Turn It Up: Oregon Cabin 8-Track Smooth

Song: “Buddy”

Artist: Willie Nelson

Why I picked it: When we stayed in a tiny provincial…rustic…cabin this weekend at the Oregon Coast one of our sources of entertainment was an eight-track player. I kid you not. Lucky us, there was an excellent eight-track selection from Waylon Jennings to Johnny Cash, and even Willie Nelson. This song has been on repeat in my mind ever since it played in the background of Andy and I playing a game of “Stratego” Thursday night. It was a really wonderful simplistic night and everything that I love about this song was what I loved about that evening. It’s a wonderful reminder of the soothing, smoothing, familiarities in life that we should embrace more often. A maybe simplistic melody and lyric combination; but it’s what is so straightforward about it that breaks your heart right around the song and makes you hold on tight.

Best part of this song: Willie Nelson isn’t all the tough guy he always seems. In fact, he can write quite the love song for his man friend. Buddy.

Favorite lyric: Laugh with me, buddy / Jest with me, buddy

Birthdays, Dirty Laundry, Flannel and Jesus.

What are you thankful for today?

I’ve spent this morning thinking about all the ways that life is a little richer today……

1 // This little munchkin turns TWO years old today. He’s probably the first baby I was a really big fan of — and the first piece of faith that, yeah, having my own kid one day is going to be REALLY awesome. Happy Birthday, Ev! You ain’t a baby no more!

THE CUTEST CHUNK.

2 // Yesterday I spent 10 minutes in Bath & Body Works sniffing all of the fall scents. I spent a long time with Flannel. It’s a small thing and totally a luxury, but few things have the calming effect on me that fall candles do. I can’t wait to get some. And then get more to share the joy with my loves.

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3 // Speaking of flannel, it’s almost time to wear it. THANK the heavens. I’m soaking in every last second of sub-70-degree weather out West while I can. The 10-day forecast for Atlanta still has 90-degree days and I won’t let that steal the joy of wearing a sweatshirt today. The start of a changing season always makes me feel grateful that we get four.

4 // My mom is a nurturer. She gets joy from taking care of her family and doting on each of us. I know that there are many days I took for granted her tidying up behind me, paying attention to setting the table, keeping us in clean clothes and always asking about our comfort. “Are you cold? Do you want a blanket? Do you need something to drink?” But as I get older I’ve started to recognize that through her action — she also taught me a little something. Now that I’m a little older I recognize all the effort and appreciate all the gestures. And I notice that I’m starting to enjoy doing the same. It’s 9 a.m. in Portland and I’ve done a bunch of loads of laundry for Andy. And honestly? It just makes me feel love to do it. <3 Few things feel more womanly than feeling love folding underwear.

A picture. Cause we’re cute.

5 // NBC letting Kathie Lee honor her husband on air the way that she wanted to–sharing faith. I know that this is news from earlier in the week; but it’s stuck with me each day. It raises the question “would you do the same?” I’m a Christian. Would I be brave enough to ask to share my husband’s testimony on network television? I would hope so. But I think one of the greatest parts of her address from earlier this week is likely the bravery that led her share those words. I want to have faith like that: unashamed, unbound and unfiltered. I want to not “expect people to be offended.” Or “expect standards to not allow it.” If you want to talk about Jesus; talk about Jesus.

Present Moment, Only Moment.

Being a present-moment kind of girl has never been one of my strengths.

On the positive side of things, I’m an ambitious, achievement-focused kind of person.

On the negative, I worry a lot about things that don’t need to clog up today.

Sometimes this means you’ll catch see me gazing out the window on car drives, ignoring my car mates, miles away from where I’m actually at — stewing on what should happen in the next three years.

Other times, that means sitting at Andy’s dining room table in beautiful Oregon, worrying about what next Tuesday will be like when I’m back home in Atlanta.

Both are unnecessary.

Am I right?!

Today is point A and I’m always battling the desire to know about point C. What about what’s after the next thing?

I’ll be honest though; while it’s helped me accomplish a lot, that phrase about “depressed people are living in the past and anxious people living in the future?” I’ve had my fair dealings with anxiety.

A great accomplishment over the past two years has been that — I’ve let a lot go. I’ve found balance in being in the moment and anticipating what comes next.

And a lot of that came from realizing how little control you can have in life. Realizing that sometimes the best things are unplanned.

For me that’s meant finding a new everyday life rhythm.

I’m content in my job and while I want to grow and move up the chain; my todays are focused on doing my tasks better than yesterday; learning something new every opportunity and finding ways to set myself apart.

In my personal life I’ve found a lot of peace in strengthening my faith. i don’t control the overall tide of life myself; but I can trust in the one who does. And I can have good faith that if I’m focused on today; tomorrow is going to come together.

How many times have I written about this? A lot.

The reason I write about it today is because one of the best ways to STOP worrying about the future is to acknowledge your worry. Realize that it’s pointless. Find the motivation of what’s REALLY getting to you. Make a plan, if you can, for how to absolve that. And then redirect your focus positively in the moment. 

And sometimes writing about it is the best way.

Being in a long-distance relationship has affected my ability to not worry about the future in polar opposite ways.

