Gonnas

Gonnas: Loose Ends of 26 for 26

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Alright, folks. As of Saturday, I officially transitioned from 26 to 27. I had a great year even during the rocky moments of depression and all the complications that come with it, but 27 feels awesome. I feel healthy, happy, and ready to grow.

That being said, it’s time to reveal how I ended up faring in my 26 Gonnas for 26 that I posed as goals for myself last year before my birthday. Anything crossed through was not accomplished.

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan. Money did NOT allow! 😦
3. Finish my screenplay.
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks…ever.
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
6. Get my teaching license.
7. Write one blog every week!
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back. My bff S moved back, so I didn’t have to!
13. Finish writing a book with C.
14. Learn how to sew.
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
16. Spend more time with my family.
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
18. Get something published.
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek. I am in the process of deciding how I want to move forward with SS, so I put this on hold.
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.

24. Meet a sloth!
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.

I did less than I had hoped. A lot of it was user error because I was too afraid or too broke (by my own budgeting failures), but there were a couple instances a bit beyond my control. Nonetheless, I did some cool stuff. I sang publicly, even though I still really need to get to an ENT to do so properly. I did a massive overhaul of my belongings and pared down a LOT. I got two licenses for teaching. I made days of people I knew, and even started to do it for strangers as I slowly recovered from my depression. Best of all, I remembered what it was like to feel and give gratitude and how to be more positive overall. I might have failed in some eyes, but to me, this whole project has been a victory.

That being said, I think after I tweak the loose ends of this project that I really and truly, 100% positive, will not need the gonnas anymore. So here they are: the final list of gonnas to cover over the next 6 months before I part ways with the project that made me a productive woman and a better person.

1. Diagnose and solve my voice problems NOW!
2. Learn how to drive a manual car without getting mad at J while he’s teaching me.
3. Make it a habit to make videos for the blog and YouTube, but focus on quality, not quantity.
4. Learn how to sew.
5. Take a weekend road trip to camp or visit an unknown place.
6. Get something published and/or finish my screenplay so as not to overwhelm my anxieties.
7. Write letters to all the people who have inspired me in some way or another.
8. Of course, MEET A SLOTH!
9. Remember to be positive every day, to strive for greatness and gratitude, to become the person you know you can be.
10. Set the Gonnas go.

Alright, folks. Six more months of gonnas and ONLY six more months. I can’t wait to see how it all ends up!

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Gonnas: Can I Make the 26?!

With only 15 days standing between me and my 27th, I thought now would be a good time to remind y’all of how the progress for the 26 Gonnas for 26 has progressed so far, and if I can get some more of these knocked off my list in time. CAN I DO IT?! We’ll see!

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan. Money did NOT allow! 😦
3. Finish my screenplay.
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks…ever.
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
6. Get my teaching license.
7. Write one blog every week!
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back. My bff S moved back, so I didn’t have to!
13. Finish writing a book with C.
14. Learn how to sew.
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
16. Spend more time with my family.
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
18. Get something published.
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek. I am in the process of deciding how I want to move forward with SS, so I put this on hold.
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.
24. Meet a sloth!
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.

If there’s isn’t a hyperlink to an accomplished gonna, check in soon for the entry! Let’s see if I can cram some of these in to the next 2 weeks.

26 Gonnas for 26: Number 11

 11. Teach someone something life-changing.

When I first started the 26 for 26 list, I was really unsure what #11 actually meant. All I knew was that I wanted to feel like I’d imparted a piece of wisdom on someone they could and would remember their whole life. I didn’t know if I needed it to be a big lesson or just a small li’l thing, but I did know that I needed it to feel complete. To feel in general.

I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I crossed this gonna off my list thanks to the teaching gig I (quite literally) fell into this year, but it wasn’t apparent to me that I had accomplished much of anything there until the past few months. I started getting piles and piles of letters, and only then did I realize I had actually made an impact that could be taken out of the classroom and into the rocky road of life.

