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On Waiting.

“If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll spend our whole lives waiting.” – Lemeny Snicket

The easiest lie for me to buy into is that someday I’ll be ready and then I can begin. But a whole lot of life is happening until then.

That’s the extent of my deep thoughts today.

Fearless

And so 2013 has been around for some 9 days. And I’ve spent that last 9 days thinking hard about the upcoming year. What I want to do more of (write, listen to music, create, connect) and what I want to do less of (watch tv, sleep). All of this is well and good and pretty par for the course for me. New year. New thoughts. A new chance to try to be more. I usually walk away from the New Year with lists. Lists that I think will save me. Lists that I think will cure aches of loneliness that come with being alive for very long in this world.

But, strangely, blessedly, I didn’t get that this time. Somehow, during a car driving, thinking session, amidst all the shoulds and goals and what nots, one word drifted to the top. And I knew that one word was mine.

Fearless.

I am a lot of things, but I don’t think that fearless is one of them. At least, I don’t think it is something that comes naturally to me.

Honestly, I don’t really know what this will look like. This fearlessness. But, I do know this. It will mean saying yes to somethings that I would have said no to. It will mean choosing not to indulge the voice in my head that tells me not to try something I might not be good at, not to say something that may sound dumb, not to love when I might be brokenhearted. I think it will look a lot like what Brene Brown tells us that courage meant at one time – telling your whole story with your whole heart. I think it has something to do with the reminder we get in 1 John 4:18 about perfect love casting out fear because fear has to do with punishment. I think it has to do with a lot of things that I don’t even know yet.

So, I’m going to do things a little differently this year. I’m going to let go of the trying to earn my worth by doing the things I think I should. I’m going to instead, try to inhabit my life. Live all the way out to the edges. I’m going to find my own brand of fearless and I’m going to wear it out and do nothing more.

Best of 2012: Books

To continue on with the lists I’m making out the wazoo this time of year – to the books. Since I’m in Grad school, I don’t get to read a whole lot for fun, but when I get to, I read them voraciously. So, here they are.

1. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Both because they are a part of a trilogy and because I read them so quickly, I can’t always remember where one ended and one began. Still, this book is YA gold. THG left an empty void in my heart this year, and this more than filled it. I can’t wait for the final installment!

2. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner. Dr. Lauren F. Winner is one of my she-roes. I re-read Girl Meets God every year and recommend it as often as I can. She hasn’t had a book out in a few years, so I was excited about reading her again. This is about the aftermath of her divorce in regards to her faith. It’s a quiet sort of book, but still has the intelligent, profound, poetic wisdom that she always has.

3. Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin. These books are epic. I have taken a long break before settling back into book 4 because of the intensity of book 3. Also, they are books I can’t multi-task read with, so that limits the times I can commit to 1000 page books. If you don’t want to devote to the prolific series, then I highly recommend the HBO show. The books have great character development, though they can drag at times (I guess having 150 characters requires a lot of set up).

4. Columbine by Dave Cullen. A journalistic and detailed account of the Columbine shooting. Interesting and devastating.

5. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. This was a book I had to read for my 21st Century class. It is a tricky novel – it jumps around from characters and time and point of view and never really connects in the way that you want it to (oh and one chapter is in Power Point), but Egan pulls it off. Certainly not for everyone, but incredibly fascinating.

6. Along the Watchtower by Constance Squires. Another book from 21st Century lit. This book is snap shots from an army brat coming of age. It’s poetic and full of rebellion, rock n’ roll, and complicated families – like all good books, right?

7. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. Jen is hilarious and honest. This book is her 7 month fast and contemplation about excess. I laughed. I cried. I cringed. And it made me think a lot about what it means to live simply in America.

8. 9 Stories by J. D. Salinger. I adored Catcher in the Rye but hadn’t read many of Salinger’s short stories. What can I say? He’s brilliant.

9. MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. This was a quick read, but informative and thoughtful. Bertsche was hilarious at times commenting on finding friendship like first dates and it definitely touches a note to that strange post-college, professional life, making new friends conundrum.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison. Another book I read for class (Southern Women’s Writers). A lot of people have said a lot of things about Beloved and Morrison,  and I’ll just add to the chorus. She is a brilliant, brave, and wise woman.

11. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. One of the books on writing. Short, easy paragraphs. Full of gems. A must for writers.

12. Why is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. This book made me want Mindy as a new best friend. She is hilarious. Witty. This book can easily be devoured in an afternoon. The book is like a long conversation with your best friend.

Looking forward to in 2013: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist, Detergent by Veronica Roth, and reading all of Jane Austen novels.

Best of 2012: Music

I can’t help but to love this time of year in the blog world for all the recap posts. They may be cheesy, but this girl loves them. There is something about taking account the past year as the new one approaches. So, here’s my contribution to the bunch.

