summer reads: ready for romance

Choosing a favorite book is quite like choosing a favorite parent to me. I can’t do it! I love so many of them equally yet for a hundred different reasons, just as I do my complete opposite but both amazing, mom and dad.

So, as I set my own summer reading list – I currently have 8 holds at the library and check almost daily for new picks – I thought I would share with you the first books that come to mind when I think of good romance reads for the upcoming season.

While I am certain we all read romance throughout the year, no season seems quite as appropriate as summer to dive into worlds of hilarious meet cutes, awkward first dates, or heartfelt confessions. Whether it’s the dreamer’s dream of a whirlwind summer fling, or just the ease of reading something fun and carefree as you relax into the sun, I felt it fitting to kick off my summer suggestions with this heat for the heat category. Here we go…

The Upcoming Movie:
Me Before YouIf you have yet to pick this gem up, let it be the first on your summer reading list. I say this only because on June 6th it becomes a movie. So, you get two for the price of one (sorta) – you can also make a summer movie date night or girls’ night out of it too.

Me Before You chronicles the lives of Louisa, a somewhat stuck, colorful and zany twenty-something who finds herself as the caretaker for once-adventurous and successful Will, now a quadriplegic. It’s frustrating, hilarious, honest, and heart wrenching to follow these characters as they find their way into not only each other’s lives, but hearts as well. In somewhat of a race against time, Will aims to teach Louisa what it’s like to really get out and live life, while Louisa tries to show Will that there is still a life to live for.

I can guarantee you will not be a disappointed with this guy.

The Classic:
Who Do You LoveBy classic, I don’t mean one of the classics, I mean a classic love story. This is actually the first book that I think of when I hear romance novel. I read it last year, and liked it so much I sent it to my mom. I knew it was just what she was looking for as she lounged and laughed by the pool with her girlfriends…and it was!

Who Do You Love tells the story of Rachel and Andy, who meet when they are eight, in the most unlikely of places. Andy is growing up with a single mom, who is living pay check to pay check, and Rachel sees the world through the eyes of someone privileged and carefree. But we all know opposites attract! Told through a series of constant flashbacks, this goldie follows Rachel and Andy through the decades, as they find their lives continually weaved together, whether by luck or fate. Who Do You Love serves a good reminder that you don’t find love, often times, it finds you!

The Young Adult:
Eleanor and ParkAs far as fiction books go, this guy tells one heck of a truthful – what life is really like – story. Set in a time of decades past, where you traded cassette tapes on the bus, you waited around for your house phone to ring, and you kept in touch through postcards, you can’t help but root for this imperfect story of first love.

In the fall of 1986, Eleanor and Park are 16 years old and both misfits of their own kind. Eleanor is not exactly slim, she wears clothes from the thrift store, and she holds too many family scars and secrets for someone so young. With his all black clothes, his love for comic books, and his nonchalance for caring what his dad thinks, Park is just trying to blend in. This odd couple forge the most unlikely connection and learn too early that life is hard, often unfair, and usually very, very messy.

There are so many themes at work between these pages, that both your high-school and adult self cannot help but identify – bullying, self image, domestic abuse, parental approval, etc.

A must read for all ages.

If you find you like this book, check out other reads of Rainbow Rowell’s. I recommend Fangirl and Attachments.

The Quirky:
Twenties Girl
From the author of the Shopaholic series, this book brings the same wit and zaniness that make Sophie Kinsella books the fun, quirky stories they are.

In an already upside down, mess of a life Lara finds herself now hearing from ghosts. Well one in particular, her great – aunt Sadie. In order to silence, or rather make her bold, fun-loving aunt literally rest in peace, Lara must set out on journey to help her aunt. What starts off as disastrous (read:  hilarious), turns into lessons learned, love found, and family mysteries solved.

This is by far the most of out-of-the-box pick, but you find yourself laughing out loud and rooting for both Lara and her life teacher of an aunt. It’s light and whimsical, and pretty perfect for the pool.

If you find you like this book, check out other stand-alones by Sophie Kinsella. I recommend Can you Keep a Secret, The Undomestic Goddess, and I’ve Got Your Number.

Next up Memorable Memoirs…Cheers!

a 90s kid reminisces.

Squeeze ItsWindbreakers. Nintendo 64. Ribbon Dancers. Walkmans. Fanny Packs. Aladdin. Squeeze Its. Pogs. Blockbuster. Trampolines. These took you back, right? Were you a Mario-Kart-er or a Donkey Kong-er? Could you burn your CDs or did your friend’s sister do it for you? Each of these speical items helped to define childhood memories I have to come not only deeply appreciate, but also desperately want for kids now.

