My Place of Calm

Do you have that place you go when you just can’t get out of a funk? Come on, you have to have somewhere that just makes you feel right inside… makes everything in the world seem okay… think hard about it…

In years past I’ve spent Labor Day cooking out, at the river, or near a pool.. this year I did things a little differently. Yesterday I spent the last day of “summer vacation” hanging in with two little crazy-faces that make my life oh, so sweet. It’s impossible to not smile, laugh, or even think about thinking of anything that’s been bothering you when they’re in earshot. When you’re with these little beasts, life seems so simple and perfect. I know, perfect is hard for many to accept when you mention spending a day with a four and three-year-old brother-sister duo… but my best friend of 17 years blessed the world with two kids that make it truly a much brighter place.

Yesterday I watched as they ran from their rooms, down the hall, diving into their mom’s bed, where she and i were sitting to catch up, then off again as I would reach to tickle one of them. Numerous times back and forth… back and forth. A couple times they’d take a break to pretend they were Superman flying across that world of a bed by way of my feet… This was my Labor Day.

My favorites

While most of my friends posted photos of beach lounging, river playing, and pool sitting (all of which I do love), I laid watching these two munchkins laughing hysterically as they wrestled with each other, played games, or used our phones to take a bazillion and a half pictures of themselves… which I must say, always leave me laughing when I scroll through them later.

The oldest, my godson, started pre-school today, which is why I wanted to spend time with both of them yesterday. It’s hard for me to believe that just four short years ago I got a phone call saying he was born a month early (had he waited one more month, our birthdays would have been exactly six months a part… but he’s still a 26′er, so I’ll let it slide).

I remember holding him for the first time and her mom letting it slip I was going to be asked to be the godmother. My friend was so upset she spilled the news! But it just made me smile. She’s been one of my best friends since the third grade. We met in school… In Mrs. Powell’s class… We danced in numerous talent shows together, played dress-up together, she taught me how to dance before school dances (oh I’ve got moves), I even went through one of my best stages with her (everyone from middle school has at least one good story of this, I know I’ll never live down), we had at least one class every year together… I still have the paper she signed that she and I traded when we were in fourth grade — we swore we’d be famous one day and we wanted to be the first to have each other’s autographs. I have countless necklaces and bracelets that we shared, pieces that fit together declaring our “BFF” status…

Fifth Grade

Fifth grade summer party on my backporch

7th grade

Seventh Grade Dance

8th Grade

Eighth grade Quinceanera dance for Spanish I

Twenty Something

Twenty Something?

…I’m so excited for him to find a “bff” the way we found each other… maybe without all the ridiculous trouble we found ourselves in… or maybe that’s part of what makes our story so solid and our friendship so deep.

This is my place. Every time I’ve had a bad day, a bad year, a challenge in my life… no matter where I’ve been, where I am, how long it’s been… that place with my best friend and now with her son and daughter… that’s my place of calm. Did you think of your place? Watch this while you’re still thinking about it:

Oh, and in writing this post… I just received an update… he promised he’d call me when he got home from his first day. I’ve been walking on cloud 9 the past two days… this kid is a charm. He loved day one. Sie, you are one lucky momma, you have two true gems.

Hope all parents had a great Day One with your little guys and gals!

A Lot of Change Comes with Twenty-Something

Last night a new friend of mine shared this post to Facebook: Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 7.09.09 PM

If you haven’t read it, I recommend reading it here: Why Developing Serious Relationships in Your 20s Matters.

I read it, and it resonated with me, especially in my current life’s journey. Remember two posts ago where I mentioned that I struggle sharing my travel story in depth because there were things I wasn’t yet ready to face… here in this post that I linked above pointed out so many of those fears I was forced to sort through. Take into consideration, I read this as more than just about romantic relationships… I read it as relationships of all kinds, friends and family included.

You see, driving for 45 days can get extremely isolating and challenge the relationships you have spent years establishing. It was hard for me to come to terms with the fact that not everyone can handle distance… it’s like that saying, “out of sight, out of mind”… yeah that applies across the board. I thought long distance struggles were just had between the romantic… but in reality, all relationships need attention in one way or another. Everyone has lives of their own and this was (oddly enough) a rude awakening for me.

This journey was a BIG deal for me. It was (and still is) a huge risk. I was experiencing things I couldn’t have planned for. I was dealing with situations and feelings I had put on hold for months, maybe years. And although I was never 100% by myself… as I stayed with someone each night… I felt completely and totally alone. The worst part, I couldn’t understand why.

