Author Archives: Jess

Aside

Usually I’m the one traveling between work, school, and family, but this week was a bit of a role reversal. I was the one at home, while J.T. was out-of-town for work.

This past week has been a good learning experience about myself and our relationship.

  • He does a lot around the house. I mean a lot y’all. Since he works from home and I’m usually done with work later, he often does the dishes, laundry, makes coffee for the morning, takes care of the dog, the list goes on. I’ve always appreciated him, but this week has reminded me again how thankful I am to have a spouse that helps out so much at home.
  • I have a natural workaholic tendency. I took full advantage of having no one but Lola to come home to. I left the office several nights and came home to work some more on my couch. It was  10 pm before I knew it and I was yawning with my laptop in my lap. He brings the life to work/life balance. He never makes me feel guilty for working hard and sometimes long hours, but I want to come home and hang out.
  • I would watch too much crappy TV. Mindless TV (Hello Real Housewives of Orange County Reunion) while working. I can’t wait to watch some “good” TV with him when he’s back! I couldn’t cheat and watch our shows without him.
  • As I was cleaning up this morning and picked up 5 pairs of shoes in the living room I laughed. He hates it when I leave my shoes everywhere. This week’s mail was still on the kitchen bar. The cereal box (I had granola/Greek yogurt for dinner) was still out on the counter. I am so messy – my nickname isn’t Messy Jessy for nothing!
  • I will always be a horrible bed mate. Even with him not here, Lola and I (mainly me) figured out how to take up the whole entire king sized bed
  • Oreos do not stand a chance! I had a package leftover from a recent party. This is why I don’t keep junk in my house!
  • I struggle to just relax and do nothing. It just happened most of my “go to girlfriends” were out-of-town or busy Friday night, so I was all by myself (queue the sappy music). I got take out from a restaurant around the corner and just sat on my couch. What should I do?  The past two weeks have been so busy at work and I’ve been going non-stop, I sometimes struggle to just be still and not do anything, but just be. I watched “I AM” on Netflix (highly recommend this documentary) while i ate dinner.Then in the spirit of “being”, I poured myself a glass of fine bourbon and drew up a hot both. Slowly the noise in my head started to quiet down a bit.

Being married isn’t about some one else completing you or being your fulfillment, despite what Hollywood says. I am strong and independent woman who wants to be with my husband because I feel like life is truly better when we’re together and balance each other out. I’m extremely thankful for some time apart, to remember how much I love and appreciate my husband that sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day shuffle. As the cliché goes … “Absence does make the heart grow fonder”

What I Learned While My Husband was Out of Town

20 Things My 20′s Have Taught Me

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Ever since I turned 25 almost 5 years ago, I’ve dreaded turning thirty. Some how being in my late 20′s felt like death march to 30. Within the last few months, that’s changed. I”m not dreading turning 30, In fact, I’m embracing it and slightly excited. And it’s not just because I’m having an awesome 80′s-themed birthday party Saturday night.

As I have been thinking over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reflecting as I close the chapter on the decade of my 20′s.

Here’s 20 Things My 20′s Have Taught Me:

