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Today I blog as a 34-year-old for the first time! I had the best best best birthday weekend, with everything I could have hoped for – time with family, delicious food (thanks Pushstart Kitchen and Rawle Fraser!), time outdoors, adventures and an abundance of love. Throw in a little Valentine’s Day celebration and you have the perfect weekend. Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday!
Birthdays are the start of a new year in a lot of ways, so I thought I would spend a little time updating you all on my 2013 goals. My writing is going very well… I’m not writing an hour every day as I hoped I would, but I’ve made more progress than ever before since the beginning of the year. Not only that, I’ve taken on a new short story goal for the next week or two. My plan is to write three short stories (one of them already done), then possibly choose one to make a short film out of over the course of the next 3-4 months. I feel like waiting until I have a finished novel is just too long before tackling another film project. After talking with Rebecca about the success of Crush (which is showing no signs of stopping), we both feel that independently we should be keeping the momentum up. This weekend at the Oxford Film Festival we plan to do a creative brainstorming session to see which individual directions make the most sense. We will also have Vero & James with us on the trip, so that will double the creative energy.
James and I are still doing really well with our weight-loss. I am down about 13 pounds, and he’s lost 18! I know I’ve said this about 20 times already, but it is so helpful to have him on this journey with me. Mostly because we both get “hangry” at about the same times (a fierce combination of anger and hunger), and we also hold each other accountable. Usually I am a loner with it comes to physical initiatives, but without a doubt we are better as a team.
I have found a significant key to life happiness – and that is doing. Talking and dreaming have their rightful and rewarding place, but actually taking the steps to achieve is where the joy lies. In some ways it’s even better than the final product of your actions. I love being in an active state of doing at all times. There is a thrill in problem solving, a mystery in the unknown and a fulfillment in the tiniest steps along the way. As long as I’m doing, I’m happy.
It’s my birthday week!! WOOOOOT. I started the festivities off early with a mini birthday celebration (with the fabulous Sherri Ross) in Birmingham on Saturday afternoon at Avondale Park. The weather was sunny and warm…the perfect day to relax and hang with friends. Our friend Carrie even brought her pedicab which we then gave rides on around the little pond area. Thanks to everyone that came out!
I like having a birthday in the same week as Valentine’s Day, as the word love is easy to come by. I know it isn’t everyone’s favorite holiday, but even being single I found happiness as this day rolled around each year. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, as well as phases. The feelings of sharing and giving should be something expressed year-round. More than likely, you have someone or something to express your love to – whether it be a pet, a person, your home or anything else you adore. This day is only a reminder to recognize those gifts.
Speaking of gifts, I’ve already gotten a few great ones! James gave me 23andme…which is something that I’ve wanted to do for some time now. You basically spit in a vile and ship it off, then in 4-6 weeks they tell you a bunch of genetic information about your health and ancestry. James also did one for himself, so we should get ours back at about the same time. I will be sure to share once I get the report back. Sarah Miller also gave me one of her original art pieces of Sloss Furnance which I am SUPER excited about, since it is my favorite Birmingham landmark. Thank you so much Sarah!
I will be spending my actual birthday in Atlanta and Columbus this weekend with my family. It’s Anna Banana’s birthday as well, so I will be happy to share the party with that sweet little one. My only priorities are to: 1. jump on a trampoline, 2. eat a bite of birthday cake, 3. relax, and 4. be happy. And… take lots of Instagram photos!
Today I want to leave you with these thoughts, which were forwarded to me by my friend Sarah Hodo this morning:
“The problem, often not discovered until late in life, is that when you look for things in life like love, meaning, motivation, it implies they are sitting behind a tree or under a rock. The most successful people in life recognize, that in life they create their own love, they manufacture their own meaning, they generate their own motivation. For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: Know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you. “
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
This year more than ever I am thinking about my birthday, and what turning a year older really means in the grand scheme of things. It isn’t necessarily that I’m afraid or sad, quite the opposite. Turning 34 has always been a weird thought for me… as growing up I never really planned past that age. It’s as if all major life events would have happened to me by now. hahaha I am more than happy to realize though that most of my biggest experiences and moments are yet to come… a pleasant turn of events. It may have been a mini early/mid-thirties life crisis, but in the end it helped me to realize that age is in fact just a number. At any age you can do a lineup of folks and see a broad range of perspectives, which then reflects on how old the person really feels. If you feel over and done, then others will perceive you that way as well. If you feel alive and young with an optimistic future, then you will always have that glow in your spirit no matter the number of your physical body. I need to remember too that while growing up, I always looked forward to being in my 30′s. I imagined it to be a time in my life where everything fell into place for me. And in a lot of ways, it has. I still think that we aren’t taught to look forward to other decades though. You don’t hear many people saying, “Dang… I can’t wait to be 60!”, when they are still 30-something. I don’t know how to change that way of thinking, either. My grandmother is always reading books that talk about the reasons why life gets better as we get older. It’s probably all in making peace with how your body ages… because you are always the same person on the inside. In fact, I do believe you probably get better and better with time.
There is also another way to look at it: maybe 30 somethings (and beyond) don’t look forward to other decades because they’ve learned the value of living in the here and now. Does it really matter what I will be doing 10 years from now, if I’m not acting on my happiness at this very moment? Probably not. I think the answer boils down to this: making peace with who you are on the inside and outside at every point in the game. Do you feel good about where you are? Do you like the people who are around you? Do you feel excited, happy and joyful more often that not? Then you are probably doing something right. When I look at it that way, I am more than grateful to be the person I am today at almost 34… and in the years to come.
