A Tennessee Weekend: Saturday Adventures

How does someone like myself, who, let’s be honest, is not exactly the tattoo type, come to, in fact, have a tattoo? (And incidentally to also use a ridiculous number of commas in one sentence?) I really think it began in January as I made my first tentative steps to figuring out who I wanted to be on my own. Not one to quickly or impulsively make decisions, it was thus somewhat surprising when I, with the enthusiastic support of one of my best friends, made the sudden choice to get my ears pierced. Having begun this path of impulsivity, I did not hesitate when another best friend invited me on a last-minute trip to Oregon a few weeks later. Neither choice caused the least tinge of regret. In reality, I was beginning to quite like this new, (very) slightly carefree version of myself. Thus, when Shannon suggested getting a tattoo, it seemed like an appropriate end to a trifecta of escalating, potentially life-altering decisions that I had recently made with my best friends. Basically, it felt like the right thing to do.

But first, I did what anyone with a PhD and overactive thought processes would do: I slept on it and then copiously discussed the decision over coffee and oatmeal. Although I don’t think the oatmeal was necessary. After as much sleep as two friends who haven’t seen each other in months can expect to get, Shannon and I began our Saturday morning (because the morning does not actually begin until coffee) at a local coffeehouse where we, of course, had the most important beverage of the day (well, except water, which is, I am told, crucial for survival; although I would argue so is coffee), enjoyed a delicious breakfast, and marveled at the barista’s perfect guy-hair.

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After breakfast Shannon and I did what is, I’m sure, typical pre-tattoo behavior. We spent the morning getting our hair washed and styled at the local Paul Mitchell School.

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Before

Seriously, who doesn’t want to essentially get their hair played with for 2+ hours. And it also happened to be the perfect place to get recommendations for where I should get a tattoo.

During
During
And after

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A couple more because, seriously, when does my hair ever look good?
A couple more because, seriously, when does my hair ever look good?

Thoroughly relaxed after a morning of pampering and still feeling confident about the decision to get a tattoo, we headed toward Absolute Ink. The relaxed feeling quickly dissipated. I began to feel truly nervous. Would it hurt? Was I sure about the design? Would my parents disown me? These questions and more flooded my mind as we tentatively walked inside. Only to be told that they were booked for the rest of the day… but, they could probably squeeze me in later in the afternoon… if we would just leave a phone number, they would call us if they had time.

Having been ready to get a tattoo, the delay caused a bit of a letdown. And an increase in nervousness. It only made sense to drown our nerves in Italian food and shopping in downtown Murfreesboro. These are pretty much two of my greatest coping mechanisms – comfort food and retail therapy.

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So maybe a salad isn’t technically “comfort food” but it was really good.

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We had just finished shopping at a really cute vintage clothing store when we got the call.

Nervous face!!
Nervous face!!
Apparently this is how I stand when I'm nervous. At least my hair looks good...
Apparently this is how I stand when I’m nervous. At least my hair looks good…

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And, yes, it did hurt!

The funniest part was probably telling my parents.

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The conversation went something like this:

Me: So, Mom, I have something to tell you, but don’t get mad (which is I’m sure how every parent wants a conversation to start)

Mom: Okay (the tone of doubt and concern apparent in her voice)

Me: I got a tattoo…

Mom: What?

Me: I got a tattoo.

Mom: I didn’t understand. What did you say?

Me: A tattoo. I got a TATTOO.

Mom: I still didn’t understand you.

… (after about 15 repetitions because, to give her credit, “I got a tattoo” are words she never reasonably expected to come out of my mouth)

Mom: Oh no, you’re kidding. Randy (that’s my dad), Cora got a tattoo.

Dad (in the background): She’s just joking, right (a hint of panic in his voice)… I thought Shannon was a good influence!

And so it continued. I am happy to report my parents still love me, although my dad still doubts that I was sober. As does pretty much everyone else that I know.

For me, getting a tattoo was a rational, if admittedly spontaneous, choice that symbolized what I had gained through a difficult year – a peace and joy in my life that I previously could not have imagined – and reminds me to not lose sight of those lessons.