  1. Grandparents are a treasure. Having lost all three of my grandparents in my 20′s, I treasure every minute and memory with them. Get to know them as more than just your “grandparents”. Know how they first fell in love over a bottle of Coca-Cola  or that funny story about the time a drunk guy rode a horse into the bar.
  2. Work hard but not too hard. It’s great to be driven and have goals, but don’t get lost in the rat-race to “success”. I’ve lost my self a few times, but having people in your life to remind you what really matters is important. I am a human BEing not a Human DOing.
  3. Friends come and go, but hold tight to those who stick around. Some friendships are a matter of a convenience and circumstances (same major in college, same team at work), but those who love you no matter what and chose to do life with you are rare treasures!  You need a close friend or two who will you call you out  on your crap and be there to listen to the deepest wanderings of your heart.
  4. Deal with it. Life happens and you’re figuring out who the “real” you is. If you are “stuck” with yourself or you need help dealing with things, don’t be embarrassed to see a counselor and work through whatever it is.
  5. Your faith is will be tested and stretched, but it will grow. God is big enough to handle your doubts, your questioning, and your wanderings. Don’t give up – keep searching and you’ll find a stronger and purer faith on the other side of the desert.
  6. Pursue your dreams. The only person standing in the way of your dreams is you. Don’t be scared – go for it! You can do anything you set your mind to.
  7. It’s a really awesome thing when your parents become your friends. They’re smart – way smarter than you realize. And better yet, it’s a beautiful thing when they can become your “friends” and you enjoy hanging out with each other.
  8. Life isn’t always fair and every day is a gift. It sounds cliche but it’s true. There will be people taken from your life suddenly and you too soon, but always look for the beauty and signs of hope in each day. Don’t take people for granted and always let them know how much they’re loved!
  9. Give back. Learn how to live generously on whatever you have to give – not just money, but your time, energy, talents!
  10. Learn how to let go and forgive. People will hurt you. People will disappoint you. They’re human after all! The quicker you can forgive and move on – the better things can be.
  11. Out of our deepest pains, beauty and growth emerges. Not easy to swallow or see in the moment, Some of the toughest situation offer you the opportunity to grow, if you allow it.
  12. Forget the 5 year plan. It’s great to have a game plan and goals, but don’t get so caught up  in the “what’s next” you forget the “what’s now”. Enjoy whatever season of life you’re in and be open to the “life lessons” you’re learning.
  13. Your spouse is an introvert. It took me a few years to realize this as an off the charts extrovert. Give him his space and “me time” to re-charge and don’t be insecure or think something is wrong.
  14. Social media is awesome, but be conscious of your social-foot print. It’s more permanent than a tattoo. Don’t post or say anything you’d be ashamed of for a future employer or grandchild to see.
  15. Be quick to say “I was wrong” when you really were. You’re not always right and don’t know everything. When you’re wrong – own it and learn from it!
  16. Babies are easier for some people to have than others. I always thought (see #12) I’d be done having kids by 30, but things just haven’t worked out that way!
  17. Love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice and a commitment. Some days you don’t “feel in love”, but in the end you can always choose to find your way back together. Don’t buy into a Hollywood notion of love and romance. A real love story is way more messier, but also so much deeper and beautiful.
  18. Life isn’t all about you. Invest in others and their success. When you want what’s best for others, it brings out the best in you
  19. Learn to love yourself. Find out who you really are and embrace it. Put away the negative self-talk and embrace every aspect of you. If you’re not good to yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be good to you? If there are characteristics and habits you really don’t like, decide to change them.
  20. It’s more about your perspective and attitude than your circumstances.  You can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. This makes the difference in life!

And with that my friends… I’ll toast to the next decade of my 30′s! Grateful for every bit of life and lesson I’ve learned.

How Social Media (Almost) Ruined My Life

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I wrote a draft of this post a few weeks ago after taking a break for a week from all forms of social media to spend more time in contemplation. After spending this past weekend “unplugged” in the mountains with my family, I decided now would be a great time to post and end my long blog silence. 

I honestly love social media (Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) for several reasons. It’s definitely a great avenue to keep up with friends that you’re not able to see on a regular basis and share life moments together that may otherwise go missed. With all of the glory of social media, there’s definitely a down side. I remember this Fall I was back home in my small hometown in Georgia at a Friday night high school football game when one of my parents’ friends told me how beautiful my new house was. It struck me a little strange because my first question was, “How did they see my house in Charlotte?”  when it dawned on me — Facebook.

In so many ways I feel like Facebook gives us a false sense of community and closeness. There’s definitely something to be said for posting your life through status updates, pictures, and check-ins to the world in a pretty and filtered fashion. Doing real life together is not near as glamorous as the cutest and craftiest creation on pinterest that puts Martha Stewart to shame or having random people post on your wall once a year for your birthday. In several ways Facebook is not only a time suck, but a creativity suck. How can I express and impress “friends” in a few letters to show how cool/fabulous/smart/fill in the blank? I feel in some ways, social media takes “keeping up with Jones’ ” to a whole new level.

I worry about how freely we share the most intimate details of our lives for the world to see. In browsing facebook, you can find out personal information that would have taken a Private Investigator a while to figure out pre-Facebook world. In 2 minutes,  you know can find out where Meredith went on vacation this week (even with the location stamp!- scary!), pictures of that scandalous Halloween party, and update on that old acquaintance from college (She’s currently 4 cm dilated and should be having her baby very shortly — with pictures to soon follow!)

I’m not trying to be negative or overdramatic. I read someone I follow on twitter the other day state that we’re the first generation to be able to leave a “digital foot-print” and wondering out loud what our Grandkids will think of us when they go through all of our old Facebook status updates and tweets. This was the first time I’d thought about a digital legacy of short for my someday kids and their kids to follow and see.

For me social media became a coping mechanism of sorts. When things were crazy at work and I needed a stress break – I’d find myself making a trip to the handicap stall to read people’s Facebook posts since the last time I’d checked (probably a few hours ago before I’d left my house for work). When I was bored and “vegging” out at the end of the day – I’d distractedly watch TV and  surf Facebook and Twitter from on the couch. This was a great way to escape a meaningful conversation with my husband and drift in and out of surface level thoughts.

