Star’s Hollow Gazing

To make the time go faster, I have been watching Gilmore Girls on my phone while I work out and it’s delightful.  Like any true GG fan, I’ve already seen the series a number of times, but that doesn’t subtract from its charm.

I didn’t like the reboot episodes or mini-series, or whatever it was officially titled.  It was too political and seemed to really strain for jokes where in the original they came fast and easy.  I’m also a fan of Logan, who in real life I’d probably think was a total tool, but I’m allowed to like him because this is make-believe.  I love the original show, all the quirky and lovable characters, the speedy dialogue and especially the obscure pop culture references.  I’ve actually learned about a lot of random things watching the show, including Pol pot, Groucho Marx, and coffee (which I don’t drink but I do like to smell).

So right now I’m watching the episodes where Luke and Lorelai dated, then broke up, and the town had pink and blue ribbons and yada yada.  There’s still some awkwardness between them and Lorelai is currently getting her coffee at Weston’s and Suki is gearing up for maternity leave from the Inn and everything is chaotic and yet somehow, in the midst of the chaos, there’s a pleasant, familiar charm.  There’s a knowing that everything is going to work out like it should.

That’s my life right now.

Everything is up in the air, or rather, all the things I’ve recently thrown in the air are orbiting, and it all feels mixed up and crazy and uncertain and yet, I’m standing here, sitting here, sleeping here in the midst of it with a deep knowing that it’s not just going to be ok, it’s going to be brilliant, and I’m not just happy, I’m inching closer and closer to that deeper knowing that comes from within, that everything is exactly as it should be.

So much of my investment in Gilmore Girls has to do with whether the characters do what I think they should do (or what choices I would make if I were in their shoes).  Predictably, I yell at the television a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in Stars Hollow and I feel it in my gut.

So much of my own life has to do with my choices, analyzing them, questioning them, garnering feedback on what was right or wrong or stupid or perfectly planned.  Predictably, I beat myself up a lot.  But there are those times when the stars align in my life and I can feel it in my gut and my spirit.

NOW is one of those times and this week I’ve experienced ALL the emotions.  Fear, anxiety, frustration, outrage, relief, contentment, joy, hope, optimism, grief, determination and so on.  I am so excited to see where life will takes me.  I am letting go of negative things and trying new things with gusto.  Hopefully the next steps for me won’t be years of silence followed by a lackluster Netflix miniseries, but if that happens, I promise to include the entire original cast, plus some interesting originals, fast talking and a satisfying conclusion.  Much like the original Gilmore Girls, which I’m on my way to watch.  Again.

 

 

 

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Jumper

I leapt off a bridge today.  I let some people know I was going to do it.

“Sorry to hear that,” they said.

I held my breath, close my eyes, and thrust myself forward, into the cool air.

I felt myself falling.  It felt good.  Refreshing.  Right.

My toes hit the water and quickly after, my whole body was submerged.

This is right. This is right. This is right. – I told myself.

Now, looking up at the bridge from the water, the thrill subsiding, the moment has passed and I feel something like regret.  I wish someone had asked me not to jump.

They’ll be talking about it today, telling each other of my decision and sharing the details and the gossip.  Life will go on, with one minor adjustment.

“Sorry to hear that,” they’ll say.

Brave Little Heart

Sitting cross-legged in my bed tonight, I’m staring at my computer screen while my 7 year old is sleeps right next to me.  This last week he’s had trouble sleeping in his own bed, which is on the other side of our apartment.  I’m not sure what’s causing his dis-ease, I just know I’m doing my best to help him find peaceful rest and security.  If I had to guess, I’d say there are two things on his mind:

  1. A scary cartoon he watched without permission last week.  This I take full responsibility for, I was distracted and didn’t realize he had floated from something authorized to something that might frighten him.
  2. Loneliness.  He was an only child for 6 years before Kid 2 came along, and it’s tough being the Big Brother.  There are times he feels (and is) brushed aside a bit because baby screams are priority.  He misses his time with his Daddy and me.  Exacerbating this, his room is clear on the other side of the apartment from ours, so I’d imagine it feels a little uncomfortable for him to make the long trek over there, be tucked in and kissed goodnight, and then watch the rest of the family go back to the other side of the living space.

