Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch

I married a Methodist this time. Not a Muslim or a Baptist or even a Jew. A Methodist.

You would think this would make us fairly equally yoked. (Christian termed for basically sharing the same beliefs.) We are both Christian and both of our church services have an order to activities.

You knew I was Catholic, right?

When I moved down here, I thought for certain I would find a Catholic church to get involved in and all would be well. Tim didn’t seem too concerned, until he actually attended mass with me. Once we exited the sanctuary he said, “What just happened?”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

For a South Georgia Methodist, his little head was blown. He said, “There was a lot of up and down. Why can’t I take communion? What’s the deal with the incense? I’m so confused.” And so it went…

To be a good sport I went with him and his mom to her church in the tiny town of Preston. There were probably 20 people in the congregation, none overly friendly. (I thought small Protestant churches were supposed to be friendly?) It was Easter Sunday and their Pastor (a woman,) gave the sermon. She stumbled, she mumbled, and I felt there was something lacking. No problem – small church, new pastor, a nice training ground.

I didn’t feel a spiritual connection.

Then I decided to try out the local Catholic church in Americus. Smallish congregation, very diverse, so much so that I am pretty sure that day I was one of the few English speaking gathered, and a really interesting priest. Then the music started. It sounded like a folk concert and probably the single, worst choir I have ever experienced. God bless ’em. Probably not my cup of tea.

At this point, I’m starting to get worried. Would I find my way? We visited an Episcopalian church in Americus. Beautiful building, decent service, semi-friendly people… but it was Episcopalian. As a Catholic, I just couldn’t. I kept thinking back to King Henry the VIII and all of the ruckus he caused with the church.. blah, blah, blah. (Yeah.. I can be so petty sometimes.) 😉

We attended yet another Episcopalian church, this time in Albany. Really nice people, decent service, but lord have mercy – They were hard selling us. You could smell the desperation to have a youngish couple join. Yeah, we never went back.

After we got into our new house in Plains, about one week later we got a request for our first visitor. (I didn’t even have my paintings up on the wall yet.) That visitor was a certain Super Power.

No seriously.

A Nobel laureate also.

Former President Jimmy Carter came over. (He lives 3 houses down.)

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I thought this was a “welcome to the neighborhood” meet & greet, and it sort of was. But it was a little more than that, he wanted to personally invite us to his church. Sure thing, I’ll give it a go. But I warned him, “Mr President, I want you to know I am Catholic.”

“Nicole, denominations don’t really matter. It is about our love for God.”

His church is a Baptist church. And if you know my past experience with Baptist churches, you will know they were never very positive. Very anti-Catholic. But he assured me his church was different. I thought, “Well, if this guy can make peace in the middle east, then surely it can’t be that bad.”

So we went.

And I really, really liked it. Outside of the several layers of Secret Service security you have to go through (which I have since learned is common around here. Most of us even know the SS by name.) Then we were given assigned seats. Yep. Guess which aisle they put us on? HIS and Rosalyn’s. Very cool, BUT… everyone visiting kept staring at our pew. And of course, us, probably wondering who in the world we were.

Guys… I have a little thing called Panic Disorder. I sometimes get super anxious and begin to have a panic attack. Guess what happened? Yep. Mind you, you would never know, I just coughed a little more than usual (trying to get a deep breath.) Even with all of this attention and my need to feel invisible when I am not in a comfortable space, I persevered and we did return. A few times. I was even considering joining, but in my typical commitment-phobe self and the fact that I felt like I did not want to officially leave the Catholic Church, I bowed out.

It was very public. *sigh*

Imagine this: We are standing in a circle holding hands at the night time service. Maybe 30 people, the Carters being 2 of those people. Suddenly, the preacher asks if anyone would like to join the church, to speak now. I was just smiling and watching and suddenly….

JC: Nicole?

Me: Yes sir?

JC: Well?

Me: Um… we really like it here. But.. um.. we are just visiting.

I look at Tim panicking. 

JC: We would really like you to join.

Me: That’s really sweet of you guys. Thank you, but not at this time.

Y’ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I freaking told one of the most powerful men in the world NO. I felt like such a putz.

I felt that strongly about it.

Needless to say, I did not return. I felt too humiliated.

So we visited the Methodist Church in Plains.

And we really, really loved it.

I made friends there and there was plenty to get involved with. The pastor is very intelligent (I think he would make an excellent priest,) and his wife, as it turns out, is now one of my friends down here. So when I tell you the rest of this story, you will understand why the decision I made was a hard one.

We went for probably 8 months. Fairly often, even started going to Sunday School.

But something was missing.

I also found myself pleading with Tim to wake up and go to church on Sunday. His kids were totally not in favor of going.

Then I joined a bible study and my hope was I would find fulfillment and bond with the other parishioners. What it did was make me question what I really needed in my life. I started reading the Bible again and remembering all of the things I had sort of forgotten. This was a good thing.

Then we took a hiatus.

But I was missing something. With all of the issues going on with his family and me being away from my own, I needed that spiritual connection. So I bit the bullet and tried one. more. church.

St. Teresa’s in Albany.

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I loved it. It is definitely not home (home being St. Joseph’s in Macon or Prince of Peace in Birmingham,) but there was something about the space. I felt God’s presence. I fell into a familiar rhythm.

I had a long talk with Tim about church. As it turns out, I was making all of these compromises for him and the girls and really, it wasn’t as important to them.

But it was for me.

I decided on a church. Finally. Back to the old ways – my way. Back to what fulfills me. With Tim by my side (and sometimes the girls,) I will get what I need.

I think at the end of the day, I need to remember that it is not necessary for me to compromise what I believe and need in life. 3 1/2 years living down here and it took us this long to figure it out.

But we did. And that is what is important.