I’ve spent years developing deep friendships. Friendships that I’ve been proud to recognize were much deeper than most people have, and in an unrealistic quantity. I thought I did what I could to keep up with them. From birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, traveling, you name it… I just don’t like to miss the things that matter to them. I like people, I like listening to people, I like learning people, and I love meeting and developing new relationships with people. So what had I done wrong to feel so dismissed? It was as if no one cared about my journey or the risk I was taking. I felt like not even my family cared. It hurt. A lot.

The hardest, most challenging part of my trip was having someone with me for the last two weeks and seeing his family and friends call every couple of hours to see how it was going… and not see my phone go off but once or twice to his 10.  I questioned everything, every relationship. I felt bitter. Angry. Disappointed. A few times, close to tears. Like I said, it hurt. It hurt to feel like something that meant this much to me meant so little to those I cared most about. And it’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the fact that this is life. We grow up, we grow apart, and we all have lives.

The truth of the matter is, even I didn’t live up to all those things mentioned above. I’ve missed important events, dates, and phone calls. I’ve failed at listening closely at times recently or reading between the lines. I’m not always punctual nor do I have the best memory for big things… although I try, as they tried, more than I realized. I realized, very slowly, after reconnecting one by one with my friends and family that it wasn’t that they didn’t love me, that they didn’t care about what change I’ve experienced or accomplishment I’ve completed… it’s that we all have lives that distract us. We all show how we care for one another in very different ways. And sometimes, we just need to speak up when we need a little extra support. I learned a lot on this trip… and I’m learning even more now that I’ve completed it.

Childhood Memories of Buffett… Totally Normal.

So the 30 day challenge hasn’t gone quite as good as I had hoped… but I promise my weekend was well worth the slip up this early on. This past weekend was one of the best weekends I’ve had in awhile. Saturday triggered some really ridiculously good memories that may involved Buffett, Daisy Duke shorts, and a lot of inappropriate things I probably shouldn’t have been exposed to as a child.

You see, I grew up with parrotheads for parents… I mean it, parrotheads… not like the squawking, feathery animals… that would just be weird. More like the hippy-ish, paradise-chasing, hawaiian shirt wearing, Jimmy Buffett fanatics. Yep, that would be my parents. And to many parents’ horror or concern, I grew up going to at least one of his concerts every summer since I was eight. They were possibly some of my favorite family memories… don’t judge, I promise, they were good parents, maybe a little crazy… well, a lot bit crazy, but good nonetheless.

This past Saturday I went with a group of friends to a Buffett concert in Wisconsin. Not sure why I thought it’d be some kind of different from those I’d grown up going to… but maybe I was just a little rusty… it’s been a few years, give a girl a break… I know jeans were a bad choice.

Jimmy Buffett Concert

I may have had a stranger, but more specifically a steady-hand dentist stranger, cut my jeans down to shorts because the heat was unreal.

Buffett 2013 Jeans  Buffett 2013 Jeans 2Buffett 2013 Jeans 3

I may have even seen more boobs than I ever wanted to see in a lifetime, but I am a girl, so it’s not like I haven’t seen them before. Buffett 2013 Boobs And I definitely saw the full spectrum of Buffett fans… from those wild college kids that can’t handle their alcohol, to the old-timer that knew every word to every song, to the stuffy woman that likes the music but is “above” the shenanigans, to the couple that want to sit at the concert and scold the people in front of them for dancing in the way of their view, to the hula girl that just wants to dance no matter what’s playing… yeah… there’s one of these at every Buffett concert.

Buffett 2013 3

Each made me chuckle and took me back to the memories I have of different run-ins as a kid with my parents with those wildly different characters I just described. Don’t worry my mom typically covered my eyes when boobs were flashed or my dad plugged my ears when the song “Get drunk and screw” came on… probably the only song of his I don’t know every word to, and they definitely encouraged us to dance regardless of the grumpy couple that may or may not have been behind us.

Those concerts were probably what I looked forward to most about summer… it was one of the few times my family could actually enjoy each other without arguing over something stupid… and even if we did, I can’t for the life of me remember it. Sometimes I really miss those outings we had, all five of us together. I don’t always like to reminiscence about my family younger years, because I find that I’m still a little numb from my parents’ separation in my later years… but reflecting on some of those summer adventures we had…  it really put me in a good place.

