Seeking Peace

This year’s word is supposed to be intentional. 

in·ten·tion·al
/inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/
adjective
done on purpose; deliberate.

Today I started pondering why?

I think it is because I have been operating on Auto-Pilot since Birmingham. Seriously.

As I do a little more work on myself, I realize that my 30s did a number on me. I really believe I was traumatized from losing the job. It felt like the ultimate in failure. Through no fault of my own, I found myself scratching and clawing to pull myself out of that dark hole I found myself in for 9 months. And then the downward spiral with my marriage, moving home to live with my parents…

It was all too much. I was so lost. So sad. I just kept going. Because that is what I do. I endure, I press forward, and I reinvent.

Here we are, 9 years later, and I think my muscles are trying to unwind from all of the tension from having to hold myself together. I had to push to get my life back on track.

Now, when anyone threatens to take that control away from me, I feel angry. Really, really angry.

I realize that now.

Auto-pilot is my coping mechanism. I think my subconscious is afraid to pull back the curtain and feel again.

It feels too dangerous.

I haven’t formed any meaningful relationships in years. I haven’t really tried anything new. I take that back, I do… but they are always far enough away to keep it safe.

While deep-diving into my soul, I’m learned there is a big hole left there, a hole where things that were so important, so valuable, were ripped away.

I covered the hole with a blanket, warm & safe. I started to fill the hole in and as I realized I would have to feel again, I stopped and just covered it up. I ran on auto-pilot.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

2020 is intentional.

What do I hope to gain from all of this intentionality? Deeper relationships, new experiences, and peace. Above all – Peace.

Even Wonder Woman Has A Breaking Point

I’m super resilient. Like… really, really resilient.

Life has thrown me sh*t balls over the years and somehow I keep kicking. I get knocked down, only to rise from the ashes. Over and over and over again.

I don’t think I am resilient because it is some innate talent or gift. I really don’t think I ever had the choice to be anything but. What else am I going to do? Crumble? Who the hell would pick up the pieces?

Sure, I have a supportive husband and a handful of awesome friends, but they have their own sh*t to deal with. Of course, my family is there – but they are beyond stretched thin. I have no choice but to take care of me.

Well… I have not been doing the best job of that lately and it surprises me more than anyone else. When times get hard, and they get hard for everyone at some point, I may wallow in self pity for a day or two, but after a good cry in a super hot bath tub and a long prayer to God, I am able to pull it together. Not this time. Or at least not since the summer.

Things were getting progressively negative around these parts. From the contention with Tim’s family, to being so far away from my own (especially as my Dad battled Prostate Cancer,) to  working in a job that often goes unnoticed or appreciated, to living in a community that seems (now that the honeymoon phase is over) to be so damn bitter, to just wanting so bad to connect and finding few to do that with.

UGH.

I’m tired just typing all of that.

And it goes on and on and on…

I tore my MCL which has put a HUGE damper on my exercising. I’m now in Physical Therapy to correct the issue and man oh man… it is challenging. I had a broken tooth removed and I am recovering from that AND my Dad had a heart attack last week and is recovering at home with a stent. That alone is a lot of deal with.

Look, I get it – I am blessed beyond measure. Do NOT for one moment think I do not see that. I have accomplished my goals (professionally and personally,) I am “successful” in the simplest of terms. I have some really amazing people in my life (just NOT nearby,) and my family and I are in a good place. My husband is my very best friend and is super supportive (considering all of the mess we have to navigate with his family.) My house is adorable, my health is fairly good… yes, yes… I have a LOT.

I’m just in an emotional rut. And this is foreign territory.

I have always been of the mindset that if you can plan something, set some type of goal, that having that “something” to look forward to could change your chemistry. I find that I am in a much happier place when I focus my energy on new endeavors. With the holidays just around the corner, there are a lot of opportunities to do just that! Especially when you work in a field like I do. I haven’t organized my holiday calendar yet, but I am pretty sure I have close to 17 events to attend. That is not a bad thing, since I LOVE this time of year.

