Thursday, January 31, 2013

obsessing over: signet rings

I, like most southern girls, love a good monogram. As Reese Witherspoon has infamously said, "If it's not moving, monogram it." I support this sentiment whole-heartedly.

My latest obsession takes the monogram craze one step further--signet rings.

Signet rings actually date back to ancient Egypt--they're recognized as a symbol of power and tradition. Over time, the rings have shown different symbols--from a coat of arms to family crests. But my favorite are the modern take, featuring monograms of course.  {Though if I had a family crest or coat of arms, you better believe I would happily rock that!}

I love the idea of passing down a signet for generations. And since I never had a class ring, this is a pretty good alternative. I've been lusting after these babies and just had to share...

put a monogram on it: signet rings

put a monogram on it: signet rings  featuring monogram jewelry

P.S.... I'd happily supply my monogram if anyone is feeling generous ;)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

two big things

Annye, our friend Jaymi, and me at a photo shoot when we worked together. Tough job, eh?
Sometimes I get really caught up in figuring everything out -- I mean...have your read our blog? ;) With a gentle reminder from a friend this week to slow down and just be, I'm giving it a whirl. My mind never stops trying to make sense of the past or plan the future.

In an effort to focus on the here and now, I'm going to start by giving thanks for all of the things in my life that do make sense, just as they are now. No heavy lifting required.

1. My friends. It took me a long time to find good ones, but the ones I found -- they're awesome. Whether they are telling me what I need to hear (even when it stings) or showing me pure love and support, I genuinely admire each and every one of them, and strive to be more like them in this way or that. How awesome is that? To get to surround yourself with people who make you better.

2. Graduate school. Not that I haven't found myself in moments of insecurity about my ability to help another with an issue they are facing -- but I believe in this profession. From our ethical code to our techniques and theories down to the simple fact that most of the time people just need someone to talk to who will actually listen. This path, this journey -- I'm supposed to be on it. I can feel it. I may not be a perfect counselor, or even a great counselor -- but even on my worst days, and in my most insecure moments, I know I will still do a good job at this work...because my heart is in it.


That's it. Yep, two things. But I'm patting myself on the back here because those are two big things. Two big things I am absolutely sure of. Two things that allow me to be present and let the other things fall to the wayside. Two things I have figured out by 25.

And for that -- I am grateful.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

what do i desire?

today i'm thinking about this video. and pondering. . .

what would i do if money was no object?

i would...
travel the world.
help others.
share stories.

what if it were possible? how do i set myself in motion to attain and acquire complete satisfaction in a job/career i love?

so far, i feel like i'm moving in the right direction. but still waiting for the wheels to click together.

i hope this video inspires you to think about what you desire. if you could do anything, what would it be? i'd love to hear.

p.s. here's another video if you need a little pep talk. life is not a game people! but if it is, we're on the same team ;) and i'm rooting for you! you're awesome. xoxo

Monday, January 28, 2013

what do i want?

via Pinterest
Saturday night, I was cozied up in front of the TV, and that movie The Women with Meg Ryan was playing. If you haven't seen it, basically she leaves her cheating husband and tries to figure out life for herself.

I started watching when she pins the question "What Do I Want?" on an inspiration board. I don't think I'll get as cheesy as making an actual board (though who am I kidding, I considered it), but I do need to spend some time wrangling this massive -- important -- question.

What the hell do I want?

My problem is I think I know. And then when there is sacrifice involved...I chicken out. Maybe I don't actually want that... Maybe I don't need that. Or that either. I start to settle.

But I've always thought that was okay.

I've had an issue with this word for awhile now. When people tell me "don't settle" -- I get pissed off. Isn't this constant striving for bigger and better just going to leave us unsatisfied? Shouldn't we should just be happy with what we have?

I've decided that there is no set answer to this debate I've created for myself. Maybe you just have to look at the thing you think you want and ask yourself, "Can I actually live without this without being miserable? Or making others around me miserable?" and more importantly, "Can I live without this if nothing else changes?"

Take having kids, for instance. Granted I'm not having them any time soon. But, do I want them -- at some point? Can I live without a child? And can I be happy with that choice? And if nothing else in my life changes -- if my career stays as is, if my financial situation stays the same and I won't be off traveling the world instead -- could I be okay with the fact I never had children?

And then there's the fact that I can't control my future completely. I could decide I want a child of my own and it never happen for me. And I accept that, too. But right now I have to ask myself -- if this is what I want -- am I willing to give up just yet?

Maybe that's the part of settling I haven't wrapped my head around. When you settle, you're giving up the option. And at some point -- you may have to accept that what you want isn't what is meant for you. But maybe you just have to trust you'll know when it's time to change your plans.

