Shelf Life


Lately, I’m reading books & blogs about international development, vulnerability, pregnancy, communications & design. An odd assortment of titles, but great ones nonetheless. Creatives, moms, teachers, freelancers…Feast your eyes.

Altitude Summit / Sara Urquhart and Gabrielle Blair

Anyone who is anyone in the blogging world attend this conference. The blog features concise tips on how to be a better blogger, designer and artist. It also serves as a gathering place of ideas & inspirations.

Cup of Joe / Joanna Goddard

My interest in preggos/raising children is part repulsion & part fascination. I’m also curious about traveling & designing for small spaces. I get my fix in all the above here.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent & Lead / Brene Brown

Brown gave the most viewed TED talk of all time, with 10.3 million views. She has a bachelor’s, master’s & Ph.D. in social work. My best friend, Devon,  & my sister are majoring in social work, so this book was a way for me to peek into their world. I want to support these ladies as much as I can.

I also heard once that “shame never creates change” – a phrase that has stuck with me for years. Brown’s research deals with shame & belonging, & how we can dump the first & get more of the latter. She shows you why vulnerability is the foundation of great leadership, successful relationships & even bravery.

(Guys, remember that one time I blogged about my vagina?)

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead / Sheryl Sandberg

Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, a mother & wife. My dad urged me to pick up this book & it lit a fire under my workin’ woman ass. If you read any worthy news source at all (ahem, Cosmo) you have heard of Sandberg & what it means to “lean in.” Sandberg  discusses why smart, capable women are staying home to raise children instead of re-entering the workforce. If you plan on having a career, or having children, read this book.

(Afterward, you’ll probably plan on having a career AND children. And a husband who knows how to run a freakin’ dishwasher every now & then.)

Stones Into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan / Greg Mortenson

A how-to on getting worthwhile shit done in impossible places, on behalf of forgotten people. I recommend this for any teacher, education or social work student or traveler.


The Notorious N.A.P.


Do you have something you’re famous for?

I was a 5th grader when, on the bus ride home, I took my first & most notoriously public nap. I woke up to an empty school bus & realized I missed my stop. I asked the driver to take me home, & from behind his scraggly mustache he mumbled that he wasn’t driving that far back & I could get off right then & there. ON THE HIGHWAY.

So there I was, a chunky 10 yr old running down the side of the road, my backpack thumping against my back and tears streaming down my face. By the time I go home, I was throughly out of breath and traumatized.

That event, however, did nothing to prevent me from making a long and infamous career out of napping in public places.

At church camp, I fell asleep against a tree & earned the camp nickname “Snooze”. I’ve fallen asleep in airports, at holiday parties with family, every car ride  I’ve ever taken, in class & in a park after fighting a homeless person for the best available bench.

…Okay, I’m making that last part up.

I’m ashamed to say I even fell asleep in the stands at an Oklahoma State University football game, sans the influence of alcohol.

Which is more than I can say for myself this weekend. After long hours in the car, all it took was a couple beers & the lulling motion of the Frio River for me to slip into a deep slumber. I slept through an impromptu concert & an equally unplanned wedding. By the time I woke up, Cory was quite tipsy & only answering to those who addressed him as “Sir Willingham”.

What embarrassing, & maybe a little funny, thing are you famous for?

Roadtrip 2013: Day Three


I woke up on day three, fairly hungover and sure that breakfast wasn’t for me. Cory insisted that everyone needs to start the day off with a good breakfast.

Boy, was he right. Say hello to the most deliciously beautiful homemade cinnamon roll of my young life. When they named the Paradise Cafe, this little roll must’ve served as their inspiration. As I dug my fork into the middle and yummy goo spilled from every side, I knew I was in heaven.

The streets were busy that morning, hosting the local farmer’s market. Happy people sold fresh flowers, warm bread and homemade energy bars or homegrown produce. Everything was organic, a term that hasn’t always settled too well with me (a girl now working on her Masters of International Agriculture degree and who could give you a 45 minute rant on the necessity of genetically modified crops). The truth is, in my ideal world, we’d all buy our food every Sunday from the back of a farm truck at a market tucked away in the mountains. The world, of course, isn’t ideal…but Crested Butte is close enough for me.


Our post-breakfast lethargy didn’t stop us from eagerly climbing into our rented jeep for some intense exploration. My goal of the day was to locate a Sasquatch, though I’d settle for a nice, cuddly bear. I saw neither, but we did find some hidden gems and I got to take a mini-nap in the sun. Not bad livin’.


Lake Irwin, Dev’s favorite, was full of people fly fishing or kayaking across the water. We stopped to take a look around, and on our way back decided on whim to follow a path into the woods. We heard the waterfalls, and with CJ as our personal Lewis (or maybe Clark), we found them. While the sights were something else, I couldn’t get over the smell. It induced fantasies of Cory in flannel, lumber jacking through the woods and bringing home a grizzly he killed with his bare hands….I was gettin’ a little fresh in all that fresh air.

falls2falls1 cory_falls dj_waterfallbd_waterfallcj_falls


We continued to explore at a leisurely pace and safe altitude until, of course, the boys got cocky. Tempted by a steep gravel road and in a testosterone-fueled haze, they insisted we go up the path surely only reserved for expert drivers and mountain goats. Devon and I promptly bailed from the Jeep, cussing them the whole way out and leaving a not-very-nice hand gesture in their rearview. It was at this point I laid out on the grass to take a mini-nap in the sun, thinking that I might as well take a rest before having to retrieve Cory’s mangled body from the bottom of the cliff.

