Turn it up: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Yup. I did it.

Hey, it’s the last “Christmas in July” opportunity.

Please, without further ado or introduction — please enjoy. How can you be stressed on a Tuesday when you’re listening to this?

Song: “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Artist: Frank Sinatra

Why I picked them: Nat King Cole’s version is actually my favorite; but I love anything Nat or Frank. I chose this version because I wanted to go with a version slightly different than the one that I typically have on repeat. But I realize, it’s another flavor of the same fruit. It’s classic and need nothing more than that.

Best part of this song: Christmas, people. You don’t need another reason.

Favorite lyric:  Let your heart be light / From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

Finding a church home. Again.

It just happened to be baby dedication Sunday at the largest Methodist church in the Atlanta area and I was feeling starkly under-accessorized.

You hear about the southern churches that treat the center aisle like a runway–and I had stumbled into that sanctuary.

Granted, it was baby dedication Sunday and the perfect opportunity for families to show off their coordination–but I was still blown away by the labels and jewelry I saw across the pews.

I should have worn more bracelets.

One of the best parts and hardest parts about starting again in a new city is finding a church.

It’s such a personal, chemical kind of thing.

I have my list of “criteria” and a memory of a feeling in tow each Sunday morning.

When I first moved to Winston-Salem, I searched for years. It was hard and by the time I found REVO (one of my favorite Sunday mornings), I had probably visited 10 churches on some kind of repetition hoping to find my place.

At the end of it all I found REVO on the recommendation of a friend who had attended the same church as me in Boone, N.C.

Then Boston was easier for a perhaps sad reason.

There were very few churches to pick from that were feasible enough for me to get to on a regular basis.

I found Union United Methodist Church on my second try. A lucky Google search, a church in one of my favorite neighborhoods, and a reputation for being socially progressive.

The choir’s rendition of “Love Lifted Me” brought tears that morning and I knew I had to come back.

Atlanta is trickier than Boston in that there are approximately 5,000 churches to learn about or visit. I’ve asked friends. I’ve visited two. And I need to keep learning a lot more.

So far I have been to the uber traditional United Methodist Church and then an equally uber socially liberal United Methodist Church.

I feel like Little Red Riding Hood. I need something in the middle.

This Sunday I visited a “Contemporary Service” and quickly things seemed awry….

It seems like every Sunday has a different little set of challenges on not being 100 percent comfortable or 100 percent what I’m looking for.

While it can be disappointing to not find a church home right away, I’ll never take for granted the huge gift of learning: what exactly I need — what exactly I believe — and what exactly I expect and want in a church.

You don’t really get to be that self-reflective without reason!

If you’re looking for a new church currently here is my modified (ongoing) checklist:

  • – Are you looking for a denomination?
  • – If so, why? This will help clarify for the following questions.
  • – Are there certain belief structures that are sacred to you?
  • – What level of involvement are you looking for?
  • – How long do you plan to be involved? Who else does this affect?
  • – Do you want to be able to do missions? Internationally?
  • – How important is accessibility to the pastoral team?
  • – Are you looking for certain qualifications / degrees / distinctions for the pastoral team?
  • – What type of message do you prefer?
  • – Do you want traditional? Contemporary? A church with varying types of services?
  • – What is the most important part of the service for you? Worship? Message? Fellowship?
  • – Is location a factor?
  • – Do you care how old the church is?
  • – What about the church’s stance on social issues? It’s now easy to search congregations friendly to all types of love.
  • – Do I know anyone at local churches? Or anyone with connections to local churches?

While this list is ever being added to; I found that I’ve really had to meditate on all of my answers. And it helps. You’re focused on what you need.

Until next Sunday, the saga continues — but in the meantime I am thankful for another Sunday in a church. And another Sunday to make sure I know all of my answers to the questions above!

Why you need to keep a gratitude list.

I like to think that I’m a pretty thankful person on any given day without thinking about it in too much detail.