Music:

1. The Avett Brothers Concert, July 27 @ Chesapeake Energy Arena. One of the best concerts I’ve been to. There was no opener, so the bros played for two glorious hours straight. After the concert, I just went home and laid in bed reliving all my favorite moments. Utter perfection. Highlights: Murder in the City and Tear the House Down

TAB!

c/o Lindsay Eckert

2. The Lumineers by The Lumineers. I just got this CD this month, but it still makes my list. Upbeat, cheeky, and one of the 2 CDs (save musical soundtracks) that the little sister and I can agree on. Highlights: Ho Hey, Classy Girls, Stubborn Love

3. The Head and the Heart Concert, Sept. 30 @ Cain’s Ballroom, Tulsa, OK. Completely worth the late night Sunday drive and Monday sleep deprivation. The last time I did that was for HP7B, so clearly my love for The Head and the Heart is deep. The energy that night was incredible. Highlights Rivers & Roads, Down in the Valley, T is for Texas (Tulsa) cover

4. The Carpenter by The Avett Brothers. 2012 was a year of deep love for the bros. This CD was no exception and the sole comfort to my prolonging buying Mumford’s sophomore album based on fear that it would be a horrible disappointment. This CD didn’t leave my car CD player much this fall. It reaches perfection at 1:29 of Through My Prayers. Highlights Through My Prayers, The Once and Future Carpenter, A Father’s First Spring

5. Babel by Mumford and Sons. This was a huge source of anxiety for me for weeks. A sophomore album can be a huge let down and the intensity which I loved Sigh No More cannot be emphasized. So, I intentionally avoided buying this CD for weeks. However, turns out, I didn’t have anything to worry about. While it is not a huge departure from SNM, it is exactly what I wanted in a sophomore album. Highlights Lover of Light, Ghosts That We Knew, Reminder

6. Les Miserables, Oct. 13, The Civic Center Music Hall, OKC. Are there any words for the magic of Les Mis live? No. Highlights, I Dreamed a Dream, On My Own, singing everything I said for the two hours after the show

7. Hell on Heels by The Pistol Annies. Though a 2011 album, I added in because 2012 was the year I finally embraced a love for country music, and I didn’t think that putting Jenny’s “The Big 2-5 Country CD” really would count. Highlights Hell on Heels, Boys from the South

8. “The Big 2-5 Country CD” compiled by Jenny Fish. I know I just it didn’t count, but then I remembered I was making the rules. This CD is all Jenny’s favorite country songs that I could handle as a newbie. Her bread and butter is 90s country, so Garth, George, Alan, all made the CD, along with a bunch of Texas country. This CD was my country education. Highlights She’s Like Texas is the one that changed it all, and of course, Oh Tonight

9. There’s No Leaving Now by The Tallest Man on Earth. This always makes me think of lonely autumn days and black and white movies. Highlights 1904

10. Every Kingdom by Ben Howard. Soundtrack for the winter, for rainy days, or anytime you are feeling particularly thoughtful or quiet. Highlights Old Pine and The Wolves

11. Bear’s Den, Nathaniel Rateliff, The Staves, [Ben Howard], March 19 @ The Blue Door, OKC. This was maybe the most perfect concert, peaceful, well lit, intimate for Bear’s Den, Nathaniel Rateliff (save the douchey comments about Oklahoma), and The Staves. Then some other dude came on who was not with the Austin to Boston Communion Tour and the show went downhill. Singing angry songs about God, making awkward comments about sex, that song about the GI Bill? Not a great idea. Abigail and I left before Ben Howard (depressing, I know), but that’s just because we’re too old for Tuesday night concerts. Highlights The Staves’ harmonies, and that GI Bill song for the endless fodder it has provided for Abigail and I

12. My Head is an Animal by Of Monsters and Men. I can listen to this album over and over again. It feels like the best of all the saddest things. Highlights Little Talks, Love Love Love, Dirty Paws

I have a good feeling about 2013.

After pulling a left, left turn during morning rush hour, to assuage the startled white truck who seemed not to understand my awesomeness:

“Don’t worrry, that move is sanctioned by the American government.”

Courage

The illustrious Brene Brown* defines courage as, “sharing your whole story with your whole heart.” I think this is the most beautiful definition, erradicating ideas of faultless strength and heroics as an ideal to seek, and instead posturing that life is simply about, inhabiting your story, and doing such will do something magical in your life and those around you.

My friend, Chris, and I had a conversation on Saturday about blogging, specifically whether it is possible to have a blog that is 100% honest, good and bad. I, of course, being the Debbie that I am, said it wasn’t possible. How can you paint a full picture of a person in just this format? Not that you can’t get a good picture, and not that you can’t be honest, but 100%, I just don’t know.

But, then I’ve been thinking about what Brene (we are BFFs, I call her Brene, ok?) says and I’ve been thinking about my own life. 100% honest or not, this is just one of the many opportunities I have to inhabit my story, to tell it with my whole heart.

I’m not very good at this. I mean, I can be, but my default is much more…how do you say in a way that makes me seem awesome still…secretive and deflective. I am great at listening. At talking about you. But, myself? Insert self-depricating joke and change the subject. I mean, I’m not saying I don’t talk about myself, it’s just not always my instinct.** But, Brene makes me want to be a better person, because that’s what BFFs do.

What would happen if we all lived that courageously?

*You are welcome I’m sorry to everyone who has heard me obsess about her in conversation for the past few weeks. No, I’m not.

