Messy Jessy

enjoying the beautiful mess that is life

20 Things My 20’s Have Taught Me August 8, 2013

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 9:11 pm
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Ever since I turned 25 almost 5 years ago, I’ve dreaded turning thirty. Some how being in my late 20’s felt like death march to 30. Within the last few months, that’s changed. I”m not dreading turning 30, In fact, I’m embracing it and slightly excited. And it’s not just because I’m having an awesome 80’s-themed birthday party Saturday night.

As I have been thinking over the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reflecting as I close the chapter on the decade of my 20’s.

Here’s 20 Things My 20’s Have Taught Me:

  1. Grandparents are a treasure. Having lost all three of my grandparents in my 20’s, I treasure every minute and memory with them. Get to know them as more than just your “grandparents”. Know how they first fell in love over a bottle of Coca-Cola  or that funny story about the time a drunk guy rode a horse into the bar.
  2. Work hard but not too hard. It’s great to be driven and have goals, but don’t get lost in the rat-race to “success”. I’ve lost my self a few times, but having people in your life to remind you what really matters is important. I am a human BEing not a Human DOing.
  3. Friends come and go, but hold tight to those who stick around. Some friendships are a matter of a convenience and circumstances (same major in college, same team at work), but those who love you no matter what and chose to do life with you are rare treasures!  You need a close friend or two who will you call you out  on your crap and be there to listen to the deepest wanderings of your heart.
  4. Deal with it. Life happens and you’re figuring out who the “real” you is. If you are “stuck” with yourself or you need help dealing with things, don’t be embarrassed to see a counselor and work through whatever it is.
  5. Your faith is will be tested and stretched, but it will grow. God is big enough to handle your doubts, your questioning, and your wanderings. Don’t give up – keep searching and you’ll find a stronger and purer faith on the other side of the desert.
  6. Pursue your dreams. The only person standing in the way of your dreams is you. Don’t be scared – go for it! You can do anything you set your mind to.
  7. It’s a really awesome thing when your parents become your friends. They’re smart – way smarter than you realize. And better yet, it’s a beautiful thing when they can become your “friends” and you enjoy hanging out with each other.
  8. Life isn’t always fair and every day is a gift. It sounds cliche but it’s true. There will be people taken from your life suddenly and you too soon, but always look for the beauty and signs of hope in each day. Don’t take people for granted and always let them know how much they’re loved!
  9. Give back. Learn how to live generously on whatever you have to give – not just money, but your time, energy, talents!
  10. Learn how to let go and forgive. People will hurt you. People will disappoint you. They’re human after all! The quicker you can forgive and move on – the better things can be.
  11. Out of our deepest pains, beauty and growth emerges. Not easy to swallow or see in the moment, Some of the toughest situation offer you the opportunity to grow, if you allow it.
  12. Forget the 5 year plan. It’s great to have a game plan and goals, but don’t get so caught up  in the “what’s next” you forget the “what’s now”. Enjoy whatever season of life you’re in and be open to the “life lessons” you’re learning.
  13. Your spouse is an introvert. It took me a few years to realize this as an off the charts extrovert. Give him his space and “me time” to re-charge and don’t be insecure or think something is wrong.
  14. Social media is awesome, but be conscious of your social-foot print. It’s more permanent than a tattoo. Don’t post or say anything you’d be ashamed of for a future employer or grandchild to see.
  15. Be quick to say “I was wrong” when you really were. You’re not always right and don’t know everything. When you’re wrong – own it and learn from it!
  16. Babies are easier for some people to have than others. I always thought (see #12) I’d be done having kids by 30, but things just haven’t worked out that way!
  17. Love is more than a feeling; it’s a choice and a commitment. Some days you don’t “feel in love”, but in the end you can always choose to find your way back together. Don’t buy into a Hollywood notion of love and romance. A real love story is way more messier, but also so much deeper and beautiful.
  18. Life isn’t all about you. Invest in others and their success. When you want what’s best for others, it brings out the best in you
  19. Learn to love yourself. Find out who you really are and embrace it. Put away the negative self-talk and embrace every aspect of you. If you’re not good to yourself, how can you expect anyone else to be good to you? If there are characteristics and habits you really don’t like, decide to change them.
  20. It’s more about your perspective and attitude than your circumstances.  You can’t always choose your circumstances, but you can always choose your attitude. This makes the difference in life!

And with that my friends… I’ll toast to the next decade of my 30’s! Grateful for every bit of life and lesson I’ve learned.


