August 24, 2019

The Lost Colony - One More Time

There is a bit of sacred ground on the north end of Roanoke Island…where, each summer for the last five years, we gather to share the story of The Lost Colony. 

Our first summer, Little Miss portrayed the roll of a child in the audience, chosen by the narrator to hear the story of the New World, and all that entailed. She walked with him each evening, looking on intently as he talked of Indian battles and the birth of the first English child. That year, Daddy took her to the theater often. On the evenings he would drop her off, I could count on my phone ringing shortly before showtime.

“Hey Bud…I’m gonna stay. I’ve just got to watch it one more time,” he would say.

I hear those words ring over and over today- one more time- when I think of all the things I should be doing at home- the ever-growing pile of laundry, the stalls that need to be cleaned, dinner that has been frozen or fast-food for too many nights in a row. But no…one more time, I remind myself- and I stay at Waterside Theater.

Rehearsal season #2 began just a few days after Daddy’s passing. We were all still numb. The words of sympathy and hugs were appreciated but I don’t know if they were truly absorbed. Little Miss was given the role of a young colonist, with lines. Mom and I shared a silent look- Daddy told every nurse in the hospital that his granddaughter was going to be returning for her second season, and would have lines- something we had no way of knowing at the time. (The scene was later cut and I never forgave that year’s production manager, who is likely being haunted by an angry farmer.)

Throughout that season and every season since, I have felt Daddy's presence so strong on the sound side, leaning against an old Oak tree, watching…one more time.

An interesting fact about, well, any theater production really- however it seems to ring truer in this particular show- is that you will never see the same show twice. The family of actors changes- some new, some returning…some returning in different roles. New Old Tom says this line quirkier than the last, this Eleanor Dare shoots a gun, this Queen is local, blond, and rides horses in her spare time…wait, what? (One can only wish.)

I’m a firm believer that God places people in our paths for specific reasons- to teach us, nurture us, learn from us, etc. In five seasons, I have watched Little Miss make some of her best friends in the sand at Waterside Theater. Unconventional, fly-across-the-country, strong, amazing friendships. From these actors, she has learned as many life-lessons as stage-lessons. She’s learned that life throws curves at us- you may start out in one role, and end up in another! She’s learned the importance of showing up. (And surprise-visits!) The talent and confidence she’s absorbed from her peers is invaluable. 

This season, she was cast (among other roles) as a dead body. She was delighted to add something new to her resume- a stage fall. Each night, she was painted green during intermission and placed behind a curtain where- when she hears her cue- she throws herself out onto the wooden stage. Once there, she has to lay perfectly still…because you know, she’s dead. (Mosquitos feasting…rain falling…perfectly still.)

“Mama, I think it makes sense for me to be in prologue…since I’m a dead body,” she told me, a few rehearsals in. (During prologue, spirits of the lost colonist appear behind the narrator.)

“That’s a great idea! Why don’t you mention it?” I encouraged.

Before I knew it, Little Miss’s twelve-year-old-self had shared her vision with her director- Ira David Wood, III. (Who is extremely-talented, and thankfully, humble.) He approved her request to be the first child-addition in the prologue.

A blink of an eye and some 70+ shows later, the cast of the 82nd season walked its final march. (The actual final show was cancelled due to a lightning storm that seemed to hover directly over the theater.) All the sweat and exhaustion of the summer faded in the moments we heard the announcement…one more time.

Little Miss hugged her cast-mates and shared tears. I watched as the adults were equally as sad as she, to say goodbye. 

As we walked in the rain to the parking lot, we were joined by our favorite narrator. He is one of those friends who is now family- one of those friends who just shows up, sharing encouragement, advice, and sarcasm. (And on Little Miss’s first ever audition, joined her onstage because she had an unexpected moment of stage-fright.) As the path ended, we said our good-byes, which since we all live here, was not as dreary as the weather.

“Love you!!” Little Miss said to him.

I started to cry. Little Miss only says those words if she feels it in her heart and equally, feels it from the other party.

We got in the truck and I tried my best to get my shit together. Little Miss was oblivious to the rain shower flying out of my eyeballs.

“He doesn’t look like Grandad…or sound like him. But…he is always proud of me…and it makes me want to make him proud, like grandad,” she said, looking out the window, almost talking to herself.