I am not an expert Mommy.  I do not always get it right. In fact, I screw up on the daily.  It does not feel good, but I do the best I can to keep moving forward. To be totally honest most of the time I feel like a trapeze artist who is working without a net.  My parents didn’t teach me how to parent (which is a blog series for another day).  Basically what I say, how I act, what I’m aware of, it’s all guesswork.  Every bit of it of every decision I make comes down to equal parts research (thanks, internet and Mom Bloggers), what I imagine I would want or need emotionally if I were in the situation as a 7 year old, and blindly attempting to calculate the most logical answer to whatever scenario we are currently knee-deep in.

All of that said, I do have compassion in spades and with a sensitive child like mine, it’s basically my super power.  In this tender moment between my son and I, a question formed in my mind:  What is courage?

The word courage brings to mind many different images, from soldiers fighting in battle, to patients who battle diseases like cancer, all the way to Mel Gibson’s blue-painted face in the movie Braveheart, in which he portrayed the great warrior and freedom fighter William Wallace, who was willing to give his life for his ideals and his people.

What if courage manifests in other ways?  I mean, what does courage look like to a 7 year old?  Well, for a child this age, courage might look something like jumping off the monkey bars, or standing up to a friend who is being a bully.  Maybe, though courage is having the guts to verbalize fear and ask for help when you can’t sleep and you’ve tried thinking positive thoughts and now you really don’t know what to do.  Maybe courage is walking out of the room and risking chastisement in order to escape a yucky situation.

Yep, I think for my boy to pour out his heart to us and then ask to not be left alone tonight took some serious guts.  I mean, let’s be honest, many of us adults have trouble doing this!  I’m proud of him for speaking up.

So on nights like tonight, when it’s been a long day and we all just want rest and the dishes can wait because my hip is hurting and I still have an article to write, when my husband texts me from the living room to say “he is out of bed again and refusing to go back”, I have to get this right.  I have to match this courage with benevolence.

This consideration – the idea that kids are people, too – is something I think about fairly often in my job as Mommy, mainly because it’s not something I was given as a child.  On one hand, I don’t want my son to think he’s too delicate to face minor challenges.  On the other hand, I refuse to invalidate his feelings just because he’s 7.  They’re his feelings, and they are real to him.

I walk quietly into the living room, around the sleeping baby, and take my oldest boy’s hand.  We walk to his bed, where I plop down cross-legged and begin to investigate (as moms do).  He is in tears before I can ask the first question, so I change tactics and just hold him for a while.  A few moments later, I try again.  He says he’s not sure what’s wrong, but he doesn’t want to sleep by himself tonight.  “That’s ok”, I say without hesitation, “you don’t have to”.  I continue to speak life to his little spirit, saying what I believe are helpful statements like, “it’s alright to feel afraid” and “you are safe here”.  I don’t know if this is right, but I’m trying my best, against the loud sighs coming from my husband, who has been working to keep his annoyance hidden while we get this sorted out.

((Side note: My husband is not a man who thinks guys have to be “macho”.  Thank goodness, he doesn’t say things like “boys don’t cry”.  He is, however, a man who works very long hours at a demanding job and greatly values his rest time, so the quicker this gets resolved, the better.))

We arrive at the bed that my son and I will now share this evening, him promptly crawling beneath the covers and me grappling with the idea of being kicked, punched, and snored at all night.  I know this is right, I tell my husband.  I know that when I was a child and I was afraid, all I wanted was for someone to tell me I was safe.  I wanted someone to say “you don’t have to be alone”, someone to validate my feelings and not force me to lie in bed, terrified of whatever thought was tormenting me at the time.  Being a kid is tough enough without having your protectors leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable.

When my son thinks back over his life, and when he remembers our relationship and what kind of mom I was, so much of it won’t matter.  It won’t matter what we had for dinner tonight, but it will matter that I cooked and we all sat at the table and talked and laughed and connected.  It won’t matter what kind of car I drove, as much as it will matter that I was there every afternoon after school, happy to see him.  It won’t matter one bit that this apartment is not always clean and sometimes (ok, at ALL times) there are clothes and toys strewn about, but it will matter that this place felt like home to him.  It will matter that he felt safe here. It will matter that he had (and for as long as I’m living, he will have) a place he can go and just shake the world off.  A place where he doesn’t have to live up to anything, he never needs to feel embarrassed, a place where he’s not pressured to fit into someone else’s idea of who he should be or what he should think or feel.  It will matter that he didn’t have to question whether he was part of our tribe.

