#healthyaugust & other concerns

No, I haven’t fallen off the wagon.  My shoulder has, but I haven’t.

At the end of July, I strained a muscle in my back doing shoulder shrugs.  The stupid part is, I knew I messed up and I kept going, which is actually pretty close to the story of my life.  So, if you’ve ever looked at a diagram of the muscles in your back, your traps are massive and are basically incorporated into everything you do, including but not limited to: moving your head to check both ways before pulling out of a parking lot, looking down at your iPhone, sitting at a desk (they stabilize your head), lifting yourself up out of bed, pulling a shirt over your head, holding a flat iron up to straighten your hair.. this list, dude.  This is list is huge.  The last 3 weeks have sucked.

I really am trying to get on board with this organized, healthy life thing.  The first week August, I did great.  And by doing great and running my guts out (not even weights!), I aggravated that strain again and finally had to go to the doctor.  I feel so disgusting and useless this week.  My house is a wreck, I am mentally a wreck, I feel like I look like a wreck physically, and I’m just a whole pile of hot mess.  It’s bad.

Do you ever get to the point that you’re like well everything is disgusting, including me, so it’s just best that I give up and not try.  I want to give up.  No, not like suicide give up, but eat a bag of Doritos in my overrun with cat hair house and not shower for several days give up.  I operate best under structure, and I have none of that right now.  I gotta get my crap together, man.

#healthyaugust is still happening.  I haven’t gotten too off point with my eating, but my workouts haven’t been great, so I don’t expect to drop a lot of pounds or inches.  When I went to the doctor on Monday, I have officially gained 20 pounds and that’s awesome.  Totally awesome.  Needless to say, this week has not been the week for Alena to feel great about herself.

But, here we are.  I guess I’m just writing this out to see it myself and to also let you all know that you are not alone.  So, I’m posting all these great workout pictures on Instagram and I’m totally on board, sometimes you just have a shitty week.  This has been a shitty week.  For real, I could make you a list of things I don’t like right now about myself, about how I look, about everything, but there’s no need.  We’re all struggling to get out of bed every day and put our best face forward.  Don’t be discouraged and think that it’s just you.

I suppose a good place to start would be cleaning my house and then using my new steam mop. Maybe hang up the clothes that have been on my guest room bed for a month and wash some towels. A good idea might be to get the layer of cat hair off the furniture and actually dust.  But, in reality, I just want to go home and get in bed and I can’t tell you what will win after 4:30pm.

All of these problems are so menial and superficial, but these are the things in the every day that get a person down.  People certainly have it harder than me, trust me that I know that.  But, sometimes doesn’t it just feel good to be like — this sucks and let me tell you why.  I just wanted to tell you why.

Here’s to getting through it and having a better day next time.  Or better week, even.  Hopefully.

What do you say when words will no longer suffice?  I’m asking myself this question as I stare at this blank box, cursor blinking, silently cursing and hurting this morning.  I’m not sure where to start, but I’m here and I have a voice and I’m going to try.

Black lives matter.  Please don’t stop reading.
Police lives matter.  Please don’t stop reading.

The problem lies within the fact that we are somehow deduced down to catchy phrases and hashtags.  The problem is that humanity and compassion are replaced with rage and anger.  I get it, I’m mad, too.  I’m mad at the police officers who murdered Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.  I’m mad at the coward(s?) who murdered and injured police officers in Dallas last night.  Let me be clear — I can be angry about both.  I can love and hurt and demand better from this country concerning both issues.  It is not mutually exclusive that I do not support law enforcement if I am outraged about Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile.  It is not mutually exclusive that I do not respect black lives if I am outraged about the five officers fatally wounded last night.

All of that being said, I am still not sure where to start.  Part of me wants to stop right here because I’ve already made people I love and care about angry and uncomfortable.  But, that will not do anymore.  I have more privilege than I can properly convey and it is my duty to use my voice for those who comply and still die.  It is my duty to use my voice for those who believe deeply, like I do, that everything that happened this week (ALL 3 instances) is a heinous tragedy, and that lives shall not be ranked above others based on skin color, religious views, sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, or job.  It is my duty to love you relentlessly if you vehemently disagree with me and Lord (oh, Lord), I am trying.

Alton Sterling’s children lost their Father this week.
Philando Castile’s daughter watched him die.
12 officers were shot, 5 killed, protecting a peaceful protest of the aforementioned incidents. The suspects were not associated with Black Lives Matter or the protest, just to be clear.