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Some students said they wanted to be like me. A small handful said I inspired them to teach. More students thanked me for getting them into reading or reminding them that learning can be fun, while others thanked me for more practical everyday advice. However, they ALL thanked me for being nice to them; for treating them not only as human beings, but as equals.

That unanimous statement shocked me. Have we really systemized our education (and society) so much that being a good, caring teacher is really THAT unheard of?

Like the shock of the morning alarm, I instantly realized I really had taught them something deeper than English literature. I had taught them the same thing my mother taught me when I myself was a teenager, crying over yet another horrible person beating me down to nothing:

“Kill ’em with kindness.”

And sure, she meant to get my revenge by not letting people get to me and by living a joyous life they could envy, but by extension, she also meant to live a life brimming with benevolence. She meant to be the positive force in the room even when everyone is trying their damnedest to get you to go negative. She meant to be so compassionate that others around you would have no choice but to be compassionate, too.

By simply being myself (and, er, actually saying “kill ’em with kindness” approximately 587 times a semester), as well as accepting the students at face value, I also taught them something else.

I taught them that one day, even if it’s found in an unexpected person, someone out there already accepts and will love every bit of you for who you are.

For them, that person was me.

For me, it was all 145 of them.

26 Gonnas for 26: Numbers 1 and 7

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.

I put the cart before the horse on this gonna before realizing what I wanted to gain out of this experience was not necessarily seeing the sun rise every morning (though it would be nice), but merely becoming a morning person; waking up at 8 a.m. gladly on a Saturday, if you will. So while I haven’t woken up with the sun 180 days this year, I have gotten up early for as many of those days, each one closer and closer to the sun rise, spending more of my hours in the faded light of the very early morning than at any other point in my life. And yeah, I can happily say that more than a few doses of sunrise were thrown into the mix. Here’s to not forgetting to see the sunrise every now and again, but here’s to getting what I truly wanted: a sunny morning disposition that has become habit instead of exception.

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Early morning granola!

7. Write one blog every week!

I know it hasn’t been a year yet since I made my 26 Gonnas for 26 list, so you might be wondering how I accomplished this feat. Well, if you remember from the 26 for 26 pulse check, I decided to change the goal a bit: write 52 blog entries period — regardless of when or how often. This allowed me to feel less pressure and have more freedom to post five blog entries one week, then none for the following two.

I’m happy to say, however, that I have surpassed the goal of 52 blog entries in a year with 55, and still have over two months to keep blogging my heart out. I do wonder what the final number of entries will end up being (and will surely update my readers), but it ultimately won’t matter. I’m glad to say that the purpose of this gonna was to get me writing more, and it has done its job. I’m at these keys more than I have been in a long time, and now that I am, I can’t see myself stopping again anytime soon!

26 Gonnas for 26: Number 13

13. Finish writing a book with C.

 

At the end of May, C and I sat down over glasses of (one of) our favorite wine(s), and she asked me one of my favorite questions any one person can ever ask: Will you write with me?

Specifically, she asked me to help her write a particular story she was burning to tell. It was a true story, but she planned to change names and embellish, making it what we dubbed faction (fact + fiction). So with the doors open, candles burning, and our planners wide open, we made a way to find enough hours over enough days to finish a book by the end of 2013.

The deadline, while unrealistic to some, was good for us. We both needed the pressure of a due date, but we didn’t need to feel so pressured that we caved and gave up. Giving the book as a gift for Christmas was a perfect reason to finish, as well as a solid goal to work toward.The process began pretty regularly: Wednesdays after work, there we were, writing and editing. We quickly realized that since it was her story, she should spend the week writing, and our time together would be spent editing and adding whatever I thought would be helpful or funny. We pedaled along pretty quickly with a title and 15 single-spaced pages before life interrupted.

Between our vacations and family get-togethers together (she’s J’s sister), we had events to tend to separately as well. She was embarking on a new journey of competitive running, while I was balancing my work and school. It started to look like someone was conspiring against us and our words, but somehow we still always found a way to meet. In some instances, we had to move the time; others the day. There were even some missed weeks here and there, but somehow we found ourselves in the dead of fall, 30 single-spaced pages in.

