• January 6, 2016

    thoughts on :: the last day and the first day


    on the last day of the year, I went for a walk for the first time in months and wondered aloud (to myself, like a crazy person) what exactly happened. why 2015 felt like one blindside after another. why everything happened so out of order and out of control and with complete disregard for my need of equilibrium. everything seemed out of whack in 2015 and it was all I could do to hang on. hang on by the very tips of my fingers, I tell you.

    but hang on I did. and now it’s 2016 and I’m still walking slowly through pain and wondering aloud (still to myself, still like a crazy person) if equilibrium will somehow reassert its balancing act in this new year. this new year where the questions and doubts and fear of the unknown still remain. this new year where pain still keeps me from sleeping and worry still keeps me from resting. all things considered, 2016 may be just like 2015. and what if it is?

    well if it is, well then…it is. if I’ve learned anything (and trust me, I haven’t learned nearly enough), it’s that pretending to have control and trying to keep myself from getting blindsided by life is as pointless as trying to hold light in my hands.

    on the one hand, I must admit that I’m a little (okay, a lot) frustrated. frustrated that my mom got sick and no one knows why and no one knows how to fix it. frustrated that friends were made to bear unbearable tragedies and survive unsurvivable loss. frustrated that I spent most of the last three months of 2015 in bed and in pain and unable to dance around the house to the new justin bieber album, which – I’m not ashamed to admit – is fantastically perfect dance material. frustrated by all the little ways that things seemed wrong and broken and completely senseless.

    but on the other hand, I must admit that I’m a little (okay, a lot) thankful. thankful that in my pain and isolation I was surrounded by unbounded, inexpressible comfort that came in small acts of huge kindness. (see: text messages with lots of emojis, personal chauffeur services, ceaseless streams of prayer, and more gummy bears than I could possibly eat.) thankful that I was allowed to watch people around me perform radical acts of empathy and selflessness and love, even in the midst of broken hearts and broken lives. thankful that, at the end of the day, I am not alone in any of it. none of us are alone in any of it.

    but you know what? no matter what hand I’m looking at, I must admit that I’m just totally, completely undone. undone by the freedom (yes! freedom!) that comes in not having any freaking clue what’s going to happen in 2016. undone by the fact that people will show up to help bear what seems unbearable and survive what seems unsurvivable…and to dance when we need to dance. undone by how the smallest things can actually be the biggest graces. undone by the mysterious equilibrium that is not found in the fragile balance of my circumstances, but in the ridiculously uneven amounts of grace that always always tip the scales towards what is true and good and beautiful. undone by the ribbons of light that force their way into dark rooms and make everything a bit less scary and a bit less hard. it’s useless to try and hold light in my hands, but when I stop trying, I see it reveal everything I need.


    Filed Under: THOUGHTS ON...

  • October 21, 2014

    thoughts on :: what i didn’t expect

    do you ever feel like everything is so not how you expected it to be? how the weight of all your unrealized, unrealistic, unfulfilled expectations is kind of ridiculous?

    for example.

    I didn’t expect to return to this little corner on the day that my first brother would have been 25. I didn’t expect that I would unconsciously (and sometimes very consciously) feel the lack of him every day for 25 years. I didn’t expect that time would pass so brazenly and undaunted in the absence of him.

    I didn’t expect that my dream job would be…not that. that I would walk away from it for the uncertainty of being my own boss and paying insane sums of self-employment tax and buying my own health insurance. that writing about country music would become (part of) my livelihood. no. I did not expect that.

    there are so many things I didn’t expect. to be real, I didn’t expect really any of it. and I hate it. because I am a planner. I am a comfort-zoner. I am a ducks-all-in-a-rower. I hate it.

    and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    I wouldn’t trade the dashed hopes and broken hearts and hard lessons learned. not just because all those unmet expectations have brought me here and because they are what continue to push me to grow in ways I never imagined but am a million times thankful for. (which is true.) not just because those unmet expectations have taught me to hold everything with an open hand and be thankful for unexpected blessings and not take life too seriously. (all true too.)

    but mostly because, without them – without all the losses and gains and suffering and laughing and wondering and wandering – I would have had no reason to get to know the one who is never surprised by unmet expectations. the one who sets all the expectations. and then exceeds them. the one who knows every hair on my head and thought in my brain and beat of my heart better than I do.

    wow. it’s really cool that I know that one. and I didn’t expect that either.


