Yum, fun & YAAS!

Photo taken by Jenny Linker in the most adorable salon, Maven Salon. Edited by me!

Yep! It’s that time! My monthly “Supporting Local” blog post.
(I only promised it approximately a good month ago -eek! Sorry for the delay.
I can blame COVID-19 still, right?!)

Every time I do one of these “Supporting Local” blog posts, I get so excited thinking about who I should highlight. It can be a tad overwhelming, in a good way, because there is so much around our beautiful city to get into!! Not just Concord, NC, too… in fact, two of the three businesses I plan to shout out today are located in Kannapolis, NC. I love bee-bopping between the two different areas, and I hope after reading about these fun places that you too will give them a try!! Let’s dive in…

Something yum:

Havana Carolina Restaurant & Bar

Photo taken from Havana Carolina’s Facebook page.

11 Union Street S Suite #108, Concord, NC 28025
Click HERE to be directed to their Facebook page!!

I have to give my husband props on this one! He was the one who introduced me to this faaaaabulous restaurant, tucked away in the heart of Downtown Concord. I believe I’ve mentioned that my husband and I are both “sandwich people”, right? Well, if you’re hearing it here for the first time, trust and believe, we live for sandwiches of all shapes and kinds. Feel like you’ve never seen this restaurant before? That’s probably because you haven’t looked close enough! Like I said, it’s kind of tucked away and to the unobservant eye, you may totally miss a Concord gem. There are a couple ways to get inside: Union Street side & Church Street side. Here are walking instructions for the Union Street side: If you’re walking along Union Street, window shopping through adorable Downtown, & pass Cabarrus Creamery on your right? You’ll find yourself in front of a building with two glass store fronts (one’s a restaurant called The Grille, and I believe the other one is retail. It recently changed, so I apologize for not being 100% sure… it may even be currently empty). You’ll walk through the automatic doors into the air conditioning , and you’ll see a long hallway straight ahead. Dead end at the back of that hallway, and you’ll have found yourself at the front doors of Havana Carolina!! You may be able to just follow the aroma and not need my instructions, but just in case. Now, for the Church Street side instructions: If you’re driving down Church Street, you just crossed over Cabarrus Ave E, and you can see the WhataBurger sign up on the right. BEFORE you pass Whataburger, there is a parking lot to the right. Pull in! Be careful, some spots are reserved and they don’t play when it comes to reserved parking in DTC. As you pull in, you’ll see a patio area for one of our favorite local bars, Lil’ Roberts Place, to the right you’ll see signs for Red Hill Brewing, and then there will be a building to the right of that. There’s a glass door, and usually a sign pointing you in the right direction for Havana! Through that glass down, down some steps, you’ll find the back entrance of this amazing restaurant. You’ll have to walk around the restaurant to the front entrance to be greeted by a host, but as you do so you can look into the windows and enjoy the decor and atmosphere of this Cuban themed restaurant. I hope that helped when it comes to finding this staple, and know it’s totally worth the hunt! Honestly, it’s not really even a hunt, but I remember thinking the first time eating there that I would have never thought to look here to find this level of deliciousness.

Here’s a shot from the Union Street side!! Photo taken from their Facebook page!

Now, let me walk you through what we typically order, and our review on their food!! The REAL reason you’ve probably read this far, right?! “Where’s the meat?!” Ok, ok. I shall deliver. If you have no idea what to get at a Cuban restaurant, you really cannot go wrong by ordering the classic: A Cuban Sandwich.

Photo taken from Havana Carolina’s Facebook page.

Check. Out. That. Beauty!

I cannot stress this enough: you need to try this sandwich. It really speaks for itself in just a photo alone, but do yourself a flavor and go order one TODAY! Ham… pulled pork… cheese… pickles…. that Cuban bread?! MM!

So, what should you get to go with it?? I mean, the safe choice is always french fries. Right? That’s my comfort zone, any way. But I decided “to hell with my comfort zone” and tried something new! Plantain chips or Mariquitas. I have tried sweet plantains before, they’re called “Maduros” (and are absolutely amazing, you have to get a side of those as well), but these were like fried little chips of plantain goodness, lightly salted, and addictive as all get out.

Photo taken from Havana Carolina’s Facebook page.

We like to dip them in the dipping sauce that comes with the Croquettes, it’s like a mayo-garlic-cilantro mixture (called Salsa de Cilantro) and it pairs very nicely with the crunch of the chip! Let me not mention croquettes and not explain to you how AMAZING these are! These are yet another item on their menu that you must try when you go to Havana Carolina. I’ll admit though, my first time going and trying these? I was skeptical. I googled what the heck a Croquette was, and found some interesting descriptions: Croquettes are simply a breadcrumbed and fried roll of food leftovers, usually bound with bechamel sauce or mashed potatoes. Um… what?! Leftovers? But, rest assured, they’re not using leftovers. That obviously would not be up to code. It kind of reminds me of finely chopped ham salad on the inside, and it’s rolled in a beautifully golden, deep fried & crunchy outside. Again, the dipping sauce that comes with it gives me LIFE and I want to marinate all my meats in it. I need to find out what it consists of, exactly, just so that I can do that! I’m a texture person, and if something tastes great but also, texture wise, is pleasant? I’ll become addicted, and sure enough, these are truly addictive for taste and texture both. You’ve been warned!

Havana Carolina has quite a lot more on their menu that I have yet to try, but I know that regardless of what you order that you will be pleasantly surprised and delighted! They’re a full bar restaurant, and their margarita’s are bomb! If you know me, I’m a bit of a margarita connoisseur. I can practically point you in the direction of the top 5 best in this area (light bulb: oooooh, that’d be a fun blog post!) Havana Carolina DEFINITELY makes the cut!!

Photo taken from their Facebook page!

My family and I love this Concord staple, and we hope that you are intrigued and plan to try it soon! If you try something not mentioned in this blog post, comment below and let us know what you think! Promise you won’t be disappointed, yet totally in love with the whole shebang. Enjoy!!

You can’t go without trying a Cuban coffee before leaving! Enjoy!! Photo taken from Havana Carolina’s Facebook page.

Something fun AND yum:

Lovely Lines Boutique

Photo of their storefront! Photo taken from LLB’s Facebook page.

2071 Dale Earnhardt Blvd Kannapolis, NC 28083
Click HERE to check out their Facebook page!!

Take a step into the most loving and accepting boutique you’ve ever been to: Lovely Lines Boutique. Seriously, though. Even before I got to know the two owners somewhat, they treated me like one of their life long girlfriends from the moment I first stepped into their space. Erica & Jess are always eager to help me find a special item, make suggestions based off what will flatter my “lovely lines” and always make me feel beautiful by the time I leave. The atmosphere is so positive and so loving, it’s almost like they have it in an air freshener plugged into the wall somewhere. Need a moment of chill and a moment of full acceptance for who you are? Drive over to Kannapolis and TREAT YO SELF.

Let me introduce you to these masterminds behind this lovely boutique!
(wording in italics are taken from their Facebook page)

This lovely photo was taken from their Facebook page.

Meet Erica… Mother of three – Lexia, Sybella and Emerick and wife to Jeremy! Full time digital artist at WE Creative. She’s the tech behind this duo.

Photo taken from their Facebook page!

Erica STAYS cracking me up!! She’s so down to Earth, easy to talk to, always makes me laugh and has a great eye for what fits my plus size body. If I can’t make a choice between two shirts, or two colors of a pair of earrings or clutch? Erica is the one I ask, and then she’s likely also the one to talk me into just getting both. I’m worth it, I’m supporting local, and the prices are that good that I can do that! MM! Erica is someone that I just want to go get pedicures with, and then a margarita. She’s someone who you can see yourself being friends with for a lifetime, and she truly cares about all the customers who comes into the boutique. I appreciate knowing that if I need to find a special item for a date night, or a gift for a friend, that her awesome personality will be there to fill up the room and absolutely make my day. Thank you Erica for being a girl’s girl, and for your contribution to making this boutique for us curvy girls.

Meet Jessica… Mother to Grayson and wife to Josh! Full time Designer at WE Creative. She’s got marketing in her blood and never stops plotting the next step to her dream!

Photo taken from their Facebook page!

Jessica is, without a doubt, the sweetest person I’ve met in a long time. She will totally captivate you with her smile, and her customer service as well. I remember around Christmas time of 2019, when they were temporarily also located inside Carolina Mall, I was trying to pick out a gift to personalize for my daughter and sweet Jessica took the time to help me make the best selection. My daughter and I LOVE our monogrammed crossbody purses, and every time I wear mine I am reminded at how truly awesome that experience was. That’s just one story of many, too, where Jessica helped me personalize or pick out an item. Jessica has always taken the time out of her busy schedule to chat when I come into their boutique. It’s so nice to feel like a priority when you come into their space, and feel surrounded by love and kindness the whole time. If I’m trying on a size, and it’s a little snug? There is ZERO judgement on her sweet face, and she’s super discreet in helping me grab the next size up. In fact, it’s almost like a celebration rather than a let down. Like, “ayeee, rock them curves you sexy beast.” Thank you Jessica for being so kind, and for being a part of this awesome duo who brought Lovely Lines to us!!

Was so much fun to watch them on a local news station talk about their boutique!!

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I’m not a plus sized girl so this post is a little disappointing.” GIRL. If you think they only help women size 14 and up? You dead wrong. Their choices of one-size-fits-all accessories are to die for! They also are really great at curating other local small business items, like jewelry from The Little White Willow and apparel or novelty items from Dammit Boy, to name a few. So, please don’t feel like you can’t step inside this positive space just because their clothing may not be your size. They have something for EVERYONE and would be more than happy to help you!

Photos above are taken of family & dear friends of mine who were LLB models!
Are they not GORGEOUS?!

Body positivity and feeling good in clothes that make you feel empowered and HOTT is just the minimum of what you can expect to experience when you visit Lovely Lines Boutique. I can guarantee that you will fall in love with their selection, their atmosphere, and their loving personalities. Check out their Facebook page by clicking on the link above for store hours, more information, and even more photos of real customers and women who are totally rocking their awesome curvy figures!

One of my most favorite experiences at LLB was when they had a model call (they frequently do this so follow them on Facebook for the next event), and I had the privilege of being chosen to come model clothes for their online sales and photos for their social media platform! Speaking of EMPOWERING!? I left there feeling like a true model, like my plus sized body was important, and that I was a part of something beautiful. I was so nervous to step in front of that camera, but all of that went out the window as soon as Jess & Erica began to select an outfit for me.

Jess, Erica, and all the staff at LLB have been an integral part in me feeling comfortable in my own skin. You have got to go visit them in Kannapolis, and experience this for yourself. If you go see Jess & Erica? Let them know that Katie sent ya!!

Something fun, yum and YAASS:

Jenny Linker
Hair Stylist at Maven Salon

Photo taken from Maven’s Facebook page.

109 West Avenue Kannapolis, NC 28081
Find Jenny’s work on her IG: @nipperlinkerlynn
Visit Maven Salon’s Facebook Page by clicking HERE
Also, you can visit their website… here!

The cutest store front!! Photo taken from Maven’s Facebook page.

Where do I even begin with this sweet & fiery soul? How about with the fact that she does an amazing job on my stubborn head of hair. That’s probably the understatement of the year, to be honest. I have had many hair dressers, all have done a decent job. I’m not knocking anyone who used to do my hair. I’ve had some real talent all up on my head… but JENNY LINKER!! OOOH WEE!!! I’ve heard that finding a soul mate is hard, & that finding a true friend is even harder. No, no, no. I say that finding your soul mate hair dresser, one who colors your hair the way you imagined and styles it to perfection every. single. time. is damn near impossible! Well, I stopped saying that after I sat in her chair after the first time. And the second time. And the fifth time…. you get my point. You see, Jenny goes above and beyond every time I sit in her chair. This mop on top of my head is no walk in the park either. It’s long, it’s thick, it’s gray at the roots, it’s a weird funky wavy that has a mind of its own, AND I want one of the more complicated coloring styles possible: blonde balayage. You know, the intentional look of dark roots to light ends? Each visit we are bringing my hair up to go as blonde as possible, slowly, as to not totally damage my hair. Ohhhh that patience she must have to do one process for my grays and another separate process for the blonde. I know it’s a beast of a job based off the length of my hair, and how long it takes to cover it all. Here’s the thing: Despite it being an absolute JOB?! She never seems bothered, she never seems rushed, and she always tells me to relax when I apologize for the whole ordeal. I am, naturally, and “over-apologizer” any way, yet she consistently reassures me that I have noting to be sorry for. Even after the lengthy ordeal of two different processes plus toning, a thorough washing (probably my favorite part), trimming my dead ends, and THEN blow drying my hair to a smooth and soft blow out?? She still takes the time to put some curl in it & style it nicely. This is no “2 hour hair appointment” we are talking about, y’all. This is her putting in some WORK, and my goodness the end results are BOMB!! She always makes sure to educate me on how to take care of it in between appointments, and points me in the direction of what products I’ll love. She really covers all the bases, and all my grays. Hallelujah!