At the beginning of November, I was in full-blown new-job mode. On top of that, I had to balance a full load of grad classes. Inconveniently, Thanksgiving found its way into our schedule as well. We saw each other only twice that month, a striking difference from the normal 4-8 times a month we had seen each other since living in the same town. I felt horrible, not only for abandoning C, but for abandoning our book. It was our baby.

December rolled around, and shortly thereafter, I got an email from C: “IT’S FINALLY DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I knew she had been writing, but the last time I’d seen her, our little novella lay in the 30-something range. The piece she had just sent me was 20+ pages longer….. and all that was standing between releasing the book to our friends and family was my editing every single word with the same diligence I’d had in prior months. The only problem was I also had hundreds of papers to grade AND two giant projects due in less than a week. Shit.
In a zombified stupor, I got through all of my work duties and all of my projects. I started editing until my eyes bled, but it still took me three days to finish revising the final pages the way they deserved. I rushed over to C’s house four days before her departure to the Great North where she’d be delving out the first round of the books on flash drives to the family. It was close, but somehow, we did it. And after all was said and done, we ended up with an 83-page novella.

Writing this little book taught me a lot about a lot. I had to learn to be ever-so-reliable because the success of C’s story depended on my editorial skills. I had to learn to be patient because quality work takes time, despite my need for instant results. I had to learn to let go of the reigns because this wasn’t my story, this was C’s story. I had to learn how to work as a true professional team for the first time in my life because no one else has ever treated me as a professional equal before.

Our book might not be Gatsby or War and Peace, but it IS a labor of love (and a little Sedaris-y if I do say so myself). It is one of those gonnas we all talk about doing, and damn if we didn’t actually do it.I am glad I got to help my friend tell her story, but most of all, I am glad to know that with a solid friendship, anything is possible.

If you’re interested in reading our little tale, I have a PDF version ready and raring to go! Email, as always, is reyoncenoels@gmail.com.

 

26 Gonnas for 26: Number 21


Open Letter to the Toxic Ones

Dear You,

I don’t know how to begin this. By writing instead of telling, am I engaging in the coldness of passive-aggressiveness I hate so much? Perhaps. I really just can’t contain what’s been on my mind so much over the last 2… 3…. er, 5?… wait, maybe longer……….. years.

This has been a long time coming. Maybe I’m too sensitive for my own good, but after a long, somewhat-objective look at the state of things, I think I might be a little justified and that’s enough; I don’t need the totality of 100 percentness.

I am a giver. I always have been. Of course I take, but I really do find a joy in giving. I have told many of you over the years I wish I’d fall into a lot of money somehow so I could spoil you rotten. I have given even when my body has fought me. I have given when you have betrayed me. I have given when you have given nothing back. And until now, that’s all been mostly okay because we were young. But here we are, on the door of adulthood, and the scale of give and take is still uneven. I’m still drowning in a sea of sadness, created with the waters of unfulfillment.

I thought time would solve things. I thought I would never have to point out the lacking pieces of our relationships because surely, with just enough time, wisdom, and experience, things would even out. I would feel less and less like my soul was being sucked from me, and start to feel like pieces of it were starting to be poured back in, even if it were as slow as molasses. But time didn’t do the job I thought it would, so now I’m faced with doing it myself. I should have dealt with the task from the start, and now that I have to, I’m not sure how to do it at all.

It’s not everyone. It’s not all the time. Even those of you who are guilty don’t do it on schedule… but it does happen. (Hell, I’ve written about it before. More than once.) It’s not a delusion, as much as I wish it were every day. This has happened as long as I can remember, and it continues to happen, despite my internal wish for things to change. But I guess you can’t bring forth change without saying or doing something, so this is some kind of bumbling, probably awful start.

I know I’m not perfect. I’ve done things wrong, I’ve shut people out, and I’ve been inconsistent with contact. And while I take personal responsibility for my faults and my own selfishness, a lot of my behavior over the years has been a reaction to yours. That doesn’t mean I don’t need to work on things, but I would love it more than life if you worked on your things, too.

First things first: I confess my sins.

