28 June 2017

fear is not an option

As the first half of 2017 comes to a close,  (it's almost July, y'all!) I'm trying to take some time to reflect on this year. For those who know me, you know it's been tough. It started with my sweet boyfriend, R, having stomach problems which became a mass in his pancreas which became him being the youngest person to ever have a Whipple surgery* which became my boyfriend is the youngest person the Mayo Clinic knows with a pancreatic tumor.

*which resulted in 33 days in the hospital, multiple trips to the OR and several points when the doctors told us, "We just gotta pray.". Sometimes, faith goes further than medicine.

I'm not in the medical field. I'm not in the best shape or a health freak. But this year, 2017, has pushed and pulled me more than any year ever has.

We're now finishing month two of RG's chemotherapy treatments. Two weeks of pills and infusions, one week off. It's not easy. But he is strong and God is stronger and he has been there for us every step of the way. 

Through it all, we're having fun. We're loving every day together. We're enjoying life. We know how incredible life is. When he was in the hospital in February. RG promised to take me to see Beauty & the Beast in theaters. I'm a big fan. Several days after he left the hospital, we were at the theater, then went to my favorite Japanese restaurant and picked up some groceries at Kroger afterwards. It was one of the most special nights.

I'm facing the future with the mindset that the worst is behind us. Fear of the future is paralyzing and RG gives me nothing but hope. Fear is not an option. RG is finishing his MBA in August, and we have a lot of life that we're planning to live... in a big way.

I want to write. I want to be proud. I want to process my thoughts in a way that organizes them in my brain and makes them beautiful on paper. This is not a beautiful topic. It's messy, but I have to share because it's all love. Love is messy. Life is messy - but it's the best choice we have. 

03 November 2016

Clare's Podcasts Part I

This Summer, I started using that cute little purple app on my phone. Since then, I've laughed, cried, and learned a TON from Podcasts. My 45-minute commute to work is so much better. I have a pretty eclectic mix of Podcasts that I'm currently subscribed to, but here's my list of recommendations:


  • Some of these podcasts have been going for years. Don't go back to the beginning and try to listen to them all. Scroll through the feed, download the episodes of interest and start where you are. For newer podcasts with maybe 10 or less episodes, try to listen to them all. 
  • I started using the "Add to Up Next" feature recently and it has made the experience even better. All of my podcasts are in a playlist of sorts. I alternate between a funny one, serious, inspirational, and listen to several short episodes in a row. You can always move the order around but I typically have about 10 episodes in my Up Next queue. 

  1. Up and Vanished
    • My friend Lauren recommended this one several weeks ago and Up & Vanished has shot up the Top Charts on iTunes since. She'd grown up with the disappearance of Tara Grinstead as a Tifton, GA native. Now, there's new light being shed on the relatively cold case from Atlanta documentarian, Payne Lindsey. Between a mysterious fire several days after her disappearance to the local police reactions, this is a podcast to binge-listen. 
  2. Placemakers
    1. "Stories about the places we inhabit, and the people who make them". Slate Magazine, with help from JP Morgan Chase, has traveled throughout the country to spotlight inspiring stories of people who are making a real difference in their community. I enjoyed the episode about the development and renewal of East Lake, just east of Atlanta from one of the city's worst housing projects, to the revitalization from the East Lake Golf Course. An episode in Minneapolis focused on housing in aging LGBT communities. Listen to all these episodes, even the sponsored episode about Detroit. There's a lot of good people out there. Listen to them all. You'll be inspired. 
  3. Katie Couric
    • Katie Couric & Today Show were a part of my mornings for basically my whole childhood, so I love getting to connect with this smart, charming woman in a podcast. She hosts the show with a friend and former assistant, Brian. Their guests range from Julia Dreyfus to Thomas Friedman to Bob Costas. I really enjoy their conversations about society and politics. With less than 10 episodes total, go ahead and listen to the whole thing. 
  4. This Nashville Life
    • Country singer Kelleigh Bannen discusses her personal anecdotes and experiences while interviewing industry connections to discuss a different facet of life in the Music City. There's just 6 episodes, so if you're into country, Nashville or the hustle, listen to them all. 
  5. Embedded
    • Yet another fantastic NPR podcast where the hosts "go deep" on a subject. The episode titled "The League" about the NBA Development League is particularly interesting to me, but I've liked all the episodes. Currently on hiatus with more episodes coming soon. 
  6. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert
    • Magic Lessons has broken my heart and glued it back together over and over. Eat Pray Love and Big Magic author, Elizabeth Gilbert, uses her infinite wisdom with assistance from her friends to guide people who are stuck in their creative lives. She gives them advice and follows up after a few months. Their conversations are spectacular and the people are spectacular. Enjoy this piece of heaven. 
  7. Grace n Guts - Motivation & Encouragement
    • My former roommate Marci started this podcast several months ago! With several short episodes and a great in-depth episode with a career coach, Grace n Guts speaks to a lot of the themes in my life right now. I'm so proud of her! 
  8. Revisionist History
    • I listened to Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink on audiobook several years ago, and I loved the way he spoke his book. It felt like a radio show more than simply reading. With Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell journeys back in time and explains why the way we think it happened, may not be the way it actually happened. My favorite is episode is about Leonard Cohen / Jeff Buckley / Rufus Wainwright's heartbreakingly beautiful song Hallelujah. Let's just say, the world's lucky to have that song. Gladwell's in between seasons right now, but their episodes from Season 1 make me excited for what lies ahead. 

