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It was a crazy weekend, now spilling over to a crazy week! James came into town on Friday and we spent the better part of the weekend preparing for our Twelve supper on Sunday night in Birmingham. All the hard work paid off because the event went off better than we could have ever hoped. It was such a wonderful evening… these Twelve suppers are so rewarding on many levels. Not only does it give us a chance to be creative, but we get to share the experience with the most interesting people. It’s such an honor to taste things that are made with such care and thought. I can’t wait to see what it’s like to do it in cities where we don’t know as many people… it will be a real opportunity to meet other like-minded folks and make new friends. For those of you in Birmingham, we have some folks interested in hosting more Twelves in the area, so I will keep you posted on those. There will be another one in Atlanta on March 3rd, all vegetarian. To keep up to date on the events, sign up on our email list here. Check out the final Birmingham dish images and recipes on our Pinterest page, as well as our hashtag photos on Instagram!
This upcoming week is pretty jam-packed with to-do’s and lists, but I am ready to tackle them all head on. Seems like January started off with a snail’s pace, and now it’s quickly moved on to a full sprint. I am feeling much better this week though, as my cold has finally started to go away! Thank goodness.
Over the weekend Shelby McDonald (at Richard Joseph SalonSpa) gave me an amazing new haircut & color! I wish I had gotten a photo of myself between now and then… but alas I did not. I will try to get a quick snap before my next post so you can see the magic that he works! It is a very subtle ombre with my usual dark brown with warm purplish hues. Very natural looking, and looks great with my complexion. Thanks Shelby, as always.
I would like to wish my grandmother (Gigi) a very happy birthday! She never ages, only increases in energy and spirit with each passing year. She is a great example on how we can all approach life as the years pass by. She dances, loves, laughs and enjoys every moment she has. When I look at her, I’m reminded of the quality of life any of us can have no matter what age we are. Thanks Gigi for always being yourself and sharing that special energy with us all.
What a great Friday it’s been! Even though I am still a little under the weather, good news seems to be coming at me from all sides today. One of the most exciting things I am looking forward to this weekend is our inaugural Twelve supper in Birmingham! Our friend Carrie Montgomery was kind enough to let us use her amazing loft space to host the dinner. We have some exciting new things we are introducing at this supper as well, so I can’t wait to share those after the event. Stay tuned to our hashtag #twelvesupper on Instagram and Twitter to follow along as our participants start to prep!
Speaking of Instagram, I came across a photo by Brock Seabrook (Pop Up Supper) of their new chalkboard menu a few days ago. I made the comment “beautiful” because you could tell a lot of work had been put into it. Well, last night at Church Street Coffee and Books, my friend Carrie Rollwagen told me about the girl behind the art – Kelly Cummings. Kelly is taking on a 365 challenge to hand letter something every day. I got the opportunity to ask her a few questions about this project, as I find it really inspiring and unique. Here is what she said!
“Last year I pursued a lot of growth for myself and for my business, I attended an intensive called Making Things Happen along with some related branding webinars (Making Brands Happen), helped to start a group for young creative female business owners in Birmingham, read The Happiness Project, and after recommendations from several friends who are skilled at calligraphy, I signed up for a copperplate calligraphy class with Deb Warnat here in town. I’m a full time photographer, and I photograph mostly weddings, and had begun to hand letter addresses and names with a dip pen and ink for my packaging, but had no formal training and I really wanted to step it up.
When you first start calligraphy you quickly run out of things to letter. Addresses get boring and coming up with street names becomes difficult, so you start to letter anything and everything. As I’d been surrounding myself with positive and motivating sources with all of my self improvement efforts, I really enjoyed sharing sayings and phrases on Instagram. They weren’t always motivational, one of my favorites was “American as Apple Pie,” and another was “Fried Green Tomatoes.” I really enjoyed how much people engaged with the lettering, it’s definitely growing exponentially in popularity, but there’s something more accessible about this kind of text versus wedding photography, which certainly doesn’t appeal to everyone (though I really love it!).
I love the smell of the sumi ink (it smells like dirt), and I love how much there is to learn and experiment with. You can use nearly any liquid in a nib and you can mix your own colored inks with gouache, you can buy different holders and different kinds of nibs, and even vintage nibs. There are tons of amazing calligraphers to follow and learn from, and you end up adding your own twist to the letters and flourishes.
