Spring.

Whitney —  June 22, 2015 — Leave a comment

“Seasons of life” always struck me as a bizarre phrase. How do you know it’s a season, and how do you know when it’s changed? Do you see the metaphorical leaves changing colors? Do you watch the flowers bloom? Do you feel the heat? The cold? And regardless, isn’t it better and less pretentious and less, I don’t know, Biblical to just call them phases?

***

In mid-February, I sent this text message: “I promise you, winter is almost over.” I meant it literally. Technically, spring was a month away, but in Georgia we were in the final couple weeks of legitimate cold, and an obnoxiously-timed ice storm was potentially getting in the way of plans and progress. But more importantly, I meant it symbolically. This phase – this season – of tremendous pain and change and uncertainty was almost over. He was one morning in court away from some stability again. From a simple answer, even if it wasn’t the one he’d counted on for the last seven years. And for maybe the first time, I saw the literal and the symbolic align, and the “season of life” thing made more sense.

***

A couple weeks ago, I was practicing, as I do most mornings. I was in the middle of the standing sequence, which opens each practice, and a thought that had trickled into my brain the night before would not leave me alone. It felt a little like God was (gently) knocking me on the head with it. Over and over. And for the first time, I stopped practicing to open my journal and write:

“I think it’s time to let go. I’m scared of it. Part of me wants to hold on just so I can keep scrolling through moments in my head. But for the time being – for this moment, this new season – I have to release this grip. I have to wish you peace and love and light and growth and let my fingers and shoulders relax in surrender and submission and faith and grace. I want to remember all of it. I still have so many questions. So many loose ends. But I’m setting you free. I’m setting me free, too. I don’t know what will happen. With anything, really. But I’m going to be ok. Spring is almost over.”

And so, as we start summer, as I let go, I think it’s time to talk about spring. Continue Reading…

The beach.

Whitney —  May 6, 2015 — Leave a comment

I didn’t mean to write a post. I expected to write throughout the weekend, but I didn’t…until I sat down at the kitchen table on Sunday evening as the towels and sheets were drying. And then I still didn’t mean to write a post. But the words came, and as always in moments like that, I don’t remember writing most of them. Just…I opened the journal and picked up the pen and there was reality and God and whatever else waiting on me.

These are the kinds of things I’m now scared to publish. But, then again, we could just add that fear to the list. There are only about a dozen in the next couple hundred words. And just like two and a half years ago, I still believe in the truth. In sharing it. Even when it’s hard and the kind of petrifying that makes you believe in ghosts. I still believe in vulnerability and openness and honesty and conversation, even when they lead to hurt and heartbreak. So I’m publishing this and hoping that everyone who reads it finds some peace in their own questions, own waiting, own middle.

“I beg you, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” — Ranier Maria Rilke

“‘What if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” — Erin Hanson

***

I came to the beach, and I thought it would be better. Hoped it would, at least. And it has to some extent. But here’s the ugly, bitter, obnoxious truth: there is no magical potion. No new Bible study or book, or old house or beach, or spectacular sunset picture or break from reality is going to eliminate this hurt and uncertainty. The quiet helps. So does the long drive with just Grady sprawled out beside me. The front porch early on a Saturday morning, empty except for me, my mat and my dog. Wine in a solo cup and a walk around the island like a local, stopping only to give directions to lost tourists.

Family feels nice. Grandparents. Cousins. Little ones burying my feet in the sand. And the light and the breeze and the warmth remind me that breathtaking beauty is never that far away, even when the winter feels especially long and bleak.

I finished a book of essays, and I liked it, and there were some snippets of wisdom that spoke to me, the most prominent one being about how brutal the middle can be: when you’re trying to figure out the lesson — the point — and how ultimately fruitless that guessing game is. Continue Reading…

Find your people.

Whitney —  March 17, 2015 — Leave a comment

I cried on Christmas Eve. I was at the 11pm service at the church I grew up in — the one Christmas tradition I love and uphold — and I ugly cried. The truth is I don’t love the holidays. In fact, I kind of hate them. And I swear I’m not usually that cynical, but the holidays come with so much pressure and so many schedules, and frankly, I enjoy the tailgates we plan and the suppers around the fire that we don’t plan so much more than the forced celebrations. But I love Christmas Eve service. And over the years, it has evolved beyond a simple tradition. It’s become a safe place and a touchstone, where I can take a step back and see where I am and what I need and what’s going right or terribly wrong and where I stand mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

When I got to church this past Christmas Eve, I was already a little frazzled, and I spent most of the service holding back tears. Our pastor opened his sermon by asking if anyone remembered what happened on October 14, 1992…the day that Sid slid and the Braves won the National League pennant. And that was a pretty weird opening line because the Braves winning the pennant on October 14, 1992, though I didn’t know the exact date, is my first full memory.

