selfies

i came across this piece in my easel carry bag not long ago. poor self portrait, all unfinished. i started it my junior or senior year of high school in advanced art, and i always promised myself i would come back and complete it. we see how that went.

what a time in my life. i remember sitting at our art table with andy, haley, ashley, whitney and other friends and having nothing better to do than joke and doodle. i wish i had known then how hard it would be now to carve out time to be creative. i saw my art teacher not too long ago at mrs. kitchens’ funeral. the mother of my dear friends, lisa and emily, passed away after a long battle with cancer. mrs. kitchens was always a light. she was an eccentric, intelligent lady who taught me many things and raised two girls who were soft and inspiring influences in my life growing up.

i look back at this unfinished “selfie” and see that girl who sat unknowing at the art table – not knowing how lucky i was to have the relationships and the time to enjoy them. it’s fitting that the piece is unfinished, like so many of my works are. like i am today. i hope anyone reading this who looks back at the misguided, chaotic posts of my life will be inspired to enjoy the people around them in the moment they are in. there is nothing more important.

(c) erin whatley
(c) erin whatley

oh yeah,

i know i disappeared for half a year. i started talking about how I had a blog at work and then realized I haven’t posted since april, the month i: got a new job. i absolutely love it. i’m planning events AND managing marketing, which is essentially my dream job (after being an actress, but there’s always time for that later). i am working a lot of hours again like i did at my other event planning gig a couple of years ago, but i am really managing it well and i am working for such wonderful people. like, i can’t even explain how cool my bosses are. not like, i hope my bosses will one day read this and see how much of a kiss-up i am, but like i truly like and respect the people i work for and am learning a lot and enjoying it.

i feel so fortunate to have this opportunity. someone asked today how i am always smiling and nice (though i do get flustered sometimes!) with all the constant demands in the hospitality industry, and i got to thinking about what is motivating me. i think it is that i have gained another chance doing what i love at Stewbos & Merry Acres after coming out of a year of uncertainty after losing a job i loved so long ago. i have more confidence in my own gifts and abilities, and i am more eager to listen and learn in areas i am unfamiliar with. plus, my job is just plain fun and that is freeing and exciting in itself.

work is really my focus right now, and i am having a lot of fun with that, as nerdy as it sounds. i haven’t painted in about as long as it’s been since i’ve written, but i have really been craving it lately. hopefully i will do something new to post soon. justin and i are still dating. a year and a half next month, which is the longest relationship i have had. he is still entertaining and charming after all this time, so that must be a good sign. we both love our work about as much as we love each other, so we stay busy–but again, we love it that way!

that’s all for now!

thoughts at the end of the day

intelligence takes heart, while knowledge requires a mind. the mind, to me, is like a receptical. it takes in mounds of knowledge to retain for later transport, if needed. like a library of books that have been read many times, it is our collection of facts that have created the foundation of life. the heart, however, is that vessel designed for using knowledge from the brain. the heart is a living, moving, consistent being. it acts based on the knowledge collected from its brain. to have heart, or to be intelligent, one must be capable of bravely acting on their knowledge. hearts will lean toward good or bad endings. intelligence is frightening that way. our society is obsessed with that unattainable level of understanding. we are equally in awe of the mystifying creations of inventors and movement leaders, as well as the mass hysteria designed by terrorists to the shocking quips of internet trolls. i’m so constantly fascinated with this idea; that i have free will and i am blessed with a mind that will retain knowledge. and by simply being brave enough and motivated enough, i am capable of doing most anything my heart is willing to do and that mind is willing to learn about. to posess so much power to change things around me for good makes me want to live each moment more purposefully. thoughts at the end of the day.

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RAWR!

so, as i mentioned previously, i was at a panthers game when i was inspired to write about things to do in this lovely city of albany.

i got a little bit discouraged when i saw the empty seats around the civic center. justin, my boyfriend and a native of dothan, turned and said to me, “it’s so great that albany has something like this.” and it made me think. he’s so right. not all cities have an arena football team, and what fun it is to cheer on my city’s team! even though i haven’t the slightest clue about arena football rules. fun music is playing nonstop throughout the game while i sit amongst thousands of my closest friends.

then i noticed all of the kids that were spending their saturday night at the game. some of them were in the stands, some of them were cheerleaders and many of them were playing in the rockin’ panthers band. there are many other ways i could imagine spending a saturday night as a teenager, and i think it’s cool that albany’s teenagers get excited to be a part of something in which albany can be proud.

the alabama hammers ran us up and down the field, and even clueless joe over here was entertained by such an intense dramatic show. so, i want to spread the word. i don’t know if people haven’t heard about the panthers, or maybe they are unsure if the experience is worth the money or the trip. i’m here to say, this is yet another point of pride in this good life city. a championship winning arena football team is worth coming out to see, even if you are like me and don’t avidly follow football.

it’s worth it just to go watch all the hams around the stadium dancing to the intermittent musical breaks throughout the game. just don’t judge me for my sprinkler moves.

what to do?