If you have ever read a post about an early millennial missing the 90s this post will likely be no different. It’s simply my take on the decade of my youth. And don’t get me wrong there are many, many things that I covet now that have only come along in the last 16 years. The fact that I didn’t have to wait for a dial up connection to write this blog post for one. My Starbucks iPhone app that I use weekly, and my Netflix streaming service that I use daily also round out the top of that list. But, I feel an incredible fondness for growing up in the last decade of the 20th century and here is why.

LegendsWhen I think of after school as a 90s kids, I think of Full House, the Carmen Sandiego game show, finding a trampoline to jump on, or riding our bikes till someone called us home. In the summer, we would have laughed at staying inside. Who had a pool? Did it have a slide? A diving board? No pool. Where’s the slip-n-slide? Can we ride our bike to Burger King? Can we tie dye something? Then at night or if it happened to rain, we would hope that Legends of the Hidden Temple would be on Nickelodeon, and we would cheer on some kid our age to win a Super Soaker or some new Nikes. (The horror if a kid today won a Super Soaker! Ha!) No Legends? Do you have any of the Mighty Ducks movies?

CK and I watching The Mighty Ducks yesterday, for a snowy Saturday inside.

CK and I watching The Mighty Ducks yesterday, for a snowy Saturday inside.

It’s obviously the understatement of the year to say that kids in today’s culture have so many more distractions than we did. I am certain all of us have wanted to scream before at someone to get the tablet or phone out of a kid or teenager’s hand and show them where to find a book or a bike.  They have access to anything on the Internet – their favorite shows and movies and the newest music and games. Instant gratification literally a click away. And Oh, how much quicker that brings on growing up!

It’s also hit me, that while I was out knocking on someone’s door asking to jump on their trampoline at 10 years old, kids today can jump on a digital trampoline on their Wii. And while I would spend hours in my driveway or yard with friends making up dances to Grease, Britney, or the Backstreet Boys, wannabe dancers now can Dance Dance Revolution themselves inside all day, every day.

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CK and I last Halloween, as Heidi and Al from one of our favorite 90s shows – Home Improvement.

For me, it’s frustrating that kids/teens now have no idea what it is like to have to wait for a CD to come not or a movie to hit Blockbuster…and then to show up and it be sold out. They will never stand in line for concert tickets, or know what it is like to miss an episode of their favorite show and have no way to watch it, and heaven forbid you have to sit through the commercials. They will also never have to wait through a busy signal to talk to their friend, who they called on a landline, after waiting for their mom, dad, or brother to get off the freakin’ phone.

Maybe I am being overly pessimistic that these delayed gratifications of my childhood have made me more of a well-rounded, patient, and appreiative citizen than those of the non-brick Nokia generation. But I can’t help and feel lucky that I was a part of it. Hey, we all still figured out that blowing into your Nintendo game somehow made it work. We didn’t need social media for that…

So, this X-files junkie, Wilson Phillips lover, and indoor-mall goer is signing off. Glad for her email and Amazon 2-Day shipping, but still wishing that mall tours, Movie Gallery, and roller blading were cool.

Until Next Time…

witzin’ around.

Fridays are my favorite! Especially Friday at five o’clock. I honestly adore my job and the incredible folks that make up my work family, but it’s hard to beat the beginning of a 48 hour streak of getting to do your own thing.

And the weekends are of course, also the best time for Christopher and I to discover and explore the obvious and hidden gems, in a city that is still relatively new to us. While in warmer weather most of that exploring takes place outside, on a hike, in search of a beautiful view, we are still a few weeks off from that.

Last night, as it has been been for most of the winter, exploring has taken place inside the city, especially since I have set a new low bar for skiing. (No worries, I’m okay with it…I think.) And while the weather here in late spring, summer, and fall is perfect for restaurant hoping and patio sitting, it’s obviously also during that time that we want to be on top of a mountain, taking in the Rocky Mountain air, or feeling the spray of a can-only-be-hiked-to waterfall. So, all that to say, winter and early spring in Denver are the perfect times to hone in on your favorite eateries and bars.

It’s espeically fun though when you find a place that puts a fun twist or adds another layer to something you have already done. Meaning, we have been to hundreds of bars (thousands   when added together?)…but we have never been to one with organized crafts. One that offers about thirty items for you to choose from and create, all while you drink your IPA or Tanqueray and tonic and munch on popcorn. But that is the exact concept behind Upstairs Circus, and what a fun and unique twist on date night, girls’ night out, or table for one it offers up.

I’ll be honest, I meant to take more photos and document the creation process of my craft, but when you get in there, in the moment, start concentrating, yeah, photos are forgotten. I could have done worse, I guess, but see below for some shots of our night of drinking and designing. Cheers!

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Outside of LoDo Circus. 1500 Wynkoop Street.

