Labor Day

Last September, we spent Labor Day lazing on the beach in Southport, NC. This year, we spent the weekend relaxing with my family (Mom and Chicken Man Dad) in Virginia. Their house is amazing — with old bones and creaky floors and roosters crowing and guineas calling. My dad and I have different opinions on what it is they’re saying. He thinks it’s "Buckwheat! Buckwheat!" but I’m pretty sure they’re calling out "Come back! Come back!"

We read a lot and ate a lot and slept a lot and laughed a lot - it was really a perfect visit. Sunday, we drove to a place called Hillsville to visit the World’s Largest Flea Market. The streets were lined with funnel cakes and meats on sticks. You could hear salespeople calling out about Magical Pain Relief Tonics and cowboy boots and umbrellas (prices rose after the skies opened up later in the afternoon). Our only purchase of the day was a tiny vintage cameo stick pin, a gift from Josh to me.

 

On the way back, we stopped by Lover’s Leap, home to a beautiful mountain view and a tragic love story.

Legend has it that the son of a settler saw the twinkle in the eyes of the Chief’s daughter, Morning Flower, and was immediately love-struck. The couple began to meet secretly and their love continued to grow. The young man and Indian maiden were threatened and shunned. With the beautiful rock and wildflowers as their backdrop, they jumped into the wild blue yonder ensuring they would be together forever.

The weekend felt a lot like a “reboot” button. Resting and getting ready for the coming fall, when I’ll turn the page on another year and face the world as a 27-year-old. I love September, and I have a feeling I’m really going to love THIS September.

We deserve better.

This is the kind of post that isn’t clever or neatly packaged with succinct thoughts and easy metaphors. It’s probably not even punctuated correctly. But it’s on my mind, and I feel like getting it out there, so here it is.

I’m a big goal setter, but I rarely follow all the way through –ambitious though I am, I get overwhelmed easily.

Goals for self improvement, for growing wiser and seeking enlightenment, lofty goals involving journaling and change and a greater relationship with myself…Look through the archives of this blog and you’ll see that these goals come to me, then they die.

I always want to be better. I am constantly comparing myself to others and feeling like I come up short. Which is normal, to an extent – but a lot of times I wind up feeling absolutely paralyzed by the sheer volume of BETTERNESS that I want/need to achieve. And part of the issue is clearly some kind of self-esteem something or other. But the other part is simple: I have somehow managed to surround myself with—and am therefore comparing myself to—a set of seriously amazing people.

My friends are smart, driven, creative and wildly talented. They are artists. Performers. They pour time and care into charity work for incredible causes. They teach the youth of America. The people around me are doing some truly great things.  And it can be very easy to lose sight of the fact that these people like me, too and instead slip into my ever-critical mindset and ask myself how on earth it is that any of these people want to be around me, or how I could possibly ever hope to stack up well enough to deserve their attention.

The answer is that I can’t stack up—and that I’m not supposed to. I have to stop comparing everything about myself to everything about everyone else. We all do. Like, knock it off. The only person I can be is me—the best version of me. And I’ll never be all the way 100% the best Corley ever. There will always be room for better. That’s it. The way it is. So find a way to deal with it.

Instead of continuing the stupid habit of comparing and obsessing and inevitably pouting over all I’m not, I’ve decided on a simpler goal: to be the Corley that these amazing people deserve.  The wife that Josh (who is obviously the best) deserves. The kid my parents deserve. The team member my coworkers deserve. The considerate, caring, accessible person that my friends deserve. Allow them to teach me how to be better, and then be better. Because they deserve it.

It doesn’t seem completely healthy though, does it? To constantly be upping my game based on what those around me deserve. I didn’t think so either, until I realized this next part: (It gets a little squishy, so stick with me.)

If I am stepping up my game, becoming the Corley that my loved ones deserve, I’m going to become the Corley that I deserve, too. I deserve better than to be picked on and criticized all the time. I know I do. So to be the me that I deserve, I have to stop being so nitpicky.

Stop beating yourself up, and be the you that you deserve. It sounds simple, but the idea helps me. And something kept nagging at me to post it here, so maybe this little idea can help you, too.

 

1:Face at a time

I love shopping, and I love being helpful. I’m like a thrifty, stylish Golden Retriever.

