Art, Life

Life lately and future plans

Hi everyone! It’s been a while. To make up for my absence, here are some fun recent photos.

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Adam and I visited Cary, NC, and Kure Beach to unwind before his second semester of school. We had a great time and found that we love The Triangle, its wonderfully paved roads, greenways and trails for biking, art scene, southern location…

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We went to the pool one time. It was fun too.

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I left my family at The Record Delta to pursue freelance writing and blogging. That first week I spoke with editors at two national magazines, and from there it’s all been in God’s hands. I believe He’s redirecting me back to painting—and that is OK!

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Finally met Leo, my best friend Tiffany’s baby. He is such a sweet little chunk!

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And I finally. Bought. A sewing machine. Learning slowly but surely. :)

Last month I also accepted a part-time banking job, which will likely be full time through the end of the year. It’s not in the creative field, and so far that’s been great. Now I spend a good bit of the day working with people and numbers, then I use my creative energy—namely on various painting projects—during the evening. I can’t wait to show you what I’m making!

Six years ago God was clear in telling me to paint. Lately, thankfully, I’ve felt refreshed and ready to do just that. For the last three weeks I’ve painted 4-5 times per week, for several hours each time. I’m working on one commissioned piece, I’ve garnered interest in a Paint Night—which we’ll host at home in a couple weeks—and I have some cute ideas for Christmas too. It’s unbelievable how quickly things picked up when I began seeking God’s will.

There are a few things I really want to stress in this post. Here they are: If we never take a leap of faith, if we stay in our comfort zone, we might never truly start down His path for us. We may never realize what He has in store for us. We probably won’t reach the people we’re asked to reach.

I don’t know about you, but someday, when I stand before God, I don’t want to try to explain why I didn’t make the most of the gifts and talents He gave me on Earth. I want to do my best to follow and obey Him now.

I do intend to keep this blog for style purposes, but in the future there will be a greater focus on faith, life, and art—hence the blog’s name. Thanks for being patient during this time of rebranding.

See you soon!
A

“Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. —Proverbs 8:32-33

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. —Jeremiah 29:11

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Life, Music

I finally stopped hating country music

Do you like country music? If yes, then it’s likely you’ll keep reading. If no, then you and I were a lot alike not long ago. (Keep reading.)

I used to despise country music. Can’t tell you why, but I did. Absolutely hated it.

Growing up I listened to Neil Young, Pink Floyd and Lynyrd Skynyrd on repeat almost daily—because that’s what my dad played. Eventually those southern rock roots grew to love pop, then modern rock and alternative, and later even screamo, then Christian hardcore, and they rerouted back to rock, pop, rap… You get what I’m saying.

There was never an ounce of this “country” thing.

When I moved to Nashville for publishing in 2013, several people told me, “You’re going to come back [to West Virginia] a country girl!” My answer was a firm no every time. I will admit: A few songs started to grow on me while I listened along with my sister-in-law, though never to the point that I requested them or wanted to listen to country stations. Honestly, most of the songs irritated me.

In January 2015, that changed.

During my stint away from home and in New York City, I missed my fiance, my family, my college friends who would soon graduate and go separate ways. I specifically missed face-to-face relationships. In an environment where it can be better to keep to yourself and make little eye contact, I missed smiling at people on the streets, talking to people in the grocery store, actually getting to know my coworkers like I did in Nashville.

Thoughts of the country music capital of the world frequented my mind as I pounded the pavement back to my beloved 34th Street.

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Nashville, Tennessee skyline at night.

Feeling homesick and tired, I began binge-watching “Nashville” from my laptop, hoping to get a taste of the friendly atmosphere from the summer past. I never planned to watch the show. I mean, I don’t even like country music.”

But when a tune from Eli Young Band hit my computer speakers on the show’s pilot episode, all preconceived notions about country music went out the door. Instantly I was glued to my laptop—and a fondness for country music sparked.

The song forever changed the way I saw, the way I heard country music, with the way viewers caught sight of green-treed Nashville from a bird’s-eye view, then a glimpse of Teddy, the family man, as he ran around the house laughing with his daughters. A beautiful family feel-good moment with country music streaming in the background created an emotional pull that made my ears want more. I grew to know other artists’ work in the coming weeks and months.

