Posts in life happens
one part wisdom: a relaunch

For those of you who have been reading my writing online, you know the spaces in which I've written have had many iterations. There are many things I know now about design, about web hosts, about malware and hacks that I did not know I should even be concerned with when I began blogging almost 15 years ago. 

Because I research social media, I spend a great deal of time online, which means I'm spending much of my days sitting behind a computer screen. I needed a break. Or I thought I did. But the further away I moved from blogging toward Instagram, mostly, the more I felt the pull to return to writing, here. I've created drafts of posts I never published, and last week said "I should blog about x". I'm a reflective person by nature and I think I'm better at life when I have an outlet. 

For the past year, I've rolled around ideas in my head about the kinds of things I want to say and how I wanted to frame and brand the new site. I made a list of the posts people favorited. I made a list of the posts I like to write and the kind of longform expressions I long for that don't fit inside an Instagram or Facebook post. And hopefully, I've landed on something that feels like a conversation, a connection, a point of contact where readers can say, "I know what you mean." 

The title of the blog comes from a tag line I used on my old site: You Had Me at Neurotic which read 2 parts neuroses, 1 part wisdom, all parts true. While this sentiment accurately represents my thinking, "one part wisdom stuck" with me over the course of the year where I worked off and on on the blog design. It feels more fully aligned with the place from which I want to write. One thing I learned in moving content across platforms is that I'm the worst at file organization. I've lost many images along the way as I made the move away from Wordpress. There are many reasons I returned to Squarespace, but mostly it was because I hated the recent WP platform. I had many security problems, though some of that is blamed on my webhost. If you want to nerd out about blogging platforms, let's have coffee. 

You're likely to find broken links and images as you navigate through the site, though I'm working on cleaning everything up. (It's not like I have a team of people over here at  Ralstonia helping me). If you find something you think I should know about, use the contact link at the bottom of the page and let me know. 

In the next few days, you'll start to see posts about food, music and things that are on my mind. I'm working on the yearly Summer Playlist post, so you can stop holding your breath. 

hello again

Hello, it's me. I've been wondering if after all this time you'd like to.. oh, wait those are Adele lyrics.  I've spent weeks wondering what I should with this blog. I have a dozen half-written posts from the past few months, and I've missed writing here. But something just kept interrupting my time. I didn't write very much during #reverb either, which is indicative of me putting my energies elsewhere, but also of just using other spaces like Instagram to tell daily stories.

I've been blogging for over decade. That's a lot of posts, images, music, recipes shared. So much of my life is represented, reflected, explored in this space, and I didn't want to completely give it up. I started blogging around the same time I moved to the Midwest for grad school. I also began researching blogging and as the genre of blogging evolved so did my own writing style. I think that's evident if you read old posts which sometimes feel like a public journal than the more essayistic, narrative style of more recent posts. I love that I have a record of my thoughts and feelings on so many topics. I like that my individual, personal, spiritual growth is as evident as my intellectual one. I started blogging because I wanted a space to share what I was thinking, and to use what I wrote to connect to others. And when I think about all of the people who have stumbled across my writing and commented over the years, it satisfies a need in me, one that has been making its way to the surface in a variety of ways over time. I care about people, even people I've yet to meet and I hope my experiences offer insight, or at the very least help them feel less alone. That's what reading blogs has done for me, anyway.

This is a year of big changes. We're moving to South Carolina where I'm taking a new teaching position. I'm incredibly excited. I'm also a little terrified. The past four years have not been ideal, but you get used to a routine nonetheless and despite my nomadic tendencies, change is difficult even when it's really good because it's unknown. However, I am lucky because I have so many people in my life supporting, encouraging and rooting us on.

With all of the changes about to happen, and with my need to get back to writing coupled with the desire to honor all the writing that's come before in this space, I decided to refresh my blog design, and re-commit to writing here. My goal is to post something once a week, which may be photographs, small snippets and observations or longer form writing. I'll also be re-publishing some of my favorite posts that you might have missed since you probably haven't been reading my ramblings for 10 plus years.

I hope you'll stick around, follow me on various social media, and see where this next adventure takes me. I've missed you, dear readers.


it's like summer camp

Mythos 2015

For 3 summers after high school graduation, I lived at a small camp in the state forest. It was an amazing experience. Each week we'd get new volunteer counselors, new campers and chaperones, but the five or six of us there for the summer left only on the weekends. It was my first taste of freedom, of being on my own, of making decisions I felt were mine. There were expectations, rules, tasks we needed to accomplish to make things run but we weren't micro-managed. It was liberating, the trust we were given. I wasn't good at getting close to people. I had acquaintances in high school, groups of friends I hung out with, and some I let further into my life than others. When I look back, though, it's like I was searching for something I didn't know how to offer. I was friendly, extroverted but I did not trust easily or quickly. I didn't trust myself. I was emotionally skittish, wary. I stayed that way for a long time, without fully realizing it. But sometimes you meet someone and you just can't help yourself. The secrets pour out and not in a confessional type way, but more in a way where you stop wearing whatever mask you usually show to others. The pretenses are gone, and you are just whatever is at the core of you. Sometimes it's because the other person sees through it; sometimes it's because you feel so instantly in tune with someone you never put the mask on in the first place. The first time this happened to me, I was working at summer camp. Maybe there was something about the brevity of our time together that sped up the usual making friends experience. Maybe it was just a connection, two people saying to one another "I see you." Maybe it was the shared darkness we felt, the tragedies we were in the midst of, a pull toward understanding one another. Whatever it was, it took me by surprise, then. I found myself breaking open slightly, and though throughout college I would shut myself off again, knowing it was possible to be open-hearted made a difference to me. And still does.