Going blonde, in the very capable hands of Jenny Linker! Loving these pink club chairs & the lighting in this large window! So much charm!

Besides being the best hair stylist I have ever seen, Jenny also has a banging personality. This chick just gets me. I can spill alllll the tea, and I know that it stays locked away in a vault where only her and I keep tabs on it. I have trusted her with some pretty serious stories, and I have never once worried if it would be repeated. That’s worth its weight in gold to me, y’all. Especially amongst southern women. HAA! We are known for our small town gossip. She doesn’t just sit there and “uh huh” me to death, either. She gives me real advice, applicable advice, loving and caring advice that really resonates with me. She doesn’t come across as a “know it all” but just instead like a therapist who points you in the direction you didn’t know you needed to go. Sitting in her chair is like sitting in a therapist’ chair, and I feel “mind-body-soul” taken care of after each appointment. That’s rare, chicas. That’s why I mentioned before that I no longer say that it’s damn near impossible to find a soul mate hair stylist, because I finally found her in THE Jenny Linker of Maven Salon in Downtown Kannapolis, NC.

If you’re looking for a hair stylist that not only will leave you looking like a million bucks, but make you feel worth that, too? Then look no further. Give this gal a ring, book an appointment, and let me know what ya think!

Maven’s gorgeous logo.

Besides, the new cute Maven Salon is truly a looker. The boho decor was something I took mental note on the entire time I was there, and plan to implement in my own home. CURTIS!! Get your paint brushes ready, babe*wink*. The salon fits right in with the newness of the Downtown Kannapolis area, and if you haven’t taken a stroll down the recently (and still, currently being) renovated streets of DTK, then I urge you to go. Like, now.

More beautiful “Maven’s”! Look at all that talent! Photo taken from Maven’s Facebook page.

Thank you so much for reading this months “supporting local’ blog post! It’s one of my favorite things to write about, and I really hope that you are eager to give these 3 spots and small businesses a try! If you have a small business and want us to give it a shout, go to the “Holla” page at the top and send us a message! We’d be honored to feature your business in our next post!!

Support local, support small, support your city!!

So much love to ya,

Mask On, Mask Off.

For starters, if you want the full effect of my head space during the creating of this post, you’ll need to listen to the song that I’ve had in my ears on repeat all day today. Have you heard that song by Natalie Taylor yet? “Surrender“. Give it a try, y’all. I’m not sure if it’s her voice and the calmness of it alongside the lyrics, but it’s something I turn on lately when I’m in my feels…. & that’s exactly what I would call this moment in time for me. “In my feels.” I tend to associate music to moments, and smells too but that’s besides the point. If you play the song from my very first high school break up that I placed on repeat for almost 2 weeks? I’ll feel that scar light on fire. If you play the song I walked down the aisle to at mine and Curt’s wedding? I’ll feel butterflies again. If you play the song “Amazing Grace” on a piano, I can smell the pages of an old hymnal book and feel old hard pews under my legs.

Any one else? …Maybe?

Any way, I digress. If you know me, like truly know me & my Cancer-Leo-cusp-baby super emotional sensitive self, you know how easy it is for me to get here. Here being a place where I’m out of sorts… adrift…. disconnected. Here, where I cry in private over simple every day actions or words thanks to the art of over-thinking. Here, where heart ache seems to magnet to me. Being someone who so easily feels, and feels everything so hard, I’ve had to learn how to hold it back. Filter it. Throw humor into the mix. It’s not something that everyone can handle. In fact, I’m not sure any one has ever fully been able to. I find myself letting go and letting it all free, only to quickly and frantically reel it back in. Like, “oops, your emotions are showing Katie, cover those up!”

Learning how to water myself down and become what others need me to be is a task that I have perfected so well that I like to think of it as having a collection of faces. Despite my feelings, despite my inner pains or even joys, I have this impressive assortment of masks that I can easily take off the wall and put on to accommodate those around me. I can’t say that I mind, most days any ways. You see, I fully enjoy making those around me happy with these unique set of skills that I have acquired. Don’t mistake it with me being less genuine, though. If I’m donning a mask to cover my needs or true feelings in that moment? It’s me being the friend, the listener, the sponge that you need me to be. It’s me trying to be there for you. It’s me loving or caring for you.

Empaths are highly sensitive individuals, who have a keen ability to sense what people around them are thinking and feeling. Psychologists may use the term empath to describe a person that experiences a great deal of empathy, often to the point of taking on the pain of others at their own expense…”
Definition found on www.psychalive.org, to read more click the provided link.

A good friend of mine was allowing me to release some of the tension and vent “mask-less” during my pregnancy, when my emotions were definitely out of whack and hormones to boot, and she said,

“Katie, you’re an empath.”

I’ll be honest, I’ve never heard anyone use that term before. I mean, I know what empathy is, of course, so common sense helped me figure out what she meant. Since then I have done some research about what it means to be an “empath”. It honestly seems pretty fitting for the predicament I find myself in all too often. I can feel vibes and can feel moods and underlying tones and typically don’t miss the unspoken need during conversations. Some people talk about having a third eye, but sometimes it feels like I have a third ear. Weird visual, I know. My husband is always getting on to me about allowing those around me to affect my mood and day, and he often doesn’t understand how that is hard for me to shed (he’s gotten much better over the years, so no worries). I simply cannot just listen to your story and take it at face value. I simply cannot just hear the words. I feel you from the across the room, I feel you when you’re texting me regardless of your physical location, I can feel you before you even make it to the topic of conversation. Our emotions and feelings put off energy that can be palpable to someone who is a true empath. It’ll sink in to my chest, and it’s as if I am taking it on for you.

Oh how I wish I had the super-power to take it from you all together and eliminate it for you, too.

*deep sigh*

Alas, I cannot. I can’t do much besides merely listen and offer myself to you. I can pray with you. I can lift you up and hype you up. I can bring you small gifts. I can offer you acts of kindness. I can hug you and hold you. I can create grand gestures. I can pick up this mask from my assortment, and offer you a smile. I can cry with you. I can laugh with you. I can get goofy and crazy and absolutely ridiculous with you (it’s kind of my favorite mask).

You see, friend? I can.
I want to.

Forgive me, though, if at times I drop the ball. It can be overwhelming at times, and I’m only human. There are many circumstances when dropping the ball is not appropriate and I apologize to you if I ever have let you down. I know there are many friends of whom I have totally disappointed. My mask slipped. My human flesh weakened. My inability to hold it together one hundred percent of the time failed you. My problems, my busy schedule, my loose sanity, my list of needs came bursting through the seams when I try so hard to keep them at bay. For you.

I failed you.

I am sorry.

This mask I’ve been wearing to help you carry your burdens is rather heavy some days. The weight of the mask has long lasting effects felt deeply in my soul. I carry your burdens with me sometimes for so long that I forget they weren’t mine to carry. I took them on for you because I love you, because I care for you, because I wanted to leave you better than I found you. I want to be the one who you go to because I know others can be so cruel. I know others only listen to earn ammunition. I know others only listen to be nosey. No, I want you to feel comfortable knowing that I will actually listen. I want you to feel safe with me, knowing your deepest secrets are under lock and key. You. Any one reading this. You! I may not even know you, but if it’s laid on me to give that part of me to you? I would. Without caution, without question, without discrimination, without judgement.

Quarantining in 2020 has been NO. F’N. JOKE. I am a social butterfly. Put me behind bars, and you’ll watch me fade. I know I probably shouldn’t use the hyperbole of my home being like a prison. I can hear how that sounds ungrateful or dramatic. Though, when you’re told you’re not allowed to leave it, isn’t that what it begins to feel like? Trapped behind these four walls of a 3-bedroom-2-bath home, and taking deep breaths every time I open my front door to the feeling of fresh air on my face. Taking it in like hoarders did with toilet paper and bleach. Frantic to feel freed. Praying like hell they won’t tell us we can’t even open those doors one day. They can’t do that, right?! …right? The worry of that keeps me awake at night. My day went from working with beautiful, amazing children in a “hands-on” capacity, to waving at them from behind a computer screen. Yet, despite my worry and my fears and my chaos in my chest, I pick up that mask and don it like their lives depend on it. Knowing good and well that I’m not reaching them like I want to, like they need me to. Knowing that I’m at a disadvantage, and not being able to squeeze the serotonin (quite literally) into their bodies. I struggle with how I am essential behind my lap top, staring into a camera and pleading with my WiFi to not buffer for the 1,000th time before 10am. Yet, I hang up my personal dilemmas and I pick up that face that helps calm their nerves in these trying times. I’ve had families that I work with thank me for still being available, and I hang up with a tear falling down my cheek. Hanging up my mask, finally letting go of my concerns behind the blank screen in a private moment, hitting me all at once like crashing waves. Thankful for a productive session, worrying it won’t always be easy each time. Praying for a skill set to appear almost over night. On the other hand, I’ve had families experience that the on-line services aren’t helping their child, not the way in person could, and they decide that they still need me physically. I hang up my concern of contracting COVID-19, and brave the germ infested world to rush to them (happily, honestly). I put myself and my family at risk to provide the care that is necessary to complete my job in the best manner possible (again, happily, I know what I signed up for and am forever grateful for my chosen career). I put on that usual mask of light-heartedness that children need to feel safe, and I set aside my anxieties for their hour. When it’s done I plop down into my car, begin the journey home, and find that I listen to nothing on the radio. I sit in absolute silence. Sometimes I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I make it almost home before I realize I’m still practically holding my breath. I open the door and hang up my heavy mask, and then fall apart at my husbands feet. Letting go of the weight of each family’s burdens, their fears or worries of their child’s progress and needs. Sorting through the ideas and the strategies that I can implement. Ideas firing away at me a mile a minute. Feeling the weight of their concern on their shoulders subsequently on mine. Gladly taking it from them so that they can breathe for a moment, knowing that I am one of the members of the calvary that has shown up at their doorstep to provide relief. Sometimes Curtis’ hold at the end of the day isn’t just a hug, but a moment of him collecting the scattered “me”. Allowing me a moment to ready myself before I let go of my therapy-mask and reach for my Mommy-mask. He hugs me til I’m ready to let go. And then, I go right back into it. He thinks he’s just hugging me.

Mask after mask, face after face. Holding back my selfish needs and wants, my anxieties, my inner demons. They have to sit down, silently raging in the background mosh-pit style, and grossly fester all day. I’ve learned how to quiet them by keeping busy. Ignoring them. The unfortunate truth about having these unpleasantries, though, is that it’s not as easy to hang them up on the wall and walk away from them like I can with a mask. No, these are a permanent fixture it seems. I have to surrender them daily at the feet of Jesus, but my idiotic-weak-human self picks them back up every day at approximately 11:00PM. You know, when the house is quiet. When there’s no one to need me. When the masks have been put away. When my “true face” is showing. When everything that has been silent all day is angry at me for “leaving them on read”. Yeah, that’s when they come out to party. That quiet moment that can be so metaphorically loud? It’s a moment for me to unpack the vibes, the feelings, the griefs, the joys, the angers of the day that you, my sweet friend, unknowingly (or maybe knowingly because I invited you to) put on me. Me, your empath buddy. It’s the time where I sort through my own dilemmas, after letting go of yours. It’ll be 2am before I realize I’m exhausted, desperate for rest, and sleep will finally overcome my body. My anxieties will fade into the darkness, resting up for another play date tomorrow.

Selfishly, at times, I’ll ask myself, “Who’s going to listen to me?” Besides my husband, my beautiful hair stylist, and only my closest friends and family: I don’t always feel comfortable giving it all away. Hell, even those listed above haven’t heard it all. It’s like hitting an artery, though. Once a topic comes up, once I let go of just a little bit, it spews from me like a bleeder.

Apply pressure!
Conceal, don’t feel (Frozen reference, for those non-parents out there).
Throw on a mask and entertain, quick.
This is NOT their burden.
This is NOT what they signed up for when entering this conversation with you.
This is NOT their weight to carry.

Hush.

It may sound like I’m complaining, please don’t misconstrue that. I’ve met other friends who are self proclaimed empaths as well, and they too can admit that it gives us a sense of purpose being there for our friends in this manner. This collection of masks that hangs behind me? I’m kind of proud of them. I’m happy to use them. I’m delighted to be of help to you in your time of crisis, need, joy, or whatever you are going through. But let me go ahead and get to the reason why I am writing about this tender topic:

I. Am. Not. Perfect.

Whew.