When Andy and I are together, it’s almost paralyzing how much I want to worry about fixing this long-distance 3,000 mile issue immediately. Then in other ways, it’s so much more complicated than a quick fix — that I realize i only need to focus on the way his hair smells. What his shirt feels like when I hug him. How nice it is to go to the store together. The crunch of his steps next to mine when we take a hike. How the intonation of his voice changes at different times of day. Or how when he gets really sleepy he starts twitching. Those are nice things people who see each other everyday appreciate also; but for us when we’re together–they’re intensely meaningful.

This time last year when I visited Seattle for the first time and Andy and I were embarking on our first stint apart; I experienced for the first time “present worry.” I was in the moment — experiencing Seattle and precious time with him. But I was worrying about when the present would end. Worrying about having to get on a plane and say “see you later.”

We had brought burritos up to his favorite park in Queen Anne to look out at the Space Needle and under the bench we shared was a simple plaque that said:

“Present Moment, Only Moment.”

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Maybe to you, it’s kind of a “duh.”

But in THAT moment. I thought “I’m such an idiot. I need to just look around. I need to just give him a hug. I need to just be here.”

Ever since Andy and I saw that plaque it’s been a way of living when we have these stolen days together.

It’s a mantra when I get sad thinking about missing him–and he’s sitting next to me. It’s a meditation when I’m tempted to daydream about the “what ifs.”

As a result of HAVING to stay in the moment I’ve come up with my own list of ways to control yourself when you get all worked up about controlling life:

  • Take in the five senses of right this second. What do I smell? How does that fabric feel? Have I ever seen the light fall like that? Isolate the sounds floating through the room.
  • Keep my phone tucked away as much as possible.
  • Abolish a schedule and instead focus on overall task priorities for the day.
  • Actively acknowledge a desire to think about the future or worry // and deny it. “No, we’re right here right now.”
  • Start your day with a prayer. Give away those worries at the start so that your day can stay clean. (This is my favorite.)
  • Create conversations. Mull over the best questions. Put your heart into it.
  • Distract yourself with something new happening TODAY. See something for the first time. Find a new route to take. Try a fresh recipe. Stop by that bar that always catches your eye.

Turn it up: Loretta Lynn + Portland

Song: “Portland, Oregon”

Artist: Loretta Lynn & Jack White

Why I picked it: The strange pairing of Lynn and White is pretty much the exact funkiness of my morning today. I wandered around the grocery store for no less than 20 minutes this morning at 6 a.m. until I picked out some freezer waffles and chicken sausage. It is a fuzzy funky morning.

Best part of this song: Portland really is love. And gin. And I’m not just saying that because my love lives here. And I like gin. It’s a slow-moving, fuzzy kind of city that is pretty well represented in the slow-moving fuzziness of Loretta’s crooning.

Favorite lyric:  Well Portland Oregon and sloe gin fizz / If that ain’t love then tell me what is

Travel Advice: Wandering the PNW.

I don’t mind dirty fingernails, damp mornings, coffee in a tin cup and salty cheeks.

Sometimes my favorite noise in the quiet crunch of a wooded pathway.

I love finding new ways of seeing light through trees, leaves and moss.

Therefore, days spent exploring nooks and crannies of the Pacific Northwest are some of my favorite.

Two years ago I dreamed of visiting Seattle and Portland for the first time.

Funny how I said a lot of prayers about new adventures, opportunities to see new places and someone to love–and God handed over a woodsy city boy from Washington state.

This week marks my FOURTH trip to the PNW over the course of the last year.

In the funny rhythms of life, last Wednesday when I touched down in Portland it was also one year to the day since I first touched down in Seattle. August is a good time to visit the Northwest.

In the midst of seeing Andy’s new life in Portland, I’ve also already trekked back up to Seattle this past weekend, and am looking forward to next weekend on the Oregon Coast.

While I don’t have pictures QUITE ready to share. I do have some tips that I have learned over the past year if you’re planning a trip to the PNW any time soon (but honestly, I think these tips can go for any travel adventure):