Upstairs Circus General 3

Inside the Circus.

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Example of my project.

First item in Libations - Christopher's project.

First item in Libations – Christopher’s project.

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Getting Started.

Part of my supplies.

Here we go…

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Table One. Met some great folks!

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Final Products!

 

 

winter is coming…

Now that I have hooked you with my John Snow reference, I have a lot to live up to, right? Let’s just say if I had to spend two weeks in ole John’s shoes, I would have long been a goner. (All non-Game of Thrones watchers are now totally lost, sorry!) Let’s just say this girl and the cold are merely acquaintances, and I don’t see a steadfast friendship forming any time soon.

So, as we inch closer and closer to my lowest ranking season, I thought I would share “my best snow story, ” (great title, I know), from last winter. As, you know I moved to Denver this past March. And luckily enough we only had about three legitimate snows my first couple of months here. Then, spring showed it’s glorious face and I have been relishing in the amazing weather this city is known for ever since. But, inevitably, winter is on it’s way yet again. Therefore, as I begin to mentally prepare for it, I am reminding myself of what I learned last season.

For the most part last winter went great. There is really only one day that stands out… as disastrous! Big red X, what the hell am I doing, I’m going home, head under the covers-kinda bad.

snow ecardIt Starts Here:
It’s roughly 5:45 a.m., I look outside and see the streets look great. No snow on them at all. Perfect! Yes, the rooftops and cars are still covered, but the drive to work should be a breeze!

It’s a Friday, so I am in a fantastic mood, obviously. This also means I can wear jeans, a cute top, and my fave footwear… flats.

I am prepared as I walk out the door, coat – check, gloves – check, hat – check, backpack, purse, keys, lunch – quadruple check! I cross the apartment complex courtyard just fine, to take the elevator up to the top level of our parking deck. I guess I was on my phone or putting my keys up, I honestly don’t remember, all I know is I was not paying attention to the ground. First mistake of the day. 

That is until both of my feet halt in violent, cringe-worthy protest! As the phrase goes, I am literally frozen still. Seriously though, I am in such shock as to what has just occurred, I can’t move. Once I do round up the courage to look at feet, my eyes confirm, what my body already knows. From my ankles down, I am covered in ankle high slush – ice, cold, grimy slush.

Note to self, roadways are cleared by salt trucks and plows.
Top floors of parking garages, not so much.

Like anyone, I don’t always make great decisions when under stress, or when suffering from severe cold. At the time, my brain made the interesting plan to take the remaining 15 or so steps to my car, then drive around to the front door of our complex, run inside, and grab a new pair of shoes. The wet jeans were just going to have to be dealt with. The 20-20 Ashley wants to know why I didn’t immediately go back and change my shoes? Why did I walk through more cold slush? 

Anyways, I throw myself and all my work belongings hurriedly into the car, start the car, and begin pulling out, ready to grab my new, dry shoes. Except, I can’t see a damn thing! There is ice and snow all over my car. I get back out with my ice scraper. Yes, this meant my feet, in my glorious flats, were now soaking up round two of this crazy cold concoction. I frantically scrape off all the snow on my windshield and side mirrors, then hop in the car!

I successfully run up to grab my new pair of shoes, and am once again am on my way. Maybe, I won’t be late after all, I think. My lips may be purple, but at least I will be on time.

Oh, how innocent I still was. 

It Gets More Interesting:minons in winter
See, the thing with scraping snow off your car, I learned, is that you have to get all of it. Because if you don’t, what is left on the top of your car, might melt enough to fall. Onto your windshield. While you are driving. Therefore, obstructing the very foundation of driving. Sight.

As I am sure you guessed, that’s exactly the series of events that happened next. I made it three blocks from my apartment, when I hear a crack, followed by the feeling of something softly sliding, then boom! A huge chunk of ice from the roof of my car has ever so nicely, collapsed itself onto my windshield. And of course, it’s too big for the wipers to move. Of course.

Luckily, I am still on a residential road, but I can’t see a thing. Nothing! Nada. I had to roll my window down and stick my head out the window, like an overanxious dog, to steer myself to the stop sign at the end of the road, to then turn my flashers on, and start the scraping process over again.

By this point, I am getting pretty annoyed. As I said, it’s Friday, and bad shit isn’t supposed to go down on Friday. Especially before 8 a.m. Plus, now I am sweating, in a coat. But I am determined I will not be some Southerner taken down by a little snow. I may be incredibly inept, but I am going to get this!

To the amusement of native and seasoned winter-weather drivers, I am certain I was a sight. Free entertainment as I always call it. Girl at stop sign, off of a main road, with flashers on, soaked pants, scraping her life away on her windshield. I tried to crack the back half of the ice on the roof of my car, so I was certain not to have this problem again… but it wouldn’t budge.

