Live. Pray. Love

Now I lay me down to sleep …

God is good, God is great …

These prayers tend to roll off the tongue as effortlessly as “I love you” or “please and thank you.” And while the latter are intentional and honest, they also aren’t really well thought out. Are there NO BETTER WORDS to say to God than you are good and great? To watch over me while I sleep?

Today in church we had a guest preacher, a woman studying for her divinity degree (I think!). The theme of her sermon was dissecting how we pray and why it is so hard for many of us. Myself included. If you asked me to lead a prayer in front of a large group, I would probably be a bit speechless. Yet every night before I go to bed, my conversation with God is one of many words and thanks.

Today I realized that maybe I am ignorant about prayer. I definitely try to pray most days than not and I ALWAYS thank God for what I have and what He has given me. I don’t want to be that person who only prays when they need something, because I believe God expects us to recognize the gifts we have, even when or if they are small and hard to find. I believe each day of life is a gift; and after having given birth and witnessing the miracle of it, I believe this even more.

I think sometimes we are taught that we must pray like a preacher or someone on TV. Accurately quoting scripture or making sure we know the right disciple’s name. But we don’t have to speak like that. God just wants to hear our prayers, our thanks, our requests for forgiveness and our recognition of our sins. Because let’s face it, we are all sinners.

My nightly prayers typically start out like, “hey God, what’s up!” Just Kidding. I always say thank you for the beautiful day of life I’ve been given, and graciously ask for another. I think thank Him for my husband and son and the health of my family and friends. Life is really about these things to me; everything else is second. I then seem to reflect on my day or the things that are happening in my life, recognizing what part of it all God is doing intentionally or what he is wanting, asking me to figure out from it.

See, I am the perfect example of someone who for so long wanted things, and asked God for things, but didn’t understand patience or the fact that God has His own plan. When I think about it, I’ve ultimately been given everything I’ve ever truly wanted. A job I enjoy, a soul mate for the rest of my life, and a child. Hopefully God will reward me with another, but that is up to him.

But for so long when I pleaded or needed something (many of the times I’ve been laid off or broken hearted) I became almost angry that God didn’t deliver when I wanted. But I finally learned that just because I wanted Sean to propose, that didn’t mean Sean was ready. God slowed me down and told me to wait. To be patient. And although it took me a bit longer to get pregnant than many of my peers, I knew God was waiting for it to happen at the perfect moment. Perfect for me.

So now, I am much more relaxed in my prayers. I don’t really ask for things on any kind of time table. I tend to trust him more and just ask for guidance or understanding during difficult times. I try not to be selfish. I talk to God on a regular basis, thanking him for everything in my life and not just asking when things are wrong.

Today’s sermon really made me think. I once was asked to lead a friend in prayer before her wedding. She isn’t an overly religious person and I’m not even entirely sure of her beliefs to be honest. So I may be remiss for the previous statement. But she asked me to pray with her before she walked down the aisle. I was shocked. I was honored. I was…scared. What would I say? My prayers are typically between God and me. Or my son and God and me. I don’t normally pray on the behalf of others. But I got through it.

I also coached basketball this year as a head coach at my church. In the past, I was the assistant to my dad and he typically did the pre- or post-game speech. My assistant this year did not want to do it and so I did before/after each game. I said aloud, somewhat joking, “I hate praying.” I immediately wished I could swallow those words and erase them, or spit them back out. I had meant to say, “I don’t really enjoy praying aloud.” I’m surprised God didn’t strike me down with lightning for uttering such an untruth.

The fact is I DO enjoy praying. I love it actually. A sense of peace washes over me at the end of each night. I just haven’t always had the confidence to pray aloud and that was what I meant. But after many basketball games, in front of a bunch of 3-5th graders; and with my friend before her wedding, I seem to have gotten a little bit better at it.

But I’m curious about others and how they pray. I’ve wondered before if I did it “wrong.” Or if I’ve left something out. I think Catholics have specific prayers and I know in my church we recite the Lord’s Prayer. But in my personal prayers, are there any rules? What do other’s say?

Thank you Terri for helping me think about this today.  

