1. My birthday started off right // 2. B-day dinner at Tea Bar & Bites (yum!) // 3. My adorable husband has been working on filling out one of those "relationship" books, and read me some of his answers to the questions. So freaking sweet. // 4. Lovely skies. // 5. VIP tickets to see some of my favorite fellas. // 6. Post-concert hangover coffee tastes the best. // 7. Brunch date with my love at Elle's. // 8. Rainy fall days are some of my favorite days of all // 9. I wish October would stick around forever so I could keep this wallpaper always. // 10. Usually the light in this apartment is the worst, but sometimes...... // 11. Weddings weddings weddings! // 12. Worst day in recent memory. // 13. Oreos eaten after a bad day have zero calories. At least that's what I hear. // 14. Sick day for this handsome fella. (He then passed it on to me. What a sweetheart.) // 15. First glimpses of fall. // 16. First red fallen leaf of the season.
1. School thoughts have been planted in my head.... // 2. This couch needs to be mine. // 3. A day with our niece, Brylee, at the pumpkin patch. // 4. After the pumpkin patch, we played Brylee's made-up games; I won, so I got to wear the crown (they were all rigged and Tyler was bitter). // 5. Bry made us a turtle (named "Turtley") and brought it over. He lives on our refrigerator now. // 6. I love Missouri a little more when we have sunsets like this one. // 7. Sometimes my friend Sarah takes amazing trips and brightens up my mailbox. // 8. Salted hot chocolate and a walk around my favorite neighborhood warms my fall-lovin' heart. // 9. The library book sale was good to me this year. A box of books for $30! (One that I bought for $4 is $118 on Amazon!) // 10. Fall is here more and more every day. // 11. SWEATER WEATHER! :) :) :) // 12. Ice cream date with the mister. // 13. Giant yarn bomb at the art museum. // 14. 70+ degrees in our apartment, and I'm in leggings, knee-length socks, and a sweater. Cold-natured might be a bit of an understatement. // 15. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! // 16. Foggy mornings have my heart.
October just might have been the best month of the year so far--even with the crazy sickness that plagued our household, it's giving all the others a run for their money. My blog feed hasn't been disappointing, either. Here are a few favorites from my favorite month, in no particular order.
1. "#blakeandhaley", "B+H Private Reveal", and "Wedding photos are here!" at Mushaboom. (I know, I know, that's like three posts in one. Go look at them and you try to narrow it down more than that!) Haley is so super sweet, and her wedding was beautiful--classic, but so personal. Warning: bring tissues. That first look and pictures of her dad putting on her wedding shoes? Waterworks.
6. "Autumn Details" at A Little Darling. I just love Emma's blog. She has such a sweet, genuinely beautiful spirit, and she cherishes the little things in life that so many pass right by. Also, these pictures are stunning.
8. "The Music // Video" at Adventures in No Man's Land. Katie is one of my favorite new follows. Her honesty and authenticity is so refreshing. She's also super talented--she takes gorgeous pictures, and girl can SING. I love this post, because it struck me as so brave; coming from a singing past myself, I know how terrifying it can be to put yourself out there.
13. "You're My Phantom Limb" atLyds Was Here. This might be one of my favorite blog posts of all time, not just for October. It's heartbreaking and brave and inspiring and hopeful and really just amazing in every way.
Have you found any extra-great posts this month? Or written one? Send a link my way!
When I was young, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' place outside of town. My brother and I would explore the woods around their house for hours upon hours during the summers, usually bringing home fossils, flowers, strange leaves, quartz crystals and anything else that caught our eyes. We played on fallen trees and wandered through winding creeks, but one of our favorite places to visit was an abandoned cemetery, hidden in the forest on a nearby hill. We never really played there--it seemed disrespectful, even to us as children--but we loved to wander around the tombstones, kneeling down to decipher the dates through a layer of dirt and moss. We would marvel every spring as daffodils cropped up between the sinking graves, we would spend hours clearing away fallen branches, and we were never afraid.