Because I don’t know the names of the officers, I cannot say them, but I would.  Those 5 human beings did not go home last night, just like Mr. Sterling and Mr. Castile didn’t.  Just like 49 people in Orlando last month. Human beings are killing other human beings at a rate the mind cannot process and for what?   For us to not have the hard conversations about the obvious and rampant inequalities in this country?  For us to not have real conversations about gun laws?  For us to sit back in our cozy homes and hope that it never comes for us?  Surely not. I can’t accept that.

What’s been brewing in this country isn’t new.  It didn’t come with your discomfort of a black President, or your realization that white folks may not be the “majority” anymore. It didn’t just appear because this little white girl from a 99.9% white town in eastern Kentucky decided to write a blog about it.  If you study history, and even if you don’t, research the year 1968.  The year everything changed. The year that shaped our country for decades to come.  My Mother and Father were younger than me that year, but this is the year of my generation.  2016, for better or worse, will likely be the year that shapes the world for my nieces and nephews and my future children  For your children.  For our entire country and maybe the world.  I don’t feel like that is off point or conjecture and if you do, you are no student of History.

My heart is broken because I don’t have any answers, but I am with you.  If YOU are for ending the sickening loss of life in this country and having a real, logical, fruitful conversation about it, I am with you.  If YOU are for sharing memes on social media that generalize all black folks or all police officers, or basically any group of people, I am not with you.  If you are angry this morning ONLY about Dallas and not about the previous two days, I am not with you.  I want to meet you somewhere, but I can’t until we can agree that every life lost is precious and worth outrage.

Maybe I have said nothing of value here. Maybe we know each other on a personal level and I’ve made you angry or hurt you.  Please know that I love you, but I will no longer stand by while we hit our faces for only certain people dying and have radio silence because the person in the news earlier that day doesn’t look like you. I will not stand by and be called a police hater, because nothing could be further from the truth.  I will not stand by and be marginalized because I do not agree with the masses where I live, nor will I ever be quiet for those who are REALLY marginalized ever again. If that is somehow inconvenient for you, then perhaps our social media relationship should end here.  If it’s not and we still disagree, I welcome you.

More than anything, I am just so sincerely sorry this keeps happening. I am so sorry and I believe with every fiber of my being that we deserve better.


I have typed and retyped the same sentence 5645646878132 times.  There are few instances where I just don’t know where to start, and this is one of those.  It’s hard to eulogize someone who defies description, and it’s hard when you were friends, but not best friends.  There are many people who I care for (and people that I don’t know at all) who were closer to Justin than me, so it’s important to point out that this isn’t about me at all.  I just want to talk about a few things and be as honest as I can be and tell some stories.

From 2005 to 2008, I worked at the movie theater in Paintsville.  If Justin Chafin ever paid for a movie during that time, I must not have been working.  When one of my best friends married one if his fraternity brothers, I gained a whole group of awesome guy friends, but I’d already known Chafin for years.  At a wedding once, we did a full Dirty Dancing style lift like a couple of morons.  There were texts and messages filled with 90’s music trivia, and a grand tour of Pikeville in summer of 2013.  That’s the thing — everyone that has ever met him has stories like this.  Tons of people have a million more than I do.  But, there aren’t any bad stories with Chafin.  I can’t imagine anyone on this Earth has a single bad thing to say about him.  What would you say?  Oh, he was too funny?  Oh, he was too witty?  Oh, he was too smart?  That guy, Justin Chafin, he loved Kesha and America too much and was just too fun to be around.  Get out of here.

My heart has been burdened and heavy for his friends and family since I heard the news.  What do you do in that situation?  I really don’t know.  Suicide is so hard to talk about and even harder to deal with when it’s someone close to you.  I can’t fathom the shock, the pain, the guilt, and all of the questions.  It absolutely breaks me for them just thinking about it.

If you are reading this and you have struggled or are struggling, please talk to someone.  Don’t hide it, don’t feel guilty.  There is nothing wrong with you.  You are important, you are needed, and you are loved.  Most of all, you are not alone and you don’t have to do this by yourself.  I have been in the darkest places, I have felt the weight of wishing I didn’t have to live anymore, I have quite literally prayed that I would die.  I have wished terrible things on myself and cried myself to sleep believing that the world would be better off without me.  I’m not scared to admit that to you today because I want anyone reading this to know that it can get better, there are people who want to help, and there are people who understand.  You are never, ever alone.  Night or day, I would pick up the phone for anyone reading this, anyone I know well or barely know, if it means helping you get through a tough time and an even tougher decision.