So when I get the opportunity to do BOTH of these things AT THE SAME TIME, I have no choice but to jump all over it. That’s why I buy Tom’s shoes, Warby Parker glasses, and charity coupon books. When you’ve got the choice between buying yourself a present and buying yourself a present that helps someone else, it should be a no-brainer. You pick the one that helps. Right?

That’s what you get to do with the 1:Face Project.

Here’s how it works:

You buy a watch.

Depending on the color watch you choose, your purchase helps people in ways that they might not get help otherwise. From the 1:Face press release:

White represents poverty, black for cancer, pink for breast cancer awareness, blue for the environment, red for AIDS awareness, and clear for water. A percentage of revenue from the sale of each watch will go directly to the corresponding non-profit organizations- the names of which will be made available on 1FaceWatch.com

So how can you get in on this sweet, charitable, timekeeping action? Head over to Indiegogo starting August 19 to choose your color, purchase your watch, and help your cause. Until then, head over to the 1:Face website to learn more about the product and the causes.

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*The content of this post was sponsored by Mirza Minds/1:Face, who provided a watch for my review. The opinions in this review are all mine. View a list of questions to ask of a charity before donating. You can also check out my review policy

Make Yourself At Home

You guys, I love it here.

Sunday morning, I woke up without an alarm. Josh and I drove down to Dilworth, where we bought iced coffee and warm bagels and walked through Freedom Park until we found a picnic table with the right amount of shade. We watched as a dad taught his son how to ride a bike without training wheels.

The first lap, the kid had his training wheels down and his confidence up, pedaling as fast as his little legs could pump, tearing around corners and yelling over his shoulder to make sure his dad was still behind him.

The second lap, the training wheels were up, and the little boy whined each time the dad tried to let go. “Not yet not yet not yet” he kept saying, his voice getting higher each time he squeaked out his plea.

The third lap, he and his dad were tag-teaming a pep talk. “You can do this!” the dad said. “You’re already doing it! This is the way the big boys ride their bikes, and you’re a big boy!”

"Yeah!" agreed the kid. "This is the big boy way!"

I caught Josh’s eye and grinned. “I am so, so happy here.”

I love Charlotte. I love our little house with the big yard. I love being so close to family and friends. I love having people over to our house! To grill out or watch TV or just because we’re so nearby and it’s more fun to sit around with friends than by ourselves.

I have a running buddy now. We jog through the same fancy neighborhood a few times a week, picking out our favorite houses and talking about life the way you do when you’re with a friend.

I have a favorite coffeeshop, quirky and open 24/7, where I can sit and read and feel surrounded by all the things I thought I would miss so terribly about Asheville.

Moving to Charlotte was definitely the smartest decision for us. I knew I would feel comfortable here, more like an adult, responsible and secure and eventually settled in. But I worried about leaving Asheville - my home! The city I loved so much for so long! It was scary to let go - I had plenty of my own “Not yet not yet not yet” moments between then and now. But now that we’ve explored, settled in, taken a few laps around our new city, I know that this is just the start of our Charlotte adventure.

And I am so, so happy here.

Summer Songs

Happy Summertime, my friends! To celebrate the sweltering season, I made you a new seasonal mixtape with a few of my summertime favorites! Click the image below to listen (on Spotify), and be sure to comment and tell me what you think!

Summer Songs:

Chad and Jeremy - A Summer Song
Alabama Shakes - Hang Loose
M. Ward - I Get Ideas
Elvis Costello and the Attractions - Living In Paradise
Mates of State - Sway
The Lumineers - Flowers In Your Hair
Darwin Deez - Radar Detector
Big Star - Watch The Sunrise
Sam Cooke - Hey There
Beach Boys - Surfer Girl

My Dad the Chicken Whisperer

Last weekend, my grandparents and I hit the road and headed out to visit my parents in Virginia.

I LOVE their house. Love. The old bones of the house, the brick work, the creaky stairs, the huge kitchen. They have absolutely turned it into a home, and I felt like a broken record while I was there, saying over and over “I love it here.”

Outside, my dad has worked wonders on the land. A garden is full of fresh fruits and veggies - and I don’t think there is anything better in the world than a strawberry right out of the ground. The yard is sprinkled with daisies, hydrangeas and wildflowers. And further out, in the back, past the cars and the tractor…

are the CHICKENS!

Oh yes. My dad is the master of the chickens. The Chicken Whisperer. To prove it, he walked in the coop and hypnotized a rooster.