How Social Media (Almost) Ruined My Life April 14, 2013

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 7:50 pm
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I wrote a draft of this post a few weeks ago after taking a break for a week from all forms of social media to spend more time in contemplation. After spending this past weekend “unplugged” in the mountains with my family, I decided now would be a great time to post and end my long blog silence. 

I honestly love social media (Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc) for several reasons. It’s definitely a great avenue to keep up with friends that you’re not able to see on a regular basis and share life moments together that may otherwise go missed. With all of the glory of social media, there’s definitely a down side. I remember this Fall I was back home in my small hometown in Georgia at a Friday night high school football game when one of my parents’ friends told me how beautiful my new house was. It struck me a little strange because my first question was, “How did they see my house in Charlotte?”  when it dawned on me — Facebook.

In so many ways I feel like Facebook gives us a false sense of community and closeness. There’s definitely something to be said for posting your life through status updates, pictures, and check-ins to the world in a pretty and filtered fashion. Doing real life together is not near as glamorous as the cutest and craftiest creation on pinterest that puts Martha Stewart to shame or having random people post on your wall once a year for your birthday. In several ways Facebook is not only a time suck, but a creativity suck. How can I express and impress “friends” in a few letters to show how cool/fabulous/smart/fill in the blank? I feel in some ways, social media takes “keeping up with Jones’ ” to a whole new level.

I worry about how freely we share the most intimate details of our lives for the world to see. In browsing facebook, you can find out personal information that would have taken a Private Investigator a while to figure out pre-Facebook world. In 2 minutes,  you know can find out where Meredith went on vacation this week (even with the location stamp!- scary!), pictures of that scandalous Halloween party, and update on that old acquaintance from college (She’s currently 4 cm dilated and should be having her baby very shortly — with pictures to soon follow!)

I’m not trying to be negative or overdramatic. I read someone I follow on twitter the other day state that we’re the first generation to be able to leave a “digital foot-print” and wondering out loud what our Grandkids will think of us when they go through all of our old Facebook status updates and tweets. This was the first time I’d thought about a digital legacy of short for my someday kids and their kids to follow and see.

For me social media became a coping mechanism of sorts. When things were crazy at work and I needed a stress break – I’d find myself making a trip to the handicap stall to read people’s Facebook posts since the last time I’d checked (probably a few hours ago before I’d left my house for work). When I was bored and “vegging” out at the end of the day – I’d distractedly watch TV and  surf Facebook and Twitter from on the couch. This was a great way to escape a meaningful conversation with my husband and drift in and out of surface level thoughts.

I always strive to live an authentic and open life. There’s definitely a level a trust that comes in real community that has to be earned.  I want to know my friends and be known more beyond just my facebook posts and thoughts/musings tweeted in 140 characters or less. I want to be known as the girl who eats a protein shake (on a “good day) or fast food (on a “bad day”) for dinner out of exhaustion and isn’t making a yummy, photo-worthy meal from pinterest to be shared on Facebook or Instagram. I need people who check in with me and don’t just assume everything is great based on my statuses or pictures of life. And I need people who need me to do the same things for things. Hold honest heartfelt conversations. Sit with during dark nights of the souls. All the while enjoying the beauty and awesome times that life brings too.

If you haven’t seen the 15 Things White Girls Do on Facebook (or even if you have) check it out for some much needed humor!


The Whirlwind July 18, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,family,reflections,Travel — Jess @ 9:16 pm

There’s so much to blog about… the past three weeks have been a whirlwind and a bit of a blur! I’ve gotten to spend time with some of the people I love the most celebrating friendship, the 4th of July, Road Trips with Mom to Philly, another grad school residency, a baby shower for my sister and soon-to-arrive niece Adelyn Parker, and much more!

There’s certainly blogs and pics to come, it just may be a while!

The time that I normally devote to blogging has been replaced with school work again. I”m choosing
 to doing to “introspective blogging” — meaning focusing more on cultivating my inner and spiritual life. I’ve been “blogging”, but more in the sense of writing journals and reflecting. There may be some “real blogs” that result but my thoughts are too raw and beginning to come to surface.

I’m thankful for the people in my life that keep me from floating just on the surface of living
and help pull me into the deeper waters of the soul and living.