Suicide is taboo.  When you don’t understand the struggle, it’s easy to dismiss it.  I have heard many people say things like, “How selfish” and “What a coward” (and many, many other awful things) about anyone committing suicide — this must stop.  This stigma and idea that someone suffering so deeply is somehow a selfish, cowardly person is the reason people do not get help.  Your attitude and willingness to just lend an ear may save a life because you never, ever know what someone is going through. You never know what is happening behind closed doors and how much they hurt.  Many people reading this today don’t have any idea that I, myself, have struggled with suicidal thoughts since I was a teenager.  It may come as a surprise to you.  You may say — but she’s so happy, she’s so funny, she’s so… that is my entire point.  Be mindful of the words you speak and extend kindness to everyone you meet. You have no clue if someone close to you or someone you see every single day is teetering on the seesaw of depression, anxiety, and wishing for it all to end.

Justin Chafin should not be gone.  The loss of such a joyous person will be felt by many people for the rest of their lives.  My sincere prayer is that he found the peace he so desperately sought, and I hope he was met by Ronald Reagan and immediately handed an American flag.  You will be sorely missed, sir.

Until next time.


one hundred eighty two point five


[I wrote this 4/25 and sat on it, decided to share it anyway]

Six months is one hundred eighty two and one half days.

Yesterday, while sitting outside on my deck, I realized that six months ago, I turned 29.

Six months ago, I struggled to get out of bed.

Six months ago, I bailed on a birthday party because I was convinced everyone there hated me and only invited me because they felt sorry for me.  Anxiety told me so.

Six months ago, I finally went to the doctor and said — I can’t do this anymore.

One hundred eighty two and one half days later, here I am.  I still fall apart.  I still question if I am good enough or worthy.  I still have days where I lock myself in the bathroom at work and cry.  There are days that I struggle and I come home and go straight to bed.  There are days where I feel like I could burst through a wall with how happy I am.  If you are reading this and waiting for the leaf to turn and for the light to shine on your next 182.5, it’s coming.  It will happen.  I promise.

What in this world will happen in the next 182.5?  I turn 30 and I can hardly believe it.  I don’t feel any sort of crisis about it, honestly.  I feel a lot of peace.  My 20’s were largely spent figuring out what in this world I am doing.  Guess what?  I still don’t know.  I had this idea that my job would define me and that’s not how it turned out, really.  Maybe I should be doing something else, but I don’t know what that would be anyway. But, my job doesn’t define me.  I don’t find who I am in the place I make money, and I’m okay with that.  I find my my worth in the faces of the people I love and in being the bright spot in their day.  I find my worth in places I never thought to look.

Even though I really have no idea what I am doing, I feel more at home in my own life than I ever have.  I think that 30 will be a good look.  I’m not in a hurry, I know that.  I’m just enjoying it.  Whatever ‘it’ is — I’m loving it.

Not Quite A Fixer Upper

Joanna Gaines is my hero.  No, seriously.

I think she is beautiful and perfect, with exquisite taste and an adorable sense of humor (not to mention AMAZING hair and style).  I want my house to look just like a Magnolia Home, and even though that will never happen, decorating is something I sincerely enjoy.  However, because we bought the house, I don’t exactly have a Magnolia Homes budget, so I’m working with what’s already there, looking for deals, and making it all my own.  And it has been SO. MUCH. FUN!

Home Sweet Hughes – March 2016 – Can you spot the kitty cat?
Front door before and after
Chad hates my welcome mat – doesn’t this look great?!

For as much as I watch Chip and Jo, I know I do not have the guts to take on a fixer upper.  When we moved in, our house was painted perfectly, spotless, and turn key.  The owner before me was a better house keeper than I will ever be and had really good taste!  With her permission, I’m going to show y’all some of the before and afters.  The main color in the house was a slightly lighter than sage green.  When we moved in, I thought it wouldn’t go with anything — WRONG!  It seriously goes with everything!  So, being the lazy person that I am, I’ve basically purchased everything around that color because I really do like it!  It’s beautiful!

Before – Living room/Front Door
Before – Living room/Fire place area

These were the pictures that I saw on realtor.com and I was like… Chad, you have to see this house, it’s perfect!

After – Living room/Front door
After – Living room picture window

So, really, what you’re seeing is just a difference in decorating taste.  I am pattern crazy.  I love patterns, I think they are awesome and fun and beautiful and I could not care less if people think they are trendy or not.  The best part is — if I get tired of them, I can change them!  Can you believe how amazing those same green walls look with all those different colors?!  And it ALL ties together!  We were blessed that my Dad had the couch, recliner, and loveseat (not pictured) already AND that it was a neutral color!  After a trip to Douglasville, Georgia, we got the big pieces and I got to work.  Before I had any color, I had the coffee table that I got from Kelly Resale Shop in Louisa, Kentucky for $45.00.  The mirror was on sale at Kohl’s for $50.00 (it was $100.00 regular price), and I actually had it in the bedroom of our 1 bedroom apartment, so it wasn’t new at all.  The curtains were on sale for $49.99 on http://www.jossandmain.com (expensive, but good sales), and the rug is from http://www.kirklands.com and I believe I paid around $75.00 for it.