1. I have made grave mistakes in friendships over the years. Most of them I made when I was younger, but I made a handful of horrid ones in my older life, too. However, the mistakes I’ve made have made me the grown-up I am today, trying my damnedest never to do them again and wishing, wishing, wishing you all would stop making them as well.

2. I DO shut people out, namely you, because when I consistently have expectations shattered or unreciprocated, it’s easier just to bow out and guard my heart. I sit back and find people that do seem to want to give as much as me, who want to meet those expectations, and wait for the rest of the group to catch up. The only problem is, these people never do. And every time I give them a chance, give them the opportunity to live up to my expectations, they break my heart all over again. It’s too much to cry every night about another forgotten call or text, another birthday missed. It’s for my sanity that I pull away long enough to regroup and heal.

3. Mostly my inconsistent contact has to do with outside factors. I move a lot; I work very hard during the school year; I have graduate school to finish; I have to save my money. But you all also need to remember something I have ne’er argued and always confessed: I hate the phone. It brings me some anxiety, and it’s just an annoying form of contact. But there is a small part of me that thinks some of that anxiety, which didn’t begin until later in my life, comes from the inconsistency I’ve learned to expect in return.

Second things second: I explain.

1. You are not reliable. I know that sounds awful, and I’m truly sorry, but you aren’t. You can be good people. You have been there in bad times and good, but not really on a constant basis. If we make plans, you often are late or cancel last minute. It would be okay if it were for something important or understandable, but when you just decide to bow out because you’ve found something more fun or are just too lazy, that’s rude and insulting.

2. You don’t care. I say that in the most general sense. You don’t care about my life if it doesn’t involve petty, pretty, easy things, but more bothersome is that you don’t care about your own life. You don’t care if you succeed, if you will have enough money for bills, if you find a job you love, if you find your own happiness, if you won’t be too hungover to make the appointment we set a week ago. You don’t care about finding yourself or finding the whole version of that self. You don’t care about anything except initial satisfaction, often found in booze, drugs, gossip, or shallow bullshit. But I care. I care about everything, and I need my friends to care, too.

3. You turn it around on me. On the occasions I HAVE said something, my past has been thrown in my face. That’s to be expected, I suppose, but those who have known me long enough can see the evolution I have made. And you know what? It’s old. It’s not effective. I know where I am well enough that the argument is invalid. We’re talking about the people we are now, and the better people we should become. We’re not talking about some dumb ass girl from two or ten years ago.

4. You don’t understand. You don’t understand the time constraints and responsibilities of adulthood, let alone the effect the intricacies of an individual has on both of them. For example, I have a problem with the fact you call bullshit on my health when I have cried and tried and worked and fallen and gotten back up about it over so many years. You haven’t sat with me during a tachycardia attack, walked in on me crying on my floor in visceral pain, listened to me on the phone as I breathe for dear life, or felt the heavy weight of the fatigue I carry every day, yet still push through. I also have a problem with the fact that you don’t respect my calendar, as if I’m an asshole for wanting to and making plans well, well in advance. If you make plans for something a week in advance, even then may be too late. I hate I can’t be there for you, but if something is important enough that you would like me to be there, make sure you send me a reminder as soon as you think of it. You need to understand my health. You need to understand my calendar. You need to understand everything, and how everything changes when we’re adults. With that understanding will come a respect that just isn’t there with us right now. What the hell is friendship without respect?

Third things third: I’m sure I have done every single one of these things to you in my past, and for that, I am truly sorry. But I have been on a journey to wholeness for a very long time, and I cannot be whole by perpetuating this bad behavior myself. It has mostly ended for me, but I will say right now: it ends for me all the way today. However, that also means I can’t surround myself with people who will not end the cycle themselves. I need to feel whole instead of drained, happy instead of constantly heartbroken. I need to be able to be the full me, and I can’t do that unless you do the same.

As I mentioned when I wrote about this before, I’ve been mourning over this whole change for a really long time. Now I see the only way I can truly move on from my grief, and hopefully see a few of you there on the other side, is to set the truth free. I still love you, Toxic Ones.