For the most part I like to think that I take my family and friends, job, apartment, and money to heart.

There are lots of moments that I feel a notable heart surge of thanks when something nice happens.

But, note, “I like to think” a lot of these things. I’m not 100 percent sure though that I consistently meditate on how great they really are.

We’re all busy. On lots of days it’s all you can do to work, cook all of your meals, squeeze in a work out and find time to chat with loved ones. Nevertheless have a moment to sit around in conscious thought about how great life is.

There is a need, though.

Life can be even better if we take some extra time once a week for ourselves. We’re always wanting that quiet 15 minutes, and when you steal it—jotting down your gratitude list can make the other minutes of your week a little more colorful.

I think you’ll find that the reflection on gratitude will affect every aspect of your life and those you share it with.

1. Conscious gratitude results in deeper gratitude.

When you stop to really think about how many and what kinds of good things are happening in your life; the good seems a lot bigger. It’s easy to think “of course, I’m healthy.”

Well, that takes the feel-good out of a blessing.

At times where things go wrong — I think that half of the sadness in the situation is knowing that we didn’t appreciate it when it was going GOOD. We need to fully live in our gratitudes and soak out every last drop.

I am healthy today and that isn’t something that I was promised. It’s not something that will necessarily always be true. I have the strength to go run four miles if I want and I don’t have to stress out about any doctor appointments like some people. I really need to be thankful in that. And also maybe get my butt out from behind my desk and go run.

Nodding your way through life diminishes some of the most important parts.

2. When we keep track of the numerous blessings in our life; the need to bless others is un-ignorable.

The good things we have are privileges to some degree, right?

And with privilege comes a kind of responsibility, right?

By consciously realizing what we have–we can appreciate the need to share the good with others.

On those days we passively feel thankful for what we have it’s easy to feel like all of those things are deserved:

  1. good health
  2. family who supports us
  3. friends who follow through on plans
  4. a stable job and income
  5. work that we feel like matters
  6. a safe home
  7. freedom to practice whatever faith we want
  8. physical ability to go take on that killer work out
  9. opportunities to grow
  10. mentors who care what you can accomplish

And those are just 10 things.

My guess is that at some point in time you haven’t had one or more of those. And in that moment, YOU needed a blessing.

I think by keeping a gratitude list we can reflect on what we’re being given and be thankful. And even more we can see the opportunity to bless other people.

When you’re thankful your friends follow through on plans — it makes you want to be a friend who does the same, am I right?

It makes you realize how important calling your grandparents can be.

And it could give you that kick to respond to a new grad’s email about helping them with the job search.

3. Keeping a gratitude list can change YOUR day.

It’s Monday and a small hiccup in your schedule happens sending some plans into disarray.

Cue “over-reashley.” (Ain’t that a cute nickname? Real love you guys.) I tend to overreact about small things and turn them into GIANT problems. #TheWorldIsEnding.

When you have the perspective of what you HAVE. What is good. What matters. You’re not going to be sweating the slow line at Publix or co-worker who doesn’t understand work process.

By reflecting regularly on a gratitude list — your gratitude WILL affect your attitude.

All of those opportunities at your feet? Maybe by realizing how special they are you’ll start being more proactive about exploring them.

So, what am I doing about it?

I’m going to work on meditating once a week on my blessings. Yes, a perfect opportunity for a beautiful handwritten list.

And then I’ll focus on finding motivation to share in at least one way with others. Sometimes maybe I’ll post about it — but I’ll always try to keep a physical list.

While life is not perfect and there are definite improvement areas; I think my perspective can be even better right this second if I take a little bit more time to breathe in through my nose…close my eyes…smile…and know in how many ways I’m taken care of.

When you figure that part out; you can’t help but share it.

Spoiler alert: My gratitude list is going to be directly relevant to a >>>> prayer list. Which is something I’ll be writing on Sunday. (PS: If you like lists, let’s be best friends.)