Shannon and I spent the rest of the day doing low-key friend stuff. We drank (even more) coffee, tried another new restaurant, and watched a movie.

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We enjoyed a great dinner at a new restaurant in Murfreesboro - Peter D's. I loved the decor and the food was excellent.
We enjoyed an excellent dinner at a new restaurant in Murfreesboro – Peter D’s.

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If you have a friend who is willing to split an appetizer and a dessert with you and call it a meal, you should pretty much be best friends forever. This was the very delicious Thai Chicken Quesadilla.
If you have a friend who is willing to split an appetizer and a dessert with you and call it a meal, you should pretty much be best friends forever. This was the very delicious Thai Chicken Quesadilla.
Nutella Mouse should be its own food group
Nutella Mousse should be its own food group so that I can eat it every day without feeling guilty.

I am so thankful to have a friend like Shannon with whom to share life’s adventures, big and small. This particular Saturday just happened to be one of the big (let’s just say once-in-a-lifetime) adventures. What is one of your favorite friend adventures? Please share!

A Tennessee Weekend: Reunion

I probably said more than enough in my last post about how excited I was to spend a weekend with my friend Shannon, and yet I feel the need to reiterate: when I woke up Friday morning, I felt like it could be Christmas morning. I could not wait to be in Tennessee!

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Fortunately, I was only one, non-stop flight away from Nashville. Before I knew it, I was eagerly walking through the airport to meet Shannon. You know those friends you have who you can go months without seeing (almost 10 months in this case) and yet pick right up where you left off? Yeah, Shannon is one of those kinds of friends.

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So it was no surprise that she knew two things without even asking. First, that the most important thing to do right away was to eat lunch. And second, that the best place to do that was a new downtown restaurant – Husk.

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It was pretty much a combination of my favorite restaurant-things. Delicious, locally sourced, Southern food (there was even a garden next to the restaurant); bright, understated yet stylish decor that fit seamlessly with the historical building; a bit of unexpected presentation mixed in; and, of course, a chance to start catching up with my best friend. Perfection!

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The menu changes on a regular basis. I ordered the Nashville Plate Lunch, which on this particular day featured fried catfish, roasted broccoli, and squash casserole.

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The catfish was delightfully spicy and perfectly crisp. But the broccoli may have been my favorite part – it was amazing. Although the squash covered in cheese was not to be overlooked. Basically, it was all good and now I am hungry.

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After an amazing lunch where most of the conversation centered on how much we liked the food, we made our way to Shannon’s house.

I think most friends have a “thing”- something that they share in common that somehow brings them together. For Shannon and me, that thing is coffee. After lunch, and with no discussion, we knew implicitly that coffee must happen soon. After considering our options, we decided coffee on the back porch would be perfect. We soon found ourselves relaxing on the back porch, large cups of coffee in hand, while I repeatedly pointed out that the weather in Tennessee was so much better than in Texas. By that, I mostly meant less hot. It was during this relaxed, caffeine-fueled discussion that the topic of tattoos somehow came up. Neither one of us can actually remember how or why. I blame it on caffeine and the post-delicious-meal coma and perhaps a little friendship induced delirium. I was not even half way through my holds-a-week’s-worth-of-coffee sized mug and suddenly we were discussing what I planned to permanently put on my body the next day. You know, just your typical Friday afternoon.

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing more of the usual things we do when we get together, like getting pedicures and eating Mexican food. When you have traditions like that, it would be a shame to break them. All the while, Shannon occasionally worked on the tattoo design with (probably annoying) input from me.

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That evening, we decided to attend a concert in downtown Murfreesboro. It was definitely a community event with lawn chairs and sno-cones and barbecue. We even ran into Shannon’s parents. It was a lovely night to sit outside listening to live music. Murfreesboro offers events like this throughout the summer.

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After the concert, we ended an already full day sitting by a fire roasting s’mores.