I also have to grow that backbone my girl Liz Gilbert so eloquently talks about. She says, "Stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone ought to be." Maybe it is okay to want what I want. To have needs. To have non-negotiables. Seems like a silly realization -- but for me, it's a scary one. I have a tendency with men -- to have zero boundaries. To adjust who I am and what I want in exchange for their love. (Which, is quite easy at this point -- since I haven't figured out either.) The thing is -- as noble as it may feel at the time -- it's not honest. And it winds up not only hurting me, but that man I love so dearly.

So -- I'm asking myself -- finally -- who am I and what the hell do I want? And do I have what it takes to stick to it?

Friday, January 25, 2013

confessional friday

Some traditions you've just got to hold onto, so we're back to dedicating Friday's to dishing our dirt with one of our favorite blogs, A Blonde Ambition. 

Ridin solo' at a party circa 2010. haha.

Jena's Confessions:
1. I'm still sad, but my spirit feels a little more alive. I'm starting to look back a little less -- because the possibilities of the future are just too sparkly to ignore.

2. I had a great happy hour this week with Annye and Jaymi, a friend and former co-worker of ours. They talked about when they both met me -- and saw me as my spunky, single self. Feeling nostalgic, and hoping to channel that part of myself again, I found the burnt CD I made after my last big break up, which bears the pink sharpied title, "Ridin' Solo." (That song was my anthem for some time -- note the photo above.) And, man, did I belt that shit out on the way home.

3. I'm reading Victor Frankl's A Man's Search for Meaning and I am completely blown away by the power of the human will, and the great strength of our mind's to cope with unfathomable conditions. If you're struggling in any aspect of your life right now -- pick it up.

4. I spend way too much time on social media. And after reading two articles this week, one on and one in Cosmo (yes, that's a little bit funny) about the effects of social media on our happiness, I'm going to -- attempt -- to scale back my use. I'm posted on social media 8 hours a day for work, and that I can't escape. But when I'm off the clock, I've got to ditch the digital world and stop comparing where I'm at to others.

5. For being newly single, I'm a little bit too excited to spend some time alone this weekend. (That's a good sign, I think.) To eat some Chinese, do my homework, and take a few breaks with the bliss that is GIRLS.

Annye's Confessions:
1. Sometimes I wish it would rain just so I could wear my cute rain boots. And sometimes I wear them even though the chance of rain is less than 50%. Like, maybe, today for instance.

2. I honestly don’t care that Beyonce lip-synched at the inauguration. As Anderson Cooper so eloquently said, it’s Beyonce’s world, we’re just living in it.

3. I am happy. Not so much a confession. But I do confess to feeling guilty about being so happy. A few of my friends are going through rough times and sometimes it doesn’t feel right that I should get to have happiness when they are struggling to find any. I’ll just count my blessings.

4. I bought a new pair of tennis shoes last night. Even though they were only $10 (brand new Pumas, natch) and were for a good cause (Ozark Guidance Walk a Mile Shoe Sale on Saturday for any locals reading this—go!), I still find it slightly hilarious. You see . . . my other {perfectly good} pair is sitting in my closet collecting dust. Oops. Maybe these sneaks will spur a desire to, you know, do something that requires tennis shoes. Here’s to hoping.

5. Going to the dentist this afternoon and am pretty amped about it. One of the few people who look forward to getting their teeth cleaned regularly. Mmmm. I love it.  

Have a lovely weekend, friends. And feel free to share anything you need to confess! 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

where is the happy hiding

via Instagram (@jlenea)
One of my professors said something interesting last night that I keep thinking about. He said, "You already have happiness in you." He followed it with a snarky, "So sorry, it doesn't come with a BMW," (Yeah, those pretentious idiots!) he continued, "or your boyfriend." (Oh.) "The question is -- how are you going to unleash it?"

Given that the man has been a therapist for over 30 years, I've got to trust that he's right on this one.

So, um, happiness -- if I already have you, where the hell are you hiding? Though I don't really know the answer (yet), I do know that happiness is not something outside of me. It won't come with more clothes, a new boyfriend, or a vacation. (Though, I've got to argue these things probably help.)

The good news is -- my happiness is completely in my control. The scary news is -- my happiness is completely in my control.

But what does that really mean? Does it mean I just choose to look at all things in a positive light?  With how hard the concept of happiness is to master -- (have you seen the self-help section at Barnes + Noble? And yes, I am a frequent shopper.) I've got to assume it's a little harder than that.