I always strive to live an authentic and open life. There’s definitely a level a trust that comes in real community that has to be earned.  I want to know my friends and be known more beyond just my facebook posts and thoughts/musings tweeted in 140 characters or less. I want to be known as the girl who eats a protein shake (on a “good day) or fast food (on a “bad day”) for dinner out of exhaustion and isn’t making a yummy, photo-worthy meal from pinterest to be shared on Facebook or Instagram. I need people who check in with me and don’t just assume everything is great based on my statuses or pictures of life. And I need people who need me to do the same things for things. Hold honest heartfelt conversations. Sit with during dark nights of the souls. All the while enjoying the beauty and awesome times that life brings too.

If you haven’t seen the 15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook (or even if you have) check it out for some much needed humor!

The Whirlwind

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There’s so much to blog about… the past three weeks have been a whirlwind and a bit of a blur! I’ve gotten to spend time with some of the people I love the most celebrating friendship, the 4th of July, Road Trips with Mom to Philly, another grad school residency, a baby shower for my sister and soon-to-arrive niece Adelyn Parker, and much more!

There’s certainly blogs and pics to come, it just may be a while!

The time that I normally devote to blogging has been replaced with school work again. I”m choosing
 to doing to “introspective blogging” — meaning focusing more on cultivating my inner and spiritual life. I’ve been “blogging”, but more in the sense of writing journals and reflecting. There may be some “real blogs” that result but my thoughts are too raw and beginning to come to surface.

I’m thankful for the people in my life that keep me from floating just on the surface of living
and help pull me into the deeper waters of the soul and living.

Girls Birthday Beach Bash Weekend 2012

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June … the official start of summer and our summer has gotten off to a fun start! I’ve been meaning to write several blogs over the past few weeks, but just haven’t gotten around to it.

My first grad school class was in full swing with two major papers due this within the first two weeks of the month. I had to movtivate myself to get everything done because the sun and sand was calling my name.

Last weekend, I went to Isle of Palms, the barrier island to Charleston, SC for our annual Birthdy Beach Bash weekend with my mom and sister. Since Rachel is due with sweet Adelyn this August, we decided we should probably move up our get-a-way. We had an awesome time relaxing on the beach and just enjoying being with each .

Mom, Rachel, and Me

We visisted all of our favorite eating spots: Acme Cantina, Seabiscuit Cafe, and even found a new spot right on the Intercoastal waterway- Morgan Creek Grill. And since we had a preggers with us, we just HAD to eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream every day! This little B&J ice cream “hut” has to make a killing and is the “chain” on the island.

The Beach Mama

Is she not the cutest?? Rockin’ that baby bump in her bikini!

Saturday evening, Rachel and I went down to the dunes and beach to do a mini-photoshoot to capture this precious time. I shot mostly with her Cannon but got a few pics with my point and shoot.

I think this one is my favorite.

Our long weekend was so relaxing and I can’t wait until next August! : )

What to get Dear ol’ Dad?

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If you’re like me, you’re trying to figure out what get dear old Dad for Father’s Day. How do you find the perfect gift for someone who means so much to you, but already has an extensive tool and tie collection??

Here’s a few suggestions that I’ve found in trying to find the “perfect” gift!

I saw one of my fave authors, Don Miller, tweet about a Father’s Day campaign for The Mentoring Project. CHeck out their website – Don’t Buy the Tie to find out more information on how you can help be a part of the solution and mentoring fatherless youth. I really can’t think of a better way to show gratitude for having a present and involved Dad!

Another favorite charity of mine is The Mocha Club. They’ve got a special Father’s Day coffee mug. For $25, Dad gets a cool mug while supporting  job training and economic opportunities in Africa through the work of the Mocha Club. Now that’s a win/win!

Got a music-loving Dad? How about give the gift of some new tunes. Here’s my recommendation - Folk Family Revival These young and talented guys from Texas have a sound much more mature than their collective age. If your dad loves country, southern rock, Americana or all of the above – this is a sure winner!

Most of the time the simple gift of spending time together is much more valuable than the latest and greatest high-dollar electronic gadget. If geographically feasible take your dad out for ice cream or maybe spend an afternoon doing something together (fishing, going to brunch, movies, etc).

Whatever you do — make sure to tell Dad how much you love him and what he means to you! That’s the gift that never gets old!

My Little Garden (Week 12?)

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I’ve not done a stellar job lately in updating my blog with weekly pictures of my backyard garden’s process. My dad visited over Memorial weekend and gave me compliments on how good everything looked. I tried not to be offended when he told me he was just surprised that everything was still alive – ha! My dad knows me well and my normal lack of a green-thumb. I may have forgotten to take and post pictures of the garden – but I haven’t forgotten to water it.