Lisa Congdon, a legitimate artist and illustrator, took on a 365 lettering project in 2012 and I really loved all of the quotes she lettered. I read that she started the project to encourage her calligraphy, and in the end she hadn’t spent much time on traditional script, but had developed two distinct styles of lettering that she turned into fonts, and she also has a book deal going. I don’t have my sights set on a book deal, but I was really inspired by her commitment to the project.
I’ve often wished I would do a 365 day photography project but honestly photography consumes so much of my life that editing and posting a photo a day doesn’t really appeal to me, that sounds like extra work. Funnily enough, since I don’t have a scanner at home and usually don’t want to wait for the ink to dry, my method at home is usually to take a photo of the lettering and manipulate the colors in photoshop. But I actually really enjoy all of that.
I also really really hate resolutions so I’m honestly surprised I actually took this on. Announcing a project like this to the world helps to keep you loyal, though! Since I had already been trying to fit lettering into my evenings when I got home from work, just for myself, I knew I would be happy for the time I set aside with a purpose. Deciding what to letter is quite hard, I can’t seem to make myself decide before the day of even though I have been collecting quotes for a while. I’m sure there will be days when I don’t feel like lettering, or days that I’m really busy, and fortunately lettering could even be just a letter or number written with a pencil. My favorites are definitely the quotes and phrases, one of my favorite Pinterest boards is the one filled with “words”, I love reminders to be more productive, intentional, to do it now, to be positive. It’s not that I am a ray of sunshine, I can really be quite sarcastic and I rarely bounce out of bed in the morning. Lettering is an escape from sitting behind the computer, it’s a chance to do something with my hands, pursue a craft, improve and learn (I currently love looking at the flourishing of professional artists and designers), and since I do have a full time job, it’s a fun side project rather than work.
In the future I definitely hope to put more prints up in my Etsy Shop, and I’d love to get more proficient in chalk and learn the Spencerian script. It’s really open ended otherwise, I definitely love all of the side projects it has lead to so far and am really curious to see where it goes, there are so many days left in the year!”
Dang, I have a cold. Lucky it isn’t anything worse, but I still feel like a slug stuck in bubble gum. But there is some good news – I have lost 8.5 pounds! James has lost 10. Crazy to think that we are both basically halfway towards our goals. In the moment time seems to pass slowly when you are counting calories, however looking back it has actually gone by pretty fast. We are both looking forward to our maintenance phase so we can start learning how to eat again on a normal caloric budget. One thing we’ve both done well is to not call our new way of eating a diet, instead we’ve both embraced it as a lifestyle change. We have discovered the joy (and frugalness) of sharing entrees instead of getting our own. We both love having a variety of foods so sharing gives us the opportunity to try more while eating less.
Yesterday was James’ birthday! We had a great time this weekend celebrating the occasion. I’m not kidding when I say that a strikingly large number of my good friends were born in the month of January. Almost every day there is another person I know well to say happy birthday to. On another awesome note, we’ve officially entered into Aquarius, my own birthday sign. In a little over three weeks I will be 34! Turning another year older always makes me think about my life plans and dreams. Last night I made a rough grid of what I’d like to accomplish or have happen to me in the next 10 years or so. I know you can’t predict the future, but you can definitely steer it in the right direction.
More good news: We’ve all made it past the most depressing day of the year – Monday, January 21st. This online article from has some good advice and tricks to help get you through these dreary days. Before we know it, spring and summer will be here again to brighten our worlds.
Right now the Sundance and Slamdance Film Festivals are going on in Park City, Utah. One of my bigger goals is to one day have a feature film in one of the two. I know in order to get there, I must write my book first which will hopefully either fully fund or partially fund that film project. I think it’s a good plan, and I know I can do it. I’ve been writing really well the past few weeks, but I know I must keep pushing forward on a consistent basis. Sometimes while writing I think about how much more there is still left to do, and I get overwhelmed. So tonight I am going to break it down into mini goals and milestones. I want to be finished with it by the end of the year, no matter how much work and time it takes me. I will fully dedicate myself to this one project above all other personal initiatives for 2013. Because once it’s finished, I feel like it will be a total game changer for my life path.
Good news: We found out on Monday that Crush was accepted into the Portland Oregon Woman’s Film Festival in March! That makes nine acceptances for our short film. We are nearing the end of our festival run, so Rebecca and I are both very proud of the success it’s had. I wish we had the means to attend them all, but we were fortunate enough to at least go to most.