Dear Phish, Thank You.

Dear Phish,

My mom taught me to write thank you notes whenever I was given a gift. This tedious chore became something I loathed doing until I became an adult and realized that the simple minute it takes to hand-write someone a note of gratitude, is really more fun than it is laborious.

So to echo my mother’s wishes, I feel that I must write you a thank-you note. For you have given me a gift I can never repay nor re-gift to anyone else. As a copywriter, I find it hard that I cannot even describe what your gift has meant to me in words, but rather it is more of a feeling that coexists in thousands of other happy recipients.

As a 17-year-old girl, I often found myself wondering where I fit in in high school. Music was ingrained in me from an early age as a classically-trained pianist and later a saxophonist, guitarist and banjo player. I was given a Phish tape by a good friend and all of the sudden, my ears were pried from my head and opened in a way they never had before. The classical textures became immediately apparent yet intertwined in some weird rock juxtaposition known as Divided Sky. I had a hard time understanding what I was hearing because it was everything I’d learned about music, but twisted on its side a little bit. I hit repeat many times and wondered what this music was. I felt smarter, enlightened and naturally high all at the same time. I sat on the floor in my 11th-grade bedroom, punctuated with Led Zepplins’ “IV,” some Paula Abdul cd and a myriad of mixed tapes, and turned up the radio in my JBL headphones. This was why my mom made me take piano for 12 years, I instantly thought.

The next year I felt as though I had a secret and only a few seemed to know it. I spent my senior year trading tapes with guys (where were the female phish fans?) in parking lots, very stealth-like, so that no one would be in on our clandestine efforts. It was almost as if I was doing something far more sinister or seedy, but alas, I was learning the importance of Maxell XL IIs, how to properly write a > and a new vernacular of acronyms like HYHU, MFMF, YEM and MMGAMOIO. I went to a magnet school for writing where I met other music friends with similar interests but then returned to my public school for the other half of the day, with very few who knew my secret. Music seemed so boring, so unoriginal, unless it was you or a few other bands.

I could never have enough Phish and needed my fix before, during and after school. Soon, I became prophishcient in the music and learned why Amy’s and Ian’s farm shows were so important, and why B&Ps were the best example of karma. I also learned to not speed up an audio tape when making copies, and on the few unexpected days I would receive a 1st or 2nd-gen tape, I knew to treat it like gold.

When I finally saw you in person, from high above in the balcony, I “got it.” I had already gotten it from those months of rewinding a killer Bowie and memorizing the entire intro and outro of Divided Sky on my guitar. But seeing you live touched me way down deep. More than anything else, you awakened me. It was unlike anything I’d ever encountered, heard or seen. An environment where people understood my secret and were thoroughly enjoying themselves in a way I could never do at a high-school party of my so-called friends. Conversing about new clothes or a cute guy who didn’t even know our names was not nearly as fun as listening to a 20-minute YEM.


Finally, I went to college. For this is when I should have really thanked you. This is when our relationship blossomed and we were in sync. These are the years of 4-song second sets, the ‘97 space funk, the summer of covers (SABOTAGE!), the Velvet Underground Vegas and the ultimate memory for me, Big Cypress. These were the years I met friends who to this day are my closest because they traveled with me to far away places and crammed in tight spaces to hear you play. These friends (now many more than high school) and I all understood the unspoken language we phans speak. For they too had Maxell XL IIs; they wore shirts with parodied movies and logos that reflected your song titles; they knew when to clap in Stash.

As I went to more and more shows, I would look around and see that my group was not uncommon. Lots of Phish fans have these groups of peers that travel together, form memories together and have those few standout shows that will forever be in their memory. Mine from this era is of course Big Cypress, but the reason for my letter today is 14 years later in Chicago.