There are times you cross paths with people, in airports, in hotel bars, at conferences, in a store and you are changed from that interaction. A chance encounter can alter your entire perspective, can make you feel things you long since buried. Maxine was that for me; N was that for me, and there have been so many others to whom I never get the chance to say, "thank you for seeing me, for being kind, for being open."

The past few years I have made a concerted effort to be more open, open to experiences, more generous with my time, give more of myself away, to try not to wall myself off. Though my defense mechanism of hiding away is still present, it's weaker than it used to be and I try not to rely on it so heavily. A friend once told me that I have an ability to make others feel close to me by choosing to reveal certain details, the kind that seem to matter to others (though maybe less to me) while concealing those that would make me truly vulnerable. My granny called it the curse of the storyteller. Today, I actively resist that impulse to give away pieces while concealing others, like an illusionist's misdirection. I have no trouble with sharing stories from my past; I've learned that I'm an expressive person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and then some. I used to feel strangled by silence, as if something about me would eke out if I stopped talking, something I didn't want anyone to see, something like sadness or tenderness, something like vulnerability. I fought for so long to present some version of myself that others wanted. I pushed down the darkness, the trauma, the violence. I pretended it didn't matter, even as it was controlling and wrecking me. But that first summer, sitting on the lake dock, toes dipping into the water, Alabama sun beating down on my back, I began to be a little more like myself. I stopped, at least momentarily, trying to control reactions to me, to my stories. I accepted friendship, other storytellers; I found a secret-keeper.

I try to live without many regrets and I try to be honest about the kind of reckless asshole I've been as well as the frightened girl, and the one with fight, with muchness. Like ink on skin, those are pieces of me that I should honor rather than reject. This is a lesson I'm continuing to learn.

As my summer begins to draw to a close,  I feel like I did at the end of summer camp. Because I moved a lot as kid, I was never really homesick. I spent summers with my grandmothers, on vacations with my friends and their families, and with my own family. I never stayed in one place too long, a wandering nomad in search of adventure, and later, redemption. I was used to starting over. However, when I had to leave camp at the end of the summer, after all that time I'd spent with those people, I was heartbroken, especially the year that was my last. Time in that forest, challenged me, changed me, rescued me. I am so grateful to have shared those experiences, to have been in that place at that time, with those amazing individuals and friends.

I recently met (in person) and got remarkably close to many people over the course of a week hanging out, playing board games, watching fireworks, having conversations. I've struggled to describe how deeply affected I've been by that time, what the gathering of people I occasionally play online games with meant to me. Those outside of it, don't really understand, in the same way others never understood the pull of that Alabama forest each year. Each summer I grew up a little more. As I drove toward the small camp, I could feel myself relax in ways that I never did on campus or with my friends. That space was my sanctuary, the people, my confidantes. I was a girl there that I could not be anywhere else, instantly at ease, less guarded or on alert.

It was that way at our gathering. I mourn that we have to return to our daily stresses and headaches, the responsibilities, the struggles. And I hope the closeness I feel, the connections I made won't fade as quickly as summer friendships have a tendency to do. It's been some time since I felt so strongly about people I've only just met. My granny called such people soul friends, and even if time moves on and the connections waver, I'm still better for having made them.

#reverb15: Day in the Life

*This is actually April's #reverb15 prompt, but as you know, I'm late on all the things right now. As I mentioned in my previous post, I believe there is power in the ordinary, that our daily lives can be full of the same kind of magic we experience at heightened moments of joy. I try to take notice of these possibilities: a flower opening, the way I feel after a workout, relishing the thrill and release of going downhill on my bike (it's sheer bliss after the steep uphills), the smell of the air when it rains. It is too incredibly easy to get caught up in the go, go, go of my life, in deadlines and emails and responsibilities. Celebrating the ordinary, the details of the everyday is a way to better pay attention. This year I (kind of) participated in Ali Edwards' Day in the Life on Tuesday, May 11 by taking photos all day and posting many of them on Instagram with the hashtag #ditl.

A typical day begins around 6:30 a.m. sometimes later on days I don't teach. I shower, do make-up, hair, find something to wear, look at my phone. I pack my lunch, fill my water bottle, grab a protein shake and head out the door close to 8. If there's enough time like there was on Tuesday, I might swing by Starbucks and get a tea.

Coffee Love.

On Tuesday, I held Finals Week Office Hours, and students could stop by to troubleshoot or talk about their final projects. I didn't have too many take advantage but the ones who did found it helpful and I answered emails in-between.

It's a busy week.

Around noon I eat lunch. On Tuesday, I had a chickpea burger with hummus and Dole's Endless Summer Salad. I need a lot of containers.

I spent the afternoon in my office, and met with a few students, answered more emails, and worked on a conference abstract.

I leave campus around 5.

The flowers near the parking lot are in bloom.

It's been a long day and it's incredibly windy outside. I don't feel like going to the gym so around 6:30 I do 2 Miles of Interval Training with the Leslie Sansonne video for my mile a day in May (#31miles)

2 miles Interval Training with Leslie Sansonne for #31miles

I'm sweaty, so I shower.

Then I make dinner: turkey burgers, cauliflower, and strawberries.

I remember I need to return a free Redbox that I only watched half of. So I rush off, but on the way I have to take a picture of the beautiful sky.

Gorgeous sky to cap off #ditl.
Gorgeous sky to cap off #ditl.

That's a pretty good representation of my days during the week in Oxford. A weekend would be another story altogether.