Thank you Jesus for taking that burden for me, because living perfectly is not something that I would want to sign up for. Like I mentioned above, my mask will slip. My imperfections will come out. Alert: even your friend who you vent to has things going on. These plates I’m spinning over here? Things like scheduling clients, educating clients, walking clients through their childs diagnosis, walking clients through how to use Zoom and how to be my eyes and ears and hands, documenting professionally and proficiently, adding goals, deleting goals, researching ideas and plans for best outcomes, taking courses to better my knowledge, practicing my Spanish to communicate in two different communities, juggling my clients needs outside of their children, being a leader, being a go-to person for over 20 different families… that’s just my Occupational Therapist plate. Then add in my Mom plate, my wife plate, my respite care job plate, my preschool teacher plate, my Aunt plate, my sister plate, my daughter plate, my best friend plate, each of my friends have their own plate, my church plate, my volunteer plate… I mean, I can keep going but I think you get the point. Making sure each of these are continually spinning, not dropping any of them, while donning the correct mask to appease their individual needs?

I do it.
I do it out of love.
I do it gladly…

… but let’s not play like it’s not work.

… but let’s not over-look the fact that the time for my self care is limited.

The way my heart’s set up? The way my intentions are built? The way my personality was designed? I just, genuinely, want to help others. I want my legacy to be that I listened. That I noticed your small squirm when you weren’t sure if I was going to judge you. I want my legacy to be that I gave you a safe space to be you. I want people to say good things about me when I leave a room. Yeah, maybe I shouldn’t care about what’s said about me. I wish I could turn that trait about me off. Those who have learned to not care about the opinions of others are my heroes and inspirations. But what I do? What I sign up for? What I gladly take on for you, dear friend or family… I do it for no applause. I do it for no reward. I do it with no expectations other than just with the hope of kindness in return. Simple kindness and maybe a drop of understanding. A drop of grace.

So, in closing…. be kind to those who are kind to others. Shoot, in general, just be kind. Probably be kind even more to those who are being sucky or having sucky moments. You have no idea what battles someone is facing, you have no idea what lies behind the mask they’re wearing today, and you have no idea what their journey has been like. I mean, unless you have a Joe-Exotic-style-camera-man on you. I’m just sayin’. Even then, I don’t think we got the whole story! [ We are on to you, Carole. ]

If you’re reading this and you’re saying: YES! THIS! ME TOO! Then I pray you know you’re not alone. Being the one your friends and family go to is a blessing and at times a curse, but I see you. I see you trying your best to take care of it all. I see you putting the needs of others before your own. I see you.

If you’re reading this and you’re thinking: Jeez, I don’t want to bother her anymore! Don’t. Don’t do that. This blog space is here for me to release some of this pressure that is placed on me (self inflicted, mostly) and if I can’t do it here, then where? Remind yourself of my above statement that I enjoy being there for you. This post is me seeking out your understanding that I am not perfect. I am asking for grace. That’s all.

If you’re reading this and thinking: I really want to pick her brain. I need someone to vent to. I need support. Bring it on, homie! Hit me up. There’s a “holla” button at the top of this page, shoot me a message. I am here.

Everyone else? Thank you for reading this entire post. For reading any of my ramblings! It really means a lot to me. I just sort of type out my feelings without really going back and listening if I sound contradictory or not, so my effort is truly natural and honest. I am eager to write about things that strike me and hang on to me, and I hope that something throughout my posts brings a smile to your face.

May your quarantine be full with laughter, love, and peace….

…. and if not, may you have plenty of wine to survive it.

Love,

Old Wooden Rocking Chair

Dear Old Wooden Rocking Chair,
May I sit down a while?
I would never want it to be any trouble,
But my soul feels truly tired.

May I place my weight firmly into your lap?
I know you’ll hold me steady regardless of the burden. 
We can rock and sway for hours.
I know you’ll feel my heart ache churning. 

I would caress your dry smooth handles,
Beneath my empty hands.
I would wonder who else has held onto you,
Who else has made these selfish demands? 

I’ll lean into your strong structure, 
I crave your unwavering protection.
I’d ease my head back into your rest,
You’ll catch me without question. 

Your old bones may creak beneath the tension
Still I know you can withstand it during our time.
So intricately, beautifully built.
Are you damned because you are mine? 

They wouldn’t believe me if I told the story
How I found you beside the road.
Cast out, forgotten, buried, rejected
Laid out to wither and corrode.

Surely it was a mistake that you needed my care.
Their reasons for abandoning you must have weight. 
Even as you sit here unrefined and bruised,
My only conclusion is that they were forced to vacate.

So now you are mine
Sitting in contrast of the chaos that surrounds you
Never quite sure of when the day will come
That I need to borrow your strength for a moment or two.


Only you, Old Wooden Rocking Chair,
It has only been you who has answered my every call.
I need not worry if you’ll receive my distress.
I need not worry if you’ll be there, at all. 

As we sit here together,
I feel entirely at peace.
I can hang up the anxieties of the day behind me,
I can lose track of the ones that are ahead of me.

I come to you on the days that I need you the most
We move back and forth effortlessly. 
Though the thought often crossing my mind
How you, too, may need me? 

I picked you up that day
With a promise in my heart.
I wanted to wash you, polish you, love you
I wanted to offer you a new start.

I’m beyond apologetic 
If your time with me has felt underwhelming.
I am working on being the best version of me,
Though I never mean to make you question. 

You must though, 
As you sit here alone on the cold floor.
It pains me to think that you feel unwanted
It pains me to wonder if you question if you aren’t worth more. 

I thank you for taking my body into your care
I thank you for giving me a place for my soul to bare. 
It is here I have planned my greatest events
It is here that I have even myself convinced

That one day you and I will make our great escape.
Just you and me
Old Wooden Rocking Chair, 
Yes… one day.

Hold onto this promise
I sing to you each time I come to fill your arms
The words leaving my lips are yours to keep
Forever engrained into your cold, rough columns.

Sway with me once again on this lonely night
Allow us to dance beneath the full pink moon
I’ll keep you company through the mundane
And pray the nightmares in my soul you’ll consume. 

You are beautiful, you are a blessing
You are so forgivingly kind
I’ll always know that I don’t deserve you,
I’ll always know that you are damned because you are mine.

|copyright © Katie Bailes – it’s complikatied blog|

Well, Shoot.

I made a mistake today.

…. & let’s be honest. Mistakes are kinda my forte. You see, if you know me for .023 seconds or longer, you’ll find that I’m this interesting mixture of

a) a people pleaser

b) easily excited

& c) that I can be too fast to speak

+ too slow to think.

* face to palm *

In fact, I catch myself with my foot in my mouth so much that I think I’ve actually tasted my own toes before. Gross, I know. Not as “gross” as my idiocy today. Man. I really messed up. You see? I was excited. I’m not defending myself. I’m just merely pointing out that is was my first mistake. I get worked up, flabbergasted, and discombobulated and whoooops: word vomit. I have the truest of intentions, I swear, but we all know what the road to hell is paved with. Right? Ugh. I fudged up what was meant to be a harmless moment of congratulations.

Hang in there with me…

You ever catch yourself too deep in a sentence? Like, there’s no turning back now!! Might as well make it to the punctuation. Then the sentence is out. BOOM. Quick! Scramble! How can I make this sound better?? Crap. Crap. Abort. Mission abort. You did it again, Kathryn. You can’t take back what you’ve started, the ships sinking. You either jump ship or stay & play with the band. Either way the picture ain’t pretty & they both end with a cold situation with likely drowning.

I’m stalling. I know.

I’m truly offended. Yep, I offended myself. I’m offended for the person I inadvertently offended. I’m mad for the one I unintentionally upset. I’m upset for the one who has rights to be mad. Who might that be?

My sweet, loving, hard-working, handsome husband.
(yeah, I’m buttering him up)

Hanging out at The Batch House. Our toddler was our photographer!

Quick side story: Curtis is and will forever be my knight in shining armor. This man saved me from a world of crazy, and I owe him my daily sanity. Hearing him say, “It’s going to be okay” speaks to my soul. Curtis calms me and provides me with a peace I’ve never known. He makes me a better person just by spending time with him. Simply sitting beside him and observing how he treats others makes me want to be a better person. He makes me want to be better, do better, act better. Listen, we fight & bicker like the rest of ya’s, trust me. But this sweet soul is the most forgiving and least-deserving-of-malarkey man I know. He truly loves me, for what reason I’ve yet to discover. Yet, here I go, making a comment he didn’t deserve to endure. My mouth simply opened up, and out spewed ridiculousness. Sigh. Deep sigh.

Ok…. I’ll stop stalling.

Today I was congratulating a sweet friend of mine on her recent engagement. She’s beaming with excitement and glowing with bride-to-be glee, and naturally I want to shower her in praise & love. It’s an exciting time! I’m truly excited for her! Yes, my excitement is my Achilles heal in this situation. This friend of mine deserves this happiness in her life & I’m geared up to dump more happiness in her lap. She would do the same for me! In fact, she did! She was over the moon excited for Curtis & I when we got engaged. She deserved that in return. Then the people pleaser in me went to work…. but so did my inability to frame my sentence with intelligible speech. My mouth worked quicker than my brain. My foot got ready to seek shelter in my mouth, per usual. My eyeballs land on her gorgeous engagement ring and *pop* out comes a very shallow comment. I have horrible retention for verbatim comments, yes even my own (especially my own), but it was something along the lines of how big the diamond was. Then, like an idiot, I compared it to my ring making me sound apathetic towards mine.

Holllllld up.
Wait just a damn minute. Katie!
What is yew doin’.
Trust me. I wanted to beat myself up.
That’s kind of what I’m doing now & did for the rest of the day.

Immediate inner thoughts:

Crap. What are you doing, Katie?! What are you even saying? Abort. Stop talking. Don’t look over at Curtis. (I look at Curtis) CRAP! I hurt his feelings, I can see it in his eyes. Save face, save face! Quick! Redirect the conversation elsewhere!!

I honestly cannot remember the 5-10 minutes after that, because all I could think about was how moronic my comments about my ring were. Especially because I have never spoken poorly about my ring. Never. Not once. I don’t have a reason to!

I. Love. My. Beautiful. Ring.

Photography by Ashley Ricci Photography.

Please re-read that last sentence as many times as it takes for you to believe that’s how I feel, because it’s the ever-loving truth. I absolutely love my antique-inspired, rose gold, perfectly symmetrical, unique, one-of-a-kind ring. It fit me the first time I put it on & it was exactly “my style”. You know why? Curtis LISTENED. He took every bit of advice I had ever given him, and there was a lot of “advice”. He brought my engagement ring dreams to life. He gave me a ring that I was so taken back by that I still cannot believe how good he did. Y’all, he did SO good. Then here I go, crapping on it.

Literal: face to palm.

Don’t worry. Since then I brought it back up in a private conversation between him & I. As I should have, I thoroughly apologized and leveled with him that I have no idea why I feel like I have to put myself down in order to compliment someone else. I also made sure he knew with every fiber of my being that I appreciate him and his unselfish purchase of my wedding ring & band. He purchased this for me with so much care & thoughtfulness. He surprised me. The fact that he surprised me alone is a huge feat, too, because it’s super duper hard to pull one over on me. He got down on one knee in front of all our kids. He vowed his heart & love to me. ME.

I’ll never really, truly, grasp why he chose me. Sigh.

Here’s my point though… in case you missed it amongst my stupidity & my flamboyant foolery:

I have no idea why I feel like I have to put myself down in order to compliment someone else.

When did that even become a thing? Look, I know I’m not alone in doing that, because I’m constantly getting onto my friends about not putting themselves down. Especially when it comes to comparing ourselves to one another. You know what the number one thief of joy is? Comparisons. It’s true that my friends ring is absolutely beautiful. So is mine. My friends ring sits on her hand as a sign of her commitment to her future husband no differently than mine does to my husband. Her ring has its story behind it just like my ring has a story, too. Each amazing. Each beautiful. Each unique. Not one less than the other. Not one better than the other.

Guess what?

Same goes for our bodies…. or our minds…. or our art…. or our talents… our skills… our parenting style. I have friends who are amazing business women, and I wish I were more savvy like them. I have friends who are thinner than me, and I wish I had their metabolism or their drive to exercise. I have friends who are more voluptuous than me, and I wish I had their sensual beauty and confidence. I have friends who can paint and do calligraphy with ease, and I wish I didn’t get so easily frustrated with my art. I have friends who have more eloquent speech and quick wit, and I wish I didn’t flounder around with my words. I have friends who have multiple babies, or even one baby, and I sit there wishing I could be a better mother like them.

