Michael

I was 9 years old when my church got a strange new preacher. From the moment he walked in the door, I was in awe of this bespectacled man with the bushy beard and jolly disposition. He wasn’t like the preachers I was accustomed to. He favored being called “Brother” to “Reverend.” He lit up the room when he entered it and his brightness cued the lights in each person he encountered. He talked and listened to me, a child, with the same respect and intent focus as he did any adult in the room. He spoke with equal parts softness and conviction, telling stories of the gospel; spinning a yarn so captivating I often got lost in the beauty of his words. I instantly loved him, knew unquestionably that he loved me too (just as he did everyone he met), and I spent the better part of my childhood hoping that I would grow up to be like him and to do what he did.

My family would go on to follow him to the next church he was appointed to, when I was a teenager. For us, church had become less about the brick and mortar space in which the message was delivered, but about the person delivering the message. We became singularly drawn to the message he delivered every Sunday and we would drive to the other side of town week after week to hear the Good News from the mouth we believed – we knew – to be the best to tell it.

When I went to college, he was appointed to a church even further out of town, which was just a bit too far to drive every Sunday and we lost touch for a while. During this time, I began falling into a trap that many late-teens to early-20-somethings fall into: I got lost in myself. My parents had split up, I was in an unfamiliar town struggling to make friends, struggling to find my footing in my life, and struggling to feel connected. In this time of struggle, I lost my faith in God and, honestly, in other people and myself. I became world-weary and, in that weariness, I lost my connection to God and sunk into a feeling of deep uneasiness.

At some point during this time, I heard that the minister we loved so much had been newly appointed to a church that was closer to my family’s home and I decided that what I needed more than anything was to be in the presence of this man who had meant so much to me for so many years. So, one weekend, I drove the two hours home to visit my family, and that Sunday I took myself to church. I went alone, and I sat in the pew and I listened to that familiar, loving voice and I cried, feeling a rush of relief and joy. I felt uplifted in a way I hadn’t felt in a number of years. In this voice, this magnanimous presence, I was comforted and from the hole I had dug myself, a ladder began to form for me to climb out. And, whether or not I had returned to a fervent belief in God, I saw him in this man’s eyes. I heard him in his calm, assured voice. I felt him in his joyful embrace.

From that day forward, I attended his service anytime I was able. When I moved back to Nashville for a brief period, I attended church services weekly, as well as a weekly lunchtime bible study he lead on Tuesdays. It was one of the best parts of my week, filled with thoughtful observations, humor and connection.

When I lost two of my grandfathers, he performed the funeral services, granting the greatest peace and comfort anyone could have given my family. We felt uplifted, believing in the words he spoke with his signature grace and conviction. We believed that the world would right itself again, because he told us that it would.

Most of all, we felt loved. For that was his greatest gift: he was the embodiment of love. And that love manifested itself in so many ways: through his gift of storytelling, his service to others, his ardent belief in caring for ALL of God’s children, his outspoken championing of the voiceless, the broken, the marginalized and his unending humility and grace.

The world lost him yesterday, and I am beyond devastated. And, to be honest, I’m not sure how the world will right itself this time. There are so many more things I could say about him; so many words I have yet to find and feelings I have yet to come to terms with, but suffice it to say, Michael E. Williams was a giant among men, a beacon of hope in the darkness, a bastion of love and light and my hero. I, along with my whole family, will never forget him as long as I live and I will mourn his loss, in the poetic words of Eddie Izzard, “somewhere between half-an-hour and a lifetime.”

Farewell, my teacher; my role model; my friend. You have made my life better for being in it. Thank you for everything.

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The one where I feel stuck in a rut

Lately, I’ve been feeling creatively stuck.

Stifled, if you will.

In the past, even though I’ve had a “regular job,” I’ve always had at least one, but more often several, side project that kept me creatively and artistically engaged. I’ve either been in a band, or performing in a play, or writing freelance news stories, or teaching yoga classes and workshops.

But now?

Now, I’m working in IT.

And that’s pretty much it.

Fortunately, I do have my Sunday mornings singing at church, which is extremely enjoyable and I LOVE singing with Andrew and Dawn, don’t get me wrong. But, that just doesn’t feel like my creative outlet. It feels like a spiritual one.

And that creative outlet is what keeps me sane. It makes me feel whole. My job puts me in a box I can’t get out of during the day, but my creative pursuits breathe air into my lungs. They make me feel human.