As morbid as it sounds, I still love cemeteries, though they always have and still do make me a little bit sad; this is not because they contain people who have died-- that's what people, all people, eventually do--but because they contain people I never knew, whose stories I never heard. Stories might be my favorite part of life, which itself is one giant story. My shelves are crammed with autobiographies, which are some of my favorites, because they aren't just the facts of a life, but the subjective experiences of the person who lived it. They're real, though they're clouded through a lens of so many cultural and experiential factors, and a little worn and warped by time...which really only makes them more human, more beautiful. I've never met a person, no matter how plain or ill-traveled, who didn't have a few worthwhile stories to tell. So in cemeteries, especially old, abandoned ones, I look around at all the gravestones and think about all the people beneath the grass. I wonder if anyone knows their stories, or I wonder if they too have been buried, lost. Lost stories of people who once lived--this is the saddest thing of all.
I've always been a person greatly affected by words--I've cried listening to songs on the radio, worn out pages of poetry reading and reading the same passage, and been so consumed in novels that I could barely find my way out. When words are directed toward me they impact me even more. I wish I could say that I'm one of those people who don't care about what other people think or say about me, but I do care, deeply. It's a curse sometimes, but mostly a blessing. It's part of the reason I've surrounded myself with people who speak encouragement and support into my life. That's not to say that the people around me just tell me how great I am all the time--far from it--but they are truthful, even when the truth isn't easy to hear, and they are kind.
To be transparent, I've had a rough few weeks lately. Work has been frustrating on many levels, I've felt really stuck creatively, and I've just been feeling really very average in almost every area of my life. I don't know why or what caused it, but I'm in a rut or a funk or whatever you want to call it. The worst part is, I really didn't even see it happening or realize I was there until about a week ago.
A week ago, I met up with some professors that I had in undergrad and grad school--some for professional reasons, some just because I saw them wandering Hill Hall and wanted to catch up. I chatted with all of them for at least half an hour, and I was struck first by how much I felt like a colleague rather than a student--not sure when that change happened, but it was incredibly strange. We talked about therapy, licensure, music, and childhood stories. The second thing that was striking was just how genuinely encouraging they were, without even meaning to be. One asked my opinion as an "artsy, creative type" (um, what?), another asked me to submit a CV to teach a class in his area of expertise, and another mentioned that he has always been impressed with my "natural professionalism." I'm not relaying all their compliments to toot my own horn, but to illustrate this: I'm still thinking about their words a week later. Honestly, I'll probably be thinking about their words for much longer than that.
I walked around the rest of the day feeling incredibly efficacious and proud. Life seemed a little brighter, and I felt a burst of creativity. I remembered what it felt like to really believe in my abilities and to know I'm good at what I do. All of that--from words. Nothing but words from people whose opinions I respect. That's it. The Bible says that the tongue holds the power of life and death, and I've never seen that so clearly as I did last Friday. I wonder how often I've been careless with my words, and how many opportunities I've had to breathe life into someone that I've let slip by. So this week, I'm making it a point to speak true, life-giving words to the people around me, and I encourage you to do the same. You never know how long they'll be thinking about it.
After I put this wishboard together, I looked at it for a minute and thought, "Whoa, this is really a random assortment." It's kinda all over the place. Honestly, though, I've been a bit all over the place lately, too. My mind is going a million miles an hour in a million different directions. I have fairly eclectic tastes in general, but I'm not sure it's ever been as evident as it is for this month's selections. Oh well, maybe there's something for everyone?
The past few weeks have felt so much like fall. I'm not sure if it's the weather, the few orange and red leaves starting to peek through, the cozy sweaters and boots, or the fall activities--actually, it's probably all of those things. Regardless of the reason(s), this season feels more like autumn than any in the past few years for me. You won't find me complaining, either; I've been embracing everything autumn lately. This last weekend, Tyler's mom came to visit and we went with her and our niece, Brylee, to a farm outside of Springfield.
