a year in nashville

IMG_2967I can’t believe that I’ve lived in Nashville for a year already!  Part of me feels like I moved here yesterday, and the other part of me can’t remember living anywhere else.  I thought it might be fun to recap some of my favorite things I have done in Music City in the last year!

At the top of my list, of course, is music.  The scene in Nashville has been one of the coolest things to get to be a part of, whether it was seeing intimate secret shows (like Noah Gundersen and Matthew Perryman Jones) or shows at the Ryman (like Of Monsters and Men, George Ezra and Ben Rector). I took in country shows (like Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line and Kenny Chesney) and Live on the Green shows (like Colony House, Cold War Kids, Elle King and Ben Folds).

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George Ezra played an amazing show at the Ryman back in October 2015.

There were tons more: The Shadowboxers at the Bluebird Cafe, Kaleo at Marathon Music Works, Ryan Bingham at Exit/In, Kodaline at 3rd and Lindsley…if I tried to name them all here, it would be absurd.  I’m not saying all of this to brag—after all, I paid good money for at least half of those shows!  But compared to Pensacola or Gainesville, FL…the number of artists whose tour schedules include my home base is off the charts, and for that, I’m thankful.

Another one of my favorite things about Nashville has been the proximity to other cities!  I’ve loved being able to drive to Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and of course Florida.  Travel is one of my favorite things on the planet, so the opportunity to explore nearby cities has been a great one.  (I am shocked to report that I think my favorite nearby city is Cincinnati!  I never imagined myself liking that place, but it was top-notch.)

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A big group of friends went to Fall Creek Falls for Memorial Day this year.

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I shot some hoops inside the world’s largest abandoned treehouse earlier this year.

Getting to explore the areas immediately in and around Nashville has been incredible, too.  I’ve trespassed and explored the world’s biggest abandoned treehouse, hiked to numerous waterfalls like Rock Island, Burgess Falls, Cummins Falls and Fall Creek Falls, gotten in touch with nature at Lake Radnor and Narrows of the Harpeth, and more.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m an adventure lover so I’m excited to keep finding new, beautiful places in my city.

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My lovely coworker from NYC, Molly, was my most recent visitor—earlier this month!

Another one of the best parts about living in Nashville has been the number of friends who have come to visit!  I pride myself on being an excellent tour guide—on finding the perfect blend between outdoor adventures, classic Nashville must do’s, shopping, amazing food and of course, going out.  It’s always a blast to have an excuse to hit up the honky tonks or eat a few scoops of Jeni’s ice cream!

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January 2016—the magical snowstorm!

I can’t write about my year in Nashville and not include a note about the snow, because it was one of my very favorite things!  Growing up in Florida, I never got the chance to wake up, look outside, and see a winter wonderland.  I’d seen snow a couple times through the years on vacations, but I was beyond thrilled to finally get to live in a place where it snows!  The best part is that it’s just a few times a year, so it’s super manageable, but I still get all the wintery fun.  I am ready for more snow this winter!

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We went to Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and Florida…but Nashville brought us all together!

Last but most certainly not least, I’ve been so thankful to make such a quality group of girlfriends here in Nashville.  I could count on one hand the number of acquaintances I knew in this city when I moved here, and it has been fantastic to be able to find such quality, beautiful, hilarious friends to call mine!  We recently got back from a beach trip down to Ft. Lauderdale (in fact, we left for that trip on my one-year job anniversary) and it really blew my mind to think that I didn’t even know any of these people a year ago!

That sentiment reminds me of a quote that has always encouraged me: “It is astonishing how short a time it can take for very wonderful things to happen.”  I have this on my desk at work, and hold it super close to my heart.  Although the last year has had definite highs and lows, I look back on it as a whole fondly and with so much gratitude.

I have no idea how long I’ll live in Nashville, or where I’ll go next, but I know one thing for sure: I love Music City!

 

happy friends for a happy life

I mentioned in my last post that over the last year, I discovered who I want in my corner – people who build me up, make me smile when I see their name pop up on my phone, encourage me and support me…that is, the people who make me happy.

