Hunter Museum of American Art

I thought it was a shame that I’ve been in Chattanooga so long, and I haven’t been back to the art museum here yet. I went about 6 years ago when we moved my sister here for her first year of college, and I remember loving it. So since I had today off with no other plans, I knew it was time to go.

I started the morning with a chocolate croissant and a fresh cup of coffee from one of the many local coffee shops around town, and I enjoyed the sunshine for a little while before heading inside.

I just thought I’d share a few of my favorite pieces here:



Around the Clock with Red, Helen Frankenthaler


Ruth Gleaning, Randolph Rogers


Just as the baby’s feet cleared the ground Padfoot leaped into the air and buried his teeth into the feathers of his old enemy, N.C. Wyeth


Slip, Courtney Wynn Cooper


And my mother would say to me, ‘You can’t eat beauty. It doesn’t feed you.’ And those words plagued me and bothered me. I didn’t really understand them until finally I realized that beauty was not a thing I could acquire or consume. It was something that I just had to be. And what my mother meant when she said you can’t eat beauty was that you can’t rely on how you look to sustain you. What does sustain us . . . what is fundamentally beautiful is compassion for yourself and those around you. That kind of beauty inflames the heart and enchants the soul.

-Lupita Nyong’o


At The Crossroads

When I was in D.C., I ate at this really great restaurant called Busboys and Poets that has a bookstore inside called Politics and Prose. It was full of novels, political and social commentaries, graphic novels, children’s books . . . everything. After taking in the whole scene, my eyes finally settled on a book called The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna. The bright water-colored words on the cover made a great first impression, and I was not disappointed when I began reading the first page.

This book is a tangible version of Luna’s blog she published 3 years ago. In her own words:

This is a story about two roads — Should and Must. It’s a pep talk for anyone who’s chosen Should for far too long — months, years, maybe a lifetime — and feels like it’s about time they gave Must a shot.


This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I graduated last May with a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, and while I’m happy with my decision to stay on that path throughout college, I’m facing a different reality now that I’m on the other side. I love anthropology and archaeology. But I don’t love the idea of sitting behind a desk, writing grants, giving seminars, or teaching theoretical college courses.

Since I graduated, I’ve had a nannying job (which I loved, but was also not something I could see myself doing long-term). And for the past 8 months, I’ve been working at a coffee shop. I know I’ll have to make a career decision sometime in the near future, or at least find something that’s sustainable with long-term benefits.

The thing is, I want to pursue something I love, that I’ll get to enjoy for the rest of my life, and if that means doing something a little more nontraditional, then so be it. But the hard part is getting to the point where I can benefit from the things I love (which currently include: art, ceramics, Pilates, beekeeping, gardening, and coffee).

Which brings me back around to this book. It made me feel a lot better about the plan I want to lay out for my life. Especially this section:


“If you find yourself peering over the edge of an enormous cliff where you can’t see anything down below, back up. Don’t make the leap!

While this journey asks that your surrender to the unknown, it does not ask you to put yourself—or those around you—at risk. To choose Must is not like Evil Knievel proclaiming he will do the unthinkable. It is not a spectator sport. Must is too important, way too important, to be chosen on a whim, out of excitement, out of intoxication. That kind of decision-making is certain death.

The most sustainable Musts happen slowly, thoughtfully, and quietly. They don’t happen impulsively but are built with a sober, calm intention.

Every decision you make counts. Ten minutes of solitude. One Must instead of one Should. Setting up your space. Writing your wants down and pinning them to the wall. Must is not a faraway land that you hope to arrive at sometime in the future, it’s not for tomorrow or another day. Must is for today, now. And as you take daily action, the cliff will cease to become a cliff. It will simply become an obvious next step along your path to Must.”

. . .

Working towards your dreams can be so scary, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. And I know that there’s nothing wrong with taking things one step at a time. It just means that I’m going about the whole process with intention and a self-sustaining attitude.


On Turning 23

This is a weird age for me. I can remember being 12 years old and marveling at how grown-up 23 looked. My summer camp counselors, my small group leaders, my brother. They were all in their 20’s and had jobs and/or families. They were wise. They were mature. They were adults.

And now here I am.

And I’ve never felt more unsure about my life.

I guess I thought that my 20’s were going to be this miraculous time of careers and surefootedness. I was supposed to have a “real” job. I was supposed to have met my college sweetheart and be on my way to the white picket fence with 2.5 kids. I was supposed to be wise and worldly and well-traveled.

I thought a lot of things when I was 12.

Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of pb&js and watching a lot of Netflix.

Isn’t the naivety of being a child beautiful? If you’re lucky, you get to live in a world that is so comfy and soft, and you don’t have to face the harsh realities of life because they’re filtered through your parents. You get to have sleepovers with your friends and watch Saturday morning cartoons with a big bowl of sugary cereal perched precariously on your lap.