**Before I sound humbler and holier than you, I should tell you, I think about myself plenty. My not talking about myself isn’t a sign of selflessness, that’s for sure.

This summer has been beautiful for many reasons – we’re not yet in 100 degree weather, I get half days on Fridays, and thus have started napping again (napping, I feel so luxe every time I take a nap), and most and best of all, I have so very much time to read.

During the semester, I get to read. I get to read Shakespeare plays, Southern Women writings, literary theory (oh joy), and sometimes I have the brain power afterwards to read a magazine. But, non-class related reading? A thing of fiction. So this summer, I’m soaking it up. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords from A Song of Fire and Ice series by George R. R. Marin: Y’all. Have you seen Game of Thrones on HBO? That is where this started. Last summer, I watched, marathon, skipping meals, social events, and personal hygiene to watch the 10 episode HBO series. And it is epic. So, over Christmas Break, I read Game of Thrones (the first book in the series). The characters are so rich and there are so many characters. That can be a little hard to keep up with, but I love these books. ASOS was emotionally exhausting to the point that I am taking a short hiatus before continuing with the 4th book. I recommend this book even if you aren’t a fan of fantasy (which I am generally not). Deep characters, fantastic plots. I feel almost like it is really good historical fiction about power, family, honor, love, and a vast array of other things humans deal with.

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker: I have read a little bit of Jen Hatmaker before, but this might be my favorite of hers. She is, first of all, hilarious. Reading her book is like having a conversation with a friend. The premise of the book is: she tired of the excess of American culture and what it has done to her heart, so for 7 months she takes a different area of excess (food, clothing, media, etc) and does a 7-related fast for it. It is hilarious and insightful and will ruin your life a little bit. In a good way.

Columbine by Dave Cullen: In the style of In Cold Blood, Cullen examines the Columbine shootings over a decade after they happen. He looks at the days leading up to the shootings, stories of survivors and victims and families, media coverage, police and FBI investigations, and the shooters. The journalistic style of the story, for me, made it less chilling then the situation maybe should have been, but thank goodness because I was emotionally spent after the whirlwind of ASOS. I was 12 when the Columbine shootings occurred, and didn’t remember much, but turns out, most of what I remembered was wrong. I found his profile of the shooters and how the media covered the event to be the most interesting.

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore: I read this book pretty quickly, but dang, let me just say it is challenging to my thoughts about homelessness and friendship. It is a story about two unlikely friends, an international art dealer from Ft. Worth and a modern day slave and also about God. I cried like 7 times.

Currently reading: Kisses from Katie, In Defense of Food, A Feast of Crows, and always reading The Wisdom of the Enneagram


con·fet·ti

  [kuhn-fet-ee for 1; It. kawn-fet-tee for 2]

      plural nounsingular con·fet·to [It. fet-taw]

1. Complete, unadulterated joy. In the form of BabyGirlJuneBug, dance parties, laughing until you cry, best friends, and wine in celebration.

2. The little pieces of life that sing you to sleep when you need a break, a little break from this weary life, and stick in your hair long after the celebration is over.

See also: sparkling magic, fireflies, gratitude, and deep hope

Ha, trick.

After much thoughtful deliberation, I’m just going to plunge back into blogging and I need to keep this blog for some reason. My original. Ok, let’s be honest, my original blog was xanga and you are welcome for that link and a little insight into Whitney Jones, circa 2003.

So, I’ve been putting off blogging again because of this enormous pressure I was putting on myself to have just the greatest come back post. It would wisely explain why I’d been gone and cleverly entice you back into reading. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works and instead I am going to tell you about why the alarm on my phone is ruining my life.

I have a horrible habit of setting my alarm for so very much earlier than I will get up. I mean, in an ideal world, I would get up 2 1/2 hours before I needed to be somewhere. I cherish slow mornings. This might happen in real life if I never had to leave the house before 11. But, since I don’t get to live in that parallel universe, I just set my alarm really early and reset it and hit snooze a lot.

Regardless of what “science” might suggest, this has worked for me. I have been doing this for so long and I just know. I can reset alarms in my sleep and add 9 minutes to weird times without waking up. I was making it work, ok?

Until I got this new phone. Well, guess what new phone does? When my alarm goes off and a little thing pops up with the options of “Snooze” or “Dismiss” it shows me the time I set my alarm for. So, it is not until I hit whichever button my heart desires (read: the snooze button) and then it tells me the real time.

95% of the time I close my eyes before I finish hitting snooze. You have to use every second, you know? Usually, I reset my alarm for my final wake up call, so I don’t get stuck in a snooze cycle of regret, but this week so far my alarm is up on tricking me 2-0.

I bet you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seats for just such a post. You’re welcome.

“If you see me getting smaller, I’m leaving, don’t be grieving, just gotta get away from here. If you see me getting smaller, don’t worry, and no hurry, I’ve got the right to disappear.” – Waylond Jennings*

Ok, I’m not disappearing entirely, just from this blog. You can find me here: http://www.whitneyand.blogspot.com/

*I don’t want to make anyone falsely impressed by my knowledge of country music, which is rather limited, though slowly growing. I only know this song because of Country Strong.