I still won’t classify myself as “Country.” I’m not, and I don’t think I ever could. But in an unexpected way, I realized that country music isn’t so bad after all, and maybe, just maybe, I am a tad southern. Just a little.

Love,
A

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Career, Faith, Life

Lows and highs of my journey to employment

Last Friday was my three-month anniversary working at The Record Delta. (BREAKING NEWS.) This is a big deal because:

  1. It’s tough finding a job right out of college, and
  2. God opened this door in a huge way.

I came home from NYC two weeks before graduation, and when I graduated from college I had exactly four weeks until my wedding. Months before any of that, though, I thought I’d lined up a job and a start-date of June 16. (Note: This job wasn’t terribly relevant to a journalism/PR career, but it was decent nonetheless. Stay with me.)

Long story short, it turned out that I did not have a job. I learned this eight days before my wedding.

As you might imagine, frustration turned to sadness, then panic, then indifference, all in under 15 minutes.

But in the midst of those emotions, I drafted an email to the only contact I knew from the newspaper where I’d soon live — tears in my eyes — telling her that I’d just graduated, that I had experience in x, y and z and that I was the editor-in-chief of my college newspaper for two years. I knew there was no possible way The Record Delta was hiring a staff writer at this exact moment, and I was almost certain my email wouldn’t reach her before she left for the weekend. Friday afternoon was already halfway over.

I received no response that day, but God assured me that He had something great in store for my future — that I knew and deeply believed. All I had to do was be patient.

And finish planning my wedding.

From the very first stages of planning, I’d decided that I wasn’t going to stress about anything, because weddings are supposed to be fun, not stressful, and my wedding was going to be SO much fun. The fact that I didn’t have a job was not about to destroy that.

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So, days later, I got married, had an awesome time with family and friends and my new husband, then went on a week-long vaca to Blackwater Falls State Park. S t r e s s  f r e e. Mostly.

And in the midst of praying and remaining hopeful that I’d find a job as soon as I got home from the honeymoon, I randomly checked my email — the lodge’s wifi spotty as it was — and found one from The Record Delta‘s editor, my future boss, saying that, “as it just so happens, a position has just opened up.”

As it just so happened, I cried again, but this time it was happy tears.

To sum up the rest of the story, Adam and I moved into our apartment that coming Sunday, I interviewed Wednesday and I started work the next day: Thursday, June 19 — only four days after my originally anticipated start-date.

Talk about a plan in motion. God is cooler than COOL.

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Since He opened this door three months ago, I’ve:

  • written 75+ news stories
  • attended 30+ meetings
  • interviewed two state senators, many city dignitaries and other great people in the community
  • learned A TON about writing, editing, AP Style rules, interviewing, design and so much more
  • graduated from one story on the cover to four stories, six photos on the cover (pictured above, taken yesterday)

When God closes one door, He opens another. He reminds us to rely on Him every day, especially when we think there are only poor outcomes in sight. His words were true yesterday, they’re true today and they’ll remain true tomorrow.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”
— Jeremiah 29:11-13

Thank you, Jesus, for everything. Please keep us on your path and remind us daily that our strength comes from You alone.

Love,

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Wedding photography by 4Him Photography

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Entertainment, Life, Television

Autumn and the return of good television

It’s  o f f i c i a l l y  fall.

That means pumpkin spice is in full-force, sweater weather is now and good television is HERE.

We shed some tears when our favorite shows ended for the summer (ahem, “Pretty Little Liars”), but now it’s time to rejoice — starting this week, we can plop down in front of the television and watch until our hearts are content, and on almost every night, too.

Here’s what I’ll be watching this week and every week until I can’t watch no mo’.

Gotham

“Gotham,” Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox

This is the “Batman” prequel starring Benjamin McKenzie from “The O.C.” Definitely going to give this one a try.