The real key, for me, is finding the right throw pillows.  Isn’t that silly?  I absolutely LOVE pillow covers and changing my patterns to reflect the over all feel of a room.  But, it’s freaking CRAZY how expensive throw pillows are considering as of right now, my 55 pound dog is laying on one of those pillows, so why on Earth would I pay a ton of money for one?  I go for covers because I can take them off and wash them and it makes it way easier.  I always order my covers through shops on Etsy, but some of y’all might be fancy enough to make your own.  If so, that’s awesome, but I am not that patient or creative.  I paid less than $100.00 for the whole set of covers (5 total), including the lumbar pillow cover in the recliner.  Yeah!

So, the dining room is also the fabulous not-quite-but-kinda-sage-green color, check out these before and afters:


Again, just a difference in decor choices, but how amazing is that green with EVERYTHING?  I still can’t believe how neutral it can be.  I would have never been so adventurous with a living area color choice, but it has worked out perfectly since I am way too lazy to paint that much of this house.  Also, our awesome table came from my Dad, who basically furnished our whole house with his furniture from when he lived in Oklahoma in 2014/15.  Thanks Dad!

Now you’re wondering if we even made any REAL changes in the house, aren’t you?  Structurally, no!  It didn’t need it!  It’s a great house.  The previous owners have a little girl and two of the three bedrooms were decorated and painted for her.  One was a nursery, the other was her big girl room.  This was where the work came in.

Small Bedroom/Nursery Before
2nd bedroom right before I started painting
2nd bedroom after

I already had every single piece in both of these rooms.  I used my bedding from when we lived in the apartment in the first room, and then I used an extra queen set that I already had in the 2nd room.  The best part of this entire project?  I got the gray paint that you see on the bottom 1/4 of the wall for $11.00 dollars at Walmart because it was tinted wrong.  How amazing is that?!  I can’t tell you how proud I am of these rooms and these of accomplishment I felt putting up the curtains myself, painting it all myself (Chad hates to paint), and bringing all of the decor together.  Not to mention, it cost me less than $75.00 bucks (materials to paint and all) to make such a drastic change in both rooms!  I am absolutely in love with the chair rails that were already there, and I think both rooms are so cozy and inviting.  Come hang with us!  We have awesome places to sleep.

The next room I tackled was the hall bathroom.  The only downside about the house is the fact that we have tiny tiny tiny bathrooms, but when you’re painting, that’s actually a HUGE upside!

Hall Bath Before
Hall Bath After

Yeah, the blue that I used on my front door?  I decided I needed more of it in my life.  I’m not quite sure if I will use it anywhere else since it is very, very dark, but I love it in this little bathroom.  The yellow is kind of odd with the grey and white, but I really like it.  I thought if I could hang some black and white art that it would really tie the grey and white curtain into the over all feel of the bathroom.  It turns out, Chad already had some really awesome pieces that fit perfectly and made for, quite possibly, the coolest bathroom ever.  Let me know if you agree!

Yes, that is absolutely WWII and Star Wars depictions mashed together.  How awesome is that?!?!

We honestly haven’t done much worth mentioning in the master bedroom, bathroom, or the kitchen.  The kitchen is mostly open and all cabinets, tons of counter space, so there isn’t much to hang or really change if you aren’t changing counter tops and appliances (and we don’t have the funds to do that — yet).  There’s also about 800 square foot of finished space downstairs in a walkout basement which consists of two rooms: an entrance from the garage which we have done absolutely nothing with, and another room that is a gym/den area for Chad complete with a tiny refrigerator for all of his beer needs.  The only thing I do downstairs is use the gym area, other than that, I don’t even clean down there.  That’s Chad’s place!  And I hate the word man cave, but, y’know, I guess that’s what it is.  Yuck.

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen this photo, but I thought I would tie it up by showing y’all the master bedroom.