The thing is? We are not less than one another. You may be a better business woman than me, but you’ll still catch me hustling. You may be thinner than me, but you’ll still catch me rocking a 2 piece on the beach. You may be more confident in your body, but you’ll still find me letting loose when I’m comfortable. You may have a beautiful eye and hand for art, but you’ll still catch me creating. You may be smarter or better equipped with fancy vocabulary, and quicker on your feet with your words… but you’ll still catch me writing & talking (but just maybe fumbling from time to time… a lot of times…). Your ring may have a larger stone than mine or a higher price tag than mine, but you’ll still catch me looking down at my left ring finger and admiring it. Watching how the sun hits all the smaller stones and how the intricate details on the side curl up to make cute mustache-like designs. You’ll never see it come off my finger, not even in the 50+ years to come. Some choose to upgrade theirs at certain milestones in their marriage, and that’s cool, ….but not me. I’ll die wearing this ring. I’ll pass this ring down to my granddaughter in my will. I’ll forever cherish what it meant and who gave it to me and the promise it stands for.

Ultimately this post is to point out one thing: stop comparing. Clap for your friends without putting yourself down. Build up your loved ones without tearing your own self down. Breathe life into your friends plans, but don’t forget to take breaths for yourself. Cheer on your beloved buds, but don’t forget to pat yourself on the back.

Celebrate your success.
Love yourself.
Choose happiness.
Choose to be kind AND exercise self-kindness.
Choose joy.

Side note: If you’re reading this, Curtis? I love you. Thank you for putting up with my painful awkwardness. Thank you for not damning me when I put my foot in my mouth. Thank you for understanding me better than anyone else ever has. Thank you for loving me for me, and all my imperfections. I’m sorry for my cringe-worthy craziness that gets me into more trouble than it’s probably worth. You’re better to me than I deserve, but I’m so glad that God put you in my life. I’m so blessed to be your wife.

Whew. Ok, now I can go to sleep peacefully. Having that on my chest was really weighing on me.

Ladies? Shoot, gentlemen too?? All y’all. You’re beautiful, you’re amazing, you’re capable, you’re smart, you’re funny, and you’re worthy of your own love. Be the start of a movement that inspires your circle. Shower you & yours with kindness & watch a beautiful, uplifting garden grow all around you.

Photography by Ashley Ricci Photography.

With all my love,

Concord, Raise Your Glass!

If you were so lucky to have joined in with me last week on Facebook live, you not only got to see me in all my glory, with a fancy Mary Kay Charcoal Mask adorned on my face, but you also were a part of a new idea that I conjured up to help me organize these blog posts for my local favorites. I originally was just going to write one large post about ALL my favorite places around Concord, NC, but when I began to make a list…

whew, chil’.

I realized that I really really love my city. There was absolutely no way to write a blog post about all my favorite places without it turning into a book. That’s when I thought that maybe just choosing 2-3 local establishments and business owners or small shops once a month would help me not feel so overwhelmed. Plus, it gives me a reason to eat, drink & shop around town for what quite possibly may be the unforeseeable future! Winning!

Also?

*clears throat *

*steps onto soap box*

I truly believe that it is so important to shop local and support small businesses as much as possible. Every time you purchase something from a local place, you’re supporting a family…. a neighbor… a dream. Our community! The dollars you spend go directly to their dinner tables and puts clothes on their kids backs. You’re helping a stay at home Mommy stay home with her babes, because (side-soap-box) maternity leave in the US can kick rocks. You’re helping a single parent make ends meet. You’re helping a Vet who’s having trouble finding work make their own way. The reasons and examples are endless, but mostly you’re supporting a dream. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that, if possible?! Because it’s such a passion of mine, and because I want to give my city as much help as I can, I thought this to be a fun way to give them just that! May these shout outs help local stores and hopefully, in turn, bring in YOUR business. For the record, these businesses had no idea I planned to do this. No one has asked me to review them nor have I received any type of compensation from them (nor would I accept any). You know why, though? Because supporting your local business does not mean hitting your friends up with their small business, and fishing for a discount or a freebie. Nope! Pay full price. Support the cause. Be the wind in their sails, er… the change in their pockets. Support them, fully. Sure, their product may be slightly more than the similar Amazon product in your shopping cart, but when you buy from a local small shop? You get local handmade goodness. You get customer service that no online service can beat. You get someone who truly cares about the quality of the product as much as you, the consumer, does. But hey, If you can’t purchase anything? Share their merchandise on social media, like their photos, refer more friends to them and their service. There are so many things you can do to help support local business, but asking for a discount surely isn’t one of them.

*steps off soap box*

So, without further adieu, I give to you this months three local businesses: Madelines Bath Magic, Groundwork Common & Southern Strain Brewing Co. I randomly chose these three one night in my Facebook live video, and I cannot tell you how excited I was about it. A good bubble bath, a craft beer, and then a latte?! YES. PLEASE.

Madeline’s Bath Magic

I first learned about Madeline’s Bath Magic because the owner, Melissa Protheroe, is also a Mommy at the school that my little one goes to & that I work at Part Time. I believe my initial experience with her bath bombs was from a special teacher deal she was running last summer as a “thank you” to those who had helped during the school year. I had heard nothing but amazing reviews from trusted friends, and had to take the deal while it was available. I thought “ok, Theo will like this because he really likes the little color tablets for his bath water” and was (of course) all about supporting a local Mama doing her thang. When we dropped that first bath bomb into our tub, I never realized how cool it would be to watch it fizzle out. Theo & I both were mesmerized. It took a whole lot of adult-like-restraint-and-responsibility to say “no” to my kiddo when he asked if we could toss in one more. Not only were they fun to watch fizzle out, but the tub looked like art!! And smelled ahhhhhmazing.

“That’s it”, I thought to myself, “I’m getting in, too!” and listen here, friends, I don’t care how weird you think it is! I got my over-sized booty right in that bath water with my tot and it was glorious. Granted, it didn’t last long because, before you know it , my legs were being used as car tracks and I’m like 102.5% sure I got peed on… Yay, #momlife. Bet you can guess what I did the following night, though! A L O N E. The essential oils and scents that Melissa chooses for each bath bomb is kind of like choosing a new story to read every night. It’s like being transported away, a mini get-away in the form of a bubble bath. All your senses heightened, yet, calmed at the same time. Each bath bomb different, rewarding, and each leaving you wanting “just 5 more minutes”. Unfortunately, the water grows cold, ten little fingers are wiggling at you from under the locked bathroom door and it’s time to come up for air from your mini escape. But those amazing 15-20 minutes feel like a little spa date with yourself and you just want to hug Melissa the next time you see her. I just might, you know… you’ve been warned, girl! I love the way they smell and feel, leaving my skin feeling silky and moisturized. I just love the whole experience. If I’ve had an especially difficult day? Her bath bombs are my go to special treat and self care essential. Can’t pour from a cup that’s empty, hunny. Soak them tired buns.

Melissa also offers other products besides bath bombs such as scrubs, lotions, lip balms, bath jelly & so so so much more. Click on the title of this section, or click here, to go to her website for a menu. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram: @melissaprotheroe. There you can read more on her story, the sweet & beautiful reason behind the business, and reach out to her personally for any orders. The story and reasoning alone will make you eager to support her and her small business. She’s a super patient and understanding soul. I know this personally as she has handled Theo’s birthday gift favors, my wedding party favors, Christmas gifts, and various gifts for all sorts of occasions. She always works with me on my budget, and finds ways to make me feel special. You just can’t get that kind of service from big corporations. Thank you Melissa & “Madeline’s Bath Magic” for all you’ve personally done for me and for your kind & loving heart. Check her out, y’all!

Groundwork Common

Quick backstory of why I love GWC so so much… A couple years ago, my Mother in Law moved from WV to our sweet little town of Concord, just off of Church Street. Now, if you’re not familiar with Concord geography, Church Street is just one of the major bloodlines that will transport you to all the local spots around town. I’ve driven up and down this road a gojillion times since being handed my license, and have even had 1 car break down in the intersection right in front of Danny’s gas station. One of my first jobs was right off Church Street, my Dad’s accounting business. We watch the parade every year from Church Street. You can easily say that I am emotionally tied to this area and to the businesses on this road. So, can you imagine my excitement when I heard that we were getting a local coffee shop smack dab in the middle of it all??

I. Was. Thrilled.

I’ve been a coffee connoisseur since my sippy-cup days, no joke, and I don’t play when it comes to my morning motivator. I can’t start my day without a good cup of joe, and you can bet your sweet espresso that I don’t waste my time on a “bad” cup. I like it hot, iced, frozen, black, white, tan, tall, large, skinny, full fat, with or without cream… but for now? You can keep your decaf. Just sayin’. So, whilst helping my MIL move into her new humble abode and I saw the signs for the new place? Walking distance from her home?? I about called her realtor to buy the house out from underneath her…. but that’s when this beautiful realization hit my square in the face. “I can go drop off my crazy-crotch-gobblin’ at her house, and go enjoy coffee solo any time she’s available.” Anna, when I encouraged you to buy your specific house? I did it for the coffee.

I mean, look at that art work. Coffee is art, y’all. If you don’t agree with me, you don’t have to keep reading. That’s fine. Know you’re wrong, but that’s fine. My “go-to” coffee order is either a Mocha Latte or a Cold Brew. When I first started going to GWC regularly, I easily became addicted to their Mocha Latte’s. I basically judge coffee shops based off their Mocha’s. It’s my measurable way of having a ranking system. I think one of my favorite reasons for going to Groundwork Common is that their flavoring with the Mocha is consistent. I’ve frequented other coffee shops in my time & sometimes the consistency changes upon who the barista is that day. I’ve noticed, upon being mesmerized by the drink crafting process, that GWC meticulously measures and carefully weighs their syrups or ingredients when pouring a beverage. Their espresso is smooth, and in my opinion, does not have a bitter after taste like I have experienced elsewhere.

Need a place to sit and relax? Looking for a place that’s got a zen-like atmosphere to answer some e-mails? On the hunt for a location that you can sip away your stress? Look no further than Groundwork Common. Honestly, who ever chose their furniture and decor is going to be getting a personal call from me soon because mi casa needs some love, pronto. I would live in GWC if they would let me. I feel so at peace shortly after I enter their store, and the feeling lasts long after my final sip. Sometimes, if I’m feeling squirrelly, I’ll bring my little dude up there with me for a hot chocolate. Of course, he almost always knocks it on the ground and creates a scene (terrible three’s are so much fun), but the staff are always so understanding and friendly. They have never made me feel as though I’m an inconvenience, despite our clumsy ways. The next time you’re sitting on their comfy leather couch? The cool chocolate stain on their rug is from Theo. It’s barely there, thank goodness, but this Mama remembers. *palm to face*

They also now offer food!! I personally have only ever had their bakery items, like the above pictured banana chocolate chip bread which was (sorry, gotta say it) super moist. *shudders* I have craved it since my last time ordering it. It was a perfect pair with my Holiday Orange Mocha Latte. I can’t wait to go in and try some of the new food options at my next visit, but this last weekend I was only in the mood for my regular. I’ve been following them avidly on Instagram, and I think the next time I’m in there I’ll be trying the toast with strawberry chia jam and goat cheese. Does that not sound amazingly appetizing?! Well if not, crazy kids, they have various bowls, toasts and plates for anyones tastes buds. Honestly, I look forward to trying them all. All the ingredients are locally sourced, even their milk in their drinks! That’s just a win-win for me. Other items I’ve tried and can vouch for is the Cold Brew and the Maple Butter Latte. Their Cold Brew is a refreshing iced beverage that I prefer for an afternoon pick-me-up that is just sweet enough for my liking. I can also attest to their Maple Butter Latte. In fact, it’s always an internal battle for which one I’ll order when trying to make a selection between that and the Mocha. I would say it’s a good 50/50 for the frequency of which I decide upon. Either way, I don’t feel you’d be disappointed. In fact, I think you’ll find yourself in my predicament: hooked. So, the next time you find yourself making your gozillionth-and-one trip down Church Street? Stop in at Groundwork Common, and let them work their coffee magic.

Side Note & Ordering Hack: Cloosiv. This was a game changer for me! Sometimes as a busy Mama with three jobs and umpteen hobbies, I just don’t have time to sit in a relaxed atmosphere and soak up the espresso aroma. Boo. I forget how I stumbled upon this little nugget of golden information, probably somewhere in social media land… but Cloosiv is an app specifically for local coffee shops & online ordering. It’s super simple, just click on this link & download the app. I believe there’s a first coffee credit you receive for downloading, but don’t quote me on that. All I know is, when I’m in a hurry and need to order-pick up-run? This is my saving grace. After ordering online & paying through Apple Pay (or whatever you set up), you just run inside and they’ll have it waiting on you! No lines, no fuss, no gimmicks. Just coffee, and fast. Can I get a hallelujah!!!! Mmmm.

Thank you Groundwork Common for your dedication to our community, and for serving some of the best coffee I’ve ever had grace my lips. A trip to your establishment is never time wasted, and I will always look forward to my next visit.