That said -- I'm on an excavation within. What moves me and me alone? For a majority of my life I've found meaning in taking care of the people in my life -- mainly my boyfriends. Newsflash to me -- none of them have put a ring on it -- and even when and if I'm ever married that and that alone can't bring me my meaning or my true happiness -- or i'll be writing on this thing about my divorce.

So what is it beyond helping people -- both personally and professionally -- that is going to bring me joy? I've got a hunch. Well, it's more of a big, giant, often unfathomable idea -- spirituality. I learned in one of my counseling courses (A YEAR AGO! Yes, I'm rolling my eyes at myself.) that spirituality accounts for the biggest aspect of happiness. It makes sense, I think. If your meaning can't depend on things -- nor a step above to people -- than it has to come from something much bigger...right?

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Monday, January 21, 2013

to love life

"to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again."
— The Thing Is, by Ellen Bass

As I alluded to in my last post, 23 was rough. If you were reading Smith & Emma then, you can probably remember the struggle I had to just be happy. To find meaning. To be content.

I was working a job I hated. Single. Lost. Confused. Blah. Blah. Blah. 

Somewhere in there, I found this poem, and forced myself to suck it up . . . grabbed life like a face and said, yes I will love you again. Begrudgingly. I guess. ;)

I got a new job. Decided I was going to enjoy my twenties even if it hurt me, regardless of my relationship status. Surrounded myself with friends. And new hopes. And dreams. And felt excitement for the future. Finally.  

And it worked. This poem inspired a pivotal moment for me--a change of heart and a different way of thinking. 

I turned another year older. Said some goodbyes to things that were weighing me down. And before I knew it, I truly loved life. Without having to remind myself I did. 

The point of this is to say, everyone of us is going to have rough patches. Life is shitty sometimes—no sugar coating that. But just when you think you can’t take it anymore, the sun breaks through the clouds and you can suddenly breath again. And if you just let yourself hold out for that minute, that moment in time that will literally save you, it’s worth it.

The tricky part is--that moment is up to you. Our frame of mind is a huge factor in how our life plays out. If you expect the worst, that's what you will get. But if you consciously decide to put an effort into choosing love, positivity, good vibes and all that jazz--good things are bound to happen.

You never know what’s behind the next corner, lurking behind a closed door, waiting to surprise you when you least expect it. You may just find your dream job, get an opportunity to travel the world, find a new passion that takes your life in a crazy new direction or meet a stranger who sweeps you off your feet . . . 

Until then, I hope this poem helps you as much as it helps me to remember to love life especially when I have no stomach for it. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

running into the arms of sadness

via Pinterest
I'm sad.

It's this weight I can't seem to let go of. It just sits there, in my chest. I escape it in moments -- happy hour with friends, a hot shower, a new dress... but it never fully goes away.

I've been sad before. Or, heartbroken is a better word. When I love someone -- I give it my whole heart. And when the love leaves, I feel like my heart went with it.

In the past I've always tried to escape the feeling of sadness. I'm the one in the relationship who keeps calling, keeps planning, keeps hoping -- because maybe we can make it work. Maybe I can change their mind. Maybe, just maybe -- I can change them. 

If you've ever read Smith + Emma, you know I refer to Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love as my Bible. So, in need of a little faith, I've opened up it up again to remind myself of a few things.

Gilbert and I share similar relationship habits. She says: “I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.” (Can any of you join our club?)

I see what can be. And oh, how beautiful it is. But when reality comes crashing down on me, I'm left with nothing but deep disappointment and a shattered sense of self.

But I have learned something since my last heartbreak (progress, people!). When your relationship comes crashing down around you -- don't try to glue it back together. Because all you've got at this point is some shitty Elmer's glue. And the truth is, no matter how carefully you put each piece back in its place -- we all know that bitch is going to break again.

Maybe, in time, the two of us will glue it back together. But as long as I'm the only one with any glue (and crappy glue at that), I've got to leave the pieces lying there. 

So, I'm sad. And I'm just going to be sad. Gilbert puts the spotlight on loneliness, but her thoughts can be applied to the whole gang of difficult emotions. She says: “When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience..."

This time around, I'm running into the arms of sadness (Okay, maybe I'm not running. It's more a painfully slow dragging of my feet). But -- I will not spend another day chasing love. I'm trusting the Universe or God (that's definitely another post) that this is what is supposed to happen. 