As we drove away from our 5th season…I thanked God for the paths he crossed with ours, for popcorn dinners that allowed me to watch one more time and for an unconventional closing night that gave us a few extra moments with our people

Thank you, The Lost Colony…you will be remembered. 

July 13, 2019

I'm Right Where I Need to Be

Life is made up of many seasons. When your little, the seasons consist of the beginning of school, Christmas break, winter-time, and summer-time. When you get older, you look back on significant moments and judge the season by where you worked, how old your child was, or by what relatives were beside you. 

A few months ago, several things changed in my life and while some were a little nerve-wrecking, today I am thankful for the season we are finding ourselves in.

To start- I decided to return to East Carolina University to complete my degree in communication. (Remember back when I decided to move to NYC and have a baby roughly 12 years ago? Although I only lacked a few Pirate-credit hours, they’re pretty insistent that I actually complete those. Technicality.) I’m very excited to complete something I began many moons ago- while also feeling a bit like a nerdy dinosaur. College, Take-2 is off to a marvelous start! (Who knew if we took away the alcohol, and sprinkled on some ‘focus’ I could literally bring my A game!)

Near the time of my college-revelation, changes were swirling about at my legal-assiting gig. We were about to be on the move again...but this time my potential new office would involve a longer drive and a new position. It was a wonderful opportunity that I’m incredibly grateful for, but the more I thought about the changes and the distance from home- the more my stomach hurt. To put it in prospective, I worried over taking/passing on said position as if I had been up all night with a colicing horse. #shitwasreal 

Each evening I came home from the office, sat on our John Deere with my husband...and evaluated the situation- over...and over…and over again. (God bless him, he listened to whatever side of the fence I was on and supported me and my decision.) Was I being ungrateful for not even giving the new gig a shot? Was I being irrational by even thinking I was being ungrateful...duh, you’re a can’t be further away from home. 

I did the only thing I knew to do...I prayed really hard about it. I prayed for a sign that this opportunity was actually for me...I prayed for a position closer to home...I prayed for God to just tell me what the hell to do…#GodandItalklikethat

Then it happened...over lunch with my sweet-friend- she shared she was leaving her position at Bayliss Boatworks and moving closer to her family. I instantly got a lump in my throat. I saw God’s billboard sign, flashing with big neon letters. (The flashing neon said “I can’t get you any closer to home...what more of a sign to you need, kid?!”)

Shortly thereafter, the third anniversary of Daddy’s death left me a sobbing mess. I wasn’t prepared to be such a baby on year three...but I was. I just wanted his advice on everything...was it a good idea to even interview for a job with my spouse? Should I just try the original position further north? Will either position be a position that will make you proud?

Mid-ugly cry on my way home, somewhere on the beach-road...I yelled to no one.

Why. WHY!? I just want to hear his voice...or see some kind of sign that shows me I am not f*cking up.

A few hours phone dinged. Look outside towards the shop.

I walked outside on the porch to see a huge, gorgeous rainbow...that landed on top of Bayliss Boatworks.

Thanks, Daddy.

A few days later, I accepted my current position as the new construction coordinator...and my commute takes roughly 35 seconds, if there is traffic. (Oh and on that evening, another double rainbow appeared. Between God and Daddy, I think they’re making damn sure I get the signs.)

In this season of life, I’m going to complete my degree...and learn how to speak boat. After all- life can change without our permission- and even the most strong-willed cowgirls cannot control that...but we can control our attitudes and that is what determines the ride. 

April 28, 2019

Chris & George

March 30, 2019 was a day I will never, as long as I live, forget. I think my husband would agree- it is right up there with our wedding day. On this fateful day, we got to see Chris Stapleton and George Strait perform live in Atlanta.

We woke up at 4am and were out the door by 4:30. My sweet husband drove the entire way to Atlanta while I serenaded him with everything from Eric Church to Eminem. #luckyhusband We arrived at our hotel just in time to change and haul ass to the stadium. We still arrived hours before Chris or George were set to take the stage, but I couldn’t settle down until we got to our seats. I just wanted to know we were where we needed to be- together- drinking $10 beers with 80,000 rednecks. #everycowgirlsdream

Chris Janson opened for Chris Stapleton, and another gal did too, but we missed her set because we couldn’t figure out how to get into the parking lot. #bigcityproblems Chris ran onstage and within about 30 seconds, I felt like we were the only people in a tiny honky-tonk bar. The man sang He talked about his ‘bonus children’ the way we talk about our girls, and maybe it was the lack of sleep, the high elevation, or just me missing our girls…but eyes filled up to the brim.

