staying real : not sitting on the cactus

Yesterday and I didn’t get along. For a variety of reasons, both legitimate and laughably illegitimate. When 6pm struck I was ready to call the day a wash and hope for better luck tomorrow.

But I still had a whole night ahead of me…a whole night! A night with a roof over my head and food in my stomach and clothes on my back. In the grand scheme of things: a really good night. And I couldn’t come to terms with going through it grumpy.

So I made an effort.

I started by laying on the living room floor and crying praying. These verses were brought to mind and were especially comforting.

And then I did these things:

1. I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Really, is there anything more effective than sunshine and sidewalks to snap you out of a bad mood? I really don’t think there is.

2. I made my new favorite salad for dinner: Quinoa with Watermelon, Feta, and Parsley. (Recipe coming Friday!)

3. I listened to the daily podcast from Chip Ingram. It’s become something that I look forward to every day. If you are looking for encouragement, insight, and wise biblical teaching, I can’t recommend Living on the Edge strongly enough!

4. I watched Friends. Because laughter really is the best medicine.

(And then I watched the Bachelorette. Because watching Sean run through the streets of Prague shouting “Emily! Emily!” is pretty good medicine, too.)

I went to bed a happy woman. And this morning, I woke up to this:

A fitting reminder that there are real frustrations in life, but we don’t have to focus on them.

Amen? Amen!

Hope you all are having days free of cacti cushions and full of real joy!

staying real(ist) : the water inside my glass

I am a realist to the core. I have no idea whether my glass is half-full or half-empty. All I know is that there’s water inside and I like water.

Over the past week I’ve encountered some car problems. That sentence should actually read, “Over the past decade I’ve encountered some car problems,” because that seems to be my lot in life. Or perhaps I should just stop buying/driving old cars. It’s a vicious cycle.

In any case, I’ve been able to see both sides of the situations that have made themselves all too available to me this week. And because I’m fresh out of other blog fodder to talk about today, I’m going to tell you about them:

Problem: My car was broken into.

Downside: Stolen GPS, spare change keeper, and a few pieces of gum.

Brightside: Apparently the perpetrator wasn’t a fan of Sweet Mint, since that package was left unharmed. Good news, because that one is my favorite! Also, I’m sure the world has derived great joy from watching me navigate the old school way: post-it note directions on the steering wheel interspersed with trial and error. Emphasis on error.

Problem: My AC doesn’t work anymore.

Downside: Open windows + lip gloss = sticky disaster.

Brightside: I live in Rochester, so I use the AC approximately twice a year. And often less than that, because I actually prefer open windows to AC.

Problem: My car did not sound well when I pulled into the parking lot at Wegmans on Saturday.

Downside: Momentary anxiety that I would not be able to restart my car after running into Wegmans for a few things.

Brightside: Have you ever BEEN to the Mt. Read Wegmans??? It’s beautiful! Problems? What problems?

Problem: My car did not sound well when I pulled out of the parking lot at Ontario Beach a few hours after the Wegmans run…and is that smoke? Oh, yes, that is definitely smoke. Accompanied by a fragrance not endorsed by Yankee Candle: burning motor parts.

Downside: The smoke and burning smell pretty much covers it. The noises weren’t ideal, either.

Brightside: Lack of flames is always a plus.

Problem: I need a tow.

Downside: I need a tow.

Brightside: I have Triple A!!!

Problem: I need to hitch a ride with the tow truck driver.

Downside: Considering my track record with this sort of thing, there’s about a 110% chance that this will not end well. When I mentioned to my parents that I’d call when I got home so they’d know I hadn’t been abducted, my mom followed with, “Well, if he holds you ransom and wants money…we don’t have any…so we’ll see you in heaven!”

Brightside: Not being held ransom. And having a great conversation! He called when he entered the parking lot to find me and said, “Wow, I haven’t been here since the 80’s.” So I said, “Oh, really? How come?” He answered, “Well I’m old and fat now, so it doesn’t really hold the same appeal anymore.” And thus began a very enjoyable 20 minute drive to the mechanic.

Problem: I need to walk home from the mechanic.

Downside: My decision to bring 8 magazines, 2 liters of water, enough snacks for everyone at the beach, and the entire contents of my regular purse in my beach bag for the day lost it’s luster when faced with the prospect of dragging said bag across the city on-foot rather than in-vehicle.

Brightside: Free, unexpected weight training! And on a beautiful day, no less!

Problem: I had planned to stop at the grocery store on the way home to get toilet paper. And because I’m excellent at planning ahead, this had become a dire need.

Downside: I realized this after I had already walked the entire way home…and passed several stores which would have gladly sold me a variety of toiletries.