Which brings me to the season. THANK GOD (literally,) that there is a Christmas. The hopefulness of the season is a gentle reminder that there can be good in this wretched world and the promises God has made for us. I have to hold onto those truths in order to navigate this funk I have been swimming in.

Luckily, I am taking the week of Thanksgiving off from work. Besides physical therapy and a dental appointment to refill a filling and get my teeth cleaned, I am good to do whatever I want. I plan to schedule some time in Warner Robins to float (sensory deprivation) and perhaps a massage. I want to sort of reset my battery and… pull my sh*t together.

I just need a minute to get it together.

My brain is scattered and I can’t focus. Life is just flying by at warp speed and I am standing there in a daze

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or fake laughing to make you think all is okay.

And it is actually okay. I’m just not feeling it.

I’ve got some work to do on me and I hope wrapping this decade up will be the end of these insane transitions.

Until next time…

 

Hello, Old Friend

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On the 31st of January, in 2019, I am re-committing myself to blogging again.

I know, I know… I have said it before, and I will probably have to reaffirm again. But it is a start. A beautiful start to what is quickly shaping up to be a pretty good year.

I continue to heal from the surgery back in October. Yes, I am still healing. But it IS happening and that makes my heart happy. I’ve even made strides to get a little healthier by incorporating exercise back into my life. As for food, well, I have jumped on this culinary band wagon and have been attempting to cook my way through Julia Child’s famous cook book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1 AND 2.)

I have a few more goals in mind for this year. I hope to take a photography class in the Spring that my husband purchased for my Christmas gift. It will be with the Atlanta School of Photography. FINALLY, people. I’ve been saying I wanted to do this for years. I’m also hoping to write again.

So here I am.

I also plan to reconnect with the people I love the most. Including old friends, as well as making sure I invest time and energy into growing the relationships that are newer. I even find myself attending church each Sunday, albeit not a Catholic Church. Tim & I decided to invest in our little town of Plains and we began attending a church just a few blocks from our home. It is a Methodist Church and the pastor is really good. I miss a lot of the elements of the Catholic Church, but unfortunately in South Georgia, the pickings for a church that fits my needs is not very strong. I cannot formally join the Methodist Church, because I do not want to part with the Catholic Church. However, my husband is a Methodist and it is simply having him transfer his membership. Good enough for me. It will serve my needs, for now.

Life has been moving along quite calmly – Tim and I have been coming up with house projects, as well as travel options for the year. The financial strain from building a house is easing up a bit and we are ready to move to the next phase.

The holidays were spectacular. I tried to attend every single event that I could. Here is a quick look at my year-end from November & December.

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We had a delicious and delightful Thanksgiving at my Mom & Dad’s house in Haddock.

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Spent some time visiting with Tim’s childhood friends. Apparently, it was such a momentous occasion that it made the local paper. 😉

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We spent a lot of quality time together. He did a great job taking care of me post-op.

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We spent a lot of time with our kids and grand.

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Isn’t she growing up so fast? And so, so, so beautiful. This is my grand-daughter – Cotton.

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This was my third year as the official light flipper during the Plains Christmas Tree Lighting. First time that it had rained. And.. um.. I was afraid I would electrocute myself. 😉

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We had a very successful Christmas Open House at the Americus Visitor Center.

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Tim came to support his sister & I as she judged the Americus Christmas Parade and I was the emcee.

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As a family, I introduced Advent into our home and all of the traditions that come with it.

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I reconnected with old & new friends in Macon.

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I even celebrated Hanukkah!

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We set up a cookie making night with the girls. They did a fantastic job!

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I got the wonderful opportunity to serve as an Ambassador for the Andersonville National Cemetery.

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One of the most moving moments during the Wreaths Across America.

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I had my coworkers come out to my house for a little Christmas party!

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We celebrated Christmas in Plains with President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn.

