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Gee, Meet Anne Lamott the Word Whisperer

14 Nov

On Monday evening, my dad and I had the honor of seeing my all-time favorite author Anne Lamott speak at First Baptist Church in Decatur. She is traveling across the country on a book tour for her new nonfiction book called “Stitches“.  My dad bought me a pre-signed copy at the event, and I can’t wait to read it and let her words wash over me like a refreshing wave of brutal honesty. Her writing always serves my soul up with a good spiritual pep talk.

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I first fell in love with Anne’s work and her raw voice when I read her nonfiction book “Bird by Bird” in my creative writing class during my senior year of high school. I am eternally grateful to my dear teacher and mentor, Mr. Bill Waters of the Bryn Mawr School, for introducing me to this amazing artist of an author who has become such a beacon of inspiration to me over the years. I was astounded by how this woman was able to pinpoint the precise words and craft the perfect metaphors to capture emotions and articulate faith. She has no shame in her expression, and she is boldly self-deprecating in her brilliance. She openly discusses her battles, both big and small, with everything from addiction to cellulite. Because of this honest and relatable style of hers, she has won over the hearts of her readers.

This fan following was out in full force on Monday evening. My dad and I arrived around 6:30 for the 7:00pm event, and the place was positively packed. Anne quietly emerged at the front of the church in jeans and a baggy sweatshirt, casual and real (I would have been both shocked and disappointed had she come out in a fine tailored suit). She spoke candidly about the difficult process of putting yourself back together after tremendous loss. Inspired by the tragic events of the Newtown shootings, Stitches, she told us, was written for the bad days. There is no roadmap or recipe for how to get better or “snap out of it”. You must grieve in your own way – whether that be surrounding yourself with people to distract you, or sitting alone under a blanket with Tootsie pops. The beauty of life is that there are wonderful, gracious people who are compassionate enough to put you back together.

I felt like a giddy little kid while waiting in line to meet my literary hero. I nervously plotted out what I would do and say. I had already purchased a pre-signed copy of her book… should I just ask her to sign again under the existing signature? I got up to the table, book in hand, and decided to have her sign one of the concluding pages of the hardback book – one of those buffer pages before the acknowledgement, printed with a beautiful texture that looks like a pattern of burnt squares. She remarked at how beautiful the page was. “I never get there in my books,” she said. She even finished off her signature with a little heart. I could feel the tears welling up as I took the book in my hands and said, “Thank you – you’ve really gotten me through some tough times.”

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It’s difficult to put into words just how it felt to meet this person who has been such a mythical character – a best friend of a stranger with whom I have become so connected through the way that she feels and expresses herself in her words. I am consistently awed by her magical gift of writing.  The experience was made even more special because my hero of a father was by my side.

I’ll close my gushing session with a string of her powerful words, taken from my first encounter with her mesmerizing art of writing (Bird by Bird):
“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”

Gee, Fall, Where Did You Come From?

25 Sep

Well I guess October starts next week. How on earth did that happen? Time flies. All the more reason to note the little pieces of autumnal bliss – from the floating leaves to the crisp breeze.

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I ran across this little guy while walking the dog this afternoon. Call me cheesy, but I believe in signs. And this one says, “You’re where you are meant to be in this moment. Recognize and love it.”

Fallove.

Gee, Stumble Into Inspiration

7 Jul

One of my favorite things in the world? Stumbling upon random musings of unexpected inspiration.

When I was in New York City a few weeks ago for Governor’s Ball, I found some prime pieces of thought-provoking messaging. It’s no surprise, really – the city is all about self-expression and creativity. People don’t hold back when they have thoughts and ideas and opinions. No filters here (except on Instagram because goodness gracious those New York hipsters love their Instagram…and so do I).

Here are two gems from my trip to the Big Apple that I just had to share…

"LEAVE GRANMA OUT OF THIS!"

“LEAVE GRANMA OUT OF THIS!”

This one appeared on the back of the bathroom door at Commonwealth in Brooklyn. I appreciate that the establishment encourages commentary in the WC. I find this message particularly refreshing. I like to see people sticking up for Granma.

What do bums do?

What do bums do?

I enjoy that this wall graffiti located by a Brooklyn subway stop incorporates dialogue. What do bums do? We all have our own opinions. And some of us are lucky enough to have a marker handy to join the visual conversation. Touché.

Gee, Here’s A Little Encouragement To Seize The Day

20 Mar

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Emily Dickinson’s wise words: “Forever is composed of nows.”

Create your forever by seizing the nows, and making the most of each one. Don’t put off taking that trip to Malaysia or writing that novel or calling up that friend or learning to play that instrument or climbing that mountain. Own your nows.

Thanks for that kick in the butt, Em.

Gee, Let’s Play

7 Mar

Last week, my company volunteered at Sheltering Arms, an early childhood education center in downtown Atlanta. It was so refreshing to escape the world of deadlines and budgets and meetings to simply play. We read stories, played tag, danced, and made new friends. Our talented in-house photographer, Jackelyn Lynam, captured the sweet spirit of the volunteering experience.

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In the chaos of life, we tend to forget how therapeutic play time can be. We get so caught up in daily grinding that the fun just gets lost. Sure – it’s admirable to work hard. But we need to do the carefree kid thing every once in a while to stay sane.

Gee, Big Football Makes For Big Pride

16 Jan

For me, there is absolutely nothing like Baltimore Ravens football. Nothing else has the power to simultaneously tug at my heart strings and fire me up. I know that football is just a game, but this team means so much more.

Sporting my Torrey Smith jersey.

When I returned home for Christmas this year, our family bonded over our team’s triumphs. We exchanged an array of purple, Raven-themed gifts – license plate holders, pillow pets, framed stadium portraits…you name it. We are all rather obsessed. In Baltimore territory, the purple passion is electric. It is this intense appreciation that I miss the most when I leave the land of crabcakes and football.

When I was studying in Brussels, Belgium during the fall of 2009, I excitedly followed my team’s progress throughout the season. Of course I jumped at the chance to watch a live Ravens game on the television at an American bar near the Parliament. For those four quarters of hard hitting competition, I was home again.

My Ravens Family

The other day, I met a native Atlantan who said, “Ya know, the people I’ve met from Baltimore are so proud of their city. It’s truly a part of their identity. It’s kind of like Boston or New York. That pride is pretty special.” I would have to agree.

It is so reassuring to know that the team connects me to my hometown, my home people. I may be hundreds of miles away from the place where I grew up, but I feel like I’m back in the Land of Pleasant Living when those purple warriors step onto the field. Watching Ray shout at the top of his lungs in the pre-game huddle sends chills up my spine.

No matter where you are from, be it a tiny town or a bustling city, it’s truly amazing when you find something that connects you to your people and your home. Hold onto it. Don’t be ashamed. No matter how much slack you get from the people who just don’t get it.

Gee, Thanks For The Little Things

24 Nov

Turkey. Sweet potatoes. Stuffing. Pumpkin pie. Key elements to the ultimate Thanksgiving dinner. But the most important component? Love.

Little moment for the heart: my kitty cat dipped in paint from holiday home improvements.

Love is what takes those little moments around the table and turn them into memories. Love is what makes Thanksgiving the ultimate homecoming experience. When I return home for Thanksgiving, I take stock of the little things: the view from my bedroom window, the photographs hung on the walls, the familiar yet indescribable smell that can only be found at home, the feel of my puppy dog’s fur against my finger tips as I scratch the top of her muppet-looking head…

There’s nothing like coming home to the little things. Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.