So, I set off again, this time in prayer! Lord, please do not let more ice and snow fall onto my windshield.

However, when God has decided that you are his real life sitcom, it’s just your day. So, buckle up! Or don’t actually. Because then you are probably just going to unbuckle again.

cartoon winterIt Really Sucks Here:
I made it four more blocks. Four! This time I am driving on a large, very busy, main Denver roadway. I have just left a red light and whoosh, the back half of the roof ice gave way. This time, I have a hole the size of a 81/2 by 11 sheet of paper to see out of. But nothing else.

I am now driving on my tiptoes, and severely craning my neck. Think Danny Devito in a Hummer. I also, sincerely hate my life at this moment. I am going to wreck, I am positive. And I have a laundry list of who all I going to blame for this catastrophe.

The hell with being from the South, snow sucks, and I want on the next flight to Boca. Let’s be honest, mostly I am pissed because I couldn’t stop this from happening and I am bigger than this.

As I am honked at and probably thrown the middle finger by half of Denver drivers, I slowly edge way over onto a side road. I once again, get out of my Subaru, grab my god-forsaken ice scraper, and slide off all the remaining snow and ice from my car.

Once I get back in my car and pick my head up off the steering wheel, I realize I am on a one way street.  Going the opposite direction. Sigh! Add it to my tab.

You will glad to know that from here, I turned my car around in a parking lot and set off to work. The rest of the way thankfully uneventful. I, however, had become the sheet of ice. It took me blowing the heat full blast the entire 25 minute drive to work to finally unthaw my feet and face!

So, as you think about cold weather creeping up on us, say a prayer or send a happy thought my way. Fingers crossed that I remember to wear appropriate shoes, no matter what the streets look like, and scrape down the whole car, roof and all.

Cheers to a wonderful winter!

life defined.

IMG_1200I think I’ve posted about this before, and let’s be honest, I’ll probably do it again. After all, I am somewhat notorious for retelling stories…mostly because I just want to make you laugh… but today it’s on my mind again, so I thought I would share (again).

If you have spent two seconds looking at either mine or Christopher’s photos, you know we like to be outside, explore, and well, just see this awesome masterpiece of a world God has created. But as I walked back into my apartment this morning, I realized just how much I love my plain ole, routine, possibly boring Saturdays. I look forward to them. Crave them, even.

On Saturdays I find myself wanting to get up as early as possible. The quite opposite of what I would expect of myself, but yes, 28 year old Ashley is genuinely disappointed to wake up after 8 a.m. on a weekend. And it’s mainly because I don’t want to miss one moment of time with myself, just enjoying doing what makes me the most content.

My mundane Saturday morning ritual would probably come across as snoozeville to most of the weekend world. I do nothing remarkable, yet that’s the very thing I love. I go on a run, usually a much longer one than during the week, because I both have the time and am not as tired. Then, I carefully plan the end of my run to conclude at the Starbucks a few blocks from my apartment. Once I get my grande, skinny hazelnut latte I sit outside (now under the heaters) and catch up on emails, news, or just whatever. Lately, I spend the time watching upcoming movie trailers and getting excited about new flicks coming out.

Then, I walk home, usually to breakfast CK has made and enjoy the morning with him. We usually do laundry, clean the bathroom, and wash dishes. Boring, I know! But it is therapeutic for me. A recharge of simplicity if you will.

Saturday EcardI also fully believe that enjoying the mundane is one of the best things you can do for yourself. A day will eventually come where your regular routine, your norm, is disrupted, and all you will want is it back. You won’t crave the big moments, the ones you took pictures of or posted about. You will miss the rest of the “small stuff” that made up your day. It’s those moments that tend to reflect the intimacy in your life, with both family, friends, and yourself.

Whether it’s the loss of someone, making a big move, or changing jobs, there will be something in the everyday that will define what you miss most about those people or things. In the first few months of moving to Denver, the things I missed most where morning coffee chats with my coworker Sara, random nights spent with friends at Bardog tavern, and evening runs along the river. (And the Grizzlies…I missed the Grizzlies big time). These moments where never captured on camera or talked about in great detail to others, but they are what made up my life there, a life that I loved.

Furthermore, when I think back to time with my uncle before he passed away, the one moment I want back is simply a conversation that took place in the hallway of my dad’s work in the middle of the workday. We were catching up on each other’s lives and just talking. Not a noteworthy moment at all, but it’s the one I think about and miss the most.

So, cheers to enjoying your Saturday! Whether you are cleaning house, running your own personal taxi service, or binge watching your current Netflix obsession, enjoy. We can only hope for a mundane tomorrow.

the honesty continues.