 

We threw our very first Christmas party in our new home.

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Got to enjoy a fantastic Christmas party with my work.

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AND – I got to emcee it!!!

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Our tree went up. I did it by myself because Tim was super-duper sick!

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And finally, I have been Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

And we are only on day 31 of the new year.

So much good is in store and I can’t wait to experience it all!

Here’s to 2019! I hope you embrace each day as a gift!

 

Dealing & Healing

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***pardon any typos… I’m doing this quickly over lunch!***

It seems this blog is more about me apologizing for not writing, versus actually getting to the good stuff.

With that being said, let’s just get to the good stuff.

Obviously, I’ve been very busy: living & loving. And healing. Or trying to.

I’ve decided to bury the lead… so strap in for the ride.

The picture above describes March until September. I’ve been on the road: filling my mind with knowledge, exploring new places, and spending time with some really fantastic people. The best part? I get paid to do all of this.

I am blessed beyond measure. THIS is the one thing I am certain of.

Let’s begin, shall we?

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Late April, either before or after the last post, (I forget,) I got sick. Like, really, really sick. I ended up with a (I hate typing this, but it is what it is,) an anorectal abscess. Not THERE, but next to there. Science would say I waited too long to treat it, but the truth is, I was the victim of scheduling. Felt something on Saturday. Call Gyno on Monday. Appointment on Tuesday. Diagnosed with abscess. Scheduled to see surgeon on Monday. By Friday I had a fever and was vomiting. Went to ER that night. Saturday morning emergency surgery. Home for 2 weeks recovering.

The end… or so I thought.

Soon there after, I recovered and went back to work. One of the coolest things about my life now is that I get the honor of doing so many interesting things. Like above, I got to be the Honorary Councilwoman for the City of Plains for one meeting. That’s me with the mayor. (Who just so happens to be the former college friend of Tim’s late father, Mayor Jerry Kirksey of Preston.)

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My job keeps me super busy, so finding time for a date is next to impossible. Luckily, my Americus Rotary club had a party at the Georgia Southwestern University Lake House – complete with the Varsity Food Truck with unlimited dogs & burgers & onions rings! That was so much fun! We ate well and laughed with our fellow business associates. If you are unfamiliar with the Varsity, it is a tradition to eat there when visiting Atlanta. AMAZING food. What a treat for us to have this food truck in Americus (3 hours South of Atlanta!)

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I even hosted a staff retreat to my home. Main Street & Tourism gathered to go over our strategic plan and share in some delicious food catered from a local Plains restaurant: The Silo.

Of course we got to spend some time with our famous neighbor, former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

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Then it was time for me to hit the road again! I spent one week up in the North Georgia Mountains at the University of North Georgia & Southeast Tourism Society’s annual Marketing College. I have been working on my credentials as a Tourism Marketing Professional and Festival & Events Planner. I met up with my classmates from first year (and a few incoming 1st years) and we kicked off the fun at Wolf Mountain Winery. We had an AMAZING dinner.

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Seeing my friends from Louisiana and Arkansas is always a treat! Plus many others from all over Georgia.

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Later that night, we all broke off and explored the bars of downtown Dahlonega.  Here we are at the local Irish pub, Shenanigans.

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We enjoyed pizza at Gustavo’s on the main square.

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Proscecco any night!

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The King of Pops for our afternoon breaks.

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Delicious New Orleans style food at Bourbon Street Grill on the Main Square

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And honestly, so much more. I even won a bottle of bourbon for being the Queen of Social Media on the trip! Winning the top prize for the documenting overall experience at a Marketing College ain’t too shabby.

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Not soon after I got back, I ended up back in the hospital. More bleeding and apparently a slight infection from the wound area of the abscess. Here is a photo of the staff Facetiming me  as I lay in the bed hooked to ivs.

