When Your Heart’s Content

When Your Heart’s Content

Left.

Left.

Left.

Ugh. Left

Good God this is horrible. Left.

Why am I doing this? Left.

I can’t believe I got talked into downloading this stupid app. Left.

I’m going to turn this stupid thing off. Left.

Oh hey, he’s cute. He likes fun and food and beer and whiskey?

Pause. Lef…. Right.

Shit. Shitshitshit.

I should just delete this app.

I’ll definitely do that tomorrow. This sucks. Whatever.

Being single is fine. I don’t need anybody.

………

Apparently, he thought I was cute and since I declared my love for bourbon in my profile, too, he swiped right. We talked for hours, learned we were both from Middle Georgia, and set a date to meet for drinks three days later.

I knew from the minute I saw him, he was going to be Trouble with a capital T.

But he was easy to talk to. He made me feel calm, like a human Klonopin. Being around him made me smile on the inside, and according to many, on the outside as well.

One date turned to two, then three and four and five and the next thing we know, we’re making plans together. To go away for Christmas. For him to go to Disney with me. A surprise weekend away in Savannah. Germany to celebrate his 40th birthday at Oktoberfest. Restaurants to try. Cities to visit. A whole list of things we wanted to do. Together.

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It all felt a little like being a teenager again. The butterflies and the cheesy late-night texts and date nights. The nerves over saying the words “I love you” to him when you think you know he loves you, but you’re not quite sure.

The difference, though, between now and when I was a teen, is that there were kids thrown in there. Mine with me during the week and at his dad’s on the weekends. His two girls at their mom’s except every other weekend. I grew to love his girls (well, I didn’t really have to grow to love them, I adored them from day one) and he and Henry developed a mutual love for each other.

Our kids all met and from the minute they were introduced, they acted like siblings – arguing one minute, coming up with ways to make their dad marry his mom the next, and finding shows to binge and enjoy together. All of their conspiring led to a last-minute trip to Hilton Head Island for a weekend. We all piled in the car (my new one that was bought with the idea that it needed to seat not one, but three children) and headed off on what really was a Family Vacation. It felt like we’d been this little crew forever.

We had become a family. Me. Him. One boy. Two girls. Far from the Brady Bunch, but a motley crew nonetheless. It works. We all work. We fit together like pieces of a puzzle.

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This past week, Brian and the kids (14, 12, 8) kept a pretty big secret from me. With Henry’s permission, on Sunday morning, after having me watch an incredibly sweet (and cheesy) video of all the things we’ve done together and as a family, Brian asked if I would marry him.

Of course, I said, “YES.”

And once I settled down a little from being so excited and surprised, I realized that this is what your heart feels like when it is truly content.

It feels like being outside on a cool, crisp day, wrapped in a blanket. It feels like the first sips of hot chocolate on a freezing day and a cold beer on a steamy day. It feels like a blissful dream where you’re lost in a field of gorgeous flowers under a bright blue sky, never be found. It feels like the promise of a new day with every sunrise. It feels like an ocean being warmed by the sun*. 

It feels like home.

It feels like love.

It feels like this.FullSizeRender

 

*Lyrics Courtesy of The Shins, Simple Song

PS: Fun Fact of the Day. My word for 2017 is content. And I’ve found it.

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

What a weird year this has been.

I mean, I knew it was weird, but then looking back through my photos and calendar… wow. It’s been a doozy.

I’ve been rather quiet here over the course of 2015, my words few and far between. Much has gone on that hasn’t been for public consumption. My (now) ex-husband and I have never made our private matters public, especially in this space, so starting now would have been odd. When we decided very early this year to separate, that things weren’t ok, my words left me. My mind was on overdrive and well, elsewhere.

The year started very restlessly. I was restless and unsettled. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. And in somewhat of short order, all things considered, we remedied it with separation and then divorce. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but none of this life-changing event was a spur of the moment decision. There was talk and therapy and energy sessions and crying and rethinking and in the end, our guts and hearts won out. We knew what we had to do.

Jason and I are better friends now than we have been in years, probably. He’s still my cheerleader and I’m still his. We spend holidays together and do things as a family, because let’s be honest, we always will be one. We share children and memories and grief and joys that only the two of us can ever share. We want the best for each other. We are so much better for Henry this way and our only goals are for him and for each of us to be happy. That’s all anybody wants, right?