Brightside: I live across the street from a gas station.

Problem: Gas station toilet paper is expensive. 

Downside: I paid $4.30 for two rolls of toilet paper. Let’s review that: I paid $4.30 for TWO ROLLS OF TOILET PAPER.

Brightside: There is no brightside to paying $4.30 for two rolls of toilet paper. That’s just crazy.

And to close: an observation.

These car problems began when I was in North Carolina for Making Things Happen. When I arrived at my hotel I popped the hood…so that I could stare blankly at what was underneath. But in a parking lot that couldn’t have held more than 10 cars, it took 30 seconds for two people to come over and ask if I needed help. One of them offered to check my oil. The other went back to her room to get me a flashlight…so I could stare blankly with good lighting.

On Saturday when my car started spewing smoke and sounding like a dozen cats were trapped beneath the hood I was in a parking lot that held hundreds of other cars. While I was looking for a safe place to park so that I could get towed out, some girl yelled at me, telling me to turn off my car already. Sage advice, there. After that, it took nearly an hour for anyone to stop, which wasn’t a problem because I was just waiting for Triple A to come to my rescue so I didn’t need anything anyway. But the woman who did stop said, “I keep seeing all these big guys walk right past you sitting there with your hood up and I’m like, ‘What the [bleep] is wrong with people?!’ You okay, honey?”

The pessimist would say that people are rude. The optimist would say that nice people can be found everywhere if you wait long enough. This realist says that people are funny, and I love them.

staying real : i’m back!

People, oh people, please let me tell you just a few quick things:

1 – I’m home from North Carolina (!!!!!!!!) with a full heart and a full stomach. Any of you following me on Instagram know that this is truer than true.

2 – Also, I quality tested Chick-fil-A’s offerings just to make sure everything is still good.

3 – It is.

4 – I’d like to welcome the Yellow Outline of Death back to my dash. Check Engine Light…it’s not been nearly long enough. Air Conditioning…I didn’t use you too often, but I appreciated your contributions to my comfort while you lasted. Odd sounds coming from under the hood…feel free to pipe down anytime.

5a – Will someone hire me to break cars? Because really, I’m a pro.

5b – The Difference Between New York and North Carolina, Part I: I was standing at my car in the hotel parking lot, looking at the engine, hoping an answer would materialize before me, for all of 60 seconds before TWO kind people came over and offered to help. Thank you, sweet southern charm.

6 – It was 81 degrees in Rochester yesterday! That’s over 50 degrees above freezing! I think the south came home with me.

7 – This might be my favorite Instagram photo from the trip:

And I enjoyed every minute sitting outside of my hotel room on my laptop…soaking up every last bit of sunshine!

8 – The April recap is coming! A full Making Things Happen recap(s) is coming! 8,000 pictures of everything I ate/saw/did over the past 4 days are coming!

Until then, may all of your weekends be lovely and all of your chicken be southern fried.


staying real : i’m going to MTH 2012…tomorrow morning


this is going to be short and anticlimactic because I need to go to bed soon because I am driving to Chapel Hill, North Carolina at 5am tomorrow morning because even though I didn’t get the full scholarship to Making Things Happen I decided to go anyways and I haven’t blogged about it at all or really talked about it at all even though I’ve known for the past 3 weeks that I’m attending because I’m nothing if not a champion avoider of a variety of emotions and I am scared out of my mind to go to a workshop in which we discuss dreams and life goals because the things that I’ve been making happen recently include forgetting to shower on a publicly acceptable basis and finishing the entire series of Gilmore Girls for the I-don’t-know-how-manyeth-time-because-I’ve-honestly-lost-count and that’s not really a ringing endorsement for lofty ambitions so I couldn’t bring myself to think about going to MTH which explains why I couldn’t write a sappy blog post about how much it means to me to go to MTH and how excited I am which explains the subsequent absence of all chocolate substances that were once in my pantry.


And since I still can’t talk about it in a way that is not a paragraph long run-on sentence…that’s all I’ve got. However, I do have three short thoughts to offer in exchange:

1. This has nothing to do with anything, but I feel compelled to tell you all that I thought today was knife sharpening day at Williams Sonoma. So I put my favorite knife into an over mitt which I then put in my purse because how else do you transport a large chopping knife but in an oven mitt inside your purse and went off to the mall hoping and praying that I didn’t get a) pulled over for any reason and searched or b) set off a security alarm inside the mall and searched. But I took comfort in knowing that there is safety in numbers so at least my fellow culinary store patrons would come to my defense if I were hauled off to prison for oddly concealing odd weapons.

