2016 recap

I like the rhythm of asking myself the same questions over and over again, so here’s the survey I usually do at EOY.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
The two biggest newnesses were:
a.) Starting a new job in marketing at a private school.
b.) Spending Thanksgiving at Tybee.

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Also memorable this past year were:
Surprising my old man upon his reception of the Bellarmine Award.
Watching Loverpants get sworn in as an American citizen
Watching my brother-in-law get remarried in a beautiful garden wedding.
Taking a couple of weeks to see my parents this summer, just the kids and I.
Reconnecting with my cousin Carrie and sharing in the joy of her pregnancy.





2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I tried so hard to focus on nutrition and staying injury free. I fully embraced cold-pressed juice as part of my lifestyle and I did pretty well to stay injury free. I ran 2 5ks (one in TN, one in GA). I am still overweight but I can’t let myself get too sad about it.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Congrazzles to Carrie on welcoming Murphy Sloane! #birfmurph
Totally enamored of little Nika Joy, too, the daughter of my friend Kessia Reyne.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I’m extra grateful to answer no this year.

5. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Time to write, write, write for pleasure.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Opening my Etsy shop. It has connected me meaningfully to a craft that I enjoy and to a community that uplifts me + other makers.

7. What was your biggest failure?
My book deal fell apart after a year of working and waiting. I see it as a failure of a small publisher that bit off more than it could chew. I suppose I failed to pursue other avenues but I can’t change what I didn’t know.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Earlier in the year, I spent a lot of time at the acupuncturist for a foot injury. Good times.

9. What was the best thing you bought?
I purchased a student membership to the Modern Calligraphy Summit. Game changer.

10. What did you get really excited about?
I thought the DNC was a remarkable showcase of the Democratic party’s strength. Loved speeches by my future BFF Michelle Obama, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm.
Also was surprised by “Stranger Things” on Netflix.

11. What was the best book you read this year?

Fiction: Peace Like a River, Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice
Non-Fiction: Loitering: New and Collected Essays, Falling Free: Rescued from the Life I Always Wanted

12. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? I have a lot to be happy about
– thinner or fatter? Fatter
– richer or poorer? Paid down some debt, so…woop!

13. What was your favorite TV program?
This is Us
Stranger Things

14. What was your favorite music from this year?
The Hamilton Mixtape (Edited)
CAN’T STOP THE FEELING! (Original Song From DreamWorks Animation’s ”Trolls”)

15. What were your favorite films of the year?
Really wasn’t able to catch as many films as we would have liked. I know we saw “Race” in the theater.
I think “13th” on Netflix should be required viewing for every American.
Zootopia was important.

16. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
On my 36th birthday, I had a great weekend. My hubby got me some wonderful books and took the kids and me to a new favorite for brunch.

17. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
The depths to which people are capable of furthering evil are staggering, but not as great as they are able to achieve reconciliation. And that’s beautiful to me.



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Halloween 2016

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All the pictures we did not take

We rented paddleboards on the Tennessee River this past weekend and there are no pictures to prove it. We took the kids and we met up with dear friends, but you won’t see any selfies of our imperfect formation in the wake of a passing motorboat. We traded kids and played in eddies and explored McClellan Island. We balanced and wobbled, we fell in and then we dove in. But there is no hashtag #riverlife to accompany the nonexistent Instagram post. We didn’t have our cameras. We didn’t bring anything save for our sunglasses and our holiday spirits.

Here in this digital space, The Blog or whatever is most en vogue to call it, I purport to preserve life’s moments and lessons. But this all is a pantomime, a chasing after the wind with a plastic bag from Tarjay. I am merely a scribe pressing key to pad, uploading and downloading, but never truly etching anything of real permanence. Nothing is solidified in amber here. There is no fire to singe or moth to destroy this album. There is also no firewall strong enough nor anti-viral software to guarantee its immortality.


This past weekend, we smelled all the seasons of putrid sweat that our life preservers absorbed. And we tried to absorb the life that we could not preserve.

There was no perfect filter to best capture the glistening waves, the silhouette of the Market Street Bridge.

No likes, no faves, no hearts, no mentions; only the feeling of total insignificance against nature’s majesty. And the wonder of having captured nothing but being filled up full of every good thing.

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The least funny thing on the internet

I had not met the acquaintance of Angelina Belle until this morning, and maybe I’ve just encountered her internet alterego, but I’ve been feeling a certain way for the rest of the day.

Ms. Belle posted a video to Facebook called “A list of instructions for all you men out there who want to understand women (;” She adds a disclaimer, “This only really works if you two are talking / dating… if she no like you and you a creep, these don’t apply to you!” which only marginally qualifies her message as less offensive.

In a sampling of things women often say, which roll in back-to-back flash spurts, Ms. Belle offers a part/counterpart of “When she says…” versus “What she really means.” Examples include, “When she says, ‘Leave me alone,’ Ms. Belle counters, ‘What do you do? Yes, that’s right! You stay!'”

Having been a woman who speaks for herself for the better part of 35 years (which apparently makes me eligible to run for president) I can say with some measure of confidence that I do not need an Angelina Belle anger translator. I have never ever wanted someone to stay whom I’ve just told to leave me alone. Not a harassing guy on the subway, not a megalomaniac boss, not a lover who is driving me all kinds of crazy. President Obama may appear to need the anger translator of Key & Peele, but should the presidency fall into my hands, I’d hope an internet entertainer wouldn’t flip my script just because I am a woman.

Ms. Belle goes on to clarify that only when a woman calls the police should you really leave her alone because, “Damn! This girl actually means what she says…which is really rare.”

Let that settle in your mind for a minute. We should expect that women will rarely say what they mean, and only when armed authorities are called in should we take them seriously.

Perhaps the most harmful thing that Ms. Belle espouses is a belief that women’s “‘NO’ can mean yes and her ‘yes’ can mean no…the last two can be a little tricky so you have to watch for her tone.”

Here is what I say to that. See if you can watch for my tone.

Rape Culture.
Is a Thing.

When the lines of no and yes are so blurred that we are supposed to be tone monitors, we have a problem. When women are painted as incapable of meaning what they say when they say NO, we’ve got a communication crisis.

On her Facebook page, Ms. Belle offers a signpost that says, “Please do not take my jokes and sarcasm the wrong way. I exaggerate to create humor. I just want to make people laugh :)”

If people had not found Ms. Belle’s video funny, I’m sure I wouldn’t have stumbled upon it. Obviously, there is humor to be found in the chronic double-speak women are inclined to use. As Ms. Belle points out, when she says, “If you want,” she really means, “No.” I suspect every woman knows what this is like. We don’t want to be painted a diva who must always get her way. And why is this? Why do we as women resort to passive-aggressive speech patterns, to relinquishing control, to living a life fearful of being branded the bitch?

Here are a couple of places we might start to look:
Are strong women who speak their minds celebrated in the media or are they often vilified, portrayed as shrew-like, unmanageable?

Are there enough arenas where women show strength of character and competition other than so-called reality programs where women are belligerently fighting over a potential husband?

Are young girls encouraged to speak their minds in school, rather than prefacing what they say with, “I might be wrong but…” or “This might sound kinda crazy but…”

Are we training up young men to remember their privilege can be used to empower those whose voices are often marginalized, whose strength is often compromised? That they are at their strongest when they are lifting up another?

In her parting thoughts, Angelina Belle recommends that men “just be” a mindreader.

In one of Christ’s parting thoughts, he said, “Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.” (Mt 5:37) I’m going to trust that the reader of hearts was on to something.

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