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I want to take you on a journey through 2015, though.

Let’s talk while we walk through the year, shall we?

January 2015

January 2015

January was kicked off with a Resolution Run with Sharon that I believe we both resolved to never EVER again run. It’s miraculous we survived. Henry won “Cubmaster’s Choice” at the Pinewood Derby for best looking car. Yes, it’s sushi. No, it’s not edible. Yes, it’s badass.

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February 2015

Oh, February. Jason and I decided over Valentine’s Dinner that we should separate. We’d been back and forth on it, but Valentine’s dinner, while everybody was oohing and aahing over each other at the two-top tables around us, we decided we had to do it. And then we toasted each other. Weird.

Miranda and I held auditions for the Listen To Your Mother Show and I finished my 4th half marathon. Barely. Let’s not discuss the race, but instead let me say how much fun I had with Rachel, Sharon, and Melissa that weekend (and #TeamRMHC)!

The Toomer’s Oaks were replanted in Auburn and we headed over for that big occasion. And then it snowed. And the city of Atlanta shut down.

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March 2015

March saw us figuring out the logistics and details of our separation. We were still living together because of those logistics. That may have been the strangest period of the whole deal. Knowing that you’re apart, but you’re still in the same house. We had distractions, though. Scout things, the boys camping, my niece and I going to NYC to celebrate her birthday. Jasmine and I had the best time! Columbia, Serendipity, Shopping, Broadway!

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April 2015

And then there was April. I don’t think I was even at home during April. Ten days after being in NYC with Jasmine, I was back for the Listen To Your Mother book launch. How much fun was THIS? It was such an amazing 24 hours, I don’t even know where to start! So I won’t bother. But it was amazing to hang out with Neil and Alexandra, Ann, Taya, Melisa… the list goes on. It was a 24 hour trip but so much good was squeezed in!

Then we had our second Listen To Your Mother Show in Atlanta. Which was so beautiful. We had a fantastic cast of 13 women who delivered some of the most heartfelt stories I’ve ever heard. So thrilled to bring it back this next April.

Then there was drinking (much) bourbon with Vikki (and others) at Mom2.0 and visiting with my friend Andrea in Phoenix. Such a busy month!

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May 2015

Basically, in May, I had superpowers that would make me lazy and we celebrated what would have been Charlie’s 12th birthday. May was apparently the opposite of April!

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June 2015

June saw a new family of ducks in our pond out back, a weekend with the girls, and a trip to my sister’s. So clearly “family” was the theme!

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July 2015

July is Peach Month. That’s when the best peaches are available. So we ate them almost right off the tree. I don’t think I’ve eaten as many peaches before as I did this past summer. Henry went to Camp Winnataska again and loved it.

I spent a weekend in NYC again, this time with Neil. I guess you could say this was about when our long time friendship was turning into more than just friendship. (Again, not really anybody’s business, but Jason and I agreed that we could date people while we were separated. So we both did.)

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August 2015

Back to School, with a saxaphone, in August. Plus another trip to NYC and just doing life, one day at a time. We decided to file for divorce.

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September 2015

September was obviously full of fun because the only picture worth posting was of flowers I bought myself at Whole Foods. Which means I paid way too much for them, but whatever, they’re gorgeous and made me feel good. Jason and I, still married technically, celebrated our 17th anniversary with a high five and a PBR because we’re classy like that.

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October 2015

Football game with my mom and Henry. Type A Conference in Atlanta. Henry got a job walking the dog next door after school. Neil came to Atlanta for a long weekend. And I donned a blue wig for Halloween. Oh, October!

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November 2015

November started off with Henry’s 11th birthday party. Another Game Truck party which is God’s gift to moms across the country or wherever Game Trucks are. Seriously. They back in and open the doors and PARTY!

In November, I watched one of my dearest friends say “I do” to the man she loves. I taught my niece how to properly watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And while at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated my 40th birthday (a little early).

November 18, our final divorce decree was signed and stamped and official. Again, we celebrated with a high five.

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December 2015

Oh, December. Henry and I found and loved and decorated our own tree. We did it all by ourselves and were so super proud! We made a few new traditions in the process.