So, I’m searching. I’m searching for that avenue that will lead me to creative fulfillment. That will allow me to entertain, to make people laugh, to bring people joy. It’s what I love to do, and if I can’t make a living doing what I love, at the very least perhaps I can find a regular creative side gig that will keep me feeling enriched and excited.

So, what do I do?

Well, I have some ideas, but it’s going to take some time to get it all figured out. Especially because I have to learn some new things, but as I heard someone say recently, “When someone says they can’t do something because it would take a lifetime, I say, ‘Well that’s perfect because that’s exactly how much time you’ve got.’”

So, I guess all this is just to say, stick with me. Please keep cheering me on and, if you have any ideas for me, please share them. I want to take on the world. I just need help getting that first step.

I love you guys.

Namaste

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What do you need?

I have a lot of clothes.

Like, a lot.

I am also a borderline hoarder. I never get rid of things, in part because I am afraid that one day, far in the future, I will think “Where is that sparkly pink tube top?! I need to wear it today!” This is insane because a.) I am a 31 year old woman and, no, I do not need to wear a sparkly pink tube top, and b.) That sparkly pink tube top has literally never looked good on me, even when I was a 21 year old woman.

I also often think, “but I paid for this! I can’t just get rid of it!!” This is also misguided, because sometimes things just serve their time and need to be released of their bondage to the closet.

One major problem with this is that in addition to being a hoarder-lite, I am addicted to consumption. I think we all are to some extent, but I am the only person I can control, so I’ll just say that I spend way too much time and money buying new clothes that live in my closet and often rarely see the light of day, as they get lost in a sea of other things. I get so laser focused on the new things, I forget about the other perfectly good clothes I already have.

And the lunacy of it all is that eventually, the clothes I wear all the time fall apart and rather than repairing them or wearing some of the countless other items in my closet, I buy even MORE things to replace them, and still don’t get rid of the injured piece! It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you!

So, I’ve decided that resolution number 1 for 2018 is to combat these problems by not purchasing any new clothing for myself in 2018, learning to repair the clothes I do have, and selling or finding the best options for donating the things I no longer need.

Without adding to the giant heap of things I already own, I will be forced to start really taking stock of what I have and wearing all my clothes and repairing the ones I love to give them new life. The added benefit of this is that I cut down on my personal consumption, increase my cash flow by not blowing money on things I do not need AND help the environment by creating less waste. In fact, there are a whole host of environmental benefits to this that I cannot get into right now, (FashionRevolution.org is a great resource.) but, suffice it to say, Mother Earth gets really crabby when you just consume and waste like a maniac.

I will also be forced to learn how to repair my clothes and be a gosh darn grown up! So, I’ve also purchased myself a handy guide to sewing and if somebody wants to gift me with a sewing machine, that’d be greeeeeat. 🙂

There are a few obvious exceptions to this plan, as a year is a long time and things happen, like I will probably need to buy a couple more things for my wedding in April and you just never know when you might need a sparkly ball gown or a great costume. But, I think that by being focused on the occasion, my purchases will be more intentional, well thought out and, as a result, better used and enjoyed. Or, as a great alternative, for many special events there are great sites, like Rent the Runway, that allow you to rent outfits rather than buy, and also plenty of secondhand stores and my personal favorite boutique: my mom’s closet. (Thanks Mom!)

So, I think I can do this. Though, full disclosure, I did attempt to buy something the other day that I definitely did not need and, like a sign from heaven, it was sold out. So, it’s not easy. Temptation is around every corner. I get about 50 advertising/sales e-mails every day that I have to just not open. It’s tough, But I’m game to tackle the challenge. ✌️ LET’S DO THIS 2018!!

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Resolved: To Feel Like a Queen in 2018

Hellooooooooo!!!

It’s time for my annual (almost) New Year’s blog post!! I know you’re so excited. I would be if I were you, too.

I love New Year’s. It makes me feel like I have a world of potential at my feet and that I can start with a clean slate. And, because of this, I naturally love making resolutions. And I know what you’re thinking: “Hayley, you ignorant slut, you never follow through on your resolutions! Nobody does!” But, here’s the thing…

I don’t give a dad-gum.

