Rubber bands & Ziploc bags

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Locked & loaded: ready for two months on the road

The summer before I went to college, I spent MONTHS getting ready.

I made lists on lists on lists. Over and over I ran through them all in my head, trying to think of every possible thing I could need for my dorm room. One morning, my mom found me rummaging through a cabinet, hoarding a small selection of office supplies: rubber bands, scotch tape, scissors, Ziploc bags.

“You know,” she said—in the simultaneously kind yet all-knowing voice only a mother can master—”I bet there’s someplace in Chapel Hill you can buy those if you need them.”

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To the little Southern town that welcomed me in

Let me start with a confession. When I first decided to take a leap of faith and move to a tiny town in the heart of the South, I wasn’t exactly planning on staying very long. I thought I would get a good start in my career, get a taste of working in higher education, and move on within a year or two.

But you had other things in mind. And four years later, here we are.

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Off to a smashing start

In which we encounter the first mishap of our trip before even leaving the driveway.

I apologize for the long break between posts (and also for the potato quality photos here—we left our good camera in North Carolina a few weeks ago and finally got it back today).

My excuse is that this is what my life has looked like for the past two weeks or so:

Moving is always chaos. Then, consider the fact that we’re moving away from somewhere, but not to anywhere—therefore, our stuff is being spread out among a total of two houses and three storage units (not counting what we’re taking with us, which also had to be separated and packed).

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Great American Adventure Part One: U.S.A. Road Trip

First of all, I have to give a HUGE thank you to everyone for your wonderfully supportive response to our big news! Taking any kind of risk—especially one on this scale—is so much easier when you have family and friends cheering you on from the sidelines. I was overwhelmed by all the love, well wishes, and votes of confidence. You all are the best and we are truly grateful!!

With just 30 days until we officially hit the road, things are already getting a little crazy over here —wrapping up projects at work, starting to pack up our stuff, showing the house to new renters, making last-minute appointments/meetings/COUNTLESS lists….etc. etc. etc. I meant to post this a week ago, but time keeps getting away from me!

Anyway, since a few people have asked for more details (and I would LOVE to gather as much advice as I can in the next few weeks) I wanted to share some specifics that were too much to fit in the original post. Starting with Part One: the good old-fashioned U.S.A. road trip!

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Time for a new adventure

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Well, the secret is out. Now that all family, close friends, landlords, employers, etc. have all officially been informed, I am so excited to finally go public with some VERY big news: In just over a month, Chris and I are leaving Hartsville and hitting the road for one of the biggest adventures of our lives!

After four wonderful years living the small-town life, we’ve decided to finally do something we’ve been dreaming about doing for a long time—quit our jobs, sell/donate/pack up everything we own, and TRAVEL. From late August through mid-December (in two parts), we’ll be crossing a few big things off of our travel wish list…

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A Southern 4th of July feast

Happy 4th of July!

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We’re up at Chris’s family’s lake house at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia, and it’s nothing but clouds and rain in the forecast—which has kind of cramped our plans to spend hours floating in the water sipping margaritas. But we’ve nonetheless managed to have a festive and relaxing weekend so far, complete with fancy cocktails, boat rides and fireworks.

And honestly, I can’t complain about an extra-long weekend at the lake under any circumstances. Besides, extra time indoors means one thing: extra time for COOKING (and eating)! I decided to take advantage of the occasion and put together a casual, Southern, summery feast perfect for the 4th of July: pulled pork barbecue, potato salad, coleslaw, mac & cheese, and of course, the crowning touch…warm peach & blackberry cobbler fresh from the oven, topped with vanilla ice cream.

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How I finally became A Person Who Exercises (by abandoning all of my fitness goals)

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Exercise and I have had…let’s say…an “on-again, off-again” relationship. Basically all of my adult life, I’ve drifted in and out of various exercise routines without ever committing to anything for more than a few months at a time. (Okay, a few months is probably a stretch.)

On many occasions, I would start off armed with lots of plans and high expectations, only to fizzle within weeks. In college, I went out and bought two five-pound weights…that sat at the bottom of my closet for the rest of the year. At 22, I halfheartedly huffed and puffed my way up and down the (insanely steep) hills of my Birmingham neighborhood before work…for about two weeks. Twice, I decided that I was going to become A Runner…and then, a week later, developed achilles tendonitis from pushing myself too hard and was secretly thrilled that I had a legitimate reason to quit.

In short, nothing ever quite stuck.

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Friday thoughts & thought-provoking links

It has been a rough week here on earth, y’all.

I’ve been struggling all week with what—if anything—to post here. The thing is…I am an over-thinker and a conflict-avoider. Whether it’s a challenging situation at work or things happening in the world, it always takes me some time to gather my thoughts. My tendency is always not to jump into the fray, but to pull back, into my head. To read and think and read some more and worry about what I’m doing and if it’s enough.

There is an incredibly nuanced and complex mess of problems facing us right now. I don’t think that there is a single solution here—not even a single issue at play. It is complicated, and difficult, and frankly it’s hard not to throw up my hands and give in to despair. But that is one thing that I won’t let happen, because despair is a victory for hate.

All I know right now is: We have to come together. We have to keep trying. We have to keep loving. We have to reach out and listen to one another. With compassion and understanding, we need to face the hard truths about ourselves, our culture, our country and its threats—together.

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On celebrating change

[Author’s note: I know that this is the second sentimental post that I’ve written in a row, and I promise that I am not a giant sap ALL of the time, but this time of year and personal life events have me feeling all the feels. Please bear with me.]

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May is a month of change.

There’s a change in weather: from warm breezes hinting at the possibilities of summer to the thick, suffocating blanket of heat that begs you to find the nearest body of water and jump in immediately. There’s a shift in schedules and tempo, as the regular hum of the school year dissolves into hectic family road trips and lazy, unscheduled hours—the beautiful chaos of summer. (Even those who aren’t closely tied to a school schedule can feel it. The calendar may say it doesn’t technically start until June, but we all know summer begins in May.)

And then? There’s graduations. Weddings. Retirements. Birthdays. (I can’t be the only one who has about 10 close friends and family members with May birthdays.)

Under normal circumstances, May is a crazy, bittersweet month full of changes.

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Dear Mom: I see you.

A few months ago, I was visiting family in Florida when my uncle dug up an old home video: Christmas 1989. I was just barely a year old, my sister was four, and my parents were hosting about 15 people at our house for the holidays. Chaotic, to say the least.

We all watched the video together and laughed ourselves to tears at all the tiny things that would be so utterly boring to anyone outside the family—the way my cousin (now a very grown-up and successful adult) kept mugging for the camera and pulling goofy faces. The ridiculous high-waisted, tribal-printed pants that my aunt received as a gift. The hairstyles.

But mostly, I was watching my mom.

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