This One’s for the Girls

Yesterday was International Women’s Day, and I loved reading all the posts and comments from other women about the bold, beautiful ladies who have changed their lives. I love the idea of taking a day to celebrate women, because I am so deeply thankful for the friendships in my own life.

I am unapologetically a girl’s girl. I love my husband, but the truth is that I would be lost without my mom, my sisters, and my girlfriends. They are my TRIBE. The women in my life inspire me with their courage, compassion, and creativity. They are my confidantes and my cheerleaders. I can count on them to make me laugh, sit with me when I cry, celebrate with me when life is good, and help me finish a bottle of wine. To me, girlfriends are not optional. I need them, and they make my life sweeter and richer every single day.

We celebrate women because of the light and goodness and strength they bring to this world. And let’s be honest…they just get stuff done. Cheers to the wise, fierce, fabulous women we’re celebrating—may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.

What I’ve Learned From 10 Years

dsc_0099

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I recently realized that Bryan and I have officially spent ten Valentine’s Days together. TEN! We’ve only been married three years, but we started dating my senior year of high school. (We also met for the first time at thirteen, so suffice it to say that he’s been through a lot with me.)

A lot of people are talking about love this week…and with good reason. Love is an important, hard, confusing, incredible, life-changing topic—and there’s a lot to say. In ten years of loving Bryan, I’d like to think I’ve learned a few things about love. At the very least I can say that what I thought I knew about love and marriage has totally shifted.

When you’re with someone for ten years, change is inevitable.  The world will change. Your lives will change. Your relationship will change. And you will both change, sometimes for the better and sometimes not. Bryan and I are both very different people from the two teenagers who went on their first day to see a Reese Witherspoon movie over a decade ago.  As we’ve grown and changed, we’ve had to choose love again and again. We’ve had to decide to grow together instead of apart. We’ve had to choose to accept the way the other person has changed, even when it wasn’t what we wanted. And during that time, I have learned two very important things about love…

First, I’ve learned that love is hard. This seems obvious, but I think that love—and marriage in particular—is hard in ways that you can’t understand until you’re in the thick of it. There are so many big things to fight about, like sex and money and family and planning for a future. But there are also the little things, from laundry to dirty dishes to stealing the covers, that can pile up and become the things that break you if you let them. There is disappointment and frustration and worry. And the choosing is hard, too. Choosing to put the other person first. Choosing to let things go. Choosing to love someone who you don’t particularly like all the time. Love is about selflessness and sacrifice, and those two things are never easy.

But I’ve also learned that love is so, so worth it. Over the past ten years, we’ve graduated from college and grad school and found careers that bring us fulfillment. We’ve lived in two apartments and bought out first house. We’ve cooked meals together and made plans and travelled all over the world. We’ve grieved together and learned how to share. We brought home the world’s sweetest puppy and said “I love you” more times than I can count. Together, we’ve built a whole life.

When I look at Bryan, I still see my very best friend in the whole world. I see a partner and someone I fully trust and respect. I see someone who makes me laugh and brings out a freer, more content version of myself. There is never a day when I don’t feel safe in his love.

In ten years, I can think of so many things I’ve done wrong. I can think of fights I regret and words I wish I could take back. I can think of mistakes and failings, both as a wife and just as a person. But here we are, ten years later, and the love is still here—strong and steady and in it for the long haul. Ten years can be a long time to love someone. Thank goodness we’re just getting started.

 

 

2016: A Year of Adventures

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is almost over. This year has truly flown by, and so I’m taking a few moments to look back at some of our favorite moments. 2016 brought our world it’s fair share of heartache and pain, but it also brought our family some incredible adventures.  2016 is definitely a year we will never, ever forget. Here are some of our favorite memories from this crazy, wonderful year:

January: Skiing with friends, movie nights, snow days, leaving a church we loved, and the most wonderful few days in Jamaica.