just some of my tapes

While you disbanded for the second time (well the first was a planned hiatus so not sure it’s really counting as disbanding) you guys had to grow up, and I had to “grow up.” My dad used to ask me that all the time. He loathed the fact that I had more ticket stubs from Phish shows than I did cute outfits. He once called my ticket stub scrapbook a receipt book for all the money I wasted. To me, it was an instant photograph of memories. But during your time away, I guess I did grow up. But I did not grow out of love with Phish. I met a man I later married, who did not know of your greatness but has since been converted, and I bought a couple houses, found my dream job, had a kid and became more “normal,” I suppose. But I still have my wooden, 100-compartment tape deck, my Radio City poster, my Billy Breathes sheet music book and all the other memorabilia that makes me feel 19 again. People tell me they got rid of their tapes, their CDs even, and are now completely digital with their Phish catalog. But I cannot ever part with those tapes. All those hours of mailing B&Ps, writing out the J-cards, trading in the parking lots and getting excited to get a 1st gen tape leaves me unable to just throw them away. Like today’s newspapers, I recognize Phish tapes are a dying medium for listening to music, but I still have them and every now and again pull one out.

the pharmers almanac

the pharmers almanac


This is your 30th Anniversary tour and I guess I can say that it is our 19th year together. Of course you do not know me really, but I like to think you think about me every now and again when you do things like reimburse your fans for a weather cancellation that wasn’t your fault, or involve me and the other thousands like me in your “gags” or audience participation-type songs. Clearly I’ve been on your mind once or twice. Or at least the idea of me. I am sometimes the fan on the front row and other times, just a face in the crowd. And we have even met face to face a few times in the past. Those are some special memories I will always hold. But as my prose grows rather lengthy, I just want to say thanks. Especially for this past weekend.

My husband and sister and I flew to Chicago to meet with others in what I can call a newer “group” of friends who are in similar or equal places in their lives. Some are newlyweds, singles, friends with kids, but we are all 30-somethings trying to hold on to our salad days when we could traipse around the country and see six shows in a week  with no serious repercussions. Tickets were $20 and motels were cheap. We spent long hours in a beat-up Buick, praying it wouldn’t overheat and would safely get us to the next show. We slept at rest stops and Knight’s Inns 8-people deep. We munched on veggie burritos, garlic grilled cheeses while washing it down with a cool, Sammy Smith Oatmeal Stout.

Today we rent suites, take limos to shows, dine at steak houses and spend $70 on tickets, $300 on airfare and sometimes just go to bed after the show. Sometimes! We may only see one or two shows a year, but man is it worth it. We know the shows we get to see are few and far between, and real life comes calling for many of us around 6 a.m. on Monday morning. Having a baby and going on tour doesn’t really mix for  some of us and I wouldn’t change it. Because I thankfully have that ticket stub book that gives me a lifetime of memories packed into 19 years.


from the scrapbook


Big Cypress


a favorite memory


They’re Back!

But back to the Windy City. I was fortunate enough to have floor tickets and grandstand tickets. I never even saw the lawn people really. But I know they had to have fun on some level as well. Somewhere during the five sets I saw I felt 21 again and back at Big Cypress. There was something special in the air. At 35 years old, I would probably not stand in the rain for hours for anything else but Phish with my friends. After the Saturday night rain, Sunday’s was almost comical. My poncho needed a poncho. There was nothing you could do but stand with a big shit-eating, Trey-like grin and dance with the thousands of other wet people. We embraced it, and Phish kept playing for us, knowing there was no way they could cancel again.


I got to hear Harpua, finally, and some old gems that I never hear much. I got to hear an absolutely stellar Piper, a ridiculous My Friend My Friend, a silly Meatstick that reminds me of MSG and Big Cypress and is always quick to put a smile on my face. I saw my friend’s Dinner and a Movie sign finally come to fruition and reveled in his happiness of hearing his first, at 170+ shows deep! I hate to remind him that I heard it at my first show, 18 years ago.


My favorite Phish date

Chicago was for starters, a logistical nightmare of sorts, but in the end, a magical place of stellar music, good memories, and reminders of why I’m still following these four guys (well five, can’t forget Kuroda!) around the country. Who needs Disney World! I can find happiness on Earth in the middle of the USA, soaking wet, singing about a possum. To look to your right and left and never have to speak but see people who also “get it” reminds me of being 17 and having my ears opened for the first time. You don’t get that at just any show.

