Monday, November 26, 2012


Eventually I'm going to have to stop eating leftover mashed potatoes and cake for lunch and dinner in the name of  "carb-loading". I've got to get it in my mind right this minute that eventually is now instead of when there is no more left. For Thanksgiving this year, my contributions were slow-cooker creamed potatoes [real potatoes, none of that flaky business in a bag], scratch biscuits for the dressing, sausage balls for the pre-party, and pumpkin bread. So really, I contributed starch. To use my grandma's expression "it was good, even if I did make it." I love cooking and baking. I actually prefer baking to cooking because with baking you have to be more precise by following the directions exactly. Oh how I love a good set of clear directions with a known outcome. I especially love cooking and baking for the people I love the most. I'm a nurturer so it's another way for me to take care of them. You know, by filling them full of sugar and cholesterol in the name of love. 

Anywho, Thanksgiving came and went and I didn't even post anything about gratitude or all the things I've been blessed with. It's not that I'm not grateful and goodness knows, I've been blessed. But honestly, I spent a lot of last week thinking about those folks who are in their first round of holidays with an empty seat at the table. I have a precious, precious friend in this season right now and I wish so badly I could just fast-forward through it for her and make it all better. Typically when we think about "firsts", they are milestones that we want to celebrate and remember forever: first steps, first day of school, first kiss, first date, etc. The first "without" events though are a little different. Until you've been through a round of them, you don't really know how to address them with people in the middle of living them. And still because we're all different and we all grieve and heal differently, there's no prescribed one-size-fits-all method. For me, the first Thanksgiving and Christmas without dad wasn't really as hard as I was anticipating it. I think it's because everyone around me was on watch to make sure I was busy and occupied. And I kept myself busy and occupied through making sure mom and the boys were occupied. I was planning on it being tough so when the days came and went, it really wasn't. However, I was totally unprepared for the first birthday that rolled around when daddy didn't call me first thing in the morning to wish me a happy birthday. That was the toughie for me. And we're not even huge birthday people, but missing that standard real life moment that I had always counted on is what serves as the greatest reminders of loss for me. The sting of it never goes away completely, but I'm so thankful that God has given us the capacity to celebrate in the midst of sorrow. Our hearts can simultaneously break with grief and burst with love. I cannot help but think that our loved ones hope that the love we feel far surpasses the grief we bear. For those of not in that season right now, but know someone who is, I think all we can do is love them. Consistently. And treat them like they are normal people. Because they are normal people. Don't be afraid to ask about how they are doing, but don't feel silly for asking if they saw that commercial on television for Sears that looks like a movie-trailer too. [Which speaking of, have you seen that commercial? Hilarious.]

I didn't intend on that little tangent when I sat down to write about excessive consumption of empty carbs, but I guess it needed to be said. Where was I? Oh yes, carb-loading. In 6 days I'm running my 5th half-marathon. The last one I ran was 3 years ago which means my knees are three years older. By no means am I old and I will absolutely get ticked off when some 68 year old sporty granny cruises right on by footloose and fancy free as I'm sludging through mile 11 as a reminder of my "youth". I'm starting to get that nervous feeling in my stomach. You know, like maybe I'm going to be that girl they have to cart off on a stretcher. Typically that anxiety doesn't set in until I'm all settled into my corral downing another salt pack.  What's that? Maybe that feeling in my stomach is a result of too much cake and mashed potatoes? I guess that's a possibility too.

Stay tuned. With any luck I'll finish the 13.1 in my best time yet, win a couple of grand in a slot machine [Is it possible for lightening to strike twice?!?!] and finally get a photo with Elvis. A girl can dream, can't she?

Monday, November 19, 2012

There's a first time for everything.

The other night my mom told me that I was a diva. She might or might not have been justified in such name-calling, but we'll get to that in a minute. I would argue against the title because would a diva go to Target in her Southern hometown on a Saturday afternoon without a trace of make-up on her face? Doubtful. Speaking of, I really need to stop such antics before there's unnecessary chatter and speculation that I'm down with some sort of terminal illness. Unless practicality over not wasting a day's worth of make-up for a 15 minute trip to the Target pharmacy constitutes terminal illness. While I'm on the subject of the Target pharmacy, I just got a phone call from them informing me that the insurance company refuses to pay for my Differin gel because I'm over the age of 30. Really? Is this what health care reform is going to look like? Because I can promise no one wants to look like the un-medicated version of my jaw line. [Good thing I'm building my mother's case in my own very weak argument against it.]

Anywho, for those of you who accidentally stumbled upon this post while searching for "Target Black Friday deals" or something equally as important, I'm temporarily back in my mother's house until I figure out what zip code I want for my next one. Quick review:
  • I haven't lived in my mother's house since 1997.
  • I haven't shared living space with anyone for more than a couple of weeks at a time since 2003.