Bry ate it up--all of it. The corn maze, the playground, the bouncy house, the pumpkins, the "train" rides (little barrel cars pulled behind a riding lawnmower, ha!)....she definitely kept us hopping from one thing to the next. Tyler's mom had asked her several times if she wanted to ride one of the "ponies" (uh, more like horses. False advertising, much?), and she kept saying no. Eventually, though, she decided that she would ride...if I rode with her.
Now, before I continue this story, I just need to explain something to you. I was one of those little girls who always loved horses. I even had a pony when I was about Bry's age. (Her name was Starlite, after Rainbow Brite's horse, because I know you're super curious about the details and you need to know that yes, I was an awesome 80s child) However, the last time I rode a horse was when I was about fourteen or fifteen, and that said horse proceeded to throw me and later kicked my dad square in the face (which required some steel plates and major reconstructive surgery). It was the whole "you gotta get back up on the horse" cliche, literally.
Here I was with a five-year-old girl, who was about to ride a horse for the first time in her life, and she wanted me with her. So I did it. I was also clearly a little less nervous than Bry was, as evidenced by the look of silent terror on her face in the picture below. (Also, I'm definitely clutching the saddle horn with my left hand; I just kept my right arm wrapped around her so she'd feel more secure. Aunt Seatbelt!) Tyler said she maintained that terrified look the entire time, but as we were heading back, Bry said quietly, "This is kinda fun." It certainly was.
Also, the attendant kept referring to me as Bry's mom. Hashtag baby fever. Again.
Feeling: sick sick sick. Tyler had a bug last week, and he oh-so-graciously passed it along to me. Sharing is caring, huh?
Drinking: orange juice. So much orange juice (see above).
Watching: an SVU marathon. What else do you watch on a sick day? I mean, really. I've seen all these episodes already, which means that when I fall asleep for half an hour, I still wake up knowing what's going on.
Wearing: pajamas, in the form of sweatpants and a tank top...and I don't really plan on changing that.
Enjoying: how fall seems to slow me down and make me more pensive. I've been noticing life more, the smaller things in particular. Lately everything seems laden with meaning that I'm rediscovering, and it's pretty wonderful.
Reading: the last few pages of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I liked it a lot, but I felt like the last chapter was superfluous; there was such a good end point before that, mystery was solved, it should have been done. I felt like I was struggling through the last chapter of a book that was relatively short.
Believing: in myself a lot more. I know that sounds like a silly thing to say in my current couch-ridden state, but lately there have been a lot of people really speaking life and wisdom into my corner of the world. It's amazing how much power our words have sometimes.
Last Tuesday, The Head and the Heart's new album, "Let's Be Still," released. It was the day I'd been waiting for since I finished listening to their first one. Have you ever fallen in love with an album so much upon first listen that you just crave more songs? Immediately? Welcome to my life for the past couple years. Needless to say, I was not disappointed with the new tunes. Have a listen.
"Oh, we can populate the dark with horrors, even we who think ourselves informed and sure, believing nothing we cannot measure or weigh. I know beyond all doubt that the dark things crowding in on me either did not exist or were not dangerous to me, and still I was afraid."
John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
I've become just a big ol' sap. Me, the one who has always rolled her eyes as rom-coms and thinks that dating tv shows are the lamest of the lame--turned into a softy. Case in point: Saturday, we went to the wedding of some friends of ours, and it was just the sweetest. I was crying before the bride even walked down the aisle. I won't even talk about their vows. Oh, and did I mention that her dad conducted the ceremony? I didn't stand a chance. Total waterworks. I honestly have always loved going to weddings, but ever since I've actually experienced what it's like to be standing up there, they emotionally wreck me. Anyone else? Or am I just a total freak?
