New Year, Better Me.

Until recently, I used the phrase “New year, new me.” New Year’s is a time for reinvention, for starting fresh and beginning again. But looking at 2017 in the last moments of 2016, I don’t agree with the phrase.

I don’t want a NEW me. I like me. Or, I’m beginning to, anyway. I don’t want to create a totally different me. I want to grow. I want to improve. Maybe instead of saying “New year, new me,” we should switch to “New year, better me.” I think I’ll start right now.

I have compiled a list of goals (I won’t say “resolutions,” because I feel like it’s been overdone and I almost never stick to resolutions.) So here, for your reading pleasure, are my 17 Goals for 2017.

1. Read 20 books.

Ever since I learned to read, it was very rare for me to be seen without a book in hand. Whereas I still possess a thirst and passion for reading, I read far less than I used to. I have tried to come up with half-baked excuses as to why I don’t read as much anymore, but the truth is that I just haven’t carved the time out to do it. I have gotten into a routine of spending about an hour before I go to sleep browsing the internet on my phone. This is a habit I will be breaking in the new year.

2. Go on more dates.

Of course I mean with my husband…but I also mean with my friends. It all boils down to not taking enough time to nurture my relationships properly. With a packed schedule, it becomes easy to neglect something as simple as calling up a friend and asking them to dinner, or scheduling a night or two each month to stay in and play board games with the hubs. And you know what? This goes for myself, too. I need to take myself out on dates more.

3. Keep on bloggin’.

Now that I have revived My Crunchy Crusade, I have opened the doorway to blogging again. I have set a goal of blogging at least once a week. I even have a shortlist of topics to write about for the next few months. Hooray for writing therapy! I hope you guys will stay tuned!

4. Meditate.

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I know that meditation means many things to many people. A lot of people picture meditating as something a guru does, seated with their legs “criss-cross applesauce” (I’m bringing back that phrase, so help me), eyes closed and touching their index fingers to their thumbs, forming a circle. Whereas this is one way of doing it, it’s not the only way to look inward and achieve moments of peace. This year, I plan to seek these moments of peace throughout my day, living in the moment, taking in what I’m experiencing, and being truly present. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone home and been asked, “How was your day?” only to blink confusedly for a few seconds, trying to recall. I know I went to work and did my job, but how was my day? I hope to remedy this in 2017.

5. Make more art.

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This goes across the board. The arts mean a great deal to me, whether it be visual, performing, literary, you name it. There are a number of projects I already have lined up for the year: working on my blog/writing poetry, directing The Great Gatsby and hopefully being involved in a few other productions throughout the year, and working on chronicling the last few years with scrapbooking, to name a few. I plan on relishing any other involvement with the arts that comes my way. I have a creative soul, and I need to work on nourishing it more.

6. Drink more water.

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This one’s really straightforward. I am entirely convinced that I have spent the majority of my life mildly dehydrated, so I need to be more mindful of sipping water throughout the day. I could expound on the health benefits of water, or perhaps even the symbolism of water as one of the bases of life, but I’ll leave it at this: I need to carry a water bottle with me everywhere. Or chain it to my ankle; whatever it takes.

7. Whine less, celebrate more.

THIS. This is a biggie. I am susceptible to negativity. My anxiety seems to feed and thrive off of it. For my entire life, my factory setting has been more negative than positive. But as the entirety of my high school and a portion of my college life taught me, no one likes a complainer. No one. As a result, I have spent these past few years trying to negate the negativity. Though there are plenty of times where complaining is just a part of life and a healthy way to vent frustration, every day is a battle to remain positive and stop the whining. I plan on continuing this fight and trying to encourage others to do the same, because I would be a total hypocrite if I told people to stop whining without following my own advice. Thus, I created My Crunchy Crusade and also the Glass Half Full Initiative (#glasshalffullinitiative) to spread positivity and forward-thinking in life and on social media. What do you have to be happy about? Celebrate it! I know I will be in 2017!

