July 31, 2010

Being Still and Knowing

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo. Which is crack. I'm newly obsessed.

It's hard to not get swallowed up by something when you're living in its epicenter.
To fight to remember the reason I'm even placed on earth.
It's like going against the odds.
I adore living here, I really do. With history and stories woven into everything and with training that has already made me a stronger, tougher, smarter woman (at least I hope). I'm having wisdom poured into me day in and out as I learn how to empower women and inspire self-confidence.  But this phenomenal organization is a WAY of life. It is not my life.

And I'm fighting so hard to remember that. So hard.

I kinda love it when my sister (blood, not sorority) smiles and rolls her eyes when I gush about my job. When I talk to friends and they don't even bring up ADPi. When mama breezes over any Greek life conversation I had in mind to tell me how my family is and what the dogs did today. In fact, that's more like it. Pull me down to earth. Dear family and friends, keep it up. Love, me.

So I've found a room here. It has large bay windows across the back that gaze out onto a green-draped second-story snapshot of Druid Hills. Without my BFF's across town, without a home church, and without my mama, daddy, and sister under the same roof, it can get shaky. Somedays (Okay. Whatever. Most days.) I just want a hug from someone that knows ME. But then I look out this window and it's like looking into God's face. And He knows me.

Steady, loyal oaks. A calm, expansive sky. The occasional cardinal.
Hey, God :)

Who am I to blow against the wind? To doubt, to question, to sigh at Him? To ever get caught up in anything besides His beauty? And now I'm excited to see what His face looks like under an Athens sky, a Nebraska landscape, and a sleepy rivertown in Pennsylvania...

"For my thoughts are NOT your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8-9

Oh yeah.

July 26, 2010

Find a high on Peachtree Street

(Yes, I did just give two John Mayer lyrics for blog titles back-to-back. Also, I do not endore drugs. It's just a good line.)

Anyway--I just feel the need to declare
how much I love Atlanta.

Obviously, over here in Sorority Academy, we're in ADPi 101 class most hours of the day. Which makes new-city exploration difficult. But we've managed a few outings, because sometimes (hair flip, hair flip) you just gotta get outta the mansion. Am I right or am I right??

1. Murphy's, Virginia Highlands: Crab cakes and a glass of chardonnay with Mama before she dropped me off at my First Post-College Job? Apprehension cured.
2. Twist, Buckhead (Devoted readers already know I went here.)
3. Pozole, Virginia Highlands: After our first long day, we walked down Ponce sidewalks and onto the porch of Poloze. Again it is proved: Mexican is my hands down favorite food genre. And their famous mango margaritas have finite reason to be famed.

Lori, me and Emily at Pozole

4. Neighbor's, Virginia Highlands: We'll be back. That's all I'm sayin'.
5. Cafe Intermezzo, Brookwood: They had me at the dark hardwood floors and walls plastered in art. It's like my future house. Except my house will have lion-y things strategically placed. Until my darling husband catches on and asks me to chill and lock up the ADPi-ness.
6. Front Page News, Little Five Points: Sometimes, you just need a sports bar with 92 televisions turned to various ESPNs. Especially when you miss testoterone. At least I've found a cure for when I'm getting keyed up from being around sorority women 24/7 this year: "Ladies, take me to a sports bar tonight."

The sign? It stands for "If I tell you what it means will you buy me a drink." When you ask the waiter and he answers you, don't argue with him for 5 minutes that you would never buy him a drink anyway. Oops. Told you I have blonde moments.

9. Pinkberry, Buckhead: That nationwide obession? I get it now.
8. Treehouse, Buckhead: Treated by the most wonderful new friend. You know who you are :)

Tagged: Emily, Me, and our stir fry.

And then sometimes we cook. Which means singing/dancing party in the ADPi headquarters kitchen, duh. Regardless, whatever table the 7 of us are sitting around, there's a lot of laughter. Especially when while cooking, you set off the security alarm for ADPi International Headquarters and the ATL po-po have to drop in for a visit. Whoopsadaisy.

False advertising. At this point in my life, I do not consume meat products.
And we're taking suggestions! Where else should be on our Atlanta list? We want to feel cool and earn more FourSquare badges. At least Megan does. (kidding, I love you, Blondie.)