Today’s gratitude: The opportunity to pick up an extra shift at work this weekend to help ease some financial stresses.

Today’s pay it forward: Since I’ll have a little extra money, it’s probably a good idea to chip into that co-workers present pool to show how much I really appreciate working with them.

xx.

The Owl Life.

I’ve always had trouble going to bed. I was the rotten seven-year-old with a dozen excuses to pop back out of my room. And as an adult it’s not much better–I have very little will to stick with a 10:30 p.m. normal bedtime. (Maybe I’m not actually an adult after all…)

Even when I would abide by a routine, at alternating times in life–be it because of stress or just busy-ness–I’ve often grappled with insomnia.

4 a.m. and I are pretty intimate.

But now we’re like in a Facebook-official relationship.

In the list of things that have been adaptations with getting used to a new job—I’m now officially an “overnighter.”

My work days go from roughly 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the beautiful perk of working four nights a week. Not everyone jumps in line for this shift–but I think I came into it with a solid 26 years of preparation.

My new typical day involves getting home from work as everyone else is leaving. I eat my first breakfast. Maybe squish in a work out. Read a chapter of whichever Harry Potter book I have caught up to. Sleep for a good seven hours. Slowly thaw out from that sleep over the course of two hours and a Hallmark movie or more reading by the pool. I eat second breakfast. Quickly get ready for work. Soak in a daily hour Facetime with my Andy–and then a chat with mom on my drive back into work.

The days fly by. Before you know it Monday has turned into Wednesday and your weekend is just around the corner.

It’s both the most beautiful and the most startling.

At work the shifts are more intimate with fewer people in the newsroom and everyone carrying a larger plate of responsibilities as a result for the 10 hours that you’re churning away on shows. Since I work for CNN International this is one of the times where you’re most likely to see my shows broadcast on CNN–as it often simulcasts our programs during the wee domestic hours. Unsurprisingly most of our news overnight is focused on Asia, Western Europe and the MIddle East which is much further into their next day.

It’s been an amazing opportunity to learn because there’s always extra places to lend a hand and new tasks to try for the first time. Plus, there’s an unspoken camaraderie about being awake and working hard at 2 a.m. while deliberating what to eat for “lunch.”

Honestly? I love it.

It seems like the perfect application of my “I don’t want to go to bed yet” excuses. And nicely, during the morning when I get home, I’m so perfectly exhausted that sleep is no problem.

The only issues?

Those normal-person routine things like a weekly social life, exercising, running errands and cooking–those are hard.

Working out, especially, is tough. Who wants to work out after working 10 hours? Who wants to work out when it’s 90 percent humidity outside in glorious Atlanta at 4pm? >This girl.<

I’m trying to get into a morning routine. I’ve found my best strategy so far: avoid the couch. JUST LACE UP YOUR DARN SHOES, ASHLEY. :) First breakfast can come afterwards!

There are definite pluses and minuses to this new shift; but for the most part I think I’m adjusting marvelously. If only I can remember to keep balance—still plan time for the routines, the me time and the time with my family and friends on the weekends.

One of the hardest parts about embarking on the new job adventure was doing so 2,500 miles away from my love. But surprisingly a vampire-like schedule is quite conducive for cross-country phone dates.

The biggest emotional side effect of this new schedule is the tendency to indulge.

I crave a lot of comforts.

I don’t know if it’s a reaction to having a schedule flop — or just Ashley still adjusting to a new city. Probably a lot of both. But usually this means when I have a strange desire to light pumpkin candles in July — I do it. And if Hallmark is showing Christmas movies — I watch.

One last side issue to my moonlighting is this “breakfast issue.” I have cereal or waffles roughly 12-15 meals a week. Maybe this is the comfort thing, you say.

I argue that it’s a “breakfast is the best meal of the day” thing.

“But 12-15 breakfasts a week, that’s extreme,” you may come back.

My response to that, for now?

More waffles, please.