And, I actually have managed to accomplish a few of my 2017 resolutions this past year. I planted a garden, I painted our porch railing (which was a humongous pain in the a$$, by the way), I began to reclaim my yoga practice, I gave up diet coke (for the whole year!!) and I got engaged! (Ok, so getting engaged was totally out of my control, but I’m counting it.) So, see, resolutions are worthy of setting!

This year, my resolutions are both practical and far-fetched, but I have every intention of accomplishing them. Because January 1 is the first day of a new year of possibility and I am tired of sitting around hoping things will happen. In 2018, I’m gonna be the Queen of my own life. I’m going to make things happen.

I started thinking the other day about all the things I wish. I wish I were performing more. I wish I played guitar and could play whenever I felt like it and didn’t have to rely on other people. I wish I were a better homemaker and was organized and didn’t have so much stuff everywhere. I wish I were a couple of dress sizes smaller so that when I see photos of myself I didn’t cringe at the sight. I wish I took better care of my appearance and health in general. I wish I made more time for reading. I wish I got to yoga more often. I wish I were of greater service. I wish I were crafty. I wish, I wish, I wish.

So, I’m taking action in the new year to turn these wishes into realities. Or resolutions. See what I did there?

And you know how I’m going to do that? With a little help from my friends. I’ve decided that community is the most important part of achieving goals. The more support you have, the easier it is to accomplish what you set out to do. So, here I am, asking for your help, friends! I plan to start writing more, mainly because I enjoy writing and getting my thoughts down, but also to track my progress on my goals! But, I want to start using my writing to explore my own world and to maybe give a little encouragement and inspiration to my friends along the way.

So, if you will, subscribe to this blog (those of you who are still reading), and join me in my resolutions, or set some of your own! Let’s lift each other up and kick some resolution ass! And, if you need help or support, I am here to offer it. Whether it’s planning a time to sit down and talk out your goals, or sending you a text once a day to remind you to sweat or ask you how the day is going or whatever, I want to be there to support you. I want to plan gatherings for like-minded pals to get together and share in like-minded discussions, good meals, and joyful activities. I also have big plans for more yoga teaching and performing in 2018 and I’d love to keep you all in the loop and to share all my big ideas, big accomplishments (like my wedding day!!), and even my big losses. I want to make my medium my message, as it were, and this medium is going to be my message of putting my words into action.

And, if you know me at all, you can be assured it will at least be entertaining. Because I’m nothing if not a little bit crazy.

Lots of love to you ALL and a Happy New Year!

HayleyFace

 

 

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8.19.17

I haven’t posted anything about what happened in Charlottsville over the weekend because honestly, I don’t know what to say. I’m heartbroken, confused, and afraid. I don’t recognize the world we live in anymore. I don’t understand how so many people can even fathom hating another person simply based on something as arbitrary as their skin color. We’re ALL people. People with families and friends and stories to tell. People who make contributions to the world. People who love. People who dream. People who want to believe that the world is good and that people are kind at their core. But people, myself included, are losing faith in that idea more rapidly by the day. We are all here to live out our lives as best we can in the time we have and I can’t understand wasting even ONE second of that time hating another person because their heritage is different than my own. Good Lord, I just can’t understand it. And I don’t want to. I have been overwhelmingly blessed to have incredible, kind, loving, loyal friends from all, and I mean ALL walks of life, for as long as I can remember. They are people of different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations and socioeconomic statuses. And every one has enriched my life in immeasurable ways, whether they know it or not. It is horrifying to me to think that someone might treat any of them poorly, or attack them, or hold disgusting rallies in the streets based on a hatred aimed in their direction. It makes me sick to think that people who look like me are causing people who don’t look like me to see me as a threat because I look like someone who might hate them for simply existing in this country. It also makes me sick to think that though I am feeling all these things so strongly, I can’t even begin to truly empathize with my non-white friends, because I have never had to worry about being treated any differently because of the color of my skin. I’ve never had to fear for my children’s safety every time they get in a car, play on a playground, or walk down the street. I don’t have to worry that I won’t be given opportunities because of blind hatred or prejudice. I don’t truly understand how that feels. Because of the luck of the draw? Because somehow I was born white? I didn’t do anything to enjoy the “privelege” of being being white. It’s not an accomplishment. How dare anyone look at another person and claim the high ground based on something like race? You didn’t earn that. You were born into it. Way to go. To persecute people for something they have no control over is insane. And, honestly, more than anything, I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed to be associated in any way with these racist assholes. I’m embarrassed that this is happening still. In 2017. Didn’t our grandparents fight a war to end Naziism? Didn’t our parents march and lend their voices and fight to end segregation and establish Civil Rights? Why do we insist on repeating such a vile history?! I’m embarrassed. And heartbroken. And afraid. And I’m sorry. I wish I had a solution. I wish I knew how to change people’s hearts. All I know how to do is keep being kind. Keep trying to lift people up. Keep fighting for equality. Keep loving. And keep listening. The world needs more people who listen and understand. Who care. And who love. Let’s love one another. “AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE.”

