happy-thanksgiving-pics

I’ve Got 99 Reasons to be Grateful

This week, my good friend Gini challenged all Spin Sucks readers to set a clock for 10 minutes and come up with a list of 99 things to be grateful for. I don’t normally back down from a challenge, and thought this one was particularly rewarding. So with that, I give you my list!

I’m grateful for (in no particular order)…

  1. My parents.
  2. My sister and brother-in-law.
  3. Being an aunt to two munchkins.
  4. Stella.
  5. My best friend who continues to put up with my shenanigans.
  6. Stella’s sarcastic expressions.
  7. A boy who also puts up with my shenanigans and the fact I have the patience of a toddler.
  8. His toddler who makes me giggle deep belly laughs.
  9. A roof over my head.
  10. Food in my belly.
  11. A community that has its best days ahead of it.
  12. T-Bone’s (they keep me fueled).
  13. My Southern Miss.
  14. The people I met while at Southern Miss.
  15. The public relations program at Southern Miss that I continue to be a part of.
  16. Being a Southern Miss alumnus.
  17. My Downtown AT/Versus family.
  18. Mornings at Downtown AT that push me to be a better, healthier person.
  19. Bunco for the drinks, friends and conversation.
  20. Supper club for the food, friends and conversation.
  21. Coffee time and conversation with Jim.
  22. My iPhone.
  23. My Apple Airport Time Machine/External Hard Drive.
  24. My battery charger that I got for my birthday (even though I can’t keep it charged either).
  25. The Giffage app as it offers much content for funny responses and conversations.
  26. Cute animal videos exchanged between a group of friends on Facebook.
  27. Industry colleagues who always encourage me.
  28. Industry conferences that allow time for giggling and elaborate story time.
  29. Finally obtaining accreditation.
  30. Running in the coldish weather.
  31. Bike rides along the trace and my favorite Bonhomie route.
  32. My bike.
  33. A desire to stay healthy and happy.
  34. Skills that have provided a viable career.
  35. Excitement for what the future holds.
  36. Stella’s ability to keep my feet warm when it’s cold.
  37. My involvement in law enforcement advocacy.
  38. The people I’ve met through the Mississippi Run to Remember.
  39. The time my sister and I get to spend together to host the Mississippi Run to Remember.
  40. Conversations with my mom about cooking and crafting.
  41. Conversations with my dad about home renovation and fixing things when they break through FaceTime.
  42. FaceTime.
  43. The things I’ve learned through home renovation.
  44. My love for reading.
  45. My love for music.
  46. Ireland and my time spent there.
  47. My closet for holding and hiding a lot of clothes.
  48. Happy hour where the best conversations are had.
  49. Belly laughter.
  50. Scandal. It’s handled.
  51. Fitzgerald Grant. Yep. I said it.
  52. Blue Bloods. You cannot stand between the badge and the gun.
  53. Mark Wahlberg. Yep. I said that, too.
  54. My InkWell Press planner that will keep 2016 on track and on target.
  55. Octobers in Hattiesburg.
  56. Birthdays: mine, yours, and everyone’s.
  57. Elf for all the holiday joy he will bring over and over and over this season.
  58. Stella’s ability to be as lazy as possible.
  59. Keg and Barrel for every fun memory held there and the Mississippi Mule.
  60. Gardening.
  61. Picking what is growing in the garden.
  62. The boy’s knowledge for gardening.
  63. The boy’s knowledge for grilling.
  64. Jobs that have allowed me a lot of opportunity and growth of skills.
  65. Being an introvert.
  66. My column in the Hattiesburg Post.
  67. My editor/publisher who encourages me and pushes me two write better.
  68. Stella’s friends, Hubs and Roo.
  69. The music Chris Stapelton soulfully sings.
  70. Being better at being domestic (laundry, cleaning, etc.).
  71. The great state of Mississippi and having lived/worked in most of it.
  72. My desire to travel and explore.
  73. The Bobby Bones Show each morning and the joy they spread.
  74. Really, ridiculously good tasting food.
  75. Twin Forks Wine + Provisions for always selecting the best wine for me.
  76. Growing up with an older sister to look up to.
  77. Being a young professional in a very promising time.
  78. Being aware of those who have paid so much before us so that we can be where we are today.
  79. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.
  80. Family traditions that come with Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  81. Catching up with old friends, and picking up exactly where we left.
  82. Trips home to see my parents.
  83. Collapsing on my parents couch with no adult responsibilities.
  84. Stella’s vet who takes my crazy calls when I’m being a special dog mom.
  85. Stella’s groomer who helps me remove my 85# dog from the backseat of my vehicle when she turns into dead weight and won’t budge.
  86. The laughter that stems from when Stella sits in the middle of the street and won’t move.
  87. Printed photos that freeze moments in time.
  88. Santa. Because yes, I still believe.
  89. The new year and the ability to start over.
  90. My Converse.
  91. Leisure walks through nice grocery stores.
  92. Friends who joined me for a hair brained idea like a flash mob to surprise the best person.
  93. Personal space.
  94. Quiet places for reading.
  95. Supremely spicy hummus.
  96. Cheese. All kinds. Except for the blue variety.
  97. Greek yogurt.
  98. The amazing people I get to do life with.
  99. Having small feet. Shoes are cheaper.

I hope you are having the most spectacular Thanksgiving and here’s to a great holiday season! 

fire

Choose What Sets Your Soul on Fire

Can I let you in on a secret? At one time, speaking in front of people made me sick.

Literally – physically ill.

I spent my Freshman and Sophomore years at Southern Miss in the Honors College, and I dropped my Honors Speech class because I feared our first assignment. Instructions? Prepare a brief, 1-minute speech. Topic? Introduce myself to the class. That sounds easy, huh? Meh.