Turn it up: Band of Horses

Song: “Laredo”

Artist: Band of Horses

Why I picked them: I’ve always liked the acoustic, rock style of any artist like Band of Horses. Soft lyrics. Surprising harmonies. Strong vocals and touches of instrument variety. Similar to Dawes in some ways. Surprisingly I don’t think I’ve included them yet AND Andy always likes to play them for me when we’re together. (They’re from Seattle, spoiler alert.) I’m still in my Andy hangover so of course he influenced my Tuesday music.

Best part of this song: I love how upbeat the melody is–you can’t help getting your shoulders moving while you listen.

Favorite lyric:  Impossibilities at the door  //  I won’t be needing them anymore

The Atlanta I Love.

I’ve been in love with Atlanta since I was probably five years old.

Something about the skyline driving through to Braves games or the combination of road-side farmers stands and urban graffiti. I have always loved the eclectic southern-ness of Atlanta and it was a beacon of “the good life” for me since I was a teenager.

“Man, if I live in Atlanta when I grow up — I will be the HAPPIEST,” I thought and wrote in my diary probably 50 times from 2001 to 2010.

I couldn’t wait to be able to go to The Ted on any given day of the week, read the AJC on the reg and officially be considered a peach state resident. Strange aspirations maybe, but they were all tokens of the city that I obsessed about.

I had and have been to other cities of course; but Atlanta has always been magical to me.

Growing up I would tell anyone who would listen about how one day I would probably be VP of Communications for the Braves and if not that maybe I would work at CNN. Lofty ambitions, but life is funny. And great sometimes.

You can imagine what people said when I announced four months ago that I was moving here. It was the smallest surprise of the year. Half the people I told thought that I already lived here.

Now, I live here.

Every day.

I don’t think I’m a bonafide Atlantan yet by any means. I DO have a Marta card; but I’ve never been to a number of the local institutions like Manuel’s or the Landmark. I’ve yet to really run very far on the Beltline and I’m not sure I could find my way around on the west side of I-75. I have no idea what the best restaurants are in Decatur and I haven’t been to a single festival yet. There is a lot to still see and experience on my “Atlanta To-Do List.” In fact, I probably need to create an actual list.

Related: If you live in Atlanta and have suggestions on what earns me my Atlantan certificate. Please advise.

But now on any given Tuesday I can go to Braves games, explore new restaurants, neighborhoods and museums.

Atlanta is home.

And I love Atlanta.

The trails. The parks. The history. The culture. The diversity. The food scene. The music. The access to hiking, swimming, home, friends and family.

There are so few things that could improve this city for me. (Aside from much improved public transportation. That’s it.)

But I found an Atlanta that I loved even more when Andy visited last week.

It wasn’t in a specific place or an activity. We had:

  • normal nights at home
  • tacos at Superica
  • drinks on the Beltline
  • King of Pops shade breaks
  • hikes on Stone Mountain
  • tent time at Lake Lanier
  • tomahawk chopping at Turner Field
  • picnics at Piedmont Park
  • meanderings downtown
  • sightings at MLK’s childhood home
  • lots of neighborhood explorations

It was a normal week of me trying to share why I loved this city so much.

Since moving here, it has been so fun–but I promise you that each exploration was paired with “I wonder what Andy would think of this?” or an “I can’t wait to show this to Andy when he visits.”

Can you imagine how lovely it was to just adventure and have him there to talk about it?

It was the BEST Atlanta yet.

Turns out when you combine the city you love + the person you love, it results in the BEST days. But, not to cheese ball, basically Andy and I always have the best time regardless of what city we’re set in.

I was pretty close to right at 14 years old when I thought that living in Atlanta would be the end-all to pure happiness.

But this week I saw a side of an even sweeter Atlanta that I hadn’t quite experienced yet–and oh boy, I cannot wait to visit that place again.

