Monday, September 8, 2014


One of my favorite bloggers, Today's Letters, does a letter writing series that I adore. Her husband also writes (swoon). I don't know if it is because letters may very well be my love language or if those two just write so beautifully that I can't help it, but I repeat reading them over and over. I appreciate their honesty and window into life. They've been inspiring my writing for a while and some say imitation is the best flattery, so I stole their idea and format for today's letter.

Dear Momma, thank you for our long chat, which I enjoyed through the sunshine in my new backyard. I cherish those life moments with you. Dear J, I love the way that music ignites you. My favorite way to observe you is when you are singing your heart out. Dear fear of the unknown, you've been creeping in a lot lately through all of my transitions this year. I'm getting braver. Dear God, thank you for the brutal dose of truth that reminds me I'm not in control. Dear Daddy, you didn't even know I picked Saturday's race because of you. I'm sure glad you're a survivor. Dear new room, you don't quite feel like mine yet, but I'm looking forward to spending some candlelit nights with you, featuring a quieter mind, cup of tea, a pen, and my journal. Dear love, thank you for holding my hand, calmly waiting for my thoughts to be articulated, and letting me cry when I need to.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Apples + Courage

Student Affairs professionals are gifted with experiencing community with our students. Sometimes I think they, more than others, are able to see the best in me and the flaws I wish I could perfect. As I have grown in my role, I have become increasingly aware that they watch. They watch how I interact with others, which decisions I challenge them on, how I dedicate my personal time, who and how I date, and the ways in which I live my values.

Last week, a student chose me to be honored in a ceremony called, Apple Polishing. The students who participate in this program are able to select one staff member they feel has impacted them or assisted them in their growth. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised when my student, Sidney, chose me to be her guest. I had only begun working with her this semester and I questioned what experience she could have had with me that warranted such an honor.

As she began her speech about why she selected me, she confessed to reading my blog before we had even really met. Then she quoted lines from a post that had been meaningful for her and created connection for us. She described that it had been my courage that resonated with her, the courage she read in that post and the courage she had observed in me over the last couple of months. I felt so surprised and it was so touching that I almost didn't know how to respond so I cried, couldn't help it, and generously thanked her.

I keep thinking about that moment last week and how courageous she was to share why she connected to what I had written. My experiences this last school year have taught me that it is the ordinary moments of life that require the most courage. It is in those moments that I think we are called to be vulnerable, passionate, loving, forgiving, inspired, and aware of our fears - our most true self. It is the ordinary moments that I have come to appreciate the most because they generate my truest, most honest, happiest heart.

Thank you, Sidney, for watching and for valuing a piece of myself that I shared, without even knowing. I cherish this apple.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

the fault in our stars: a review

For the past few weeks, I have been reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. When I love a book I do this thing where I avoid the end of it by putting it down for days so it won't be over, and this book was certainly no exception. I didn't even read the last page half way through, which I also do (weird, I know), because I didn't want anything to be given away.

I started reading this novel because one of my favorite book lovers, Erica, kept raving about it. Then I became the girl tweeting quotes non-stop, telling everyone about Augustus and Hazel Grace, and kind of obsessing about these two characters. Yes, I am aware this is not a real, but when I am thinking about a story while laying in bed, well, that is the sign of a stellar read.

The book is centered on two main teenage characters, Augustus and Hazel Grace. They meet through a cancer support group as they both have had or are being treated for cancer. As you read, their story together unfolds, and you are forced to face the brutality of cancer and the depth of love. At times, I felt like I was intruding in on a moment between two people that I didn't have to the right to see. The strength of John Green's writing is capturing that window and creating a place for the reader in that space. Some pages I fought to get through and others I lingered on a little longer.

The Fault in Our Stars is not an overly romantic, unattainable love story that will give you false expectations. Augustus and Hazel are different people. They don't agree on most things. And yet, there is an acceptance and admiration for who the other person is. Not obsessive or lustful, just honest. It is a story about how I think we all deserve to be seen and loved, for who we are in our most stripped down versions.

Reading this, you'll find you want more time with the characters and you'll want to thank John Green for the privilege.

Monday, February 3, 2014

girls night: slumber party style

To celebrate the birthday of one of my best girls, Jennifer, I decided to throw her a slumber party. Being that we have a shared love of Dirty Dancing, the theme choice was obvious.

If you are wondering what a slumber party in your thirties looks like, let me assure you that it is even better than as a teenage girl. We all had the best time being together! We chatted the night away, laughing, and telling stories. There were games and lots of food. Obviously, no slumber party would be complete without a bit of dancing so we were sure to have some ultimate playlists going, especially the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. A sign of old age would be falling asleep during the flick, which we did, but resumed it in the morning over breakfast. The final dance is stellar no matter what time of day it is on.

Fun Fact: Did you know that Patrick Swayze filmed the final scene with a leg injury? Learned that in our trivia game!

Our party essentials, Jen's favorite things, are below:

{Food Table} Spinach Salad Station, Quiche, Veggies, Mozzarella Sticks 

{Drinks} Lots of Wine, Iced Tea, and, of course, Pink Champagne

{Candy & Desserts} Reese's Pieces, Twizzlers, M&M's, Sour Patch Kids, Brownies

{Games} Dirty Dancing: The Game (A MUST!) & Slumber Party Box of Questions

{Breakfast} Pancakes, Strawberries, Bacon, OJ, Coffee 

{Party Favors} Pretty Notebook, EOS Lip Balm, Face Mask

While this celebration was in honor of a birthday, there is no excuse needed to gather up a few friends and enjoy some quality time together.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

go for it, i dare you

Grits & Gravy started in 2010 as this fun little project for me. In my heart, I just knew that I wanted to write. I wanted to write about the things that I invest in: women, reflection, education, relationships, celebrating the simple treasures in life, nesting in a home, adventure, and a hunger to experience life in all of its beautiful, imperfect forms. I didn't know if I would be any good at writing about these things or if it would be something anyone cared to read, but I decided to write anyway.

At times, I have struggled.  How much is too much? What if it seems ego driven? What if I misspelled a word or did not use proper punctuation? What if I write something hurtful to someone else? Whatever my fears were/are, I find that the more I have written authentically or the scarier a post is to publish, the greater the opportunity is to connect with you. 

This little blog has taught me a great deal, mostly, to just go for what it is in your heart to do. People may love it, hate it, or feel uncertain about it. Heck, you may even have all of those feelings. Do it anyway. You might totally fail, a lot of times. You might excel beyond even what you hoped for.

One of my recent posts tripled my average hits in less than 12 hours. At first, I was so excited I could pull a Tom Cruise (circa 2005) and jump on my couch. Then I thought, holy crap, that many people read that post. 3 years of writing, 142 posts, and then that 1 post that changed a lot of things. 

I went for it and you have supported me every post along the way. What I really should say is, thank you. It is so meaningful to me when I receive tweets, messages, likes, comments, or emails from you expressing the way that you connected with something I wrote. So many of you have graciously shared your own stories with me, which has, honestly, been the greatest gift of this experience.

You can't get the job you don't apply for, the adventure you don't take, the relationship you desire, or the life you seek without all the risk. So whatever that thing in your heart is, go for it! I dare you!