Hoping you’ll join me for the ride,
(it’s gonna be a real honest, but fulfilling one),
Rachel

26 Gonnas for 26: Pulse Check

If remembering me after my admittedly prolonged absence is not too hard to do, you might remember I turned 26 a few months ago. In honor of that, I decided to evolve the gonnas once again into a cute little list of things I was gonna make happen in the course of a year. I’ve had the fortune of crossing one of the to-do’s off my list multiple times, but I realized that as often as I pulse check my list, you guys might be a little left in the dark. Without further ado, here are my charts, people! Please feel free to peruse them, and definitely let me know if you see signs of infection or impending death.
 
1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
I’ve only woken up with the sun for about a week total so far, but thanks to a new job opportunity, this gonna will slowly start melting away!

2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan.
Not yet, but truly hoping the aforementioned job opportunity will be my ticket to this gonna. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful scenery in person I’ve seen in her photos so far.

3. Finish my screenplay.
I’ve made some progress here! I’m still closer to the start than the finish, but I am also further from the beginning than I was before.
 
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks… ever.
This 26-for-26 gonna has been an epic failure so far. I have reminded myself that with all that’s going on, it’s okay to let this goal slide……. but I still can’t help but wish I had the time to stick to my guns. I have done a little better about downsizing and working on what I can here and there, but there is definitely room for improvement before next July.
 
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
I have actually DONE the latter half of this goal (karaoke nights DO COUNT, especially when you sing Les Mis by yourself) without doing the first. While I feel liberated and more ready to tackle this goal, more than anything, I now know that there is absolutely a REAL problem with my voice, and I need to take care of it now rather than later.
 
6. Get my teaching license.
As long as I keep my nose to the grindstone (and learn to accept that a perfect 4.0 might not be possible with a full-time job AND classes), I should have my license in May!

7. Write one blog every week!
This is the one that really spurred me to update everyone since I obviously haven’t been blogging weekly. However, I have been writing a little more here and there overall, which is really what’s important to me. I think a more properly worded goal would be “Have 52 new blog entries by next year,” meaning if I have the time to write five times in one week, I will. If I have no time to write for a month, that’s okay, too.
 
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
My handsome teacher is currently out of stick-shifting commission, so this is on hold for the time being. 
 
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
I’ve made one. ONE! I’ve got work to do…
 
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
Whereas I once dreaded this gonna, I’m actually kinda looking forward to getting over this fear, or at least diminishing it in my mind. The question remains: what exactly will I be doing to get over this fear? Skydiving is out, but I’m open to other suggestions, y’all.
 
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
Hopefully I will be doing this every day in my new position. And hopefully, it’ll be somewhat tangible so I can report back here.
 
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back.
See #2.
 
13. Finish writing a book with C.
We are so, so close to finishing this gonna. We have a self-imposed deadline of early December so we can distribute these bad boys as presents. It’s so crazy to think that months ago, this story was just an idea, and now, it’s almost finished!
 
14. Learn how to sew.
I have no idea how to even begin this one, but I REALLY, REALLY want to learn. Help?
 
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
This has almost happened a handful of times, but life keeps getting in the way. We must make a note to ignore it for a weekend before it gets too cold!
 
16. Spend more time with my family.
I feel like I’ve been doing this, but I don’t think I’ll be able to properly gauge this until next July when I see the progress I’ve made over the course of a full year.
 
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
 
18. Get something published.
I’ve found some contests for publishing, but so far, none of my already written material meets the criteria. Since I’m not in the position to write something brand new, the search continues… for now.
 
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek.
I haven’t raised anything so far. I’ll most likely have to save this gonna until closer to the end of the year!
 
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
I have done this in off-beat ways, but there is definitely more to do before I can cross this off my list in good faith. I’ve been consigning some of my stuff with my favorite local store, as well as gathering random items here and there before loading them in bags in my trunk. I guess I need to actually make my way to Goodwill now, right?
 
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
I’ve had to do some of this already, but whether I’ve really cleaned out the toxicity closet (and whether I’ve done it well) remains to be seen.
 
