Thursday, December 31, 2009

Twenty Ten.






Wherever you are, whatever your plans, I hope this new year finds us all happier, healthier, and much wiser!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fa la la.

I'm having one of those holiday frenzy days that makes me want to scream. Or cry. Or both. Which is odd, considering the Reason for the Season.

So before I head home for Christmas, I'm reminding myself of a few things:
a) I'm going to try -- really hard -- to remember why we celebrate this holiday.
b) I am blessed and fortunate to have family and friends who love me.
c) Life, when it comes down to it, is good. Really good.
d) Nothing is insurmountable.


I hope you all have a beautiful celebration of our Lord's birth.

That is, after all, why we're getting ourselves all worked up. Right?  :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Henry Poole Is Here (no spoilers included).


I watched "Henry Poole Is Here" on Netflix, thinking it would be more of a comedy than a deep-thinking indie film. (I also assumed I was in the mood for a comedy, but this was perfect for me at the time I watched it.)

Even if I don't agree with them all, I love reading books and watching movies that make me think in different ways, and this one did just that. Starring Luke Wilson, Radha Mitchell, and other recognizable actors (like George Lopez), the film was well put together, and definitely made for something I'll be mulling over for a while.

So, without adding any spoilers, if you like that sort of thing, too, I highly recommend checking this out.

But maybe not if you know you need an out-and-out comedy. ;-)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finding my happy place.

I could've told you this before the article below was even thought about, much less published, but I've found my happy place.  Louisiana is definitely close enough to home to have the look(ish) and feel of the (MS Gulf) Coast, yet in a spot where I can learn and explore newness, which makes my redheaded self full of joy.

However, I guess someone leaked this bit o' news to the press, so now everybody knows:

States ranked from happiest to least cheerful

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON -- A new study found that people who report more satisfaction with their lives live in states that score well on things like good schools, low crime and short commuting time, perhaps a first objective look at why some states are happier than others.

The state-by-state list, from happiest to least cheery:

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. South Carolina
7. Mississippi
8. Montana
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Wyoming
12. Alaska
13. North Carolina
14. South Dakota
15. Texas
16. Idaho
17. Vermont
18. Arkansas
19. Georgia
20. Utah
21. Oklahoma
22. Delaware
23. Colorado
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. Virginia
28. New Hampshire
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Ohio
44. Massachusetts
45. Illinois
46. California
47. New Jersey
48. Indiana
49. Michigan
50. Connecticut
51. New York

Again... No shock to me that my current residence is #1 and my home state is #7 out of 51, but for those of you who didn't know how awesome the deep South is, FYI. And come see us! :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I know the heart of life is good.

I'm pretty sure I've posted this before, simply because I'm in mad love with it. But I'm doing it again, simply because I need it. :-)

John Mayer has this crazy great song, "The Heart of Life." The lyrics and performance are below -- I hope you like it. Especially if you need it this week, too.




Lyrics:

I hate to see you cry


Lying there in that position

There's things you need to hear

So turn off your tears and listen



Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won't all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good



You know it's nothing new

Bad news never had good timing

Then the circle of your friends

Will defend the silver lining



Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

No, it won't all go the way it should

But I know the heart of life is good



(Whistle Interlude)



Pain throws your heart to the ground

Love turns the whole thing around

Fear is a friend who's misunderstood

But I know the heart of life is good



I know it's good


Good stuff.

5.

It's been quite a week. I love country music, but this week has reminded me of the longest country song ever -- and not necessarily in a good way. Regardless, I'm sure I can drum up five things I'm thankful for. :-)

1. The happiness and sweet joy my family's precious dog Tractor brought to us over the years.

2. Calm.

3. Kid stories. They are so funny and sometimes keep me going! I'm not sure if I would appreciate them as much if I were sleep-deprived with my own, but I'm sure I would. ;-)

4. Christmas lights. Isn't it something how they can really brighten the spirit as well as a tree, or wreath, or yard, or home?

5. Friends and family who are there. Just there. With no demands. Incredibly great.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life is better off a mystery.

I owe a humongous shout-out to Sara Ferren, my third (?) cousin (who feels much closer, thanks to the beauty and love that was my great-Aunt Mildred, and her great-grandmother).
Sara posted part of these lyrics as her Fbk status tonight. In ways I probably couldn't really articulate to anyone today, I so needed the reminder of this song, and its meaning, and all that it refreshes my heart for when I delve into it.