This paint is how we found this room, and I was like OH MY GOSH, SCORE!!!! because that bedding?  That’s the bedding I had when I lived with my Mom and it was just sitting around not being used!  That comforter is old as the hills and it matches perfectly!  It is also the best fabric for pet hair and puppy claws.  Everything else gets picked so easily, but not this!  The only thing we bought for this room was the upholstered headboard that I got from jossandmain.com for about $85.00.  My Dad gave us the dresser and chest of drawers, oh, and I guess I bought the little nightstand at Kelly Resale for $45.00.  I am also completely in love with how the sunlight comes in this room, and clearly, Sophie is too.

If you’ve read this far, congratulations, you love house decor talk as much as I do!  Maybe everything doesn’t match perfectly, and honestly, I’m probably not that great at decorating, but I have enjoyed making this house my own more than I can say.  There are still some rooms to go, appliances to switch out, and outside furniture to buy, but for now, we are in a really good place.  The house is warm, cozy, and full of happiness and life.  On any given day you will find a fine layer of pet hair over nearly everything, puppy paw prints on the hardwood, and cat food strewn down the hallway (Sadie plays with it).  But, it’s ours and I fall more in love with every single day.  There’s something about the character of a brick-ranch-sorta-split-level little diddy.  Seeing as how I grew up in tiny cinder block houses with one bathroom, sometimes I still walk from room to room and can’t figure out how I even live somewhere so sweet.

Come visit, y’all!  It’s just about porch sittin’ time.



I can finally feel sunshine.  I feel it on my face.  I can feel it deep in my bones.

In October 2015, I broke down to my doctor and told her that I couldn’t do it anymore.  2015 was the worst year of my life in terms of anxiety, and I’d had enough.  What was supposed to be a fairly routine check up turned into me sobbing hysterically and telling her that I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t just be happy because I knew I had everything.  She asked me if I wanted to be referred to a psychiatrist and I nodded ‘yes’.  She changed my medication from 300mg of Wellbutrin to 35mg of Effexor with a supplement of Buspar for when I go into situations that typically trigger my anxiety.

Fast forward to January when I had my first appointment with Dr. Oliver.   We talked for about an hour and he asked me a series of questions, and I tried to answer them as honestly and openly as I knew how.  I was so nervous that I poured the sweat and shook like a leaf.  When I left, I had sweated through my clothes and had to go home without going back to work.  He diagnosed me with Severe Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I suppose the two have a way of going hand in hand.  I was shocked at the diagnosis of Severe MDD, because I was functioning, right?  I mean, I held down a job, I maintained relationships for the most part, I was married — I was living, wasn’t I?  How could it be severe?  Well, struggling with suicidal thoughts make it severe.  When having anxiety attacks, saying, “I wish I would just die.” make it severe.  And I wasn’t living at all.

Dr. Oliver upped my dose of Effexor to 75mg, and I can tell you today that it is certainly the best medication for me.  Since Christmas, I have only had to supplement with Buspar or Ativan maybe twice.  In social situations, I feel peace.  I no longer dread spending time with people that I actually enjoy and love, I no longer worry if they are talking about me or making fun of me.  I don’t sit and obsess about people ‘ignoring’ me on social media.  I no longer live my life feeling like every single thing or action from another person is an affront to me.  I am now able to take people at face value.  If they say they like me and enjoy my company, then I guess they do.  I don’t read into comments to try and make a situation something it isn’t.  There are still days where I struggle.  There are still days where my chest feels tight and I don’t breathe very well.  There are still days where the darkness floods the corners of my eyes and I struggle to look forward and not drown in everything I feel or don’t feel.  Nothing is perfect, it never will be, but I can finally tell you all that I am getting better.

There is hope.  Counseling, medication, faith.  If you can do it without those first two, that’s great.  I couldn’t.  I couldn’t anymore.  It’s been a little over two months since I got my dose corrected and started seeing Dr. Oliver.  Well, I guess closer to three.  In those three months I have focused on fitness, on eating better, and on taking care of myself both physically and mentally.  On many days, I feel like I have stepped outside of myself and I can look back and clearly see how much help I needed.  I go back and read my blogs about depression and about anxiety, and I feel like, for this season, I have taken off that heavy coat of depression.  Though I still struggle, I feel warmth, happiness, and I feel light.  Each and every day, I can actually feel sunshine.  I smile and I laugh and it comes from deep inside, it’s not fake or forced.  I look forward to the next day, even if I dread going to work, even if I complain.  I am sincerely happy to be alive.

The person I am now is a work in progress and I imagine it will always be as such.  I am still introverted and I hate being bothered in the mornings.  Sometimes, I realize I don’t seem very pleasant.  I still obsess over things that I cannot fix or change.  There are days where it all falls apart, there are days where I can’t stand myself, but those days seem to be happening less and less.  Those days are now replaced with a sense of purpose and happiness that I haven’t had in a very long time or maybe ever.  Maybe it’s looking at 30, maybe it’s growing up, maybe it’s a mixture of getting my medicine right and starting to work on myself, I’m honestly not sure.  But, I am working.  I am trying.  I have shoved through the darkness and I refuse to give up or give in.