These are people like a former boss, a mentor in West Virginia, a really amazing guy in Utah, my grandparents…the list goes on.  Well, it doesn’t go on too much.  That would defeat the point, which is this: working more than 40 hours a week while trying to focus on overall wellness (including prioritizing healthy sleep, eating and exercise habits) makes it hard to keep up with the hundreds of friends I made in college.

While I do thrive in having a large network and keeping in some sort of continued contact with about 100 folks (whether by snail mail, Facebook, text messages or phone calls), that’s not sustainable in everyday life.  The person I call to seek advice on a problem at work, the person I call when I’m walking from my car late at night…those are my people. The ones who make me happiest and the ones I should, therefore, invest the most in.

I’ve always had such a hard time letting friendships and relationships go.  I felt like a failure when in reality, two people just simply grew apart (usually for good reason).

I now know that having peace with letting people go is not admitting defeat or failure.  It’s not saying I don’t care about them or their happiness; it’s just realizing that our relationship might no longer be a part of their (or my) happiness equation.

One of my other goals for 2015 was to be debt-free, and that became a reality today.  Now, I think I’ll call one of my people – my happy friends for a happy life – to share the good news.

a weekend spent outdoors

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My blog just turned one year old!  I’m so happy I’ve stuck with this.  Now, back to this post’s real content:

I spent nearly my entire weekend outdoors and it was heavenly.

I try not to do recap-type posts on this blog too often, as I don’t want to bore you (my precious few loyal readers) with the mundane details of my day-to-day life. However, this blog is also a place for me to document memories to recall later, and this weekend falls perfectly into that category.

On Friday, our boss let us leave the office a couple of hours early. I spent that time at Target (my favorite store ever). I then went home and took an accidental (but wonderful) nap from about 7 pm to 9 pm. Right after I woke up, I went out to celebrate a work acquaintance’s birthday with some coworkers. We had a blast singing along to music and dancing, and I tried a delicious new-to-me cocktail (a Paloma).

On Saturday, I went to the Luke Bryan Farm Tour! I bought Maddie and myself tickets back a few months ago when the tour got announced, and the day finally arrived. We went with two friends and wound up seeing a few other friends there at the venue.

We tailgated a bit before the concert (listening to the Gator game on the radio which we somehow won, throwing the football and enjoying the beautiful weather). When we finally went into the actual performance area, we got fairly close to the stage. Chancie Neal, The Peach Pickers and Cole Swindell were all openers. Luke Bryan came out around 9 pm and he was even cuter than on television! He has this adorable southern accent which, combined with his goofy dance moves and powerhouse vocals, makes him utterly lovable.

The show went on for a solid two hours or so, and then it was a battle to leave the parking lot. Considering there were about 17,000 fans out on one farm, it was a bit of a traffic jam. It only took us about an hour to get out to the main road — and this was a product only of my aggressive driving. “I’m gonna kiss that Michigan bumper,” I said to Maddie over and over again, cracking up as I refused to allow others to push their way into line in front of me.

There was this epic moment when a huge, lifted truck full of guys zoomed up beside us out of nowhere, clearly believing they’d be able to cut me off. When I out-drove them, I exclaimed out the window, “You just got beat by a Honda Civic…COUPE!” The guys were beside themselves cracking up and the driver was clearly disappointed that I’d outmaneuvered him. It felt pretty sweet.

On Sunday, I slept in and awoke to more of the world’s most beautiful weather. I went to a late breakfast at my favorite spot (Billy Bobz, shout out to Geanine, the best waitress on the planet) and knew I needed to be outdoors for the afternoon. So, I split my time between Open Streets Gainesville (an event where they shut down a mile of University Ave. strictly for cyclists and pedestrians — lots of booths, live music, games, crafts and DOGS everywhere) and laying out in the sunshine to enjoy my book. This is really weird to admit, but I wound up laying out at a park adjacent to a dog park, so that I could see all the sweet pups coming and going. I have been wanting a dog for a while now but for now, this is as close as I can get. Also nearby were some people in medieval wear practicing jousting, but that’s just a strange little side note…

After all that time in the great outdoors, I went home and did some work, ate some pizza, watched The Voice with Maddie and had a lovely phone chat with my friend James, who always makes bad days sunny and sunny days sunnier. I then finished a book (that I had started that morning at breakfast…#bookworm) and took a bath before hitting the hay.