Shawty wanna break my bank:*
I'm runnin' up a tab on you, ATL.

*"Break My Bank" by Iyaz. A Memorial Headquarters bunk room theme song, thanks to Emily.

Of Yellow Jackets and Huskers...

Friday, our adorable boss Annie waltzed into the training room with 7 sheets of paper in hand. You would have thought Oscar nominations were going out from our grins and squeals (Well, for those of us that are sopranos. I don't squeal.)

Our August visit schedule has arrived!

Drumroll, please: Here are my first three visits, in order of future appearance:

1. Georgia Tech, Zeta Omicron chapter
Atlanta, Ga.
I won't lie, I'm kinda pumped for three more days here in the ATL.

2. University of Nebraska, Alpha Epsilon chapter
Lincoln, Ne.
YES!!! My first time to cross the mighty Mississip' is upon us. I even Googled "Nebraska" the other day for visual imagery. Flat farmland? Yup. This little Alabama girl's gonna feel right at home. Dad's already requested his Huskers shirt. Anyone else?

3. Bucknell University, Theta Iota chapter
Lewisburg, Pa.
I know nothing about Pennsylvania. I know nothing about Bucknell. Yay!

For the most part, until September comes to pass we will be doing recruitment visits.

Yes, I said it: RECRUITMENT. Not "rush." I fill the spot as the delinquent ADPi consultant that slips out "rush" more times that I say "recruitment," the official Panhellenic title. Can't help it. I grew up in an old Southern town where mothers and grandmothers obsess over grooming their younglings for a week of sundresses and ice water--I've heard the word my whole life. But I'm workin' on it. As my Province Director used to fuss at me on the phone, "(Sigh.) Ashlyn, I'll just never get you Deep South chapters to get the hang of it."

So let's see if taking me out of the
dirrrty South makes me a more politically correct ADPi.

Know anything about these universities and their respective towns?

July 21, 2010

Why Georgia.

My besties celebrated with me on my last night home. Yes, all of Montgomery is this beautiful.

I'm here! As of yesterday, I'm an official resident of Alpha Delta Pi headquarters.
(With an extremely tightly monitered security system, creepers.)

The front door knocker is a lion.
The upholstry in the turn-of-the-century parlor rooms is blue and white.
The  songbook on the grand piano downstairs is turned to "I Love the Frat!"
Painted woodland violets dance on antique dishes.
Portraits of honored Alpha Delts are everywhere.
They stocked the fridge for us.

You wanna see a frat castle?
You should check out my new digs.

ADPi Memorial Headquarters. Home sweet home.

Every morning, (Well, this morning. I've only been here 27 hours.) I wake up at 6 a.m. in a Southern mansion, rub my little eyes, and smile at the stirrings of my 6 new BFF's/LC sisters. Then we pop up and run a coupla miles through Atlanta's Druid Hills neighborhood and I'm reminded we're the overachieving, can't-slow-down, Type-A brand of girls that are pumped about traveling across America after these 3 weeks of jam-packed trainin' seshes.

Merry Christmas! Hair flip--just ask me for my cahd, dahhhling.

The throw us BlackBerrys (which, DUH, Mary Kathryn renamed BlueBerrys. #sororitygirl) and PC's. Which basically means I'm learning Yiddish and am cheating on my Mac products. Along with my very own ADPi ritual book which I squealed over--baha. People who know me are groaning because I so would.

Anyway, last night our most-fabulous boss trotted us over to Buckhead's Twist restaurant for sushi and tapas. Though we didn't see the fabulous Kim Zolciak of Real Housewives of Atlanta (she and her fake blonde hair frequent the joint), we ate up and then wandered through Phipps. Unfortunately, an LC salary isn't built for Elie Tahari or Gucci, dangit.

And today? After a breakfast of Chik-Fil-A (You'd think Truett Cathy was from here or somethin'), the 7 of us listened with intense, absolute, zero-day dreaming ears to a chunk of hours about sorority financial interorkings. Hear that, Daddy?! I actually paid attention to words like "accounts receivable," "billing,"and "credit" for hours. That's your cue to be proud.

Packing did NOT go well. When things got hard, I'd leave and go to layout at the club. They understand me there. Things eventually made it into the suitcases though.