Deep in the depths of my soul, I want that.  As a mother, it is what I strive for above anything else.

Again, I ask: What is courage?  Courage is the soldier, the cancer patient, and William Wallace.  Yes, all those people are brave, possibly beyond measure.  But in MY life, in MY circumstance, what is courage?  For a mom like me, courage is the willingness to give my boy what his soul thirsts for, even if no one else understands it.  Courage is parenting him and him only, without stopping to think about what other moms (or even my own) might think.  Courage is stepping away from traditional beliefs and from how I was raised in order to do it better, in order to raise a whole individual, fully functional and free from emotional baggage.

So tonight, clacking away at my old laptop with my firstborn snoring next to me, I rejoice in this budding courage – his and mine – and in the knowing that this time, I got it right.

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My Gentle Warrior

Confessions 1

Bless me, Father

For I have sinned

I have loved and lost and lusted

I have used and conned and manipulated

Hearts have been crushed in my grasp

Spirits suspended in mid air

Unable to move on, unsure

I didn’t want them; I didn’t want to let them go.

In all these years so many of them

I have let inside my dreams, let them influence me,

Change who I am fundamentally,

No they didn’t have me physically but which is worse?

Psychically I was theirs.

His. His. His. His. His.

I enjoyed most of it, I liked

The attention, raw attraction, the bond

Tolerated abuse, just to be the muse.

All that time I never knew, no one told me

I was giving away pieces of myself

Each heart exploding left a scar on mine

Fragments of me, slices of them, intertwined

I’m not whole, not myself, not pristine

Dirty, damaged, fractured again and again and then – sewn together

A mosaic of hearts that beat in rhythm

Souls that spoke the same language as mine

The things they taught me and the things only we know

That’s what I am made of, and I confess it, but

What can I do, how can I come clean

What kind of penance can I serve to atone, when

I’m not sorry?

Holding On vs. Letting Go

We broke up because of bread.  That’s what he’ll say.  Stupid, seedy, sandwich bread.  He went to the store, at 9:15 at night no less, to get some grocery items for me and he got the wrong bread and now we’re getting divorced.  Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it?  Well, it’s the truth, and at the same time it’s nowhere near the whole truth.  So what’s the rest of the story?

To oversimplify, he doesn’t pay attention –  to me, to the things I like, to what I eat, to whether I’m happy or sad or indifferent.  He doesn’t know me.  He doesn’t notice.  Part of that lazy unknowing is bringing home the wrong bread and then, in the morning when I’m hungry and emotional and just want a piece of toast but I can’t have it because it’s not the right thing, he says helpful things like, “Oh, so I’m the asshole now? I got your bread.”

Of course, this story is biased towards my feelings, since I’m the author.  Is it reasonable to get so upset over being “forced” to eat the “wrong” bread?  Probably not.  Honestly, though, my hurt goes deeper than the fact that 9 times out of ten he brings the wrong grocery items home.

The bread fiasco is just one in a string of unfortunate events, each of them hurtful to me.  Each time it happens, instead of apologizing or trying to understand what is upsetting to me, he defends himself and points out my flaws.  It’s not exactly a recipe for productive conversation or progress.

Am I saying I’m blameless and my husband never gets hurt?  Not at all.  However I don’t believe he gets hurt very often, which is perhaps a benefit of being so faintly invested.  From my perspective, he has it easy.  He works all day.  He doesn’t contribute to the household in any way aside from that.  I cook the meals, clean, pay the bills, take care of school things and appointments, do all the laundry and homework, plan all the vacations and pack us for them, and so on.

I’m not a quitter.  I am, however, beginning to wonder at what point do I cut my losses?  At what point am I allowed (by society, by my parents, by my own conscience) to move towards my own healing and happiness?

We don’t have the same goals (or if we do, he doesn’t vocalize them).  I have been working on my own for a year to clean up our credit.  The most I can get out of him is a “that’s great babe” when I talk to him about it, but forget about active participation.  I’ve been hoping to purchase a home and I have spoken with mortgage lenders and realtors and he doesn’t get involved in it or even ask questions.  I plan an annual Disney trip and this year I’ve asked for help from a friend because it’s too stressful and involved for me to do on my own.  And I know that when the time comes, he will go and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and never say thank you, and never have helped with the decision making, and just thinking about this makes me cry.  I’m crying.