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Pretty soon after that, it was times for Plains, Trains, & Fireworks in downtown Plains! It’s our annual July 4th celebration. My staff & I melted in the hot Georgia sun! Me – recovering and trying the best to keep a smile on my face. Honestly, I was exhausted in this picture. On the road, fighting an infection, and just going… going… going…

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Regardless of the heat, exhaustion, and whatever else – I found plenty of reasons to smile! Like the grandbaby’s laughter!

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Or watching our my love enjoys spending time with our precious!

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Right after that event, I took off for a girls’ beach trip to the family beach house on Mexico Beach. I brought one of my oldest friends, and 3 newer friends from Americus. We had a fantastic time eating, drinking, and soaking up the sun! Something I so desperately needed!

We ate so much good food, drank tons of tequila and pina coladas and wine slushies! And talked… so much girl talk! It was very good for the soul.

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On the way down I got to meet one of the Godfathers of the slow food movement: The owner of White Oak Pastures, Mr. Will Harris. According to their website, Mr. Harris is a fourth generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. He was born and raised at White Oak Pastures and eventually left home to attend the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. He graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.

These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990’s Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, “nature abhors a monoculture.” In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.

Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. He shared his story with us over a bottle of wine and beef tacos, fresh off the farm!

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Well, no sooner did I get back on Sunday night from the beach trip, I repacked my bag for a trip to West Georgia for three days. (Literally, the very next day!) The first leg of this trip involved a visit to Warm Springs, Georgia. Home of The Little White House of FDR and the FDR State Park, all of which I got to tour. Plus, the downtown area of Warm Springs is adorable. One of the highlights was the wine tasting at Warm Springs Cellars.

After Warm Springs, we headed to Callaway Gardens and toured the entire property and had dinner at one of the restaurants on the property. The next day was all about adventure! Our group got to enjoy both White Water Rafting and Zip-lining (from Georgia to Alabama and back – Seriously!) So many laughs and tales of danger – which we enjoyed laughing about over dinner at EPIC in uptown Columbus.

Our final day consisted of a very moving experience at the National Infantry Museum. Then we ended up having an amazing adventure at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

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Did I forget to mention two VERY cool spots in West Georgia? We also got to have a Rum tasting at Richland Rum and Omaha Brewing Company!

And then no sooner do I get home…

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Boom…. more antibiotics. The infamous wound simply will not heal all of the way. After a few conversations with my surgeon, it is just the location. But now she fears I may have a fistula. We aren’t sure… so I start more heavy-duty sulfa drugs and try, try again.

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During the healing process, my friend Wesleigh from the Marietta Visitor Center came down to explore Sumter County. Here she is tasting our famous Peanut Butter Ice cream in downtown Plains.

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A few days later, one of my dear friends from Macon passes away suddenly. The beautiful Dorothy Cook left us…

But the show had to go on…

Literally…

I had an 8 hour retreat to lead the very next day. My heart was so heavy, and not only that, I was exhausted and extremely sick…..

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But I kept going and was THRILLED to host my friends from Statesboro and Houma, Louisiana around town. One of our favorite stops was the international roastery in town: Cafe Campesino! I’m so excited, because they are about to celebrate their 20th anniversary! I can’t wait to attend the festivities!

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So at this point, I’m trucking along… trying to feel better. I went to my monthly Bunco meeting with the ladies of Plains…

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I celebrated our sweet grandchild’s 3rd birthday!

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I allowed my hair to be turned blue and get glittered for one of our First Friday events in downtown Americus.

I even took some time to host 2 girls from Hiroshima, Japan for a week.

Seriously…. I got back in the exchange student business. It was really kinda cool. Never hosted Japanese students, and these two were from the City of Americus’s sister city in Japan. Momoka and Ayaka! These girls left on a Wednesday, and I packed my bag for a 5 day conference to Atlanta that started on a Saturday.

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Lots of fantastic session and boy oh boy, did I learn a lot!

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I heard one of the most inspirational speakers from the football coach legend, Bill Curry.

