Wednesday, November 25, 2015

thankful, week three.

First of all, an enormous THANK YOU for all of your generous and kind feedback about last week's post.  I am truly grateful for your nice words about Dan.  

Since Thanksgiving this week (?!), I'm going to likely taking my lists into December, but here is my latest installment of the 30 things I'm thankful for.   

15. Technology

I know, I know . . .first Facebook makes the list, now "technology?" From me, the same girl who until a few years ago, still owned a flip phone?  Though I reluctantly joined the smart phone world, now that I'm a crazy aunt, I am so thankful for iPhone features like Facetime and Photo Share.  I sadly had to miss Gray's birthday party last weekend, but thanks to my parents who took an obnoxious amount of video and pictures, I kinda felt like I was there.


I would have much rather preferred to hear her say, "meatballs" in person, but watching this on repeat is pretty great too.

16. Bitmoji 

Speaking of other things my iPhone can do that my flip phone never could, I love Bitmoji, my personalized emoji that is sometimes my only way of communicating.  It's free, it's fun, what's not to love?


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17. My Squad

Whenever anyone asks me how I like living in Atlanta, my response is usually some variation of, "Well, I like my job, and I love that many of my college friends are close by."  Maybe it's sad that these are the two best things about the city to me, but I feel grateful that some of my favorite people are a part of my life on a semi-regular basis.  It's not exactly like being in college - now there are kids and adult responsibilities, so no more entire days on the couch binge watching reality TV (at least not together).  But there are impromptu Mexican Friendsgiving Celebrations with cheap tequila, cheese dip and knock knock jokes, so my cup overflows.

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18. Christmas Lists

The Gallmans are list people.  Scratch that - the Gallmans are Christmas List people.  If someone asks us what we want, we tell them, often in explicit detail - color, size, link to buy included.  We leave nothing to chance.  These lists have evoked some hilarious memories over the years (remember when my dad asked for my brother and me to write our wills?), so much so, that my mom laminated our lists from years past and put them in a coffee table book.

So far my dad is the only person to have submitted his list, which consists of a lot of boring items like socks and sweater vests.  He did get a thankful chuckle out of me with #2, however.
After Shave Balm: I have used Pierre Cardin After Shave Balm for years but I believe it has been discontinued as I have not been able to find it anywhere. I would like something that doesn’t smell the room up but when I get a hug from women they can get a whiff of something pleasant to smell
This is classic Chuck and I'm so grateful for him.  Anyone got any ideas?

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19. Ebates

Speaking of Christmas and lists and shopping, I am super thankful to have found Ebates, "Where it pays to shop online."  That is the site's tagline, and it sounds too good to be true, but it's not - it really works.  When you sign up for Ebates, you get access to all of the online coupon codes for your favorite online shopping sites and when you access those sites through Ebates, you earn cash back on your purchases.  We're not talking life-changing money here (10% is the most I've earned on one transaction), but since I've joined two years ago, I've earned a total of $221 on purchases I would've made anyway.  So why not?  Click the link below and get on board.  You will not regret it.

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20.  A "Normal" Work Schedule

I suppose it's weird that I refer to working on Thanksgiving Day as "normal," but after spending eight days on the dreaded overnight shift last week, I am thrilled to be back in the land of the living.  My sincerest apologies to anyone who had any contact with me during that time - I was not a very pleasant person.  I've never been so grateful to be waking up at 5:30am.

21.  Resilient Toddlers

My niece fractured her elbow at nursery school last week, but she seems to be taking it well.

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We've been joking in my family that this was her response when her mom told her that the Gamecocks could pull the upset this weekend against Clemson.  Hey - it could happen! 


22. Yoga

Like therapy, without it, I would be a much sadder, more anxious person than I already am - something I don't want to even think about.

23. Adele 


No explanation needed.

I am so thankful for this community that allows me to call myself a writer.  Thank you for making that happen.  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!  

Thursday, November 19, 2015

thankful, week two.

I was so excited heading into the weekend after posting my first week full of things I was thankful for.  I received text messages from friends saying they planned on listening to Leon Bridges and were already downloading EveryDollar.  I was ready for week two, brainstorming what would be on the next list. 