8. Say “no.”

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For those of you who know me, you know that I care a LOT about what people think of me. Like, a LOT. Though I’m beginning to be better about it, I make myself sick over disappointing people. What I’m learning, however, is that it is completely okay to say no to people. NO, I would not like to join your LulaRoe Facebook group. NO, I cannot join your committee/board. NO, I will not be able to run that errand for you. NO. It’s another daily struggle, but one I continually work on.

9. Stop apologizing.

In the same vein as saying NO, I have this very annoying tendency to apologize for almost everything I do. I don’t know if it’s a societal thing, where I’m afraid of ruffling feathers as a woman, or if it’s my own neurosis, but I apologize way too much. Sure, there are instances that warrant an apology. Running over someone’s foot with a shopping cart because you weren’t paying attention? Thoughtlessly insulting someone during an argument? Missing an appointment because you didn’t write it down? Yes, by all means, apologize with meaning and with your heart. Having a differing opinion and respectfully making a counterpoint? Not doing something for someone because it makes you uncomfortable? Standing up for yourself? No. No more.

10. Get outside.

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Again, this is another instance where I’ve made half-baked excuses. I do not take enough time to be outside enjoying nature. There is more to life than sitting at a computer all day and then coming home to sit in front of a tv and go to bed. Here’s to embracing Mother Nature!

11. Stop comparing apples to oranges.

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I believe we all have a tendency to look at other peoples’ lives and say, “What am I doing wrong?” I know I do, almost constantly. The thing is…no one knows what anyone else has gone through to get where they are. We all have so many factors contributing to how our lives turn out. Some people truly do live a charmed life, with very few things that ever go wrong for them. Some people appear to live that charmed life, but suffer on the inside, or hide the bad things very well. The fact of the matter is…none of us are the same, so we do ourselves and others a disservice by comparing one person to another. I catch myself looking at other women and making things a competition. She does this, she does that, she looks a certain way, she acts a certain way…why can’t I be/look/act more like her? That’s the wrong approach. Instead of comparing myself to these other women…why not try to be happy with who I am?

12. LET IT GO.

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2017 is the Year of Elsa. Or…the year of Let It Go. Here’s one of my favorite memes about my struggle:

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One of the main contributors (and there are many) of my day-to-day stress is that I hold onto the wrong things. Instead of hanging on to the simple delights of my day and the good things that happen along the way (I unintentionally rhymed, but I’m going to keep it), I tend to harp on the bad things. There are things that happen in life that suck. It is impossible to scrape by without being touched by some unfortunate occurrences. The biggies should be dealt with and may take time to heal from, but the smaller bumps in the road need to be LET GO. Sometimes nothing can be done. Agonizing will not help nor will it change the fact that something crappy just happened. The best we can do is take a small amount of time to be upset, then move on. Keep truckin’.

13. Get out of town!

In the new year, I plan to use this phrase to express my disbelief at what someone just told me.

“Did you know that most Muppets are left-handed?”
“Get out of town!”

No…I’m kidding. I plan to travel more. I was born and raised in Dalton, GA, and have traveled very little in my 23 years. It may not be in the cards to take a bunch of trips across the country, but I’m setting the goal of taking multiple day trips in the coming months. There’s so much more to see!

14. Be more like my dogs.

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You may be scratching your head at this one, but hear me out. My dogs are the most enthusiastic, loving creatures on the planet. Posy, my Basset/Boxer mix, has never met a stranger. She does not discriminate. If you have hands to pet her, she is your best friend. And don’t even get me started on their zest for life. They get excited about absolutely everything: meal times, lazy couch time, potty time outside, you name it. I can even start talking in a very excited voice to them, and they start wagging their tails and doing that cute little hopping dance that dogs do. It is precious.