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
I’ve made a lot of weekend trips, but none to a new place so far! Still waiting to find the perfect, cheap destination.
 
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.
I have addresses; I just need to get to writing!
 
24. Meet a sloth!
I actually attempted to do this with J, and my friends L and B, at a local science museum…… BUT THE SLOTH HAD INEXPLICABLY BEEN MOVED TO THE AQUARIUM, which was under construction. P.S. Sloths are great swimmers, so I mean, I GUESS I GET IT, but I really almost cried.
 
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
Hopefully I’ve done this without knowing, but now that I have the means to pay it forward, I’m really going to try and do a better job.
 
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.
Despite this one seeming so easy, it’s actually the hardest for me. Most days, I am thankful and say so. But there are days when {most} everything seems so bad that it’s hard to remember to be grateful for the things that remain intact. I have been doing better lately, and I’m hoping I’ve trained my brain to stay in that spot of thankfulness.

26 Gonnas for 26: Number 17

17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
About a month out from my 26th birthday, I didn’t expect to have a full gonna from my 26 for 26 list scratched off. I expected to have a tally of days up with the sun and perhaps a few leads on some of my other goals, but to believe I’d have one done, finished, TOTALLY FINITO… would be unrealistic. I had to be willing to put time into the process before getting actual results, else I would be swimming in constant disappointment my gonnas weren’t happening fast enough, or worse, at all.But I think something inside of me knew being so realistic would hinder me this time around. 26 Gonnas for 26 is about reaching for something more and going bigger than I have in any year before. And like that tried and true line, you have to do something you’ve never done before to get something you’ve never had. And you know what the something I’d never done before was? Opening my eyes. Being receptive. Appreciating what I had at my fingertips…

Literally.

When scrolling through Instagram as usual, I stumbled across a new local shop. I loved everything about it instantly, so I did what we all do in the age of the follow: followed. Less than a week later, I answered the simple modeling call they put out on their IG account. Sam, the owner, invited me right over for a fitting. Instead of questioning everything the way I always do, I just dove in. And you know what? It felt so comfortable and right.

In what feels like a whirlwind of only seconds, I was meeting up with a group of wonderful models and photographers to do the most epic and exciting guerilla photoshoot for Camel City Covet. Everyone was so open and kind, and it really allowed for the most palpable storm of creativity I have ever felt. It was nothing short of inspiring.

photo by Drake Avenue Photography
photo by Jeremy Maynard
photo by Drake Avenue Photography
photo by Skyler Brown
photo by Drake Avenue Photography

Though tired from a twelve-hour day, I was deliriously happy post-photoshoot. I felt invigorated by the creativity I had been a part of that day, and was pumped to have made a great handful of new friends. Most of all, I was wiser. In less than a day, I had learned how bold and brave you have to be in order to make some of your dreams a reality. I had learned that even though sometimes you’re out of practice and even though it won’t be perfect, it’s essential to take a first step. I had learned that sometimes, you just have to jump right in… even if you’re jumping into a freezing cold pool.

And you know what else? It was really, really fun.
photo by Drake Avenue Photography
photo by Drake Avenue Photography
All photos seen here are property of their respective photographers. They’re all incredibly talented, awesome, and kind people, so please don’t be crappy and take their work without asking. You can check out their stellar work on the sites I linked below each photo.
 
If you see any clothes you like, order online from Camel City Covet!

26 Gonnas for 26!

Happy July, everyone! This is one of my favorite, yet busiest months. Birthdays, parties, holidays, vacations, and anniversaries like Oprah is handing them out — one for you, and one for you, and one for YOU! I’m going to be on the run most of this month, but I won’t leave you hanging without entries. However, they’ll be on a sort of off-kilter timeline. Can ya dig?

With my birthday looming in a mere 11 (almost 10!) days, I decided to kick off the month with a birthday-related gonna challenge… for myself. I mean, overall, 25 was great. It had marvelous moments, but also dark ones. I went through a bit of a quarter-life crisis, and though I’m sure it’s not completely done with me, the crisis is definitely on the waning end of a decline. But you know what? I’m ready for better than great; I’m ready for amazing.

