This is my very favorite shirt to wear. You may be wondering, why? That, my friends, is precisely why I love wearing this shirt. No matter when I wear it or where I wear it to, someone always asks, “what’s that number on your shirt?” Just yesterday, I heard one girl tell her friend to take a picture of me, and they could google the telephone number: 1-800-273-8255
These 11 individual numbers make up 1 phone number. This 1 phone number is the number of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It also is the title of a song by Alessia Cara & Logic. Thousands of people who are struggling call this number in one single day. When I wear this shirt it opens up dialogue and conversation on a topic that is so misunderstood & also overlooked: mental health struggles
I don’t care who you are or how perfect you make your life look on social media. EVERYONE, and I mean everyone, struggles at some point with something. The severity will be different, but no one on this earth is immune to struggle. Yet, it is the one topic we seem to be the most afraid of. Anxiety, depression, suicide, self-harm, addiction, etc. are all forms of mental health disorders & we look at people with these issues like a monkey behind bars at the zoo. As a natural instinct we judge one another to make ourselves feel better, me included.
As a person who has struggled, I know there is not one single answer to this problem that is rapidly taking over our nation. No one has all the answers, but I believe the best place to start is by 1). prayer and 2). love. God can and will solve all problems as long as you let him in. We are all busy. We are all tired. We are all lazy. None of this is an excuse for loving your neighbor. Call a friend. Smile at a stranger. Hug your brother. Text your family. Buy someone lunch. Take the time to truly listen. If someone is struggling... trust me, they will show it in some way or form. Forgive and forget the past... all we have is the future & I want as many of you in my future as possible !!!
Mental Health struggles are an ugly thing. We as humans internally battle demons every single day. The forgotten have walked through fires and not made it out alive. Others of us have walked through that same fire, yet they have come out a stronger, braver, better person than you can ever imagine or relate to. It doesn’t make them better than you or worse than you... it makes them incombustible.
This week is Suicide Prevention week. Don’t give up on yourself & never give up on one another. If you or someone you know is struggling please call this number on my shirt. For more information please visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org … let’s help one another fight their fires. I love each and every one of you. Today and everyday I am thankful for this number, those who answer the call, and the ability to be incombustible.
Southern and Thankful
This week for many marks the beginning of another year of school. Honestly, really weird that I am not starting classes again, but at the same time, it’s pretty great. I remember one year ago, I was starting a pretty lax senior year class wise. However, I was SO freaked out about what the next year would bring and what I would be doing post-grad. Fast-forward to now, where I have a job, back in the state of Arkansas surrounded by my family and oldest friends. I never would have thought this is where I would be, but let me remind you… God & his plans are SO good.
Last summer, I was having lunch with one of my favorite ladies, Mrs. Meredith Jackson. We always talk about a wide range of topics when we get together. Somehow she started telling me about how she had taken a section of her closet, which was big enough, and made a prayer wall. She had seen this wall in the movie “War Room” (which is wonderful, by the way). She explained how she wrote every little prayer she had, light or serious, on that wall. She said when she walked in her closet there was always this immense peace she felt. She suggested I do the same because I had told her I was going to be having a very large closet. If you visited my house last year in Fort Worth, you have probably seen my prayer wall / remember the size of my closet. Gosh I miss that thing. Anyways, Mrs. Meredith said everyday she would read her bible, add things to the wall, and pray over them. I decided I should do the same.
Y’ALL. It made such a difference in my life. I loved being able to see all the good and bad things up on the wall. I had a decorative wood painted bible verse on the wall and then I would write my prayers, worries, fears, etc. on a note card and tape each individual thought on the wall. It grew to fill the whole wall eventually. Obviously, a lot of it was private and personal, but it felt good to see it each day and ask God for help and praise him at the same time.
Every so often I would take a black sharpie and place check marks on the things that had been resolved. It has so fulfilling seeing the different ways God was working in my life, as well as in others. It simply made my life so much better. I felt less stressed. I was reminded every time I walked in my closet to pray. Oddly, like Mrs. Meredith said, there was this particular peace in that room.
