Monday, August 31, 2015

Hocus Focus & Black Pearl

Two years ago today, I adopted the Black Pearl. I had just moved back to Boone for my last semester of grad school, and at the time I was driving a silver Focus that I absolutely hated at first. It was hard to go from the sturdy Jeep Grand Cherokee that I used to romp in the mud with in high school and early college to a little lightweight Ford Focus. I was used to being high up and having an Infinity Gold sound system and having four wheel drive (I think my Myspace bio still says something about four wheel drive being essential to life 😂).  

My first year in Boone, my mom and I traded cars and I drove her Escape to the mountains and she took the Focus. My dad was actually at the Ford place getting a new car when I spotted the Black Pearl. I wasn't looking for a new car -- but it certainly would be nice to have my own car that would make it up the mountain, because the Focus would always die on the way up, which is why my mom and I traded 😂😂😂. 

So we were there, while my dad was signing papers for his car, and I saw the black beauty and walked across the parking lot to look at it. I had decided a while before that that I really liked my mom's Escape and wanted one of those for my next car, whenever that would be. But I didn't have a plan of when I'd start looking for one, really. 

It just happened. :)

I realized it was a Mercury Mariner, which was even snazzier! And it had a sunroof like I'd always wanted. And OH MY GOSH, SIRIUS RADIO. ... And "leather" seats. And four wheel drive. I was shocked. That's exactly what I wanted when I started looking, but I wasn't even looking and here it was! I just stumbled upon it, so to speak. 

Long story short, I bought the Black Pearl two days later. After two more fun nights with my beloved Focus, which I'd grown pretty fond of, for all the memories that it held for me over those past 2.5 years. I cried when I emptied it out, but the first time I drove to Boone in the Black Pearl was MAGICAL. 

I knew the day I saw her (it was a Thursday) that I would call her the Black Pearl if I bought her (and that I would smack a giant yellow glitter monogram on the back glass. GO APPS!). Obv my blog name is Sweet Southern Pearl (from the song "Carolina Girls") and pearls represent Alpha Chi Omega, and I just have always loved pearls in general, mostly thanks to my late grandmother. 

Me and Ashley blasted early 2000s hip hop on the way to and from Yum Yums to meet my brother and parents that next night in the Focus, and I drove her to Hangups for a shopping spree (whoops) the next day, and those were my last memories in her! 

I've had the Black Pearl for two years today and the memories I've made in her are COUNTLESS and so, SO precious. I often say I'm keeping her forever. I've put SO many miles on her, but if her little engine ever goes out, we will drop a new one in and keep going. 

I feel like sometimes the best things come when we least expect them... 
or when we aren't looking so hard... 





Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mountains, Valleys, Oceans, and Psalm 23

This morning in church our pastor talked about the 23rd Psalm. That passage has always been comforting to me, but has meant so much more since the passing of my grandmother and uncle. I remember sitting with my grandma on the day that she left this earth, reading Psalm 23 to her over and over again. It was meant to comfort her, but it comforted me also. It was a time of great despair and questioning and depression for me. 

We read the 23rd Psalm to my uncle in his last days. Same thing - it comforted us all. It gave us all hope. It will always remind me of two of the most precious people I've known and lost. 

Psalm 23 is meant to comfort us, and here are some notes I took this morning:

Whenever I hear the word "mountains," my ears perk up now. I haven't always loved the mountains, as many of you know. But my time in Boone was a mountaintop experience both literally and figuratively. The following year was a true valley experience. We have to have both in life. But being in the valley must mean that the mountaintop experience is coming sooner or later!

As me and Ashley were pulling into church this morning, KLOVE played "Oceans" by Hillsong, but right before the song, the DJ said she loves the song because it reminds us that we can trust our unknown future to a known God. I smiled. I love that. Every time I hear "Oceans," I think of the first time I heard it - at the first meeting I ever went to of my campus ministry at Appalachian. My future was so unknown and I was going through some stuff, and the song just comforted me so much. 

I still feel anxious about the future. I still want answers right now! But how awesome is it to know that God has it all under control and even on our darkest days or in our most questioning moments, we can rest in His embrace, knowing He's our shepherd and will take care of us no matter what. :)

A Psalm of David. 

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord



Sunday, August 23, 2015

Where There Was Pain...

This verse always gives me chills:

The Lord doesn't promise us a pain-free life, but what He does promise is that He will provide comfort in our pain. And like a mother going through the pain of childbirth, the pain in our lives gives way to rebirth and joy and new beginnings.

I can think of so many examples of this in my own life - dark situations that I had to go through until the "groanings" gave way to something wonderful and different.
The one at the forefront of my mind today, though, is my little cousin Connor. I got to spend some quality time with him today, and I love that kid. 
Connor was born right before my uncle Kenneth passed away last year. Kenneth battled with cancer, and it goes without saying that my family experienced some very dark days during that time. No one could ever, ever replace Kenneth. Not in a million years. But besides the comfort of knowing we will see him again one day, there was also the joy that came with a new baby being born into the family. A new little life - not to replace the one that was lost, but to provide a light in some gloomy days - to remind us all that God won't allow us to experience pain without also allowing something new to be born. 