The two gubernatorial candidates for the State of Georgia gave their words on how they view and would support Tourism. That DEFINITELY solidified my decision.


I had the best time at the College Football Hall of Fame. We had a tailgate private party at the museum!

I also experience VIP treatment at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park Stadium. We had the Hank Aaron Terrace all to ourselves! Unlimited food, great seats, a/c, private entrance…

Life is oh so good!

 

I got back on Wednesday night, only to REPACK my bag for Friday – because…

Dum.. dum.. duuummmmm…

It was Labor Day weekend and time to head back to the beach house with the family.

We had an amazing adventure. 8 hours on the beach, an evening in Apalachicola, a day trip to Destin, and coffee at Panama City Beach.

Then to end it all, Tim reflected on how this is probably one of the last innocent Summers with his girls at this particular beach.

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You see, his mom is selling the beach house. The same house they have vacationed at every year since the 80s.

It is an end of an era for the Kirkseys.

That brings us to this past Sunday. Tim’s youngest turned 16. Again… transitions, they are a-coming.

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Even with me. I’m down 13 pounds. 5 over the Summer, and 8 more on Weight Watchers. THIS is good news.

But this is bad news:

I found myself back in the surgeon’s office yesterday. More bleeding, more infection. As it turns out, I have a fistula. (You can google it.) That’s why I am not healing, and they don’t just heal themselves. I’m headed to a pretty gnarly surgery on October 26th to have a fistulotomy. It is supposed to be a painful recovery with a fairly decent shot at fixing this problem… God willing.

If you can, place me in your prayers for healing. And to calm my fears. And for whatever else I can’t seem to put into words.

My Summer was good. My life is even better. I just need to heal.

(Now don’t make me the “butt” of your jokes. This whole experience has been a pain in my “ass.” Get it? Get it?)

Until next time….

Ask & You Shall Receive

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I have to admit – 2018 has been pretty remarkable! I realize I have been a little quiet as of late, but as with all new transitions (which I seem to be on an endless stream of them,) I needed to let the dust settle. We got into the house and settled into the life in Plains so very easily.

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We started off with my 45th Birthday party in our new home. About 30 people from Americus, Plains, & Macon came to celebrate my little stay on Earth. We had great drinks and lots of laughs. It was nice to be surrounded by my new connections with my  things. I haven’t seen these things in years (all stored up nicely in Macon,) so it was good to set them free, so to speak!

Once the birthday celebration ended, it was time to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. Tim & I headed to the beach house and relaxed with some sunshine & Vitamin Sea. There were so many surprises in store for me: An one & a half hour therapeutic massage, fancy dinner in Panama City, a shopping spree in Apalachicola, and a little Chanel. Needless to say, I was a very happy girl.

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Oyster City Brewing Company, Apalachicola, FL
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Fire Fly Restaurant, Panama City, FL

By Mid March I was on my way to Chattanooga with the theater staff of The Historic Rylander Theatre. We participated in a Creative Placemaking Conference with other arts organizations, municipalities, and tourism entities. Lucky for me, Heather & Will are not only co workers, but dear friends.

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Enjoying the view at Rock City on Lookout Mountain in Tennessee

Back at home, things were going great! Spending time at my neighbor’s home on Saturday night with the rest of our neighbors. Eh hem… which include a certain former President. Yep, most Saturday nights (if he is in town,) he comes for dinner. This tribe of people are fascinating and have turned my non-existent social life into a very interesting experience. Every weekend there is an array of interesting people sitting around her table. From critically acclaimed authors, to journalists from places like the NY Times to the AJC. Never a dull moment.

Then another group in Plains reached out and I ended up a part of a Bunco group that meets the 4th Tuesday of each month! We have so much fun – playing the game, chatting it up, and gobbling delicious treats. (And wine.. I mentioned wine, right?)

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Bunco Group at Honey Hush Boutique

Two really awesome things happened recently. One – Macon Magazine approached me to be featured as one of the Fiery Women in Business for their Spring Issue! I was thrilled to share my story and share what I do with my friends and family back home.