After reading this article, it didn’t take me long to figure out what I wanted to get myself for my name day: my break; my second chance. Sure, I overcame a few of the bigger gonnas I’d set up for myself in year two-five, but ever the perfectionist, I want to do better. Ever the believer of my own late bloomed-ness, I am hoping 26 is going to be my door-opening year. Every year after that will build on the success I hope know 26 will be. Happy sort-of-late-twentyhood to me!

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan.*
3. Finish my screenplay.
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks… ever.
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
6. Get my teaching license.
7. Write one blog every week!
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
11. Teach someone something life-changing. **
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back.*
13. Finish writing a book with C.
14. Learn how to sew.
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
16. Spend more time with my family. **
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
18. Get something published.
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek.
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.
24. Meet a sloth!
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.

* Money allowing.
** Specifics to come when I figure it out!

I’m gonna do this! What are y’all gonna do this year?

Gonnas: Well, Well, Well…

Make sure you’re sitting down everyone. I know I’ve made a lot of promises regarding this issue, but I finally did it. I finally made an appointment for my wisdom tooth surgery. I sure am going to be one fun, giant ball of anxiety until the moment of sedation!

After a lot of nudging from both personal and professional sources, I finally called for a consultation. I woke up bright n’ early this morning to head to the oral surgeon to see what he had to say.

I got there and was greeted by delightful staff and a very lovely, tech-savvy office. I watched Obama make some jokes on Leno while I filled out my patient information. A cute child tried to pet my leopard flats.

“This isn’t so bad,” I thought. “You have been building this up for no reason. It’s not like you even hate the dentist. What if you get back there and he’s like ‘LOLZ, U DON’T NEED TO GET THESE TAKEN OUT!’ What if he lets me stay conscious? I can do this! I can conquer the world!!”

My overly nice dental assistant got me comfy, despite the fact that my view was kind of disorienting. It’s weird looking at your own mouth on the big-screen.

I told her it might be scary in there since my teeth have been bothering me off and on since January. She boosted my confidence by noting they see a lot of “meth mouth.” Sorry for the addicts, but not so sorry for finding a dental assistant who scratched my huge “Breaking Bad” itch. Again, what had I been worried about? THINGS ARE GOING TO BE FINE, RIGHT?!
The surgeon walked in and was beyond pleasant. He looked professional yet friendly, certainly capable of ripping my teeth out of my face bones. He kind of poked around my mouth for 30 seconds and then used my mouth map to tell me what was up.
“See these teeth here, here, and here? They’re all covered in bone. Oh, and behind this one? That’s a cyst, and we’re going to have to test that to make sure it’s not something worse. Because of all this, you’re going to have to be asleep via an IV drip.”
I replied with some nervous laughs and let him know I’d done way too much research, so I knew that tumors could develop because of your wisdom teeth. EHEHEH, IT’S SO FUNNY, I’M DEALING WITH THIS SO WELL, DOC! Inside my head though, my optimism was crashing and burning as my cynicism screamed “DID YOU REALLY THINK YOU’D GET OFF THAT EASY?!”
I chatted with him about my overwhelming fear of anesthesia after he let me know there was no way around sedation. The assistant had taken my blood pressure and instantly commented about how low it was, so she was there to back me up. He assured me about as much as anyone could ever hope to, and mentioned that the medicine would even make my blood pressure rise. He also promised a 20-30 minute surgery. Come on, little body, we can hold out for that long, can’t we? Pretty please?
So I discussed price (JESUS.) with the insurance coordinator and made my appointment for the earliest time slot available on Halloween. I figure the juju of my favorite holiday has got to count for something.
I spent the remainder of my day starting to make arrangements for next week and trying to convince my dad to film my post-op jokes in the recovery room. He’s not really a huge fan of the idea.
I’ll probably say my farewells to everyone, make a last will and testament video, and cry a lot about my ultimate demise, but when I wake up on the other side four teeth and a potential tumor less, I’ll feel like a big ol’ dummy. A BIG ‘UN! Especially since it looks like Hurricane Sandy will kill all of us that week anyway.