Gettin’ it done

Summer is officially coming to a close. Even though we have had a slightly less face-meltingly hot past 2 weeks, I will definitely welcome cooler weather with open arms. Our new (we’ve been here 2 1/2 months, does it still count as new??) house has a HUGE fire pit in the back yard that I’m dying to make use of it once I can stand to be outside for more than a few minutes at a time.

Josh and I have still been slowly working toward making our space feel like “us”. The biggest project we’ve been putting off for weeks is painting our living room. Neither of us had painted a room before, so the prospect of taking on such a task was pretty daunting. We aren’t exactly your “do it all yourself” kind of people when it comes to big  home projects. We finally talked ourselves into it last weekend, though. When I say finally, I mean the paint, brushes, rollers, etc. have been sitting on the floor of our kitchen for the past NINE weeks. Nine.

Seeing as we didn’t have time for silly little things like paint samples (did I mention the paint sat there for nine weeks?) we had gone ahead and just purchased as much paint as it would take to finish the whole room within 10 minutes of us walking into Home Depot. I knew I wanted a darker color, and chose what appeared to be a medium shade of gray to off-set the stark whiteness of the adjacent kitchen.

So, after an extremely long Saturday of taping, painting, and painting again, we ended up with….

A NAVY BLUE LIVING ROOM.

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Um….What on earth? I stared at the wall for the next 2 days scratching my head before I ultimately decided there was no way I was going to go through the emotional torment of re-painting, so I guess we now have a blue room. Whatever man.

My favorite two things about the house right now are the buffet and the window above the kitchen sink. It may appear otherwise, but aren’t actually alcoholics. Just hoarders. which might be slightly worse.

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Josh and I are both fighting colds right now, but aside from the coughing and sneezing, I think our last days of Summer have been thoroughly lived-up.  I’ve just been feeling so much gratitude lately for the richness of relationships that exists in my life right now. It feels like we’ve been in Austin for so much longer than 2 1/2 years, and I mean that in the best possible way. Also, I decided that the best way to fight negativity is with gratitude. A grateful heart can get you through so much in life.

Give thanks for the little things today, guys! Like blue living rooms and 103 degree Summer days. You won’t be sorry!

Caroline

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The social media problem.

I made the decision a couple weeks ago to take a much-needed break from the all-consuming world of Facebook. Yes, many have taken these drastic steps before. I’m not the first one to say “peace out” to that godforsaken realm of over-stimulation, nor will I be the last. I would, though, like to explain the sequence of events leading up to this decision.

It all started with politics. It didn’t necessarily end there, but that is where it started. With the passionate, hateful, often ignorant words strewn about, offending people they never knew they were offending. We’ve lived in a few very politically diverse places, and there were often a dozen opposing views on hotly-debated issues being waved in my face on any given day. It is just exhausting. I mean, it isn’t like I am allowing overly-political-and-extremely-pushy people into my life on a personal level, so why am I allowing them into my every day life at all?

Shauna Niequist wrote a beautiful blog post recently about using social media to draw lines in the sand. It is about how she chooses to be a lover, not a fighter. Not because she doesn’t have strong opinions, but because she chooses to “share those strong opinions in the context of relationship, because I think that’s the healthiest place for them to be.” I wholeheartedly agree, recognizing that Facebook often turned me into someone I didn’t want to be, toward people who I DIDN’T HAVE ANY BUSINESS INTERACTING WITH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

The politically frustrating aspect of Facebook bothered me, but not to the point that I made any changes. I still kept up with the same loud-mouthed people spewing crazy ideas for my daily dose of internal rage. (That sounds way more unhealthy than it actually felt at the time).

My husband (who is much wiser and more level-headed than I am) picked up on this trend much earlier. Our conversations would often turn out like this.

Me: “OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT ______ SAID TODAY ON FACEBOOK! THAT IS SO RIDICULOUS AND EGOTISTICAL AND BLAH BLAH blah.”

Josh: “Why do you read what they say if it always makes you so mad?”

Me: “Because it is my civil duty to police the internet for signs of stupidity!” << I never actually said this, but it was pretty close to what went through my head. I usually just walked away, knowing I never had a  good answer to that question.

The anger I was accumulating led to another big problem. Disconnectedness. Anyone who has lived in this generation for five seconds can attest to the fact that we are a SHUT OFF society. I fear for us. I fear for myself. I really do think that our world is on a path to forgetting how to communicate. I loathed myself in a recent moment sitting around a table with dear friends. We were engaged in such life-giving, meaningful conversation, when all of a sudden out of some sick reflex, I felt the need to reach into my purse for my phone. As if whatever was happening in cyber space was more important or more worthwhile or more engaging. What the hell is wrong with me??

The final straw came while pulling into my neighborhood listening to NPR. Ted Koppel was on the program Talk of the Nation, and he said something toward the end of the show that hit me like a ton of bricks.

