Saturday, May 28, 2011

you're a grand ole flag

Hello, hello! I’m back from the other side of the world and so glad to be home. But I’m currently suffering from what some may call post-vacation blues. Back at home in the big AR, no beach in site, having to do such things as laundry and cleaning—what’s a girl to do?

Luckily, these blues are well-timed with Memorial Day weekend, a long weekend in celebration of our freedom as Americans and all the brave men and women who have served to insure our freedom. A HUGE heartfelt thank you to the troops for their sacrifice to our country. We would be remiss not to celebrate in their honor.

And who am I if not patriotic and willing to don my best reds, whites and blues in honor of this three-day weekend? I hope your plans include a barbeque {or two}, hours in the sun and perhaps a cocktail or two—if only to be patriotic, of course. In the spirit of the holiday weekend, I will be breaking out my favorite summer drink—the Arnold Palmer (or John Daly, depending on who you ask). You can’t go wrong with sweet tea vodka and lemonade, truly a summertime treat. What will you be sipping on this weekend? Any summer-time cocktails to share?

P.S. High fives to Jena for rocking out the blog in my absence. Clearly, my presence wasn’t missed much. But I’m happy to be back and pulling my weight around here!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

new beginnings

Photo via

Last week, I quit my job.

Yes, I quit my salaried, insurance-giving, 401-k matching job I have been in for the last two years in Arkansas. The job that gave me a reason to stay in Arkansas, has now given me all that it can. Beyond a lot of trial-by-fire learning, big responsibility and fun-filled opportunities, this job gave me everything I needed for me to no longer say, "I live in Arkansas for my job." I now live in Arkansas because it's where my life is. It's where my family is. My friends. My community. It's my home.

A year ago, I would have never said that. I was still scheming every way possible to move to Chicago with my friends from where I grew up. But three years ago, I would have never fathomed moving to Arkansas. It's funny how life happens. As a girl who often struggles with the existence of "fate" and "everything happens for a reason," the universe is certainly trying hard to get me to believe in it.

A little over two years ago, I was broke and in a bad relationship. Too weak to fix the bad relationship part, I opted to fix the other. I had been waiting tables at Applebee's (Yes, this was my first job after earning my uber expensive college degree) and barely getting by. Fort Smith had just earned itself a fancy new shopping center with Target, Old Navy and a book store that was hiring. I got the job, but I only worked it for one day.

On that first day, I took a walk around the store, trying to familiarize myself with where things were. A magazine lover, I hit those stands first. A larger-sized regional publication caught my eye. I flipped to the staff page and found it was in Rogers, Arkansas. Not knowing where that was, I instantly mapped it out on my iPhone. I'll never forget the excitement that filled my heart when I discovered it was just an hour away. I emailed the editor-in-chief the moment I got home. I got an interview and a job.

The job where I met who I believe to be one of my soul mates, Danielle. Having previously gone through an awful relationship just a short time earlier, she walked me through getting out of my bad relationship every step of the way. She listened to the same stories over and over. She wasn't judgmental when I would go back to him even when I knew better. She just listened. And shared her story. Always serving as a testament to the fact that I too, could move on and be happy. During our new friendship, she got married and had a baby, my little niece Dilynn, who is most certainly one of the lights of my life.

It is the job where I met Annye. In dire need of help at the magazine, her resume is the one that ended up on my desk amongst a slew of other applicants. Her perfect hair and rock-solid confidence have left me constantly in awe over the last year. She's someone I admire and respect in every way possible. She is a friend I know I will have for life with a friendship that I have no doubt will lead to big things, even if its simply traversing our twenties together.

It is the job that led me to a man who makes me weak in the knees. The cute guy who worked across the hall has become the person I call when I have a good day or a bad one. Someone who I always look forward to spending time with. Someone I smile stupidly when I think about (Yes, I have a silly smile on my face right now.) A funny, kind, caring man who I feel honored to have in my life. It's a relationship that, no matter what comes of it, has given me a wonderful gift. It has reminded me what a relationship is supposed to be like. It has reminded me of what I deserve.

And finally, it is the job that not only has led me to my new beginning, but gave me the courage to do so.