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In case you lost track, we ate lunch at an amazing restaurant, drank coffee on the back porch, got pedicures, ate another yummy meal of Mexican food, designed a tattoo, attended a local music event, and roasted marshmallows. All in less than 10 hours. And it was perfect. Despite being a busy day, I never felt rushed or like we were doing too much. We talked when we felt like it and just enjoyed the fact that we were together when we did not feel like talking. I love that we could effortlessly fall back into the pattern of our friendship, but also explore new possibilities. Like tattoos. I think that is the paradox of friendship – living the best and the worst parts of your life with another person; doing what you have always done and getting the encouragement to do something completely different.

And, if the real reason you’re reading this blog is because you, like most people I know, are convinced I must have been intoxicated while getting a tattoo and you are really wanting to know the story behind it (it’s okay, you can admit it), then stay tuned. The next installment will include Cora’s Great Tattoo Adventure.

A Tennessee Weekend: An Introduction

I obviously think too much. I can take almost any topic (except perhaps sports, and even then I could probably find a way) and consider it at length. And in detail. The topic that has been especially on my mind recently is friendship. In the past year I have learned in all new ways that I have the most amazing friends imaginable. Through the past year, my friends have held me while I ugly (and I mean ugly) cried, cried with me, prayed with me and for me, listened to me, supported me even when they disagreed with me, dropped everything to be with me when I needed it most (including helping me move in the middle of an ice storm – seriously, we were sliding boxes down the driveway), ensured I had plenty of chocolate and cookies in my life, and most of all, loved me. It is no exaggeration to say that I could not have made it through the past year without my friends.

I am so thankful for these friendships. It has not been an easy season of my life in which to be my friend and yet, there were people who persisted and walked with me along a difficult and often painful path. I have a deep appreciation for the love and strength that were spoken into my life and that I could not have found alone. But I will be honest, it was not fun. So, it was that much more meaningful to be able to simply celebrate my friendship with Shannon over a long weekend in Tennessee. No tears (well, except the laughing-so-hard-you-cry kind), no stress, just fun with one of my favorite people. Lots of fun. Perhaps too much fun…

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And yes, I’m going to stretch out a single weekend into a series of posts. Because I can. And because I have nothing else to write about. I am still working on that whole moving to Oregon/maybe not moving to Oregon thing. Plus, I can truly never say enough about the lovely, wonderful, kind, generous, amazing, and beautiful people in my life. I am so blessed.

 

Happy Days

I recently learned of a project named 100 Happy Days. The idea is to document via photographs one thing per day that makes you happy for 100 consecutive days. Intrigued by this idea, I have decided to give it a try. This fits well with research I have been reading related to gratitude and the changes that can occur when one intentionally chooses to be grateful. For instance, research has linked gratitude to improved emotional well-being, improved physical health, a more positive outlook on life, goal attainment, altruism, and more connected relationships. A lifestyle characterized by gratitude may even be a protective factor when faced with stressful life events.

There are many ways to cultivate gratitude. For much of this year, I have been writing down a daily gratitude in my planner (have I mentioned how much I love my planner?!?). Committing to 100 Happy Days feels like a logical and challenging extension of this. For me, it is not about being constantly “happy” for the next 3+ months. That is a goal that would be neither healthy nor realistic. Rather, it is about taking the time to notice that, even on the unhappiest of days, there is always something for which to be grateful. In other words, my goal is to make a choice to be grateful and to seek moments of happiness regardless of my circumstances. I would love for you to join me! I will be documenting my 100 days on Instagram (@cgplatt) with the hashtag #100happydays if you would like to follow along, although if you are opposed to cute pictures of dogs, you might not appreciate the many pictures I will probably be posting of Sydney.

So, to begin as I will likely continue, day one’s moment of happiness is Sydney being cuddly after we took a (embarrassingly long) nap this afternoon.

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I am certain that the next 100 days will hold good days and bad days, challenges and hopefully a few triumphs (let’s hope the job search falls into the latter category…), and maybe, if I’m lucky, a trip or two. Regardless, I intend to notice the glimpses of happiness – even if small or fleeting – each day brings.