I want a life partner.  Someone who has dreams, someone who has a plan, someone who cherishes me.  What I don’t want is to have to drag someone along. Every day that goes by I worry I am wasting time with someone who thinks that just working is enough.  Who thinks that he shouldn’t have to hug me or buy flowers or plan date nights because he works and because I’m living off his money.  (I’ll admit that part is terrifying.  How will I live?  My job pays peanuts.)  By the same token, I’m very careful with the money and budget because I respect all that he does to earn it.  I don’t take that responsibility lightly.  A few days ago I asked if he might help me with it, at least be involved in it, and his response was that if I keep complaining about it he’ll just do it.  He’ll take over.  I don’t want him to control it, number one because he’s not great with saving and number two because I like doing it.  I honestly do.  I just need help.  I need a husband.

He is a kind person.  He’s a nice dad.  I don’t know if I’d say he’s a good dad, because he doesn’t really do things with the kids unless I make him.  Our son deserves to go fishing and hiking and to learn about being a guy, and there are things that as much as it chafes me, I cannot teach him.  But my husband isn’t teaching him either.  Again, I cry, but this time it’s hot angry tears.  My sons both deserve effort.

Maybe he’s depressed.  He has mentioned it a few times, and I’ve encouraged him to get counseling and even try medication if that’s what he thinks will help.  Has he taken any steps in that direction? No.

We’ve both made mistakes.  I planned a hypothetical lunch about 8 years ago with a guy who is a friend from high school but he saw it as me being shady.  Last Spring I found nudes on his phone of girls (plural) who aren’t me and spent a few days swallowing pieces of my heart and trying to figure out if anything I thought was real had ever truly existed.  He had an explanation. It was plausible.  After about 2 days of me moping he began acting annoyed that I wouldn’t “let it go”.  I still haven’t let it go completely, though I don’t bring it up to him.  It’s here inside me, though.

Do I worry he might read this?  Not for a moment.  Despite sharing links with him from time to time I’m reasonably sure he’s never read my blog.  I wrote a book, published it on Amazon, and shared it with him after years of being too scared to let him see any of it, and he never even looked at it.  Didn’t read one word of it.

He’s going to go the rest of his life thinking he married a crazy person who divorced him over bread.  It’s heart-breaking and frustrating.

So that’s where I am today.  Right now I’m making list a la Ross Gellar:  Reasons to stay vs. Reasons to go.  What’s better for me? For the kids? For us both?  Apologies for oversharing with my handful of readers, but this blog is a journal for me and it’s important when you feel something to speak it, and that’s what I’m doing.

Up, Up and Away!

Nosh –  Red meat.  Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.)  For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1.  It’s seriously delicious.

Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song.  I don’t meant that ironically.  I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it.  I just hate it.  At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying.  I love Beethoven.  The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents.  A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata.  For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.

Wanderlust –  We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been.  Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close.  A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground.  Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show.  It was great fun!

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Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands.  I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling.  I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level.  Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.

Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration.  I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems.  They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.

Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK!  He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again.  Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia.  Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings.  Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street.  We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny.  Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up.  I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home.  I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.

Photos – Balloons! Obviously.  Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.

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TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX.  If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie.  The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.

Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements).  Available on Amazon here  So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in.  I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.

Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android.  My dad got an iPhone and he hates it.  I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it.  My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it.  So which is better?  Livewire breaks it down.

H.A.P.P.Y.

Summer is winding down, and Fall is on the way!  I’m completely indifferent to Pumpkin Spice, but so excited about the cooler (less humid) weather.  Here’s what’s going on with me this week:

Menu –  Semi-homemade chicken salad.  I use a rotisserie chicken from Fresh Market or Publix, shred the meat with a fork.  Add mayo (Duke’s, obviously), mustard, chopped spinach and onion.  My secret ingredient?  A little pickle juice and some chopped up hamburger dill chips.  Eaten over some blue corn chips, it’s currently my favorite thing.

Tunes – Heard a new song by Jack Garratt called Water, and it took my breath away.  The Revivalists, who I love, are coming to the Tabernacle in Atlanta and I’m really hoping to get to this show!

Wanderlust – Disney is almost paid for!  I’ve moved on to buying our shirts and silly fun things for the trip.  Next is the beach, hopefully Gulf Shores, before it gets too cold.  In the meantime, we’ve been going to Callaway for day trips with the kids, and it’s a terrific way to get the beach vibes without all the time in the car and other hassle.