So here are my goals-within-the goal, or “Lifestyle Tips from Pepper and Posy”:

  • Be unabashedly enthusiastic about the things that make me happy
  • Play hard, nap hard
  • Welcome new friends with open arms
  • Love unconditionally

15. Laugh, laugh, laugh. (And cry a little.)

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One thing that I’ve found is very therapeutic in times of stress is to find the humor in life. This is where the old saying “laugh to keep from crying” comes into play. But sometimes, it’s okay to cry. They say laughter is the best medicine, but sometimes a good cry can help. Like, an ugly, snotty, toddler cry. As long as it’s not in public, because I think that might freak some people out at Kroger. But one thing I hope to do in 2017 is laugh more than I cry. Because life is short, and laughing makes you feel good. In my book, there’s not much better than when something makes you laugh so hard, it turns into a silent wheeze; you’re doubled over, tears streaming down your face, trying to get a grip. That’s what the world needs more of.

16. Be. Patient. (I mean it.)

When describing myself, I always use the phrase, “I’m a lot.” Meaning, I’m a lot to handle. I have an abundance of many things: personality, love, passion, drive. What I don’t have an abundance of is patience. I’m getting better about letting things settle and breathing, but I have a long ways to go. Perhaps one of the most important goals I’ve set for myself for the new year is that of being patient.

The Information Age has spoiled us all. Now, at our fingertips, we can achieve instant gratification on many fronts: sending a message to someone, posting an angry status in the heat of the moment, one-click shopping, looking up who sang that one song that’s been stuck in your head all day, etc. Some things take time. Some things you have to be patient for. And those things are usually the ones that are worth your while.

17. Lose 20 pounds.

I am so sorry to shift the tone so drastically with the last item of my list. Truth be told, I was extremely nervous to put this on the list and onto the internet for anyone passing by to read. But this is a big deal.

I am unhealthy. My bevy of poor choices in diet and lack of exercise have culminated in weight gain that goes beyond “happy weight,” a term which I hate. My sleep schedule and quality are shoddy. My head is foggy a lot of the time. My stress is through the roof. The time has come for me to take charge of my life, make better choices, and get it in gear. I am doing this for no one other than myself, and have laid it all out here on a public forum to hold myself accountable. This will not be an easy process, as I am used to eating whatever I want, not exercising, and staying up late, but I feel it is crucial to being the best version of myself I can be. Wish me luck!




With all of these goals laid out, I have a big year ahead! The time is now. The need is mighty. Negate the negativity. Live life. Be the ball (wait, I don’t think that one fits here.)

Anyway…I’m both excited and terrified of what 2017 has in store. Each hour brings us closer to toasting the new year, replete with potential and chances to evolve, to move onward and upward. I think most of my fear comes from being scared of not having the willpower to break bad habits, and of reverting back to past behavior. Which reminds me of the last two lines of The Great Gatsby:

…tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

It’s not easy to move forward without looking back. Our past happened, and there’s nothing we can do about it except learn from what we’ve been through. Even though we are constantly pulled back into our past, we move forward as much as we can.

Here’s to inching forward together. See you in 2017!


End of the year musings.

Over the last 12 months, I have come to realize that the older one gets, the faster time seems to move. I remember being a child and wanting time to speed up. I wanted to be an adult, to set my own bedtime, to do grown-up things; little did I know that once I became an adult, I would be yearning for the exact opposite.

I remember when I started realizing how time worked; how the seasons pass in the same pattern, how the annual events and holidays seem to creep up quicker and quicker with each passing year. I was 6 or 7. I remember fitting the puzzle pieces together in my mind of how it was already winter again.

But didn’t it just snow last year? Yes, and three seasons followed that, and here we were again.

I consider that a sort of awakening, a major milestone in my adolescence.I had emerged from the foggy existence of a young child who was being taught to go through the motions of life.