I finally feel sunshine.

Why do people want to vote for Biff Tannen?

I stole this image from Google Image Search, FYI.

But, seriously.  Are you Barney Stinson?  Do you cheer for the bad guy?  Is the jerk always your favorite in TV shows and movies?  WHY ARE YOU CHEERING FOR BIFF?!

Anyway, for my own sanity, and in complete fear of my own personal national nightmare coming true, I realize I have to back away from the why-the-hell-are-you-serious-about-voting-for-Trump wagon.

I don’t get it, guys.  I’ll never understand it. I can hold onto tangible ideas like being a Republican, voting for Conservatives, voting your values, so on and so forth.  I may not agree with you, and you won’t agree with me, and that is perfectly fine.  It’s great even!  How boring would it be if we all agreed, you know?  The Trump thing, I just…. there are no words.  No nice words.  I don’t get it. If you like him because he has a ‘good mind for business’ (never mind that he’s been bankrupt 3049283490234 times), or because he’s entertaining on The Apprentice (well, he used to be until his ignorant, racist comments got him fired), that’s fine, but it doesn’t make him qualified to be leader of the free world.  Shoot, I watched The Apprentice for years — the celebrity season with Clay Aiken was my jam!  I never liked Trump at all, but the show was entertaining.

If you’re reading this and you plan on voting for Donald Trump, I sincerely (probably) love you.  I have probably hurt your feelings with blanket statements saying if you support Trump you are probably stupid, but listen, I don’t think you are personally an unintelligent person (I actually think the opposite which is why it’s SO FRUSTRATING TO ME that you want to vote for Biff Tannen).  I’m sure some of you have said, “Anyone who voted for Obama is stupid!” and you do not personally think I am stupid.  Or you do!  That’s fine, too.  I’ve been called worse and I’m sure I’ll be called worse in the future, I have no doubts.

But listen to me.  Please.  Stop being duped.  Donald Trump is not a good “Christian Conservative”.  Some of you folks saying that he is and that we ‘can’t question his beliefs’ are the same folks who swear President Obama isn’t a Christian.  Donald Trump is not what you want him so badly to be.  He is a pandering liar.  He is a dangerous, xenophobic, misogynist.  He is a racist, through and through.  He is not a good person, he is not a nice person, he is not the guy you want on your side, because he will NEVER be on your side.  Ever.  Not in this life or any other.  He does not ‘tell it like it is’ unless ‘like it is’ translates to you being a racist turd, too.  You’re not a racist turd!  Whoever you are reading this, I know you aren’t!  And if you are, why are we friends anyway?

But, the fact is, y’all are gonna vote for Biff no matter how many anti-Biff posts I share on Facebook, no matter how many times I retweet his elementary level comments to try to get him to block me.  You’re gonna do it, and I’m not gonna get it (ever), so I have to stop.  Someone (Marie) said to me yesterday, “I see you’re fighting the good fight against Donald Trump” and it just made me think……Why am I even doing this?  I had been doing pretty well about politics since the 2012 election, but how much I dislike Trump has clouded my judgement.  At first it was a big joke, and now it’s real life and people are legitimately voting for Biff Tannen and I just have to move on or I am going to plunge myself into a lake with cinder blocks tied to my ankles.

So, Biff yourself to death.  Just Biff it.  Biff on, Biff off.  Just know that part of me is dying inside trying to love y’all through this trying time.

I don’t think this is about Valentine’s Day at all, actually.

I have always hated Valentine’s Day.

When I was a little girl, it always embarrassed me that little boys never sent me any cards or candy grams or whatever it is they do in elementary school. My teeth were crooked, I was chubby, wore glasses, and was so awkward and loud that it was just plain painful. I was smart, and not athletic, which I think is beyond awesome now, but whatever. Anyway, all that stuff bothered me and it’s the same story of a million girls just like me. But none of it bothered me the way it did when my girl friends got flowers and candy from their Dad’s delivered to school.

Every. Single. Year. Every year, I told myself that I wouldn’t worry about it, or look forward to it, or wish for it. But, every year, I would sit and listen to them return to class and say, “it’s from my Dad” and it killed me a little bit inside. I felt left out when I was ignored by boys, but I felt deeply, irreparably broken when I didn’t feel relevant to my Dad.