I needed that reminder today.

"Where it was dark now there's light
Where there was pain now there's joy."


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Livin' on a Prayer

One of my New Years Resolutions this year was to work a lot harder to be in constant prayer. To avoid only coming to God in prayer when times are hard or when I need something. To thank Him for the little things that I take for granted. To take time to tell him that I trust Him. On Sunday night our pastor spoke about prayer, and I took these notes:

The sermon motivated me to try even harder to talk to God more throughout my day. It's so important to remember that we have constant access to God. And that nothing is too big for Him to handle. And that He wants us to cast our cares on Him! And that nothing that we worry about seems unimportant to Him. 

Just some thoughts for today, on my last day of summer break ( booooo )! 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

New Adventures / New Sneakers

Most people who know me know that I'm pretty obsessed with fashion (like to a fault), but that I really have a shoe fetish.
And many people know that a few years ago in graduate school, I decided to channel that shoe fetish into something productive and start writing a memoir about events in my life through the shoes I was wearing when they happened.
Sometimes I use this as an excuse to buy new shoes - because more writing material, right? 
I can justify it sometimes... and that's just what I did a couple days ago in Macy's in New York City. The nine floor Macy's that I was SO EXCITED to go into for the second time in my life.

So here's the beginning of the story of the shoes I got at Macy's:

I don't think I would've ever seen them had we not had to go to the bathroom so badly. Literally the four of us - Joellyn, Ashley, Carol, and I were running through the men's section, then the shoes, searching for a bathroom because the one at TGI Friday's was a one-person bathroom and who has time for that when Macy's is around the corner???
Shoes were catching my eye as we ran by - wedges, sparkly heels, booties with fringe, UGHH!!! But we were about to explode.
Finally, we found a nice Macy's employee who told us the restroom was right by the Finish Line section. After everyone relieved themselves, we stood around in the Finish Line section for a minute and in that minute, a pair of New Balance sneakers called my name. Loud and clear. Ohhhh man they were fresh.

I've been in the market for new tennis shoes, but haven't had the time to properly search for some. Since it's important to have good support when working out, and sneakers are more expensive than most other shoes I'd buy, and because I really only need one pair, I wanted to take my time in finding the perfect ones. The ones I always wear are Nikes from like four years ago, and they're still in good shape, but they're getting a little worn, and I heard it's good to switch it up kinda frequently. So I have been planning to find the perfect new ones but there are SO many color combinations and brands and... I got a headache just thinking about it.

ANYWAY, when I saw these particular shoes, I immediately knew I didn't have to look at all. Like there was no question, I wanted to try these on and buy them. 
(Sometimes in life that's how it is, and I love when it's like that because I'm such an indecisive person when it comes to the small things, and I frustrate myself being that way! So it's really nice when I see something I know I have to have and I don't have to think about it. Like how I've always wanted to teach at Southwest and when offered the job I immediately accepted with no hesitation, or how I didn't even go car shopping with the Black Pearl; I randomly saw it and test drove it and knew it was everything I've always wanted and I bought it the next day. Sometimes you don't have to look around.)

And ever since I started my memoir, I am very intentional with the shoes I wear and when I wear them and when and where I buy shoes. I know that sounds weird, but I'm actually very intentional with a lot of things I do, and most have good or special reasons - even down to my choice of clothing. And I enjoy being this way even if it's weird.

So with all these thoughts swimming in my head, I told myself that buying my next pair of sneakers would be ten times cooler if I bought them in the nine floor Macy's on an amazing New York City trip with great friends, right before I started a new chapter in life with a new job ahead of me etc etc.
I've literally wanted a pair of New Balances since high school, and once I tried them on, I realized they are my high school colors, which are now the colors of the school I'll be teaching at because it's the same school. 
"I can wear them to work on school spirit days!" I thought.
Done! I bought those mint green, black, and white gems and felt great about it. They already had a story and I couldn't wait to wear them and have tons of adventures in them to write about.

Today I broke them out and the first place I wore them to was lunch with Michael, our mother, and our Granny. We went to a Chinese place and my brother and I were laughing and making up stupid (but creative) stories about raccoons (Granny's house got invaded by raccoons last month-long story hahah) and enjoying life and the gentleman behind us (who had been eating by himself) got up and informed us that our raccoon stories were so vivid and funny that they made his day. He went on and on about how great it was to see people being joyful and creative and ended up paying for our meal! We couldn't stop laughing because Granny wasn't amused (still traumatized from the real-life raccoon ordeal) but it really was a sweet event.

The next place I wore the shoes was to my NEW job / old high school.
My mom and brother helped me carry boxes of stuff from my old classroom into the new one - the one that I had 11th grade English in. I'm gonna write more about that later, because I'm going to need a whole post for how I feel about that room!
I will say, though, that going in there was so natural. Just like going home. And not a comfort zone feeling - like a challenging but comforting feeling. If that makes any sense at all. 
Before we left, I had my brother take a picture of me in my new classroom - the classroom where it really all started for me. And obviously I'm super excited about it. I was cheesin' hard. In my new shoes. In my classroom. With a window. And the excitement, mystery, and promise of a new year of growth, memories, challenges, and triumphs. 