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Not soon after that happened, I completed the renovation on the Americus Welcome Center. The Center is a place where visitors can stop in, learn more about the area, pick up souvenirs and get their questions answered.

With the duties of running the center, I have to attend the Regional Visitor Information Center Conference each year for the State of Georgia. This year it was in Statesboro. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express! The location was fantastic and I was pleasantly surprised with how cool Statesboro was. Outside of attending classes, I got to explore a little.

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Eagle Creek Brewery

We got to have a private party Eagle Creek Brewery, complete with a band performing and free craft beer samples, as well as some food. Lots of the beers served here have fruit infusions, I went for the Strawberry Wheat.


I gave my shot at Tactical Paint Ball! Another first for me! It was a solitary game, one where you gear up, grab your paint ball gun, then enter this dark maze where Human Zombies make their way for you. You aim, you shoot, and if it hits them, they dramatically fall to the ground. The first time I pulled the trigger I snapped a guy right in the groin. I apologized and kept moving!

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I tried something else for the first time – I jumped on a trampoline. My mom never let me get on one of these because she was afraid we would break our necks! But at 45 – I did it. Want to see proof? Check out my instagram feed and watch the video.

Now let’s take a moment and analyze what is happening here. Do you notice a change?

Yep. I’m living. I’ve transitioned. I’m going to be okay.

I’m going to be more than okay… because I have some amazing news: I’m off of my Alpha Beta Blockers & Cholesterol medicine! That’s right!!!!!! I’ve come a long way baby, and I feel phenomenal. Now I am focusing on getting my metabolism back to normal and kicking some PCOS butt!

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I also enjoyed a Birds of Prey & Reptile show at Georgia Southern University’s Wildlife Center. I got to see owls, eagles, and hawks soar & swoop right over my head! In this photo you see some of my fellow tourism colleagues hold this big guy.

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I shot a gun for the very first time at the Shooting Range on the University campus! I got a lot of my  questions answered and I have to admit, I am interested in learning more!

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I got some much needed bonding time with people with similar interests and personalities. Here you see Wesleigh from Marietta and Sloane from Jackson.

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We decided to give archery a try while in town! This was another first for me!!! I’m telling you, I was living my life to the fullest and loving every minute of it.

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Not too shabby, right? I picked #13, because 13 has always been a lucky number for me (Think TV days – 13WMAZ.)

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We even got to have a fantastic party at Splash in the Boro – this phenomenal water park owned by the county in Stateboro. Unlimited margaritas and tons of great Caribbean food mixed with karaoke & dancing!

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Something else happened while I was there. 😉

31073255_10156241228969929_4072781022800904192_nI received the State of Georgia’s Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Leadership in Promoting Tourism.

Yep. It’s a big deal.

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I was so surprised! My coworkers, Tim, and Alex all showed up to surprise me. Truly an amazing experience.

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April was full of so many good things. I got to go home and visit my family.

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I got to visit my old museum, the Cannonball House and enjoy the event I started 4 years ago: Beards, Bourbon, & BBQ.

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It was pretty cool to see the bourbon tasting was being conducted by none other than Americus’s 13th Colony Distilleries. My worlds had collided.

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I even got to spend the entire day sipping craft beer, wine, and cocktails for free at the Americus Hot Glass Craft Beer Fest!

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Then there was the big weekend-long media tour with journalists out of Atlanta. One of the first stops was Wolf Creek Winery in Americus. I went for the Wine Slushy shots… of course.

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Got to treat the visiting journalists to a spectacular dinner at Rosemary & Thyme in the Historic Windsor Hotel. Super fancy. 😉

 

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And just two Saturdays ago I spent the day with my oldest and dearest friend at the Spring Wine Festival at Wolf Creek. We slurped wine slushies, ate some hibatchi, and shopped the vendors.