Annye and I sat across from a woman not long ago, interviewing her for a story about adoption. She had worked in DHS for a substantial number of years, and, during her career, given 450 children permanent homes. She spoke of her work with pride and passion.

This stranger, this woman--she was my turning point. She lit the fire in me. She reminded me that you can find your passion and you can do it every single day. It's attainable. It's not just a dream or a maybe. It's real and it's tangible. I want to look back at my life when I am her age and smile, just as she did, knowing that I did something of great consequence.

So as I map out my new beginning, with less pay in my pocket and assurance in my mind, I feel calmness in my heart. Because this new journey will lead me to amazing things, just as the job I am leaving did.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

what to wear wednesday - haute hippie

 A little fashion inspiration to get you through the rest of the week.

With Wakarusa just around the corner, and my first Widespread Panic show coming up this Friday in Little Rock, I put together the perfect haute hippie ensemble.

Maxi's are my favorite summer staple. Comfortable, easy and adorable. This one from Forever 21 is super cheap, so feel free to get your crowd surf on or roll around in the grass.

The sunhat...well, I find a concert the perfect excuse and occasion to wear one. Plus it'll keep the sun off your face. But, don't forget your sunscreen. You want to dress like a hardcore hippie, not have your face look like one.

The sandals are bright and fun. The little heel will give some added comfort versus a completely flat shoe (Trust me on this one!), and the strap will keep them on tight, no matter how wild you get your groove on.

The bag is perfect for a concert or festival. Throw it over your shoulder and you won't misplace it. Plus its big enough to pack the essentials.

The necklace may be a little much paired with the maxi for the day to day, but I think it adds a little brightness and bling for some festival fun. Plus, its affordable and will go great with a plain T for the rest of the summer.

PS- Annye hasn't been posting because she is on vacation in Thailand. The poor, poor thing. She will be posting her wise insights when she returns to The Natural State. In the meantime, you will probably get more of me than you can handle, so take a break from my rants and raves to check out some amazing pictures from Annye's trip on her personal blog 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

giving does a lot of good

Photo by

I'm a big supporter of Mental Wellness Awareness - And being that May is the month to celebrate it, I figure I should do a post about it!

I won't get too preachy on you, but ending the stigma associated with mental illness is beyond important. People of all ages from all walks of life are affected by mental illness. I hate to even call it mental illness though, because to me, it's more of just being affected by life.

It could be divorce, death, a bad break-up, loss of a job, loss of a child. All of which are devastating things to have to deal with, especially alone.

From experience, I can tell you talking to a professional makes a world of difference. I was dealing with an abusive relationship, a bad break-up, a new job and a new town all at once. On the verge of a break down, I sought help.

Just a handful of sessions with a counselor and I was on the fast track to being me again. We all get weary, we all get lost. Think about the people who just lost their whole lives in Joplin. Sometimes our problems are too large for us to handle alone. While talking about it may not seem like it would make that much of a difference, it truly does. A counselor can help you step out of a situation, put in perspective, deal with your emotions in a healthy way and give you the tools to move on.

Ways you can help end the stigma are to talk about your personal experience with a counselor or encourage a friend going through a difficult time to seek professional help.

My Mental Wellness Tip for today I am taking from Ozark Guidance--Become Service Oriented!

Donating your time, skills or money not only does good for the community or group you are serving, but for you and your psyche as well.

I started the habit of going to the baby section of Target and buying clothes for my niece Dilynn on a bad day. Doing something nice for her felt good. It turned a negative emotion into a positive one. However, a less expensive more practical alternative ( although I still hit Target from time to time :) )  has been to walk dogs at the Fayetteville Animal Shelter on Sunday's. Whether I'm having a good day or a bad one it doesn't matter, each time I'm there I'm reminded that I can make a difference.  It reminds me that what I am dealing with, though still important or significant, isn't the end of the world. I can do something positive with my time and energy, and that is empowering.

So do something positive today. Make a difference. To help our neighbors in Joplin, click here to donate.