New Year comes, we drink the sparkling grape juice and stay up past our bedtime for one evening. We put away the winter clothes and take out the dresses and sandals. We finish school for the year, and in what seems like the blink of an eye, we’re waving American flags and looking up at the sky as fireworks boom above our heads. Then we meticulously pick out new school outfits and supplies, we pack our book bags, and we return to the classroom. We pack away our summer clothes and switch to long sleeves and pants. We see our distant relatives for the first time in what seems like forever and eat some turkey (we never eat turkey…this is strange). We get a break from school and start saving up change for the Salvation Army kettles outside the grocery store (one of my favorite times of year as a tyke). Santa delivers presents while we’re sleeping (we try to stay awake long enough to catch him in the act, to hear reindeer hooves on the roof, but by golly, we always drift off.) And, as the weather grows cold and the wind picks up, you look to the sky for the smallest hint of snow.

Now, at 23 years old, I look back at the routine of it all. And though I enjoy a glass of champagne (or two) now on New Year’s, I don’t get a summer break (boo-hoo), and I don’t get to enjoy school supplies shopping in the fall, the motions are pretty much the same. We go from season to season as we always have. We celebrate the holidays, we switch from long sleeves to short, then back again.

If 2016 has taught us anything with the international tragedies plastered across the 24-hour news channels and high volume of celebrity deaths, it is that we are not promised time.

2016 is drawing to a close, and 2017 lies ahead…shining with potential.

What if, for this year, we don’t just go through the motions? What if we were to take the time to savor each day like a fine meal? Let’s drink in the hours like a fine glass of wine. Let’s enjoy each day like a grade-A steak (or sad tofu patty, or whatever vegetarians eat instead). Let’s delight in each interaction with people as if we’re relishing a gourmet dessert. Life is a treat. So let’s “treat” it that way. (I’m so sorry for that pun.)

Here’s to 2017!

Next blog post: “New Year, Better Me.” (17 Goals for 2017)

I am a gift wrap hoarder.

Hello, my name is Tanner, and I am a gift wrap hoarder.

There. I said it. They say the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Well, here I am…laying it all out there. I have a gift wrap hoarding problem.

I love gift bags. I adore bows. I crave neatly folded and smoothed-out squares of leftover tissue paper. I yearn for scraps of wrapping paper. I dream of spools of ribbon, yards of tape, decorative tags, spare gift boxes. I always have thank you cards at the ready. I have an entire set of drawers in my craft room stuffed with anything you could possibly need to envelop that perfectly selected gift for someone special.

The above photos depict my raided stash of gift wrapping goodies as they are right now, after all of my Christmas gifts have been painstakingly wrapped and placed under the tree. In this collection’s heyday (after our wedding last summer) you couldn’t even shut the drawers for all of the ribbons, tissue and gift bags that were crammed in there!

I think my gift wrap hoarding all started for me as a small child. Both my mother and my grandmother were notorious for salvaging used gift bags and leftover tissue paper at family gatherings. The custom has been passed down for generations and perfected by me. I can strategically open a present while preserving the integrity of its vessel…then into the gift wrap drawer it goes!

Needless to say…I spend very, very little at Christmastime and birthdays on gift wrap. However, the problem lies in me not wanting to give up certain bags because I know that once they are given away to their recipient, they will end up in the garbage or recycling bin. I’ve caught myself gleefully rummaging through the refuse of Christmas and birthday wrappings, plucking out the salvageable treasures, and triumphing in another gift bag or box saved from an unfortunate fate.

People close to me know that I have this problem. For instance, my friend and former director, Kendra, aided and abetted my addiction by donating two very large bags full of tissue paper and gift bags, which still sit behind my desk at work, in case they are needed. (Just kidding about the “aiding and abetting” part; it was a very thoughtful and kind gesture that she gave me all of these materials, and I love it).


With Christmas in 3 days, I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am for everyone to receive their gifts. If there’s anything I love more than gift wrap, it’s picking out the perfect gifts for my loved ones. They are typically things that I make, and only occasionally something I purchase. I try to stray away from mass-produced items as gifts, and so I usually pick a craft or two each year and personalize those crafts for each individual recipient. Next year, however, I have already made up my mind to go the more practical route for gifts, and only give useful items; everyone has gadgets and gizmos aplenty (like that Little Mermaid reference?), so I want to try to give practical things instead of whosits and whatsits galore (there I go again).