    Filed Under: THOUGHTS ON...

  • May 29, 2014

    songs for spring (2014)


    it’s been so long since I found myself in this little corner. so long that I’m still trying to summon up the energy to come back. who knew that writing for a living would make writing for fun less so? I should have know, I suppose. anyway. I’ll eventually find my way back in fits and starts. I always do. in the meantime here’s just a few of the songs I’ve been loving this spring. (check out last year’s list here.)

    click here to download. (and please buy the albums if you like the song!)

    click here to stream on Spotify.

    song – artist – album {link to purchase}

    1. nunca – trails and ways – trilingual ep {link}

    2. thunder clatter – wild cub – youth {link}

    3. in / out – dan croll – sweet disarray {link}

    4. if you didn’t see me (then you weren’t on the dance floor) – dale earnhardt jr. jr. – the speed of things {link}

    5. dissolve me – alt-j – an awesome wave {link}

    6. lovers – brothertiger – golden years {link}

    7. bloodsport (saul sweet remix) – raleigh ritchie – black and blue ep {link} – album and spotify version are different from this one

    8. gooey – glass animals – gooey ep {link}

    9. towers (stop the car remix) – bon iver – bon iver {link} – album version is different from this one

    10. youth – daughter – if you leave {link}

    11. being alone – joachim cooder with robert francis – love on a real train {link}

    12. love like a sunset, part II – phoenix – wolfgang amadeus phoenix {link}

    13. generator ^ first floor – freelance whales – weathervanes {link}

    14. just say yes – snow patrol – up to now {link}

    15. go do – jónsi – go {link}

    1 Comment



  • April 15, 2014

    a poem…


    …for a day that is almost spring but isn’t quite yet.

    here in the time between by jack ridl

    here in the time between snow
    and the bud of the rhododendron,
    we watch the robins, look into

    the gray, and narrow our view
    to the patches of wild grasses
    coming green. the pile of ashes

    in the fireplace, haphazard sticks
    on the paths and gardens, leaves
    tangled in the ivy and periwinkle

    lie in wait against our will. this
    drawing near of renewal, of stems
    and blossoms, the hesitant return

    of the anarchy of mud and seed
    says not yet to the blood’s crawl.
    when the deer along the stream

    look back at us, we know again
    we have left them. We pull
    a blanket over us when we sleep.

    as if living in a prayer, we say
    amen to the late arrival of red,
    the stun of green, the muted yellow

    at the end of every twig. we will
    lift up our eyes unto the trees hoping
    to discover a gnarled nest within

    the branches’ negative space. and
    we will watch for a fox sparrow
    rustling in the dead leaves underneath.

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    Filed Under: GOOD READS


  • February 5, 2014

    it is what it is. and what it is is good.


    I’ve been thinking about expectations lately. well, I’ve been thinking about expectations my whole life, maybe. because the statements “I need to” (see: I need to work out more) and “I should” (see: I should read my bible more) have been the primary voice in my head for as long as I can remember. I create boxes. and I live inside them. I take good advice. and I make it my ultimate standard to live up to. I fail and I beat myself up and then I get up and try to do the exact same thing. it’s circular and exhausting, is what it is.

    but last week, I was talking with some friends who, in their endless patience and grace, have committed to walking through life with me and I realized that it’s been a little while since I tried to figure out what I should be doing. because the past two months have been a slow process of actually giving myself permission to discover what is good – for me. what is right – for me. maybe it’s not reading my bible every morning for 45 minutes (which is actually a really good idea). and maybe it’s not jillian michaels 30 day shred (which is also a really good idea…if you are not a little bit scared of jillian michaels like I am). maybe it’s just the realization that there are a million and one ways to press into life with the one who made it. and at the end of the day, whatever works for me is exactly what should be. it’s beautiful and life-changing, is what it is.

    because there is so much freedom in that. I stop living in what I “need” to do and I live in the reality of what is. and the reality is that I am made perfectly flawed and beautifully broken. and despite my fluctuating emotions and illogical fear of overly energetic fitness instructors, my creator looks at me and is happy with how I turned out. the reality is that he wants me to bring life to the world in whatever way I can, even if it’s messy and disjointed and in ten-minute increments. so I look for ways to be kind to myself. to be patient with myself. I give myself permission to do what will bring me joy. and I finally understand that this is not a selfish act after all. it is a necessary act. it is good. because I am a cup. and when I walk in the love that was given to me at my most vulnerable and broken, I will overflow onto all of life around me.