Then one day later… something happened.

I felt an uncomfortable feeling on my bottom. (Yep.) Sunday, I found it was hard to sit and honestly, though this may be TMI, I thought maybe it was a hemorrhoid or something to that effect. Monday, I had to attend this event at GA Representative Mike Cheokas’s home and realized it was difficult to sit down. Finally, I thought I needed to take a closer look.

Yep. There was a HUGE knot on the left side of my bottom, on the seat portion. Not the other place.

The next day I made an appointment to see my gynecologist and she diagnosed me with an abscess. She gave me some antibiotics and scheduled an appointment for me to see a surgeon the following Monday. That (would have been 6 days later.) By Wednesday morning, I was running a low-grade fever and in some serious pain. Thursday – add vomiting. On Friday, I had to be at the Grand Re-Opening of the Americus Welcome Center (in extreme pain and sweating profusely, because little did I know, my body was fighting off a dangerous infection.) I left work a little early and talked Tim into taking me to the emergency room.

Thank God I did. I was close to sepsis.

Basically, I got admitted as soon as they discovered that the abscess had tunneled and was 5cm. I had emergency surgery the next morning (Saturday morning,) and was released that night. I’ve been home ever since and will not return to work until NEXT Thursday. I’m in excruciating pain (still,) and on some super heavy drugs. Antibiotics, pain killers… and horror upon horrors, my poor, sweet husband has to not only change the dressing on my wound, but has to repack it. My dignity is gone. I feel run down. I’m bored out of my mind.

Yep. What a year!

With that being said – a small tribe of friends are forming. My sweet friend, Rachel, brought me some produce and a fantastic llama coloring book & crayons. We sat for a while and caught up. My neighbor, Jill (who throws the awesome parties,) brought my family plates of food the night we got back from the hospital. My other friend that lives here, that owns a local restaurant, baked me a chocolate “Butt” cake as she called it. (Ha – Bundt – Butt. Get it?)

And tonight, the ladies worship group from the local Methodist church all got together and cooked some casseroles for us and froze them and are bringing them to our home. How incredibly thoughtful is that? We don’t even attend their church?

 

This is what living in a small, rural community is all about.

Though the ending of this little catch-up story was tough, the truth is, so much good is surrounding me. I feel the love. I see the true friendships forming, and I’m looking forward to a beautiful Summer!

 

PS – Pardon any typos… I’m under the influence of pain meds. 😉

Learning to Forgive & Accept

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Creative Art Wings Art Shoppe – Photo credit: Leanne Wargowsky

I was scrolling Facebook, as I always do in the morning or around lunch, and saw a fellow friend/blogger/artist friend of mine posted this picture. It was taken at her Art Shop she owns in Illinois and the words spoke to me. Or perhaps it moved me.

You see, I have been doing this over the past year. Something happened when I moved down here. Away from my family, my friends, people I had known for my entire life… and instead of just immediately being welcomed with open arms into a new circle or tribe, I’ve slowly been poking my head into circles and trying them on for size.

The beauty of moving someplace where no one knows your faults, your screw-ups, your idiosyncrasies is that you can reinvent yourself. That’s all fine and good, if that is what you need to feed your soul.

It’s not in my bag of tricks. I’m married to the idea of being authentic and letting the chips fall where they may. And with that, it’s hard to find the right circle to show all your cards to.

Professionally – sure. I’m good to go. Maybe even more so than others. That’s never been my Achilles heel. But the fact that I have a marriage (or two) under my belt, or the fact that I am very opinionated or even outspoken (about a wide variety of topics,) can be jarring, and let’s face it folks – I’m in the DEEP South now. Southwest Georgia. Small towns. I’m pretty darn liberal. I have to tread these waters carefully.

So I entered this new life with so many good things: Great guy, great job, beautiful new home… and I sat there guarded. Feeling like I was a captive in my own skin. I have watched as others (new to the community) trusted the wrong locals and have all but found themselves fighting for their jobs, their reputations, and so much more. THAT scared me. Maybe even scarred me a little. I’ve never lived in such a small place and I did not realize how vicious it could be.