Just as we thought our little short film Crush would be ending its festival circuit soon, we’ve gotten a few emails in the past week that might lead to another screening or two before it’s all said and done! Keep your fingers crossed, as that would really be fantastic news. It’s already surpassed my expectations, so anything else at this point is icing on the cake. We are so excited about the upcoming Oxford Film Festival as well… should be a great weekend! I will be looking at it as an extended birthday celebration.
I can’t decide if I am happy or sad about it already being February. It’s hard to be down when it’s your birthday month, but it’s also crazy that January of 2013 is now a thing of the past. Was it the month you hoped it would be? Did you get off on the right foot for the year? January isn’t the only time where you can make new beginnings happen. If you didn’t start acting on your dreams or ideas, or if you felt like you didn’t give it your best effort, then now is the time to move forward! I feel pretty good about my initiations in the new year.
Speaking of acting on your dreams, I was thinking last night about age. Why is it that we don’t hear much about “first time” achievements by people over a certain age? Why do the best of the best have to be under 30 or 40? I love to hear stories about older folks making things happen… still having passion, energy and drive. People who are first time authors later in life, or who decide to go out and finish their first Ironman at 70. I sometimes feel that too much attention is put on being young and beautiful with a “bright future.” What about those making the future happen now? I’m interested in you, the average person, looking to be extraordinary. I am interested in always finding new ways to live, new ways to look forward, and new ways to be now. I don’t want to follow a cookie cutter life. Pretty sure none of us do… but what are we doing to break out of that mold? What are we doing to help others do the same? All I know is that when I am 70, 80, and hopefully 90, I have big plans to still look forward to. Things that are unexpected and thrill me to the core. Isn’t that exciting to think about? I need to know that there will always be ways for me to express myself, ways for me to contribute to my community. Things that aren’t based on appearance, but based on the richness of my inner being. Does aging scare you, or do you feel like your contributions decline as you get older? I’m just curious what the general thoughts are out there.
Happy Friday, and February! This week has been a full one, with much success accomplishing a pretty big to-do list. Also – happy to report that I lost 10 pounds in the month of January… despite the one evening off for Twelve. James has lost 12. So proud of us both! February is the last full month we will have to dedicate to getting back to our healthy weight ranges. More than likely our goals will be reached the first or second week of March.
I can’t believe it’s February… which means it’s officially birthday month! I love my birthday, but still haven’t decided exactly what I will be doing. I will be in Birmingham the weekend before, and looks like a bunch of friends will be gathering at Avondale Park for a duel birthday party for me and Sherri Ross. I will be doing a post later today on Twitter and Facebook about it if any friends would like to join. Just bring yourself and fun! Little ones welcome. On my birthday weekend I will be going to Columbus to see my niece, Anna, whose birthday is also that week! Then on my actual birthday, February 17th, I will spend the day with my bb in Atlanta. Maybe we will explore the city on our bikes in order to burn enough calories to eat a nice dinner somewhere. That would be my perfect day!
Times change fast. Last night I got to say goodbye to a dear friend of mine, Misty, who is moving away to start a new life with her husband in South Carolina. It made me think about all of the memories we’ve shared together, and how just a few years can be so impactful on your life. In many ways Misty has been a mentor, having a distinct intuition and insight on career and personal matters which she has always been kind enough to share with me. More than anything else though, she has always been a great friend when I’ve needed one most. I can’t wait to see what the next chapter in her life brings, and I also can’t wait to visit her to build new memories.
Today I feel so very grateful for the many things I have to look forward to. Especially the surprises. I feel alive, empowered, healthy and loved. Maybe it’s because the sun is shining or maybe because it’s Friday… no matter the reason I am so very happy in this life.
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.
No sunshine can really affect how you feel, true? It feels like it’s been raining here for weeks… even though it’s only been a few days. While I do appreciate a rainy day, I want nothing more than to feel the sun’s light on my skin again.
Last night while reading about the upcoming Lance Armstrong interview on Thursday with Oprah, a little bit of sadness pulled at my heart. I may be in the very small minority, but I empathize with him. Can you imagine what it must be like to go from the highest pedestal, to the very bottom of people’s respect? I know he has to feel tremendous regret and remorse for his actions. There is no valid excuse for what he did, absolutely none. But, he does have an opportunity to still lead by example. To be honest. To live the rest of his life as a champion of the truth. I know someone from my everyday world who has done just that… you can read about him here. As my dear friend Lee Ann Massey said this morning on Facebook, “Lance Armstrong’s fall from heroic status further affirms my belief that living strong in the everyday, going to work, creating, loving, giving is the stuff of medals. Let’s change those yellow bands from live strong to live honest.”
There is something courageous and bold about living our everyday lives, isn’t there. About paying bills, fulfilling our responsibilities as citizens of a community, making the best out of what we are given. It would be so easy to turn our backs on reality, to pretend like we aren’t accountable for anything. Instead, most of us embrace the chances we are given in order to live our best life. My best life is very different from your best life…which is also very different from a person in the poorest parts of Africa or the richest parts of Hollywood. One simple accomplishment or dream fulfilled can turn your whole quality of life around. One realization of what matters to you as a human in this existence, can change your entire perspective. Maybe it’s to provide for your family, or maybe it’s to make your parents proud. Maybe it’s to make the life of another better, or to create meaningful things to help a community. If it’s important to you, it is the most important thing in the world. As someone who has sometimes looked for validation from the outside, I’ve come to realize that it’s making yourself proud that really counts the most. I’m sure that’s where Lance messed up in his journey. He wasn’t true to himself. It was all for show, for a false face. The biggest lesson he could teach us all is unfolding before our very eyes.