    and I spend my days looking for ribbons of light wherever and whenever they might show up. I recognize the ribbons of light. and I say “thank you” for them. and I move into them in bits and pieces as I eat dinner or talk with friends or get gas and buy groceries. I acknowledge that the ribbons of light come in the reality of a world that is broken, and in some ways, I even say “thank you” for that too. because it is through the darkness that I see the ribbons more clearly. it is through the darkness that I grasp onto them and celebrate them with more ferocity.


    Filed Under: SELF

  • January 31, 2014

    thoughts on :: a new year (a month late)

    today is my last day at blood:water mission. seeing those words on a screen is surreal and unsettling. because it’s such a weird feeling to walk away from something I’ve defined so much of my life by. the blood:water dream started when I was 19 and an idealistic sophomore stepping into the brokenness of the world for the first time.  it took me six years and three moves to make it happen. and now, I’m walking away from it. almost as difficult as the act itself, writing about leaving blood:water has seemed impossible. (hence the radio silence around here for so long.) as I’ve spent the past few months processing what it would look like to leave, there have been a million scenarios playing out in my head. a million what if’s. there have been so many days spent trying to convince myself that it could still work. and so many nights spent wondering what it would mean to walk away. because at the end of the day, my heart hasn’t changed. and my belief in blood:water is as strong as ever. and I’m still the idealistic sophomore in so many ways.

    but for the first time (maybe ever) I had to start taking tiny steps outside the box. and those first tentative steps have led to this. the big step into self-employment via freelance writing. partially because I love to write. and partially because sometimes I’m good at it. but most of all because there was a voice that kept asking, why not? that kept asking why I didn’t just take a good look at what I really love to do and try to actually live in it. that kept asking what was stopping me. (it’s fear by the way. it’s always fear.) and after so many months living with that little voice getting louder and louder, I just couldn’t ignore it. and so here I am. a little bit broken and kind of exhausted but really thankful for the past year and a half. and really excited to start. we’re already a month in. but it sure feels like the new year to me.

    photo 2

    and so, I’ve been thinking about resolutions lately. and although I never make them, the writing of these felt necessary. they aren’t really resolutions…because let’s be real, if I tell myself to work out more it just won’t happen. and these are more about the simple (and difficult) act of living more fully into myself…

    1. I want to cultivate rhythm. I want my life to be balanced and not in opposition to itself. with all things working together and in sync. I don’t want to work and then rest when I am too burned out to function. I want my starting place to be a stillness of spirit that is rooted in the confidence that no matter what happens, my foundation is in one who’s grace is sufficient over all my fears. and to-do lists.

    2. I want to be fearless. (or at least a little less fearful.) I want to take risks without giving myself a panic attack thinking of all the possible negative outcomes. I want to take big steps. I want to leap. I want to do things that scare me. and I want to do them for no one else but myself.

    3. I want to simplify. to spend less where it is unnecessary and more where it is truly needed. I want to get a handle on what’s important – what, at the end of the day, is truly a non-negotiable need in my life. I suspect not much.

    4. I want to be rooted in selflessness. I want to stop thinking that I am the center of anyone’s universe. and I want to celebrate the fact that I am at the center of a universe that is full of so much for me to think about other than myself. I want to pay better attention. I want to love others for the sake of loving well, not for the sake of being loved in return.

    5. I want to stop trying to be all things to all people. because, I can’t be all things to all people. I can only do what I can do. and that is enough when it really counts.


    Filed Under: SELF, THOUGHTS ON...