He said “we have trivialized communication to the point that everything now is reduced to snippets of thought. We respond in nanoseconds  to one another. Reflections, thought, are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.”

Dang, Ted. You’re so right! I don’t want my generation, or those that follow to lose this powerful gift of words and relationship and intimacy among friends. I can only change myself (and believe me, I NEED to change) so I made my decision.

I deleted the app off my phone and changed my password in hopes to dive a little deeper into the things that should matter to me. I am still trying to figure some things out, including if I will ever be able to participate in Facebook in a healthy way again. (note: I haven’t deactivated the site because of a couple people I need to communicate with who don’t have a phone, and use Facebook as their email.)

All I know is that I have given too much time and energy away to this idol of self-worship, and I promise this will be the last I speak on the issue. Thanks for bearing with me in my struggles, and journeying alongside me. If this experiment goes as planned, the temporary feeling of isolation will give way to deeper, more gratifying relationships with the ones whose thoughts and opinions truly matter to me. The ones who see me. The real me. The messy, dysfunctional, crazy me. Not the person who always smiles at them through the computer screen.

Happy weekend, friends! Hope it is full of adventures and discussion and laughter and intimacy with the people God has blessed you with.

Caroline

Vacation-ish

Josh and I finally home from our “vacation” (I put vacation in quotes because we were only actively vacationing for 4 of the days we were gone). I love coming home after a long time away because it just feels SO good to be back. 11 days is a long time.

Those 11 days were jam-packed, to say the least. We flew to Boston, drove to Nahant, took a bus to Newport, taxi to Providence, plane to Atlanta, car to Fayetteville, plane to San Antonio, and finally the megabus back to Austin last Sunday…And with lots and lots of stuff in between.

The main purpose of the trip was to see family. We visited with Josh’s family in Boston for a few days, as well as mine in Atlanta in the last part of out trip. My 17 year old brother had a major role in the play Spring Awakening at the Newnan Community Theater near our hometown, and we made sure to plan everything so we could be there for his big debut. It was weird seeing him in such an adult-themed show, but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of him. He has more guts than I every will.

The middle portion of our trip was spent at a bed and breakfast in Newport, Rhode Island to celebrate Josh and my 5 year anniversary. We had the BEST time there. I don’t know if it was just ocean air making us giddy or the simple goodness of getting away and having nowhere to be and nothing to do, but we ran around acting like teenagers for 4 straight days. At one point, a lady working at our hotel asked if we were waiting for our parents. We are SO mature. Since we didn’t have a car on this trip, we rented a couple cruiser bikes and definitely got our money’s worth for those things. We biked all over downtown, overlooking cliffs, down to beaches, and to many great restaurants. Our two favorite dining experiences were at Salvation Cafe and The Mooring Restaurant, in case anyone is ever visiting and looking for an amazing meal.

It is hard to narrow down what the specific highlights were from the trip, but here are a noteworthy five:

#1. Being away from the stress and to-do lists and demands of every day life for a few days. I love seeing my hard-working husband takin’ it easy for a change.

#2. Biking. I forgot how much I love feeling the wind in my hair and how sore my butt is the next day. Such fun.

#3. Seafood. Because duh.

#4. Last thursday-our official 5 year anniversary. My sweet mom decorated the guest room we were staying in with a whole bunch of little things left over from our wedding day she had kept: Candles, champaign flutes, the frisbees we gave as wedding favors. She had champaign chilling on ice in our room, and even a vase with roses. She has always been incredibly thoughtful, but this was just about the sweetest thing anyone’s done for me. My mom rocks.

#5. Taking my niece Lucie on a golfcart ride. (My hometown has a thing with golfcarts…)

There were a thousand other things that warmed my heart and made me feel so at peace on this trip, but those 5 just stood out as the things I’ll remember most.

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Taking Josh’s dad Steve out for breakfast in Boston.

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When we were in Georgia, Josh and I took a walk on a nature trail we used to go to with friends all the time in high school called Line Creek. When I was 16 or 17, Josh carved our initials on a tree way back in the woods of this trail.  I have been back before to look for the specific tree, but could never find it…until last week. I was SHOCKED to have found this tree, guys. I mean, almost 10 years have gone by since these initials were carved, and there they are. Not as clear as it used to be, but still there. JC CP. I wonder if either of us knew back then that our love would last this long?

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We tried to re-engrave the letters, but our lack of a pocket knife made the task a bit impossible. It was a sweet attempt, though.

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As usual, it was so great to see my sister and brother. I miss those two every single day.

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The sweet anniversary set-up my Momma put in the guest room before we arrived at their house. She’s the best.

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Now that all of Josh’s 2013 vacation time is used up, it is time to start planning 2014-which will hopefully be a much-anticipated Europe adventure in the Spring.  I’m so grateful to have gotten to travel and see a few new places I’ve never been before. Nothing makes me feel alive like being with Josh on a bus or a plane on the way to somewhere new and exciting. That has been a theme throughout our marriage, and I hope it continues in the next 5 years and beyond.