And then, on that following Saturday, I got one of those phone calls.  The kind of call that I'll always remember where I was standing when I answered the phone and what I was doing when I heard the words, "Dan died."  I knew I hadn't misheard what my friend was telling me, but I couldn't - and in many ways still can't - wrap my mind around the fact that Dan, my vibrant, 35-year old childhood friend, avid runner, devoted husband, and world traveler was gone.  

I've been "gratitude challenged" before.  But feeling thankful when horrible things happen - like Dan's passing and the atrocities in Paris - is just so damn hard.  I know that I can do hard things (thanks to my spirit animal Glennon); I know I must be thankful in the midst of tragedy. The alternative - a cynical, hardened existence - isn't an option I'm ready to consider.  

So while I continue to struggle, as I did earlier this year, with God's reasoning and timing in all of this, I have managed to find another week's full of reasons to feel thankful: 
   
7. Dan's life 

Dan lived more in his 35 years on earth than most people do with twice as many years.  I know it's such a cliche to say that after someone passes away, but Dan really did live large.  His obituary was just a snapshot of his very adventurous and successful life.  He was enthusiastic about everything - traveling, beer festivals, kickball - and whatever he was doing, he always wanted as many people as possible to come along.  I am so thankful that Dan was one of my oldest friends, that he teasingly used to call me "Step On My Gallbladder." I'm thankful for the ridiculous yearbook entries he wrote about the time we spent working in the school store at Harbison West Elementary and for the six weekends in a row we went to see Wayne's World.  He will be so missed by everyone who loved him.

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8. my hometown guys (and gals)

Dan's death and funeral brought together old friends from near and far.  There were lots of tears, but thankfully also a lot of hugs from guys, who like Dan, I've known since I was little.  Through unfortunate haircuts and questionable fashion choices, they, along with my dad and brother, have set the standard for the kind of men I've allowed to come into my life.  They're all married now (to really cool women, thankfully) and have families of their own, so it makes getting together and staying in touch more difficult.  But I'm so grateful that regardless of how much time has passed, they'll always be in my corner, and I in theirs.

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9. Veep

On Sunday when I woke up and realized the phone call about Dan wasn't a terrible dream, I spent most of the morning lying in bed, drifting in and out of sleep, in and out of tears.  When I wasn't sleeping or crying, I'd find myself laughing - out loud - at this hilarious show.  Each episode is only 30 minutes, so it's easy to binge watch.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comedic genius and we should all be thankful for her.


10. Facebook

Yep, you read that right.  I'm actually thankful for "Facebook."  Or, at least, I was thankful for it in the days following Dan's death.  Besides being an effective way to let people know plans for his memorial service, I felt such a sense of camaraderie among friends and classmates of Dan's and mine, who reached out to offer prayers and condolences and left lovely notes of remembrance.  For all its eye-roll inducing posts, humble brags, and seemingly endless cries for attention, Facebook was a place I looked forward to going to see old pictures and read memories from Irmo.  Until, of course, the Paris terrorist attacks happened, and now everyone is back to being experts (aka disgusting assholes) on foreign policy, refugees, President Obama and college football. It was fun while it lasted, FB. 

11. Therapy

When things are going well in my life, therapy becomes less and less of a priority, which almost inevitably sets the table for things going south.  I should treat therapy like exercise - something I do on a regular basis, but I've definitely been known to neglect my mental health.  I'm so very thankful that my quarterly meeting with my psychiatrist fell in the middle of last week.  I always feel lighter and more at peace after spending an hour on her couch, telling her what I've been up to and how I'm feeling. 

12. Jacob

He's just really great.  And I feel really lucky that he's mine.  I also have a hard time articulating it, and feel so weird even trying, which is something I am not thankful for. 

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13. early birthday celebrations . . .

 . . .with this cutie.  Gray is TWO.  I can't believe it.