Today will be a snow day for some of us in the Southeast, a rare occurrence indeed. It’s only a matter of time before my Instagram feed is covered in white…which will be really fun to see.
As of yesterday at my two-week weigh-in, I’ve lost 5.5 pounds! It is a reminder of how much work it takes to lose, but I’m well on my way to my goal. James has also lost close to 7, thanks to our calorie counting efforts on LiveStrong’s MyPlate. We have a few food events to navigate in the near future, but I feel very confident that my overall health goal will remain the most important focus.
Speaking of team efforts, it’s been really nice to have other friends preparing for the Florida Half Ironman in May. I get regular check-ins from my friend Lauren, which I greatly appreciate. She and I will probably put our names in the hat for the October Ironman Lottery in Kona…I might as well since I’ve built up the momentum with prior year submissions. With each passing year, your likelihood of being chosen grows by your number of annual entries. Scary and awesome thought all at the same time. One of these days they are going to draw my name from the hat, and I am sure I will freak out accordingly on every level.
My writing has been going good as well. It is a definite challenge on a daily basis, as it takes a lot of willpower to move forward. I can clearly see myself with a finish book in my hands… so I know it is going to happen for me. Once it’s finished, I predict that I will say it was the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I’m sure tackling a feature film will be just as hard, but I am very familiar with the production world. Writing a book has been like being dropped off in the middle of Antarctica with only a pair of shorts and a tank top. But even the smallest successes are hugely rewarding, so I can only imagine the feeling I will have once it is complete.
A very grateful thanks to my fellow bloggers Sherri Ross and Jennifer Dome who both gave me an Inspiring Blog Award this week! These ladies are not only friends of mine, but a huge inspiration to the community on so many levels. They are both funny, smart, strong, independent, passionate women. Add their blogs to your daily reading, you won’t regret it.
This morning was my first official weigh-in in my mini quest to lose some weight, and I am happy to report that I’ve lost 3 pounds! The first week of any healthy eating program is usually the most successful weight-loss wise, but I hope to maintain a 2 pound weekly loss until I reach my goal. James was also successful in week 1, so we are on the right track! We have been tracking our calories in MyPlate on Livestrong.com, based on our height, weight, gender and age (on the light activity setting, b/c you can add exercise as you do it). Of all the “diets” and lifestyle changes I’ve tried in the past (and I’ve tried them ALL), calorie counting is the easiest and most reliable thing to do. And… it’s free!! As for the foods we try to eat, I always try to include at least 15 grams of fiber per day (to keep you full) and opt for a well-balanced diet. I try to eat things that I look forward to having, and build in a treat every now and then like a glass of wine. If I exercise, I allow myself half of those additional burned calories. It’s such an easy formula, and will work for almost anyone. An important thing to remember too is that you don’t want to lose more than 2 pounds a week (with the exception of your first and possibly second week) as statistically you are more likely to gain it back.
I know what is termed as yo-yo dieting, gaining and losing weight repeatedly within a certain amount of time, is hard on your body. In my lifetime I have certainly fluctuated within ranges that would fall in this category. I know ideally I would stay a certain weight for the rest of my life. But somehow I can’t seem to shake the feeling of gratitude in my confidence to return to a certain size. I know how to lose weight, I know how to be healthy. I may go on sabbatical from time to time, but I know I can get back to my happy place. Sometimes I even wonder if I get a thrill from the challenge…almost setting myself up to do it all again. I don’t think that is the truth though… I just think that I find happiness in being able to let go sometimes, and I also find happiness in snapping back into a routine with proven results. Whatever the case, I am very grateful to not have to lose too much. My goal should be reached by the end of February/early March. I think the real weight-loss heroes are the ones with a significant amount to lose – because their focus has to be on target for a longer amount of time. I find people with passionate determination, for any personal initiative, the most inspiring of them all.
Speaking of passionate initiatives, I feel like I have so many things that light a fire in me right now. There is nothing more rewarding that working on things that make you feel excited inside. Between working on Twelve with James (which has some exciting future prospects), writing my book, and other creative ideas in the works – I feel fulfilled. Funny how none of these things are monetary, isn’t it? I find great joy in a plan… figuring out how to make things work. A lot of my free time is spent dreaming or developing a course of action for goals large and small. If the key to happiness is as simple as working on things that make you feel alive, then by George… what are we waiting for?