So Phish, thank you. Thank you for helping me know who I am. Thank you for molding me and showing me a light, or path, to a different level of living. But thank you mostly for continuing to play, to write, to be a band and keep people like me entertained. I get so frustrated at the people who complain about flubs or misses here and there. You are all human and humans are not perfect. I’d hate for someone to scrutinize my every move and expect perfection like some fans do. You entertain me far more than you make mistakes, and again, I thank you. I may not see you again this year and I’m okay with that. So thank you for giving me a weekend unlike anything else. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.


J Bacon Clark


It is exactly nine years ago today that I was involved in a fairly simple accident that left me forever changed. I don’t dwell on the accident nor really ever think about it. Although recently my supervisor made a comment that I hadn’t ever sat in the front seat of his Honda Civic, to which I replied, “and I never will.” It was a Honda Civic that had faulty airbag design and robbed me of my vision in my right eye.

During the time of my recovery I wish I could have had this blog. Instead I could not see, watch TV, read, drive, really do much of anything. My face was badly burned and I had trouble seeing out of even both eyes at first due to the swelling and pain. My parents thankfully let me move back in with them for a few months and at times I felt 15 again. My dad was teaching me to drive (again) in the same abandoned parking lots we learned many years prior. I had to rely on them to take me places (usually just to the doctor) and it felt like summer time in high school because I was inside most of the day, not working.

I vividly remember the day I heard I wouldn’t get my vision back. It was three weeks after the accident and for some odd reason, this never crossed my mind. I knew I couldn’t see but just assumed it was from all the swelling. Eventually it would subside and I would see again. The doctor said the scar tissue was like wet tissue paper and would be impossible to repair. It would be a year before the blood would subside in my eye and we could fully see the scar it left. But it would be a lifetime (or so they told me) with no vision in the right eye. My dad wept in the doctor’s office.

Somehow I held it together. Maybe it was shock, maybe it was fear. I’m not sure. But it was almost like he was just telling me I wouldn’t be able to do something I’d once loved to do. Not quite as severe as it really was. It wasn’t until I got home hours later, alone, that the tears began to fall. I realized the weight of his words. I was blind in one eye.

For about a solid year I endured a variety of eye drops (sometimes as many as 14 per day, one for each injury I sustained inthat eye) and I became first-name friends with the doctors and nurses at Jervey Eye Group. I had a retina specialist, a glaucoma specialist (I had both reverse and severe glaucoma) and my regular opthomologist. I had a choiroidal rupture (why I am blind) but also macular scarring, edema, global scratches, cornea scratches, hyphema, a torn iris, you name it. I was on steroids, pain meds, numbing drops, dilating drops (I once dilated the wrong eye and that was interesting!), and a number of other drops. The octogenarians in the doctor’s office couldn’t understand why a 20-something girl was there all the time. Some days, neither could I.

For months I had cards and visitors and gifts and food and flowers sent to me and my parents house. It was almost like we mourned the death of my eye. But after a few months I realized I had to change my attitude. I couldn’t go on in this state. A good friend once told me after all the cards and gifts, people stop calling and you get depressed. I was determined not to. Somewhere in the middle of that I did a 180 and found my dream job, lost a bunch of weight and met my future husband. I think God might have given me the tragedy to make something beautiful from it.

Today, I try not to dwell on what I’ve lost but what I’ve gained from this. I try not to let my injury inhibit me. I know many people forget about it, and although I try to live as normally as possible, I have not forgotten. Just last night I had a dream about walking down some stairs but due to my lack of depth perception, I had a panic attack in the dream. Very odd. I also have to ask for help with stairs in low lighting or recognize my limitations with driving, night-time activities and other random things. Like, did you know how hard it is to shave your armpits or put on eye shadow with one eye shut? Try it sometime!

Thankfully I am surrounded by people who make my life a joy to live and help me when I need it, but don’t let me rest on my injury as a crutch. It’s more of a private thing I now endure and isn’t the first thing I tell someone when I meet. However, when I do meet people who are blind in one eye, I am very excited! It’s almost a secret club. I also am very sympathetic to ANYONE with an eye injury. So if the doctor tells you you have a scratched cornea and it will heal quickly, call  me to complain! I know just how painful they are and yes, they heal quickly, but man do they hurt.