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I am so thankful that I was able to drive to Charleston last week to spend the day with her - just the two of us.  She grows cuter and smarter each day.  I'm so grateful that she calls me "Fi Fi," that she loves Peppa Pig, that she repeats everything I say, even when I told her to call her dad a "creep."  I'm even grateful for her fake laugh that she was doing to impress the older toddler next to her on the swings.
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14. Stevie Wonder & Dead & Company

They performed together and I was there!  Haha kidding.  Now that would've been something to be thankful for.  I'm still grateful, though, because I was able to see Stevie Wonder on Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina and then Dead & Company (a collaboration between members of the Grateful Dead and John Mayer) in Atlanta on Tuesday.  Both shows were musically masterful and lively, not to mention a much needed escape from all the sadness lately.  Stevie Wonder paid tribute to the victims in Paris with a moving rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" and I couldn't hold back the tears.

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How do you stay thankful when you aren't feeling up to it? 

Friday, November 6, 2015

thankful, week one.

Helllllllllo friends.  I'm getting back on the blogging train with my own version of the "30 Days of Thankful" project. Others are listing their gratitude daily on Facebook, but my idea, other than to light a fire under my lazy blogging ass, is to blog each week a list of the things I'm thankful for - one for each day of November. 

1. Halloween success. 

I hesitate to go as far as to say, "I'm thankful for Halloween," since I've never been and am still not a huge fan of the holiday.  I'll celebrate if the opportunity presents itself, but unless there is an obvious reason (like, Phish, for example) to celebrate, I usually don't bother.  Enter my friend Shelley inviting Jacob and me to a couples costume party, forcing me out of Halloween retirement for us to recreate Duckie and Andie from the 1980's cult classic film, Pretty in Pink.  I think we nailed it.

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My own amazing mom, aka "Becky Homecky" made my dress, for which I'm also extremely thankful, despite the fact that being asked by her 35-year old daughter to make her Halloween costume was probably at the very least disappointing, if not completely upsetting.  Thanks, Mom.    

2. This video.

I am so very thankful for my niece and this video.  (And pretty much everything she says and does ever and always for the rest of time.)


3. Family Feud.

I've been a fan of Family Feud since I can remember.  I even went to see a live taping of the show which definitely warranted a blog post that I sadly never wrote.  Ask me for the hilarious details the next time you see me.  Though he claims he was a fan before he met me, I've now dragged Jacob down my weird game show-watching spiral.  We like to play along with the families and enjoy the antics of host Steve Harvey.   

The entertainment value of the show rose exponentially this week, when a contestant gave the answer "private parts," and this is the answer that the board showed:

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I am so thankful for the belly laughs this has elicited out of me.  I guess Family Feud isn't so "family friendly" anymore? Can you guess what the question was based on these answers?

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4. EveryDollar.

I'm a closeted fan of the syndicated radio host/financial guru Dave Ramsey.  While I don't talk about my own journey with financial independence and being debt-free, I'm a very thankful for and very happy to share that I think Ramsey's budgeting tool "EveryDollar" is fantastic.  Since I live alone and am single, I make all of my financial decisions for myself, by myself.  For better or worse, I've never really felt a need to make a "budget."  But after downloading this app and keeping track of my money each month, I've never been more aware of how and where I spend my paycheck and as a result, I'm saving more than ever.  Even if you're not a Ramsey fan, I highly recommend. 


5. My sweet South Carolina.

This has been a tough year for my home state.  I've shared my immense pride for how we've handled ourselves when forced into the spotlight of major news.  From the Charleston shooting, of which I've already shared my thoughts, to the recent Columbia flooding, the people from my state continue to impress me and make me so thankful for the community where I was raised. 

My friend Liza lost nearly everything in the flood, but continues to exude a positive attitude,  resilience and an unbelievable sense of humor, posting pictures on Facebook of the clean up:


It's no wonder so many people came out in support of Liza, donating to a fund to help her and her family rebuild.  If you're so inclined, you can still donate.


6. Leon Bridges.

One word: swoon.  Leon Bridges is everything that's good about music right now and if you haven't heard this soulful singer that even your parents will love, I implore you to download his album immediately, or just watch this video.  


If you're sold, and why wouldn't you be (?), he's coming back to Atlanta in March at the Tabernacle.  Get your tickets.  I promise you won't regret it.  Jacob and I took his mom to the Variety Playhouse and we were floored.  He's the real deal.