**Shopping** – I don’t normally include news about purchases here, but I bought some rad new workout gear at Target.  I bought cute leggings, a sports bra, and a tank top, all for about $30.  They have an amazing clearance going on right now as Summer apparel gives way to chunky sweaters and pumpkin everything.

Fitness – I’ve been reading about Buti Yoga, and there’s a local gym that offers free classes on certain Saturdays so I’m talking myself into trying it.  According to MapMyRun I’ve run about 80 miles since I started running outside, which is GREAT.  I know I have a long way to go, but 80 miles is 8,000 calories and lots and lots of power gains in my legs!  I feel good about it.

Spiritual – Everything is circular, not linear.  I keep thinking about the phrase “Everything comes full circle”.   I have believed for a long time, and still believe, that all things are connected, but now I am starting to see that the connections tend to be circular, in that our understanding of them has a beginning (confusion/noticing/wonder), a middle (generally when something happens again, or we experience deja vu), and and end (light-bulb moment, connection is made, we see the result).

Dreams – My 8th grade English teacher, Mr. Decker, was a guidance counselor and he hugged me and talked to me about what was bothering me.  Rather benign dream, but nice to see he’s doing well.

Photos – Aside from kids and beach, mostly horoscope screenshots. Nothing new here.

TV and Film – To The Bone on Netflix.  SEE IT.  SEE IT NOW.  Also lots of Chopped on Food Network, Cooks vs. Cons, and Beat Bobby Flay.  What can I say, I like food.

Between the Pages – Still nothing. I’m in desperate need of a new good book.

Tech – Perusing podcasts this week, and learning to use SnapChat to actually chat instead of just playing with the filters.  I both like and dislike that the conversation disappears so quickly.  I am considering buying a MacBook, but I have always been a computer user so I’m afraid I’ll hate it.  Thoughts?

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H.A.P.P.Y. family

 

Sticky Fingers, Sting Rays, and Strides

[Chattanooga Recap]

My family and I (minus the tiniest guy) went to Chattanooga for the weekend, not knowing what to expect, but full of excitement.  We all enjoy an adventure and I have a serious inexplicable need to see and touch every part of this country and other countries.  I would like to put my two (bare) feet on the ground in every city in every country on Earth, if I could.  I am comfortable at home, but I have a nomad’s heart.

Word to the wise: A trip to the mountains – any mountains – is refreshing to the spirit.  If you’ve ever felt like your soul needs to take a good, long, tingly fresh breath, the mountains are the place for you.  If you don’t believe in that mumbo jumbo, well quite frankly, Chattanooga may still be the place for you.  After all, some things are true whether you believe them or not.  *wink, wink*

The drive from our house to the Noog (as some of the locals call it) was an easy, painless, traffic-free 5 hours.  I love a good road trip and I always like driving through Atlanta and daydreaming about the people who live and work in the beautiful buildings there.  (I see you, Tyler Perry.)  We arrived and met up with my step-dad, and then promptly drove over to see Mom at her wordplace.  Now, I’m going to keep this place anonymous in order to protect her, but we have this running joke that she actually works at a CIA Front Operation (ala Sydney Bristow in Alias) because there is no way any workplace can be this wonderful.  It’s a beautiful glass building that sits on a cliff overlooking the river, complete with coffee shop and neatly manicured courtyard including infinity waterfalls, where she’s encouraged to take yoga classes ON THE CLOCK because wellness matters.  I mean… WHAT?!  This alone is reason to move to Chattanooga.  We took a tour of the building and I tried to get the elevator to go to the “bottom” floor, but it wouldn’t. Probably because I don’t have the security clearance and wasn’t willing to do a retina scan.

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Allow me to inquire about your health insurance.

Since our trip was just for the weekend, we had to try and squeeze a lot of activity into just a few hours.  We were up to the challenge, and we started with Rock City on Friday Night.  I have been to Rock City once, but it doesn’t count, because it was the middle of winter and I didn’t get out of the car.  My 7 year old son has been once before, so he was my official guide.  Rock City is one of the most well-known attractions in Chattanooga, and I recommend it.  Because we arrived somewhat late in the evening, we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which was great because we could wander and chat and it felt very relaxed.  There’s a lot of walking through beautiful foliage and ancient rock formations,  and at the top of Lookout Mountain, you can “See 7 States”, which is really rad.  There are garden gnomes all over the place and a rickety bridge that unfortunately doesn’t come with an alternate route.  I felt a little like Indiana Jones, if Indiana Jones was a complete coward.