Anyway, it was a beautiful day, beautiful wedding, and the bride--gorgeous. Tyler was in the wedding (so I got to see him all tux-ed up. HELLO!) and I met a lot of super sweet people he's known for ages. Not to mention, I just think Ryan and Liz (the bride & groom) are completely awesome. Here are a few (iPhone--I forgot my camera, ugh!) snapshots from our day. I just love love.
A little over a week ago, we surprised our niece by picking her up from her after-school program and taking her to the book fair in her school library. We showed up, and she walked toward us with a shy sort of excitement—basically the cutest combination ever in a five-year-old little girl. We hurried down the hallway, her little pink backpack bouncing with every step, and she began scouring the shelves of books. Every now and then she would pick one up, and plop down cross-legged on the floor to examine it.
(See? Total cutie. I snagged this adorable picture from her mama's Facebook.)
We told her that she could pick out a book and we would buy it for her; her eyes lit up, and she began flittering from table to table, trying to make a decision. Finally, she brought us her choice (a book about a puppy’s first Christmas—girl after my own heart! Can I put my tree up yet?). We browsed a bit longer, and I caught her looking at a book from the “grown-up” table. It was a cookbook….a Disney princess cookbook (yeah, that totally exists). So I wandered over and crouched down beside her.
“What did you find, Brylee?” *shrug & smile* “Ohh, it’s a cookbook. Do you think I should buy that so I can make all the princess food?” She looked up and me and grinned. “Yeah.” “Okay, but if I get it, I’m going to need some help to make all this stuff. I don’t think I can do it all by myself. Will you come over and help me make it?” *Big smile* “Mmhmm!”
Needless to say, I walked away with a a Disney princess cookbook and a promise to make sea turtle cupcakes…..and also maybe a little bit of baby fever. I admit it. (Of course, I only make my own confessions, and would never tell you that I kept catching Tyler looking at me extra lovingly and how he told me more than a few times that I was "going to be such an amazing mom." I would never tell on him like that.)
While baby fever is alive and well in the Lafferty household, it will most certainly be a year or two until we start making serious plans for that kind of thing. Obviously that doesn't mean that I don't already have a Pinterestboard full of baby-things (clothes, nursery ideas, costumes....you name it), but I like to think that it keeps me tided over until we take the plunge. I thought I'd share a few of my faves--whether you're also in the clutches of baby fever or not, at the very least, they're pretty darn cute.
Whew, that weekend went by wayyyy too quickly. Not a fan of that business. (Is it a bad sign if I'm already counting down until the next one?) When my weekends are packed, as this last one was, I tend to be a little more stressed. It's like I didn't get the time to decompress that I really needed before jumping back in. And when that happens, I tend to gravitate toward more soothing music (it's not going to be a morning for Chvrches or Passion Pit). It so happens that some of my favorite calming tunes are by a fellow named Amos Lee, who just released a new album. What a coincidence. Here is some mellow for your Monday.
Tyler and I have started taking walks after dinner in the evenings. It started with a "wow, we're really out of shape" realization and the decision to incorporate light exercise into our every day routine to build up a bit before taking on a serious work-out regimen. What it's become, however, is a vital part of life together.
Days are so hurried and weeks rush by, especially for me. When you work 10-hour days, there's the temptation to try to pack all your chores into the short hours before bed, even though you're exhausted, then crash, wake up, and start all over again. I feel like I'm at full-speed from 6am on Monday until 6:30pm on Thursday. These walks, though, force me to slow down. When we set out, we know that we'll be gone for about 45 minutes. There's no rushing through it (my knees are the worst) and our route has no shortcuts--it's a quiet county road lined with fields, barns, and some scattered houses. Life slows a bit down our little path.