Alright, this was too much and I still have 12+ podcasts to talk about so this is all for Part 1. Part 2 coming soon. 

Comment with your favorite podcasts! 

14 August 2016

The Fear of Enough

Just about two years ago, I started learning Calligraphy from Anne Elser in a class at work. I've always loved words. I've always loved art and design, but I never thought of myself as an artist.

Full disclosure, my very first email address was creativeclare@aol.com. I was slightly embarrassed by that for years, but a look at the Instagram usernames of creativeclare pulls dozens of results. I should've stuck with my guns and started by brand as a 12-year-old. I find it very interesting that the parts of ourselves we most enjoy are the parts that have been there all along. 

Anne's class (and my constant exposure to fabulous artists who don't consider themselves artists) flipped this script on me. Writing with a pot of ink and a dip pen became meditative and soothing. I wrote words and sentences and names that made me feel joy in a way that looked pretty, too.

Still, it's something I've enjoyed for myself. I haven't been ready to share a lot of my work because I don't think it's good enough. But you know what? Other people think it's wonderful. They're blown away at the simple strokes and compound lines. I see uneven spaces, a shake in my hand during the upstroke.

Why do we become our own worst critics? Why do we let our insecurities about not being the best keep us from showing the world what we can do? Why can't we just embrace that we are enough?

A long-time friend is getting married in November and I'm addressing 81 envelopes for her big day. It's a honor I'm not taking lightly and I want her to be happy with the results. But even more, I want to be happy with the results. I worked maticulously on each one, spending about 10 minutes on each envelope. Around envelope 15, I realized I couldn't make every. single. envelope. perfect. I would be able to look back and critique each one and I had to let it go. But for the wedding guest, that card will bring a smile and maybe a bit of joy.

Time's going by too fast to risk holding back our talents for fear, certainly for fear of it not being good enough. 

05 August 2016

Whole30: Oh boy. What have I done?

Ugh. I feel pretty miserable as I type this. Not because I'm doing anything wrong, but because I'm trying to do something right and my body does. not. like. it.

I've never been good about disciplining myself with food. It's always been a reward for me. 

This Summer, let's just say I've rewarded myself in abundance. Between a cruise to the Bahamas, two trips to the Atlantic Coast and a trip to Detroit, I ate all the things. 

Between two doctors visits in May & July, I'd gained eight pounds. WHAT. 

So on August 1st, I began my first Whole30. No sugar, no grains, no dairy. No alcohol. Lots of no's to the things I love but I don't think love me back. 

Today is Day 5. I just feel yuck. Not getting much done at work, feeling antsy when I'm home reading a book. Definitely not enjoying walking past the bowl of candy at work. Definitely not enjoying the smell of pizza. 

From my little bit of research, here's what's happening: For a majority of the last 15 years, my body has run on sugar. My brain likes it when my body runs on sugar. Now, there's no sugar. My body think's there's no fuel. However, there is fat. Fat in the avocados, chicken, beef and plenty of protein to go around. I just have to wait for my body to realize that the fat is good and it's there to be used. 

In the meantime, I've made a lot of good meals. Last night was Carnitas with Guacamole and Cauliflower Rice. I'm enjoying Living Loving Paleo and the Whole30 emails. The first trip to the grocery store was overwhelming and over budget, but hey, think of all the money I'll save on restaurants this month. 

Luckily, Boyfriend is working the Whole30 with me. It definitely helps to have some accountability and support, especially from him. They say everything is easier after Day 10, but I know it will be a challenge every day of August. 

Here's to the next 25 days!