(At the end there’s a small gift shop that has some really kitschy gifts.  I chose an agate slice to use as a coaster on my writing desk, and some small vials of blood stone and citrine, which I’m very excited about.)

Saturday morning started early with a 6:30 am wake-up to run in the city.  I had planned to go alone and use my MapMyRun app, but Mom wanted to run too, so my step-dad drove us over to the Walnut Street Bridge and off we went.  Firstly, the weather was fantastic!  We started just before sunrise, and I tried to take some photos of what I was seeing but the photos don’t do it justice at all.  It was cool, not humid at all (a big change from home), clouds hovered around the mountains and there was a nice breeze.  Ideal running conditions.  Walnut Bridge itself is fun to run, it’s made of wood and forgiving on the joints and it’s over half a mile long.  My legs felt fresh and breathing was easy.  Excellent way to start the day, and running is a wonderful and underrated way to explore a new city.  We ran through the Bluff View Art District and Coolidge Park, saw several interesting works of art, and smelled tons of baked goods being prepared for the day.  The run was so good, we repeated it on Sunday morning!

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Panorama at Sunrise, Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga (photo: me)
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Sunrise at Bluff View Art District (photo:me)

That brings me to two other great things about Chattanooga:  The food and the architecture!  The amount of coffee shops and bakeries here is mind-blowing and extremely pleasing to the fat girl inside me.  I’m sure I could eat my weight in delectables at Rembrandt’s Coffee. (If you’re ever there, try the Nutella Macaroons!) Many of the buildings in C-town have a German feel to them. I lovingly refer to them as gingerbread houses.  My husband lived in Germany for several years as a kid, so I was particularly excited for him to have the opportunity to see something familiar and tied to happy memories.

Beyond patisseries, there are LOTS of places to eat in Downtown Chattanooga (we mostly stayed around the downtown area for this trip).  We chose to eat at Sticky Fingers BBQ, and it was a magnificent choice, if I do say so myself.  Here in Georgia we use Sticky Fingers sauce and until we drove past the building, I didn’t realize they even had restaurants.  I chose a sampler plate that included a pulled pork sandwich, ribs with sauce (you can also choose them dry), veggies, and sweet potato soufflé that will make you say Hallelujah.  The food was satisfying, the ribs in particular were very well cooked – tender and flavorful – and the sweet potatoes were some of the best I’ve ever had (which is saying a lot, given my affection for my aunt’s Senator Russell potatoes) and our server was very friendly.  I can’t wait to go back and have more ribs.

After our exhilarating run, we headed over to the Tennessee Aquarium.  For my son, the Otter Whisperer, this is a big deal.  We arrived to see that the Saturday Market was going on right outside, so that was fun.  We shopped and met local artisans and crafters and I was reminded that we humans are creative.  We are wildly imaginative and talented, and I’m proud of us.  High five, homo sapiens!  Inside, the aquarium was a little crowded but the place is huge so the crowd moved freely.  There are escalators to the different floors, which is nice, and the air was on “Arctic” setting, which after standing outside in the sun for a while was a welcome break.  Sadly, the otters didn’t feel like playing, but we did see penguins and the gator feeding show, and I pet something!  I honestly do not remember WHAT it was, probably because I was terrified, but on coaching from my son I put my fingers in the water and touched some kind of gross fish!  Check that off my bucket list!  It was softer than I expected, and kept swimming back for more loving.  It acted like a cat, but was definitely not a catfish.  I learned some new things while there, which I love doing, about jellyfish – the Sea Walnut (which reminded me a lot of a flux capacitor) and the Upside Down jelly, in particular.  I also was a magnet for the Sea Horses, which just reaffirms my belief that I am Snow White.  Even though it wasn’t an outside activity, this aquarium was one of the highlights of Chattanooga for me.  If you get a chance to go, please do!

That night we went by Publix, ate at Mom’s and watched Jurassic Park.  It was lovely to get a rest and some family time just relaxing.  Everyone slept early, which was also nice.