“Step kid just sounds like they aren’t as special,” he said to the crowd.

In a world of selfies and made up languages (I’m talking to you, Cardi-B) it was refreshing to hear a man stand on stage in front of thousands of people talk about his family…his bonus children…and his wife. That is real life.

While I dried my eyes, the seats around us filled with cowboy boots and plaid shirts...and cellphones. Literally every person in front of us was either taking selfies or videoing every moment of the evening on SnapChat.

Pardon me while I step onto my soapbox for a moment…

I took one selfie and one video...why? I wanted something to remember the evening- which is why we take photos, correct? A photo allows us to travel in time back to that moment and remember the feelings, the smells, the laughter, the tears...the memories attached to the photo is what makes the photo special. HOWfreakingEVER, filming every second of the evening removes the emotion completely. It takes away from the excitement of seeing George Strait dance onto the stage with his guitar...a two-step that continued for over two hours. There were times that I felt it was only George and his guitar...the band members faded into the shadows, the screaming fans disappeared...and it was just George and his dance partner- his acoustic guitar.

How can you feel that if your version of living in the moment is living through a snapchat filter?

Shoutout to the lady-beside-me- your constant filming made me sing louder, knowing that my tone-deaf vocals would be the memory saved in your iphone. #yourewelcome

Our generation and those younger do not know how to enjoy a single moment without documenting it. (The irony here is that I’m writing about this experience on my blog...which will be posted on social media for all ten of you to read. Hi, Bailey!) Whether a concert or a dinner plate, each and every moment is documented, filtered, and shared for hundreds of their closest friends to judge, like, and comment on.

Is this really what our generation will be remembered for? An addiction to filtered memories?

Allow me to climb down off the soapbox.

I wouldn’t change a thing about our evening with Chris x 2 and George. There is not one single song I had hoped to hear that they didn’t perform...and perform so well that I still hear it playing in my mind. George sang several Merle Haggard tunes. The soundtrack of my parents love story includes many Merle-melodies, which made the performance even more emotional for me. I often feel my father’s presence but during that particular moment...I could see his grin smiling back at me.

If you ever get the chance to see any of the three mentioned performers, do whatever you have to do to get in sick, sell your favorite pair of boots, whatever you have to give up- I promise you, it will be worth it.

And for the love of God, put your cellphone down and listen once you get there. ;-)

April 20, 2019

The Significance in a Date

Four. Twenty Three.

Some dates stand out in your memory and remain highlighted for the rest of your life.

It was a windy day. I had a local wedding to shoot in Colington. I was in a fog when I walked into the venue- but remember thinking of the irony in the purple decor, in light of Prince’s recent passing. The true irony was that my brain was allowing me to focus on anything but the black cloud hanging over my head.

My Daddy was in the hospital. The sand was running out in his hourglass of life and there was nothing I could do to slow it down.

“He has pancreatic cancer,” I told my {amazing} photog-assistant, Dana.

A little over two weeks, he left us for heaven.

Each year, 4.23 begins the remember where we were in, we were transferred to different, he said he was sorry he had to go- and promised to visit my, he got taken off all his IVs and danced into the hallway- fell & got a black eye. Our memories drive us down the path we walked, and remind us how short life truly is.

As difficult as it is to relive some of those memories, I wouldn't trade them for the world. I soak in every detail, every tear drop, every smile, every bit of every memory...


I ran my first ever half marathon in Daddy’s honor. It was the perfect distraction for a date so significant in our lives. I felt him with me the entire run, whispering words of encouragement.

Mama stood proudly at the finish line, wearing his hat, and while tears flowed down my face- so much symbolism hit me. I finished my race...on a date that began Daddy’s race to his heavenly home. #13.1mileswillmakeyouthink


I went to work and cried silently at my desk. I kept the significance of the date to myself.