IMG_7343

February: Bachelor nights with the girls, a new job, more snow, and a baby shower celebrating sweet Baby Kennedy!

FullSizeRender.jpg

March: Lock-in with 4th and 5th graders, CBFNC, Holy Week activities at church, March Madness, and a few days at the beach with family.

IMG_7644

April: Baseball games, nights spent listening to music and grilling on our back deck, welcoming (and falling in love with) baby Kennedy, OIAM at church, and a trip to Atlanta for work.

IMG_7810

May: Graduation festivities celebrating my sister, Pentatonix at Red Hat, steak frites in Paris, boat rides in Capri, touring vineyards in Tuscany, sightseeing in Rome, and celebrating three years of marriage. (Basically the best month EVER.)

IMG_8281

June: Bryan’s birthday festivities, moving my sister into her new house, BLTs from Merritt’s, rooftop bars, and standing beside my best friend while she married the love of her life.

13445360_10103588966534118_5365042555054704574_n

July: A week of birthday celebrations, NYC, a wedding at the beach, pool days, buying a new car, and lots of ice cream.

IMG_6739

August: A weekend at the lake, countless hours spent watching the Olympics, Fellows orientation, and Saturday mornings at the Farmer’s Market.

img_8903

September: A crazy busy month of work, Ben Rector, camp with my kiddos, a weekend in Asheville, and house hunting.

img_9246

October: Girls’ weekend in Charlottesville, visiting my bestie in Chicago, family retreat with church, Rent at DPAC, and meeting Finley.

img_9300

November: Belong Tour, ALL THE GILMORE GIRLS, Thanksgiving celebrations, tailgating in Chapel Hill, Christmas card pictures, and buying and moving into our first house!

mears-portraits-2016-6

December: Unpacking, Christmas parties, picking out a tree, decorating our home, Living Nativity at church, Christmas services, all the holiday movies, a trip home, and jet setting to warmer places!

img_9946

Here’s to 2017—I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us. Cheers!

Cheers to 10 Years!

My college roommates and I spent the weekend in Charlottesville celebrating our friendiversary. We had SO much fun exploring, eating, catching up, and generally just being ridiculous. I love these ladies so much, and every time we’re together I’m reminded how important it is that we invest in these relationships. I tried to pick just a few pictures, but I couldn’t do it—there was simply too much goodness!

img_0018img_9274img_0012img_0009img_0032img_0006img_9303img_9277img_9311img_9313img_9326

On Friendship

img_8390

This weekend I’m headed out of town for a girls’ weekend. My college roommates and I are celebrating our friendsiversary—10 years of friendship. 10 years of knowing each other.  10 years of dinners and trips and football games and dance parties. 10 years of arguments about who left her dirty dishes in the sink. 10 years of carrying one another’s burdens and celebrating one another’s successes.  10 years of birthday parties and weddings and babies. 10 years of friendship is a big deal. (Of course that also means it’s been 10 years since we started college, which definitely calls for a glass of wine or two….)

When we first met, most of us didn’t know one another. We didn’t know ourselves, really. We were nervous and anxious about beginning a new chapter, equal parts homesick and ready for an adventure. We had boyfriends, majors, and ambitions that wouldn’t last. We were craving community, friendship, and someone to go out with on Thursday nights. And we were BABIES (see picture for reference).

Our freshman RA referred to us—both affectionately and ironically—as the “suite of angels.”  Over the time the term stuck and became an accurate description of what we were to each other. We lived together for four years, and we grew up together. We laughed and cried and kept secrets and learned a little bit more about ourselves along the way.

Now, ten years later, so much has changed. We party a lot less and sleep a lot more. Five of us are married and one of us welcomed her first baby girl this year. We have mortgages and responsibilities and real jobs. We see each other much less often, and we don’t always know every single detail of each other’s lives (an inevitable situation when you have seven females living in one house).