i was contemplating a new theme to write about on the blog recently. my boyfriend is nearly perfect, so it’s hard to come up with relationship topics. i don’t feel cultured enough to discuss food or wine. no kids. hmm. i was sitting at the panthers game pretending to understand the rules of arena football as i continued to contemplate this. and there is was. right before me. sports writing.

just kidding. i thought about how i have lived in albany all of my life, and i really pride myself in being involved and knowing what’s going on in albany. at least in the crowd i hang out with. most days i like to imagine myself as the carrie bradshaw of albany. getting invited to the coolest things and wearing the most happening things. but let’s be honest, i’m just a small town girl who wears ridiculous colors and stuff. but i do love albany.

so, i have decided to include some things to do in albany, georgia on my site. in my completely biased and totally unprofessional way.

the blockbuster

on my street is actually closing. it’s like the end of an era.

i have years of memories searching through racks of movies and wafting in the glorious smell of videos and popcorn.

’tis a sad day.

attack of the magazine

 

so, this is the third time i have gotten an oriental trading wedding magazine edition in the past two months. seriously. have i fallen into that age bracket? who signed me up for this? is it some kind of joke?

all kidding aside, i’m not angry at all. looking at cute wedding stuff is fun at any age. but i begin to wonder if this is society’s way of pressuring me into typical life decisions. i don’t have a ring on my finger and i don’t get any other oriental trading publications. maybe it is just some fluke. but i can’t help but be paranoid since it totally has my name in the address box.

either way, i am happy where i am. marriage seems to be all around me. friends and exes are rushing down the aisle and popping out babies more quickly than i change my toenail polish. and while i am completely content right where i am, i sometimes can’t help feeling pressured. like i am missing the boat that all south georgia woman should hop on before they turn twenty five.

but then i laugh. i have the rest of my life (i hope) to be married and mommied. i am having a blast being single and in a wonderful relationship. what’s the realrush to be another Mrs. in town when i am having the time of my life right now? i know one day all of that will change, and probably sooner than even i expect–but for now, i am disinterested in this wedding magazine and would rather have opened my mailbox to a new edition of Glamour.

erinish.com

it’s official! i started an art blog. i thought for a long time about combining erinwhatley.com and erinish.com, but i like having this blog strictly for all of my random musings, and i wanted a more commercial space to put my art stuff. i really don’t know what to anticipate with the art blog, but i am really committed to creating more recently.

i would be lying if i said i didn’t want to be successful in licensing some art or creating something completely unforgettable. i’ve been back and forth about taking the leap. it’s just so easy for me to feel insecure and cynical about putting myself out there. i follow so many artists and get so irritated knowing that i can create but that i am not doing anything about it. so, i am going to give it a shot. it may never be anything more than more colorful musings, but it’s worth my best shot.

i don’t really have much in other news. i’ve been struggling to stay positive through some difficult situations at work. nothing major, only the nuances of a sales job. if i didn’t work at a great place, it wouldn’t be as easy to get through, but i do enjoy my coworkers and clients. i often want to be negative about the things i can’t control, but i am really pushing to stay positive through all of the stuff going on. i hate i can’t be more specific, but i just don’t want to speak out in a way that might seem inappropriate in a professional setting.

justin and i are doing well. he’s working a lot on threeforty, putting together events and proposals, and of course doing a lot of secret whispering and planning for this year’s georgia throwdown. i couldn’t be more proud of him for following his dreams, and that’s kind of what’s inspired me to start following through a little more on my art career.

we’ll be taking some trips for two of my friends’ upcoming weddings. though i love my girls, i am so ready for this season to be over. it’s a lot of stress and cash to be a part of these things, and that surprises me daily when i think on it! i have ultimately decided that i will elope or do something similar when it comes my time. i will probably have a big party with loved ones once i have had my non-stressful time with the groom in jamaica somewhere. i just hate to stress out myself, my family and my friends with all of the crazy details of weddings these days. i’d rather enjoy $50,000 post-wedding than push everyone around me to make this one perfect day at the same extraordinary cost. i am totally supportive and excited for my friends who have gone to such lengths to plan their day, but it has truly helped me realize how little i care about all of the wedding buzz when it comes to my own plans one day.

other than that, i have started working out some. which i haven’t done in over a year. after pushing myself for nine years of fighting the pounds, i needed a good break. and i may not be totally back in the saddle. who knows? i have been feeling better through exercising and eating cleaner, but i could be back on burritos and the couch by friday. we’ll see what happens.

a truck

a truck speeding down an alley beside the gas station just propelled my wallet off the top of the car as I drove away without realizing that i’d forgotten it.

it’s nice to have reminders that life is a perfectly orchestrated story that is much bigger than me. i like the comfort of knowing it’s Someone Else’s plan and not my own.

the scales

i hit 230 pounds in the 8th grade, and i’ve been struggling with keeping my weight off ever since. i’ll turn 25 this year, and i still look in the mirror sometimes and see the discouraged, overweight 13 year old girl looking back at me. no matter how many times the sweet people in my life tell me i’m pretty, there’s somewhere inside of me that it just doesn’t sink in.