Nashville

“Nashville,” Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on ABC

Now this is the show I’ve been waiting for. I began binge-watching it in NYC and couldn’t peel my eyes away — first show I ever binge-watched, and the reason why I now like country music. Rayna + Deacon > Rayna + Luke (very sorry, Will Chase).

Murder

“How to Get Away With Murder,” Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC

Forbes called this show “‘Scandal’ meets law school meets insanity.” Might not be my cup of tea, but for now I say it looks interesting. Gonna try it out.

Shark Tank

“Shark Tank,” Fridays at 8 p.m. on ABC

Just like “Nashville,” this one’s also my jam. For years I’ve wanted to start my own business, and “Shark Tank” gets my brain going so that one day, hopefully, I can do just that.

See you in TV Land, you guys!

Love,

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Life, Pets

Lessons learned from becoming a cat mommy

One week ago I became a mommy — to a 4 lb 13 oz kitten. His name is Boogie, because he’s a cute/ornery/playful/sleepy little Booger.

The story in brief:

Came home from work, saw baby cat playing near street, scooped him up and brought him inside. Nervous that I’d taken somebody’s cat, about an hour later we took him outside and tried to find his home. Thought we found his home. Left and went to our home. A couple hours later, we went outside and that’s when we saw him running toward us.

At that moment we had a cat (!).

We brought him back inside and gave him a bath and clipped his nails. We scheduled an appointment with the vet the next morning, and his entire checkup was perfect. No illness, no disease and no biting the vet. He was perfect.

He was a perfect snuggler, too, although it mostly had to be his idea.

But then something changed.

Now, one minute he’s a ferocious lion (i.e., normal cat) that bolts around bookshelves and couches, under the bed and around the table, jumping, attacking, biting and scratching legs, feet, hands, other extremities, toys, newspapers, mirrors, you name it.

The next minute he’s a sleeping angel who lets me take pictures of him.

Boogie is a lot of fun and a lot of work. He’s already taught me so much. Even though I wasn’t expecting him to come into my life so soon, I’m super glad he’s here.

Here are a few lessons learned from mommyhood:

  1. Kittens need small portions of food several times a day.
    When Boogie is being more shark-like than normal, he probably wants more food or water. We give him normal kitten food, but it has to be softened some because he still isn’t chewing.
  2. Spend time with the baby, but give him space.
    Boogie was a stray who now needs lots of love, but that doesn’t mean he always wants to be held. It has to be his idea, and when he wants down, he wants down. With cats there is a very fine line between love and hate; respect that.
  3. Nothing is safe.
    If it’s out of your sight, that doesn’t mean it’s out of the cat’s sight or mind. I’m talking about those dry clumps of dirt in your potted plant. You don’t know they’re there, but they’ll become hockey pucks for Kitty in an instant.
  4. The house must be cat-proofed.
    For example, put up drinking glasses, sweep every inch of the floor, close the gaps in your stair railing (we used some very stylish cardboard).

I’m sure there are more, but, hey, today’s my day off work, and we’ve only had the Boogster for a week. Maybe I’ll check in after his next trip to the vet.

And now, please enjoy these photos.

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Love,

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Confidence, Life

Walking in NYC vs. Walking in WV

Most days in NYC I would take the train to and from work; others I would walk.

I lived about a mile and a half from Hearst Tower. Wasn’t bad at all, and despite the bitter cold, walking was my favorite thing to do — it opened my eyes and allowed me to take in every single moment all the more, such as the way Hearst so elegantly and yet boldly peeks out from behind other, plainer buildings as you approach it from 8th Avenue.

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Tugging at my heart, that Beauty.

Anyway, walking was a rush. Not just because I was usually in a rush, but probably because of the rush that comes with being a “New Yorker.” All I know is that, even when I was tired and dragging, I was kick-butt confident and unfazed by anybody on my path because darn it, I live here. I walk and cross these streets with my green lipstick and boots because New York.

That’s the part where I laugh a little. :)

In the grand scheme of my life, I’ve decided that  I  d o n ‘ t   t h i n k   I am a New Yorker, and today when I (partially) walked home from work in small-town West Virginia, things were much different than the last time I walked from 300 West 57th Street to my apartment on 34th Street.