Now, I get to wake up 30 minutes earlier than I have to just so I can make some breakfast and drink coffee to get my brain functioning normally. And I have to spend my money on things like dish soap and light bulbs. I also spend a disproportionate amount of time considering the fact that I’ll be off my mom’s health insurance on my 26th birthday.

Can I have my quarter-life-crisis 2 years early?

Honestly though, I’ve very grateful to be where I am, and I know I’m doing okay. I have a job (I just got a promotion recently, too). I have a beautiful family. I have the best friends a girl could ask for. I’m dating the most perfect guy. I have a savings account. I have the means and the ability to pursue my hobbies. . . I can only hope I would make my younger self proud.

And I know I have a lot of great things in the works for this next year.

Here’s to 23 and another year full of the people and the things I love.



Conversations with my Grandpa: Accidental Injuries


How’s your arm?

Oh, still a little sore. I feel a little better. I lit myself on fire. I didn’t know I was on fire for a minute. Saw the flames, but I didn’t know it was on my damn shirt. And I had my suspenders were over my shirt, and I couldn’t get my shirt off. About burned me up.

I do stuff like that all the time. There was a time I about chopped my fingers off. See the black marks there? I was out in the driveway working on the steam cleaner one day. Weren’t nobody home, and then the thing slipped and come right down on my fingers and about chopped my fingers off. And then I was covered in dirt and everything else. About to pass out, and this old rusty piece of metal about cut me. Thought I’d get lock jaw or something. Went in the house and I got me a dish pan. And I dumped everything I could find in the kitchen sink. I stuck my hand in it, and it about burned me up. I figured it’d kill all the germs. And then I passed out on the floor. And your mom came home, and I was laying there, and there was blood all over the place. And she thought I was dead. She panicked, [laughs] and called the ambulance, but I was okay.

Down in Key West that time, I was digging that ole tree stump out. And then a big limb broke off, and it was real hot outside. Man, I was really sweating and everything, limb broke off and smacked me right in the head. Busted a big ole place across my head, and run into the house and said, “Go run and get your mom, and run me to the hospital.” I was bleeding all over the place. Your mom standing there and said, “That looks like Kool-Aid!” [Laughs]


Spectator Sports

new york

My family took a trip to New York at the end of last summer to visit some of our cousins at West Point, but we did get to spend a day in the city. I have recently decided that I could not thrive in any kind of major city, and a visit was overwhelming to say the least, but we were able to hit a few places we’d been planning on seeing, as well as see a friend who had moved there several months ago now.

We took the train from New Jersey into Pennsylvania Station and then decided that it would be an excellent idea to walk all the way to the 9/11 Memorial. After we had all begun to suffer from hanger, we figured we better eat some lunch before we started to turn on each other.

Our next stop of the day was the Museum of Modern Art (we took the subway this time), where we met up with our friend Sarah. Now, I’m a pretty big art nerd, and while I may not know all the artists’ names or the titles of their work, I just love being able to stand underneath their art and bask in the glow of their creations.

But there was something strange about this museum visit. Being in New York, the MoMA is designed to host probably hundreds if not thousands of visitors, and that day had been no exception. People from all over the world had arrived to enjoy the great works of modern artsits from Van Gogh to Picasso to Warhol.

The strange part, for me, was the presence of all of the cameras and iPhones I saw hovering in front of the eyes of the spectators. I saw people looking through their screens as they wandered from room to room, snapping pictures of the paintings. There was one man handling a full-sized iPad who was so oblivious of where he was walking that he nearly tripped over a sculpture sitting on the floor behind him as he tried to get a better shot at the one in front. I thought the security guard was going to have a conniption.

I turned a corner to find a huge crowd gathered in front of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night. I honestly did not know this painting was in this collection and let out a very audible gasp when my eyes finally found it. Everyone there was trying to shove their way to the front, fighting to get a better view – to take the best picture of it.

van gogh

I, of course, was doing many of these things, too. It became very important to me to record all of the things I was looking at. You know, so I could look at it later…

But thinking back, I wish I had just been there. Enjoyed the art work hanging there in front of me. I saw some people having very visceral reactions to particular pieces, and I did, too, I suppose. (I shed a few tears when I walked by the Klimt paintings and into the Monet collection.)

I guess it’s best to find a balance there. I don’t think recording your trips with the camera on your phone is a bad thing. But seeing SO many people wandering through this beautiful museum just looking through their phone screens and not really seeing struck a chord with me.

Next time I’m in a place like this, I’m going to do my best be there. And enjoy the moment for what it is.


Givers and Takers


[This post was originally written on October 1, 2016.]

If you know me at all, you know that I am very observant and I like to think. A lot. It’s one of my favorite pastimes.  You may also know that I’m not really a people person, but I take great pleasure in observing people from afar.  I can confidently say I have never met a truly boring person because I believe we all have those little quirks and tendencies that make us each uniquely us.