So I have taken down the ponytails--sorta. I'm wearing more shifts and stilettos than my beloved Nike tennis skirts and bathing suits. I've actually got to put on something besides mascara and strawberry flavored Lip Smackers (yes, I'm 5).

But I'm having a ball.

'Cause of course, we're the real future housewives of Atlanta, like the LC class before us taught us. Being a professional sorority gives you major homemaker points.

July 15, 2010

Confessions of a Professional Sorority Girl

Yeah, right. If only. Photo courtesy of SBS Film/Legally Blonde.

Well y'all, it's go time. I leave in 5 days to start this crazy adventure as a traveling leadership consultant. So I wanted to take some time to explain why exactly I took this job. Why I'm working for a sorority. Cause I've heard it all, and I honestly poke fun at it myself most days:

    "So this makes you like, a professional sorority girl, right?"
    "You majored in sorority! Way to buck the higher educational system!"
    "&^%$, you're working for nationals? Dang, Ash. We hated that guy." - Frat Star
    "Wow. (eyebrows raised) You sure had fun in college, huh?" - Kind Church Pew Neighbor

Given the above skepticism, this how the 2009-2010 LC class instructed dealing with my friendly aisle buddy aboard a Boeing:
New Buddy: So, what line of work are you in?"
Me, flashing my million-dollar smile: "Oh, I'm in counsulting."
NB: "Really? What kind of consulting?"
Me: "You know, recruiting, retention, marketing, leadership services, financial needs..."
NB: "Oh, okay. Now what's the company?"
Me: "Well um, it's a non-profit women's organization based in Atlanta, Ga."
NB: "I meant like, what's the name of it...?"

'Cause otherwise, you'll lose 'em at "sorority." Dang Animal HouseLegally Blonde. Old School.

Old LC's passing the torch to us newbies.

So as journalism opportunities bloomed left and right in this ravishing job market NOT, I jumped at the opportunity to give back to ADPi. To get paid to jetset/sightsee. To grow up 3 years time in 9 months. To see if there's life on the other side of the Mississippi River. To plug my ears and turn my back to the looming world of corporate cubicles. To pretend I'm sorta-kinda still in college. To share Jesus as often as possible. <--this is the biggest reason I said yes to God's whole crazy idea about doing this. He had me on that one. So I said yes.

New LC class: It was love, and it bloomed quickly. Emily, Regan, Lori, Me, Megan, Jenni, Mary Kathryn

And yes, it absolutely scares me to death. I worry about getting lost, misplacing important things (um, have you met me?), navigating airport ALONE every 5 days, feeling kinda alone, and wreaking havoc on important relationships. That's the big one. No one's really sure about the cost of upkeep on a friendship when you don't exactly know when you'll see that girl again. Dear everyone: Yes, ha, I realize I'm the one potentially straining our friendship these days. :) Chyeah, you bet I'm leary.

But then God looks at me and says, "Hey, sunshine. (That's what God calls me. Not 'peanut,' like some of my friends think is a good nickname for me. They ignore it when I suggest 'sunshine' so I'll let God call me that.) No. Quit it--Stop worrying. Didn't I tell you "who of you in worrying can add another hour to her life?" The point of your life is Me, not you, remember? There's a glory of it all. That's me. I am going to pull you through a lot this year--hang on. Take my hand, we'll make it I swear. And hey, those friendships? Not to fret. I'm looking at the other side of this year and you'll eventually love what I work out, baby girl."

Hello, Hartsfield-Jackson. Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are our future home?

So here we go. Now to negotiate with that empty 3 piece Heys luggage set on the other side of my room that are staring at me. I'll pack tomorrow.

July 11, 2010

Same Kind of Different as Me.

"You loved me for who I was on the inside,
the person God meant for me to be, the one that had just gotten lost for a while on some ugly roads of life."
- Denver Moore, "Same Kind of Different As Me"

I think a lot of people cried when they read that book. I'm not a huge crier, but if I were reading that part out loud, my voice would have started that dang shaking thing it does in lieu of sending emotion out tear ducts.

I am desperate to learn to love people like that.

Denver in his broken, Louisiana dialect said it perfectly. We're a race commanded to love and see people through God's eyes. And I don't mean a "love" feeling. I mean the action brand of love.