In the meantime, I get to keep exploring. I get to keep finding new reasons that Atlanta is my favorite. More parks to venture into and more neighborhoods to wander. More days to learn about myself in a city that–over the years–has been integral to my figuring out who I am.

While I really wish Andy was coming back tomorrow or that my trip to Portland started Wednesday instead of three weeks from now–I have Atlanta. And if I have to be patient for the day that we get to make a city ours, I’m positive that 95-degree heat, 80-percent humidity, and all, I wouldn’t take any other place while I wait.

Sometimes, God Demands Your Attention.

The last 24 hours have been a different kind of test of patience.

While I’m on vacation and able to be home the last two days it’s coincidentally been the same days that plumbers needed to come in and re-pipe my apartment. That means holes in walls. Moving around my stuff to the point that it looks like I’m moving out. Dust. Invasion of privacy. And some lost sleep.

Apartment life is … getting old.

But the real kicker was that I got home yesterday and ALL i wanted to do was hang out in my apartment…alone…and watch television.

I’ve been a little distracted with Andy’s impending visit (today!!) and have let myself get stressed about the inevitable underlying question of our relationship….when will long distance not be….and who is going to move when….

That stress can creep in and ruin good moments. It can sadly diminish the BEST times when we’re actually together. And it takes a lot of will power to be in the moment. Crazy, I know.

So, anyway. Stress in the back of my mind. I wanted some crap television. That was going to help me focus on my excitement.

I walk in the door and see a weird blinking light on my internet router.

No signal. 

Instagram won’t refresh.

The horror.

I restart my router.

Restart my modem.

Turn on my television.

Nothing.

Holy. freakin. Crap. What an inconvenient day. Not only is my apartment a wreck I have no entertainment. I felt like I couldn’t even be there—it was the worst.

I’m seething in my lack of apartment luck for the day and begrudgingly grab a bag to instead go work out. (I REALLY wanted to sit on the couch, guys.)

After two miles of serious sweating I decided to take a break and just walk. After all, my cable wouldn’t be on until 9 p.m. what in the world else was I supposed to do.

And it was then that it hit me.

I needed to pray. I needed to spend some time with God before Andy’s visit. All of the stress that I let slowly build up? I haven’t been doing a good job at all about letting off the steam — and sending it up in prayer.

One of the hard aspects when you move is finding a new church and a new spiritual routine. For me, Winston took forever. Boston took a bit. Atlanta, I’ve sadly just been busy! Terrible excuse, I know. And when you neglect one part of your faith — the church routine. It’s really easy to start neglecting the other parts — your nightly prayer. Your devotions. Your practice of offering it up.

I’ve always struggled with not having control. I blame my mom. It must be something she passed down genetically :)

But, in my long-distance situation with Andy I could be upset about that every single day if I wanted. Luckily, it doesn’t happen that often — but I find that the longer we’re long distance, perhaps the more often that inevitably I stress out. So it goes.

It was an amazing gift to be focused for thirty minutes yesterday on just lifting up my struggles to God and realizing that not having control is an amazing thing because — you can do so much, but the rest you have to hand up to Him.

Sure one of us could FEASIBLY pack up and move tomorrow–but no we couldn’t. There’s a timing implication to this. There’s a career opportunity aspect. There are families involved. It’s bigger than us even though–we’re at the center holding it together.

Can you imagine what a relief it was to just have peace that in the right time ALL of the pieces are going to come together?

What a relief.

What a sigh of peace that I can just enjoy this week! I don’t have to be calculated and anxious.

The only one who can coordinate all of the complex parts of your life–yup, that’s Him.

One of the best parts of Andy’s and I relationship is that we’re both committed to knowing that ONE DAY we’re going to be in the same place. The timing and the exact location are written somewhere I haven’t seen yet. But I can rest in faith that God has a plan and I don’t have to stress at all.

Sometimes, God has to cut you off. He has to demand your attention. And if you’re not careful you may miss the opportunity that God is giving you to have some relief. I almost didn’t see what now appears to be such a clear opportunity.