*for those of you not understanding the title, it is the old saying for how to make the sign of the cross. Forehead, abs, side to side. (Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet & Watch.) 

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Seeking Peace

Has it really been July since I last wrote anything?

Apparently, it has. Sorry about that.

Sorry about not writing as much or writing about real things like I used to.

Sorry about all of it.

Come to think of it… who I am really apologizing to? I suppose… myself. I’ve sort of let myself down in this department and I truly wanted to be more consistent. Blogging used to be my therapy and was a wonderful way to put things in perspective. I have let that go because…

Life. Responsibilities. Fear of looking vulnerable. Fear of people judging. Blah.. blah.. blah.

But blogging/writing… it is so much a part of who I am. It’s sad that I put it up on a shelf.

If you have followed me since Destination Unknown 1.0, you know I used to write daily about EVERYTHING. When I say everything, I mean – everything. I lived in a much bigger city and had a sense of anonymity. When I moved back home, I remember sitting in a interview for a museum job and the director telling me that he Googled me and read my blog. I sat there with eyes wide open. I had written about my abusive relationship with my ex-husband and so much more. He let me know that because of  my writing, he actually wanted to hire me. However, he knew that the town would get nosy and it was best to probably hide or delete the posts. So I deleted them.

I needed a job. It was post recession and I was trying to climb back out of being let go from a job in Birmingham and needed a way to house and feed myself (outside of my parent’s charity.)

I deleted the good stuff. The heart wrenching stuff. The stuff that made my blog relate-able to thousands of women. (I’m not exaggerating. The amount of emails I received from women all over the world was amazing.) I shut it down. I canceled the reality show.

Then I attempted a softer version with this blog. And yes, I keep it semi-real from time to time. You will find more of what I am doing and less of what I am feeling. The jobs turned into awesome experiences, and the bad relationship turned into a healthy relationship, and I hate to admit it, but chaos and drama makes for some awfully yummy prose.

Here is the catch… a lot of that crap still exists (on a much smaller level,) but I have been trapped in the responsibilities/job/small-town/government life privacy trap.

*sigh*

Here is the thing – I NEED to write more. I keep so much more inside due to my age, my position, my location, etc. I have not developed a true tribe outside of work. I pretty much go to work, go home, cook dinner, go to the gym, then go to sleep. Only to get up and do it again – OR attend some event in an official capacity. It looks like a LOT of fun, and it is sometimes a lot of fun, and often if I describe it as fun, it means I probably (actually) did have fun. But it has NOT been easy.

I promised to share what it is like to move to a place where you know no one.

I also promised to share what it is like to live in South Georgia, become a step parent, and to navigate government life. (to a lesser extent/work-wise.)

I’ve decided to hold myself accountable and share those experiences with you.

Attempt: Daily. If I get at least 3 a week, I’m doing great. I won’t always post these on the Destination Unknown FB page. But you can subscribe. Most will make it there, others will just be here. (Unless you are a really, truly close friend and are on my private FB page – that page will see it all.)

Is it worth your time? It just might be!

I will be tackling:

  1. Moving to a small town and what that looks like for a girl that would thrive in a larger metropolitan area.
  2. Marrying someone with teenage daughters, when I never expected (or honestly wanted) kids.
  3. Building a house and what that means when you don’t entertain anymore.
  4. Navigating a super toxic in-law situation/ex-wife situation. DUDE… if you only knew.
  5. Building a relationship with an incredible man. Legitimately incredible and what I have learned this time around.
  6. Working in not just a small town, but sharing that space with a super power. Seriously!
  7. Wanting to be an agent of change, yet surrounded by people who are comfortable with the status quo.

    There is much more. A lot of good to. I promise there is good.

    The truth is, I’m in that not-so-good space right now. Somethings have transpired that were completely out of my control and really have very little to do with me, but it is affecting me. I have a tremendous amount of anxiety right now and have taken steps to set healthy boundaries. As for family: My family is good. Dad is sick, like (really) sick, but otherwise, my relationship with them is fine. My niece is kicking butt at life and I am watching it from a far. I call my friends back home from time to time to have a safe space to talk. Tim is wonderful and I am having to support him as he sets healthy boundaries with family members that have used guilt and co-dependence as a way to control behaviors. Our home is lovely and we are finally moving into the re-decorate stage. As for work, my numbers are awesome (but the support is lacking.) But folks, that’s just the surface stuff.

Nothing is perfect, right?

Here is a sneak peek at a few highlights since July to catch you up:

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Made time to hang out with people I really, truly adore. It is a tiny tribe, and we don’t hang nearly enough… but it does happen.
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One thing I love about living down here is the farm life. I got to see cows! We even played music for them!
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Cotton took ballet and I did get to pick her up once from class. Totally made my day! Full circle and all.
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I have been going to the gym regularly for about 4 months now. Very proud of this. Got a bazillion miles to go on this one, but I am attempting to be more active.
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I did attend the wine festival with my friend & co-worker, Haley. We had a nice girls’ day.
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Salvatore is still in love with me and I remain his very best friend.
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Tim and I have found a beautiful spot in our yard to catch the sunset over the farmland. It is our special spot and we sort of use the sun and wine and conversation to heal from harsh weeks.
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Still indulging in the good life.

I did attend the Georgia Governor’s Conference in LaGrange. Was so good to see my tourism besties, but totally sucked being in LaGrange. I’m willing to give the town one more shot, but um…

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Still indulging in Fall’s goodness.

Tim, Alex and I made it to a childhood delight – the Robins Air Force Base Air Show. Loved it… caused some issues later.. that’s a WHOLE other blog post. 🙂

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You know I love a good excuse for a theme party.

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Don’t worry, all will be well. All IS well. Just re-shifting and trying to figure things out.

But that’s life, right?