The day I signed off and headed down to my parent’s primary home, Bliss Barracks, to enjoy a joint birthday party with my Mom I had no idea what the week would bring.
I just knew I needed a serious break.
In all honesty, it was not surprising or unexpected given we have not had a true weekend off from travel, holiday plans, the flu, caregiving, or work responsibilities since early October.
So nearly every year about this time, I struggle with burnout.
And despite giving it my very, very best I felt totally and completely drained.
I almost pushed through it.
I mean I was *this* close to not taking time off.
But in the end, I knew that would be doing a disservice to myself and to all of you who also have incredibly busy lives and faithfully continue to support this community each and every week.
With my Mom in a boot from a broken toe and my Dad recovering from pneumonia, I knew that wouldn’t be possible though.
So, at the last minute, I created a birthday bucket list and decided to “gather hope” instead.
My birthday bucket list was a straightforward one.
There were no trips to Paris or Tiffany’s.
Merely little luxuries and simple pleasures I enjoy but haven’t made time for these past few months.
And while I didn’t cross everything off my birthday bucket list and wound up having to work a few days to meet deadlines just having the freedom to create, wander, relax, clean, organize, nap, and have white space to make decisions without any pressure felt like the biggest gift.
Here’s a look at a few highlights from the week and the photos currently in the “gather hope” folder of my iPhone…
We had a winter theme for our joint birthday party with a large flocked centerpiece, lots of candles, and glitter all over the tables.
Given my Mom is still in a boot and their new dishwasher wasn’t being delivered until the day after the party, I wanted to keep the menu as simple as possible so my Mom didn’t have to stand too long.
Ultimately, we decided on a soup buffet (she-crab, chicken enchilada, kale, sausage, and white bean), salads (cobb and winter kale), and a big cheese and bread board which worked out great.
My Dad made a raspberry amaretto cake with buttercream icing and we toasted with pink champagne.
After presents, we lingered around the table laughing and playing games which was hands down the best part of the night.
My Mom came up with a list of questions we both answered in advance and then asked each member of our pod to guess what they thought our answers would be.
I laughed so hard my stomach hurt at some of the answers.
For example, “What animal or insect is CoCo most afraid of?” 3 of the littles wrote Piper 😂
“What is CoCo’s favorite movie?” My Dad wrote “Top Gun Maverick” and just about fell out of his chair when I told him it was “The Intern.”
“What is one thing CoCo can’t live without?” I said “Jesus” but my sisters and brothers-in-law were so adamant the real answer was “her planner” that my Mom gave them an extra point 😆
It’s truly an eye-opening experience to see how well the people you spend most of your life with really know you.
On Friday, we headed to one of my favorite neighborhoods downtown for a bit of antique shopping and lunch.
It was such a gorgeous day.
We had shrimp and grits and a Bloody Mary at one of my favorite local spots. Then popped in for coffee and pink champagne cake at another fabulous spot that afternoon.
Later that night we watched The Fabelmans which is a nostalgic and fictionalized (?) movie about Steven Spielberg’s childhood.
It was good but also a little haunting.
The minute the credits rolled I said, “Wow, it’s going to take a minute for me to process all of this,” out loud.
On Saturday, we drove up to another one of my favorite small towns for more antique shopping and shrimp rolls.
I got several gift cards so we were able to shop a few of those places as well.
My closet is in desperate need of an overhaul. I donated around 28 pairs of shoes, a huge bag of purses, and 12 bags of clothes so I’m looking forward to shopping for wardrobe basics.
Later that night we made a big fire and watched one of the playoff games.
We haven’t been able to use our big tv since Piper arrived over 2 years ago. It is just too overstimulating for her.
We don’t watch a lot of tv anyway, so truthfully, it’s not really a big deal. But the minute I saw her curled up I knew I had to capture it.
On Sunday, we had brunch. Then went to the bookstore for magazines, coffee, and cupcakes.
After, we went to Sephora where I got a makeover and all new makeup.
I don’t usually wear makeup most days. And when I go out, I usually only wear concealer, eye shadow, and blush.
Makeup stores can be overwhelming because I feel totally out of place, and I don’t understand 90% of the products.
Thankfully, I found the nicest lady with over 40 skin who walked me through everything, and it felt like such a treat to not only get new products but to also have my makeup done at the same time.
Later that night, I opened presents and fielded lots of sweet calls from family.
Then I took a long hot bath complete with a pink bath bomb and detoxifying mud mask and read all my birthday cards.
It was such a relaxing way to end the night!
With a few new outfits and new makeup, one of the last things to cross off on my birthday bucket list was to get my haircut.
I have extremely thick and curly hair that I rarely know what to do with. So, most of the time it’s in a ponytail.
After catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror while in the dressing room though, I realized my hair was getting out of control and honestly much too long for someone my age.
6 inches off and fresh bangs later, my hair went from this…
But I kinda love that I just went for it because that is normally SO out of character for me.
The rest of the week has been a good one filled with lots of very unsexy but necessary tasks that needed to be addressed.
Things like getting my car tag renewed, handling the taxes at the pecan grove, putting away Christmas, organizing what’s left of my closet, driving to the donation center, taking care of Piper, cleaning out the pantry and the refrigerator, getting groceries, going through old makeup, writing blog posts, and sitting down to finally order things I’ve needed for a while but have put off because I didn’t have the bandwidth to make the decision without being rushed.
If you follow Jenna Kutcher, you might have seen this quote from her book, “How Are You, Really?” It’s one I read often.
“Most of life’s work is done without an audience, without “likes” or emoji riddled comments, without gold stars telling us that someone noticed our hard work. As we walk through life and do our work whether it’s inside or outside of the home, as we push past the exhaustion, the days we feel unseen or unnoticed, we need to tether ourselves to our visions of the future.”
Those words “we need to tether ourselves to *our* vision of the future,” stick with me every. single. time.
Largely because I know how easy it is to get off track, out of rhythm, out of step, or out of sync even when you’re giving something your very best.
To wonder, is this dream even possible anymore?… Am I making any progress?… How can I use this failure as fuel?… How can I live a more authentic life?… Are the decisions I’m making today truly aligning with my vision for the future?… Am I better today than I was yesterday?…
While some of those questions might be harder to answer than others, it’s important that we take the time to find out.
Because big dreams and small dreams, matter.
The goals and the daily rituals that light you up, matter.
How you speak to yourself matters.
The way you show up for yourself matters.
As we embark on a brand-new year, let’s seek to be the best version of ourselves.
Let’s be cheerleaders for each other. Let’s hold a candle in the darkness for those who cannot do it for themselves. Let’s shine a light on the accomplishments of those we see making a difference. Let’s extend grace and kindness even when the situation feels out of our control.
Most importantly, let’s seek to gather hope, learn to fill our cups, set healthy boundaries, put ourselves at the top of the list instead of the bottom, and enjoy simple pleasures and little luxuries.
Let’s be willing to ask clarifying questions and patiently await the answers knowing that everything that is truly meant for us is already on the way.
Cheering you on as you work to build a heart, home, and a life you love, today and every day,