I am so happy with the way 2013 has kicked off! Today marks the first official “normal schedule” week of the year. It doesn’t feel as sad as I anticipated it to be, but it was a downer to say goodbye to James after getting to see him for such a long period of time.
As we all know, January has the terrible reputation of being the most depressing month of the year (with Blue Monday falling on the 21st). Do you agree? I guess I do to some extent, but somehow I always manage to pull through it with a happy face. Maybe it’s because so many of my friends have birthdays in January, and my own falls just a month later. The reasons for the gloom and doom are usually due to failed resolutions, grey weather and the overwhelming pressure of another year ahead. But as with anything else – it’s all in how you look at it. So what if you mess up on a resolution… start over! It will eventually stick. The sun will always shine again… and we are so tremendously lucky to even entertain the thought of living another 365 days on this earth. What will you do with that time? I hope to have some amazing memories to cherish by the time the ball drops for 2014. I hope I do things that scare me, challenge my normal routine, and thrill me to the very core. I want to take risks, be bold and be proactive.
Last night while at dinner with two great friends in Atlanta, Wendy told us about the most impactful resolution that she’s made in her life thus far: To be who she is on the inside, on the outside. Simple, but so hard to do. I often think about the different shades of me I put in front of others, either to follow a social norm or just out of sheer habit. Who is the real me, anyway? If I didn’t have rules to follow, what would I wear? What would my hair look like? If I didn’t need a certain amount of money, what would I do with all of my time? Where would I live with no strings? I think most of us do end up settling into the restrictions of living within a social structure, so I guess the real question is, what do we give up in order to do so? Hopefully we are able to tap into the essence that is our true selves, and gain greater access as the years go by.
My biggest 2013 goal of writing a book is going really well. I am dedicating one hour a day to writing, which has proven to be a successful challenge for me in the past. I’ve already forgotten who said it – but a commenter told me that once you’ve found your story, you’ll look forward to developing it. It won’t be a job or a hassle, instead it will excite your soul. I am definitely feeling that passion, so I think I’m on the right track.
If you haven’t already done so, please follow my really random Twitter page called ZenFortune! It is daily challenges/fortunes to help enhance your existence. Some are silly, some are fun, some are strange, some are enlightening. Check it out!
I have officially started my 365 fortune challenge… but instead of doing a Tumblr it made more sense for it to be a Twitter page. You can start following my daily posts here! There will be a new fortune every day at 9 a.m. Central. Today is day one for all my 2013 Quests…excited to get started on what this year has in store.
James and I kicked off our healthier eating this morning. I read somewhere online that January 2nd is a good start date for NYs goals. I am refusing to call it a diet, just a lifestyle adjustment. I don’t think it will take long to get back on track, and it is really nice to have someone to do it with.
2013 Quest #4:
Complete the Florida Half Ironman on May 19th. I’ve done two Half Ironmans in the past (both in New Orleans), but have yet to complete the swim portion. I couldn’t finish in the rough waters for my first one, and the second was called off due to dangerous conditions. I think this is my year to complete all three events! I am lucky have an awesome group of girls to do it with, too. Let me know if you are interested in joining us! Training just started, but you could easily catch up at this point.
2013 Quest #5:
Do more fine art projects. Just recently I’ve started to pick painting back up and I really enjoy what it’s added back into my life. James and I have a collaboration series in the works that I am really eager to get started on as well. Once again, having another person to keep you accountable not only makes it more likely to happen, but a lot more fun in the process.
2012 Flashback #4:
I stopped writing in my blog everyday. That was a big deal because since starting my blog in March of 2010, I had written every single day for over 650 posts. That’s a lot of blogging. I still post pretty often, and try to do so at least 3-4 days a week. I am really happy with my current pace.
2012 Flashback #5:
I learned a little bit of patience. It is so hard to wait when you want something really bad. However, I am not going to settle for less that what I think I deserve. As I was saying to a friend earlier – all you can do it try your best. The rest will happen as it is supposed to. Be strong, be brave, be grateful.
That’s the end folks for my 2012/2013 Flashbacks and Quests! I wish I could take credit for this, but James once again found an amazing website where you can write your future self a letter. I am going to write mine today. What would you say to yourself 12 months from now? Once you figure it out, maybe you should send it off too.