Monday, May 23, 2011

pinwheels & pearls

This weekend was Dilynn's big day. Below are some pictures of her birthday party. We made all of the decor!
the dessert table.

photo wall.

food table.

fresh flowers.

close up of the candy bar.

pinwheels lined the porch outside.

goody bags.

draw your name on goody bag tags with chalk.

burlap and fabric backdrop.

menu cards.


Til my next craft adventure-

Friday, May 20, 2011

fashion forward fridays

From relationships and career paths to everything in between, a 20-something has to throw in the superficial once in awhile. Plus, what can I say, I love fashion.

This post isn't without a teeny bit of deeper meaning though. Did you think you'd get off that easy? Every Friday I will try to post a fun fashion trend I think is totally wearable (I'm not going to suggest you don a bird on your head like SJP), but I will encourage you to step out of the box when it comes to your wardrobe.

Why? You're in your twenties! Have some fun with fashion. Take risks and chances. Try that trend you keep eyeing. Stop doubting yourself that you "can't pull it off." Believe me, with a little bit of confidence you can pull of anything. (Hey, SJP looked kick-ass with a bird on her head. Now that, my friends, is stellar confidence.)

So this Friday, it's time to get your head right!

Accessorizing our hair is CHEAP, easy and fun. It adds a little spunk and sparkle to the day-to-day. If the turban and head wrap feel like a little much, start off small with a cute headband. Or, tie a cute scarf to the bottom of your braid.

Let's face it, maybe 30 and 40 somethings have their lives all figured out, BUT can they rock a giant bow in their hair?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a first birthday

My niece, Dilynn, is turning one on Friday.

I have gotten to watch this little girl grow from the moment we knew she existed.

From my friend's pregnancy, to Dilynn's birth, and now a year later, I can't believe how amazing it is to see a child grow. It is such an honor to get to be a part of her life, it makes me want to always do and be the best person I can.

For her first birthday, I wrote her a book of my wishes for her throughout her life. I hope one day when she's old enough it'll be a source of comfort, a reminder of where to turn when the road of life gets bumpy, and a testament to how loved she is.

If there is one thing I never want her to feel that I have felt at various times in life is that she is alone. I realize, too, this is most likely a feeling I can't protect her from forever. But I do want her to know that though she may feel that way, alone is something she will never be.

A Promise to My Darling Dilynn:

You are never alone. Even when the people you love most in this life disappoint you, remember first and foremost that you have God. And He will never disappoint you. But you also always have me. No matter where life takes us, I will either be a room away, a phone call away or a plane ride away. Whenever you need me, for whatever you need me, I will be there. Whatever you are going through at any point in your life, there is no need to go it alone. We will do it together for I am always by your side.

Below is the copy of the book, Wishes for Dilynn. Enjoy!

For Dilynn Cole.

May you live a long life
Full of gladness and health,
With a pocket full of gold
As the least of your wealth.
May the dreams you hold dearest,
Be those which come true,
The kindness you spread,
Keep returning to you.
-Old Irish Blessing

I love you more than you will ever know. Happy 1st birthday.

Love Always & Forever,

Aunt Jena


Sooner or later someone will tell you that you can be anything when you grow up. You will believe it for a long time. When you go to college, you will start to worry that maybe you were told wrong. When you are in your first job, you will really start to worry that you were told wrong.

You weren't told wrong. You can be anything you want to be. You just can't be afraid of failure. It's okay to fail. It's not okay to never try.

Dream big. Change the world. Believe you can do it. You can.

"There is nothing to fear but fear itself."
- Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal."
- Mother Teresa

This one I'm not the best to give advice on. I've had luck in love and I've had bad luck in love. But one thing I do know is let yourself love.

He may be the wrong guy or he may be the right guy or he may be somewhere in between. It doesn't matter. Fall in love anyway. With each relationship you will learn a world of things that will prepare you for when mister right comes strolling into your life. Don't love based on a checklist either. Just make sure he has a good heart and holds yours with care, even if at some point he gives it back.

"I have learned not to worry about love; But to honor its coming with all my heart."
- Alice Walker

"A man is not where he lives, but where he loves."
- Latin Proverb

"Loving is never a waste of time."
- Astrid Alauda

Forgiveness isn't easy, but it's essential to growing as a person. There will be times in your life where you will need to forgive someone and times in your life when you will need to be forgiven. Go about forgiveness with humility. We are all human and we all make mistakes. 

