Winston Salem is Magical

Y’all. I still can’t believe I get to live here.

So far, living in Winston Salem has been nothing short of magical. In a span of a few weeks, I found the communities I so desperately needed: a grief group made up of incredibly thoughtful and resilient people, an amazing gym full of kind, encouraging, and motivating group fitness instructors, and an awesome liberal church community that actively supports social justice issues. I’ve made new friends with shared passions and life experiences, and I get to see them on a regular basis. It’s amazing and exactly what I’ve been searching for.

Also, I now have access to a Target, Tropical Smoothie, Sheetz, and a Trader Joes… I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that we get to STAY here and call this place home. It doesn’t feel real and I never want to take it for granted.

I read a line by Nora McInery that stuck with me:  “I know on a daily basis that I am so lucky to be alive… This is me just trying to earn it.” Traumatic grief wore me down in difficult ways, and living in Boone made my recovery harder than it needed to be, but I want to enjoy the days I have as much as possible. Moving did not cure my pain, but the SUNLIGHT and support systems I’ve found here are making everything feel more manageable. This season has been full of new adventures and so much gratitude. And exhausting, challenging work travel. But honestly, I’m grateful for that, too. 

Here are FIVE things I’m loving about Winston-Salem so far:

  1. Foothills. For years I’ve been drinking a beer called People’s Porter and believing it came from a brewery in Asheville, NC. Well, it’s actually made right here in Winston-Salem! Their Pumpkin Ale is also the best. I was so happy to discover that in addition to the big brewery downtown, they also have a tasting room close to our apartment.

2. Our Apartment. In Boone, we were renting a house with the intention of becoming homeowners in the near future, but having to do regular yard work and deal with dangerous, unpredictable maintenance issues made us seriously reconsider that plan. Our apartment has air conditioning and functional heat and so much natural sunlight, plus some wonderful amenities including a pool and gym and BEAUTIFUL landscaping. The staff is awesome (we never even have to change a lightbulb!) Our neighbors are wonderful. I love living here.

3. The Art Scene. We spent approximately 2 hours in Winston Salem before deciding to move here. One of those hours was spent at First Friday Art Crawl in August. During that hour, we listened to live music, discovered a locally owned chocolate factory, and saw so many local galleries. It took me two hours to say yes, okay, let’s move here, but I’m pretty sure Bret was convinced in two minutes. The official Winston Salem’s slogan is the City of Arts and Innovation!

4. Downtown Winston has an adorable, walkable downtown scene with a record store, bookstores, so many breweries, and the best festivals. My favorite coffee shop serves giant pieces of cheesecake by the slice. We still have so much to explore, but it reminds me of our beloved Tallahassee and that means I LOVE IT.

 

5. Movies One of the most annoying things about Boone was it’s movie theater that hadn’t been updated since 1993. Who needs more than 4 movies playing at a time? Stadium seating, what’s that? Well, Winston Salem has multiple movie theaters including THE BEST independent movie theater. We’ve seen so many movies there already like Eighth Grade and The Miseducation of Cameron Post and they offer FREE outdoor movies in the summer which is just another reason Winston Salem is perfect.

In short, I’ve lived here for two months and feel at home for the first time in four years.

Summer & Whole 30

This summer, partly in a morbid way and partly because I felt stunned by the state of things, I kept catching myself saying, “what a weird time to be alive.” I was feeling the tug of personal pain and utter frustration with the shifting values of this country counterbalanced with some amazing, fulfilling interactions and adventures that opened me up to so much. I LIVED this summer, and, in doing so, I often felt caught between feelings of guilt and gratitude. For example,

Continue reading “Summer & Whole 30”

A MUCH NEEDED Transition

I watched a TedTalk a while ago about the power of community which essentially said that when you share your dreams and challenges within a community, someone there can help you succeed. As humans, we need to feel like part of a community in order to feel safe and grow and thrive. Community is everything, basically, but for a while now, I haven’t really had one.

For the past three years I’ve lived on the side of a mountain in a town that I feel only a small connection to. I went to a church here once where the sermon derailed into a declaration on how you should eat something wild (i.e. a weed growing in your yard) every day. Also, I went to an upmarket farm to table restaurant and while it was lovely and delicious, I discovered a live worm crawling around in my salad. When I gently brought attention to this, our server brought me another salad, but I wondered if the typical customer would have just eaten around it. And finally I went wine tasting at a popular vineyard and was told by the owner that getting a fruit fly in your glass  is good luck. Lucky me, I got three in my first pour. I never went back there. Continue reading “A MUCH NEEDED Transition”

Journaling and Therapy

I can’t say enough good things about journaling. I’ve been writing in journals since I was five, and it’s always therapeutic to carve out time just to sit and write out my current fears and joys. After emptying my mind onto a page, I don’t have to keep running through the same thoughts and concerns. Plus, I love going back and reading my old entries. It helps me keep tabs on my goals and mood and overall health: mental, physical, and emotional. Online journals and blogs can be great, too, but I love the pen and paper process.

This year, I started keeping a bullet journal which has basically turned into a series of lists and charts that manage my day to day life. I regularly track:

  • My “self care” routines (things like how often I sleep, shower, write, and go outside)
  • Distance I run/walk every day
  • Which yoga videos I practice
  • The foods I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Continue reading “Journaling and Therapy”

Five Years

This March, Bret and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary with a trip to New York City!

It was such a fun and memorable way to mark 5 years of marriage.