Imagine my surprise when I arrive at Williams Sonoma and it is NOT knife sharpening day after all. It’s just a regular day. So now I’m not walking around with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse to have it honed to perfection by the kind employees at Williams Sonoma. I’m actually just walking around the mall with a large knife in an oven mitt in my purse.

Between the hair dresser and Wegmans this has really been a banner week for me. I think my days of being allowed out in public are numbered.

2. You guys all pack food when you are going on a road trip, right? Like a dozen granola bars and microwavable oatmeal and squeeze packs of peanut butter and trail mix and a variety of tea bags and chocolate milkshake mix and three packs of gum and bananas? And package it all up in old oatmeal canisters so that it’s separated by meal times? Right?

3. You guys all contact your favorite blogger who you’ve never met in person or had a conversation with before and ask them if, oh hey, maybe you could descend upon their lives while in their general geographic area next week? Right?

I think this entire post can be labeled under “new low.”

In other news, I’ll be posting through saved drafts this week…and then I’ll be back with an actual recap that is longer than one sentence but shorter than War and Peace next week.

I hope.

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

(And if those of you who pray could pray for my safety/sanity as I travel, I’d surely appreciate it. And if you could also pray for healing since I JUST realized that Chick-fil-A will be closed tomorrow because it’s Sunday therefore thwarting my plans for an imminent reunion and breaking my waffle-fry-lovin’ heart…that would be great too. )

staying real : oh, the chicken.

(Late night last night + early morning this morning = no time to blog today. But look what was lurking in my drafts folder! Another embarrassing story showcasing my inability to function like a normal human in public! I’ve got an endless supply, really. Enjoy…and Happy Tuesday!)

This weekend I experienced my first ever bout with abandoned groceries. Which is actually surprising, seeing as how I’m really good at forgetting things. As I was leaving the store with my reusable bag I noticed that I didn’t see a separate plastic bag for the chicken anywhere. I figured the 15 year old behind the register shoved it to the bottom of the reusable bag. I had some choice mental words for him and my flattened chicken.

But alas, when I arrived at home and unpacked my bag, there was no chicken to be found, flattened or otherwise.

There was, however, plenty of crow. My apologies, Register Boy.

So back to Wegmans I went, receipt in hand, already wondering how in the world I’m going to prove that “Yes, I paid for this chicken, and no, it’s not actually at home in my crockpot at this moment.”

But Wegmans…oh, Wegmans…they were so cool. As cool as the cucumbers in their produce stands. And they were Antarctica compared to me. Because I needed to explain my situation in (too much) detail to the poor guy working at the customer service desk before he finally interrupted me to say, “Ma’am…it’s ok. Really. Happens all the time. You can go get another package of chicken.”

Then, for reasons known only unto me, I felt compelled to leave the peanut butter I had just purchased during Trip #2 behind the customer service counter as collateral. I don’t know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

It did not seem like a good idea when I returned to the customer service desk after obtaining my replacement chicken to find a new person behind the counter (Other Guy, if you fled the scene while anticipating my return, I wouldn’t blame you) and tried to explain why I taking both a pound of chicken and a jar peanut butter for no apparent reason other than a very long, enthusiastic, exhausting story.

But at least I came home with the chicken this time.

Even though my dignity is still somewhere behind the customer service desk.

staying real : thoughts that really should have stayed thoughts

Well it’s Monday. And it’s snowing. And I have no heat. So it seems like a great day to share this story and bring some levity to life.

I’m not sure what came over me when I went to the closest and cheapest a new hair salon over the weekend. Perhaps it was the shock from being in sandals and a sundress one day to a winter coat and scarf the next. Perhaps it was errand-weariness from a day with 1,000 stops. Or perhaps it was just me being me…uncensored.

It was probably that.

For whatever reason, I was filter-less. Like, completely filter-less. It was a direct flight from thought to speech. Not in a charming way. More in a way that made me regret every time I decided to respond to a question. Which was frequently.

So here you are, friends. A little advice on what not to say out loud to strangers. Not that any of you need this advice; I’m sure you’re all capable of having perfectly normal conversations with your hairdresser. Or, you know, with humans in general.

Clearly, I am not.

Things You Wish You Hadn’t Said To Your New Hairdresser, Or To Anyone, Ever:


Hairdresser: Let’s get started! Do you want a wash?

Me: Um…yes. Definitely yes. My hair is a hott mess right now. Kind of like my life.


Hairdresser: So, do you have any fun plans for tonight?

Me: Well, I have sweatpants and leftover takeout waiting for me at home, so yes!


Hairdresser: Do you want me to put your purse over by the coat rack?

Me: Only if you want a mild strength and conditioning workout. I’m kind of a hoarder.


Hairdresser: So…when was the last time you had a haircut…?