Lately, with all the change going on in my life, I have been feeling more anxious than normal. A few weeks ago I realized that part of it was because I didn’t have my prayer wall set up where I am now. It is something I will be doing this week. If you have bad anxiety this is such a simple yet effective way to reduce it.
Like I said, I placed so many things on that wall. I had a few pictures, bracelets from fun events, memorabilia, stresses, the negative / positive things in my life, and generally anything I felt that would fit there. Every time I walked in my closet I felt so so grateful. Therefore, my advice for anyone in general, but especially those starting school… find a space, big or small, and make a prayer wall. It will enrich your life in ways you can’t even imagine! I will share pictures I took of my prayer wall before I took it down last May. I miss it, but I can’t wait to start fresh with a new one. Stay tuned! Also, fill free to ask any questions as you make your own! You won’t regret it. In fact, shocking I know, I believe you will be thankful for it!!
Southern and Thankful
This is totally unrelated and honestly kind of random. Most weeks I try to plan out my blogs and their topics, but I am completely okay with the spontaneous writing currently taking place after seeing an Instagram post.
I am not even going to get into the root of the post or the purpose (if you are dying to know I’ll share it below), but one year ago Taylor Swift won her sexual assault case against a Denver DJ who groped her. The jury ruled in her favor one year ago yesterday. She spoke about it really for the first time publicly last night and it got me thinking.
Thank goodness for the listeners and believers in the world. The people who take the time to listen and understand. Our world is so FULL of judgement and ridicule. I can personally attest to going through something hard and not wanting to talk about it for fear of what people would say?
how would they respond?
would they care?
what will they say about me behind my back?
would they want to help?
The list of inner self-doubt can go on and on for miles in a person’s mind. I have been on both sides of this equation. I have spoken about hard things and been so supported and loved by so many. Sadly, I have also seen the other side where “friends” at the time ignore or run the opposite direction because they don’t want to be bothered when things get hard. Or even worse maybe they don’t believe you. To speak up and not be heard is crushing, but to not speak up at all is nasty, too. If we did not have the listeners and believers of the world, where would we be?
I wanted to take a second to thank the hearers and supporters. Thank you to the people who take the time to talk to people. To reach out to one another with nothing but the truest of intentions. Thank you to the people who can easily recognize character over corruption and see when someone is simply speaking his or her truth. Thank you to the individuals who don’t take the fastest route out of a hard and unpleasantly dramatized situation, but instead lean in closer.
I have lost relationships over the simplistic quality of sticking around when the going got tough because sadly not just anyone will do that. However, I have also gained some of the greatest relationships too because I allowed myself to be open to the least expectant listener. To the listeners, pat yourself on the back, you’ve done good, and keep doing exactly what you are doing. To those scared to talk about their heartache and struggle, do not trust everyone, but don’t be afraid to trust someone. Everyone deserves to be heard, loved, and supported no matter what they are going through. Be open to one another and don’t you even think about going to old judgmental ways… it will never, ever be your place. Do not be naïve, but also do not be selfish.
This may seem too deep for you, but bottom line is: listen and believe one another in order to build each other up. I will preach this for the rest of my life. Today, and every day, I am thankful for the listeners and believers. I trust, however small or large, they (we) will change the world !
Southern and Thankful
This may be a tad bit hard for some to relate to, but I am going to give it a go.
You see, as a millennial, we are going to have some “firsts” that other generations will not have. For example, the first TV show we binged. Stay with me, I promise this is important.
I have always loved television shows. The stories they tell, no matter how dramatized they may be. However, as long as I live I do not think I will admire a show more than I have admired the series “Nashville.” It was the first show I binged watched to get caught up to it “real time”. I have loved it ever since. It always stood out to me and I believe I connected with it for reasons other than the cast, or the storylines (though I have been obsessed with all that), but this show has always done a remarkable job at representing the city of Nashville and the making of some wonderful music. I even ran in to Charles Esten (who plays one of the main characters) in Nashville of all places. He was so down to earth and so similar to his character, in the good ways, which made me love the show even more.