Meanwhile, I'm finding a little bit of hope in Gilbert's words -- “Someday you're gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You'll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing...” 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

the horizon is at my fingertips

I wrote this just a few days before my twenty-fourth birthday, way back in June. So much has changed in seven months. I'll catch you up on the rest, but wanted to share this first... 
the horizon folly beach, south carolina december 2012
Twenty-three has been hard. I think harder for me to admit because I’m not one to concede to difficulty. Even now that twenty-four is on the horizon it’s easy to say it must not have been too bad because I survived. 
But that’s the thing. I feel harder and tougher around the edges because of it. Twenty-three was for toughening up. For lessons learned about myself that I thought I already knew but am actually experiencing which is proving to be interesting. 
For still working on weeding out the bad from the good—times, friends, judgement. You know. 
I still feel young. Like not as much of an adult as I guess I am. Like my parents are still my parents and I guess that’s not ever going to change even though I sort of expected it to. 
Like even though I do adult things such as pay bills and have a career. Somehow it still feels slightly make believe. 
Maybe it’s not about age at all. I mean I know this. But I think I’m starting to realize it’s more about experiences and knowing yourself. I’ve always thought I would immediately feel older once I saw the candles on the cake on June 17. 
Twenty-three may have been rough and terrible at times. But like I said, I’ve almost made it out and I feel better for it. I feel more confident in who I am. I feel happy mostly and sad when I need to be. But most of all. I feel hopeful. Like twenty-four is going to be great and exciting things are happening. Like I’m coming out of the fog and the horizon is at my fingertips. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

the greatest love

The saints I call friends.

We all need it. We all want it. Most of us spend over a decade searching for the "perfect" it. And recent happenings in my life have had me pondering this crazy thing called love -- a lot. 

Whenever I have lost a big love in my life, I wind up feeling like it has sucked every last drop of love out of me.

I am loveless.

Wah. Wah.

This time around -- the wiser (not really) and older (this part's true) Jena is taking on a new (much less whiney) sentiment. The love of my life may be MIA -- but the love in my life is not. 

Through every relationship struggle I've ever had since I fell in love the first time at 15 -- I've had my friends lending their shoulders to cry on -- and remarkably, for some, after 10 FREAKING years -- their ears to listen.

So, this one is for you. My unbelievably patient friends who never seem to care that my love life resembles a song that skips…on a scratched up CD…in a broken CD player that won't let you go on to the next freaking song…

I can't forget to mention -- though I'd like to -- that every time I am in relationship bliss…my CD doesn't skip… I doesn't even play. I don't call home, I don't make plans with friends, and my out of town pals -- I have no clue what is going on in their lives. Not to mention I don't study as hard or go the extra mile at work -- because hey, i've got life figured out. I am happy.

Until…I'm not. I read an article recently via The Atlantic about meaning versus happiness. Happiness…it's this thing we all chase. But happiness is temporary. We have it until we don't. When we're happy -- we're investing less in others, we're focused in on ourselves and less aware of how our actions impact the people around us. Happiness is the here and the now. But meaning -- now that is something worth searching for.

Because when the happy has become absent in my romantic relationships, they begin to fall apart. They've lacked enough meaning for both parties. And I'm finally beginning to understand why people get married.  (Though this is another post). It creates a deeper level of meaning. You stay in it even though you aren't the happiest you've ever been because it isn't just about you anymore.

My friends -- they've never stopped showing me that kind of deep, meaningful love.

I recently hopped on the Girls bandwagon and am in my first season, basking in the glory that is Marnie + Hannah's relationship. 

We are Hannah + Marnie. Or I am at least. I'm in my 20s, and messing up incessantly. Putting every romantic relationship I've ever had before my friends. And at the end of it all, they are still somehow here...for countless hours on the phone, or snuggled up with me on the couch, drinking wine, and telling me how fabulous I am -- despite every selfish, shitty, immature thing I've done.

So here -- my dears -- is to our friends in our 20s. 

Some of the greatest loves we will probably ever know.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

is this thing on?

Last decent photo of S&E from... Summer 2012. #fail

Well, well, well…. look who it is—the insanely delinquent bloggers who have gone off and left not a trail in sight. No breadcrumbs or even a glass slipper.

Somehow we've managed to find our way back to this little corner of the internet and are happy to say that . . . drumroll please . . . Smith & Emma is baaaaack!

Wish we could tell you we've been off changing the world, fighting crime or solving the U.S. debt crisis, but instead we've just been a liiiitle busy with our less important lives.

We are {almost} a year older and wiser. But mostly still clueless about this thing called life. Sooo... not that much has changed. Yay!

There are stories to tell and tales to be spun--can't wait to catch you up on what we've been up to since you last heard from us. 

Hint: boys! jobs! friends! life! responsibilities! being reckless twenty-somethings!

We’ve missed our little outlet in the world, and hope you’ll have us back.

We'll try to stick around this time....
Because things are about to get good.


Annye & Jena