up until this past december, i would religiously weigh on my bathroom scales three to four times a day. i justified this as a part of my OCD that would just never go away, and day after day i would look at my side profile in the picture–analyzing my belly and feeling digusted if i seemed bloated. i’d punish myself by weighing after enjoyable meals and pulling at skin (and fat) to show myself just how far i was from “looking good (in my mind).”

and suddenly, one day my scales were gone. upon investigation, i found my boyfriend justin to be the culprit. with sad eyes, he told me that he was tired of me beating myself up when he thought i was so beautiful, and he confessed how much he hated seeing me frowning in the mirror out of the corner of his eye sometimes when he walked by.

after our conversation, i resolved to give life without the scales a shot. it hasn’t been easy. to me, weighing multiple times a day was helping me monitor the rights and wrongs i committed throughout the day, and without using them i might literally blow up. but something interesting happened after a few weeks. i simply forgot them. i focused more on doing active things and eating a little better day by day (if and when i felt like it), rather than seeing how much i could eat and still prove to the scales i was as healthy as the day before.

i haven’t really thought much about those scales, and only occassionally do i itch to get them back out to use. earlier this week, someone asked me if i have lost weight. i had to reply that i was trying to be healthy, but that i honestly didn’t know. what a weird reply, i’m sure–but it kind of felt good to be free of such a heavy (no pun intended) addiction.

after a month, i got the scales out today. i was in a good mood, and i don’t know what struck me but i took a deep breath and waited on those numbers below my feet to judge me, size me up, decide my future mood. i looked down, and i have lost a couple of pounds if any. while a little disappointing, i was glad that i had proven to myself that weighing on the scales had no correlation to what i actually end up weighing at the end of the day, week or month.

i decided to “hide” the scales again above my kitchen cabinets. i’ve decided that maybe i look skinnier because my scales aren’t weighing me down.

the fog

it happened a week or two ago. i inexplicably just started feeling better. i have the drive to be involved in my life again. i sense a familiar optimism about the future and about today.

i spent many months in a strange depression that i haven’t shared with many people, because i haven’t understood it myself. losing my job put me through a range of emotions. i invested so much, but i loathed what the investment cost me. time with friends and family, missed memories, a missed life. my life was simply planning events in a really negative environment that never gave any slack. the rest was a blur. but i loved the trade, how i got to build memories and create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for others on a regular basis. it was my opinion that you couldn’t really beat that. and there were other, more personal, details that were both relieving and hurtful that i also released with my previous position.

i can’t really explain the feeling i have felt since last may. while i have experienced great things, i’ve experienced them through a fog. maybe i was subconsciously protecting myself. who knows? it just felt like i spent six months on my couch looking through my phone. i didn’t want to become attached to my new job, my relationships, etc. and everything i did, i felt an undercurrrent of loneliness, anxiety, sadness, regret, and really just anger that i couldn’t enjoy the moment like i was used to experiencing it.

my boyfriend, justin, urged me to feel better throughout this time. and really, without him, i can’t see myself feeling as fortunate as i do today. he is in a place in his life where he is following his dreams with everything he has. he went through some tough circumstances a while back, and instead of regressing, he put all of his energy into his music business, threeforty creative group. and since then he has been a part of bringing some of the best music to an area that hasn’t seen positive in a long time.  and what’s nice is that i didn’t have to be miserable while watching him live his dream. he included me in it. i got to share in all of the experiences with the georgia throwdown and other great events. and though i wasn’t in the frame of mind to enjoy it completely, it helped in keeping me positive through a hurtful time of picking up the pieces.

a bit after christmas, i was visiting with my mom and she shared with me the story of ann reese grote, a sweet little girl who passed away on christmas eve during a tragic swing set accident. i followed the stories on a facebook page honoring her memory, and it stirred this familiar feeling in my heart. a feeling of loss and deep anguish. the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ made me angry, but i couldn’t quit looking at the photos of the sweet little girl who lost her life. what struck me most was the family behind this little girl. ann reese’s mother, specifically, was mentioned giving some flowers from funeral arrangements to a local nursing home, thinking of others in such a horrific time. she has been posting uplifting,encouraging words of thanks to the Lord on this facebook page since her daughter’s death, and i couldn’t wrap my mind around the strength she was displaying in this terrible situation. and then i remembered. i, too, have that strength in my heart through Christ.

how easily i had forgotten to see the beauty in today. the hope in tomorrow. and how trivial my woes seem in relation to what i was scrolling through online. my life isn’t perfect, and there will be trials ahead. but if i can keep the right Goal in view, i can experience peace and joy beyond explanation. i have been praying for ann reese’s family, and i hope that you will, too. i hope if you happen upon this post or the facebook page honoring that sweet little girl that you, too, will feel moved to experience more of the next moment than you did the one before.

as for me, i am continuing to fight the past that haunts me–but it seems trivial when i look at a bigger picture. everything in life is going to change for me at some point. i will experience losses and gains. everything will change, except one thing–Christ. which makes me eternally grateful to know his peace and joy. so, so grateful.