So maybe some of you are wondering how all of this is going. My dog loves it:
The cat hates it:
I plead the 5th.
Is it ideal? Absolutely not, but good heavens, what an easy problem to have, in the grand scheme of problems. I have a roof over my head and a mother who would open her door for any of her children no matter what. Yes, I had better check myself before I wreck myself.
My mother can only get away with calling me a diva because she's a saint. I once said so in a Mother's Day post here and 4 years later, it's still true. We absolutely have our differences, but that's probably why in the long run this whole little phase will be more manageable than it could have been. So why did she call me that in the first place? Because my 14 year old brother refused to use his own bathroom and took over mine. When all I wanted to do was slather on some acne cream and take out my contacts and go to bed like any other hip and happening early-30-something bunking at her mom's house. Good. Lord.
While I'm on the topic of moving back home, I'll note a few other observations for the sake of posterity because one day this will all be a fuzzy memory and I'll be whining about why I didn't take advantage of this time while I had it.
The city has made me soft. Target is now a 40 minute venture round trip. I have to drive somewhere to go running. I miss local restaurants. I miss living less than 5 minutes from a Starbucks no matter which direction I go. I miss my hip and trendy mega-church right beside my little apartment.
To be fair, rural living has its own charm. What's not charming about coyotes howling in the distance or random shotgun fire while out walking the dog either late at night [coyotes] or just after sunrise [shotguns - it's gun season, you know]? Word to the wise: Never watch The Walking Dead at 9:00 and then walk the dog when living in the middle of nowhere. Never. Ever. The leaves are much more colorful and pretty. The Blue Ridge mountains stretch along the horizon. I can easily pick out the constellations because the stars are brighter. The air is probably a little clearer. But I think I've decided it's this kind of stuff that long weekends are for. At least at this stage in the game for me. Mama asked me the other day if I would raise kids in the city. To which I blithely responded, 'why not?' But where I'm going to raise my unborn babies is the last thing on my mind these days. I'm much more concerned about finding my stone loaf pans before Thanksgiving at this particular moment. Besides something makes me think that I don't have to worry about raising babies anytime soon as long as my living arrangements match those of Howard Wolowitz.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Matter of Faith.

There's an unanswered email in my inbox from October 22. In the grand scheme of things, not that many days have passed since the 22nd but more than I typically allow to go by before a response. The primary reason for my delay is that in the email, there's a question about my faith. Specifically, my faith in relation to this new career move that I've recently made.

On more than one occasion I've tried to blog or journal about my faith. Sure, it's been an underlying theme in many of my posts but not once have I ever been able to successfully share in a clear, succinct manner my story in regards to my beliefs. Perhaps a reason why is because for me, faith has never been a clear or succinct topic. When I'm really honest, the best way I know to summarize my personal faith is an infinite loop of belief and doubt. defines faith as:
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing
2. belief that is not based on proof
3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion
4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.
5. a system of religious belief
Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as the "substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
I spent most of my Sunday mornings during childhood on a wooden church pew but refused to say that Jesus was my savior until the summer before I went to college. It was 7 years after that before I finally took the plunge publicly through baptism. I didn't say that he wasn't my savior- I just didn't say anything. Why? Because I was afraid of being wrong. I let the "what-if's" rule. I needed to see it to believe it. By nature, I am a pretty logical person and I've always had the tendency to think through multiple scenarios to determine potential outcomes. [No wonder my friends stopped inviting me to all the cool, fun parties during high school.] I determined that the only way that I would really know for sure, for sure that he was would be when eternity became my reality. By then though it would be too late to come back and say "hey everybody, guess what, it's true" so I was in a bit of a conundrum. By both sets of definitions above, it doesn't take Sheldon Cooper to conclude that I was a person bound to struggle with faith. [And if anybody knows about conflict between logic and faith, it's Sheldon Cooper.]
For me, faith is a very, very personal matter. Sure, it's worthy of conversation and we are absolutely supposed to share our stories of faith, but I've got pretty strong convictions as to the when, hows, and whys when it comes to discussing it. Some folks will cringe and tsk, tsk when they read this. Others will be thankful. It's a subject that is a challenge for me to talk or write about for multiple reasons: I'm not very Bible savvy. [Yes, I know the remedy for that.] I'm forced to become more vulnerable when I talk about it because my faith has evolved as a result life experience. [We're all just like onions with multiple layers. Ever slice open an onion? Exactly.] Faith is continuous. I love to be able to tell something from start to finish so that I can make the connections as to hows and the whys, but my faith journey will end when my life on this earth does so that's impossible to tell from start to finish [Lucky for you, my 3 readers, because could you imagine how ridiculously long that blog post would be?!?!] And finally, I don't really feel like a very good example of someone with great faith. I've always tried to be a good example but throw me under a microscope and there's plenty of room for improvement. [I finally found my Bible the other day. I was more concerned about unearthing my coffee maker in the great move.]