What’s your favorite memory with your family?

Unplugging the adventure in exploration of self-awareness

The green color of the rushing water was unreal with clarity as you looked to the bottom knowing there was no way we’d be walking across to the next make-shift path. It glistened with a fairy-tale sparkle from the sun rays gleaming down on the mini-rapids. “Shoes on or off?… Are you ready?” I looked up at him and knew, there was no time to think it through, we just needed to make a move. Into the ice cold water we dove, taking my breath away almost immediately. It made me nervous at first move but a slight fear was shed away when we reached the next rock. I overcame the first unnerving challenge of this hiking adventure we had ahead of us. Onward we climbed and swam in search of the beautiful sight we were so eager to find. With each step we took, little by little I found a peace of mind in my surroundings, the lack of people in earshot, and my focus on each step or movement that we made.

Everyone has continued to tell me on this trip that I need to unplug and step away from my computer, turn my phone off, disconnect from the world a bit. There have been several moments along the drive where my stress was at an all time high because I couldn’t connect like I needed to. Each time I heard the same comment, “maybe that’s the world telling you to unplug.” Yet, still, I couldn’t make myself do it.  I got anxiety over not being able to check my email, update my clients’ Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. It was my responsibility and my promise to my clients and to my company. I couldn’t disconnect.

When I say anxiety, I mean my breathing would increase, my chest would get tight, and my mind raced with “what if’s.” I couldn’t fathome unplugging, it wasn’t possible… not now… or at least so I thought. However, yesterday, I found it. I found the calm I had been desperately searching for, but in the most unexpected way.

We were leaving our campsite at Big Sur for San Francisco when another camper told us about a hike that was a game changer. Although we had plans to be there by early afternoon for other work engagements with a four-hour drive ahead of us, we made a last minute decision to turn around and hike toward these hot springs. Consciously leaving our phones and work behind, we embarked on the very adventure I needed. An adventure that tested my strength mentally and physically. It pushed me out of my comfort zone into a place of vulnerability and uncertainty.

I struggle with asking for help or even accepting it at times. Though in this adventure I found a confidence in asking when needed but also trusting in my abilities and knowledge. His hand was there when I needed it, but he had faith in my capabilities to work through the challenges of the hike. I became more comfortable in accepting his guidance in footing and allowing him to take on some of the weight of my decisions. For the first time it was okay in not having all the answers, let alone the right ones. My fear of failure was ever so slowing shedding away. The two major falls I had, turned out feeding my desire to make it farther and work harder to reach our goal. Sure, it was scary and my ankles hurt a bit, but the test of strength proved to be successful.

We never found the hot springs, waterfall or cave… but laying on that rock as we decided to turn around I felt accomplished as the water rushed by and the warm sun beat down on my white skin. The fresh air breezing through my tangled hair refreshed my sense of freedom and confidence. I felt a calm and excitement in the uncertainty and unknown. I was able to let go and shake my fears of failure for those four and a half hours.  I found something in that moment. I was able to accept where I am in my life, that I don’t have all the answers, that I never will have all the answers, and that it’s not all about finding your picturesque destination as it is the adventure along the way.

Family of Inspiration

Getting up early to drive to my next stop I find I’m often one of very few on the road which gives me time to fade off into my thoughts as my music navigates me through them. Yesterday morning as I left Gulfport, MS I thought about my stay with Josh & Kayt Saturday evening and it made me really appreciate my short time with them.

Tired after my Chattanooga adventure, I spent most of my visit quietly observing their young family interactions. It was one of the most beautiful families to have the opportunity to watch.

Kayt is a gorgeous young mom, pregnant with their second. She engages with Adam (their son) like a well-seasoned mom would; giving no impression of her age or that he is her first. Her love for her husband shines through with no doubt or hesitation. It was truly inspiring to witness the two of them interact. The compassion they showed for one another was comforting and relaxed. There was this calm they’ve created in their home, which I imagine is partially why their son, Adam, was such a well-behaved and fun-loving two-year-old. That kid smiled and laughed with every word that came out of his mouth. Especially with his interchangeable usage of “dad” and “Josh.” It was as if he knew he probably shouldn’t call his dad by his first name but it was thrilling to him to rebel against the norm. Smart kid.

It’s not often I get to witness a dad engage with his kid the way Josh handled Adam. I’ve known Josh for about 12 years, so for me it’s neat to see him in this new role as a husband and father. Watching this young family makes me hopeful that love isn’t hokie. It makes me believe that there are still honest relationships where people admire one another and have a deep respect for one another in a way that words cannot explain.

