reading:

The Swan Riders is the sequel to my best book of 2015,The Scorpion Rules, and it surpassed my expectations. Anyone have an Erin Bow book club I can join for discussions? I also loved Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, which, among other things, reassured me I’m still a writer in my heart… all her thoughts about the creative process resonated deeply. Despite its great premise, Steelheart took me a while to get into, but I think I’m sufficiently hooked to read the rest of the series.  
 

Listening:

My mom and I saw Garth Brooks during his four-concert stand here in Memphis. I might not have gone if she hadn’t been so keen, but I have to say, it was a show for the record books. He played all the hits with boundless energy for over three hours. We were getting concerned for his health since he had another show right after ours!! Some of those songs are a lot more meaningful now that I’m older. It was surprisingly emotional.

On the podcast front, after following John and Sherry elsewhere for years, I’m loving the Young House Love podcast. Not only is the home content interesting, but you can also tell they really love each other and are true partners, and it does my heart good to be reminded that that exists. I’ve also gotten hooked on Missing Richard Simmons. Forget Season 2 of Serial and go straight to Richard!
 

Around Town:

Brandi, Lexie, and I narrowly got second place at Clueless trivia (the tiebreaker question was the date of the depositions Cher had to highlight for her dad).

I went to The Break-Up Show at the New Daisy, which will be my Valentine’s weekend tradition henceforth. It was an ensemble-cast dramatic reading of terrible dating app messages and breakup texts – I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Whenever I get back on a dating app, I’ll be saving the awful messages I get for submission to the show, instead of trying to forget they happened.

I got lower-level tickets to both a Tigers and a Grizz game, courtesy of a friend from trivia. Thanks Pete!!

Kelsey and I excitedly attended cat yoga last weekend! It was designed as an adoption event, and was so successful on that front, there weren’t many cats left to roam around during yoga. I think they’re going to try kitten yoga next, at the shelter’s facility, which should make the cats more comfortable to interact!

Overton Park has another new gate on the forest path. I was glad to see it on a run last week (one of few this month – my running mojo is currently very low).

This Month at Wiseacre: I went to a beer-and-chocolate pairing (YUM), and made a special trip over on the night Lucky Cat Ramen was there (also yum).
  

Random Happiness:

On my way to a hair appointment after work one day, I witnessed a VERY bright and impressive rainbow. It was a double rainbow and the stronger arc was almost doubled on itself. Normally I wouldn’t have been in a place where I’d see it so clearly, so I felt extra thankful!

 

Your Monthly Rufus:

This one has a story: on weekend mornings, I actually have time to ease into the day, so Rufus and I curl up on the loveseat by the window while the coffee is brewing. He loves this ritual and starts meowing at me if I don’t sit down at the expected time. :) I love his personality.

Quote/Meme of the Month:

 

Good Reads:

♥ Candice Benbow: Notes from Esther on Valentine’s Day 2017

♥ Mark Manson: The Disease of More

♥ Chump Lady (my blog discovery of the month): Nice vs. Kind

♥ Simon Worrall for National Geographic: We Are Wired To Be Outside

♥ I usually skim Design Mom’s Living With Kids posts, but this one was worth a full read. Living With Kids: Paige Posladek

♥ Ijeoma Oluo: When A Woman Deletes a Man’s Comment Online

♥ Ask Polly: I Got Sick, Dumped, and Fired. What Now?

 

What I'm Into

 

4 Comments + Posted in: what i'm into

As usual, I didn’t have time for What I’m Into in December, so this’ll be a slightly supersized post!

Main Events:

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.

 

Reading:

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.

 

Watching:

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.

 

Around Town:

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.

 

At Home:

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.

 

Cooking/Eating:

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.

 

Making:
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!

 

Wearing:

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.

 

Beauty:

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:

I talked about my One Word for 2017, Abundance.

 

Good Reads:

♥ 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

♥ Jody Casella: Bonding in the Porta Potty Line: Dispatches from the Women’s March in Washington D.C.

♥ Coffee Snob: March: Why I Did and My Response to Those Who Seem to Think I Should Not Have

♥ 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.)

 

What I'm Into

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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:

 

Abundance.

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.

6 Comments + Posted in: one word: abundance

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!

[ICYMI: The 2016 Survey // The 2016 Soundtrack]

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?

4 Comments + Posted in: reflections, year end

2016-front2016-theback

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

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!

3 Comments + Posted in: music, year end

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?
Thankfully, no.

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?
Yes.

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?
See #28.

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!
– Joseph

3 Comments + Posted in: reflections, year end

nov16-header

Main Events:

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.

nov16-certification

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.

nov16-fall

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.

 

nov16-books

Reading:

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.

 

nov16-watching

Watching:

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.

 

Listening:

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.

 

nov16-aroundtown

Around Town:

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.

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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.

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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!

 

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At Home:

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!

 

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Travel:

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:

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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.

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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.

 

Good Reads:

♥ 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

 

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