There was no lipstick. There were no boots. There was, however, unease. But why?

In America’s biggest city, where I knew nobody and was one in a million walking to work, all eyes on me and everyone around me 24/7, how could I feel so confident? In a small town, where I know much of the college population and realize that probably very few people driving paid attention to me on the sidewalk, how could I feel so much unrest?

I seriously could not help but laugh as I pondered these feelings and waited for Adam to pick me up near The Donut Shop. (That’s why I laughingly threw out the hitchhiker’s thumb and raised a leg as he came my way — if you happened to see that, you’re welcome?)

Maybe the feeling stems from the fact that everybody is so busy in NYC that nobody takes time to stop and notice what’s around them, and maybe I subconsciously realized that. Maybe it’s because walking in West Virginia just feels downright funny anyway, and it’s the first time I’ve ever really done it. Not sure…

But I think I’m up for a redo. With the lipstick and boots this time.

 

Love,

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Life

A call to college kids and grads: Leave the ‘college bubble’ behind

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From the time we’re freshmen to the moment we take that exciting walk across the graduation stage, most of us—or many of us—live on our college campus. That campus provides food (albeit sometimes unappetizing), shelter, convenience stores, friendships, extracurricular activities and schoolwork in excess. Really, it’s a self-contained environment. We don’t necessarily need a reason to leave campus, because everything we need is within reach.

This is the “college bubble,” as I deemed it four years ago, as I entered into it myself, and its effects are dangerous—it has the ability to turn almost-impressionable students into complacent humanoids who do no more than what is immediately expected of them. This is their routine:

Wake up (late). Get ready. Class (will probably skip). Lunch. Class. More class. Homework. Practice. Dinner. Homework (will definitely skip). Friend time. Sleep (eventually). Repeat.

There is no life outside of these aforementioned activities. There is very little interest in careers, state/world news or anything that does not revolve around the perfect “going out” outfit or the coolest frat’s evening shenanigans.

Please know that this is not a slam to students.

Instead it is a call to wake up and realign that vision for the future, because there is life outside of college, there is real life past your weekend plans. (It’s also a message that I’ve pondered for weeks, ever since God laid it on my heart.)

It’s time to take things seriously.

Two years ago, before the 2012 presidential election, I was on duty as a resident assistant in my college dorm room. I was in my room with my door open and television turned on. The tv volume was not blaring. Even so, one resident, while walking to her room, stopped by to talk and blatantly asked, “Why do you always have C-SPAN on?”

It took a lot of effort not to giggle, honestly. First of all, it wasn’t C-SPAN, and second of all, the question was ridiculous in itself because, hello, the election was less than a month away.

And that’s when it first hit me: We’re trapped in this bubble, but we don’t even realize it. It’s not so cool to have a political alignment in college. It’s kind of weird to have opinions outside of which chair I want to choose in research methods class. But why?

When did it become so bizarre to care about bigger issues (i.e., the world)?

We often do not take time to stop, look around and see what’s happening around us, especially while we’re in college and learning to do the whole “adult” thing. If it doesn’t immediately concern us, it doesn’t matter, right?

In some cases we’d only have to turn on the tv for a few minutes, just to catch up on the day’s events, but students don’t even do that much.

What’s even worse, graduates are stuck in this indifference, too.

ICYMI:

Why it took Obama so long to address his no ISIS strategy comments
CNN Politics

Conflicting signals? Obama vows to ‘destroy’ ISIS, make it ‘manageable’
Fox News

Lost in America: Visa program struggles to track missing foreign students
ABC News

U.S. confirms authenticity of second journalist beheading video
The Washington Post

Video shows panic in Liberia as man wanders out of Ebola clinic
New York Times

Of course this is only a small piece of the pie (e.g., conflict in Israel, Putin wants Ukraine, U.S. border crisis); nonetheless, these events are concerning.

We need to open our eyes and get involved, guys—not continue in indifference—because we are the next generation. We’re not “kids” anymore. It’s time to learn, step up and inform others.

 

The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out. —Proverbs 18:15

 

Love,

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