Wow, it feels good to finally get this off my chest. I’m sorry for not being sorry about how excited I am for the days AFTER Christmas, when I can re-stock on gift wrap and start my collection over for the new year. 😉

Making up for lost time.

Welcome back to My Crunchy Crusade!

You’ve probably been wondering where I’ve been for the last year…and a half. I’ll be honest, I had the best intentions with starting this blog in the summer of 2015. I had just recently graduated college and gotten married. I was juggling a number of part-time jobs, one of which was at the Wrens Nest Center for Wellbeing, which was the perfect place to get inspired about putting a new foot forward and living more healthily and mindfully.

Then autumn rolled around. Within a matter of weeks, I took the most magical trip imaginable and started my very first “big girl” job. Billy and I went to Disney World for our honeymoon, which was an absolute dream. I had never been, and to say that the Most Magical Place on Earth exceeded my expectations would be an understatement.

The week before we left for Orlando, I applied for the position of Marketing Assistant for the Downtown Dalton Development Authority. My acquaintance, Kendra, had recently started as the new Director, and the previous Marketing Assistant put in her resignation shortly after Kendra started. Since Kendra was brand new, the City moved very quickly with their decision, and in the middle of our honeymoon…I got the job offer! I happily accepted. What was even better was that the position had been changed from Marketing Assistant to Marketing & Communications Manager. So it was a dream job with management cred built right in…straight out of college!

The first few months of the job were stressful, I won’t lie to you. I began immediately after returning from Disney. (We flew back on Saturday, and the job began on Monday). Within two weeks, the largest DDDA event of the year happened…the annual Beer Fest! The event went swimmingly. But that wasn’t all…the annual Liberty Tree Festival followed THREE WEEKS after the Beer Fest. Those three weeks went by in a blur as I threw myself entirely into planning the event.

In October of 2015, I returned to the stage after a year-and-a-half-long hiatus in the role of Nina in Dalton Little Theatre’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” by Christopher Durang. The play itself wasn’t my cup of tea, but it was an extremely enjoyable experience, in which I got to play a quirky, spunky young woman with an extensive knowledge of cinema (that doesn’t sound familiar at all, does it?) I met some truly wonderful people in the cast, and got to know a few acquaintances much better.


The week after “Vanya” closed, I cut off 11 inches of my hair (which to me was a big deal). I’m currently growing it out again because it was a mistake! Haha!


We’ll fast forward a few months, to January of this year. Kendra, my director, with whom I had formed a close professional bond, announced that following the birth of her baby in June, she would be resigning and moving to Milledgeville, GA with her new little family. I was absolutely heartbroken to see her go, but so happy for Kendra, her husband, and little Lucy as they started a new adventure.


Miss you, Kendra!

The beginning of this year came with more theatre! On a strange (and delightful) whim, Billy decided that he wanted to try out for Artistic Civic Theatre’s “As You Like It” with me. He was cast as Oliver, the evil older brother of the male protagonist, and I was cast as Celia (a.k.a. Aliena), the wealthy side-kick of the female protagonist who escapes with her into the forest under the guise of a simple country girl. We had an absolute blast, and it was such a treat to see Billy find his voice on stage. As I’ve since told him, now that he’s tackled Shakespeare, he can do just about anything on stage! (More on that later.) My next play was ACT’s “My Fair Lady,” in which I played Mrs. Pierce.

After that, for the first time since my very first season performing with ACT in 2010, I was in an ACT summer musical! And it could not have been a better experience: I got to cross an item off of every theatre-kid’s bucket list…Gilbert & Sullivan! That’s right…I sang opera! I cannot gush enough about how much I loved playing Edith in “Pirates of Penzance!”


Pirates of Penzance!