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I hope you're full of gratitude this Thanksgiving season.  I'll be back next week with seven more things I'm very thankful for - I hope you'll be back too.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

my first boss.

This weekend, I'm headed to Charleston to celebrate the 30th anniversary of my dad's company, Gallman Personnel Services.  I hope you'll indulge me by sharing my feelings on the occasion, which is also what I wrote about him in a surprise book his staff will present to him tomorrow night.  

Don't worry that I'm ruining the surprise.  If he reads this blog - and let's be honest, that's a big if - it'll be months from now.  

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When I was little, whenever anyone would ask me what my dad did for a living, I always answered the same way, "He helps people get jobs."

I really didn't know what I was saying or what that meant, I just thought it was so cool that he was the boss. He had his own leather chair that spun all the way around and pencils with our last name on them. I was proud. He also had a paper shredder that he let my brother Jeff and me "play" with, which I'm pretty sure put him in violation of most child labor laws and all parenting handbooks.

My understanding of what Gallman Personnel Services does and what it means to the people who work there has evolved over time. After all, it's where I earned my own first paycheck, stuffing envelopes, copying applications and yes, shredding boxes of documents that needed shredding. At GPS, I learned the importance of a firm handshakes, solid relationships, and about the pride that comes from a hard day's work.

I don't know that I'll ever truly understand the courage it took for my dad to start his own business 30 years ago. And I'll never fully comprehend the sacrifices he and my mom made over the years to create and sustain a successful business and a loving family, ensuring that Jeff and I never wanted for anything.

But I do know how fortunate I am that my first boss has - so far - been my greatest boss - my own amazing Dad.

Thirty years of helping people get jobs - not too shabby. Congratulations on this tremendous accomplishment. I am so proud to be your daughter.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

fare thee well, good eyes.

Back in March, when I took my parents to the Fleetwood Mac concert in Charlotte, Jacob and I found ourselves half horrified, half amused when soon after taking our seats, my dad reached into my mom's purse and produced a pair of binoculars.   

He immediately put them to his eyes and began scanning first the crowd, then the stage, his arms at a perfect 90 degree angle.  For several minutes, while Jacob and I chuckled about how this was our first "concert with binoculars" experience, we'd hear my dad randomly shouting out all the things he could see.

When he was done, he handed them over to me and I reluctantly and embarrassingly took a turn, pointing the lenses directly at the stage.  There, in crystal-clear vision, was my love, my hero Stevie Nicks.  I could see the sparkle on her dress as she twirled and could tell what shade of red lipstick she was wearing.  Our seats were pretty good - but this view was magical. 

Then Jacob, likely resigning to a "can't beat them, join them" mentality, also had a look.

"In all my years of concert-going and obsession with good seats," he admitted, "I can't believe I've never thought to bring binoculars."

And it wasn't just us - just like other "enhancements" often passed around at shows - we passed my dad's binoculars around to our seatmates and quickly made friends.  They were a hit.

So for an early semi-ironic-but-actually-I'm-sincerely-excited-to-have-them birthday present, I bought Jacob a pair of his very own binoculars.  Actually I've had to buy him two pair since the first pair I bought were the size equivalent of two telescopes fused together and hardly appropriate for concert viewing.  That pair had to be returned.  Whoops.

Since the purchase, we've taken these new set of eyes to see the Rolling Stones at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta and to see the Grateful Dead kick off their Fare Thee Well tour in Santa Clara, California.

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None of these bands needed any kind of enhancements - especially not binoculars - and describing these events as simply concerts feels like a gross injustice.  Nostalgia-evoking, tear-producing, life-altering musical experiences more accurately represents my feelings about seeing, possibly for the last time, the bands that helped lay the foundation of my music education.

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And a reunion of old friends.

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And also middle-aged people wearing bear costumes.

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There's nothing quite like showing up to a concert's farewell tour with binoculars to let everyone, "I'm old, folks and I've pretty much given up."