Needless to say that since then I have felt amazing and renewed.

You need moments like that every so often to remind yourself that you’ve been a bit of fool.

I need to stop doing it all on my own and then … not doing it quite so awesome. 

Spend some time in prayer.

Be specific.

Trust in all areas. And you’ll start to see all areas flourish.

Water. Bloom.

My cable and wifi are finally back on but today instead of television, I felt compelled to sit in more quiet with my coffee this morning. What a gift to have time for reflection and rest as I gear up for the fun that is about to start.

10 hours until Andy touches down in the A!

xx.

Sunshine on a Monday.

Mondays are notoriously tough — but have never been my least favorite day of the week. I save that for Tuesday / which is why I’ve always posted a good new song on Tuesdays. Tuesdays need a good song.

Mondays still have the motivation of a new week. A fresh sheet of paper with a crisp to-do list. A potential of whatever you think you can get done.

Tuesdays meanwhile, you’re already in the middle of it — and you’re still far from Friday.

If you’re in your Monday at work, I hope you’re in the “crisp to-do list” state of mind. That’s what Mondays deserve.

For me, today is a day off.

I’m a jerk, I know.

But I wanted to write about it because for me days off are a lot different than they used to be. Now, I’m a nocturnal.  I’ll soon detail my new overnight life; but for now just know that the 10-hour wee-hour shifts aren’t for the faint of heart–BUT the three-day weekends are amazing. And it really makes you appreciate being able to be awake and alive during the day time to appreciate something as simple as morning sunshine.

image1

Second? The amazingness of MORNING coffee. Coffee is meant for 8am. It is weird when you pair it at 6pm. It’s so much better when I can savor it over the course of hours in the morning.

Thirdly, it’s few and far between when I get to listen to Andy’s radio show on Portland’s Rip City 620 AM with this schedule. So a day off, combining his show WITH the cup of coffee and it’s almost like I’m actually getting to have coffee with Andy. (He mostly talked about sports and would read me articles on our shared mornings anyway. He’s basically doing that with his co-host and I just listen along and text in my opinions or totally unrelated thoughts. Not the same; but nice substitute.)

image1 (1)

A day off for me means actually having a normal routine. I can wake up, think about errands, working out — and all of the other normal people things that I procrastinate during the work week. I am in heaven to some degree. But it’s a lot more than just day off happiness; today is especially sweet because it’s the set-up to my Andy coming to town Tuesday and finally seeing Atlanta!

TOMORROW!

<3

It’s been two months since we’ve seen each other and for us that’s the sweet spot. Just long enough that we’re not totally impoverished spending money on cross-country flights and just long enough that any longer and we enter the “Losing our Minds with Missing You” phase. Three months apart gets rough. I will commonly come back to the fact that long-distance relationships are mega hard. But abundantly worth it. Incredible what your heart can do.

I need to try to document the phases of “missing someone” during a long-distance relationship because there are definitely, definitely cycles.

Today is the “SO FREAKING EXCITED I SEE YOU TOMORROW” phase.

Today is maybe even better than tomorrow in some ways because there is all the anticipation and none of the touch of sadness of already dreading the end of the week together. Ridiculous but — a sad reality of LDRs.

It’s a crazy mixed bag of desires for his visit. While I can’t wait to spend every second showing him every single thing and reason to love Atlanta; I could also just spend every second laying in my room and talking to him and snuggling — while teasing that I may not drive him back to the airport later.

LDRs. They’re for the birds. But it’s my life and I’m so freaking ecstatic that we’ll share space the next six days.

So, while I’m sorry that I’m being a jerk and writing about a day off on a Monday–try to feel lucky that if you love someone and you live in the same zip code you have a huge Monday-off up on me.

Regardless where your Monday has you, here’s to the next thing on your to-do list.

For me, my day-off sunlight to-do list is not short–so, I will be starting that …. after this second long cup of coffee.