What a weekend it was! And next weekend is set to be even better — I’m going on vacation to North Carolina, where I’ll be checking off number 15 on my 101 in 1001 list. Can’t wait to see you, Sam!

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  -L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

i and love and you

I think that much of our society has come to fear the word “love.”  And I don’t like that.  I don’t like it one bit.

Why do we feel like we lose our power when we say “I love you?”  This is, in fact, where we gain it.  We free ourselves from uncertainty and cloudiness and ambiguity.  The other person’s reaction or response doesn’t matter; they are not an authority on the subject matter of our hearts. Obviously having love (and the expression of it) reciprocated is wonderful but it isn’t the point. If we all waited on the other person to say “I love you” first, the magical three-word combination would never get said.

I remember for years loving a friend but being afraid to tell him.  What was I afraid of?  It’s not as if I was in love with him, professing my desire to run away together and live like Noah and Allie until we wrinkle in our old age—no.  But I loved him, and I knew it.  The fact of the matter is that my love for him wasn’t conditional on him returning the phrase.  (Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that he did.)  Once you’ve chosen to actively love someone, the hard part is done.  Saying it is simple.  Furthermore, the more love we give to others, the greater our capacity to love becomes.

Love is not to be stifled, softened, limited or withheld.  It is ours to throw out the window, letting it sweep like the wind over those we leave behind.  Love is ours to give freely (and I’m not talking about the “free love” of the 60’s and 70’s), whether to the grocery store cashier or a lab partner or an author whose books you love or even a guy you met randomly in a fast food restaurant one Thursday afternoon.

What I’m suggesting is simple: if you love someone, say it.  Say it in a letter, a text message, a postcard, a speech, a voicemail.  Say it in chalk, in ink, in watercolor, in charcoal, in permanent marker.  Say it often and say it with conviction.  Don’t be scared to say it and don’t be scared to hear it; we were made for this.

Note: In an ironic twist, this post has been sitting in the “notes” section of my phone for about a month now.  Perhaps I need to match my fearlessness for posting on my blog with my fearlessness for letting people know that I care about them.02f579cec2c01ebd5e4914f672057884

a weekend to remember

When I woke up this morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about what an amazing weekend I had.  Every single part of every day was wonderful!  I am sharing about it here partially because there may possibly-but-not-likely be someone out there who is interested in hearing about why my weekend rocked so much.  More so, I want to be able to reference this post and remember fondly what a great last full weekend I had as an undergrad at the University of Florida.

Friday

On Friday, one of my best friends, Cameron, turned 21.  Cameron is one of the greatest people I’ve ever met.  We ate dinner at the Swamp restaurant (classic Gainesville) and then went on to the stadium (also known as the Swamp) to watch the sunset.

After that, I went with my friends Blaire and Nicole to see a movie called “The Other Woman.”  Since I don’t have cable and I never go to movies, I rarely know what’s in theaters, but I went on a whim to this one with the girls.  IT WAS THE FUNNIEST MOVIE I HAVE SEEN IN A LONG TIME.  I loved it so, so much and want to see it again as soon as possible.  I officially have a girl crush on Leslie Mann.

After that, I met back up with Cam and our friend Joanna and we went line dancing!  We had a great time laughing our butts off attempting to keep up with what seemed like a bar full of professional line dancers.  It was pretty funny because, although I own two pairs of cowboy boots, I wasn’t wearing them this particular night.  So, surrounded by boot-clad girls, I line danced in my gold sandals.