The Story
honestyIt was several years ago that I was sitting on my friend from college’s couch. I was about three months into “big girl life” along with two of my other friends, while my friend whose apartment we were at was in the middle of grad school. We were just sitting around talking and laughing and I literally have no idea what brought up the conversation, but somehow in the middle of it, it was stated and agreed upon as fact by three of my best friends that I would “be that wife that always has dinner perfectly done and set out when her husband (Christopher) comes home.”

I just stared at them. Then I rebutted their comments, to which they just laughed and remained adamant that I was definitely that person.

I wasn’t though. I wasn’t then. I’m not now… just ask Christopher.

I knew then, even three months into working girl life, that my love for getting home, grabbing a beer or a cold glass of milk (my tastes are varied/my days are too), and watching a Netflix episode was probably going to override starting “dinner.” And I put dinner in quotations because that’s another thing… I wouldn’t exactly say that the kitchen is an at home area for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can cook all the normal stuff and it be just fine, but cooking from cans and boxes, must be considered cooking, in order for my kind to count!

I reach back for this story because every so often I would think back to it and again shake my head and at how strange it was that the three people who supposedly knew me best, had this part about me so wrong, even if it was pretty trivial. But now it all makes sense.

It was me.
Figuring It Out
twenties-quoteI have always had a need to get it “right.” Everything. If I knew why, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog – that’s just the way I am wired. Believe me, the go with the flow gene was on vacation when I was born. But when this is the case, and everyone knows you like to plan things out, organize them perfectly, and have them go “just so,” unless you communicate to them otherwise, they are going to make up their own assumptions about you.

Christopher and I tell each other occasionally, “Use your words.” This is our reminder that neither of us are mind readers and if you wanted to do something or not do something the only way for the other one to know is to use words. I wasn’t doing this back then and I still struggle at times to do it now.

The problem lies in that fact that back then I would rather you think I was fine or had it all together, than really get into what was wrong or how I really didn’t have it together. It has been a learning curve for me to learn to open up and share the hard parts and blemishes in life. I blame part of this on small town Southern ways… and the other half just on me being me. Something had to have gone majorly wrong for me to open up.

And that really didn’t change until marriage. I realized early on that the only way Christopher and I were going to get through arguments  and disagreements was if I actually told him in plain English what was wrong. Which for someone who has spent a lifetime having trouble communicating when and why they are upset, this is easier said than done. Oh you know something is wrong, but what is the question? I could venture to say opening up about what is bothering me is one of the hardest things I do. Christopher will be the first to tell you I have come a long way in almost three years, but I could definitely still stand for a few more paces forward.

A Favor to Ask

highlight reelI have a point, I promise. In the last couple of years I have noticed that my favorite social media posts are ones where folks are capturing and sharing moments that haven’t gone exactly right. Or maybe they have! If you post about your kids’ meltdowns or catastrophes, your Pinterest fails in the kitchen or craft worlds, or your “Blonde” moments, chances are I LOVE reading your posts. You are being real and relatable, and I find that both refreshing and necessary for my life. Thank you!

My PSA to everyone is if you are going to share, don’t make your social media life and the real one separate worlds. Be mundane, be messy, be you. It makes the rest of us feel not alone..and at the end of the day folks we are all just trying to get by. Life is hard, so if you are going to share a piece, share a slice of realness.

Also, I am about as up for some small talk as I am a colonoscopy. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea. Seriously, the older I get the less equipped I am to handle this task. I prefer good, genuine conversation (especially when a cup of coffee is involved), where we are both sharing life and debating thoughts and opinions. Good conversation is unparalleled in my book, you just feel, well full!

And I am fully in the camp for being honest when someone asks “How are you doing?” While I normally still refrain from saying “Actually the (four letter word) snow on top of my car fell onto my windshield twice, while going down the main boulevard by my house, which rendered my (piece of four letter word) wipers useless and forced me to pull over twice and look like the freakin’ ill-equipped Southerner, for which I am. But alas, I typically refrain from going into such honest explanations,

My advice though, to find at least two people who you can be this honest with and you can sit and have enriched conversation with.  And when they ask how life is, you own up and give it to them straight. You need this! I am not saying tell the mailman, McAlister’s cashier, or Macy’s attendant your day’s drama, but make it to point that you do share the ins and out, ups and downs with a few close friends and family. It’s necessary for sanity and happiness. Don’t be afraid to be you, you would be surprised when you open, just how much everyone feels the same way!

Thanks for reading this long guy. I think this will conclude my honesty sharing for a bit. It takes a lot to put these kind of thoughts into words that attempt to illustrate my experiences and lessons learned. Hard, but necessary and therapeutic for me! Cheers!

 

my honest post.