Southern Strain Brewing Company

Dear Southern Strain, let me list the ways that I love thee:

Amazing drinks, memorable times with friends, fantastic live music on the regular?

S O L D .

In fact, I think I can blame, er… give credit to Southern Strain for my newfound love of sours. I’ve heard of people either loving or hating a “sour” beer, and I’ve tried a many in other breweries. Honestly? I’m not much of a beer drinker. Shocker? I’m a margarita, mimosa or wine lover. Not a shocker? #basic. I must say though that when I heard Southern Strain had a beer on their list named after one of my favorite local sodas, Cherry Lemon, I had to try it. I think the majority of Concord had to try it. Their information from the website for the Cherry Lemon is as follows:

“A nod to a local classic, this mixed fermentation sour ale uses copious amount of Montmorency Red Tart cherries along with lemon and orange zest. Fermented with Voss Kveik to emphasize the cherry flavor.”

Translation? It’s a glass of O-M-yum. It’s because of this sour beer that I decided to become more aware of sours, rather than just drinking them all willy-nilly-like, and have in turn become quite the sour snob. You can read about my husbands and my trip to Nantahala Brewing and Bryson City Outdoors in the blog post about Bryson City, and how there I tried almost ever sour beer I could get my paws on. I’m a sour beer believer and I blame Southern Strain and their Cherry Lemon. I think, or at least my justification for, I enjoy sours more so than the “hoppy” sort is because I’m so used to drinking more tart-like drinks (hint the margs or the mimosas). So if you’re at a brewery one evening, especially Southern Strain, and you’re not sure what to order because you’re typically a mixed-drink type of person? I feel like a sour option is a good bet. At 4.5% ABV, it’s not something that’ll hit you too hard (unless you drink them as quickly as I do…. and, well, if you’re a light weight like me).

I’ve tried other beers at Southern Strain, also. Like I said before, I’m not exactly a “beer drinker” so I’m probably not the girl who should be writing a review on the beer itself. BUT, I can say that the O.K. Lunch, Mello Morning, & Hop Helix are also ones that I could easily drink if they just so happen to be out of Cherry Lemon. Now, please don’t beat me up if I’m totally wrong on any of this. Especially if you actually know what you’re talking about when it comes to talking-ale. I’m just giving you MY review on the drinks through my eyes and taste buds. Shake ya heads, if ya wanna. I would compare the O.K. Lunch to a light beer, like a Bud Light. So if that’s your go-to on a night out, that’s one that I think you’d enjoy. My husbands favorite is one that they don’t actually offer anymore, the Double Hop Helix, but he seconds and favors the Hop Helix. You know, because of its hoppy-IPA-ness. I have tried it and, yes, I do like it… but at 7% ABV? This Mama wasn’t ready. Which means I really wasn’t ready for the Mello Morning, coming in at 7.5% ABV, but the coffee after taste on that was so smooth and easy to drink. I kind of wanted a Bojangles biscuit after sipping on that for a little while, and I couldn’t even tell you why. I guess it just reminded me of a good southern breakfast, and Bojangles is my hangover cure. I’ve given up the Bojangles on HWY 601/ HWY 49, and if you live in this area: YOU. KNOW. WHY. That’s just a side note, though. Carrying on.

Any hoo. Speaking of food? Southern Strain now offers their patrons “next level” bites. “Hot Box Next Level Kitchen” is literally just a hole in the wall inside the brewery, but is nothing small in regards to flavor. I personally recommend the Risotto Fritters. I’ll admit, I’m a little bit of a deep fried foodie. Ok, a lotta bit. One of my favorite seasons? Fair season. Yes, you will catch me standing in that Summer heat, in those long lines and paying admission fees just to get an overpriced corndog and deep fried Oreos. Y’know what? Happy as a lark. That’s besides the point. Hot Box is more than deep fried goodness, but I didn’t have to read much further down on the menu when I saw “fritter”. It’s literally the first thing on the menu, too, y’all. It ain’t always easy being this easy, ya feel me?

Photo by Alexis Hannah Photography

Southern Strain is not only a great idea for beers and yummy bites, but I absolutely love their set up. The way they re-did the space? One word. Beautiful. Whether you’re inside the Taproom, near the machines where the beer making goes down, outside on the pet friendly patio under the strands of lights, or even the bathrooms?? You’ll notice that every inch of the space was thought about, cared for, and brought back to life. I think my favorite feature is the bright blue glass-mosaic backdrop at the bar. We hear that it’s repurposed from glass that was strewn about on the ground when they first began bringing Southern Strain to life. How cool is that?! They could have tossed it, but they found a purpose for it. They used what they had and from that they birthed sophistication, uniqueness, and brilliance. Slow clap and standing ovation to this new local spot. I look forward to many more evenings and celebrations spent here and, of course, I look forward to my next glass of Cherry Lemon. Cheers!

Photo by Alexis Hannah Photography

So, dear fellow Concordians: this is my review of these three outstanding local places. Granted, I didn’t try everything on their full menus nor did I know all the ins and outs of their business; however, this is my experience and my choices that I would fully recommend to you to try!! Feel free to make your way to try them out for yourself, and let me know how it goes!! Maybe you have tried something there that you would recommend to me to try! That’d be awesome! Just leave us a message or comment below your suggestions from these places, or heck, any place around town!! As a matter of fact, any place at all! We travel!!

Raise your glass, y’all, even if its from your bubble baths!
Seriously? We have one cool city.

Get out there, shop small & support those big dreamin’ friends of ours!

With Love,

Some photo’s taken in this post were the amazing work of Alexis Hannah Photography. Click here for more information on her work, pricing, and ways to reach her for your family photography needs.

Local Favorites

2 Gals Kitchen & Catering

80 Union Street South Concord, NC 28025

Check them out here: https://www.2galskitchen.com

Review written January 2020 based on experiences from 2018-2019 as a loyal customer.

I cannot stress this enough… get up, right now, and go get you some Tarragon Chicken Salad from 2 Gals Kitchen in Downtown Concord, NC. Now. I order this stuff by the quart and it is G-O-N-E in 24 hours. Maybe I have a problem, I’m brave enough to admit that out loud, BUT YOU GUYS. You will understand my obsession once you go give it a try for yourself.

Ok, ok, let me back up just a little bit now that I’ve gotten that out of my system (whew). It was a no-brainer for me to spot light this absolutely adorable restaurant in my very first post under “Local Favorites.” Yes, partly because I am over-the-top in love with the food but also because the owners Mary & Belinda are among some of the most amazing women I’ve come to know and adore. Their customer service is impeccable, and their hearts are just some of the kindest and more sincere you’ll ever meet.

Our relationship started a few years ago when my husband and I were searching for a catering company for our wedding. We knew we wanted to support local, and we knew we wanted a sandwich bar. The theme of a sandwich bar really spoke to who Curtis & I are as a couple, we legitimately eat sandwiches at least 4 nights out of 7. Then there’s always taco night and that’s basically a sandwich if you think about it. Sandwiches were one of the details from planning our wedding that we both immediately could agree on. Boom. Easy. We sat down with a couple contenders, all of which were sublime (none of the local places around Concord disappointed), but from the moment we sat down with these two incredible women… We just knew! We didn’t have to explain the oddity of wanting a more casual dining option, they totally got it. Mary & Belinda took the idea and ran with it in the best way possible. Here, see for yourself… our wedding photographer really snapped some beautiful photos of their set up:

Every single person at our wedding reception RAVED at how much they loved the simplicity of a sandwich bar, and how wonderfully yum the food was. I wanted our guests to be able to create what their hearts desired but I didn’t want to lose out on the finesse and style that a wedding calls for. 2 Gals made sure it was a good mixture of comfort and beauty. Yes, I said beauty. Sandwiches are beautiful, people. If you disagree with me, this is not your blogger to hang with. If we had to plan it all over? We’d choose to work with 2 Gals Kitchen & Catering again and again, hands down, every time.

My Bridal Shower in July 2019 at 2 Gals Kitchen with all my bridesmaids.

2 Gals Kitchen was also the home for my Bridal Shower back in July of 2019. Mary & Belinda so graciously accepted my request to host it in their beautiful space, and it was perfect for the occasion. The artsy atmosphere and dreamy decor was absolutely dreamy and was everything I had really ever imagined (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s so true). I actually remember sitting down with Mary & Belinda at the restaurant for our wedding catering discussion and I struggled to focus the entire time. I could not stop thinking the whole time about how ideal their space would be for a Bridal Shower event. So, with that being said, if you need a space for your next event DEFINITELY reach out to 2 Gals, you honestly will not be disappointed. Their service, their food, the restaurant atmosphere: the whole package.

Momma & I in front of my non-traditional cake at my bridal shower.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hand crafted and well built sandwich or burger, homemade fries, crab pasta, mouth watering desserts or an adult beverage… 2 Gals Kitchen in Downtown Concord, NC has it all. Definitely check them out in person (duh) or check out their Facebook page for the latest news and hours:

Tell them Katie sent ya, and order the chicken salad and fries. Follow it up with some creme brûlée & *muah*… You’re welcome.

Bryson City is Calling…

… you know you want to answer!

Christmas gift turned pre-Valentines Day weekend getaway? A success!!

My sweet husband is always talking about how much he loves Bryson City, NC. If he were to ever create a dating profile he would likely say something along the lines of “must love the mountains, camping, and my kids.” Fortunately for me (unfortunately for you my dear gal pals out there) he’s taken by little ‘ol me. Lucky him. Ha. We get to the mountains as often as we can. It’s where we spend every Fathers Day/ his birthday for an annual camping trip! I wasn’t crazy about it in our early days of dating, but it’s grown on me. It’s sort of like a personal challenge now. “How long can I go in the “wild” without modern conveniences?” ( uhhhh, basically 2 days. Tops.) His love for the mountains, though, has truly rubbed off onto me because I was over-the-moon excited for this little “pre-Valentines Day” getaway that I planned for him as a surprise Christmas gift!

My search began a month or so before Christmas as I was trying to think of an “experience” to gift him rather than something he was just going to throw in our ever-growing-junk drawer. It was sort of a win-win, too, because the idea of a getaway went to my benefit as well (selfish score!). For the record, I could have chosen something tropical if I was being really selfish! But, no, I began my search in his beloved city of Bryson. This is his annual “man-trip” destination, so naturally I wanted to bust that up. Wink. So, Christmas morning comes and all the gifts are unwrapped and all the joy and anticipation is building up inside of me to drop this last little letter in his lap…

Curtis: “What is this??”

Me with a big grin on my face: “Merry Christmas, babe!”

Curtis (assuming it was a hand written letter, I’m sure, because I’m corny like that)

*opens it up to find a reservation for this ADORABLE little
Tiny Home in the heart of Bryson City…*

*insert genuine excitement*

Curtis: “Oh wow!! Bryson!! That means we get to go to the Delicatessen!!”
(this man lives and breathes for a good sandwich)

I had searched on Air B&B for a couple months when I stumbled upon this listing and was grading it and comparing it against the others I had saved. It was when I saw this picture:

… that I just knew. My sweet man LOVES a creek, or any body of water really. Anything that gives him an opportunity to throw a line and possibly catch a fishy. I was sold at that point, and genuinely impressed at the cost. I read the reviews. I scoured the information. I felt super prepared (which, if you know me, is the only way I’ll vacation. Like, with an itinerary and all.) I will be honest with you, this was my first purchase of a stay on Air B&B, so I was a little nervous because of that. I wasn’t sure what to expect. When in doubt, I e-mail or call someone. My middle name is practically “Karen-may-I-speak-to-a-manager.” #noshame. The owner of the Tiny Home, Gina, was absolutely fabulous. ABSOLUTELY. I bothered this poor woman countless times from questions about the area, to the check in process, to directions, etc… and she was so so so kind. I definitely would give her 5 stars in customer service for that point alone. She was quick to respond and eager to help however she could.

The day had finally arrived, it was time to drop off the chil’ren and run to our weekend escape. Naturally, as our luck would have it, the Carolina’s had one of the coldest days yet in the 2020 Winter season… & WE GOT SNOW!

The quick 2ish-3ish hour drive up there was pleasant (we live in Concord, NC) and once we got about 30 minutes away from the town, it began to come down and covering the roads. We were fortunate to have All Wheel Drive and felt pretty secure, no slipping on main roads at all (yee-haw). Curtis was in H E A V E N. This man-child of mine turns into just a regular child when there’s snow involved. He probably would have stopped to feel it fall on his face if he weren’t so excited about our impending lunch plans. Which brings me to talk about our first stop along our weekend stay: High Test Delicatessen.

I’m honestly not sure what Curtis was more excited about… the snow or the sandwich. Probably the fact that he got to watch it snow while he ate his sandwich.