  • January 5, 2014

    things i did on the last night of 2013




    2014 came quietly. with the baking of the red velvet cake and the watching of man on wire in the last glow of the christmas tree. with bon iver on the record player and a coffee mug of sparking rosé and a silent “happy new year” to myself. it felt odd to be ringing in the new year alone and without much pomp and circumstance but for some reason, just right.

    the red velvet tradition is in its third year. my amazing friend andrea (who maybe I talk about to annoying levels because why wouldn’t I talk about someone as cool as her all the time?) sent me the recipe in 2011 right around the time it was almost 2012. and so on january 1, when I had the day off from work and not much going on, I decided to bake it. and that first year was kind of a disaster. not enough red food coloring and too much batter mixing and no patience for frosting cooling left me with a pink lumpy cake nearly as flat as a pancake. not my finest hour to be sure.




    every year, the red velvet almost doesn’t happen. because it’s arduous and time consuming and I inevitably find far flung frosting in random spots of my kitchen for days afterwards. but every year I do make it. because it’s tradition. and in some small way, it connects me to parts of myself that I don’t really let surface too often.

    the baking of the red velvet was the first tradition of my own creation. the first tradition I made for myself as an adult. I didn’t grow up with a lot of traditions and although I always wished I had, for a long time, I thought I couldn’t create them until I got married and had kids of my own to force them on. but with the red velvet decision I realized that traditions are really just about rhythm and ritual – and I can create those anytime I want. and all the mistakes and messes made are part of what make it great. the lumpy frosting and flat cake are lessons learned for next year’s baking. the recipe card almost ineligible from spilled milk and my own addendums (“do NOT overbeat the cake batter!!”)  are memories of a new year begun in flour and sugar and at least two bottles of red food coloring. it’s all part of building a ritual that I will appreciate most for the time it took to create.



    and in the way that traditions recall people and places we love, the baking of the red velvet cake connects me to friends I don’t see nearly enough of. andrea is my favorite blogging friend. the one I went from admiring from afar to spending time with occasionally to sharing life with across time zones. she encourages me with her simple act of existing online as much as she does with her sweet emails about how to explore paris and love my parents better. and so when I make the red velvet cake I am, in small ways, connected to her own tradition of baking it on her birthday. I am, in small ways, connected to portland and her little house that I used to babysit her kids in. and I am, in the tiniest of ways, connected to her mom, who passed the recipe to her and who I think must have been the most amazing lady.

    even more than that, the baking of the red velvet connects me to parts of my own self that I don’t see nearly enough of. I spend most of my days being a social introvert, which seems contradictory but is who I am. I am there in the running of one thing to the next. in the everyday busyness that I thrive in. but I am also there in the baking of the red velvet. I am there in the self-control it takes to not overbeat the batter. I am there in the patience it takes to let the frosting base cool completely. I am there in the quiet excitement of cakes rising and smooth rhythms of slowly spreading white frosting over bright red cake. I am not always full of self-control or patience or quiet excitement, but it’s always in me. just waiting for the red velvet tradition.

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  • December 22, 2013

    currently :: the weekend edition

    pic name pic name

    you guys. I have serious writer’s block. (also – and I’m not actually sure this is a real thing – I think I have photographer’s block too?) I have nothing I can think to write about. this is partially because my mind has been going in so many directions this week that I’m having a hard time thinking in coherent thoughts, let alone complete sentences. in my own defense, this may also have something to do with the fact that I am writing this while sitting at a coffee shop without earbuds (mistake no. 1), trying to plan out my life (mistake no. 2), being forced to overhear the awkwardly loud, awkwardly inappropriate conversation of the girls sitting next to me (mistake no. 3…on their part). so I’m just going to stop rambling here and make another list. of all the fun things I did this weekend. because it was fun and involved so many of you who read this blog and I think we need to relive it a little bit. also. because I have writer’s block.

    throwing: christmas cocktail parties with roommates (those crazies up there) at the lilly pad. (yes, we’ve named our house because doesn’t everyone?) I was worried that we would not have enough food and we had way too much. katie and jaclyn successfully made peppermint bark and cheesecake oreo bites and peanut butter buckeyes…which I didn’t know are a thing but totally are. we also successfully made a signature gin cocktail. but not a whiskey punch. because who knew that when you try to heat sugar, it turns into caramel, not simple syrup? (we did. but we forgot.) in the end though, all that mattered is that our friends put on their best party attire and hung out with us. because we really REALLY love our friends. they are the coolest. (also…number 6 o nthe list!)

    eating: peppermint bark and cheesecake oreo bites and buckeyes. and breakfast at marché. obviously I’m taking christmas eating quite seriously this year.

    seeing: a delightfully unique version of a christmas carol at TPAC. subsequently feeling nostalgic for the days when dad horton acted in yearly productions…and pulled five-year old carrie into being a cratchit kid. I did NOT like being the center of attention (or anywhere on the stage), but I do have fond memories from it.