I was continually so mind blown by the idea that not only could I watch the show each week, but that I could also then buy the songs. Just as easily as I can equate chart topping songs back to a moment in my life… I can do the same with songs from this series Nashville. There is one song that I listened to on repeat in the Spring of 2017. My anxiety and depression was hitting pretty hard and this song, titled “Sanctuary” gave me immense comfort. I still to this day cannot listen to it without crying. Words are powerful enough on their own, but when you turn them to music, I believe (and know), they have the power to heal. That is one of the great things I learned by watching this show.
For the longest time I wanted to be just like these characters and musicians. Funny...because I cannot sing at all. I am not sure when I realized this, but one day I remember watching the show and having this major eye-opening moment that I didn’t want to be like the performers or the actors… I wanted to be like the songwriters. The people that create such magical pieces of art. It’s so comical because once I had this realization, I got this crazy idea that I could turn my words and poems that I have been writing for years into music as well. So surprise…. I have been songwriting (if you can call it that at this stage) and I am even learning to play the piano. Really exciting, and hopefully with hard work, my songs can affect others the way Nashville’s affected me.
This show has given me so much and, you might be thinking that this sounds crazy because it is a TV show, but God’s timing is so wonderful & I feel like I watched this show so that it could inspire me. And wow...that it has! Thank you Callie, Connie, Lennon, Maisy, Charles, Hayden, Clare, Sam, + everyone else that made this show lifechanging for me. You will never know the magnitude at which you have impacted your fans. I already miss it & those friendly characters, but I look forward to seeing how I can take the love for songwriting that I found thru this show and turn it into a reality. I never would have found that, or made it through dark times, without Nashville. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, if anyone remotely close to the show ever see’s this, you are appreciated!
PS- The show is on Hulu…I 100% encourage you to watch. Also, I know very little about songwriting, or how to even go about getting my stuff out there. So...If anyone has ANY tips or wants to help me out, I would not mind one bit (actually...I would be totally grateful!!).
Southern and Thankful
LISTEN TO THIS.
Two Sunday's ago we are at Lunch following church. Happens every week with the same people. Everyone is chatting, catching up, talking about the service, etc. when all of the sudden my Dad...and I quote, says:
“Bethea family when we get home us four are having a family meeting. I am the President & I am calling this meeting. We have only ever had about 4 of these in my lifetime, so you know it is serious.”
Now, what he said was true. Rarely, do we have family meetings. Therefore, I was nervous. In my mind I immediately go to all these worse case situations. I pretty much immediately decide that this has something to do with me, and the fact that I don’t need to be on my parents dime anymore. WHICH IS DISASTROUS IN MY MIND.
So I hurry home hoping to get this thing over with. Long story short, my Dad takes a nap(!!)...pushing back this family meeting, leaving me to sit and worry ALL DAY. I mean y’all… Talk about anxiety. I as freaking. Out.
Later that day my Dad gathers us all and I have decided (internally) that this is the movement. They are cutting me off and going to ask me to work on getting my own place, paying my own bills, etc. Granted these things are coming in the future and I will be ready for it, but NOT ON THAT DAY I WAS NOT.
We all sit down in the living room and he passes each of us a notecard. In my head, I am thinking, “This is it. He is playing this out like survivor. We are about to vote and see if I am getting kicked off the island AKA out of the house AKA no more parental support.” My only hope was that the others felt enough sympathy to keep me around. My plan was to threaten moving to California and hope that this would freak my mother out enough to save me. Then Dad says:
“Okay it is time we talk about this dog,” says my Dad.
I, was extremely confused, but oddly relieved!! In the stress of my worry I had really forgotten that Mills, my younger brother, has been wanting a lab to train to hunt with him. The problem though...our childhood dog, Nick, passed away when I was in the 6th grade and my parents said no more dogs until we were off living on our own. Somehow Mills had worked them down enough to even being open to a conversation about it, which is better than I ever did...growing up so badly wanting a dog...cue the violins...