This quaint sandwich destination was so much more than just your average cold-cuts & salad stop. You could smell the aroma of fresh breads, meats, and french fried goodness galore as soon as you approached the front door. Before even stepping in! I really had to take my time looking over each sandwich, but Curtis immediately knew what he was getting. He didn’t even care to check out the daily special.

Curtis ordered the “Filler Up”…

… and I ordered the “Italian Turbo”.

I mean.. is your mouth watering yet?! If it’s not, go back and look at the menu. These hand crafted beauties were gone almost before the server could get back behind the counter. Before she brought them, I watched my husband wait in a different kind of anticipation that I don’t even think I witnessed when I walked down the aisle on our wedding day. HA! That’s okay though, we both get it. We are both food people, er, well SANDWICH people. It’s kind of our end goal to have something like this in Downtown Concord, NC one day. You heard it here first, folks!

Curtis & I were so busy chowing down, and ordering ice cream sandwiches to-go that when we finally came up for a breath of fresh air and took in our surroundings… we realized… everyone else but those who worked at High Test were gone. EEK! The snow had gotten so thick on the roads, that we were left in a snowy-empty town (practically). I wanted to keep walking around and looking in the shops, but being the responsible adults we are *smirk*, we decided to go ahead and check out the Tiny House. We were pretty excited to see it any way, and the GPS said it was only 4 minutes away. How stinkin’ convenient, am I right?! The GPS landed us right where we needed to be, but Gina’s hand typed instructions were also super helpful. She also messaged us before we made our way there to warn us of the possible treacherous roads to get down to the home. She was really “on it” and cared more about our safety than anything else. That’s not something a major corporate hotel chain would have provided, in my opinion. That’s the power of supporting local, honey! The snowy road made Curtis and I a little anxious, and even with the AWD feature on the car, we didn’t make it all the way to the Tiny Home without having to walk a little way.

At the top of the drive, we made it about half way down before we starting sliding and needed to walk the rest of the way!

The Tiny House was breath-taking in the snow. We wanted to call Gina, on the spot, and make her an offer to buy the place. I’m serious. If we could have, and she would have? It would have went down. After settling in and calling everyone to let them know we made it safely, you can bet your butt we jumped into that 104 degree hot tub!! It was perfectly tucked under a basically brand new porch, and overlooked the busy creek. The snow, the sounds of the rushing water, the quiet…. we were in love.

We settled into the Tiny Home after our hot tub dip, and watched some TV (which this Tiny Home had TWO of… I couldn’t get over how high-tech the place was for being its size!) We even took a glorious nap. Parents?? YOU KNOW. You know the nap. The “I’m on vacation and my responsibilities are being taken care of by trusted family members” nap. The one where little feet aren’t kicking you in the face or bothering you to get up to play?!

THE NAP, Y’ALL!!

Talk about hitting the “reset” button. Whew. It was much needed.

After a little while of just relaxing, Gina messaged us to inform us that the roads were starting to look safer and wanted to know how we felt about it from where we were. We went for a walk back to our car to find that the snow began to melt, almost as fast as it had accumulated. Sad. It would have been a “shame” if we were snowed in there for another day (shucks)… but that meant we were able to get dolled up and go back into town for more Bryson City adventures! Even though we were staying in a tiny home, the amenities were not tiny at all. The shower was roomy, the bathroom was clean and modern, and the whole set up was really well thought out. She provided us with towels, linens, bath items… she really thought of it all! I may be kind of easy to entertain and impress, but I stayed impressed the whole time.

Back in town of the sweet little town of Bryson City, we parked along one of the main roads in Downtown and walked to our first brewery; “Bryson City Outdoors.” Curtis and I grabbed a beer and were able to check out some cool camping gear. We even scored a couple souvenirs for ourselves. The beer was smooth and easy to drink (and this is coming from someone who really isn’t a beer drinker.) I always choose a sour if it’s on the menu. I would highly recommend the one I tried that day. It’s too bad I forgot the name of it, but I imagine any craft beer on tap there wouldn’t disappoint. They even had them in cans and bottles if you wanted to create your own 6-pack to go! We drank our beers outside, chatted with some locals, and even got to keep our beer cold by sticking it on the snowy topped picnic tables. We were truly in our element.

We had a blast being silly around town, taking pictures and acting like Instagram models. We joked, “DO IT FOR THE GRAM” a few times, but honestly I think my hubs missed his calling. I think he may have a future in photography. Check out these cute little snaps he took:

Quick plug & shout out to Polished Southern Beauties for my Leopard Top! Thanks for keeping me stylish, girl!

We eventually made our way to Nantahala Brewing for another local brewery experience, and some more sours for me! The gentleman behind the bar talked me into trying a flight, and how does one say “no” to that?! It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think the Strawberry Rhubarb was a top contender. They also had a watermelon & even a key-lime pie flavor!! Because of the weather, they were closing up the grill to get staff home before the roads iced over and became dangerous. We weren’t complaining, most definitely get home to your families safely & in 1 piece. We wouldn’t have it any other way. You could see the disappointment (and understanding) in so many patrons faces when they were told the grill was closed, which was just a sign to us that the food has to be BOMB. The bar staff was cordial & professional in how they dealt with the inconvenience, and even continued to try to feed us simple appetizers during our short time at the bar. We really were totally content with just a beer or two, any way. We had no where to go and all day to get there… when does that ever happen any more?! Even though we weren’t fortunate enough to try the food at this visit, the company of the staff and the locals at the bar made us feel so welcome that we didn’t want to leave! We kept saying that if our trip were longer, we would come back to try their food menu. But there’s always next time!! It’s already in the books, as a matter of fact, Jack!

We were able to have dinner at a cute Italian themed restaurant, Pasqualino’s, that the chef at Nantahala recommended to us. We filled up on pasta, bread and pizza before finally returning to our Tiny Home & calling it a night (you know, after a second round of Hot Tubbin’… & stuff).

Morning coffee at the tiny house table. Well rested and contemplating never leaving.

Gina messaged us on the morning of departure that we could extend our stay by 1 hour to ensure safety of our drive out of the area. We were consistently blown away by her hospitality and generosity. She was able to recommend a breakfast spot or two before we left. Saying goodbye to our little safe haven was harder than I imagined! I wasn’t ready for the trip to be over! We even joked that this is what we should have done for our honeymoon. You live & you learn, man!

Of Gina’s breakfast spot recommendations, we chose Everett Street Diner. You see, I admittedly really wanted to go on a side-track-mission to Asheville so that I could go back to my favorite breakfast spot during our honeymoon. I was craving the homemade biscuits and gravy from this one soul-food breakfast place, but by the time we could get there they would have been serving lunch. When I looked online at Everett Street Diner’s reviews, they practically ALL talked about the homemade gravy and how amazing the service was. Ok… ok… I’ll give it a try. No way it’s better than the place in Asheville…. right?

W R O N G.

OH-EM-GEE. That first bite about knocked me out of my chair. I’m not going to sugar coat this, y’all…I’m not hyping this up… these reviews aren’t paid for by any of these establishments… but it was BETTER. It was BETTER than the fancy breakfast spot in Asheville. I don’t know whose Grandma they got in that kitchen, but I wanted to go kiss her. I was in southern-biscuit-and-gravy heaven. The fat girl in me was siiiiinging. I got the “Dixie Benedict”, and I think I would honestly make the 2-3 hour drive just to eat there every Saturday, if I could.

I mean, why can’t I?!
I’m an adult. I have a car. Try & stop me!!

The epitome of “food porn”. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Alas, breakfast was ate and our trip was over. *insert sad face*

I’m always eager to get back to my babies and to routine, it’s just who I am, but I needed just one more day. If you’re planning a trip to this adorable little town? Please, do yourself a favor and book it for at least two days. If not more.

I truly hope you look up Gina & her Tiny Home, and consider taking a trip to Bryson City!! Let us know if the reviews helped you any in planning your trip! If you would rather a home instead of a tiny house? Gina’s got those, too! Check out her website: Gina’s Great Getaway’s. Our family is already planning a trip where we try out the Caboose Camper! Go check it out and let us know what you think. We can’t get enough.

Thanks for listening to me rave and rave about our fun trip!! We hope you give it all a try & have just as much fun as we did!!

Til next time, ya crazy kids.
Love,

You Got a Friend in Me.

Friendship is so weird, y’all. Think about it. You don’t technically need them for survival, yet they’re a huge part of our every day lives. Essentially helping us survive. Day in and day out, our friends sign up to go to bat with us and for us to get us through each and every day. Your husband or your boyfriend (or significant other, whatever pertains to you, boo) is technically someone you sought out for “survival purposes”. You and your significant other live together, you work together to run your home, you feed each other, you protect each other and you know that you have each others backs in all situations. You don’t, in theory, have to suffer feeling alone which increases your quality of life. You may have even vowed those things to your S.O. I read an article once that said science shows it even adds years on your life to live in a happy relationship. Don’t worry, I read that in Facebook-land, so no need for fact checking. Wink. It’s a primal instinct, in my opinion, to want to find someone who is your partner in surviving this crazy thing we call “life”. But a friend? They just pop in one day, out of no where, and BOOM.

It’s like an extra person who just does things with you because they like you. You might have nothing or everything in common. You might talk every day, you might talk once a month. Regardless, that’s your person. It’s weird. Like, “hey, listen to me squabble about what my man did and then go back to your family afterwards and I will go back to mine, and we’ll do it again sayyy, next week? m’kay?.” What?! Maybe I’m just your classic over thinker, but I think about these random things a lot. Specifically friendship. Disclaimer: Please don’t get me wrong, I’m forever thankful, to all ends, for my sweet friends who are in my life. I just think the whole thing is so funny. Sometimes I’ll even ask my friends, “What do you get out of this?!” ha!!

Sigh.

Here’s the thing. I sorta know why it’s hard for me to wrap my brain around it. I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from anxiety. Hello, newsflash: it’s 2020, everyone does! Especially if you have kids. I thought I had anxiety before having my little one? Whew. That was light work. This is the real deal, holy feel. Parents?? We are in the moments of our lives that make us or break us, and honey, I’m holding on by a prayer!! Parenthood is basically just learning to take things one day at a time, and then wishing you could go back to each of those days and re-live them because they’re just up and gone in a flash. One minute cursing that your kids can’t hurry up to put their own shoes on, and the next they’re throwing up baby gang signs at you and hurting your feelings because they can do it all by themselves. I do not remember signing up for this, y’all. Any way. Yes, anxiety. I got that….Yay, me. It’s this nasty mindset that everything awful happening to you, you deserve, and everything awesome happening to you, you don’t. You catch yourself happy? Anxiety says, “Hol’up, I’m here to party.” It’s having this detrimental nagging in the back of your mind telling you that the wonderful things, these things being friends, are just here for their own selfish motives. God forbid I actually believe these kind angels are here to actually love me. It’s just a notion that is tough for me to really hold on to, because again I’ll ask you: “What do you get out of this?!” Truly, though… what? I realize I probably, er, well, definitely suck as a friend. From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning to the time my peepers shut in the evening, I’m the b-word.

Busy.

I’m lucky if I get in time with these people, and if I do? It’s because I scheduled it last month. Who wants to schedule in time with their friend? The kind hearted person who said, “Find you a friend who doesn’t check their schedules before agreeing to go out with you” obviously didn’t have much else going on. Mine have to with me. Sorry, yaw (quick plug: *waves at Nick* He knows why). Between my three kids (4 if you count adult children), THREE jobs, my volunteer work at my home church, my exercise classes, and being a clinical instructor for 3 colleges in the area? I’m pretty spent. Sprinkle in birthday parties, sporting events, cooking, vacations, hair appointments, holidays, the babysitter shuffle, family game nights, dentist appointments, grocery shopping, well visits, sick visits, oil changes, date nights, etc, etc, losing my mind, etc. After it’s all written down in my beautiful Erin Condren with my favorite Frixion Erasable pens? I got a couple free days available this month, and just a few more next month… “which day works best for you?” I’ll ask them …. and I can hear it in their long pauses. Disappointment. I can almost hear the thought crossing their minds, “this ain’t even worth it.” Or at least that’s what my anxiety tells me.

You want to know what is so amazing about my friends though??

{ sniffle }

They don’t give up on me.

That’s what today’s post is really about, honestly. Despite me being a more busy creature, and despite having to often tell my sweet friends, “no”? They still try. They still come back for me, even when I haven’t seen them in weeks. Sometimes months! They still invite me places, and look forward to being with me. It’s in those moments that I just feel so truly blessed. This wonderful soul took time out of their busy schedule (because, yes, my boss-a babe friends are busy too *insert flex*) and made something work with me. ME.

*looks around the room*

*points at myself*

*mouths it again* ME?!

So I just sit here and think to myself how weird friendship really is, but that I am so so so grateful for it.