A video clip of Caedmon's Call's "Faith My Eyes" is here:





And the lyrics to Caedmon's Call's "Faith My Eyes" are here:

As I survey the ground for ants


Looking for a place to sit and read

I'm reminded of the streets of my hometown

How they're much like this concrete that's warm beneath my feet



And how I'm all wrapped up in my mother's face

With a touch of my father just up around the eyes

And the sound of my brother's laugh

But more wrapped up in what binds our ever distant lives



But if I must go

Things I trust will be better off without me

But I don't want to know

Life is better off a mystery



So keep'em coming these lines on the road

And keep me responsible be it a light or heavy load

And keep me guessing with these blessings in disguise

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes



Hometown weather is on TV

I imagine the lives of the people living there

And I'm curious if they imagine me

Cause they just wanna leave; I wish that I could stay



And to visit places from my past

But only for an hour or so

Which is long enough to smell the air

To tell the tale and find the door



But I get turned around

I mistake my happiness for blessing

But I'm blessed as the poor

Still I judge success by how I'm dressing



So I'll sing a song of my hometown

I'll breathe the air and walk the streets

Maybe find a place to sit and read

And the ants are welcome company



And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

And I'll walk with grace my feet and faith my eyes

This was a favorite of mine in college, and I love that Sara can appreciate and live it as she experiences that stage of life as well. There's never a bad time to make the effort to walk with grace and see with faith.


(This, for the record, is by far not the best or only touching song by Caedmon's Call. Check 'em out. Their lyrics are heartfelt, Scripturally sound, and incredibly pointed.)

And thanks again, Sara.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Drinking the Kool-Aid.

I've never been great with sales.

Public relations, personal encouragement, and talking things and people up that I believe in, sure. But sales? Ehhhh.... I just feel bad when asking peeps to part with their money. You know?


When I was a kid and had to sell things for school fundraisers, I would end up trying to talk my neighbors out of purchases. I distinctly remembering asking Mrs. Larsen down the road if she really needed another candle, because the ones in my catalog did seem a little expensive. Needless to say, the Girl Scouts weren't exactly knocking my door down to come join in their cookie-pushing.

A few months ago, I listened to a friend's pitch about a product, thought it sounded good, but told her that no way, no how -- I could NOT sell this to anyone, no matter how great it was. And that's been true. I do think it's a big product, but have a hard time asking anyone to listen to a pitch and part with money that they might not want to spend on something.

Blogging, however, doesn't feel so pushy. You choose to read this. If you want to know more, you can ask me. If you think I'm crazy, you can tell me (or not). If you don't give a rip, you can ignore this and go on.


I'm good with that.

The product I fell for is called Zoegetics. I dreaded attending the presentation but love my friends who were hosting it and so jazzed about it, so I went to hear the spiel. Turns out, after hearing what the products are about, being very impressed with the company's start-up, mission and ethics, and thoroughly Googling for a week or two, I just couldn't for the life of me find a reason not to at least give it a shot.

Zoe's main product is a powder you mix with water (or other drinks -- I like to alternate it in fruity stuff like G2 or Fuze).

It contains about a million antioxidants, quite a few servings of fruits and vegetables, a good dose of fiber, and other things that you can get more details on via the Zoe website. There is also a common side effect of weight loss, though the company does not promote it as a diet-type product.

In addition, the company manufactures "green" cleaning products, including cleaners for virtually every room of the house, as well as all-natural laundry detergents. (And it all smells good.)


Bare truth: I haven't been diligent with using Zoe. I've been sick a lot this summer/fall/winter, and sometimes anything other than water and tea seems icky. But I keep thinking -- how can getting those servings of fruits and veggies be bad for me? How can loading up on antioxidants hurt me?

Also, as you can probably tell from my first few paragraphs, I haven't been diligent in talking up Zoe. No one's pressuring me to, but I really do believe it's a good thing, so this blog post is my way of letting the universe know about it.

If you're still reading and are interested in the product, leave a comment, email me at rebekah.johnson1976@gmail.com, and by all means, check out the website for any questions you might have.

The friend who sold me on it has a blog, too, so you can read more firsthand accounts there.

For those who are gravely disappointed in me for falling for this, I'm sorry it has to be this way. I never thought I'd be "that person," either, and promise on my life's happiness that I am not pushing this on you!

Even if I did end up drinking the Kool-Aid.

On the Nightstand: In The Sanctuary of Outcasts


I recently finished one of the most stellar, well-written, and compelling non-fiction books I've come across in at least two years.

In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, a memoir by Mississippi-born and bred and former Louisiana resident Neil White, is a detailed account of one man's drive for success, his mistakes, and his payment for those errors. Not only is the writing ridiculously captivating and page-turning for any reader, but the entire novel is set in Mississippi (mainly Oxford and the Gulf Coast), and Louisiana (New Orleans, the Baton Rouge area, and Carville).

Ok. I'm going to stop trying to summarize this work myself and just quote the author's own website:


Daddy is going to camp. That’s what I told my children. A child psychologist suggested it. “Words like prison and jail conjure up dangerous images for children,” she explained.



But it wasn’t camp.

Neil White, a journalist and magazine publisher, wanted the best for those he loved—nice cars, beautiful homes, luxurious clothing. He loaned money to family and friends, gave generously to his church, and invested in his community—but his bank account couldn’t keep up. Soon Neil began moving money from one account to another to avoid bouncing checks. His world fell apart when the FBI discovered his scheme and a judge sentenced him to eighteen months in federal prison.