But in a lot of ways, things have stayed the same.  We’re still there for each other through bad days and bad boyfriends and painful transitions.  We still tell the same stories every time we’re together and pick up right where we left off.  We still tell each other the big news first, still celebrate together, still show up for the moments that matter. We still refer to one another as angels (even though we still drink too much wine and Debbie always has an inappropriate story to share).  They’re still my people.

Today I’m feeling excited and thankful—thankful for friendships that endure time and distance and growing up.  It is a gift, and I’m ready to celebrate!

 

On Showing Up

IMG_3681

When you think about your day-to-day life, what are the words than come to mind? If you’re anything like me (and from what I can tell, anything like most people), these words strike a chord: busy, hectic, chaotic, exhausting, FULL. And that’s why I’m finding over and over again that one of the greatest marks of friendship is simply showing up.

Last week three of my friends and I met for dinner on a Thursday night.  It wasn’t a special occasion or a celebration of any sort. We had all had long workdays and even longer weeks. I’m certain that all of us thought about cancelling at some point during the day.  We were tired and overextended.  I’m sure that each one of us could have used a night off and a night in. But I’m just as sure that we needed each other more.

And so we showed up.  We drove 30 minutes in traffic to downtown Raleigh and caught up on life over glasses of wine and plates of risotto.  We talked about work and relationships and the most recent episode of Bachelor in Paradise. We listened and laughed and left feeling lighter than we did when we arrived. We showed up when it was easier not to, and it made all the difference.

It’s easy, of course, to show up for the big things.  We commit to being there for weddings and parties and births. But I think it means so much more when we show up for the small things—midweek dinners and coffee dates and “just because” visits. Those are the moments that remind us how rich relationships really are and how valuable it can be to know that there is someone who we can count on no matter what.

I want to make it a priority to show up for my people. I want to be intentional about investing in those relationships, because I know they are what will help sustain me in the long run. And I want to make sure I say thank you when people show up for me—what an incredible, life-giving gift.

 

 

P.S. Love

i-choose-love-ombre-800-600x600

When I was applying to colleges, I had to go through the arduous task of writing college admissions essays. The topics were mostly boring and predictable—what are your hopes and ambitions? What is your greatest fear? What is your favorite word and why? (That one still baffles me.)  There was one, however, that continues to stand out to me: What is the greatest challenge facing your generation?

I chose to write about racism. Of course my white, middle class self understood very little about racism. I had never been on the receiving end of it, and yet I had seen enough to know it was a problem. I had watched people I knew, loved, and respected choose racism—whether overtly or in subtle comments and decisions—over love and acceptance time and time again. It seemed glaringly obvious that something needed to change, that our generation should be the people to change it.

That was over ten years ago.

Now as an adult with a little more perspective and a lot more awareness, I fear that things have gotten worse instead of better. Hate and injustice are rampant, and the effects are tragic. Fear is everywhere, and it is suffocating us.

This week my heart breaks for the mamas that are afraid to send their black sons out into the world because they know that it’s not a safe place for them to be. My heart breaks for the wives and husbands and children afraid to send their police officers into the world because they fear they may not see them again. Friends, it is ENOUGH…something has to change.

Here’s the thing we’ve got to get: All lives don’t matter until black lives matter, until homosexual lives matter, until refugee lives matter, until police lives matter. We can’t fix the whole without putting each piece back together, and so we start there.

I don’t have all any of the answers, but I know that today I choose love. I choose to stand with and beside by black brothers and sisters. I ask for grace as we attempt to converse about matters of race and injustice because I don’t really understand and never will. I choose to insist that their lives matter and refuse to indulge slogans or justifications that suggest otherwise. I choose to feel nothing but pride and gratitude for the police officers that serve and protect our country. I choose to pray for their families and their safety daily and wholeheartedly.

I want to be a part of the generation that for the first time in our nation’s history chooses love over fear. It’s time, friends, and it’s too late yet. Let’s choose love today.