Even when someone has really wronged you, and I mean, really, really hurt you, forgive them anyway. Forgiving them, though, doesn't mean allowing them to wrong you again.  Letting someone continually hurt you does you both a great disservice; it tells them their behavior is okay, and tells you that is what you deserve. So, forgive, but draw boundaries.

"When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive." 
- Alan Paton
Be Kind

Be kind to everyone. To the kid who has no friends. To the girl who is mean to you. (Who, by the way, I will want to desperately hurt. Remind me to be kind.) To your teachers. To your parents. To your grandparents. To every person that comes into your life. Show kindness. Always. Even when you don't want to or someone doesn't deserve it. Never let the bad behavior of another affect your character.

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile." 
- Mother Teresa
Be Honest

This one will be tough when you are a teenager. Your parents will have rules you don't want to follow and you will probably break them from time to time. 

But never, ever, ever lie to them about it. Your word is all you have. Trust is sacred. Never abuse it. When you do wrong, admit it. We all make the wrong decisions in life, and that's okay, but never let any consequence force you to lie. Integrity is everything. 

Remember, too, that your parents have rules for a reason. Rules you may not understand. But, I promise you, your parents are two of the most wonderful people I know and they love you so, so, so much. They want to protect you and raise you to be a good person. So, make mistakes and learn the lessons. Because of your parents, you will be exceptional.

"When in doubt, tell the truth."
- Mark Twain

"No legacy is so rich as honesty."
- William Shakespeare

My point is this. Don't always do what you are told. If you really, really, really feel what's being asked of you is unfair, say so. Learn to voice your opinion (politely). 

Take a stance for what you find to be true. If it weren't for people throughout history challenging social norms, breaking rules and questioning authority, slavery may not have ended and women wouldn't have equal rights. Remember that every human being, no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or age are all children of God, and deserved to be treated as such.

"There are two kinds of [people] who never amount to much: Those who cannot do what they are told, and those who can do nothing else."
- Cyrus H. Curtis

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth."
- Albert Einstein
Be Silly

Singing is not a strong suit of mine. However, I love to do it. So I belt it out in the shower or in the car. And when your mom and dad aren't around, I sing to you. You love it. And you will probably always love it. So even if you aren't good at it, please sing anyway. Dancing I do have a knack for. Since I was a little girl.  So do you. You already like to "shake your booty" any time you hear music.  Whenever I'm having an awful day, dancing makes me feel like me again. (When your mom and dad aren't around, I also tend to dance in the upstairs hallway with my iPod blaring.) So dance whenever you are having a bad day. It will make you feel all sorts of alive.

Laugh, sing, dance; Be silly. Never take yourself too seriously.

"He who sings scares away his woes." 
- Cervantes

"There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good." 
- Edwin Denby

Words to always live by:

"People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." - Mother Teresa

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hi, I'm Annye and I'm not married/in a committed relationship.

This is no cause for alarm or concern. I promise.

Hypothesis: It's not safe for single ladies (and gents) to leave their homes without being accosted about their bare ring finger.

Is it just me or is impossible to go a day without hearing about anything relationship related? I cannot go anywhere without being told who I should date/marry/bear children with--and I do mean anywhere, apparently even church is no longer off limits {thanks for that God}.

And is everyone getting married this summer or is it just the select group of Facebook friends I seem to have? Youcantakethatprettylittlediamondengagementringheprobablyspenttoomuchonandshoveitthankyouverymuch. Not bitter, promise.

The pressure is officially on to find a hubs, but this girl ain't buying it. Luckily, I'm not too worried about locking down a man. I can laugh off the sheer coincidence in timing of the aforementioned incidents, but I think it's time we took a hint and stopped dwelling on the relationship status of our generation. {I blame Facebook.}

We're young, we're fun, and we aren't dead yet. Plus, there's really no need to be alarmed until we're at least 25. {I kid.}

Maybe it's a southern states thing. Maybe it's just in the water here. But really... Am I going to die single and alone? Or can I take my time and not stress about what is in store?