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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

When the Shift Hits the Fan


This isn’t the first time many of us have lived the shift.

I was hardly one year into my career when September 11, 2001 happened. We all remember that moment of slow motion – when the news of a plane hit, then another, and another, and another. We never forget the ground we were standing upon when those two towers tumbled, footed by news tickers releasing reports from the Pentagon and that Pennsylvania field, too. We will always feel that shock, awe, impact and lingering aftermath. From that moment forward, we weren’t living in the same world we had woken up to. 

Just turning 24 and as entry level in crisis management as it comes, this time in history was my crash course. In less than two hours after the tri-fold of tragedies, we were set to host a free community concert at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, kicking off a big week of the fifth anniversary. The tent was up in the parking lot. It was my job to help set out tables and chairs. The band was arriving. Lisa Love, my first boss and continued mentor, had a tough call to make.

So, she did. The show would go on. I remember her very words, ones I have repeated many times over the course of my career since:

“Music has the power to heal,” she said. “Now is no better time for community.”

From there, that afternoon, as people gathered under that tent and took a moment of silence, then tapped their foot and even danced, we found ourselves in the midst of a moment in time, where deep down, we knew: this was the last of what we knew.

Soon, the shift hit the fan. The FAA paused the world when flights were grounded. Travel as we knew it changed. Liquids, carry-ons, shoes and socks in the airport would never be the same. Flight patterns were permanently altered. Patriotism and mistrust surged. Religion and religious discrimination were resurrected. We formed new allies and formally declared enemies. We feared elevators, high-rise buildings, large crowds and each other. Side-eye to the stranger next to you became acceptable. Maybe just maybe, he or she was an air marshal.

Priorities shifted. Media consumption shifted. War stories shifted. Tensions shifted. Culture shifted. Lives were lost. Life was lost. But to honor the dead and recognize the living, life as we knew it had to be rebuilt.

In the hours, days and weeks after 9/11, attendance at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame plummeted. We postponed the week’s culminating concert headlined by the B-52s. And when it did finally happen, months later, there would be no kick-off Air Force Fly-over or near the crowd we expected.

But something else happened in the shift. Local travel became a thing. Suddenly, attendance surged from within Georgia. People wanted to be closer to home, but they also wanted to roam within range. Exploring Georgia with a one-tank trip was now the way to go. And our POS system at the Music Hall pinged with local travelers and their inter-state zip codes. 

No, the local travel trend wasn’t enough to save the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, but it did postpone its inevitable closure for a few more years. And for Georgia as a whole, it worked. From post-9/11 through even today, tourism became one of the State’s largest and most successful economic engines, Georgia grown, from the inside out.

That September day would shape us in many profound, obvious and subtle ways. It was painful. It was traumatic. It was resonating. It was yesterday, yet it was also a lifetime ago.

Shifts happen. Remember the Flood of 1994 here in Macon? I was only 16 but a shift happened during that time, too. I’ve never forgotten how much water it takes to flush a toilet. That summer was the slowest, most inconvenient time of my young life – showering in a golf club locker room, hauling plastic gallons of water from Red Cross trucks, not being able to wash off the evidence of mud-bogging in my dad’s Toyota 4-Runner. But it shaped me, never leaving me and prepping me for future first world problems.

I recalled the Flood just yesterday, with the lengths I am now going to in sanitizing my groceries. Many of us already swear we’ll never take germs for granted again!

My son is almost six, and I know each and everyday in isolation are imprinting his life. He’ll remember this time as one where he and his mama stayed up later than we should, giving thanks and indulging in cartons of ice cream I wiped down with Lysol AND rubbing alcohol.

He’ll remember this time for a long time, every time he washes his hands. He’ll forever hear it in our hand-washing song: “Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, JO-Leeeeene” three times, together. 

He’ll also remember the worry. And he’ll also remember the separation. Most likely, he’ll remember some sort of shift in the life he knew his first five years.

If you lived 9/11, then you know right now, the shift is hitting the fan. It’s happening. But we can’t know what will stick and what is fleeting. We’re still in the fog of the present. Then, there  will be the bog of aftermath. Still, seek the shifts, even when we know darn well that only time will tell. What will alter culture forever? What will we embrace like a new dawn?



Here are some throwback pics to my early career at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, post-9/11. Above are me, Liz Garcia, Jermaine Dupri and Lisa Love. Below features me with Keni Thomas and members of his band Cornbread.






Thursday, March 26, 2020

And Then.


And Then.