I felt like my insides were going to explode. Note to self: #dontdothatagain


It will be my mom’s last day as director of Roanoke Island Presbyterian Daycare. God chose her, almost 30 years ago, to do his work in a childcare ministry...something she’d never done before. She has not only been a director, teacher, and friend to many, but a mother to the babies and young parents she served. Now, God is telling her to rest and enjoy watching the ministry grow from the outside.

My mom is a glass-is-half-full kind of person. It can rain for days and she will remind you how beautiful the garden will be because of it. I know she chose this day to redirect our sadness into something happy. Daddy’s dream for her was to retire and enjoy life’s little details, without the worry of what she was falling behind on.

This year, I am looking forward to celebrating 4.23 and all of the lives mom has touched throughout her career. I can’t wait to get the phone call on a random Wednesday morning, from a happy retiree in her beach chair in the sand.

Happy Retirement, Mama!!

April 13, 2019

Tales of a Not-So-Tough Dog Named Tuff: Hunting Lessons

I will never forget the day we brought our lab home for the first time 5 years ago. We had lost one of our older fur-babies a few months prior- and saw the lab-litter posted online shortly thereafter. We knew it was meant to be for this tiny ball of white fur to come live with us. He would comfortably fit in the hood of my sweatshirt, which is where he snuggled many mornings while I edited photos in my home-office.

“I think we should call him Chief,” my husband said.

I disagreed emphatically, flashing through dozens of horses from days-gone-by named Chief. #alljackasses

“How about Tuff...for Tuff Hedeman,” I suggested, adding fun facts about the bull rider.

It is still a joke today that because I named him, he's my dog. The name is the biggest oxymoron of all.freaking.time. While my husband had high hopes and dreams of many hunting adventures with his handsome side-kick, Tuff mostly hunts for snuggles, kisses, and any spare sock left in sight. #mastersockhunter #mamasboy

Full disclosure: this last duck season, my husband became completely addicted to quack. We appreciate your prayers during this difficult time. #sendwine

During said season, my sweet man decided to give my our sock-hunting pup another chance and started working with him on sit, stay, go get the duck, lessons. Tuff did all the things perfectly, retrieving his rubber-ducky like a champ. Duck calls made him jump for joy...which equally, made the husband jump for joy.

“I think he’s actually going to be a hunting dog. He is smart,” said my sweet man.

“He is smart, but I think unless you get him a wetsuit, he may hate every second of hunting...or drown because he can’t all,” I replied. (Seriously, he sinks like a rock if you can get him to go near any body of water.)

Nonetheless, the lessons continued until the fateful morning when ducks were brought home from a hunting trip. #deadasadoornail They were laying on the concrete when Tuff’s entire day was ruined. He ran outside, overly excited to see his Daddy when he saw them, sniffed them...and his sweet little heart broke.

“Here,’s a duck!”

They are not breathing!!! Why aren’t they breathing!?! Hang on, little guy. Maybe I could administer CPR...Mom is going to kill you, Dad. I had nothing to do with the death of these poor creatures, you murderer.

“Here...just sniff it…”

*sniffs again* No!! They’re definitely dead. Too far gone for CPR. I feel sick. I can’t even breathe with that thing near me. I may vomit. These poor ducks…you monster.

“Tuff...just take the duck in your mouth, it's just like your duck!”

Liar. It is not and I will not open my mouth. Absolutely the hell not. Mom told me never to my mouth on the I see why. She told me they were fragile. Get a crowbar because my jaws are shut and will continue to be shut until you get that lifeless body away from it. I will not take the blame for your wrongdoing...nope...nope...nope. Mom is going to be so mad. She loves our birds.

About the time that Tuff looks like he’s going to have a nervous breakdown, I walk outside.

“What is that, Tuffy?!”

Ask Dad. Tuff sits down, staring back at me wide-eyed, like he’s done something very wrong. Then looks at Kirk, like you’re in for it now. Have fun living outside- I’m taking your side of the bed.

“I think our lessons are over. He’s scared of the dead ducks,”

I giggled to myself.

Oh Tuff- to be named for a cowboy who loved to jokingly call Lane Frost a “puss” are indeed, a puss yourself. But if snuggling was an olympic sport, you would be a gold medal winner every time.