Beautiful is honestly the best descriptor I have for what I witnessed. And I’m so thankful for my time with them.

Successful Friend-Making Quite Unconventionally

As a social media connector, I’ve enjoyed meeting an array of people through my various outlets over the last few years. It’s kind of funny how many of my friends I’ve met entirely through a social network connection of some sort. Gosh, I must have terrified my parents growing up. I probably should have been (and maybe still should be to some extent) one of those kids on a milk carton or in a Lifetime Movie… like the Craigslist Killer… well maybe not that intense… I’m not a craigslist-personal-ad-peruser.

Today, though, I’m not here to talk about what could have been with my friend-making, but instead the successes of one in particular. One of my most recent connections has become a very trusted voice of reason and idea-bouncer over the last couple of months. Tomorrow is a very exciting moment for him and I’m honored to have the opportunity to share with you his talents.

Jae Jin is a talented musician and writer in the Baltimore, MD area and I’m proud to share his newest released Holiday CD with you. I’m not much for holiday music long before Christmas arrives, but his voice is angelic and sends chills down my back. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful sound that echoes in his voice and must admit that I’ve had these songs looping continuously.

Congratulations Jae on another successful collection. Best wishes tomorrow on your release and celebration!

Let your ears enjoy and happy holidays to all of you!

Finding comfort in dreams

enjoy-in-love10I had a dream last night that I found him, that I was laying with my head in his lap as he combed through my hair with his fingertips. He listened as I opened up about my deepest fears in letting someone love me. I shared with him my fear of imposing my life on another’s, how I’ve continually allowed for guys to hide me for fear of their open rejection, my continual “settling” for less than what I know I need for fear of not being worthy of finding it, my lack of strength to not falter in my passions and goals in order to be flexible and accommodating to someone else’s… and as I let each fear roll off my tongue he sat there combing through my hair with his fingertips, listening to every word I spoke allowing me to finish my full thought. As I finished he looked down at me with this reassuring and comforting love in his eyes and said, “I wish those fears were not your concerns. I love you for all that you are and all that you’ll be. I want to show you that you’re my world and that I want to help you let go of those fears.” I immediately felt this calming sensation flow through me. I felt comforted and warm, the tension eased away… he rubbed my back softly until I fell back asleep.He whispered to me, “everything will be okay, you’ll find me when the time is right, but until then, everything will be okay…”

dreamI woke up this morning so calm, with a strength I’ve never really felt before. I felt as though who ever “he” is knew me in a way no one else ever could, in a way that no one else ever will. He passed no judgement on the things I’ve done, the places I’ve been, and cherished all the good and bad that have shaped me into the person that I am today. I find an eerie comfort in that dream and today, I’m okay with all that I am and all that I’ve become. And I’m reminded… Everything will be okay.

V-to-the-B… ver-ON-i-CA!

It’s amazing how much one person can truly impact your life without you fully understanding to what extent. The past few weeks I’ve been super sappy and reflecting on memories, going through old photos and trying not to be too selfish with the time left (I say that as if someone is on their death-bed… gosh, I’m such an overdramatic sap sometimes… Lady V will never let me live this one down). It’s funny though, I’ve really taken it for granted how close we’ve lived near each other the last few months (and years for that matter) and in less than 24 hours she’ll be on her way to a life 637 miles  (yes, I google mapped it, don’t judge) from mine… that’s 11 hours and a passport away! Yep, I said passport… Lady V has finally achieved the International Badass title (about damn time!) that we’ve been waiting for since… well, since as long as I’ve known her. When we were 18 we schemed up a plan to make her English dream-life a reality… I mean, we had it down to the late night/early morning kidnapping-drive to the airport and everything. It was fool-proof, I swear… Parent proof… maybe not so much. Even though this time there will be no grand escapes, it still seems as though this adventure seems to be one more worth sharing.

But I’m so not ready for her move now! Excited, but not ready. This lady has helped shape my sarcasm (no matter how bad it still is, she’s determine to not give up), my badassness (okay, maybe I’m not that badass, but I like to think that part of her rubbed off on me) and my appreciation for metal (yes a little poppy-blonde does stand out at a kickass metal show). She has been the logic to my dramatic emotions, the voice of reason that I tend to lack, yet continues to listen without judging when I share my outrageous stories, feelings and life “troubles.”