July 1, 2012

Filed under: Backyard Garden,life,reflections — Jess @ 11:53 am
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Little by little, inch by inch
We built a yard with a garden in the middle of it
And it ain’t much, but it’s a start
You got me swaying right along to the song in your heart

– “A Face to Call Home” – John Mayer


Ode to the Blue Terd May 21, 2012

Filed under: family,New Girl in Town,random,reflections — Jess @ 7:27 pm
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The Blue Terd, my affectionate name for my 2001 Honda Civic, and I shared a momentous moment last Friday in the middle of  rush-hour traffic Interstate 85. I considered pulling over to have a moment, but alas the concrete construction barricades prevented that from happened. So instead I decided to snap a quick picture in observance! (For my Mom and other concerned drivers, traffic was at a [almost] standstill at this point)

We have made it to 170,000 miles together!  Oh the miles we have covered together!

The summer after Sophomore year spent driving through the back roads of Kentucky with the sunroof down falling in love with John Mayer. All of the miles spent driving back and forth on the weekends to see my love. All of the body work done over the years as a result of JT’s fabulous driving record (backing into a mailbox, pulling out into oncoming traffic while parallel parked on a side street …). All of the trips down the I-75 corridor from Lexington to Cordele. The “infamous” Coke battle in the Cracker Barrel parking lot with the stains still on the roof to prove. My own personal Karaoke bar – sans the alcohol of course. Driving to Texas for the best “road trip” into married life. Drives along the county roads in East Texas while quickly discovering Insurance Sales was not my life calling.  Packing up the car with no room for any.thing.else. on the final trip leaving Texas.  The days gone by of filling up the tank for less than $15 that now costs over $40, but it still gets 34 miles to the gallon! Moments when I’ve wanted to literally run away, but a good drive on a back road helped clear my mind and bring me back to sanity.

Although there are cracks in the paint job, the CD player has long been in working order, the driver’s window works some of the time, the gorilla glue where the roof lining meets the back window — all of these are signs of a much-loved and used car. Even though the new car bug bit me a few months ago, the new car payment reality prescription has worked quite well!

Here’s to you Blue Terd and hoping to make it to 200,000 together with a few more miles and memories to go!


The Gift of the Sea May 13, 2012

Filed under: family,life,reflections — Jess @ 8:26 pm

“We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, and relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb … Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now”

— Anne Marrow Lindbergh – The Gift of the Sea


The Parable of the Lost Keys April 6, 2012

Filed under: random,reflections — Jess @ 2:23 pm
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Last Friday I was racing around the house getting ready to leave for work and could not find my keys. No big – I’d check my purse, then the key holder (obvious choice, but often under-utilized), the kitchen counter – still no keys. I decided to search the not so obvious places: yesterday’s pants, the coach cushions, JT’s nightstand table – still no keys. Then I decided to search the really not so obvious places: the refrigerator(I’ve done crazier things before), under the bed (read: Lola), in my car — still no keys.

This has been about 20 minutes and now the panic starts to set in — where in the world are my keys?? I started retracing my steps from the night before.

I got home and realized the trash needed to be set out on the curb for pick up the next morning. I parked in the driveway since the trash cans are in front of where I park my car in the garage.  I sat all of my junk (purse, coffee cup, etc) on the trunk of JT’s car while I wheeled the garbage cans to the curb. Did I leave my keys on JT’s trunk or worse throw them in the garbage can? My car is parked still in the drive way with my work laptop locked inside of it. I call JT panicked. He reminded me we have roadside assistance with our auto insurance, so I call for them to at least come pop the lock so I can get my laptop and work from home.   

Now I know what you’re thinking … don’t you have a spare key you could have used??  Well that set of keys was my spare, because I’d previously lost my original set of keys when we lived in Texas. How I lost them, I can’t even remember now. While the locksmith is there to pop my lock, he says he’d be glad to make a  key for me.  I affectionately refer to my 2001 Honda Civic as the “Blue Terd”. It has definitely seen and outlived its glory days, but I was absolutely shocked when the locksmith said the cost of the key would be $185!! I told him I’d pass and keep looking.

 After a few more searches and even JT looking around, I decided to go ahead and call the locksmith back later that afternoon. About 10 minutes after I called the locksmith, an older lady rang my doorbell. She said, “Do these keys belong to you? I found them by my mailbox when I was getting the mail”. I had to hold back the urge to kiss this old lady because I was so excited!  I squealed a little, said ”Yes!” and then asked how in the world she found me!?! She told me she’d called Harris Teeter (a local grocery store) because she saw my Frequent Customer tag on my key ring. They would only give her my last name. Then she tried looking up our last name in the neighborhood directory. I told her we’d just moved in a few months ago and weren’t in there yet. She then decided to look up our last name and zip code on and she found our street address. I stood there in shock. 1) I got my keys back. 2) She would think of all of those steps to find me . 3) This stranger went to all that trouble to get me my keys back.