Today’s post is an ode to my friends. A public “thank you.” I wanted to formally thank you for being by my side despite the crazy and despite the neediness. Whew, because I am pretty needy [it’s ok to laugh, I swear].

It may be hard making good friends. Especially with busy schedules, kids or no kids. Maybe you’re someone who says, “I don’t need friends.” I’m just here to argue with you on the point. See, I know it’s weird and I know it can be messy and I know it may even seem unnecessary. I know I even just argued that they’re not necessary to our daily survival. The thing is?

I don’t know what I’d do without my friends.

I don’t know how I would have gotten through leaving an unhappy relationship without my friends. I don’t know how I would have survived heart breaks. So many heart breaks. I took one of my closest friends with me on one of my first dates with my now husband, what would I have done without her support? I told close friends about Theo before I told my family, they kept me sane when I was in a whirlwind! I ran to my friends when my relationship was struggling, and my best friend even helped me feel comfortable to seek out God in fixing that. If it wasn’t for my “bestie” suggesting me going to talk to her Father-in-law, who is now my Pastor at my church, I’m not sure my husband and I would even be here today! Especially standing together as Christians. I owe that to one of my very best friends! God used my friend to get me to look at Him. Cue the goosebumps! My sister, someone I would consider to be one of my best friends, helped me deliver my baby. She’s an L&D nurse so I was just fortunate that she has that skill set… but there are parts of me she’s seen that I know she can’t unsee. Yet, she still chooses to deal with me. Probably against her will sometimes, but she’s my sister and she’s stuck with me! * evil laugh * She’s done a whole heck of a lot more, but that’s probably one of my favorite memories of her and I. And don’t even get me started on the love & friendship I’ve got with my Momma. Yes, I’m 31 years old and I still call her “Momma?” If ya ain’t like it, go on an’ git. This saint of a woman picks up the phone for me even when she’s busy and crazy, and deals with my behind. I just know God’s polishing medals for her, in her mansion, that’s waiting for her in heaven. Trophies galore: “you survived motherhood with Katie as your daughter!” I could go on… and on… and on…. I could pick out a bojillion stories about all the blessings I have in my life. I am grateful, lucky, blessed, and perplexed. I don’t know what you crazy kids get out of it by picking me as your human, but thank you.

Now, let me get down to the nitty gritty nasty blah topic I feel this post should probably cover: “Bad friends.”
Eek. Yeah. I got those, too.


I mean, who doesn’t? Someone very wise once said, “Life’s too short for bad coffee, bad sex & bad friends” … let’s just hope you’re not trying to get into it with all three of those at the same time [ insert immature giggle ]. I don’t know though, y’all. I’m sure you’re just thinking, “well, simple, if they’re a bad friend then just don’t deal with them!!” Ugh. I like the simplicity of that thinking, but I don’t know. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, or something like that, but I like to think that I have always done my best to befriend the unfriendly and difficult. If you’re reading this and you have a specific example of when that wasn’t the case for you and I? I’m all ears. Truly! Reach out to me and let’s hash it out. I can only really think of a handful of people who I’ve decided to write off for my mental well being, but I still think of them and wonder how they’re doing. If I randomly saw them walking down the frozen food aisle at the Food Lion? I’d still smile in their direction …and keep it moving. But, like I said, only a handful of people. Honestly? Even if they reached out to me? I’d still hear them out. Ultimately, I don’t have room in my life for downright hatefulness, unapologetic rude behavior nor extra negativity. Who does? Can you blame any of us for taking steps away from people who drag us down?


: shoulder shrug :


Everyone else that I’d consider a “bad friend” are sprinkled in and around my daily life. You might be reading this and thinking, “well dang, is it me?! What does she even mean by a bad friend?” I think you have to take into consideration the entirety of a relationship rather than individual moments in that friendship before classifying it as a good or bad one, which ultimately would also mean that you can’t be a “bad” friend without having time in. “Time” isn’t a linear thing though, not in this case. Let me clarify: I feel like I have more “time” in with my best friend than I do with some of my longer friendships, just because she has been there for more day-to-day stuff. She’s seen more, heard more, dealt with more than most of my other friends. She definitely doesn’t qualify as a bad friend, for the record, but because she has more time in with me she has the qualifications to become one. Simply because it would matter to me if she did, because of our time together and how much she means to me. If you’re someone I rarely talk to, an acquaintance, what-have-you? Then you’re likely not someone I could consider as a bad friend because we don’t have enough history. I haven’t given you the opportunity to become a bad friend. You can’t hurt me if I don’t hold you close, not much differently than how it would feel if my husband hurt me. Listen, I don’t mean for any of this to sound like I’m running a mean girls club ….YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US... ok, sorry, couldn’t help myself. I’m just dissecting how I come to these decisions and how I ultimately deal with it. The couple of people who I think are “bad friends” are actually not bad people. They haven’t stolen anything from me, except maybe my peace of mind from time to time. They haven’t been downright mean to my face, just behind my back (gasp). Sure, I held them close enough to allow a pain to come my way. I call those “lessons learned.” They are still in my life despite “bad” moments in our time-in with each other because I still care. Maybe because I still believe they, on some levels, still care about me too. You may be reading this and nodding your head because you too can think of someone you love, but still think of them as a “bad friend”. It’s really hard to say why we still deal with them, even if they’ve hurt us or made us feel used. It can become complicated. Matters of the heart are rarely black and white. Friendship, being the weird thing that it is, has more gray areas than not. You see, I feel like I have room to talk about “bad friends”, simply because I know that I am one. Whaaaaaat. Yeah, but I already touched on that above. My busy lifestyle makes it hard for me to be there for YOU every day and every time you need me. The little bit of down time I have, I’m selfish with. After a long day, all I really want to do is be with my family. I’m a bad friend, probably, in the eyes of even those I consider to be some of my closest, most bestest, awesomest friends! So, maybe that’s why I deal with people who I still know in my heart to be more selfish and more difficult to hang with, because I know I’m extended that same grace on a regular basis. Bad friends are just good friends who need love & grace. I mean, know your boundaries, know your self worth…. but, as a general rule of thumb, exercise kindness. Exercise love. Bad friends need friends, too. As a bad friend, I am thankful for my friends who came together for me and loved me when I wasn’t at my most lovable. I’m not talking about befriending people who are downright horrible and do awful things, I’m not messing around with that funny business either. What I really mean is that it’s ok if you’re a bad friend because you’re busy…. or because you need to take more than you give this time…. or because you need to have a selfish moment this time. I think it’s when it becomes a regular thing that you may find me backing out slowly, with love in my heart for ya, but still backing away. I have so many little people relying on me (between my babies, my classroom kiddos and my clients) that I have to really protect my peace. My family. MY SANITY. I think it’s ok to be a “bad friend” on occasion, just don’t unpack and live there. I promise, I’ll really try not to also. Every day is a new day, a new opportunity, to be the best possible version of yourself & really that’s all YOU can control.

So, Dear Good friend? Great friend? Best friend? Bad friend? Even my dear Past friend? This post is for you. Cheers dears. Moving on into the next days we’re blessed with together? I promise you that I’m here, whether that’s in person or in spirit. In reality or in prayer… always in my prayers, really. Thank you for laughing at my dumb jokes and weird faces. Thank you for pulling me out of dark places. Thank you for listening to me sing in the car or at that karaoke bar that one time. Thank you for feeding me when I was broke. Thank you for letting me take care of you in return. Thank you for your sage advice and thank you for loving me when I decided not to take it. Thank you for your patience when I leave your texts on read to just respond in a wave of multiple texts hours later. Thank you for saying sorry when you hurt my fragile feelings and thank you for teaching me to stand up for myself. Thank you for forgiving me when I stepped out of bounds. Thank you for having your pantry filled with chocolate just for me. Thank you for splitting ACP with me and drinking that extra margarita with me. Thank you for holding me while I cry in an empty room at work so I didn’t have to hold it together anymore in front of everyone. Thank you for being ready to burn down the town with me when I was angry. Thank you for getting in the car with me, we know that’s always a risk. Thank you for trusting me with your kiddos and thank you for watching mine when I needed you. Thank you for teaching me to pee outside so I didn’t have to hold it all weekend. Thank you for laughing at my rants and dancing on Snapchat. Thanks for confiding in me your deepest secrets. Thanks for holding on to mine, too. Thank you for making work during impossible shifts go by so much more quickly. Thank you for covering for me at work. Thank you for having my back. Thank you for taking my phone call when you had your hands full. Thanks for letting me sing R. Kelly to you, and subsequently dance up on you all silly like. Thank you for going to all 3,476 events I planned last year. Thank you for accepting me even though we may be totally different. Thank you for helping me color my grays away. Thank you for getting that matching tattoo with me. Thanks for claiming me in public when I was being cringe worthy. Thank you for talking to me again after some time passed, and I really didn’t deserve your time of day. Thank you for giving me a break when you could have been hard on me. Thank you for your shoulder, your ears, your heart. Thank you for being a kind soul. Thank you for letting me borrow your dress that I still haven’t managed to get back to you. Thank you for coming to my house to see me when I barely come to yours to see you. Thank you for dealing with my 12 year old humor. Thank you for loving my babies like your own. Thank you for loving me despite our differences in politics. Thank you for being willing to fight with me, for me. Thank you for praying with me. Thank you for kneeling at the alter with me. Thank you for showing me new things. Thank you for your efforts and your love and your loyalty.

Now excuse me while I go cry.

Forever yours, sweet sweet friend. With all my love,

Dear Younger Katie…

Hey old friend…er, younger version of me. I feel like I have so much to say to you, but I’m not quite sure yet where to start. I know you feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders, but I want you to know that you’re going to be okay. I know that hearing that small phrase brings you so much comfort, but yes, you will be okay. I certainly cannot promise you that with becoming an adult that things will get easier. I can tell you that your impending “freedom” from Mom & Dad and all things of your childhood is something you’ll inevitably miss. So don’t rush it. I know you won’t listen to me because you’ve been planning the day you could fly solo since you were reading Danielle Steel books in your bedroom way too late, and probably way too young. You always idolized women who held their own, who did it on their own, who made it on their own. I know you’re determined to walk out that front door. Baby girl, you will. Do me a favor though? Savor those moments …. the ones where you’re watching Mom put on her makeup before work, resting on your parents water bed and watching the news before school. The ones where you can hear Dads laughter bellow through the house because of a Seinfeld episode. Cherish playing Barbies with your little sister and video games with your brother. Soon it’ll all feel like something you just imagined rather than lived… and you won’t be able to keep straight what you actually experienced versus thought up. Time is forever fleeting and soon you’ll be on your own in this crazy world with little eyes looking up to you. Enjoy the moments where your biggest concern is that upcoming math test, or if the boy who walks past you every day before Spanish thinks you’re pretty.

That’s my next point though, you are! Pretty, that is. Stop looking in the mirror and being so mean to yourself. My goodness, if I could turn back the clock just to have back that high school body? I would DO IT. Stay active after high school, though. You’ll thank me for that. I wish I could tell you that the unfair thoughts towards yourself become less and less, but honestly, I don’t know if it ever gets any better. If I could tell you just one thing, it would be to go easy on yourself. Maybe that’s what I should be telling my future self, too. You know, some things never change.

You know, back when I thought I was “fat”… ugh.

Stop worrying about if you’re liked. I know you’re not paying attention to your teacher right now because you’re more worried about your appearance, and overthinking every. little. detail. of your social life for the last week. Probably longer. Let it go. Who cares that you fell going up the stairs the other day? That really mean dude who laughed at you when that happened? Meh, he’s nothing special. I know that because you still think about that moment 10+ years later when you run into him in public. Trust me, don’t fret. It’s likely he, nor any one else but you, remembers that. You learned a valuable lesson in that one moment though: the power of kindness. So, really, you could thank him. And hey, girl… ROCK THEM FOUR STRIPE FAKE ADIDAS SHOES. You wouldn’t think that’s funny sitting where you’re at, but at the ripe age of 31? It’s funny. Laugh. One day you’ll get a little side job and you’ll save up pennies for REAL Nike shoes, and it still won’t make you feel comfortable to talk to your peers. News flash: you’ll always feel out of place. It’s your undiagnosed anxiety whispering lies to you. Darling? You are magic! Any one who makes you feel less than that? Walk away. Trust me, you’ll find your tribe and they will make you feel wonderful. Don’t take them for granted. The ones who show up and prove to you that they love you? Hold on to them with all ten fingers, and if it doesn’t feel weird? All ten toes, too. I’m serious. You’re going to have this poisonous thought that you can do better. I wish I could tell you how wrong you are. The social ladder that you think you’re climbing takes you down to a pit that you’re going to have to crawl out of later… but again, remember, you’re going to be okay. I just wish you didn’t have to learn lessons the hard way. It makes for one hell of a sense of humor later on, so I guess I wish I could just tell you to be more careful. Don’t be so reckless with your heart. Every choice you ever made landed you where you are now, and trust yourself. Trust me. You are beyond happy, now. The pain you’re feeling from that jack-hole dumping you? The gut punch agony that you think you’ll never escape? The sheer embarrassment from bad choices? It fades, and it teaches you who to trust (including your own intuition). Just be patient. Whew, that’s the best advice really. Patience. Your knight in shining armor (aka a broken down Cadillac) will ride up when you’re in your late 20’s. I wish I could tell you to wait for him. He’s the game changer.