Recently, I’ve spent some time analyzing my actual experience, not the experience I feared. People are kind to me. They like the work I am doing. People have extended invitations. Things are just fine. What has been holding me back is myself. And like the photo above, I have decided to forgive myself for all of my past mistakes and transgressions and set myself free. I’m letting my guard down, and the universe is responding. I’m in a good place, and at some point, I must have allowed poison to enter my mind and hold me back.

That is so not my style.

What holds you back? What do you need to do to set yourself free?

 

At The Top Of The Hill

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Here I am: Sitting at the top of the hill.

What hill is that?

The one that basically says I am halfway into the game.

I turn 45 in exactly 2 weeks. Fourteen days  and yes, according to science and society, I will be middle-aged.

This doesn’t scare me so much as the pending time that begins to tick in the opposite direction. For example, this coming Monday, Tim & I will close our loan on the house. We are changing from a Construction Loan to a Mortgage and we opted for the 15 year loan.

Why?

Because in 15 years I will be 60 years old. We want to retire without a mortgage over our heads.

FIFTEEN YEARS.

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Me at 5 – 40 years ago

A lot can happen in 15 years, but it also flies by oh-so-fast. I do realize 15 years ago I was 30. I still lived in Macon, was still married to my first husband, and yet at this point in time, I had not experienced a lot of big stuff: The Big C, meningitis, lay offs, big moves to bigger cities, divorce, new relationships, a whole new life, and some of the darkest days of my life. The 30s were equally exciting & empowering, as well as devastating & humbling. When I turned 40, I got divorced, moved home, rebuilt my life and everything… I mean EVERYTHING changed.

Now… here I am staring at the future. Looking it smack dab in the eye. I have my arms on my waist and I am taking a deep breath. Time will eventually run out. Most people barely make it through their 70s. I realize I could make it past the 80s.. but none of that is guaranteed. Hell, a 45th birthday is not guaranteed.

But here we are. Middle age.

Nice to meet you. I knew you were coming, I just didn’t expect it so soon.

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My 40th Birthday party – 5 years ago!

I’m starting to see some lines, and they are not so fine anymore. They are deeper and more pronounced. I’ve toyed with the idea of Botox, but then again, I am so much into authenticity, I find it hard to cross over. My hair has been graying since my early 20s. It started with a few around my face, but now, if I didn’t get my hair colored, I would be completely silver. THAT is hard to believe. Plus, I used to color my hair every 8 weeks, now we are at 5 weeks. At some point in the next 15 – 20 years, I might make that transition. But not now. I still have time.

But not much.

I started to experience fatigue in my 30s and by my 40s I really understood what it meant to be tired. Not just physically tired, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I can now comfortably take a nap and I can also comfortably say NO. I am more selfish with my time and more protective of my personal space. Time keeps on ticking… and I need to savor every moment.

Thankfully some bad stuff happened during my 30s. Things that shook me to my core. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to change me into a better me. I worked and fought hard for the life I lead now (be it as humble and flawed as it is,) and I am eternally grateful for this transition.

 

The abuse I put on my body in my twenties & 30s has caught up with me in my 40s. I am much heavier and less active, and I have aches and pains you can’t imagine. I go through phases of doing better, then I fall off the health-wagon, only to start back at zero.

But it wasn’t always that way.

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About 30 years ago!

Maybe year 45 can be the five-year count down to something amazing. Maybe I will flourish in my 50s in ways I never could have imagined. Maybe…

…. and time keeps on ticking.

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Last birthday – Turning 44!

Here’s to the future! Lets us savor the special moments, schedule our hair appointments a few weeks sooner, and invest in a little more Ben Gay!

45 – I see you and I am ready.

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August 2016 at the top of the hill, in a vineyard in North Georgia