Thanks to Andy visits, today my Monday is excited.

And for once, tomorrow my Tuesday will be even better. <3

And as for Friday, for me, it can stay very far away!

xx.

Actually an Adult.

Can’t you tell?

This blog was born out of a desire to…actually live.

For a long string of months I had accidentally taken on a passive approach to the every day and starting this blog was the first steps of credibility to change.

Then everything started to be wild and colorful. I knocked out a 25 by 25 list and found myself exploring, trying new things, adding up travels and embracing new hobbies. Really evaluating where my heart was at led me 1,000 miles from home to graduate school and an adventure in Boston.

I had an open heart to where God wanted me to go and who He wanted me to meet — and I even fell in love.

Actually on the Line went from a way to talk about a new approach I wanted to try — to that “approach” becoming the very heartbeat of my routine. Everything was always on the line and everything was constantly changing.

Two years ago I was working in Winston and feeling like things weren’t quite where they were supposed to be.

Today I’m fully where I want to be–and exactly where 14-year-old Ashley might have guessed:

Living in Atlanta. Working for CNN International. Going to Braves games. Loving living in the South. Seeing my family and friends all the time. And breathing journalism all hours of the day.

It’s incredible how much can change in less than two years.

But it’s not PERFECT. Is it ever?
One thing that’s been missing is this blog. (The other thing is my Bunky who lives 2,000 miles away. But that will be shared more about along the way….#LDRexpert)

But where do you go from an epic 25-by-25 list, I have asked myself? How do you “revitalize” life again when you’re pretty much living as fully as you can handle right now? The Ashley that started this blog and the Ashley that picked it up today are the same; even though situations may have changed.

So, this blog is evolving. I want this to stay a place that I can come and share. So, it needs to get on the same page as my current life.

For the first time…ever…I feel like I’m “actually an adult.” I’m not constantly thinking about “what’s next.” I’m not tracking the “next chapter.” Because, honestly, I feel like I’m in the next chapter in some way. Really though, how is that different at 26 years old than 24 years old?

Here are 10 random instances I have been hit with this realization in the last three months:
  1. Two words: Student Loans.
  2. Moving an apartment full of furniture that’s mine with only one thing from Ikea.
  3. Shopping at Forever 21 only to feel incessantly 26. RIP ability to rock $8 one-season dresses.
  4. Taking out a bank loan for moving expenses…
  5. …and subsequently realizing the importance of savings and serious budgets.
  6. My five-year plan involves figuring out how much I would be approved for to buy a house.
  7. Working out is a weekly requirement. Seriously. There is no choice. Ask the cookies lingering from March.
  8. Being in a relationship that can stand the text “I’m being REAL grumpy and irrational.” And having that person say “That’s all right, I understand. I love you!!”
  9. I am not good with cars. But yet I have, against all odds, learned finally how to put air in my tires.
  10. Realizing…I may need to consider under-eye cream. WHAT? I know. Insane. But I have some. TBD on results. I’m still battling denial before trying.
Maybe I’m no less or more an adult that I was two years ago when I started this blog–but I certainly feel like I’m in a more adult place. Battling adult challenges.
Today Actually on the Line is an effort to continue being real, of course, but it’s evolving into a look at where I’m actually at with connecting my roots and my visions.
My life is a navigation of balancing the past and future — melding that into what I want today to be.

Keeping up with those who got me to Boston.
The life I created in Boston.
The new life I’m making in Atlanta.
My life is a juncture of old coworkers, high school best friends, grad school buds, and family. It’s a smash of West Coast, East Coast, down South and New England. It’s frequent flier miles to see my love in Portland, Oregon every week I can steal away from the newsroom. It’s constant miles logged on I-85 to see friends and family in North Carolina.