I celebrated my FORTIETH birthday on December 9. (I know, I don’t look a day over 27) I was in New York with Neil and we celebrated at dinner with some friends we both know through blogging and Listen To Your Mother. It was such a fun night and weekend.

Christmas came, on schedule. Santa came. Jason joined us and we Christmassed together and it was nice. We had clearly been good this year. I guess Santa liked how well we’ve handled ourselves throughout the year.

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This past year has taught me some things. Mostly that my gut and my heart are always right. I’m grateful to my energy healer and the therapist I briefly saw, for helping me realize the difference between what my heart was telling me and what my head was telling me. Often, your head tells you the easy thing, not the thing that will make you the happiest and take the most courage.

At the end of the day, 2015 was absolutely glorious, and taught me that I’m far more brave and far more resilient than I ever dreamed. I’m not scared of being a single mom. I’m not scared of not being able to live the life I’ve lived for the last 17 years. I’m certainly not scared of the future. I’m excited. Super. Freaking. Excited. Do I know what it holds? Hell no. Do you? If so, I’d like for you to read my palm and tell me some lottery numbers!

I’m ushering in 2016 knowing that anything — ANYthing — can happen. It may be amazing or it may be mundane, but it will be done my way. It will be full of so many things and I plan to do them all with passion and mindfulness and the realization that THIS moment IS life. I only get one and I plan to make it good.

So cheers to a fresh slate, a new decade of life, a blank page in a new notebook, and a new pen.

Let’s do this, 2016.

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Holly Jolly New Traditions

Life is different this Christmas.

Henry and I decided it would be fun to start some holly jolly new traditions for the two of us as far as decorating for Christmas goes. It’s always been a big evening for us as a family and we want to keep it as an important part of our year, but do things in a new way! I mean, change is fun, huh?

After school on Friday, we headed to the Walmart in Dunwoody to take part in Clark’s Christmas Kids. If you’re not familiar, every Christmas, Clark Howard and News/Talk WSB join with the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s Services to provide gifts for the foster kids all across Georgia.

Henry has a job walking our neighbor’s dog every day after school and when he gets paid on Fridays, we separate his money into Spend, Save, and Give envelopes. He had $27 in his Give envelope and chose to use it to buy Christmas gifts for a child his age who may not have any gifts under the tree this year. Carefully, he looked at the lists of about 5 different 11 year old boys and chose Avery.

With list in hand, we set off to see what we could buy. He ended up with the Simon game that was on the list. Luckily, he caught that it needed AA batteries and he grabbed some of those, too. I can thank my Dad for him knowing to do that. Rock never shows up for a holiday where a battery-needing toy is given without a stash of batteries!

Once he paid, we dropped the list and gifts back at the table where dozens of people were picking up lists and dropping off gifts. If you’re in Atlanta and have a chance to see and participate in this, please do so. It’s such a gift — to these kids AND to yourself.

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Then we headed to the Big John’s Christmas Trees lot in Dunwoody. We LOVE Big John’s. They have the best trees and we’ve bought from them for years (even when we lived in Macon and Fort Valley).

It took Henry about 7 seconds to find our tree.

While I looked for the perfect one that spoke to me and that would hold all my beautiful ornaments and be just like all the other ones we’ve ever had, Henry found THE ONE.

It was about 5 feet tall with a big gap in the middle and a little scrawny. It was smaller than everything else out there and well, looked kinda sad. I kinda wanted to say, “Bless your heart,” to the poor tree.

I tried to talk him out of it, but he said with conviction, “Nobody else is going to buy this tree because it’s not as beautiful as the other trees and then it’s going to be lonely and sad and we’re going to get this one.”

Ok then! We grabbed Chinese food and headed home.

We were able to get the tree off the car and into the stand and into the house by ourselves. Really, Henry did it all, but of course, I gave advice and helicoptered until I realized he WANTED to do it by himself.

The tree stood perfectly straight on the first try, we placed it in the corner, and ate Chinese food while we watched Elf.

This morning, we lit and decorated and squint-tested the tree and you know? It’s possibly the most beautiful tree ever! (Oh, and Watkins the elf came in sometime during the night and toppled down the tree. I think he may have been drinking a little.)

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Our tree is small and mighty, but it holds so much love and hope for our future. It showed me that we can do it by ourselves, and that change, while a little scary, can be so much fun!