He gave out the syllabus, discussed class expectations, and wrote the assignment on the board. I vividly remember my hands beginning to shake as I copied the details into my planner. The knot grew in my stomach and I became nauseous. When I made it back to my residence hall – I opened my laptop and clicked the drop button.

Instant relief.

Chicken? Most definitely. Later in my collegiate career I took the class with a mentor who I knew would help me get over my fears in a safe environment. Some professors are tough, man. And while I don’t mind a challenge, I really needed the baby steps. I needed to dip my pinky toe into the water of being in front of people.

As you can imagine, waiting until my Junior year of college to embrace my biggest fear means I spent a majority of high school and college with that tell-tale knot in my stomach.

Today, I spoke to students. It’s the second time I’ve been able to do so in the past month, along with presenting to my colleagues/peers at a regional conference.

Sometimes we endeavor to do things that cause adverse reactions because the end game means more.

So how did I make it from point A to point F?

 

Time.

Practice.

Encouragement.

With a strong desire to help and do more.

I know, I know. That sounds like a very cliche’, world-peace answer; but, I mean it.

Contrary to what some might think, I don’t speak to classes or at conferences to blow my own horn or put myself in the spotlight. To be honest, those things are still very hard for me. I’m not a fan of the attention thing. I enjoy disappearing into the background while working fastidiously to achieve a goal or objective. Regardless of how hard or uncomfortable, I find that something happens when I step in front of people. I truly enjoy passing along information to my colleagues/peers or being able to recant my experience so that it helps other students. Somewhere deep down, a fire burns.

Today, that fire had an opportunity to burn a little more.

A few years ago, I was introduced to the “Know Your Why” model by Simon Sinek – and it always gets me. WHY do we do the things we do? When we know our why, the how and what usually follow suit. I’m still learning about my big-picture-why, but I am thankful for life moments (like today) that present pieces and parts of it. It makes saddling up for the other things a little easier.

“It’s not just what or how you do things that matters; what matters more is that what and how you do things is consistent with your why.” – Simon Sinek

st-pauls-chapel-door-1499318

Southern and single.

I live in Mississippi, I am 28 and I am not married. I can easily jump into a ditty about Southern expectations, but I’d rather tell you a quick story.

Last year, I joined a Bunco group. For those not familiar: this game involves high-octave shrieking when one wins a round, cackling conversation, drinks and food. Our group is hilariously fun to be around, and I enjoy playing for the company and conversation. Maybe not so much the squealing that comes with a perfect roll of the die, but I digress!

We’ve been together for a little over a year, but sticking with it was a rocky start for me. During my first encounter, I was placed at a table full of people I didn’t know. My introverted anxieties would normally be paramount in this situation. I can enjoy a good social hour just like the next person, but I have a hard time with small talk. I don’t hate it, but I usually have to get myself to a place where I can feel comfortable with it. Alas, there was no time and the niceties began before I could do such a thing. The girl to my right began asking questions.

What’s your name? Oh good. Easy. I can handle that.

So are you married? What? Wait. Why is that a question? I shook my head. I saw her eyes dart down at my empty ring finger, and then she rallied for a third question.

Oh, so what’s your boyfriend do? Why are any of these questions appropriate? We aren’t friends. I don’t even remember what she said her name was. I quickly muttered, “I’m not in a relationship.”

The first three questions weren’t enough, she pressed on: Oh really? Why not? Someone… please rescue me. 

I can only imagine what nonverbal I was sending her, but I’m sure it wasn’t pleasant. Thankfully the game began shortly after the final question was asked.

Our group laughs about this story now, and no one can recall who sat at my table that night (we’ve had several drop off since those initial months). She is a mystery, but her questions – those! Those will live on forever.

While maybe the perception, marriage by 23 and children by 25 isn’t the norm for everyone. Those things aren’t bad if that’s the route you choose (and many of my dearest friends have), but it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me.

After my current relationship began, I had a conversation with a friend. He said, “I’m kinda surprised. I didn’t think you dated.”

Wait. What?

He also received a blank stare, but I like him so I let him explain.”You don’t seem like one of those girls who ‘needs’ to be with a guy.” He continued to explain that he thought I was more focused on my career and that my priorities were different.

Oh.

Without a doubt, I have been very career-focused. I was ready for college in the 9th grade, and I was ready to hit the real world shortly after. I don’t fold clothes very well and vacuuming puzzles the hell out of me, but my career? That’s always been the non-negotiable. Those goals have been the driving force between point A and B. Because of them, I’ve achieved a lot in a short period of time and I’ve been able to travel a lot.

With the “I am an independent woman, hear me roar” talk out of the way, let’s be real. Being career-oriented doesn’t mean I don’t want to settle down and be married.

Hasty generalization or not, I think everyone wants to feel wanted and to be in a relationship where they share their life with someone else. It’s human nature, but I don’t think it’s something to rush (not that all do).

When I was 25, I didn’t think two seconds about not buying a house because I wasn’t married. I learned way more than I imagined through that process. And one day, I’ll be able to use that experience when I sit next to the poor guy who feels like putting up with me for the rest of our lives – as we sign papers on a new home, together.

I’ve always leaned heavily on the fact that everything happens for a reason and in its own time. One day, that time will be my time. But until then? I am pretty happy with living a very full life, and checking off boxes on my ever-long bucket list (like Ireland again in 2016). I enjoy life with people I love and I laugh A LOT. Relationships are great, but they don’t run on a timeline.

Who knows? Maybe things will change when I figure out how to wrangle the vacuum cleaner or actually fold clothes instead of letting them hang out in the dryer for eternity!