Now listen good & hard for one more moment. You, sweet soul, do not need to sacrifice your mind or body for an-y-bod-y. You will think to yourself too many times, “oh well”. You matter. Please hear me… take care of yourself. Don’t put yourself into a situation that you have to just close your eyes and wait for it to be over. You have the power to stop whatever whirlwind you are in. It will be ok, and you will make it to the other side. Believe in yourself and stand up. Don’t sit idle and just let anyone walk on you. You are STRONG. You are amazing, and you do not need to just let whatever happen. You deserve so much more than you believe right now. Don’t let your demons win. Don’t assume you’re worthless. Take back the wheel. This is YOUR life, not any one else’s. You make the decisions for YOU.

They invent this crazy website called “Facebook” at some point in your college years, and I just want you to remember that IT’S PUBLIC. Like, unforgivingly public. You still cringe at your “memories” when they pop up daily. Not everything needs to be shared… (says the girl writing all this out in a public blog letter to herself… ha!) Channeling my best Forrest Gump impression, “… and that’s all I’m gonna say about that.”

Honestly? The advice I’m writing to you now is still very applicable to me today. I just felt like writing it to you, 16 year old Katie, because I feel like it’s you who I’m the most critical of. You’re going to make boat loads of mistakes. You still do. You still jump into situations where you immediately regret them, and your hard headed stubbornness will cloud your judgement. I think the best lessons I’ve learned I can sum up in about 30 points…

  1. God is real, God is good.
  2. Your Momma turns out to be your best friend.
  3. Love is a verb.
  4. Hard times show you who your real friends are. Pay attention, & don’t chase those who leave your side.
  5. Good or bad, each moment is a gift often with a lesson tucked neatly in the seams.
  6. Not everyone who offers a shoulder to cry on or ears to listen have your best interest at heart.
  7. Having a soft heart in a cruel world is a blessing, not a curse. You are not weak.
  8. It’s narcissistic to think that everyone should and will like you.
  9. Not everyone is born with the same heart as you, but don’t let that stop you from loving them.
  10. However, in reference to No. 9, know your limits… for another truth is, sometimes enough is enough.
  11. Anxiety is often bred by the fear of tomorrow &, really, tomorrow isn’t promised!
  12. Depression is often your reality from dwelling in the past. Again, let it go.
  13. Comparing yourself to others is time well wasted, and the number one thief of JOY!
  14. Mean people need love the most.
  15. Recognition & appreciation are the best gifts you can give but can’t wrap.
  16. There wouldn’t be any room in this world for hate if we took a moment to stand in the other persons shoes.
  17. Making decisions when you’re emotional? That’s not a good idea.
  18. If your heart says yes, but your head says no… go with your heart! Every. Single. Time.
  19. Life is complicated, and beautiful.
  20. You’re strong enough to get through anything that is brought to you.
  21. Whatever you find yourself doing in your spare time, make that your full time passion.
  22. It’s ok to change your mind.
  23. It’s ok to take care of YOU, first.
  24. It’s when you don’t have anything nice to say that you should, in fact, say something nice.
  25. It’s easier to wait, and be sure, than it is to repair damages.
  26. Send thank you notes.
  27. You should probably never cut your own hair.
  28. There’s nothing that coffee, wine or Jesus can’t fix.
  29. Taking the high road has a prettier view.
  30. Never take yourself too seriously.

So, dear younger me? Breathe. We got this.

Xo,

Protecting My Peace

Raise your hand if you are a people pleaser!?
Raise it higher if you struggle saying “no”?!!
RAISE BOTH HANDS UP IF YOU SUFFER FROM SELF INFLICTED GUILT TRIPS?!

Yeah, homie, me too.

Congrats if you could say no to any of the above. Let me know if you have a blog somewhere out there, I’d totally read it. I seriously admire people who can say no without blinking an eye, without worrying if who they said no to still “likes them.” ( I said those words in quotations with my annoying middle schooler voice, because honestly that’s how dumb it feels sometimes that I worry about that.) If you are someone who is good about taking care of you and you watch out for you & yours??

TEACH ME YOUR WAYS, OH WISE ONE!

I think it’s something engrained in us as children, though. Rather it be your personality and just how the good Lord made ya, or it was circumstantial to your upbringing. Either way, if you’re a people pleaser or someone who is good about drawing lines and boundaries, you are you! Wasn’t it Dr. Seuss that said, …”and there’s no one alive that is youer than you.” (Update: I googled it, it was.) Not sitting here saying that one is better or less than the other. Let the record show.

I have tried time & time again to be someone who could take on less and schedule less and do less, but then I just found other ways to do more. To stay occupied. To find outlets to fill the void. That’s just me, I love to be busy. I got home from our honeymoon and from planning our wedding (which took over a year), and instead of giving myself some mental time off? I went right into plans for renovations on our home. (Poor Curtis.) My body hates it! I am an absolute wreck most days! Don’t ask me about my poor joints unless you want to have a 10 minute conversation about how my hip, my knees and my back want to fire me. Theo will be like, “Mama, why are you walking like that?!” and Mama will snap back so. fast. “Let me introduce you to the songs of my generation.”

* Alexa- Play “Pop, Lock & Drop it” *

There’s just no coming back from the damage of that, y’all. We made this bed. Now we gotta suffer the snap, crackle & pop. This is life now. [insert a Ric Flair – wooooo]

Any way… tangent much? My point is, there are days that my aging body doesn’t want to be so busy, but I keep pushing it to do more & more. My mind more so than anything. I love spinning 10 plates at a time. It’s just who I am. People pleaser or not. I get so genuinely hype when a new project falls into my lap. Example? A sweet friend of mine just got engaged, and even though Curtis and I just finished planning our wedding & you’d think I’d be “wedding’d out”? Nah, dude. I’ve already got 3 Pinterest boards firing away at this sweet soul, and she’s all like “maybe we should pick a date first”… and I’m all like, yeah. Yeah, that’s probs important. My bad…. *waits a minute with breath held* ….*exhales dramatically* BUT JUST LOOK AT THIS! & I don’t stop. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. I just sent my sister ideas for her baby’s 1st birthday…. he’s barely 6 months old. Hey Jenn… you know those ideas were poppin’. Don’t get me started on birthdays, though. All of Theo’s are practically planned out til he’s 30…. ha! You think I’m lying though. Don’t judge me lest thou be judgeth!!! Or whatever.

I have all of this and more on an unending loop in my mind. Yet, despite having SO MUCH going on? I still take on more. I joke that my Erin Condren planner is my brain (because it totally is). If it’s not written down in “My Brain”? Forget about it. No literally, I’ll forget about it. I have an unnecessary planner and calendar addiction. I get ridiculously giddy over a new planner and watching the pages fill up!! BRING ON THE CRAZY. For the sake of all things good & punny- bring on the compli-katie-d.

But let’s get real for a second, because the way that I run this loose-anarchy-toddler-terrorist-household ship of mine probably isn’t the most healthy. Mama is quite often on the verge of losing her -ish. So, back to all of you who were raising your hands earlier. Hi, friends. I see you.

[[ I love that that phrase has become a thing, because at first it was a little creepy… “I see you.” My first thought was like, “WHERE?!” *covers self up* *looks around like a crazy person* *whispers* “Where do you see me?! Does she look ok??” ]]

But no, truly. I see you. I see you going above and beyond and outside of the necessary. I see you being the best you can be for your kiddos and for your significant other and for your boss and for ________ (fill in the blank). I see you putting YOU on the back burner (hell, my stove only has 1 burner working, so if I put anything on any other burner than the front right one then ain’t nothing cooking’… ya heard?!) I see you struggling to tell someone no. I see you trying to decide if you should go to that event over taking a mental day at home, and I see you showing up to that event even though you could have easily stayed in those pajamas on your only Saturday off in forever. I see you planning and preparing and cleaning and shopping and taking care of business. I see you, boo. Let me ask you though, what are you doing for you? What could you be saying “no” to… and ultimately, “yes” to instead??

That’s why in 2020 and beyond, I am adopting a new motto. A new self manta, if you will. “Protect Your Peace, Katie.”

What does that mean, exactly? Honestly, I’m kinda taking it day-by-day, but here’s some creative ways I’ve learned to say no without outright saying “no.” I need ways to ease my guilt, I hope some of these maybe help you, too. Or at least give you some kind of idea….

  • You know, I would love to do that on <this day> but I just am swamped today. Would <this day> work instead?
  • I promised Curtis & the kids that today would be a family day, but why don’t we make plans for getting together <this day>?
  • I feel so honored that you’ve asked me to do this, but I know that if I say “yes” to this, I won’t be giving you my best work.
  • I am so excited to get some one on one time with you, but I am exhausted after the week I just had. I may just need to take a mental health day <this day> and reschedule with you for another time!
  • I am so excited for you! I would love to help you! I know I would be great at doing <this>, would that be useful?

Protecting my peace has also meant taking the lonely high road. Whew, boy that’s easier said than done sometimes. Example… I recently was trolled by someone after my last blog post, Total Transparency, about my faith and other nasty (and very untrue) things they fabricated about me. Boyyyyy, did I want to walk right up to that persons front door and give them a piece of my mind? Sure! I think that’s natural & human. Did I do that? No. Of course not. I took a step back and I considered the individual. I considered the source. I considered what pain that tormented soul must be feeling… and then still, I wanted to walk up to their door. Not to unleash anger on them, but I truly felt bad. Not for them, per se, but I felt bad that they must be feeling lonely or pained. They probably were acting the way they were because they haven’t been blessed with great friends like I have been, and they haven’t been accepted for who they are by many people. That’s tough, y’all. Protecting my peace in that moment meant praying for them and moving on. The old me would have found a way to rebuttal, but instead I just decided to lay it in Gods hands. And you know what? I found that this weight lifted off of me. I didn’t feel obligated to make anything right. I didn’t feel it necessary to counteract their accusations. I knew what was right and wrong in their statements. What did it really matter, y’know? I didn’t care to reach out to them to get in a back-and-forth with them. I protected my peace. How many times can I say that statement in one blog post?? HA! But really…. guard your heart. Guard your mind. Guard your words. Find your circle & guard it with every fiber of your being! Not every action against you deserves a reaction. Sometimes the simplest, easiest but most powerful reaction you can give someone is your silence. It’s hard for me too, so don’t get me wrong…

Now, this doesn’t mean you won’t catch me going toe-to-toe with ya on occasion. Especially if I love you. Fact: I rarely argue with someone unless I love them. Bless thems souls. I am my fathers child and I am rarely wrong when I’m mad (note, I’m saying when I’m mad, not all the time…. I tend to apologize after my hot head has cooled down.) I think I made it pretty clear in previous posts that I am certainly not perfect, and this whole self mantra of “protecting my peace” is new. Therefore, I’m working on what that means and what it looks like. It’s me learning to prioritize my life the way it was Biblically designed for me to… to put God first, my husband second, my children third, … and tacos and margaritas fourth. AMIRIGHT.

I’m planning on being the best me that I can be for my family, my close friends & myself. I’m going to be saying no more to menial stuff, but YES to so much more. YES to the things that bring God glory. YES to time with my family. YES to letting the house be a little (… ok, a lot) messy so that we can make memories. YES to more Girls Night Outs with my besties. YES to Bible Studies I’ve been meaning to do. YES to that tattoo. YES to vacations. YES to monthly hair and nail appointments. YES to that extra cookie from The Batch Maker. (small plug for my favorite baker, post to come!) YES to bubble baths. YES to hitting snooze on a Saturday. YES to …. livin’ my best life.

So, what will you be doing in 2020 to “Protect your peace?” What will you be saying “no” to more? What will that be freeing you up for saying “yes” to? Comment it below!! Send me a message! GIRL, CALL ME! I may be out doing things with my family and saying “no” to responding to you right away (and working on that guilt I’ll be feeling about it), but I promise I won’t leave you on read forever!

Thank you for listening to me ramble on, I told y’all it wouldn’t be organized (I am writing this while my toddler rages on around me, after all). Thank you for being a part of this online community I’m trying to create that’s full of love and acceptance and corny humor.

Just… thank you. Period.

Much love,

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