All of these things are helping me learn an abundance about what I want to create now. And who I need to make sure is there with me in the process.
Here, you’ll see a return of my weekly music posts, there will still be faithful reflections and then the overdose of personal details you may or may not care about. Travels around the country. Restaurants I drooled at. Bars I shared beers at. Hikes I recommend and wanders I’m lusting after.
Actually on the Line is definitely growing with me, so there may be some experimenting. While I can’t predict fully exactly where this journey will go next or what you can expect to read in the next post — but — I can promise that there will be life here again.
xx.

Playing Katniss Everdeen in Dupont Forest.

Fun thing about my going to Boston to study Broadcast Journalism? My interest actually stemmed from some experience working in background acting in the blossoming North Carolina film industry. (I even had acting lessons. Hard core, I know.) I had one of the best nights of my life in the same room as Mark Schwahn (One Tree Hill, anyone?) shooting a bar scene outside of Charlotte. Coincidentally with the same casting company that had also cast for The Hunger Games which had shot in North Carolina months before that time. I worked with a bunch of Hunger Games background actors and, like I already said, had one of the best nights ever.

Fast forward three years and I had upgraded to playing Katniss in my old friends’ movie––but in all actuality, I was just frolicking on one of the best WNC hikes I’ve been on in a while. On the natural set for a handful of scenes from the movie.

Dupont State Park

Photo cred: The lovely Sarah Bennett.

And my only qualifications at this point to play the part were actually that:

– I was wearing a braid.

– I had on fast running shoes.

– I have a degree in broadcast journalism now. So. . . I’m qualified to be on camera.

There were actually no tributes though. And no murdering. And for all that matter, the only camera was my iOS-5c.

Just beautiful waterfalls, gravel treks, families with dogs, spots for lunches on wide rocks and familiar sights from the big screen of years past.

Dupont State Forest It was an excellent way to pass a Saturday with Sarah. The teasing 50-degree weekends of North Carolina that fools you into thinking you can wear a t-shirt only for you to be cold–BUT realizing that it is still perfect hiking weather.

Dupont State Forest offers about four and a half miles of scenic views in Brevard, NC. A beautiful loop that takes you through some gorgeous woods and babbling water.

High Falls, Dupont State Forest

High Falls, Dupont State Forest

Seen above is High Falls. It is both gigantic and loud. Sarah and I trekked off the trail and out onto the rocks to grab these photos. It was delightfully fun and totally within the bounds of rules. But, still made us feel like risk takers. That said, it wasn’t a risk-taking hike by any means. If you’re looking for a moderately easy hike in WNC, this is one of your sure bets.

Five total waterfalls (that’s a lot) and a predominantly downhill hike. I’m not sure how much more you can ask for. Entertaining AND pretty easy.

Triple Falls, Dupont State Park

Triple Falls. This guy counts as three.

OK, Maybe an actual Jennifer Lawrence sighting? But you can’t have it all, they say.

This is the area where Katniss helps injured Peta. No sightings to report.

This is the area where Katniss helps injured Peta. No sightings to report.

It does appear that while the film industry in North Carolina has suffered since the high days of The Hunger Games, Dupont State Forest has profited from the increased tourism. There is a very helpful staff and new visitor center to point you on the right trail.

We ended the day with some tasty soup at Mayberry’s followed by a delicious American IPA at Brevard Brewing Company. Mayberry’s had a nice menu and very, very good biscuits with their soup. Brevard Brewing had a lot of brew options and at $3.75 a pint––again, I’m not sure what more you could ask for. I totally recommend the 10-minute drive to explore downtown Brevard. It’s the cute small town vibe in WNC that you’re looking for. I promise. The quintessential hike and brew Saturday that North Carolina gabs about.

Brevard Brewing Company

Post-hike brews with my Boston-to-NC bestie Sarah.

It’s days and adventures like this that really make me take a deep breath of NC. I’m so lucky for the time that I have here while I look for the next grand adventure. How lucky to have had the start here that has launched me on the trajectory that I’m headed.

Home is a very, very lovely place.