Of course, they survived and insisted we let them take us up. We agreed, and I sweated profusely while keeping my eyes shut as we drove over the washed-out crossings and inches from the drop off.

Later that night, we made our way back into town for our last meal at the Last Steep. After a little shopping and a little ice cream, we had to say good-bye. Something about the rainbow told me we’ll be back soon, and CB will be happy to see us again. bd_rainbowcj_rainbow



Crested Butte is full of my kind of people. People who love their dogs, love to eat, love to move and dance and bike and walk. They are all artists, expressing through their hair or clothes or chosen craft. While we’ve seen beautiful sights on this trip, my favorite spot is always main street in the heart of town. We browsed every shop, running our eyes and hands over artists works. Handmade rugs, jewelry, paintings, sculptures, photography and clothes can all be found on main street. It all gives me an incredibly zen feeling.


We wandered into coffee shops and browsed books while listening to a poetry reading. Street musicians and local farmers and artists come into town with their goods in tow, ready to sell to locals and tourists. The shops and homes lining the streets are characterized by dilapidated townie bikes on the porch, an open front door, a rusty jeep parked in the yard and the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen growing wild in the windowsills.

Roadtrip 2013: Day Two

roadtrip_day2We’ve made a habit of having breakfast at the Paradise Cafe in town. With just a few booths and an outside patio, it’s got that hometown cafe feel that let’s you know the food is delicious. After a huge breakfast, we headed to the lifts for a little hiking around the mountain. We huffed and puffed the whole way up, but the view was worth it. jess_lift cory cj_mountain

I can’t get over how amazing it smells here: like pine needles and wildflower fields and rain. It is quiet, too. I can hear birds, rustling of leaves and the sound of a thunderstorm rolling over the mountain. Every sense is heightened here, and it reminds me why people quit their 9-5’s and move to Crested Butte to waitress or work the lifts.




cj_mountain2bd_mountain2After our mountain hiking adventure, we went exploring around Emerald Lake. IMG_5360IMG_5374IMG_5405After all the exploration, we had to take a nap before dinner. It was a unanimous decision to eat at the Secret Stash, voted the best pizzeria in town for the last 11 years. With pizza names like the “Notorious F.I.G” and “Booty Call” and “You’re Driving Me Caprese,” it’s not the place for normalcy. People sit on velvet, purple pillows and dine under fringed sheets and red lamps. Jamaican tunes play softly in the background and I was under the strong impression that cannabis is an-off menu topping option. IMG_5430IMG_5417 jess_devWe are laughing a lot, trying new things and taking time to sit and be still. It’s wonderful. And we may, or may not, have disregarded the altitude factor while downing drinks.

Roadtrip 2013: Day One


Getting high isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

We are in Crested Butte, and the altitude doesn’t have everyone feeling so good. Mt. Crested Butte sits at 12,162 feet above sea level. Translation: lots of heavy breathing, headaches and nosebleeds to go around.

But we bucked up and headed into town to browse the local shops and have lunch at The Last Steep. The Steep is famous for it’s bloody mary bar, complete with every green veggie you can imagine. If you don’t think you like bloody marrys, you haven’t tried one here. It’s swirling with cracked and red pepper, vodka and unexpected veggies. Guys, it’s a meal and a buzz without breaking your diet. That’s why it reigns as champion cocktail of the universe.

We all sat on the porch, ordered tons of appetizers and basked in the cool temps.

bloody mary


CB is full of people walking their dogs in and out of shops, strolling with their kids and families or just riding bikes to nowhere in particular. We walked aimlessly, talked to strangers and was introduced ourselves to every four-legged creature on mainstreet. We even cheered at the sight of a fellow Thunder fan.



On this vacation, we aren’t really doing anything outrageously different than we would at home. But the scenery and energy of the town is enough to make me (already) feel a million times more relaxed than I’ve felt in months. And nothing beats laughing, talking, and taking time with your best friends and, really, family.


Tomorrow we plan on taking the lifts up the mountain for a little hiking. Hopefully we see a bear. Or a ‘squatch.

Fresh Air


Sometimes, you just need a little fresh air.

And you need to get back to who you were, in the beginning.

In the beginning, Devon and I were best friends who shared a mutual love for cheerleading, Black Entertainment Television and Crested Butte, Colorado. After eleven years of friendship, we are taking that dream, best friends road trip to our favorite little spot on earth.

We leave tomorrow, will drive all night with our man friends in tow, and arrive in Crested Butte, CO Friday morning. We plan on Jeeping through the mountains, drinking cold beer, not washing our hair or answering our phones for a few days. We will, however, be taking a million pictures and I’ll be blogging about our travels.

Tune in, and pray we aren’t eaten by bears. Or mountain lions. Or whatever other large creatures reside there.