It may also come as no surprise to you that I’ve created my own theories, and expounded upon old ones, about the people I observe.  The concept I’m going to discuss in this post is surely nothing new, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately, and I’ve shared it with a few of my friends and family.  So I thought I’d try to hash it out some more here.

I think that most of humanity broadly falls into one of two categories: the takers and the givers.  Of course, there will be some variation, and there is certainly a spectrum, but I think that we all will identify more strongly with one of these categories.  Obviously, I don’t think that one of these types is better than the other because they will both have strengths the other does not and vice versa.  My goal here is to help each of these types understand the other and to show them how to create more successful and fulfilling relationships with other people.

The Takers.  These are the people who go into a relationship (romantic, platonic, business, etc.) aiming to get something out of it, be it advice, love, affirmation, acknowledgement, whatever they are seeking.  This doesn’t include the people searching for physical or material fulfillment, although the emotional and material needs often go hand in hand.  I would also call them the “emotional dumpers” or “over-sharers.”  They could spend a whole relationship sharing their feelings, their pains, their triumphs, their heartbreaks with the other person without offering anything in return.  Takers also have the capability of being sympathetic but often on a surface level.  They will create a sense of sameness and relatability in order to fulfill a need.

The Givers. These are the people who go into a relationship looking to fulfill a need.  They do this willingly, and they often create their self-worth around listening and devoting time to their friends, partners, and coworkers.  Just like the takers, they do not intend to solely fill the material needs here. I would hesitate to label all givers “helpers.”  Helpers deal directly with material or financial needs, and they can be givers or takers.  Givers are looking to be the listening ear and will dish out advice when someone asks.  They can often discern whether the person asking is looking for advice or affirmation and will act accordingly.  Givers are most often incredibly empathetic because they strive to understand others complexly and deeply.

I think that the discussion of introverts and extroverts is also important here, but only to say that these personality characteristics do not necessarily have any correlation with being givers or takers.  Introversion has passive or submissive connotations that might lead one to believe that they tend to be the givers, but I have met many introverts who would identify more as takers.  And I have also met many extroverts who are givers.  This works the other way around, too.

At this point, you might be thinking that the takers sound selfish and the givers sound like brown-nosers.  But I would argue that the world is in great need of both personality types.  Takers can be very sure-footed about what they need and are not afraid to ask for it.  And givers are able to look at the world from a less biased and more understanding point of view that allows them to make rational decisions.

Seeing these types of people interact with each other can be both exhausting and fascinating and satisfying all at once.

Takers and Takers.  This is, in my opinion, one of the most difficult relationships to maintain.  Both sides are trying to get something out of the relationship, and this creates a negative space in the middle because after a while, there may be nothing left to take from anymore. There must be an incredible amount of compromise here, and each side must learn how to give back or the relationship will fail.

Givers and Takers.  This can also be a challenging relationship because it can be very one-sided.  If the taker takes all the time, then the giver might feel constantly drained.  These relationships make sense though because they are two sides of the same coin and they ideologically fit together.  One is looking to fulfill a need where the other is looking to fill it.  However if the imbalance is left unattended for too long, resentment can grow, and the relationship will fail.  Compromise is needed here, too.

Givers and Givers.  This is a relationship full of empathy and understanding.  Each side strives to really know how the other is feeling and thinking all of the time.  Each is trying to fulfill the others needs.  However, they can become unsatisfied when the other is unwilling to share their own emotions.  Givers might put up a defensive wall because they are unused to sharing, and there must be a lot of communication in order for this type of relationship to work.

Of course, there are many variations, and all people will play the role of giver and taker in their lives.  But I hope you’ve found this as interesting as I have, and hopefully it’ll help you better understand why certain people might think and act a certain way!


Maman Araignée

I first came across Louise Bourgeois in the form of her famous Maman sculpture, an enormous spider with long spindly legs that towers above all of her spectators. Its image has been stuck in my brain for nearly 5 years now, and I don’t think I ever want it to go away. I read that Bourgeois based this upon her own mother.

The friend (the spider – why the spider?) because my best friend was my mother and she was deliberate, clever, patient, soothing, reasonable, dainty, subtle, indispensable, neat, and as useful as a spider. She could also defend herself, and me, by refusing to answer ‘stupid’, inquisitive, embarrassing, personal questions.

I shall never tire of representing her.

Something about the way it’s designed to hover, or rather cast a shadow, over the audience drew me in. It can be a little unsettling for anyone who feels less than friendly towards spiders, but I think it’s so beautiful.


Bourgeois said that she never made art for the sake of beauty but rather to release the emotions of her past. She made art for herself. And I admire that.

Isn’t it funny how something can stay with you for such a long time after seeing it just once? And when you can’t stop going back to it, you know it’s something important.