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Duckshouse

When I was first learning to talk, my grandmother, Irene, tried earnestly and with great enthusiasm to get me to say “Duck” while pointing to a small band of ducks in a nearby lake. “Duck! Duck! Duck! Duck!,” she would exclaim. And I, in my toddler mind thought, “Oh, this lady’s name is ‘Duck.’ Got it!” And so, she became Duck. And soon I would request to go and visit “Duck’s House.” I would request to visit “Duck’s House” so much that at some point, the name “DucksHouse” just stuck, and we called her that from then on.

My Duckshouse took leave of this world, to join her beloved Robert at the party in the sky, this morning. I am both heartbroken and joyful, as I know she is so happy to be reunited with Robert and free from pain and heartache, but I will so miss the sweet, sassy, headstrong, loyal, funny, charming lady that she was.

I wanted to just take a few words to tell you about her, because there is not, was not, and will never be another person quite like her and I think more people should know her and about her. And so that everyone will know what a great lady she was and why I will miss her so dearly. So, here goes.

Duckshouse was a deeply funny woman. She was incredibly quick-witted and could zing you before you ever knew what hit you. I found that a deeply admirable trait and would get so tickled at the things that would come out of her mouth. She was razor sharp and loved to laugh, so she never missed an opportunity to plant a well-timed jab or to delight in being the object of one herself.

She was the smartest person I’ve ever known. And I do not mean that she was one of the smartest, I mean she was the smartest. She loved to watch Jeopardy, and even as a small child I can remember being awe-struck at how she often knew the answer to every clue. Every. Clue. It was amazing. (Though, I did once feel very proud that she was stumped on one that I knew. The clue was, “He lived on Drury Lane.” The answer was, of course, “The Muffin Man,” but if she knew the answer, she let me have it and I’m still pretty excited about it, because it was a rare feat to know something she didn’t.) She was an avid watcher of game shows and worker of puzzles. Her house was always littered with books of sudoku and crosswords, jigsaw puzzles, dominoes, playing cards… you name it. If it could be solved, she would solve it.

She never met a cat she didn’t like, as far as I know, and we share that trait. Her beloved “Herm” was the most babied animal I’ve ever seen in my life. She loved that cat like he was her child and loved to tell “Herm stories.” She also taught him to walk on a leash so that they could take him on trips in their motor home, which I always thought was one of the greatest and most hilarious things I’d ever seen.

She loved the beach (another of our shared loves), and lived in Panama City for many years, so we didn’t get to see her a lot when I was growing up, but I loved nothing more than going to visit Duckshouse and Robert at the beach. She always had bowls of chocolates all around the house that I would eat by the handfuls when no one was paying attention. She would see the half-empty bowls and dutifully fill them back up, no questions asked.

She was one of the most charming people you could have ever met. Talk to anyone who met her and they would immediately launch into a barrage of praise, telling you how much they loved her and how much fun she was to be around. She was the life of every party and she knew it. And she loved every second of it.

Though she would occasionally suffer fools, she did not like people who were not nice. She never saw a need to treat anyone with disrespect or ugliness for any reason, and did not care for people who did. In fact, a lifelong, proud Republican, she despised Donald Trump for exactly that reason, and voted Hillary in the 2016 election. I was so proud.

Duckshouse had a way with words and would often tell stories that would include a slip of the tongue that would have us all in stitches. For example, she recently asked my mom, “How’s Juan doing?” Mom, confused by the name asked, “Who’s Juan?” She responded, “You know, Hayley’s boyfriend, Juan!” Shaun will forever be “Juan Duncan” among my family members and I will always laugh and think fondly of her.