We’ve decked our halls and are thrilled with our holly jolly new traditions!

 

I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

I Wouldn’t Change A Thing

Today, Jason and I mark our 16th wedding anniversary. I know what you’re thinking… “She must’ve been 10 when she got married.” No, actually, I was 22 and three weeks out of college. A baby, yes. A child bride, not quite.

I look at Pinterest and see photo shoots my friends do of some amazing weddings, weddings I wish were mine. Oh, if I had it all to do over, I would do this, that and the other thing. 

No. Actually I wouldn’t change a thing.

It was a at the beach, a week after a tropical storm blew through. A destination wedding before destination weddings were cool.

It was the only off weekend for Auburn AND Georgia. And Georgia Tech was playing away. (Those are the most important details, y’all.)

The morning of the wedding, the hotel decided to lay new St. Augustine sod right in the area where the aisle was. Do you know how hard it is to walk on fresh sod?

I did my own flowers, except the bouquets and boutonnieres.

My cake decided to lean at a precarious angle, causing friends to dismantle it while we were taking pictures. I was hardheaded and refused to cut it before it was time in the pre-arranged schedule.

Everything didn’t go according to plan, but at the end of the night, after everybody else went to the Village to see The Outfield play a concert, we were married. Til death do us part.

Lighthouse Wedding

 

And to this day, I wouldn’t change a thing. Not about our wedding day, and not about our life together. Sure, it hasn’t been all roses and sunshine, but life isn’t always roses and sunshine. And it’s led us to where we are and led us to the life we’ve made.

We’ve defied the odds and laughed at statistics. People don’t survive things we’ve been through.

But we have. So far, we’re still standing.

Happy 16th Anniversary, Jason. Here’s to many more!

Her Last First Day of Football Season

Her Last First Day of Football Season

Football season is here. The countdown has been on since January 6 when Auburn and Florida State faced off in an amazing final BCS National Championship Game before the new Playoff system goes into play. As the clock ticks down and the very first college kickoff is within reach, or even on the same calendar page, plans start being made. Tailgates are planned. Trips to games are scheduled. The excitement builds!

Both of my grandmothers were big football fans. My Mimi (my Dad’s mom) was an NFL gal. Of course, she watched Auburn play, but her Sunday afternoons after my grandfather died were spent watching the NFL. I remember her talking about Refrigerator Perry, Joe Montana, Dan Marino… all those guys who were household names were burned into my brain after hearing her wool suit and pantyhose in all seasons wearing self yell at them on television.

My Grannie, though, she was a college football girl. My Grandaddy much preferred golf and baseball, played as background noise to naps, card games and the heat of summer. But my Grannie? Well, she wanted to watch a hard hitting football game, preferably Auburn, Georgia or Georgia Tech, any day of the week. Those were her grandkids’ alma maters and she did everything she could to support them. Up to and including missing the evening news on Channel 13 to watch a game well past midnight.

I couldn’t help but think about her this weekend.

This time last year we were with her in the ICU, wondering if and when she would recover from the stroke she had suffered on the first Saturday night of football season. She died a few short weeks later.

When I took my walk through her house a few months ago, I only got a few things. I got all the deviled egg dishes I could find, a desk, a few photo albums and a few kitchen items. But the one thing I cherish that sits on my desk is something most people would have thrown into the trash.

It’s my reminder: She had big plans on that Saturday night.

Her Last First Football Saturday

In the emergency room, while she was still able to help us piece together a timeline of when she suffered the strokes, we learned that she did watch the Auburn game and was excited that we won. We know she started the other two games and took her medicine at 10pm. We know she was very mad when we told her that Clemson had beaten Georgia.

She was excited about the start of football season — excited enough to have my aunt write down when and where to watch the important games — and I’m thankful she got to see and enjoy some of it. Getting excited about the start of certain seasons — whether it’s football, NASCAR, deer hunting, golf or hockey — is important. Being able to forward to enjoyable activities is really what life should be about.

This piece of paper is a good reminder to me.

This paper reminds me that she was excited about her evening activities. It reminds me that she always thought about her children and grandchildren (and great grandchildren) and knew that we loved these teams alongside her.

It reminds me that the majority of her last pre-stroke hours were enjoyable for her — spent celebrating her last first day of football season.

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