Sunday after the run, we packed up and went to Shoney’s.  Step-dad wanted us to go and Emmett is nearly dumbfounded at the idea that you don’t have to wait for your food, you can just go get it!  The breakfast bar was delicious, and I ate way too much.  For our last stop before driving home, we hit up Build-a-Bear at the Northgate Mall.  We don’t have a Build-a-Bear Workshop near us, so this is a special treat that Emmett gets each time he travels to a place that has one.  After some deliberation, he chose a Pokemon outfit for his bear, and we hit the road.

The Noog was fun, refreshing, and educational.  I really have nothing negative to say.  Some things were a tad bit expensive, though someone pointed out that it might have been due to large crowds traveling up to view the eclipse.  We didn’t get to see Ruby Falls because of an enormous crowd, and I’ll also blame that on the eclipse.  The great news is, the tickets we purchased are good for a whole year!  So we’ll be back to Chattanooga in the Fall to see Ruby Falls and Christmas lights.  There was a LOT of art and friendly people (and dogs!) and we walked 4-5 miles each day.  We saw the Trail of Tears and a handful of other historical places, and I got a hug from local radio DJ Joe Cook, my mom’s friend who I’ve known and loved since I was around 5 years old.  Shops like All Things Groovy have a special place in my heart, and while I didn’t photograph them I did shop them.  Highly recommend the Chattanooga experience to anyone who wants to feel a mix of down home and big city, shore town and mountain hideaway, hipster-friendly with an appreciation for history.

Mountain High

Noms –   Barbecue!  This weekend has been lots of good Southern food, thanks to our friends in Chattanooga, TN.  We stopped by and ate lunch on Saturday at Sticky Fingers and it was incredible!  I cook with their sauce a lot and never knew there were restaurants.  Highly recommend the ribs!

Tunes – Coldplay.  Coldplay just calms me down and makes my spirit sing, and it’s what I needed this week.  I’m mostly playing this one and this one on repeat.

Wanderlust –  Chattanooga is in the books, and was WAY fun.  We didn’t have time to see everything, but we sure tried!  (I’ll be posting about this later in the week.) Right now we have no concrete plans, but we will get back there before the end of the year, I’m sure.  I am suddenly itching to go to Greece, so I’ve been stalking Google Flights to find affordable rates.

 

Fitness – Lots of outdoor running.  I convinced my mom to run with me in the Noog, and we had 2 excellent sunrise runs through some historic areas.  My legs felt good and the weather was ideal for running.  I’ll continue with running this week (focus on hills) in order to build my base.

C-town run
We are SUCH morning people.

I also spent a day to myself relaxing and watching the Wake Board Nationals at Callaway Gardens.  I love having a beach in our backyard, without all the hassle of living in a tourist-clogged area!  I can go, be fabulous for a while, then drive home to the forest and hibernate.  It’s the ideal situation.

Spiritual – Lots of Law of Attraction speak this week, as Mom likes to discuss manifesting.  We went shopping for gems and I found a new one – Bloodstone – and purchased.  From what I have read it’s highly effective for healing, and great for Pisces, so I’m super excited to have it.  I’ll be doing a separate post on gems later this month.  Also, I’ve read about a dozen interesting – and convincing – reincarnation stories told by kids and parents of kids who believe they’ve lived before.  Some of them are truly creepy.  There’s even a woman who has claimed for most of her life to be Anne Frank reincarnated. (How have I never heard of her?)  Anyway, click here to read a little about her.

 

Dreams – I have had one dream about HRH Prince William, and one other that I delayed in journaling and thus, have lost to the abyss of my mind, likely for all eternity.  But a week with a dream of Wills is still a good week in dreams, I think.

Photos – Architecture and interesting sculptures!  I love art, not so much modern art but even that has its place.  One of my favorite things about visiting a new place is seeing some of the art.  I’m saving most of the photos for my Chattanooga post, but here’s some chalk art I passed while walking around town.

 

TV and Film – Zip, Zilch, Nada.  I have seen maybe 2 episodes of Law & Order: SVU this week and the beginning of the original Jurassic Park.

Between the Pages – I am still trying to read Bull Mountain by Brian Panowich.  I thought the North Georgia mountains would be the perfect setting to crack this one open, but I was feeling rushed and uninspired.  Maybe this week I’ll get to it.  If not, I’ll choose something else.