She was complicated and witty, strong and smart. She wore blonde wigs and drawn-on eyebrows. She wore red lipstick and pretty painted fingernails. She loved the Atlanta Braves, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and was sharing in our excitement over the Predators in the Stanley Cup Finals. She loved music and was an accomplished organist, playing for many years at the Christian Science Church. She loved ice cream and chocolates and a good cocktail. She loved hearing about the endeavors undertaken by me and my brother and she was so thankful for and proud of my beautiful Mom, who has been the most dutiful and devoted daughter anyone could have ever been.

There are so many more things I could tell you about her; so many interesting and funny things and a thousand tall-tales that she would have loved, but suffice it to say, she was one hell of a lady and the world will be a little less interesting without her. I loved her and I will miss her more than I can put into words. She was quite a broad.

I love you, Duckshouse. See you on the other side. Give Robert a kiss for me.

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2017: I Resolve

Happy New Year!

I was looking at my blog the other day sort of randomly and was reading my New Year’s post from last year. It was all about my amazing resolutions that I was SO SURE I was going to stick to and make 2016 my best. year. yet. One of those really bold, inspiring resolutions was to blog regularly. That resolution went about as well as all my other resolutions, as you can see: my last post was JANUARY 3, 2016. hahahahahahaha.

Clearly, I am a master at New Year’s Resolutions.

That being said, I have not been dissuaded from writing some resolutions for 2017, but this year, I’m going to be a little more realistic (ish). I mean, to be honest, prior to the other night I had a HUGE list of resolutions that when I read them today seem really insane and I’m not sure how I thought some of them were reasonable. But now, I have quite a few tangible goals to accomplish in the next year (I hope!) and a new perspective on my goals.

In thinking about these resolutions, I looked up the word. What does it really mean to resolve? And, as most of you know, the first definition of the word is “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” So, ok, I can make my list, check it twice and very likely fail at those firm decisions that I’m sure I can make spur of the moment with no real preparation or lead-up, despite the fact that I’ve spent 30 years making totally contradictory decisions that in no way support these newfound and starkly opposite decisions. Sure. THAT sounds likely.

The second definition struck me: “the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.” This struck me because 99% of my so-called resolutions are not so much things I’ve firmly decided upon, rather they are extensions of  an internal battle I’ve been having for much of my life. They are thoughts in my head that I’ve never been able to truly come to terms with or learn to control and that lead to patterns and behaviors that have not served me well. So, rather than seeking to come to terms with those thoughts, to truly resolve the battle raging in my mind, I’ve instead tried to will myself to change and allow the battle to rage on, which has never worked.

The third definition of the word relates to Chemistry, but I think it most adequately explains my Resolutions for this year: “the process of reducing or separating something into its components.” It’s so easy to get caught up in these huge sweeping resolutions; these goals that are so grandiose and starkly different than how we live our lives currently that we set ourselves up for failure from the get-go. This definition says that our resolutions cannot be accomplished in one sweeping motion, but must be broken down, considered and approached in stages; putting the puzzle together piece by piece, as it were.

So, in considering these three definitions, and how I intend to resolve in this new year, I made some firm decisions, but I also asked myself how these decisions would help to solve problems in my life, whether tangible or mental, and how I can break each of them down into smaller pieces and accomplish them a little at a time, so as not to overwhelm myself, get discouraged and fail before I’ve even started. So, that is what I’m going to do.

I also asked myself three questions:

  1. How can I be more mindful in my decision-making?
  2. About what am I most passionate?
  3. How can I be of greater service?

I don’t have concrete answers to those questions quite yet, but they’ve given me a great starting point in which to build the stepping stones of my resolve. They are going to be my guide toward my healthiest and most productive year yet. And, as always, I will resolve (definition #1) to be as positive, happy and encouraging as possible and support all of the beautiful people in my life in their own pursuits of resolution as much as I can.

I believe firmly that this life is beautiful, and I resolve to make 2017 a reflection of that belief in my life. I hope you’ll all join me and we can all support each other along the way.

I hope you all have an incredibly happy, healthy and safe 2017. And, if you need me, or want to hear my thoughts and my evolving resolutions and their progress, I resolve to be here. The blog has been resurrected. Follow if you dare!

Namaste and all my love,

Hayleyface

P.S. I have some projects in the works. Stay tuned. I plan to share them all here as they pop up!

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Disclaimer: This photo has nothing to do with Resolutions. It just makes me happy and is wintery, so that seemed appropriate!

 

 

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