Throughout the rest of the day, the more I thought about it, the more my hasty shoe decision started to make sense to me. I could've easily been attracted to another brand, but I think that the name 
"New Balance" in itself is enough. Like that might sound dumb, but really... I'll still wear my old sneakers, but they have been through so much with me that I kind of want to leave behind, because they've served their purpose and now I'm starting new chapters and adventures in my life. 

So a fresh pair that literally and figuratively provides "new balance" for my new adventures and my new perspectives and reaching new heights makes perfect sense!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I just found this and realized I never published it.

I started this post in mid-June. it was right before school got out for the summer.

All I had on here were the pictures. So I'm gonna take a guess at what I was going to write about them. 
Here goes.

So apparently two of my gel nails peeled off and I thought it was necessary to share with the world that I put glitter polish on those two nails so they wouldn't be bare.
(I was at work when I took this picture. Getting so much done, obviously.)

Emotions were running high. That day, one of my students wrote this on my board:

I chilled with Emery. I went to Bath and Body Works and *accidentally* bought a lot of stuff in summer scents to kick off the upcoming break.

This stuff is LIFE though:

And I believe this is the last outfit snap I took in the Andrews staff bathroom:

Funny --- today --- a month and a half later, I went to Andrews and got the last of my stuff to move out. I left my classroom empty and it was very bittersweet.


Word vomit

So on Thursday evening (July 30th), I drove to Boone, went shopping downtown, and then met my family at the apartment that my brother lived in (that we had both lived in for a year together, and he lived in after I left) because they were packing it up and he was moving out the next day. We all had dinner at our favorite Mexican place and then me and my brother went back to the apartment while my parents and sister went back home to HP. I spent one last night in that apartment, that had been a vital part of my life in Boone and growth. So many memories...
Driving home the next day, I cleverly used voice-to-text to write the following. I have not edited it - I think unadulterated "word vomit" is good sometimes. Especially in times like these, when life is overwhelming in good and hard ways, and you just need to get it all out.


It was just an overwhelming feeling. I had so many emotions that I couldn't even identify them all. I went in my old empty room and saw the bathroom and the feeling came over me that I didn't expect to feel exactly. Everything seemed just the way I had left it when I moved out. And it seemed like no time had passed since I have left. Yet a whole year has passed. In that year I have completed my first year of teaching. I have learned even more about the Lord. I have made so many new friends. And I came back to that room after doing all of those things that I was so scared to do last time I was in that room. Last time I was in that room I laid in bed for hours and hours because I was so scared to start teaching. I felt like there was nothing else for me besides what was in Boone. Thankfully I was wrong. I have met so many cool people in this past year and it was really neat to just come back to the same place where I started last summer with a newfound faith that God will take care of me in any situation, no matter how scary it seems.

I fell asleep on the floor for a little while and then I had to get up at about 11:30 and go to Walmart. My parents had accidentally packed up my pillows and blankets that I used when I slept there overnight. So I had to go buy a pillow and a blanket. Going in Walmart, or going anywhere in Boone for that matter, it feels like I still live there. It truly is a second home to me. The mountains provide so much comfort and so much hope for my soul. 

I was laying in the recliner at about 1:30 AM last night and I couldn't fall asleep. The last thing I remember is picking up my phone to blog a little bit but obviously I fell asleep. I just had all these thoughts racing through my head. Memories of the past two years that we spent in that apartment were going crazy in my mind. It hurt, but it's also very happy. Now we have those memories to cherish forever. My brother is moving to a new apartment. We will make memories in that apartment, and I do plan on buying a mountain house one day LOL. 

These thoughts are jumbled, but it's OK. These thoughts caused me to have jumbled up dreams. LOL. I had dreams this morning about church, Southwest high school, and many of my friends. That was the last night that I will ever spend in apartment 204. And I got busy today in Boone and didn't have time to go back and say goodbye. I have to drive home because I have to be somewhere. But maybe it's better this way. I walked out of the apartment this morning in the same Rainbows that I walked into the apartment for the very first time in, almost two years ago. In the same Rainbows I walked up and down King Street, shopping and taking in the mountain air. Those same Rainbows are the ones that I broke in walking up and down King Street with my feet bleeding. LOL. 

Now I am supposedly a professional adult LOL. As I was at Alex's new place of employment with her the other day, reality hit me hard. It seems like just yesterday, but it was 10 years ago, that we used to hang out and talk about what life would be like in 10 years. Now she has her first school counseling job and I am about to start teaching at the high school that we were at when we used to dream about the next 10 years. Even after one year of teaching I don't feel like I'm capable of handling such a young minds and helping mold them. Alex and I have both been given such a huge responsibilities. I don't know why I'm thinking about this, these are just my thoughts driving home from Boone.

I am truly a ball of emotions right now, so please excuse me LOL