Tech – A couple new apps have been brought to my attention this week.  (Note to reader: when I say new, I mean new to ME.)  One is PostMates, which I heard about from Bob & Sheri on their podcast.  Apparently, PostMates allows you to order food from one of several different restaurants and have it delivered for a nominal fee.  Unfortunately, it’s not available in my area and it wasn’t available in Chattanooga, so I haven’t had a chance to use it.  The other app I learned about is PICO Digital Film. I spend a lot of my time taking photos with my iPhone, so this one is of particular interest to me. PICO allows an iPhone user to select different types of film (MAX, Noir, Kodak Gold) and shoot photos using that setting. It’s a little like Instagram filters, but more specific and detailed.  I like it.

 

Let’s Kick It

karatekids
There can be only one.

Eats:  Fluids!  No, it’s not a new diet.  It’s the stomach flu!  No kidding, everyone in the house was sick this week so I indulged in such delicacies as Lemon Lime Gatorade, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and Fruit Punch Gatorade.

Pandora:  Celtic music is my jam.  This week I’ve been listening to a lot of it.  This is possibly because I watched Braveheart a few times while I was sick (as one does), but I’ve always had an affinity for the fiddles and bawdy lyrics.  If you haven’t before, search “Celtic” in Pandora, choose “Station” and give it a listen. I bet you’ll be doing an Irish jig in no time.

Michael Flatley – Irish Jigger Extraordinaire

bd-lord-of-the-dance-michael-flatley-curtain-gold_1000

Wanderlust:  Nothing new to report, sadly.  It’s a dream of mine to go to a film festival, though, and I might be close to making that happen.  Fingers crossed!

Workouts:  Because of the sickness, all I managed were Gatorade curls and sleep.  I will say, though, that the sleep was glorious.  Also, my older son is a blue belt in karate right now and I get a “kick” out of watching him practice!

Spiritual: Lots of talk about magic going on in our house this week, thanks to the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts at Universal Studios.  My son and I had an interesting discussion about magic, in which he stated he didn’t realize that “real” magic existed.  “Of course it does!”, I told him, hand to chest in faux dramatic fashion.  I let him know the secret, as I understand it:  The less a person believes in magic, the less one sees it.  The more a person believes in magic, the more he or she will be able to recognize it in the world around him.  He was delighted in this truth, and I was delighted to share it with him.

Dreams:  Animals!  I’ve had dreams about baby pandas and an avalanche of black sheep this week.  I am SURE they mean something but also sure that I probably don’t want to know.

Photographing:  Lots of screen shots of quotes this week.  I’ve been kinda grumpy and stressed, so I keep things to help me remember nice thoughts and encouraging words.

dumbledore

Movies and TV: I’ve been waiting to write this portion of the blog all week!  Rumor has it (and rumor actually confirmed by Vanity Fair ) that the original cast of The Karate Kid will be reuniting for a TV special!  Words cannot express (at least, not any words in my limited vocabulary) the elation I experienced when I heard his news.  For many reasons these films (ahem, the originals only) hold a special place in my heart.  Of course, there will be a gigantic Pat Morita – sized hole in the special, but I’m hopeful that his character will be treated with honor and respect.  Ralph Macchio is by all accounts quite a nice guy, and I hope this is a hit for him and Billy Zabka.  I will definitely be watching!

Library:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Seriously, I’m only 2 pages in.  This week I’m taking sabbatical from work (don’t worry, they know about it) so I will try and sink my teeth in and share with you guys if I catch feelings.  Or start speaking Parseltongue.

Tech:  Words With Friends, mis amigos.  I’ve been challenged this week by friends, former English teachers, and total strangers.  I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve pitched my fists into the air in frustration.  It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp, or to get upset about how dull your mind is.  It’s one or the other.  Also, check out the Robin Hood App.  It’s a FREE stock trading app, and it is quite user-friendly.  Aptly named after the legendary outlaw who “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, this app promises to help the “little guy” who isn’t educated on trading to build his portfolio.  Does it work?  I have no idea.  Right now they have a promotion going and if you sign up RIGHT OVER HERE you will receive one free share of mystery stock.  You can also receive free stock for any person who signs up using your link.  Free stock is free money, so go get some!

One last serious note: Rest in Peace, dear Robin Williams. It’s been three years already. Your life touched me.  Your death shook me.  Your legacy inspires me.  **If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please get help.  You are not alone and you are worth fighting for.  You are unrepeatable.  There is a magic inside you that is all your own. (D.M.Dellinger)