  1. Do not pack an umbrella. The locals will laugh at you. Opt for that lightweight North Face parka instead.
  2. Do bring a lot of layers because it’s not rare to have a week where there are 90-degree days followed by 60-degree ones.
  3. Go see the tourist spots; but don’t make them your die-by priorities. That always gives you a reason to come back.
  4. Wander into neighborhoods you’ve never heard of fearlessly. Odds are that you’re going to find something you’ve never known you were looking for–and it makes for a way better story when you get back anyway. Hello, we’re explorers here — not just visitors.
  5. Take notes of the places that you visit. That wine bar that had the BEST view? Write it down. You’ll want to remember one day and there’s no guarantee that you won’t forget to take the receipt out of your pants pocket before those babies go through the spin cycle.
  6. Find a good camera. Yes, our iphones are a gift to on-the-fly photography. But you paid a good buck to be here. Take photos worth putting in an album. 
  7. Ask a stranger to take your photo. I know that sounds weird. But your kids don’t want to see all your selfies one day. They may however like to see a nice photo taken of you in a scenic or historic place — where you can actually see you + the background in good proportion.
  8. Don’t eat out for every meal. Not only do you feel like a whale by the end of your trip; but you maybe miss some of the nice al fresco parts of the city you’re in. For example, find a farmers market — get something local. If you don’t have a kitchen accessible, eat something that doesn’t require cooking. Picnics are a fun excuse and if you don’t want to cook or make your own; find a good local grocery store that likely sells pre-made food. You’re doing your stomach, wallet and overall experience all favors.
  9. Read the fliers on light poles. Not every evening of your trip may be jam-packed (and honestly, even if you love itineraries like me — try to avoid it — I PROMISE you that you will still have fun and not waste time) and for those evenings you have more time; what better way to spend it than to walk down the street to the Viking Boat Festival you had never heard of? Or maybe that adjacent neighborhood is having free family movie night down by the Willamette River. Find experiences you wouldn’t otherwise plan.
  10. Prepare yourself to want to return. You’re never going to get to do everything you want. All of the hikes, wineries, breweries, festivals, shows, attractions, ‘hoods. You’re never going to do it all in your trip like you plan. So instead, just plan for this to be your FIRST trip. Do and see as much as you can; but don’t make your itinerary make you miss an experience in the place you’re at. Stay longer if you need to at a restaurant. Wander further down a road. Add an extra stop on your hike. And then just find a way to return later. Because, let’s face it. When you visit, you’re going to fall in love anyway.

No matter where you’re going, when or why–take a deep breath–and if you’re just BEING. Odds are, you’re doing it right.

That’s what vacation is all about!

I can’t wait to show and share the most MAGICAL hike I’ve ever taken later this week. (Thank you, Oregon.)

But before that, I need to go find some Portland tacos….

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What’s your “puppy” to de-stressing?

When I’ve had a stressful day at work where perhaps I called up video of Syria instead of Iraq (seriously a big problem), or I’ve cut off a reporter too short — or missed a good opportunity to pitch a story; on those days I like to come home, light some apple-scented candles and turn on some Sinatra.

I’ll sit in the quiet and try to melt away the parts of the day that I wished were more perfect.

Maybe I’ll splash some wine in a glass or grab whatever the latest cider or beer is in the door of the fridge.

And then I veg.

It is THE BEST.

On pretty days, I crack the door and take it to the porch.

Before you know it I’ve dialed my Mom on the phone, we’ve talked 45 minutes, and all of the stresses of the day are somewhere else.

While this really is a form of perfection to me–I have a dream of adding a fuzzy something to that equation.

Back when my family had a dachshund there was absolutely nothing like cuddling up in the recliner, dog curled at your side, breathing steadily, looking at you with those doe eyes—and there was no way to stay tense. She would lick your hand in comfort, push her nose up under your elbow, and wiggle down deep into the crevices to get as close to you as possible.

You can take away the Sinatra, fresh air, candles and wine — a dachshund does all of that relaxing for you and more all by itself.

While, a dachshund lover like myself may think that they’re THE BEST, I know that pretty much any dog can have this effect.

It just has to be yours.

Sadly my schedule and personal budget right now aren’t conducive to a furry friend BUT that doesn’t stop me from daydreaming.

In those quiet moments reflecting on what life would be like with a dog–one of my favorite thoughts is what to name it.

I find dogs with absurdly human names incredibly adorable and hilarious.

Thus, my list of possible dog names includes:

  • Kevin
  • Keith
  • Franklin

I need to work on girl options. Related, I’m having trouble getting anyone on board with Keith.

So, you can tell I have work to do before I add a dog to my life.

But in the important things of being excited about eventually segueing into the adulthood of pet ownership; I’m totally ready.

One day. Hopefully one day soon.

in the meantime, what’s a girl to do?

Follow Harlow & Sage on Instagram. Yeah, do that right this second.

Instagram / Harlow and Sage

Instagram / Harlow and Sage

It will get you by while you don’t have a dog. Or it’ll get you by sweeter even if you do.

xx.

Turn it up: The Best New Soul Music You Haven’t Heard Yet

Introducing, Leon Bridges.

I may be taking for granted that you haven’t listened to him since I hadn’t discovered him until All Things Considered’s feature last week. But apparently, a LOT of people do love him as much as I do because when I tried to go buy tickets to his October Atlanta event I saw that not only was it sold out — so was practically the rest of his North American tour. Granted, they are small venues — but that’s where you SHOULD listen to music this amazing.

Song: “Coming Home”

Artist: Leon Bridges

Why I picked them: Obviously I have a soft spot for old jazz, new soul and anything that shows off instrumentation. When I found Leon I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been listening to him for 10 years. His sound is mature, full of roots and still has the incredible potential to play to this same style for a long time without ever getting old. And every song on his debut album has all of the same charm to make you want to repeat the album — not just this single “Coming Home.” I am absolutely in love.

Best part of this song: I dare you to listen and not find something moving to the rhythm of the beat. My foot is unstoppable.

Favorite lyric:  I wanna be around / I wanna be around you girl  ( I love the bridge in this song  — but honestly, I would also choose the instrumentation if that was an option overall.)

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!