Thankfully, though, there's also nothing quite like the perspective of getting older to help us stop caring what everyone else thinks.  I may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least I'm enjoying the ride, with my binoculars in hand.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

charleston.

I've been ruminating for a week and a half on how I feel about Charleston and what happened there last Wednesday.  I have started writing this post several times, only to be overcome by complicated feelings so intense, I had to literally get up and walk away from my computer. 

As a journalist and proud South Carolinian, my emotions have truly been all over the place.

After getting the call Wednesday and the instruction to drive all night to be ready to report Thursday morning, I thought only of the editorial job I had to do, the logistics of where to park and making sure the correspondent I was producing for was prepped and ready to be on television.  For the first few hours of the day, I thought only about getting the story and all of its horrible details.
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But when the sun came up on Calhoun Street in a city I love so dearly, I couldn't help but notice that the stately and gorgeous Emanuel AME church looked different.  Or, I wondered, was it I that was different, knowing that I'd have to add "church" to a list of other places (elementary school, movie theater, grocery store) where our safety from evil is no longer guaranteed? 

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To the families of the Charleston 9 - There are no words to express the grief I feel for your extraordinary loss.  The stories I've heard about your loved ones who lost their lives will stay with me forever and I remain profoundly disappointed that the world will no longer benefit from their exceptional gifts.  May you find peace and feel love from a nation that grieves with you.

To Charleston - I'll never stop singing your praises and you have made me so very proud to have lived there and to be from South Carolina.  Thank you for showing your compassion and your hospitality and for showing America how a community grieving can come together in ways that have made my heart swell at least a thousand times.  I'll never stop lobbying to become CNN's first and only Lowcountry Bureau Chief, but I hope the next time I'm in town covering a story, it's one highlighting your beautiful spirit.  

To the rest of the world looking at South Carolina - This state is special.  The people here are special.  We are not perfect, and there are a few bad apples that still remain walking our streets, but that's no more or less than any other place on earth.  We've made some mistakes in our past that thankfully we seem to be on the path to correcting.  We'd love for you to come visit and we'll show you a real good time, but spare us your lectures or the assumption that we're lesser than you.

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Have a great, peaceful weekend.  Choose love, my friends. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

south africa, part four: the main event.

After a week and a half of experiencing new things in an exotic country full of gorgeous views (Part One, Part Two, Part Three), the time had come for the real reason we'd traveled so far - Emily and Justin's wedding weekend. 

Because this is the kind of (amazing) couple they are, the duo didn't just arrange for transportation to take us to Morgansvlei Country Estate for their wedding, they also arranged wine and cheese-tasting at Fairview winery on the way.

I've been known to get excited at wine tastings and have confused my taste buds into thinking I should purchase a lot of wine that I didn't actually like.   Yakima Valley, anyone?  But Fairview was different.   I bought a case and have enjoyed every bottle of it and if I could've shipped the cheese home, I would've done it.

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Then, we were all invited to a traditional South African braai, held poolside next to mountainside views, because of course it was.
  
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And then, it was Emily and Justin's wedding day.  The Main Event. 

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I'm not sure how Emily managed to look so beautiful, so at ease after having entertained her American guests for several days, shuttling us from one tourist attraction to the next and making sure we were having a good time.  She was flawlessly stunning and glamorous, while still looking like her laid-back self.  Justin looked pretty handsome too. 

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Nor do I understand how Mo pulled off officiating their nuptials in such an appropriately humorous and completely meaningful way - especially after planning the entire trip and enduring one of the most vicious sunburns I've ever seen.

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The wedding was, in a word, gorgeous.  In two words, gorgeous and HOT.  I'll spare you the sweaty face dancing pictures.  Yikes.   

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I don't think I'll offend Justin or Emily when I say as sweet and fun as their wedding was, it was just another great day among all of the truly spectacular days we had in South Africa.  A beautiful highlight in an already very crowded highlight reel, for which I am extremely grateful.  

In that regard, I hope their wedding is a metaphor for the life that they will have together - one that is full of laughs, new experiences, beautiful views, gin drinks and sweaty dancing.  One perfect day among many to come.  

Cheers and Congrats Justin and Emily!