I was in bed with my mom. My dad was downstairs ironing his shirt, as he did every evening. I had fallen asleep — I was 5 — but I woke to Daddy yelling and cheering. I opened my eyes and saw Sid Bream lumbering around the bases with his mustache flaring. Sid slid, the throw from Barry Bonds in left field was slightly off the mark and somehow — somehow — Sid was safe. “He is… SAFE! BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN BRAVES WIN!” [True story: I just looked up Skip’s call of that play to link here, and it brought tears to my eyes. The Braves really were the fist thing I consciously loved in this world, and it breaks my heart all over again every time I think about them abandoning Atlanta, but that’s a different story for a different day.] And here’s the video, but don’t kid yourself, Skip’s call is the best. I’ll forever be grateful for that base hit, Frankie Cabrera.

And anyway, as soon as Terry started talking about the Braves and Frankie and Sid and Skip, I knew I was supposed to be there. I knew this spot and this sermon and these tears I was struggling so hard to hold in were for me, even if I didn’t understand them. Continue Reading…

Days like today.

Jacklyn —  March 16, 2015 — Leave a comment

That first set of really great warm days after a long cold winter are so wonderfully appreciated, it makes me feel like I’m not grateful enough for every beautiful day we get.

It’s about 81 degrees outside right now. The sky is the most brilliant blue. And the most exciting thing about today? I’m going to eat ice cream straight from the carton after dinner. On my porch. In shorts. Because I can. I mentioned this to the other ST and she’s going to join me. Life doesn’t get better. I can’t believe how excited I am about ice cream.

I took the dog for a walk around the park right after discussing ice cream flavors. As I was walking by the playground I heard the familiar Pavlovian tune blasting out of the the early 90s scary ass ice cream van. I’ll admit, that silly song always makes me a little bit excited, a little bit nostalgic for the pink bubble gum flavored baseball mitt with the baseball chewing gum stuck to it. As I was passing by on the sidewalk, a little girl comes hauling ass off the climbing thingy and screaming for ice cream. She looked just like me when I was a kid.

And all I could do was smile.

When the magic fades.

Jacklyn —  February 26, 2015 — Leave a comment

I remember standing in my mother’s kitchen, getting ready to travel to New York City for yet another work trip, when I sarcastically said to my father, “I feel like I live there,” and he responded, “Oh, I just assumed you would have tried to move there already.” My stomach flipped when he said those words because:

  1. I had always dreamed of living in New York City but never actually considered moving there.
  2. I couldn’t ever leave my family! That would be nuts. After all, Atlanta was all I’d ever known as an adult.
  3. Everyone knows you need to get paid a cabillon bucks to live there, and I certainly didn’t make that much. How else do you afford to go to those five star restaurants every night? [The answer is happy hour — that’s how you get by on no money and still have a social life.]

This was the day that my whole world changed.

Fast forward nearly two years. I’d been working my ass off to get my condo sold. Unfortunately, the HOA was in a lawsuit against the builder, and nothing was able to get funded because of some shit I can’t remember about lenders not lending to distressed properties. Fine. I had something like eight or nine offers and contracts [no lie] fall through on my house. I won’t go into the details here because it’s really boring. [So boring you’ll probably smash your head on a rock, and I can’t be held responsible for that.] It took well over a year for my condo to sell. Short sale. Yay.

I moved to Hoboken to be with my man on December 31, 2013. Have I mentioned that man is a saint? He put up with the emotional roller coaster of a short sale, and then he flew down on December 30, sicker than a dog, and helped me pack up the last few things in my place and then drove me up to The Big Apple. The move doesn’t matter, so I’ll leave that part out. What matters is that Dave is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and he’s more loyal than anyone I ever could have imagined.

When people think of living in NYC, they think of Sex and the City, Gossip Girl, White Collar [#RIP], Friends — all of those shows where the characters have normal jobs yet still somehow seem to afford gorgeous luxury apartments. I knew that wasn’t “real,” but guess what? Even the people who make nearly $200,000 still live in shitbox apartments the size of the closet in my condo. My job paid me well, but it certainly didn’t pay me enough to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment on my own. It almost didn’t pay me enough to give Dave half the rent money, excluding utilities and everything else that goes along with being an adult. I remember thinking how crazy it was that I was hemorrhaging money when I had almost no social life. When people tell you New York City is expensive, they mean it. And when I say it’s expensive, I’m not only talking about everything it costs to live there. And it doesn’t just cost money — though, dear God, it certainly does that. It’s an emotionally, physically, mentally expensive place to live. It challenges all of your reserves, and before you know it, it can take your sanity.