The first half of 2016 ended with an anniversary trip to St. Simon’s, which was just what the doctor ordered. Soon after, I turned 23 on June 17th! Hard to believe.



I also had the immense pleasure to take a trip to New York City this summer to visit my best friend, Grace! It was my third trip to the Big Apple, and no less thrilling than the first two. We saw three shows, “An American in Paris,” “Shuffle Along” (in which I saw the goddess Audra McDonald, herself), and “Waitress” (in which we laughed so hard we cried at Christopher Fitzgerald). I sang karaoke in K-Town, saw Grace perform with her class at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Chelsea, saw JANEANE GAROFALO, visited burrows I had never explored, and drank in every single minute of the mad, loud, beautiful, eccentric city. It’s been my favorite NYC trip to date, and I CANNOT wait to go back.


At the end of June, the DDDA’s new director, Garrett, started. It’s been a joy to get to know him and get accustomed to the new office dynamic. Since he stepped in, many new and exciting things have happened. In the past year alone, THIRTEEN new businesses have opened!! I’ve also had the pleasure of taking over as the public face/voice for the office. I now record radio spots and television infomercials for Downtown Dalton. It’s been a really fun learning experience, and I really get a kick out of people saying, “Hey, you’re that Downtown Lady!”


Chatting it up with Lori McDaniel on “The Local Scene”

In the past couple of months, I’ve also taken on a few other responsibilities in the community as a board member for some non-profit organizations. It’s my second year as a board member for Dalton Little Theatre, for which I am the brand new Marketing Chair. In addition, I now serve on the boards of the Young Professionals of Northwest Georgia AND the Friendship House. (Whew!) Each organization supports causes that are incredibly near to my heart: theatre, community involvement, providing networking opportunities for young people in the area, and helping children!

In August, Billy and I took another huge step in our relationship: WE BOUGHT A HOUSE! It is so beautiful and we have settled in nicely. It’s been interesting living in the county (even though it’s like 2 miles from the city line) but I really love how quiet it is. We also have a ton of trees on our property, which makes this flower child extremely happy. I will be sure to do another post about what I’ve learned about myself and Billy throughout the process of buying, decorating, and living in a house. (I am the very first homeowner in my family, so it’s an enormous deal!)


Along with the new house came a brand new member of the family…Pepper! She was rescued by a friend I met through DLT. Pepper and Posy are absolutely inseparable and have bonded over terrorizing the cat. She is extremely shy and terrified of anyone that isn’t me or Billy, but I believe she’ll come around. I’ve never met a more snuggly and loving dog (and that’s saying a lot, because I thought her sister was lovey-dovey)!

Though I know this has been a long post (kudos to you if you made it all the way to the end!) I believe this is the final push towards making 2017 a more mindful and healthy year for me. In recapping the last year and a half (whether anyone reads this or not), I have finally broken back through the barrier I set up for myself by putting off blogging for so long.

It’s incredibly simple to only highlight the good (which I’ve craftily done for you here, dear reader). But I’ll be honest with you, because I feel it’s important to be transparent: it hasn’t been an easy year. In October, I came extremely close to losing my guardian angel, Lynn. There was a stretch of time during her stay in the MICU where I didn’t leave the house (or my couch, for that matter) because I sunk into a deep, dark hole from which I feared I wouldn’t emerge. I scared myself and my close friends and family. It’s been hard to bounce back from that, and as a result, I have lapsed in my mission to forge onward and upward. I have regressed with regard to my physical and mental health. I watch too much tv, I seldom write for pleasure, and I’ve felt very distant from inner peace. But I’m excited.

Why, you may ask? Because I’m ready to say goodbye.

Bye bye, 2016!

In 11 days, we will all say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017. It is cliched, but a new year marks a great jumping-off point. So, for my next blog post, I will outline my new plan for 2017’s journey to finding my equilibrium. It’s an overhaul of the bad to let in the good.

I hope you’ll join me for the launch of My (resuscitated) Crunchy Crusade!

Until next time,