Never did I imagine it would take a global pandemic to bring me back to blogging. So, in the midst of this crisis, instead of starting something new, I returned to my original piece of internet real estate, bringing it back to where it all began -- and keeping it classic! -- on Blogger. Can you believe this site has now documented a whopping decade of my life? 

First came love and courtship (told from the POV of my pup Candy Lou -- still kicking at age 12!). Then came marriage when the J-Dubs made it official. Then it was all about that baby carriage when along came Jameson Walden Weatherford. After that, a giant gap, last documented here in April, 2016, where I vowed Macon Candy would return.

There was a lot packed into that gap, from co-founding a third business to moving our family to the rural country to running for State office, to raising an incredibly vibrant son and always adding to our menagerie (current pet count is now up to five dogs, three cats and one bunny). 

Rock Candy Tours remains real. Jamie and I are about to celebrate nine years of marriage. Our son, Walden, will turn six this summer. Our family is currently healthy. Our businesses and careers have been humming along. We were already embracing a slower speed of living. 

And then.  

We’re stopped in our tracks. We find ourselves looking up, looking down, looking all around and asking ourselves, what just happened? A pause button is pushed. A chapter suddenly closed. An uncharted shift is upon us.

So, here I am. Suddenly, I’m a home-schooling mother whose three businesses are barely a side hustle. My husband and I are going to extreme physical measures to keep our family quarantined. I’m finding myself isolated on this secluded piece of land we so passionately made our home to get away from it all. Everything we’ve ever worked for is facing an uncertain future with a certain question mark. 

And yet.

The story of love will shift again. 



[Photos Once Again by our Magnolia Cowgirl, Leah Yetter]





Sunday, April 24, 2016

Time for Another Macon Candy Make-Over!



It's time for another change to MaconCandy.com. First came love. Then came marriage. And we've totally been pushing the baby carriage for nearly two years now -- two years!! Now it's time to see a little bit of it all, from happenings and antics of our dear, sweet city of Macon to a marriage that is now five years in the making (come this weekend!) to life on the seat of our training pants as we move on from newborn baby boy to straight-up toddler dude. Thank you for being patient and for being part of the journey. It is here at Macon Candy that you will continue to find the best of all of our worlds.

So, kicking things off, here are the highlights on my radar this week. What about yours?

Monday: Participating in a community discussion panel hosted by our local Junior League. Topic is servant leadership, and the guide for discussion is Robert Greenleaf's Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature and Legitimate Power of Greatness.   

Wednesday: Going to see the Alabama Shakes live in Athens, Georgia with Bright Blue (Stephanie) and Texas T (Tabitha). Remember them from the original Macon Candy? Yep, we're still having fun!

Thursday: Five year anniversary celebration is ON in Charleston, SC! We're packing a baby-sitter, and Jamie grabbed us reservations at Husk!

This also means I'll be trying to fit a 40+ hour week into about three days. That desk I am coming from in the picture above is mine - all mine - as in, I now have my own office, and my own gig these days, too. More on my latest career ventures later. Looking forward to catching up in Macon Candy's land!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

About That Breastfeeding



After one year, a couple of months, and even a kidney stone, I finally put up the "Out of Business" sign on ye ol' mama's milk-making shop. And it just about broke my heart in two. I had full intentions to milk it for all its worth, at least until Walden entered two. But just like that, he lost interest and the raging flow eventually trickled out to baby oblivion. Who knew breastfeeding and I would get along so well? I'm truly going to miss it, its moments and even the hard work that was involved.

By breastfeeding, I discovered a ferocious new passion in this life + baby. And in case you missed it, last month I found my voice in the #normalizebreastfeeding battle cry thanks to the fab femmes at In Fine Feather Blog.

In Fine Feather is a stunning, easy-on-the-eyes blog focused on holistic, healthy and homegrown wellness. Its creators are Tess Harper, a dear friend and former colleague of mine, and her bestie Haley Sheffield, an artist extraordinaire, who've I've always wanted to meet on the other side of the lens.  

With August being Breastfeeding Awareness Month, they allowed me the platform to open my heart on this matter and get a few things off my chest . . . Including the opportunity to capture breastfeeding's sacred moments in the act. Now, when I miss it the most, I have the portraits Haley shot to keep close to my heart. 

Click HERE to read my guest blog post on the "Art and Acceptance of Breastfeeding." And be sure to check out the entire beautiful blog, which includes a fantastic interview with my favorite prenatal yoga instructor and muscle relaxer (ha!) Mandy Miller