You are getting sleepier…

I’m not exactly a city girl, but this pretty much blew my mind. Dad caught the rooster (no small feat, and a pretty hilarious video), laid him on the ground, and used a twig to draw a line in the dirt starting next to the rooster’s eye and moving away from him (you can see the line in the dirt in the photo above). And then, he took his hands away. And the rooster just…froze. Just like that. Hypnotized for at least a minute and a half.

I always knew my dad had superpowers. I just never would have figured him for a fine feathered hypnotist.

Check out more photos from our Virginia trip in the slideshow below (if you’re subscribed via RSS, you’ll need to click over to the blog to see it).

Next time we visit, I’m getting the Chicken Whisperer to teach me his tricks.

My Favorite Things

Hot Dog, Happy Friday!

Here are a few of my favorite things lately. Enjoy!

The Snarky Voice in Your Head Is Killing Your Productivity; Here’s How to Stop It
A little bit of snark is funny. Truth. But let it get out of hand and suddenly you’re THAT person who starts criticizing the minute she gets the chance - and you don’t want that. This article really brought my own snark to the front of my mind, forcing me to call myself out and acknowledge my own Sally Snark-a-lot tendencies.

pinterest23.jpgPinterest
Seriously. Can’t stop won’t stop. Have we connected on Pinterest yet? Can we please? Because I will repin the heck out of your clever ideas and delicious sounding recipes, and I’ll love every minute of it.

breaking-bad-season-5-image-aaron-paul-byran-cranston.jpgBreaking Bad
I’m late to this party, but I’m HOOKED on Breaking Bad. I’m halfway through Season 2 (no spoilers!) and I have a LOT of feelings about Walt, Jesse (sweet, misunderstood Jesse), Hank, and the rest of the BB crew. Josh and I are grabbing pretty much every available moment to catch another episode, which means we’re watching Walt cook meth while we fold our laundry, eat our dinner, just before we doze off for our Sunday afternoon naps, and any other chance we get. (image via)

prius.jpgOur Prius!
Oh yes. Oh yes we did. We traded our Hyundai SUV in for this shiny beautiful thing, and I am now strangely competitive about my MPG and obsessed with using EV mode as often as possible. I haven’t joined any of the Prius message boards yet, but I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time.

Fireworks

july-fourth-uncle-sam-lady-liberty-patriotic-holiday.jpg

I love the Fourth of July. I love the barbecue and the watermelon and the patriotic decorations. I love how nobody is embarrassed to get dressed up in red, white and blue outfits with flags and stars and sparkles all around.

But most of all - I love the fireworks.

As Josh and I watched the fireworks last night, surrounded by kids yelling “OOHHHH!” every time a big one popped and crackled above us, I thought about what a great picture we made. Hundreds of people gathered close, sitting on blankets and lawn chairs, faces all pointed up and illuminated with flashes of light as we all faced the sky and smiled at the show.

After, a group of kids behind us were so ding dang excited about the fireworks that they started cheers of “1-2-3-FREEDOM!!” and “1-2-3-JUSTICE!!”

We followed the crowd back to our car, and as we zipped through the traffic and down the dark back roads toward home, I took stock of how happy I am. We are in a new city with new jobs, surrounded by family and old friends. We went from spending most of our nights at home to having to budget our time carefully. With each day, I feel more and more like the grown-up version of myself.

But it doesn’t take much - a fireworks show is plenty - and I’m back to the same wonder and excitement I always feel on the 4th of July. I’d say that’s a pretty wonderful thing.

Deliberate

I’m trying something new.

This morning, when my alarm clock went off, instead of immediately reaching for it and hitting “Snooze,” I paused. Listened to the song. And decided that my time would be better spent waking up and drinking coffee than dozing lightly in nine-minute increments.

Got out of bed, turned on the news. Poured my coffee, went outside to read with Josh and the dogs. Got ready with time to spare, sat down to write this quick post.

Conscious decisions about my day. Wouldn’t I rather spend time with Josh than getting just a few more minutes of sub-quality sleep? I never feel more rested after a morning full of “snoozing.” Wouldn’t I rather take my time and enjoy my morning than rush through, stumbling haphazardly out the door?

Everything I did this morning, I decided to do. It was a morning spent deliberately.

And I liked it.