“What is to give light must endure burning.” – Viktor E. Frankl

If you are looking for a light-hearted post about our recent move or random antics that I have recently gotten myself into, this isn’t that post. While I do hope to illustrate and hopefully entertain you in the near future on how awesome and adventurous Denver is. I firstly, feel compelled to write what you are about to read, should you continue to stay. Beware,
this is honest Ashley to the core, so don’t say you weren’t warned. It’s also long, so feel free to skim.

Heavy QuoteMeeting Me
My assumption would be that upon first meeting me, you would think one or many of the following things: she is easy to talk to (I like to think I know a lot about a little), she talks a lot, she talks fast, she is pretty empathetic and compassionate, and possibly moderately funny (depends on the day, I guess). Upon further interaction, you may also start to realize that I am incredible Type A, very self-deprecating, a perfectionist, an emotion on sleeve wearer, and unwaveringly dependable, sometimes to a fault. However, behind all of those descriptions, you also find someone who struggles deeply with anxiety and worry!

That last sentence, is no small admittance for me. Somewhere in my invisible mental state, a massive wall just broke, and the honesty emojis in my brain are now dancing to Uptown Funk (my fav song, of course), in celebration. Not only have I come clean to myself that those words are a part of who I am, I admitted it to you. You see, I have spent just shy of 28 years trying to run from that short, but in my opinion, ugly description. In my world, being a relaxed, go with the flow, can let things just roll off because you’re a laid-back spirit is much more preferred to one where structure is revered, people pleasing is high, and constant contemplation is the norm.

While folks say that things get better with age, I find that my anxiety has only worsened as I have gotten older. What was once over-caring in regards to grades and guys, has fostered into a burden, where I can sometimes over-question how I came off in a conversation, the way I handled a situation, or how I am measuring up at work. And if this sounds like an easy problem to have, walk just a day in my shoes and you will see that constant worry over these things is both exhausting and debilitating.

IMG_0756Coming Clean
For someone who loves and believes in Jesus, there are no coincidences. Everything that has happened in my life recently I feel has lead up this point of admitting my burden to bear and accepting it as a part of who I am. Several key things have helped ignite this long-overdue fire, biggest of which is moving to a new city, where I know no one and nothing is familiar. For an anxiety-driven person like myself, familiar and comfortable is coveted. Because for me there is a right way to do something and a wrong way. When it’s familiar, you are sure not to mess up. However, when that is removed and there is no longer anything to metaphorically hide behind, confrontation of your underlying issue looms pretty near.

But also this wonderful book, Carry on Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton, given to me by a wonderful friend has done wonders for helping me see that I am not alone in my whirling world of worry. In this humorous, yet brutally honest account of her past and present life Glennon documents both her struggles and random thoughts on life. And while, nothing I have read so far has been earth-shatering information that I have never heard of before, that’s not what she is after. She is sharing stories of her every day life  – things you think, but don’t say out loud, or don’t even realize you need to hear.

It’s been a great eye-opener for me that life is messy and everyone is holey – with a God-sized hole. Struggles are real and they aren’t going away, but they can be dealt with- with God, family, and friends. She truly is the best friend, I have never met. She is so relatable – she gets me. I get her. Not feeling alone is huge when it comes to acceptance, and when I read this book it’s like I have a refuge. A life raft. Someone else is living my life, albeit with somewhat of a different struggle, but she is being honest and making it – so damn’t, so can I!

Carrying On
It hit me this morning in church that in the 6th grade I wanted to be Christina Aguilera – or more accurately I wanted to sing like her. So, I began to take singing lessons. It became pretty clear after awhile, even to my middle school self, that even though the lessons where helping me be someone who can stay on pitch, I was never going to be paid to sing. Similarly, I hate salad! Over the years, I have tried it numerous times and in various forms. And while, I can now successfully force one down, should the formal social situation call for it, I am never going to order one on free will alone. But I gave up a long time ago, trying to like this rabbit food creation.

Why is being born an anxious person any different? Just like I wasn’t given the singing or salad-liking gene, I was not given the laid-back, go with the flow gene either. If there was a switch I could turn to become a less anxious person, I would already be the most relaxed person you know because I have tried numerous times to find that knob. But the truth is there is not even a night-light in my world leading me to the laid-back section. It’s just not me. And… that’s okay.

It’s the people like me that are always on time to your birthday party, happy hour, or movie date. My personality type is also typically the first to help plan or organize an event or outing. Furthermore, we are always going to drop everything and come help you with something should you need us. And my family tells me that I am very honest, in a polite/friendly, you can’t hate me way, so I guess that’s a plus too. The world needs us, just as much as laid-back people.