It’s been nine years and next year will be 10. On the 5th anniversary I went hiking alone. I needed to reclaim my independence. It might be dumb to even acknowledge this anniversary but I’m sure when people lose something or someone significant, dates stay in their head. I don’t expect anyone to understand but it helps to write about it. Maybe for my 10th anniversary I will do something else that shows I am still independent on the inside, even if I have to ask for help sometimes! Thanks to all my family and friends who have helped me over the years.

Warning, the below photo is graphic but I want to show what airbags can do to people


And what the power of prayer, positive thinking, loving people can also do for you!

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Check-in to Marriage

This past weekend my husband and I rented a hotel room 20 minutes away from our house. It may be dumb but it also may just be my new favorite thing to do. It was a night we could be tourists in our own city and completely get away from high-chair dinners out, no fighting over the remote control (I typically lose) and sleep in (somewhat) until time for church.

I think sometimes it’s all too easy to forget to work on your marriage when you have a toddler (or baby or teenager). Their needs trump your own and pretty soon you are settled into a nice but mundane routine. Ours looks like this:

6:30 a.m alarm off, wake up the kid, shower/get everyone dressed, eat breakfast and get ready for work.

7:15 group kiss (my son actually enjoys pushing our heads together for a three-way kiss in what is by far my favorite part of the day) and out the door.

7:30 drop kid off at daycare, commute 30 mins to work and stay there till 5.

5:30-7:30 consists of cooking dinner, fighting to let our son watch no more than 1 TV show, playing, reading books, picking up the same things over and over again (Ground hog day anyone?) and getting him to bed on time.

The rest of the evening is usually spent watching TV and doing all the chores of the house. It’s this part of the evening that I think couples probably seem to be on autopilot and not totally engage with one another. Sure at dinner we say the obligatory “how was your day?” And I do believe my husband is giving me his fullest attention. But sometimes it’s hard to cram in the frustrations of day-to-day things or mini celebrations at work while I’m cleaning spaghetti noodles off my son’s fingers or praying he will eat his vegetables. I forget to tell my husband about an upcoming social event and he forgets to tell me such and such broke. We are talking but not totally connecting.

Hence the need for the night out. We were going to sleep Thurs night when he said, “why don’t we just stay downtown Saturday night?” We had received an invitation to join our sister and brother-in-law for her birthday party at a new wine bar downtown. Not ones to drink and drive, we knew we might need to take a cab home, and that can be expensive when you live 20 minutes away. We realized the hotel would be more expensive but what a cathartic evening it would provide.

Saturday afternoon we drove separate cars (I was at a baby shower) to the hotel like we were involved in some clandestine affair. We checked in and shared a beer while watching TV. Just to sit for a few hours with nothing to do was a retreat. But we showered and called a pedi-cab to bicycle us up the few blocks to the restaurant. Not so much because we didn’t want to walk, but we liked the romantic idea of a pedi-cab while seeing the shops of Greenville.

A few minutes later a Blue Cab pulled up. Yes a real-life cab. We felt extremely embarrassed to be taking a cab less than a mile but decided we would laugh about it later. $4 later in fact, we went to one of Greenville’s best downtown restaurants, amid all the new hotspots.

When it was time for the new wine-bar, their ultra-exclusive persona was a little too much for me. But we shared a few drinks on some swanky couches and sadly could not join our friends because they did not have seats yet and we did. Either way, it gave us an hour or two to really talk. There were no conversations about what time the last diaper change was or how long our son napped. We were able to talk about us as individuals and a married couple. We shared silly laughs and I remembered how lucky I was to be married to someone I was friends with first. We actually enjoy hanging out.

As we left the wine bar thinking we’d go find some live music we made a pit stop to the room. We started watching TV and about 20 minutes later I looked and my husband was asleep. Yes, sadly, we were both asleep before midnight on our big night out, but it was definitely worth every penny. I highly recommend getting away in your own hometown and being tourists for a day. Or just a few hours 🙂 


Always Delicious


My best friend