So here’s my story about giving up a whole lotta shit in order to live my dream in the magical New York City and what happened when that magic faded.  Continue Reading…

Keep Calm And Stepan

Jacklyn —  November 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

I am the first person to admit that I don’t know jack about hockey. In fact, I really don’t care about adding hockey or any other non-MLB sport to my life. At least, that’s what I thought until last weekend.

The Boy [yes, the one from Fries With Steak Sauce] is a die hard, eat/sleep/breathe, has probably considered a commemorative tattoo, walking encyclopedia type fan of the New York Rangers. I’m talking season ticket holder with season ticket holder parents, #NYR memorabilia all over the house, Rangers-only t-shirts [my personal favorite is the one that says ‘Let’s Get Nashty’ because, well, isn’t it obvious?], Rangers blanket, Rangers scarf, Rangers artwork. Rangers. Rangers. Rangers. Him accepting me into his life meant that I was to be educated on hockey and I would be destined to become a fan. For me, it meant a solid time block where I was not allowed to call, text or email and expect a response several times a week. It also meant I’d be dealing with playoff beards [ickle] and a grouchy bastard whenever the team didn’t play up to his standards.

As it turns out, pretty much all of those things are true. What came as a surprise to me is I actually enjoy them [except the grouch part, but he keeps that under control 99% of the time].

Continue Reading…

It was eighth grade picture day and the first day in a month I had forgotten to say goodbye to Patches. When I arrived home from school that afternoon, I knew exactly what happened as soon as I saw my mother’s face. Patches was a part of the family long before I was, and she was 19 [!] years old when we lost her. Calling it a ‘hard time’ would be a gigantic understatement. It was especially difficult for my mother because Patches was her dog and she spent the most time with her.

It took us a week or two, but somehow my brother and I managed to convince my mother that the best way to honor Patches was to adopt another dog and give it a good home. So we went to PetSmart and saw Liz — a skinny red dog with Dorito shaped ears, one brown eye and one blue eye [just like Patches]. She was adorable, but she was kind of jerk, growling in her crate [again, just like Patches] and nobody wanted to take her out to meet her. Wade and I convinced the sweet man from Big Canoe Animal Rescue to let her out with me while Wade dragged Mom out to meet her. Turns out Liz was a sweetheart and had a ton of energy. We donated $50 for her and took her home.  Continue Reading…

True&Co

Jacklyn —  June 27, 2013 — Leave a comment

Bra shopping is the worst. I despise it even more than shopping for jeans. On a scale of being tarred and feathered to being covered in chocolate and letting Anthony Weiner lick me, bra shopping falls around being covered in paper cuts and jumping into a bathtub of lemon juice.

That is until Whitney invited me to join True&Co, a startup devoted to revolutionizing the way women shop for lingerie. I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical of buying bras online [or any type of clothing that I couldn’t buy from Zappos], but I decided to give it a shot. After all, they are following the Zappos shipping model. [Free shipping both ways is the best. If you don’t have it, it’s a deal breaker for me.]

Here’s how it works: you answer some questions about how your bras fit currently. Then, you pick three bras you’re interested in trying, and True&Co sends two they think you’ll like based on your answers. You keep the bras for a week or so, and send back the ones you don’t like. There is a $45 hold on your card once the products are shipped to you, but you only get charged for what you decide to keep. Awesome, right?

Continue Reading…

I don’t know how it happened and I certainly don’t know when, but however and whenever don’t seem to matter all that much; what matters is how I choose to move forward from this point on. I don’t think I could be more excited than I am at this very moment.

Relationships never really scared me until now. I think that’s because I was always in one or jumping into the next one, each time becoming more disillusioned with every man [boy] that disappointed me. With each failure, I threw on one more layer of armor, one more layer of whatthefuckever, one more layer of fierce independence that I’ve been very apprehensive about shedding — until now.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t feel like I need to know. I just want to be thankful and enjoy the journey that is ahead of me, wherever, whatever it may be.

Continue Reading…

A Note to Graduates

Whitney —  May 4, 2013 — Leave a comment

Eight years after graduating high school and four years after graduating college, it dawns on me that I’m marking my fourth complete year of full-blown adulthood. Except there is no big celebration this time. No finals. No ceremony. No cap. No gown. Instead, there’s just a continuous stream of small tests, small victories, small moments marking my progress as I keep growing.

Still, I’ve learned a lot over the last eight years. [A lot of it the hard way, too.] So, I know these lists are over-done. But I feel compelled to share whatever small pieces of wisdom I’ve gained with those graduating from high school and college and inching their way to this adult school known as the real world.

Continue Reading…