So there. Honest post #1 done. Whew! Now that that’s done. I think I will go do some laundry. Seems fitting.
Until next time….

my “wright” christmas

the wrights

Growing up my family always did holidays differently. And by that I mean that from year to year no two were ever alike, at least not that I remember. When I was younger, like lots of families with extended relatives out of town, we would fly to Florida to eat turkey among the palm trees or maybe meet up at a half way point to ring in the New Year. I come from a family that’s super close and where there’s a lot of love, so I never minded our non-traditional way of doing the holidays, our tradition seemed to be that we were always together.

But then as you continue to get older, things continue to change. There’s the normal, expected changes of heading off to college, the fun, exciting changes of your brother excelling exceedingly well at a sport, and then there’s the hard, life-altering changes of God calling home a family member before you’re ready to see them go. But whichever type of change your life experiences, it further alters the way your holidays are spent.

While in college, I spent the holidays in six (maybe seven) different cities. I ate Thanksgiving dinner at a Cracker Barrel, Christmas lunch at a TGI Fridays, and set around multiple tables with people with far different backgrounds from my own, sometimes with my whole family, sometimes not. It’s at this point I decided that my tradition, was having no tradition.

I should mention that I did create a Thanksgiving tradition for myself at some point along the way. I have always been captivated by the Macy’s Parade, so each year, including this one, I set my alarm and curl up in whatever bed I am in and watch the pageantry and entertainment this classic event provides. You see, this is a transferable tradition, it doesn’t matter where I am at, this parade comes to me. It’s also important to note, that with Ronny Powell around we will always stay at places that offer the standard conveniences of a first world country, i.e. cable. the wrights2

But when it came to Christmas, I was quite certain I had no tradition. We have never hid an ornament on the tree, there’s no special food we always have, a game of dirty Santa has never been played, and the same movie is not watched each year. Then, as I was talking to my co-worker the other day, it dawned on me there was something I have done every year, or rather some place I have gone.

I would hope that all Northwest Alabama residents have experienced the magic and joy that 4170 Ricks Lane in Leighton brings to visitors each Christmas season. Known simply to most of us as The Wright’s Lights, this brightly lit creation has been bringing me wonder and delight for over twenty years. There has not been one single holiday season that I did not make it out to this iconic Christmas wonderland to experience the lights and fantasy this home creates.

I can vividly remember my grandparents taking me out each Christmas as a child in my grandmother’s Oldsmobile, after a dinner at Catfish Haven or Newberns (still love this place). I would always plaster my head against the window right after we made the turn off Three Mile Lane, just waiting for the brightness. Each time we would come upon lights I would ask “is this it..is that it…” and each year I was never prepared for the neon spectacular that lay as far as my eye could see. To my six-year-old self this place was as close to the North Pole as I could get and got me so excited for Santa to come I could never be still… truthfully I was usually hanging out the window!

As I grew older, nothing changed, it moved from my grandparents taking me, to me loading up in my Ford Escape with my closest girlfriends in our PJS and a thermos of coffee. When I brought friends home with me for Christmas in college, we would all pile in my dad’s Yukon and I would anxiously anticipate their priceless faces. Sure, how good could a home Christmas display in small town Alabama be? I knew that’s what everyone was thinking…and every time my friends could not reach for their phones quick enough to document the amazingness that lay before them.

thewrights3Now, I’m 26, married, and a Memphis resident, but tomorrow night I can assure you, you will find my dad’s white Suburban loaded down with me, my husband, 21 year old brother, and mom and dad making the brightly lit circle. The thing is, I may not be six anymore, but I am pretty sure we are all big kids trapped in a grown-ups body, and The Wrights makes me feel like magic still exists and that all that’s wrong in the world can be Wrighted with a field full of Christmas lights…and in a crazy world like this, it’s a feeling worth hanging on to!

So, Wright Family, from my family to yours, thank you and Merry Christmas!

hodge podge of life.

So, I was out of town last week for work, and therefore unable to post. Playing a little catch up now is definitely called for I do believe…

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Worst photo of me ever…but great feeling!

A run-hater, finishes a 5K…
First things first… we finished our 5K!  Yes, the Breakaway Bardog 5K was a success, and if I do say so myself, we couch to 5kers did pretty great! Christopher clocked in at 31:28 and I wasn’t too far behind with 33:59. Definitely not earth shattering times, but for us it was just about completing it.

Don’t worry the running isn’t stopping here. We are already planning to do another race IMG_1211the end of October, so the quest to get faster and improve breathing continues. But this time around I am even more set, due to some new kicks I bought at Breakaway Running last week. Who knew there was so much involved in picking the right running shoe… this run-hater definitely did not. But Brian at Breakaway did not lead me astray, and I am now the owner of some pretty sweet Brooks. I have to say, they make me feel like one of the cool kids.