Anyway, there was lots of conversation at this family meeting and it was decided that we would get the dog, as long as Mills and I shared responsibilities, etc. SO… Not only am I not getting the boot, but I am also apparently getting a dog!!! Talk about a crazy turn of events. We can’t wait to welcome this sweet dog to our family. We have already picked him out and everything! Therefore, stay tuned for updates, lots of pictures, and send us any name suggestions you have. I live to see another day in the Bethea Family Household! Moral of this story: thankful feelings can come from family meetings! PRAISE HIS HOLY NAME!!!
Southern and Thankful
Today is my last day of being 22 years old. Well, depending on when you read this, I turn 23 this Friday, July 6th. It is so crazy me that this year is already over. For the rest of my life I believe I will tell people 22 was one of my favorite ages. I entered this year so steady and unsure of what was ahead, but today, a whole year later I can confidently say this year I have grown more than any other.
22, the Taylor Swift Year in case you were unaware. People call it that because of Swift’s hit song “22”. Might I add that this year at the age of 22, I saw Swift sing 22 live. Pretty cool moment! That, as well as 1000 other reasons, is why I have loved being 22. This year I found strength I never had, realized the confidence I had, and did some overall painful work to make myself a better person, brother, friend, and Christian. I also graduated college- a huge accomplishment in my book. I gained new friends while some friends faded out of my life. I am now writing a book- a major goal of mine. I have grown wiser, happier, healthier, more open minded, and I kept going even when I did not feel like I had the stamina. 22 has come and gone and I know I am a much better person because of it!
To celebrate here is a list of 22 things I learned to be thankful for, or reminded to be thankful for or lessons learned in my 22nd year of life:
1. A Water Bottle- drink more water
2. Don’t Give Up on People When Things Get Hard
3. Toxic Relationships Rarely Change
4. ZYN22 Cycling Studio- fitting? I think so!!
5. Kenzie Keeley and Kelly Simons- you finally made the blog!!
6. Adults who deal with the real world- my recently graduated / older friends
7. Therapists, Chaplains, and Councilors - s/o Todd Bowling
8. Solid, Dry, Land- RIP Senior Cruise
9. Asking God for the ability to swim in Grace
10. Matching shirt and short sets- I am telling you it is a movement
11. Taylor’s Reputation Album- unreal
12. Make spontaneous choices- you will be surprised
13. Mental Health is serious
14. My Mom’s Snapchats
15. My Dad’s enthusiasm
16. College / TCU in general- I recommend never leaving
17. Cardi B is a high key inspiration
18. Family members can also double as your best friend- ily auntie kiss
19. Reading books- seriously it has changed my life
20. Don’t be afraid to take care of yourself first- to an extent being selfish can save you
21. Wear whatever you want- it is the best way to express yourself
22. My worth comes from God
These are random but I assure you, the list goes on and on. To be honest, I am kind of sad to leave 22 because it has been such a life changing year for me. I think back to a year ago- when I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognize the person in the reflection- I am proud to say at the turn of another year, I do recognize the person in the mirror. I love him and I kind of want to give him a hug. That’s not weird, right? Here’s to being 23 and learning and growing in so many more ways. The future is so bright and I am not stressed, I am blessed!! Thank you all for the love. This year I am going after big goals- I hope you will continue to cheer me on. Much love and lots of gratitude to you.
Southern and Thankful
One kind of cool thing about me is that I have attended the same church my whole life. Minus, the years I was in college, I have always attended the First United Methodist Church here in Stuttgart. The community is and my church family is so loving, not to mention supportive, it blows me away. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in this church with these people who have in turn helped me grow.
This past Sunday my church family and I said goodbye to Brother David Bush and his family. Brother David has been with us for 9 years, which is the longest stay than any other pastor I can remember us having. He has been with us through many important life events like weddings, funerals, graduations, baptisms, confirmations, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. He has cheered many of us on and been there for this church family 24/7 for the past 9 years. That is a large task. I could think of no one better for the job!