It was a great weekend. I got caught up on my rest, knocked out some personal tasks, hammered away at some 2012 resolutions and managed to have a little bit of fun in the process. Friday night was very peaceful. After work, I went over to my parent’s house to see the Lily Bean then we all went to dinner at Sweet Tea for some southern cuisine. I love eating dinner with my folks…there is nothing better than sharing a meal with people who you feel 100% comfortable around. We talked about our weeks, laughed a little, and just generally chilled out. I saw them again several times over the weekend as well.
I managed to watch three chick flicks this weekend – Water for Elephants, One Day, and Eat, Pray Love. Just a fair warning for those of you who weren’t in the know like me, One Day is suuuuuuper sad. It was a great film, but I just wanted to curl up in a ball and give up on life after I watched it. I almost had to stop watching Water for Elephants as well, but luckily that ended on a much happier note. I’d already seen Eat, Pray, Love, which is exactly why I rented it again. I needed a guaranteed feel-good movie after those two downers.
Saturday night was my designated “friend” night, and I spent the evening with some of my favorite people in Birmingham in honor of my friend David for his birthday. There are so many great folks in this little big city. You are always 2 degrees from everyone you meet, which can be a good and bad thing. Good for friendships, not always so good for dating. But just when I think that I know everyone in this town, someone new pops up in my life.
As I said earlier, I spent a big part of the weekend working on my own personal goals. I have officially become a regular at my local coffee shop. There is something about having private time in a public place that makes it more energizing than just being at home. I think it is also too easy to fall into procrastination habits when you are in your own space. I find that when I am around others who are either working solo or reading on their own, I feed off of that sense of community that I’m not the only one “by myself.” A strange concept, but true. Almost like being at a library except with decaf hot tea.
Last night I enjoyed a yummy home-cooked meal prepared by my friends Charles & Carrie Beth. I love spending time with them…they always make me feel so welcomed and loved. Sometimes you just need to be around good friends, and last night was the perfect example. They fed my soul in more ways than one. We talked about memories, future plans and general life happenings. I left in a much better headspace than when I arrived!
I am looking forward to some quiet time this weekend to get some personal things done. It’s been a busy 10 days and I need to put some energy back into my being. I feel the need to go within myself and recharge. I think a nice coffee shop, my laptop and good music will do just the trick. Writing has become a nice way to escape lately. The older I get, the more I fall in love with words. Even if I am the only person who ever sees some of the things that I write, it is such a release to let thoughts and ideas flow from my spirit. I used to think that art was only a visual medium, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There is something magical about painting a picture purely from description, and letting your reader create the masterpiece in their own minds. It ends up being something more intimate to the interpreter, I think.
There is nothing more powerful in life than to be a master of your own feelings. I am a fairly sensitive person, which has its ups and downs. I am capable of deep, intense understanding…while on the flipside I can sometimes be easily hurt by others. It has been a lifelong challenge to build confidence in myself and to not need reassurance from someone else. Most of the time I have a good handle on it, but every now and then – especially when I am tired – I feel my sensitivities rise. I can be unfairly hard on myself, but luckily it is usually short-lived. It is probably obvious at this point that I am currently feeling this way, but I think a few days of rest and expression will effectively push the reset button.
Besides the fact that Baby Kitty decided it was a good idea to poke holes with her teeth in the cover of my new philosophy book “Lucid Living” by Tim Freke, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve read so far. I’m not certain what someone else would think about it though who has never heard him speak, because I can clearly hear his voice as I read along…which gives it another level of impact. He has great pauses and a British accent that only add more charm to what he is saying. I really admire people who can stand in front of large groups and express bold ideas with courage. It just goes to show that if you don’t believe in what you are saying or doing, no one else will either.
If you’ve noticed a new private “page” on my blog, it’s because I’m about to launch my book presentation to help attain an agent as well as a book contract. I’ve been spending a lot of time on it lately to polish it up. Keep your fingers crossed, I hope to start sending out my proposal next week to a select list.
For those of you who live in Alabama, or are from Alabama, I hope you make special note of Alabama Gives Day on February 2nd! This is a chance for us to collectively give to some of our favorite local causes. It’s no secret that two of my favorites are the Sidewalk Film Festival and Humane Society (both Greater Birmingham & Shelby County). While looking through the list of charities, I randomly came across the fundraiser that I did last January & February for the Great Birmingham Humane Society (Jen Jogs for Cats and Dogs)…and guess whose little photo was on there? Sweet Kitten’s. It is now a happy memory. I will certainly be donating on Alabama Gives Day in remembrance of her.