 

Things are really progressing nicely. Last week I “harvested” my broccoli. I’m not sure next year if I’ll plant that again. It takes up a lot of space in my bed and is ready all at the same time. I like broccoli but to eat four heads in a short window is a lot!  I replaced the broccoli with a cucumber plant and two tomato plants. I’m really excited about the German Johnson variety I planted. I was chatting garden talk with my uncle this past weekend. He said last year, he was able to make ELEVEN BLTs from just ONE tomato! I love the old, heirloom style tomatoes!
I also relocated my strawberries to a planter on the patio. The rabbits kept eating my berries, so hopefully in just a week or so I’ll be able to finally enjoy some!

 

 

This past weekend I picked my first squash, zucchini, and cherry tomato. I’m seeing grilled veggie shish kabobs in my near future (this weekend!)

Easy like Sunday Morning

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This past weekend was nothing short of glorious! The weather was incredible! The high for Saturday was Seventy Seven freakin’ degrees – on JUNE 2nd!!!

I had to take this quick pic to rub in the contrast of life in the Queen City versus life for my friends living in the armpit of Texas. I’m not giving up on a few close friends moving here! : )

I blogged about our amazing time on Saturday night at the Charlotte Shakespeare Festival.

Since the weather was so incredible, we tried to spend as much time as possible outside enjoying the cooler than normal temperatures.

Sunday after lunch JT told me, “Whatever work you wanted to do inside the house today, consider it cancelled – we’re going fishing!”  When my dad was in town last weekend he left me a rod and reel. JT bought his fishing license a few weeks ago, so we were off to get my license and some worms for a relaxing Sunday afternoon spent fishing. As we cruised by the outside of the lawn and garden section, I realized all of their trees were marked down to crazy, clearance prices. JT knew what this meant – our day of relaxing and fishing had just been replaced with digging holes and planting trees! We did end up getting my fishing license and some worms — but also 5 new trees. I’d been wanting to plant trees along my neighbor’s huge, white wall fence. I got a steal of deal with over $1o0 worth of trees for only $35!

Wondering how we got 5 trees to our house without a truck or SUV? Here’s how! Back seat laid down and not much room to spare in the Altima and two trips!

I bought 2 larger Cleveland Pear trees to plant closest to our house. I bought one of each Bradford Pear, Cleveland Pear, and Willow Oak along the slope in our backyard.  I was dreading digging in the red clay, but due to the recent rain, it was much softer than normal.  JT and I were both pleasantly surprised with how easy it was to get the holes dug and trees planted. We read after we planted (because this is how we roll!), that the trees at full maturity can grow 20-30 feet wide, which may be a problem since they’re only spaced two fence sections apart (approximately 12 feet). I guess we’ll let the future owners 20 years from now tackle that problem!

The finished results!

We did make it down to our neighborhood fishing pond around 7 pm last night.

We quickly decided that our “stocked” fishing pond must have been stocked with turtles, not  fish. The only catch of the day was made by JT and was a turtle. It  was a challenge to get the hook off of his back leg, but he was a happy guy finally free and back in the water.

 

This past weekend was very relaxing and quite enjoyable!

How was your weekend?

 

New Girl in Town: Charlotte Shakespeare Festival

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I spent most of yesterday afternoon writing a really rough, rough draft of my first grad school paper (eek!)  I got home around 5 pm and asked the painfully frequent question around my house “What do you want to do tonight?” I tossed out the idea of going to see a movie, but we both agreed yesterday was too perfect of a June evening to waste inside a movie theatre.

I went to my go to website/blog to see what’s going on around town - Charlotte on the Cheap. If you a fellow Charlottian (how fun is that to say?!), you need to check out the blog and follow on Twitter so you don’t miss out on any Queen City fun! Ok I’ll end my unsolicited commercial now : )

So within a few minutes, I figured out the Charlotte  Shakespeare Festival had just kicked off. It’s free ($5 suggested donation) and outside at The Green, an outdoor park smack dab in the middle of Uptown! Sounds pretty near perfect. Within minutes, I grabbed my sweater (yes I said sweater and  it’snJune 2nd!) and our lawn chairs to make our way downtown.

While JT set up our lawn chairs, I went right across the park to Fuel Pizza for a few slices of real, deal NY-style pizza to go. We chowed down on our food and were serenaded with  pre-show music from a guy and a guitar playing lots of familiar covers.

My lovely date and me

All under the glow of Duke Energy building in Uptown

I’ll make a confession – I was not well-versed in The Tempest. It took a few minutes to get used to the King’s English and thanks to the help of Sparknotes on my phone – I was back in business! It was a fabulous night of picnicking under the stars and watching a modern twist on The Tempest.

Miranda and Ferdinand

If you’re in Charlotte – Don’t.Miss.Out. I can’t promise the weather will be amazing as it was last night, but I can promise you will have a great time! Bring your wine, snacks, and lawn chairs for a cultured good time!

Charlotte Shakespeare Festival presents The Temptest

May 31st – June 17th

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm
Sundays at 6:30 pm

Uptown at The Green