Brother David has one of the biggest hearts out of anyone I have ever seen. It truly is such a cool thing to see. I always loved coming home and going to church on Sundays because I knew Brother David was going to make me feel so welcome. Sometimes, even calling me out in front of the whole church. A lot of the time if he had an inkling I was going to be at church he would make sure and wear purple (go frogs) just for me! I loved going to church because you just knew you were going to leave with your heart a little warmer and smile a little brighter. Brother David is just contagious like that!
When I was graduating from high school, at our church we have a senior Sunday honoring those graduating where seniors have the opportunity to speak. I did a PowerPoint presentation mainly to keep me from getting emotional, but Brother David loved it. I called out and talked about my top 10 favorite things about the church. To this day Brother David still references the "seating chart" I informed the church we have every week. The seating chart will be changing a little with his family not in the crowd, but we are so excited for them and their next chapter in life.
It is evident that God places people in our life at the right time. Brother David is a shining example of that. We will miss you, Brother David. Thank you for all the memories, love, laughs, lessons, and moments you made us all feel closer to Christ. Your impact and footprint will forever be at Frist UMC Stuttgart. I, along with many others, are very thankful for that footprint!
Southern and Thankful
Do you know what today is?
I will give you a hint...balloons are necessary!
Yep, so you probably guessed it... todayis Southern and Thankful's 4th Birthday!!!
That means that 4 years ago on this day I came up with this insane idea to start a blog. Fast forward to today- 7 different t-shirt lines, over 1,000 shirts sold, hundreds of likes / comments (thank you thank you) 2 straight years of blogging EVERY SINGLE DAY, and tons of love- Southern and Thankful has had quite the impact on me and hopefully others. I pray for this brand often and each time I ask that God takes it and helps it to serve whatever purpose he believes best. That has always been my prayer and hope for Southern and Thankful. I have always given it to God, trusting that he will show me the route and direction it needs to go.
I cannot even begin to explain how grateful I am for the supporters, strangers, friends, and family who have been the biggest cheerleaders. All the likes, comments, shares, purchases, and overall thoughtfulness of others has overwhelmed me over the years. Thank you all SO much.
Normally, on this birthday I announce some new product or sale. This year, I am doing something a little different. Last week, Instagram released a new feature called "Instagram TV" where individuals can have a channel and upload videos. I have been comparing this to YouTube channels in my mind. I have never been big on seeing myself on camera or hearing myself talk, but a few people have encouraged me to try it, so I am giving it a go!! Again, I am new to all of this, but this channel will give me a fun space to talk about what I am thankful for somedays instead of writing it out... it sounds pretty neat to me!
Also, thank you to Mrs. Misti Coker for calling and singing Southern and Thankful Happy Birthday. Literally the voice of an angel. Not to mention it made my day!
To find the Instagram channel make sure your app is updated in the App Store and then click the orange button next to the blue inbox button. You should be able to find mine there, or go to my Instagram account and click the "IGTV " icon. YAY!
I hope you guys will head on over to my new Instagram channel, and mostly, I hope you guys will like it. Doing something new is always a little scary, but also fun! Here goes...hope you will “go” with me!
Lastly, you know my saying...there is always something to be thankful for and today, that is YOU! Thank you for celebrating Southern and Thankful with me for 4 years!
Southern and Thankful
Two words: spontaneous trip
I have been meaning to write about my most recent trip a few weekends back, and I here I am, finally finding the time to do so. After graduation, it was like BOOM suddenly things changed. Everyone seriously like woke up the next day and started making moves. I quickly decided I wanted to do the same. When all was said and done I found myself back at home, boxes with my things piled high to the ceiling in my room, eating lunch at the usual spot with my best friend since birth, Stephanie.
Funny thing… Stephanie and I both graduated from different universities with the same degree and both of us are currently unemployed. I like going places with her because when people hound you about what you are up to post-grad you don’t look as bad when there are two of you! So like I said, we were at lunch just catching up and what not. I randomly started talking about how I was seeing Taylor Swift (my favorite artist of all, as if you didn’t know) in the fall, but wanted to see her before then. I just couldn’t wait that long! Anyway, one thing led to another and the next day we had airfare, a hotel, and tickets to see Taylor Swift in Chicago a little over a week later. So spontaneous! We both kept kind of laughing at how quickly the thing came together. We kept saying, “I can’t believe we are doing this.”