I know I'm a fan of long shots and lost causes, and I have the potential to be too trusting. But how can we give up on people when we serve a Lord who relentlessly seeks us despite what we've done to him?

I just don't think I can ever give up on anyone. Especially after finishing that book. I know I was late to the game. But everyone should read it.

And then we should love blindly.

July 10, 2010

Reduce, Reuse, Re-Lilly.

 Photo courtesy of The Preppy Princess.

Between my sister Kristen and me, we could potentially outfit a 2nd grade class with all the obnoxiously bright, punchy, pink-and-green cloth that is strewn across the Stallings' upstairs chambers.

Truth: Lilly prints can err on the juvenile side. (Case in point: I have a skort that I wear on the reg; my BFF Melissa calls it my 4-year-old skort. Thank you, Mel. At least I can do cartwheels in it, hence the genius of skorts.)
Yes: I realize the brand can offer some of the least seductive articles of clothing for luring boys.

But I do not care. This oh-we-should-monogram-that minded, slightly preppy, girl--raised in the sweltering South--sees Lilly and lunges. SO. The other day, Kristen pulls me over to Facebook and points to the screen. And then I met Re-Lilly. Oh dear.
The Re-Lilly Facebook page essentially offers Lilly lovers a spot to buy and sell pieces in excellent condition--and at cut-rate prices. Basically, you post photos of whatcha want to sell and then other fans of the page email the owners to claim their bounty. Think eBay. For those of us that pride ourselves on gettin' a deal, it's genius.

So I warned you. Beware the potentially to add the page to your iPhone Facebook app favorites so you can check for new postings when boredom strikes. Puh-leese. Not like I'd know about that or anything...

B-T-dubs, this is Kristen. She's cute and I love her. Photo courtesy of Brooke Glassford.

July 9, 2010

Sugar Doll Award

Sweet Ashley, next door to me in Mississippi, passed along an award while I was in Atlanta a few days back! Thank you for thinking of me.

Award Rules:
1. List 10 things about you.
2. Tag 10 bloggers that you've recently discovered
3. If you are one of the 10 bloggers awarded, link back to this blog, and pass it along.

Aight. I'll hit it.

1. Art history was my favorite subject in undergrad. Hands down. Next to tennis. Neither of which was my major.

Kandinsky. Because I'm one of those people that actually adores modern art and thinks there's meaning/reason to painting like this. And I love it when the title "doesn't make sense."

2. My grandfather gives me his week's worth of Wall Street Journals on Saturdays. Recent tradition as I try to decipher the stock market.
3. Speaking of, I should own stock in J. Crew.

Photo courtesy of J. Crew.

4. There is one movie I cannot get sick of. It's name is Walk the Line.
5. For my first pick-your-own-costume Halloween, I asked to be a gorilla. Like all normal 3-year-old little girls. I carried a banana.
6. Favorite days: Hair air-dried/wavy, ZERO make up, men's large t-shirt or polo over a bathing suit. Done. Extra points for wearing hats backwards which my family makes fun of and I. Don't. Care.

Sister Kristen and me this past weekend at the lake on one of those #6 days.

7. Can't swallow pills. As in, one time I went to the hospital for an endoscopy on my throat from when I swallowed a Dioxycycline and it got lodged in my throat. Hello, Flintstones chewables.
8. I harmonize not-on-purpose. I have this issue where I can't match the melody on a good bit of songs. Just ask my college roommate.
9. I think better/clearer/stronger (harder, better, faster, stronger. Wait, Kanye, what?) through the arts. Theaters, art musuems, ballet studios, words, lyrics just make more sense to me than more finite, black-and-white logic.

Hello, former life. My toes still have purplish scars.
10. I love Jesus. Because he is Love. And I love love. And loving people. Haven't done the "in love" thing yet, but I hear it's pretty wonderful. We'll see one day. But yup, I'm happily commanded to love.


July 3, 2010

Girl America.

Photo courtesy of Lilac and Ivy.

Happy fourth, y'all!

I'm off to the lake...

Because I'm a good girl, love my Mama, love Jesus, and America too.

Post title: "Girl America" by Mat Kearney. Which should be on everyone's iPod.

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