 JT laughed and reminded me of how lucky I was. We decided I must have left my keys on his trunk the previous night and they fell off on his way to work. Now, the keys are definitely beat up since they were probably run over a few times but they all work.

The parable of this story is never underestimate the goodness and kindness of a stranger. It may take a few more minutes and a little inconvenience, but you may never know the impact a good deed may have on another person.


Home to You February 16, 2012

Filed under: Charlotte,family,reflections — Jess @ 8:00 am
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A few months ago, I posted a blog post telling all tens (of thousands!) of you about my dear and incredibly talented friend, Shellee Coley, and how you could be a part of her upcoming album. Well that time has come friends and she’s about to release her much anticipated, first full-length album.  In honor of this momentous occasion, she’s taking a little blog tour. Shellee’s asked various folks to blog about each song  on her upcoming album and their connection to the song — I feel SO honored! I love all of the songs on Shellee’s album, but felt like I had to write about the song – “Home to You” because I can relate on so many levels to the lyrics and emotions of the song.

For those of you new to me and my blog -Welcome!  Let me quickly fill you in about our life over the past two years. About this time two years ago, my husband and I made the right, but difficult decision to really start pursuing a life closer to our families sprinkled throughout the Southeast and all equally 15+ hours away from our then current home in Texas. This is something we’d dreamed about, fought about, and cried about for several years until we were finally on the same page and started taking some definite steps to make this happen.  We knew going into it there’d be sacrifices, some we were prepared and others we were not prepared to make. Going into this transition, I’d mentally prepared myself to leave Texas by the end of 2010. JT applied for a position that we thought was a shot in the dark with a job application that turned into a start date in Charlotte, NC in six weeks. I was NOT prepared to leave my framily (friends that become family) and our life and little house in Texas.

 Over the next year, there were so many more downs than ups in a rollercoaster ride of having two “homes” and leaving one life to start another in a town full of strangers. There were so many moments of doubt, struggle, frustration, and loneliness. The stress and emotions of so much transition has finally started to wane as we’ve settled into a new set of rhythms and relationships in Charlotte. There’s now much more clarity and gratitude to the lessons learned during this crazy time in our life. My dad always refers to those tough times that you’d initially choose not to go through as “character building” times. It’s those tough lessons and difficult times that bend and shape us into the people we’re becoming. 

Shellee’s song “Home to You” resonates so deeply with my soul. Shellee captures the purest essence of the word and meaning of “home”. For me, home is the love and memories made within our four walls, but not just limited to or defined by a physical place. Through transitional times of living, I’ve learned that home really isn’t about the four walls that surround you or where you lay your head at night. It’s about the people and family that surround you and hold your heart and memories. There were so many times where we didn’t know where we headed, but we always ended up finding ourselves at home with each other.

To hear an audio clip of the Shellee’s story behind the song and to stream it, visit her website by clicking here.  


Oh the Places You Will Go! January 30, 2012

Filed under: India,reflections,Travel — Jess @ 9:50 pm
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A year ago this week, I took a trip that would shape and change me in several expected, but many unexpected ways. It’s hard to believe I was there a year ago because in so many way it feels like ages have passed, but in my heart it feels like just a few weeks ago.

I’ve always believed traveling  helps give you perspective and insight into not only another culture, but your own culture and life. This could be no more truer for me and my two journeys to India. I can truly say I’m a different and better person for my almost 6 weeks spent in the land of beauty and mystery.

When I miss my friends and time spent in India, all I have to do is close my eyes. Then suddenly all of the tastes, smells, sights, sounds come rushing back and are all strangely familiar.

If you want to catch up on my experience while in India, you can click here to read my blog posts from last year.  Namaste!

P.S. If you ever have the chance to go to India – GO!!! I am dying to go back some day and take JT with me.


Holy Crap! January 24, 2012

Filed under: random,reflections — Jess @ 8:25 pm
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I decided to do a cleanse starting today to go along with my “clean eating” I’ve been trying to be consistent with. I’ll let you know how everything comes out! (ha — there are so many potty jokes I’m refraining from using). This could take Messy Jessy to a whole ‘other level.


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