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Two Hundred Sixty-Two Thousand Eight Hundred Minutes

In honor of the New Year, I purposed to remain diligent with my minimum weekly blogging. Sadly, it has been quite awhile since my last blog. In fact, since ringing in the New Year, blogging seems to have taken a back seat to all of life’s mandates. I have been professing it is because “I’ve just been so busy” but if I am really honest, I haven’t felt like I have had much to say. Inspiration seems to have been doled out but I got the kid’s meal portion. Though there have been many events and happenings in life, words have been evasive.

This week marked an important day. I have been a Tennessean for 6 months. Despite writer’s block or busy-ness, this is a milestone worthy of reflection to see where I’ve come from and where I am headed.

When I prepared for the cross-country move to Tennessee, I dreamt about how my life would change in big and small ways. My ideas were all encompassing but all focused around growing relationships. I was excited about a new beginning and experiencing life unique to the South: learning about true Southern hospitality, eating traditional Southern dishes, sightseeing parts of the country I have never seen before, seeing it snow and finding a place that really was “home”.

I was sucker punched by the hardships I met as I tried to settle in. The first several weeks in Tennessee would be aptly characterized by the words isolation, abandonment, confusion, alien, penniless, faith, fortitude, hope and determination. In the midst of the trials I could not see how I would ever get from chaos to stability; from stability to thriving, yet thriving I am.

Now that I am settling into my life, I am beginning to realize some of the adventures I dreamt of six months ago. For most people, I would guess that trying new food isn’t some great adventure; however for this girl who is not particularly moved by food (except maybe chocolate) and prefers celery and carrots, eating fried foods is definitely an adventure. I had my first down home Southern meal during my mom’s first visit this past weekend: turnip greens, fried okra and chicken fried steak (yes, the vegetarian took a couple of bites of steak). The okra, to my surprise, was wonderful. I could have lived another 38 years without the turnip greens.

From new foods to new lands, a little time off has afforded me the chance to spread my wings. I took my first weekend trip and spent some time sightseeing in Paducah, KY and Metropolis, IL while on the way to St. Louis, MO. Paducah is a beautiful port along the Ohio River with a quaint downtown shopping area. It didn’t take me long to find a place to get my chocolate fix. I had some of the best peanut butter and chocolate fudge I’ve ever had. Who can pass through Metropolis and not visit the giant Superman statue? The highlight, however, was the Gateway Arch. It is a truly spectacular engineering feat with the best vantage point of St. Louis. Not one to sit and let cobwebs collect, I have another trip keyed into my GPS. Atlanta… IKEA… here I come! I am ready to do some serious furniture shopping. Hopefully, Mother Nature will cooperate and we will have sunny skies all the way.

As much as I love a sunshine-y day, I thoroughly enjoy living where we get the occasional dusting of snow. I’ve learned how to make a life-size snowman, I am learning to drive in the snow, and by the grace of God I have acquired enough clothing to keep me fairly warm, at least most of the time.

I recently asked Mr. M&Ms, “What is something noteworthy that has changed in me or growth you have seen in me since you’ve known me?” The answer: He sees in me the willingness to stop and take a breath and that there is a settling into my life and my surroundings. I think he is right- at least about the settling into my life. As far as taking a breath, that may be a life-long lesson- one I am determined to master.

So as I look at where I have been, my busy-ness reflects the many things I imagined my life to be in Tennessee. And what will the next six months hold for me? Returning to school is on the immediate agenda. I hope I will be able to say that I will be injury free and returning to the dance studio, as well. And for my relationships? I’m continually looking for new ways to “make some memories”. I hope these memories will come through adventures and conversations and good meals together.

What would I like to be able to say about myself and my first year in Tennessee? That I truly “slowed down and enjoyed life.”


  1. Liberty


    I would like to add that you found new depths of strength and courage within you! You kept your head up and kept marching along. Not allowing anyone or anything stop you. I am so proud of you Shayna for the great woman you are! I am proud to call you my friend!

    Love you and miss you SO much!

  2. Pingback: January 22, 2012 | Southern Girl Photography | Nashville Photographer

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