We loved eating authentic NYC bagels (especially with lox and cream cheese!), wandering through a bookstore in Chelsea Market on a weekday morning before the crowds, seeing an original Vincent van Gogh at MOMA, strolling through Central Park, frequenting the M&M store in Times Square, and checking out the view from the Top of the Rockefeller Center.

It was cold, but it was fun. I loved sharing a giant, perfect slice of oreo cheesecake which reminded me of the cheesecakes I used to sell as a fundraiser for my middle school orchestra. And I loved listening to Bret point out places he remembered from his trip marching in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Continue reading “Five Years”

Life Lately

I haven’t been actively posting to social media or blogging recently and it feels good to “unplug” and spend time away from my phone after work. When I don’t share my life or feelings in some public way, it seems like I have a if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-and-no-one-hears-it kind of relationship with this digital age we’re living in, but most of the things that I’m feeling are messy and uncomfortable so I prefer to share them in real conversations or in grief-related spaces. And I want to document the good parts of my life right now, but if I only share those shiny parts without context, it feels incomplete and insincere. Still, I want to document some things, so here’s a life update that bounces around into all of the difficult and joyful pieces of my life lately. Grab a cup of coffee, this is a long one.

Truthfully, I feel disconnected from a lot of people right now. I attribute some of that to my own social isolation but I’m also just tired of explaining that I’m still grieving. When someone asks how I’m feeling, I never know how to describe it. I have a giant hole in my life where my dad is supposed to be and I can’t even begin to put into words how much I miss him. Or how homesick I feel when I think about the version of myself that I got to be whenever I was around him. Winter darkness and cold temperatures reignited a lot of my pain and trauma so Christmas didn’t feel like Christmas and now this winter just feels like a weird place lodged in time that doesn’t fit into a normal, chronological calendar year. Continue reading “Life Lately”

Modified Gratitude

It’s November. Gratitude season. It’s also November: ten months after my dad died.

Holidays are painful this year. I don’t feel like celebrating a year that has been washed over with grief and pain, but I also don’t want to deprive myself of the traditions that bring me comfort and joy. I’m still deciding what to keep and what to skip.

Every November for the past 5 years, I’ve made a “Grateful Jar” and filled it with lists of things that I’m grateful for. Each one is a tiny time capsule. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make a 2017 jar, but I decided to make one that reflects my dad. I decorated it with photos of him and phrases that remind me of him like:

  • stay humble
  • listen more
  • let it be
  • be kind

Continue reading “Modified Gratitude”

Year 4: Life is short & love is forever

Four years ago, while writing my wedding vows, I imagined a future with Bret: traveling the world, writing books together, moving to new cities, and finding adventures. I probably thought about the hardships, too. I figured we’d support each other through challenging careers and hold each other up through life’s struggles, whatever they may be. Maybe in the back of my mind I considered a far distant future after our parents had the chance to retire, travel, and live full lives when we’d have to say goodbye to them, but I never imagined losing my father so suddenly, so unexpectedly, and so young. Continue reading “Year 4: Life is short & love is forever”

Stronger Better Faster 30

Well hello faithful readers! It’s been too long. Truthfully, it’s been difficult for me to write post-election. Seven weeks later, I’m still experiencing waves of shock. Every time I begin to feel a bit better, I learn that another under-qualified person with dangerous or degrading messages has been appointed by our president elect. I’ve grieved and allowed myself to feel angry and now I’m channeling that into action. I called my senator and a few offices in DC to voice my concerns, and I’m supporting organizations who still care about women + LGBT rights. I’m also looking for new opportunities to volunteer. I may not be able to change much on my own, but I can’t sleep if I don’t try.

All that’s to say, it’s a good thing that I started planning my 30th birthday before the election because otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have had a party at all. And that would have been sad because thirty is a big milestone and I love birthdays and I love parties.

Continue reading “Stronger Better Faster 30”

2016 Election: Shaken

As I watched the 2016 election results roll in on Tuesday night, I was uneasy. Early results trended Trump. I went to sleep around midnight, feeling nervous, but with so many states too early to call, I had a sliver of hope.

I woke up at 3am, checked my phone, and I froze.

I texted some of my friends who were also awake and in shock. I was shaking. I couldn’t get a deep breath. I’ve only felt this way a few times in my life. My chest was aching, and I was too stunned to cry.

When I look at Donald Trump, I see every man who has sexually assaulted me. Continue reading “2016 Election: Shaken”

This is Boone | Starry Night edition

A few weeks ago, I spent a Saturday night on my friends’ back porch. We were rocking in rocking chairs, staring up at the stars, and drinking beer and homemade moonshine while there were guns and/or firecrackers firing in the not-so-distant distance. We were enjoying a good conversation and I had one of those moments like I did when I first put on snow boots or that time I wore flannel to brunch where I thought… this is Boone. This is my Boone life.

And then I picked up my rental car the next morning and I drove up to DC for the week.

Sometimes I feel like I’m being pulled in different directions: working in DC and living in North Carolina. Continue reading “This is Boone | Starry Night edition”

Great Britain Adventure: Loch Ness + Ben Nevis

In June, Bret and I spent one week in Great Britain. I planned on summarizing that week in a few blog posts this summer and I’ve really fallen behind on those (sorry!) but I’m back. Here’s Day 4! (You can catch up on the first few days here).

After a completely perfect day exploring our new favorite city: Edinburgh, Scotland, we woke up early as usual, packed our backpacks, and enjoyed a traditional Scottish breakfast in the hotel. Then, we boarded the bus and began our drive up to Inverness! Continue reading “Great Britain Adventure: Loch Ness + Ben Nevis”