Here's what I've come to understand about faith thus far:
  • I do not have all the answers.
  • If I had the answers, I would have no need for faith.
  • I need it. I think we're naturally wired to need it.
  • It's ok to live by both logic and faith, but there are some things that cannot be logically explained or understood. Each element has its rightful place. Knowing how to employ both is key.
  • My faith cannot be contingent upon a what's in it for me attitude. Because what's in it for me may be only a small portion of a much bigger and more important plan. I'm learning [and trying] to become less selfish with my own agenda and let go of it for a much better one. That doesn't mean that I have to completely abandon my hopes and dreams. I think we are absolutely supposed to have them. I just can't be so narrow minded that I don't allow the possibility of something unimaginable to happen. Expect the unexpected. Let's just say that I'm a work a progress. A very slow, stubborn work in progress.
  • My God is faithful to me when I have none. Evidence: There have been plenty of situations that I could not figure out how I was ever going to move beyond. [In 2 years or maybe even 2 months I will go back and read the previous sentence and roll my eyes at such a "pit of despair" proclamation. I love hindsight.] Sure I've gotten tripped up along the way but not once have I stalled out completely. That's not my own doing. 

Sure, I wish I knew the purpose in this move or why I'm here in this particular place at this particular time, but I've also learned not to look so hard for those kinds of answers. I may not ever fully know all the reasons or details. I'm a rat running in a wheel if I try to speculate and fit my present into a prescribed set of reasons to determine what this is leading to before I get there. I'm continously perplexed as to how my decisions and the master plan intersect, collide, or run parallel with each other. Try as I might, I will never reconcile this great mystery.  Thank God for faith.

People are weird, weird, weird.

When I was in college, one of my Psychology professors would declare that at least once during every class. The course was Abnormal Psych so I walked away from that upper division course with an understanding that people are in fact, weird. I love that I went to college to study a topic that the rest of society acknowledges as common sense. Anywho, I'm in the middle of a blog post that I just cannot finish because it's forcing me to think and feel and be transparent so in the interim on a lighter note, I'm sharing evidence that people are in fact weird.

My friend Jenny is the source of inspiration for today's post because she enjoys looking at the key word searches for her blog in the stats as much as I do. [I love that I have friends who are almost as nerdy as me!]

Here is a snapshot of this week's key word searches that led strangers from the unknown to stumble upon this little blog of mine:

These are almost as good as the "sexy senior citizens", "chocolate lab tattoos", and "I'm a new smoker" searches from days of yore.

Oh the wisdom of Dr. Jim Coone that was lost on the 21 year-old version of me: "People are weird, weird, weird."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


On my last day of work at The OC, I was serenaded by a tap-dancing chicken. Clarification: it was actually a person dressed in a chicken suit but y'all: a singing, tap-dancing chicken came to work and me. That's one of those once-in-a-lifetime events that as much fun as it is in the moment, it's just as fun to talk about it later. There's video documentation of this whole occasion floating around Facebook, but here's a still shot:
Shortly after the video was posted I got a text from a BFF that said "you look extremely uncomfortable in the dancing chicken video. It's hilarious." She was correct on both counts. I loved the dancing chicken, but I was rendered utterly speechless when it was happening. [Please see pic above as evidence of my natural awkwardness.] As I was looking around the office surrounded by the people I had worked with for the last 5 years, not only was I at a loss for words, I was completely and totally humbled that they had orchestrated something so fantastic specifically for me. I felt so undeserving. I still do.

When the song and dance was over with all eyes on me, I realized that I was going to have to say something. It's times like these when one-dimensional words never do justice to what I'm feeling on the inside. The only way that I know to describe it is that I just feel full. Like, filled to the brim with joy and appreciation and love and well, emotion...full. I tried my best to verbally communicate that but I'm not a very polished impromptu speaker because I tend to think about a conversation or event even after it's done. I need time to respond to something. Factor in the tears and it was just a bit of a mess. Places you will never find me: participating in a political debate. In that particular moment, I was full.

It's only been one week since I left the little city that I slowly grew to love. Yesterday I scheduled some meetings and appointments in town to coincide with election day, and I had a work event in town today. This evening as I was driving out of town, I realized that I could not stop the tears that were once again determined to fall. I would be lying if I said that there was not a single trace of sadness in them, but mainly it was because I was just full after two very full days. It's one of the best feelings I know.

Last Thursday at family dinner, my cousin Kyle looked at me and asked "So what's the plan, Heather?". Frankly, these days I cringe at that question, but as I was driving tonight, I realized [ok, I realized it a long time ago, perhaps " finally admitted" is more appropriate] that for far too long I have been so focused on getting to the future and the next item on the agenda that I tend to look at individual days as "just another sleep until..." instead of individual and unique 24 hour increments of time that I will only get once. So the plan right now is to try my hardest to have a full day. Each day. Sure, not every day will include a singing and dancing chicken, but something standard like a 2.5 hour conversation with the stylist at the salon can factor into the equation for a full day if we allow it to. [Yes, I was in the chair for 2.5 hours yesterday. No, my hair looks nothing like Jennifer Aniston's.]

Very, very slowly I'm learning that the best days are the ones that cannot be summarized by checking items off of a to-do list. And this is coming from a girl who loves checking items off of a to-do list as a measure of accomplishment. The best days are ones that are felt in a way that cannot be described any other way but as being "full".

My cup runneth over.