Years later, I don’t hold any resentment toward my Dad for this, or for much of anything anymore. From time to time it strikes me how much I missed having a Dad in so many situations in my life, and while I sit up on this Friday night and scroll through pictures of flowers and candy, I can’t help but think about it. Valentine’s Day is stupid. It’s a ridiculous holiday, and I don’t have to get into all the reasons why. When I was single, everyone assumed I hated it because I was alone. Well, I’m married and I still think it’s super lame, so lame that Chad and I don’t even acknowledge or celebrate it. If you like it, I’m not yucking your yum, so don’t take it personally. I’m just telling you why I never have.

Even so, I can tell you the sweetest thing I ever got for Valentine’s Day. It’s not all a wash because nothing ever is. I got a heart shaped box of peanut M&M’s from my Papaw Doc when I was probably 6 or 7, and even though it wasn’t delivered to school, it made me feel so special that he thought of me. But, then again, when didn’t he? In all the places I looked for my Dad, my Papaw found a way to fill those cracks as best he could and it made me okay again. My Mama never forgot me, either. She knows I love the fruit flavored, cream filled chocolates and she was my Valentine for years. She still is. And you know, one time, a beautiful bearded fella showed up at my work with breakfast burritos.

So, yeah, it’s not all bad. For as much as something hurts, there are people who always fill those cracks and piece together your brokenness, and help you move forward. There are always days where you wish someone loved you the way you love them, and then you find someone who loves you in a way you never thought someone could. I’ve seen a lot of people proclaim “people who hate this holiday are just lonely” and that’s just not always the case.

I still don’t care for Valentine’s Day. Sometimes, I’m still a little girl waiting to be acknowledged by her Dad. Most of the time, I’m a woman who has moved on and built a nice life, who just doesn’t like the color pink or hearts. But, I will eat the life out of any cupcakes or candy, heart shaped or otherwise. Please believe that.

Do you, boo boo.

If anything has absolutely worn me out in 2015, it’s the onslaught of self-righteous Mommy/Christian/People/Persons/Humans/I-Am-Doing-Life-Better-Than-You Blogs.  A gazillion times out of ten, I write about how awful I am.  I write about how it’s hard to live with me and how bad I feel for my husband, I write about my anxiety and how I can’t people, or I write about how fat I feel and how much I know I need to get back on my treadmill.  Nothing in my writing aims to make you feel less than me because I do something a certain way, because lets face it, it’s likely that I do it wrong.  I don’t adult very well.

So, I’m not gonna shame you for wearing leggings as pants (or yoga pants) and showing your cute butt if you’re cool with it and it makes you happy.  I certainly will never get between you and whatever belief you have about alcohol and social drinking (or drinking in general) because your personal choices are not my business.  If you post selfies with mad cleavage, bikini shots, butt shots, whatever, good for you.  I’m not going to ask you not to do whatever you want to do on YOUR social media account to shield my husband’s pure eyes (puhlease!).  I’m not a Mommy so I’m NEVER going to say a word about parenting because I have no idea, and if I ever am, I’m not going to write anything shaming the childless for not understanding how difficult it is to never have any time.  I’m sure as shit not gonna write anything encouraging you to do your husbands laundry, because that man has two legs and two arms and that blog straight up killed me.

I can’t live in this “15 verses to pray for your husband when he makes you angry” Pinterest culture of marriage and relationships and interactions with people.  We are all different, and you guys, life is HARD.  Life is mean.  Life is good and beautiful and painfully unfair.  Because I drink a glass of wine on Friday nights and you don’t, it doesn’t matter.  Because you don’t wear things that show your butt because your husband doesn’t like it and I do, it doesn’t matter.  Just. Do. You.  Do what makes you happy, do what is right for you, and let that be that.  The implication of shame and underlying tone of superiority is killing us.

And you know what?  It’s so specifically between women.  We let these menial issues pit us against one another instead of lifting each other up.  As if we do not have enough negativity pressing against us, so we must be negative to one another?  Do you feel so insecure in your own choices and ideas that you have to belittle someone to validate yourself?  I don’t understand any of it.  Please know that I am not belittling you if you identify with anything I’ve mentioned, I am only stating that every single person is different and it is okay if someone isn’t living their life like your are living yours.  It doesn’t make them bad, less Christian, or less anything.  It makes them human.

I like cats.  I love talking about my husband because he’s funny, and not because I think I’m better than you because I have one.  I’m nobody’s Mother, but it doesn’t mean that I have all the time in the world and that I’m so free and life is so easy.  I eat too much and exercise too little.  I recently changed my anxiety medicine so I have more good days than bad, but I still have awful days.  Sometimes, I don’t like my job.  Sometimes, I don’t like myself.  Sometimes, I just want to go home and put on pajamas and hide away.