Lady V is something else I tell ya. I’ve always found myself intrigued by her and I guess that’s why I cherish our friendship in the ways that I do. She’s most unlike any friend you’ll ever have or ever meet… you see, Lady V in a nutshell is a badass-metalhead twisted with a true southern belle… she’s hardcore with class, leather jacket and pearls… she’s a friend my life can’t survive without.

We’ve been through high school awkwardness to college adjustments to post-college uncertainty and strategically grown lives that are destined for greatness. Here’s to a new chapter that I may not physically be there to witness, but I’m so happy to be on the sidelines for. You have so much to offer this world and I cannot tell you how blessed I feel to have the opportunity to watch you take on a new country (even if it is Canada. Okay, bad joke). Never forget your southern roots, the HB love, and all of the ridiculous adventures we’ve had over the years… you, my dear, is what a friend is made of and I thank you for teaching me that. Now go teach Canada the VB way!

Breathe in, breathe out… and move on.

“Everything you do is based on the choices you make. It’s not your parents, your past relationships, your job, the economy, the weather, an argument, or your age that is to blame. You and only you are responsible for every decision and choice you make, period.”

This morning when I was scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled across this quote. At first I read it and wasn’t impressed… but then re-read it and let it sink in on my drive to work. I needed to read this. I needed to think about it. And I needed to embrace it.

I’ve been frustrated recently because “so and so is being difficult,” or “so and so is too negative,” or “my work is too demanding,” or “my job isn’t what I want it to be,” or “I don’t live where I want to live…” and how the list tends to drag on. But the key here is, I am able and responsible for how I choose to let these factors affect me. It is true, I am responsible for my decisions and only I am to blame for how I allow myself to react or feel about any given situation. Sure, situations may provoke me or open the door for poor response… but I need to work on my reaction and my awareness of what I do have control over.

This is a hard realization for me because I do take everything (and I mean EVVERRRRR-Y-Thing) to heart (y’all that know me, know). My insecurities influence my feelings to think that every nasty, negativity is targeting me. That I matter so much (or so little) that every whisper is a judgment of me, every short response is a jab or has deeper meaning. I need to work on trusting in who I am and what I stand for in order to feel at peace with my surroundings. When I feel as though the world is closing in on me and suffocating my every move, I need to learn how to breathe, breathe deeply and remind myself that I do have control of my decisions. I have the ability to make something more out of what I’m given.

I think it’s time for me to breathe in… breathe out… and move on.

What a year!

It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I started this blog… well, it was officially a year this past Friday, but I was on wedding overload… and no, not my wedding. Come on, you read this thing, you should know that I’d clue you in if I was making those kinda changes in my life… give me another 10 years for that (and yes, I can add, I know that puts me at 35 going on 36… don’t judge).

The wedding that took place this weekend was kind of perfect for my year anniversary of the beginnings of my epic adventures. It gave me the opportunity to witness two people who whole-heartedly deserved the beautiful celebration they received and all the love they were showered with. The Most Classy Gal, as she was named in the toast given by Crazy K, has been an inspiration to me over the last 10+ years that I’ve known her, but more specifically in the last three years that I’ve been so fortunate to develop an even stronger friendship with her. The Most Classy Gal is the epitome of a good friend. She has never asked for anything and is forever giving with no expectations. She remembers every meeting, date, trip, and important event you tell her about, sending wishes of good luck before and inquiring about outcomes afterward. She remembers your favorite food, dessert (even if she can’t have it herself), and soda, being sure she stocks up for whenever (even if it’s months down the road) you might stop by next.

Watching The Most Classy Gal & her now husband receive everything she never asked for, but everything she ever deserved gave me chills. It reinforced almost everything my adventures this past year have stood for: finding happiness, love, and the independence & strength she has that I so desire.

I’ve been blessed by being surrounded by friends and family very much like The Most Classy Gal and empowered to move away from those that were toxic. It has been quite a whirlwind of learning, observing, and moving on. Growing up has never been so intense and exciting at the same time. I strive to one day be a friend to the level that The Most Classy Gal is without trying and I will continue to find new adventures that test my strength and broadened my appreciation for other lifestyles & cultures. This year has been a turning point in my life and I will be forever grateful for all that have encouraged me, comforted me, loved me, and pushed me to work harder. This year was only the beginning, I can’t wait to see what’s next. Here’s to the continuation of a mid-twenties’ take on life, love, and discovering independence.