It's also been great for our relationship. Once you settle into a married routine, it's easy to get distracted by life--especially technology. You come home, eat dinner, and plop in front of the television (or laptop or phone) for the evening. Ever since we've started walking together, though, our midweek conversations have grown from the typical "How was your day?" to deeper things--finances, dreams, the future. No regrets about adding that little walk to our daily routine. Oh, and the views aren't bad, either. :)
Last Thursday I took a drive to Joplin with Tyler to see some friends at a show they were playing. It had been a couple years since I had seen them, so I conspired with a mutual friend of ours to surprise them. The looks on their faces pretty much made my year....well, that, and all the catching up we did.
Forgive the blurry graininess. Picture quality on my little ol' iPhone4 in a dark room is just awesome.
It's so weird, but I always miss people the most right after I've seen them. It seems like, when you haven't seen someone for awhile, you start to get a little used to it, and not being around them seems to be just the way it is. It's not the way it necessarily should be, or the way you want it to be, of course...but it just gets easier to accept, I guess. You forget how much they make you laugh, or how much their reassurance gives you peace, or the depth of their wisdom. So today, I'm missing these fellas more than I have in the past year, even though I just saw them a few days ago.
Look at those babies (circa 2007ish).
I realized while we were talking/reminiscing/feeling really old before the show that I've known some of these guys for over ten years now. That's over a third of my life. In that time, we've celebrated marriages, doted on new babies, and mourned the death of parents. I've played with some of their kids between shows and watched them grow up; they've counseled me through breakups (and tried to set me up....."Uncle" Jason!); I've volunteered at countless shows; we've had political "discussions" and "solved" half the world's problems over coffee or dinner, in catering, or in hotel lobbies; I've watched them play for 50 people and 15000. Last week, I got to introduce them to my husband. They're some of my oldest friends, and I've met some amazing people in them and through them. I have come to believe that there's the family you're born with and the family you choose--I chose these guys, and I'm grateful that they chose me back. Ten years of friendship is certainly something to celebrate. Here's to ten more.....and ten after that......and ten after that (at least).
(P.S. If you're looking for a good show, some good tunes, or just to support some genuinely good guys, you can learn more about these fine fellas at www.building429.com.)
So Lorde has been blowing up the radio lately with "Royals"--which I think is awesome, I might add. The airwaves need more legit songs. Her album, "Pure Heroine" is every bit as good all the way through. I seriously can't say enough good things about it; it might be one of my favorite albums in years. And she's sixteen, you guys. SIXTEEN. I mean, what am I doing with my life?! Amazing.
It seems, lately, that my favorite weekends have been full of simple, happy things: fall festivals, felt hats, visits from family. Trips to buy bigger flowerpots from local nursery, running into friends in the Target parking lot, and finally finding a frame for that thrifted print I found ages ago--they aren't spectacular or even really noteworthy events, but they're mine, and they're wonderful. It's those tiny moments and their steady hum, that fill a life. I'm becoming more and more grateful for their rhythm.
Today is the day--the day I inch a little closer to 30. To be honest, sometimes it really bothers me and other times...eh, not so much. Some of the most rockin' gals I know have hit that milestone already. I figure I still have a couple more years to worry about it, anyway. For now, I'm gonna go celebrate by making a decision about where I get to eat dinner tonight after work (I'm still trying to decide between Aviary and Tea Bar & Bites! Eeep!). Tyler may or may not have made me a Little Mermaid cake (it came out on Blu-Ray today! ON MY BIRTHDAY, you guys! My favorite childhood movie! It's like Disney is saying, "Yes, Jessica, this one was made especially for you"). So excited!
(Uh yeah, are ya'll starting to realize why I feel woefully unprepared for 30? I have a Little Mermaid birthday cake and I'm freaking out about the Blu-Ray release. I'm totally an adult, though. Totally.)
In honor of the not-quite-30 birthday, I thought I would put together a picture progression of little Jess through the years. The cute years, the awkward years, the what-the-heck-were-you-thinking-with-that-haircut/outfit-years. Enjoy! (Also, be nice. It's my birthday.)