Me: Um. August? Yes, August. The last month that started with an A. Which actually speaks more to my personal hygiene habits than to the busyness of my schedule.


Hairdresser: Ok! What would you like to do with this?

Me: If by “this” you mean the mop atop my head…I’d just like it not to look like this anymore, please. So do whatever you need to do!

It’s good that this experience ended by me taking out a $20 that had been folded into a small square and covered in masking tape…as it had been stuck to the inside of my running shoes as a surprise by my mom over Easter (thanks, Mom!). I’m sure that the full minute it took me to untape the cash I was about to pay with was just enough time for the hairdresser to jot down my name, age, and general physical description so that I’m put on a black list and never allowed back in the salon again.

Oh my word…oh my word.

Luckily it was all worthwhile since I skyped with my parents later that night, sporting the new ‘do, and my mom asked me when I was going to schedule that haircut I’ve been needing for awhile.

Apparently this was an effective outing on all fronts.

staying real : you will still sleep tonight if you don’t read this [part III]

Oh, readers…

It’s time!

Time for installment numero tres of your favorite post genre and mine…

You Will Still Sleep Tonight If You Don’t Read This!

It’s going to be a good one. Good being a relative term.

  • I’m sorry for the relative silence on the blog over the past week or so. It was 50% due to visiting home and the ‘rents and 50% due to being completely whacked out on cold medicine. I took a mix-and-match approach which didn’t really benefit the cold or my mental capacities, but may explain the following:
  • The other night I had a dream that I was wearing the new Nike gloves for the new NFL uniforms. I think that means I miss football. Last night I had a dream that I fell down a rocky ledge and into a river. While wearing a sequined fish costume. I think that means I need professional help.
  • I don’t even want to tell you how many discs episodes of Gilmore Girls I watched over the weekend while doing 8,000 to-do tasks I had been neglecting to-do.
  • I did take two breaks to put something different in the DVD player: Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred and No More Trouble Zones…which would really be more appropriately titled “No More Zones” since that’s usually what I feel like when I’m finished.
  • I’m withholding really exciting information from you because the whole brain-to-keyboard connection hasn’t really been firing all that well lately (exhibit A: um, this) and I can’t get the post started.
  • Wegmans is now selling Theo Cacao Nibs. Expect a full post coming soon – another grocery bag post! I love those!
  • That’s not the really exiting information.
  • Well, it is if you’re me.
  • Last I checked Rochester was the homicide capital of New York State. But clearly, my vehicle being parked on the wrong side of the street slightly an hour past curfew is the bigger problem here.
  • Of course, I could just remember to move my car. But let’s be real here.
  • Moral of the story: if you’re looking for a charity to donate to, may I suggest my always-necessary Parking Ticket Fund?

And on that note…check back tomorrow for TWO installments of Inspired! See you then!

staying real : things my parents say


When we arrive at a restaurant for dinner at 4:30pm:

“There’s nobody here! I can’t believe it!”


During the Masters:

“What do the different colored shirts mean?”

“What do they do if they have to go to the bathroom?”

“It’s really cool that he won it in overtime!”

(Again…football family. It’s all we know.)

Oh, they make me so happy. So, so happy. I loved being home.

staying real : wedding wednesdays

Life is weird.

As I mentioned in the Southern Weddings post, I used to be highly averse to all things wedding-related. Like, I’d-rather-do-ANYTHING-other-than-be-involved-any-wedding-in-any-capacity, averse.

And now…I just can’t get enough! Perhaps I absorbed it through osmosis over the course of the past few years as I’ve attended, been in, photographed, or assisted in over 50 weddings. But perhaps it’s because I just love love. I love how God uses and honors strong marriages. I love two families melding into one and friends gathering together from near and far. I love beauty and creativity and color and light. And hello, I love dessert.

Clearly, weddings and I are long lost friends. We’re meant to be.

SO, because I routinely have multiple weddings related thoughts and resources that I’m more than eager to share, a new feature is going to appear once a week: Wedding Wednesdays. It will be like Sunday’s Inspired posts – things that I just can’t help but feature because I love them so much – but instead of being varied they’ll only pertain to holy matrimony.

No need to wait for the initial installment…it’s coming….now!

(Also, if some of you are experiencing deja vu, I also did this on my photography blog last year. Here’s a list of those posts!)

wedded bliss : part 1

wedded bliss : part 2

wedded bliss : part 3

wedded bliss : part 4

wedded bliss : part 5

wedded bliss : part 6

beka stays real : april chalkboards


[what is most important?]


[“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.” Luke 1:45]

living room 1:

[anything less than your best is a failure]

living room 2 didn’t change…because I still need to be reminded of this on a daily basis!

[be an exclamation point, not a question mark]