Happy 2016, y’all.  Be bigger, be braver, be better.  And ALWAYS be you.

put down the signs, cross over the lines and love like you did.

This started as a Facebook status and I quickly realized that it was going to be far too long and more blog-like than status-like.  I’ve struggled all week with wanting to write something on the subject of what’s happening in Johnson County Schools and the words have never come to me.  There have been moments of anger where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those.  There have been moments of pride where I didn’t care if I offended anyone, but I deleted those, too.  Honestly, today, I’m just very sad.  I’m hurt.  I’m broken for how this opportunity was twisted and wasted.  I’m worried for my sister and countless friends who teach in the public school system. I’m thinking about Tom Salyer and how he should’ve never been the one in this position considering the law is as old as I am.

I’m also incredibly mindful of Jesus Christ.

By the standards of a lot of folks reading this, I’m not a good Christian anymore.  When I married Chad, I requested my name be removed from the church I’d attended since birth because we are considered in adultery (by their understanding of scripture) as Chad was married once before me.  I guess that might be the root of my disillusionment with the church, I’m really not sure.  I am still very much a Christian.  I was baptized at 17 in a creek at the end of February.  I believe in and have felt God, and my soul is saved by Jesus Christ.  I have maybe been to church 5 times this year.  Maybe.  Almost every time I go, I hurt.  I feel left out.  I feel like an outsider. Not because I married a man who had previously been married, I am complete peace with that.  But, because I’m liberal, because I believe everyone is equal and deserves all the same rights protected by the government, because I believe in climate change and science, because I’m a *whispers* Democrat.  I was in a church earlier this year where the Pastor said from the pulpit that if you vote Democrat, you’ve probably already ‘backslidden’ and the congregation cheered.  I got up and walked out.  It destroyed me.  It hurt.  My salvation being in question because of how I vote is not funny to me and never will be.  So, maybe I’m not the person to be writing this at all.  Maybe I’m not as good as some of y’all.

So, when I see this uproar about Bible verses in public school plays and the rampant outcry to blame a certain family, to blame a certain belief, to ostracize those without belief, it cuts me.  Because I am the outsider now.  I am looking in, wondering where I belong, if anywhere.  I’ve always understood that the ultimate goal as Christians is supposed to be to bring others to Christ.  That one single solitary soul being lost to Hell should be enough to keep a Christian up at night.  That’s always how I have understood Jesus, His unending love and mercy, and His way.  In light of that notion, instead of hitting the picket line, should we have not hit our knees on the behalf of the lost?  Maybe I’m wrong and confused about how things work, and I’m open to that.  I’m open to the idea that I interpret things wrong.  But, the vitriol I have seen from Christians this week has been some of the most hurtful, painful stuff I have ever read.  Implying that those in the school system who are abiding by the law of the land are denying God and thus will be denied in Heaven, implying that those who aren’t picketing are ‘pathetic’ Christians.  It’s out of hand.  It’s embarrassing.  It is not Christ-like.

Federally funded public schools are not the place where one religion can be favored over another.  To put it simply: Were this situation different and your child or grandchild was asked by a Muslim teacher to read a verse from the Koran in a school endorsed play, you would be livid.  You are protected from that by the 1st Amendment just as the folks who don’t want their child taught Christianity in public school should be protected as well.  Period.  The first amendment also protects your right to teach your children as you please at home, just as my Mother taught me.  The concept is not difficult.  You are not being persecuted, and the last time I checked, should you believe in an all powerful, omnipotent Great Creator, you’d be hard pressed to take Him ‘out’ of anything anyway.  Tom Salyer is protecting his employees, and he’s doing the best he can.  He’s a human being with a heart, with a family, and he is not the enemy here.  Just a man doing his job.  A job he needs to pay his bills, to feed his family, and none of that seems to mean anything to those so enraged and calling for his job.  Senseless.

In a world outside of these hills, there are billions of people who don’t believe like you. They walk and they talk and they breathe just like you.  They have heartbeats and souls, they are happy, they are sad, they are broken, they are kind, they are alive.  They come in all shapes and sizes, all colors, all orientations, all backgrounds.  Nothing that happened this week in front of the Johnson County Board of Education brought anyone to see Jesus Christ as He really is.  The honk of you love Jesus narrative is beaten and broken and empty.  Service, kindness, and unrelenting love are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ that people crave and so desperately need.

Yes, you read that right. Unrelenting love.