Ten Days and Counting…
That is, until the witzs hit the road for out West. A fitting word to describe our excitement, stoked! Completely stoked! It’s just the two of us, a car full of necessities, and the open road for a whole week and we couldn’t be more ready to get moving! The plan is to post a photo each day signaling where we have been or what we have been doing. So, if you read this blog weekly be sure and check in each day for an update!

Although we know what cities we are going to be in and when, what we are going to do when we get there is staying ambiguous. We have general ideas, but for the most part we just wanted to get there and decide. So, there is not telling what we might end up getting into. Also, we decided a few weeks ago that staying at our first bed and breakfast would also be fun for this trip. So, on our second night in Boulder that’s exactly what we are doing. I am pretty excited for that experience just in and of itself.

Memphis News that Makes Me Happy…
cupcakesIf you read the Flyer, listen to the radio, etc. you probably already know that Muddy’s Bake Shop is coming to Midtown. But just in case you haven’t heard, now you too know the exciting news. Yep, South Cooper is about to get a lot sweeter… and I am elated! Lovin’ from the oven will still continue to take place in East Memphis, it will just be spreading the love with this sibling store for those of us further west. So, keep an eye on 585 S. Cooper and all the deliciousness that is destined to come from it!

babalu-signFurthermore, to continue in the trend of Midtown being Memphis, Overton Square will also be getting another resident soon… and its a pretty tasty one if I say so! Babalu Tacos and Tapas is well on its way to expanding its Jackson, MS restaurant to the Bluff City. For any former Jackson resident or those of us who have just eaten there when visiting friends, you know that this place has pretty awesome food! So, I am quite pleased they decided to expand in Memphis. Plus, growth for our great city, just makes me happy!

a run-hater, runs.

IMG_1150I hate to run.

There I said it. And I feel like I just made a huge confession. I don’t know about you, but running has seemed to be the “in” thing these last few years. My news feed on Facebook is constantly full of folks at Color Runs, Races for the Cure…and even more seem to be tackling half marathons and marathons. (Insert fist pump here!) …But then there’s me, sitting over in what feels like the ever-shrinking minority, hiding my running shoes from world because well, I’m a run-hater. That’s why it’s such newsworthy news that the hubs and I are about to tackle our second 5K. But don’t let this fool you…I still hate to run.

I hate how my right side cramps when I’m not breathing just the right way. I hate how my legs always ache in protest about half way through my run. And most of all I hate how hard breathing becomes. The list could go on, but I think I’ve already clarified for everyone how out of shape I am. So, let me explain what you are all now wondering….then, why the crap do you do it?

Simple. I want to stay in shape, and running is a tried and true method of doing so, while also being cost effective (and by that I mean free) and flexible. Don’t get me wrong, I have my Y membership and I use it. No one loves a Zumba or Step class more than me; I actually prefer an aerobics class. But if you work and have a social life, going to a 6 pm class each Tuesday doesn’t always fit your schedule, plus one day a week isn’t going to cut it. With running, I can go just about any time on any day that I want… the pavement here in Downtown Memphis is always open.

And here’s the other reason… I want to eat. And I want to eat things I like! It’s not that I have a sugar tooth to tame…cookies, cakes, candy bars, they do nothing for me! Nope, I fall victim to the other 5 letter word with lots of weight (pun-intended)….carbs. Specifically, bread! I love it…I crave it. Dangle a Cracker Barrel biscuit, an Olive Garden breadstick, or a Ricatoni’s (local hometown place) loaf in front of me… and I. am. yo. slave. Yep, yummy baked goodness makes for one weak girl over here…

So, you see my need to keep my feet moving… thus I am making myself a runner, while continuing to be a run-hater. It sucks, but IMG_1156so does paying taxes, and I keep doing that. I know apples and oranges… but hopefully you chuckled. The thing isI have tried running a couple of times in the past, but this time it actually seems to be sticking. One part, thanks to Michael and Whitney (as in Jackson and Houston) because right now, I have to blast some pop tunes to deafening levels to keep myself pumped up, but the other part is the hubs. It helps to have an accountability partner, who won’t let me bullshit and wiggle my way out of that night’s run. And someone who hates running just as much as me. We can vent at the pain, and moan at the uber-runners, who we run past with no music needed and a pace that makes my head swivel. Yeah, you know the ones!

So, stay tuned for pics of the 4th Annual Breakaway Bardog 5K, benefiting St. Jude. If you are a run-lover or run-hater trying to run, think about signing up too! It’s Sunday, August 18 at 9 am Downtown. There’s a pretty sweet after party in the alley by Bardog, so be sure to stick around afterwards! Beer. Dunk tank. Burgers. Good times! And much more!

Wish us luck!