We had a blast in Chicago. The weather was incredible- low 60’s. I had been once before and Stephanie had never been. We saw the famous bean, got the most delicious deep-dish pizza, shopped, got drinks at a rooftop bar, and mostly tried to make the most of our quick trip to the city.
Now, I am going to refrain from going on and on about the concert, BUT it was out of this world. If you have never seen Taylor Swift live… DO IT. Buy your tickets now. She is an entertainer like no other. I am so passionate about it. I just want everyone to experience what it’s like to be in the same room, with 52,000 other people, as she performs. We had great seats that were very close up. It started to rain and we got to dance in the rain with her. She said she hadn’t played a show in the rain in so long. You could tell she was genuinely excited to be there, in that moment with us. Stephanie and I, but mostly Stephanie, made signs and painted jean jackets. I honestly wish I could relive that night over and over again.
I am leaving out a lot of fun details like the waiter, Brittany, who we loved. And let's not forget the thunderstorm we had to talk home in after the concert with no rain jackets or umbrellas at all. RIP to our cool light up signs we made. I've never been so wet. What I really just want you to know is that I highly recommend taking a spontaneous trip as soon as you can. Stephanie and I have been the best of friends since I can remember. We have been fortunate to travel to other fun places together, but I will never forget the laughs and the memories we made on this trip. I love how it came to fruition as quickly as it did and how needed it was in both of our lives at this time.
Bottom line… do something spontaneous with the people you love. It’s not a treatment or medicine prescribed by the doctor, but it totally should be.
Southern and Thankful
Y’all…I am so saddened by the suicide of fashion icon, Kate Spade, earlier this week. Being a male, I do not know much about Kate Spade as a brand, but I know it has been very successful over the years and people love it. I think when most people saw this news their first reaction was,
“Kate Spade? No way!”
How could such a fabulous women with such success and fame be in such a dark place that she could take her own life? It is heartbreaking really. By the way, this is not the first time we have seen a case like this. Do you remember the sudden death of Robin Williams? I believe the important thing to take away from this is that mental health does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter who you are. It does not matter how much or how little of something you have. Kate Spade “had it all” , but none of these things matter when you are sick. Kate was not selfish. Kate was not weak. Kate was not crazy. Kate was sick. I can understand that and I have seen it first-hand. I was again extremely sad to see that today, Anthony Bourdain, former CNN reporter committed suicide this morning. He was a wonderful storyteller and, like Kate, will be so missed. Mental Health matters and it comes without warning.
No one can really imagine the pain her family is going through, not to mention her precious 13-year old daughter, unless you have been in that tragic situation. Please join me in praying for her family, friends, the fashion community, and also for those around the world who may be struggling and after hearing this news, might tragically see it as an answer for them…which by the way, it absolutely is not… Suicide is talked about right now because a woman /man of celebrity was the victim of it, but the reality is it is happening every single day. This is a problem in our world and in my opinion, something that needs to be talked about more, not forgotten as the headlines fade. Mental health needs to be at the forefront of our conversations, and accepted for what it is… completely normal. Hug your loved ones extra tight today.
If you or someone you know is struggling please do not be afraid to reach out to your friends, your family, me, or the National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
I know during some of my dark times, I didn't want to ask for help and I didn't want to call a hotline number. However, everyone is different. Do not be afraid to speak up and show love. I am grateful for each one of you.
Southern and Thankful
Blessed is an understatement when it comes to my life. Each and every day I am amazed by God's steadfast love. In return, I have claimed this space to show my thanks and whatever else comes along the way. A recent graduate from Texas Christian University who loves any creative insta post, all donuts, and dress pants that make you do a double take. I pray God has a grand purpose for me and I plan to get there with a little Southern and a lot of Thanks! Join me!