    dancing: the night away in honor of sweet friend’s birthday. while wearing tacky sweaters and earrings made out of mini ornaments and paper clips. at times, jaclyn and I were the only two dancing. but you know what? we were totally okay with that.

    feeling: a little bit stupid for driving to said party during a tornado warning. we almost got hit by a bucket whipping across the intersection of 12th and wedgewood like a tumbleweed. and we had to sit in the car for 20 minutes once we got to the party while the rain fell like we were in the middle of a carwash. we are nothing if not adventurers.

    watching: one direction: this is us. I’m not even ashamed a little bit. and I can’t decide which of the five I love best. harry’s so cute and charming (but could very well be a jerk). niall’s so fun-loving and playful. zayne’s so serious and thoughtful. I’m like paul rudd. speaking of paul rudd, I also watched anchorman (the first one) for the first time. ever. and loved it. nothing but high-brow indie art-house films for this girl.

    {I’m sorry this post was completely ridiculous. and I’m glad you all still love me in spite of it.}


    Filed Under: CURRENTLY

  • December 18, 2013

    christmas movies…GIVEAWAY!

    UPDATE! becca garber has officially won the christmas movie GIVEAWAY! yay for becca! emailing you now to get your address…although I think I have it somewhere…

    christmas movies are the best. if you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, just go ahead and watch one of these gems…preferably amidst of the glow of your christmas tree while holding hot chocolate and a candy cane.

    (scroll down for info on the GIVEAWAY!)

    Christmas movies
    it’s a wonderful life – because jimmy stewart and donna reed may be my favorite screen couple in the history of all screen couples.

    love actually – because I love colin and hugh in bridget jones too. but in this, they just make me melt into a puddle of christmas egg nog. colin trying to speak portuguese. oh dear me.

    little women – because I love jo and beth. I am ambivalent towards meg. and I want to punch amy in the face.

    home alone – four words: “buzz, your girlfriend. woof.”

    a charlie brown christmas – because let’s be real, if the movie was completely awful, I would still love it for the music alone. (but the movie is just the best too.)

    meet me in st. louis – because judy garland.

    joyeux noël – because this true story from world war I restores my faith in humanity. (and redeems the existence of bad santa.) plus the singing is beautiful and amazing and makes me cry. every time.

    while you were sleeping – because aside from the whole fake fiancé in a coma thing, I’m pretty sure this is one of the most romantic movies ever made. bill pullman. who knew he could be such a fox? a clumsy, nerdy, messy fox.

    I love sharing! I’m running a GIVEAWAY through the end of this week and if you win, I’ll send you one of the titles listed above. (it’s my all-time favorite!) to enter just leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite Christmas movie is!


    Filed Under: I AM A LIST MAKER


  • December 17, 2013

    thoughts on :: big steps

    I’ve been thinking about steps lately. big steps. and I’ve been thinking about taking them. big steps are hard and scary and really not something I am good at. I am good at little steps. the ones where I see where my foot will land and I see what it will land on and I see where it will go next. the ones that are well thought-out and well executed. the ones I think and over-think until I’m certain (or at least until I feel certain) that nothing can go wrong. but the big steps are just a whole different kind of beast. the big steps are into wide open air and I’m pretty sure my foot will just keep going down down down forever without hitting anything solid. I’ve spent my life taking methodical steps. and now I’m thinking about taking one giant leap that will be way off in some other corner of reality that I don’t yet know.

    I’ve also been thinking about the “responsible” thing. and I’ve been wondering what it would be like to maybe not do the “responsible” thing. but maybe to do the thing that will inject life back into everything. because I’ve spent my life with one perspective of responsibility. the kind that centered around a certain kind of job and a certain kind of skill set. but if nashville has taught me anything, it’s that you can love what you do. it’s not always about paying your dues forever. it’s not always about doing something because you can. sometimes the atypical thing is actually more responsible. responsible to your health. to your happiness. to your place as one who is loving the world to life. I’ve spent so much of my life fitting into a box…and don’t get me wrong, I actually love the box. it is safe and kind and relatively easy to navigate. it has served me well for over 10 years. the box is what I know. and yet.

    big steps sometimes must be made.


    Filed Under: THOUGHTS ON...