Saturday

On Saturday, I slept in and met up with my friend Blaire for a Publix sub.  I am convinced that the best days always start with Pub subs.

We went on to the pool where we met up with about 10 other Cicerone seniors for a relaxing day of sunshine and daiquiris.  (Our friend Tyler literally brought a blender to the pool. It was 50 percent hilarious and 50 percent genius.)

After the pool, I went home, showered and changed and Drew picked me up for what would be the most random, spontaneous night of adventures.  First we got snow cones; then we snuck into Sam’s Club to sample foods.  Yes, you read that right.  We’re rebels.  Well, Drew is a rebel.  He walked in like he owned the place.  I, meanwhile, went with the “Wait up!” method of chasing after two random strangers and their baby past the card-checker and into the store.

After an underwhelming selection of samples, we went to the La Chua trail to see the wild horses/hogs/alligators and a stunning sunset.  It’s always crazy to me to find places of such open, natural beauty so close to a crowded college campus.

We then went and played beach volleyball which was an event in itself.  We met what might be the weirdest, goofiest kid to exist at the University of Florida.  He dove into the sand on every play and spent time saying things like, “I’m going to grab this sand so hard it’s going to turn into diamonds!”  What time I didn’t spend trying to serve or hit the ball, I spent laughing at this little oddball named Nate.

After that, we went to a late dinner at Outback (another entertaining event–there was plastic in the Bloomin’ Onion) followed by a spontaneous (and incredibly complicated) card game with some friends and watching Pride and Prejudice.  It was my first time to see that movie and holy mackerel did I love it!  My favorite part was, of course, at the end, when he was kissing her and calling her Mrs. Darcy.  Sigh.  So sweet.

Sunday

On Sunday, after a great church service with friends and lunch with my Cicerones executive board replacement, Cynthia, I went to play a modified game of backyard softball with friends.  It was called sloshball, and it involved drinking beer while you play.  I partook in the softball but not the excessive beer drinking; 2 p.m. on a Sunday just isn’t really my ideal time for that.

Afterward, I baked chocolate chip cookies and went to our Cicerones Bible Conversation, which had a record turnout!  It has been so cool to see this group grow from 3-5 people meeting sporadically to a group of more than 30 people gathered to discuss the Bible and share life together.  I feel so confident leaving the organization I love so much in the hands of the new leaders that are stepping up.

After Bible Conversation, a Cicerone named Avery and I went to the Black Community Awards.  Several of our friends were nominated for awards, and we went to support them.  It wound up being one of the most entertaining events ever.  Between seeing our friends on stage, laughing about various A/V problems and taking in an array of performances (including a rapper named “Bandz” who had two hype men on the stage with him), we had a fabulous time.  I sat right between my friends Reggie and Brianna, and that seat is one I would choose again and again for every show I ever go to!

Avery and I went for a spontaneous milkshake after the event was over.  We had what turned out to be such a memorable conversation as we sipped on our shakes.  One of the things I like about Avery is that he’s able to have such a good time and be so goofy and confident (we were changing the lyrics to “A Whole New World” and singing them out loud as we ordered in Baskin Robbins) but then shift into a serious, far-below-surface-level conversation.  I am someone who thrives in the balance of these two dynamics, and it was special to find someone else who can switch so easily between the two.

One of the things Avery and I wound up talking about was our mutual love for Cameron (see Friday night’s birthday festivities).  This, of course, led us to going over to Cam’s place to see him.

I scooted Avery home and then found myself thinking about how much I’m going to miss the people I’ve become close with during senior year, one of whom is leaving today.  Before I knew it, I was outside Leah’s door waiting for her to let me in!

We had a great late-night chat, discussing the summer she’s about to spend in the Middle East and our uncertainty about the future.  We also decided that the skirt I was wearing, which is long enough for her to wear in Qatar, would become a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt.”

At last, around 1 in the morning, I went home and slept blissfully with my fan on full blast.

I am so thankful for this place and the friendships I have formed here.  To say I had a stellar weekend is an understatement.