But it was no ordinary prison. The isolated, beautiful colony in Carville, Louisiana was also home to the last people in the continental United States disfigured by leprosy. Hidden away for decades, this small circle of outcasts forged a tenacious, clandestine community, a fortress to repel the cruelty of the outside world. It is here, in a place rich with history, where the Mississippi River briefly runs north, amidst an unlikely mix of leprosy patients, nuns, and criminals, that Neil’s strange and compelling journey begins. He finds a new best friend in Ella Bounds, an eighty-year-old, African-American, double-amputee who had contracted leprosy as a child. She and the other secret people, along with a wacky troop of inmates, help Neil re-discover the value of simplicity, friendship and gratitude.

Funny and poignant, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts is an uplifting memoir that reminds us all what matters most.


I really do highly recommend this read for anyone who likes great writing, interesting non-fiction, sheer honesty, and other people's views of the South.

Also, if any of you hear of a book signing with this guy anywhere in Louisiana or Mississippi, please let me know. I'd really like to meet him.

And finally, thanks a billion to Angela Long, who recommended it to me! Best read in a while, by far.

Let it Sneaux, Let it Sneaux...

Ok. So I know the song traditionally repeats that line three times. But since this is the second year in a row* we've gotten snow in Baton Rouge, I couldn't help but stop at two. 

*(By the way, in case you don't know, getting winter weather in the South is kind of a big deal... Much less in Baton Rouge, Lousiana... Much less TWO YEARS IN A ROW!)


(And for those who may not know the reasoning behind the "eaux" spelling I use so often, it's the Cajun-French word assimilation for the pronunciation "oh." When I was growing up on the MS Gulf Coast, for instance, Dedeaux was pronounced "dee-doh.")

So, back to topic. BR was predicted for a "wintery mix" this past weekend, and a wintery mix we got! It was part snow, much rain, some sleet, and bitter cold (for these parts, at least).  I've been falling apart and down with allergies for the majority of my residency here, including last weekend, so I missed getting out and about in the wintery mix. But I did brave the cold for a few seconds here and there to get some shots outside of my balcony door. :-)

Our wintery mix had a lot of rain, happened around 7ish, and didn't stick, but it was fun and seasonally exciting just the same!

Photos:
1. Snow from my balcony! This shot proved I was not hallucinating, which was a huge relief.
2. My new (to me) car, Lady Bling, gets her first snow, which she took very, very well.




Friday, December 4, 2009

Saintsgiving.

It's hard NOT to steal the "Saintsgiving" rename of the holiday with New Orleans (finally!) doing so well this season, and given my nephew's new obsession with football and love for our Saints.

Our family got together for Thanksgiving last week and had such a great time catching up and visiting. We also ate a little bit...but anyway. :-) We were able to take Thanksgiving dinner to Nan and Pop Ball's, who have dealt with major health issues this year, and get some good visiting in.

And since my sister and her family alternate holidays between both sets of in-laws, we also tied Christmas in with Thanksgiving the next night.

For Christmas this year, my parents and I gave my nephew a Saints uniform, which to our delight, could not have gone over better. Caleb was SO cute as he opened his helmet, then his whole uniform, then his football. He couldn't get into the uniform fast enough, leaving his original outfit laying by the hallway. :-) I, of course, couldn't get enough pictures of him in that precious uniform. It was just big enough for him to be able to wear it for a while, and hello -- is there anything cuter than a child in a too-big football helmet?!


The next day, he played a good bit in the yard with Grandpa, who was more than happy to toss the football and frisbee with Caleb, take him on a tractor ride, and have their traditional race. They were so cute and I, much to everyone's shock, got tons of pictures to commemorate the fun.


Also involved in the weekend were roasting marshmallows (yay for a coastal Thanksgiving cold enough for a fire!), making Mississippi mud with Grammi, lots of battles between the Army, British, Cowboy & Indian figures Caleb brought along, and several movie viewings, including "The Alamo" and "Night at the Museum."

And my weekend was capped off by a situation I ALWAYS love -- time with cousins and childhood friends, who, when the moon is just right, all get to come together for some quality, invaluable hangout time when we're all home. (Naturally, I forgot my camera. It's tradition.)

All in all, it was a fantastic time all the way around, with a good balance for me of work, play, home, and getting out and about.

And...it must be said...how 'bout them Saints?!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Full of thanks.

It's been quite a week, month, and year, and despite all the weirdness and drama, I've never been more thankful than I am right now to be where and who I am right now.

Even (and maybe especially) on days when I'm griping, I'm grateful for lessons learned, mistakes made, and those few mistakes that God providentially kept me from making in the process.

Hope you all have wonderful memories to reflect on during this season of Thanksgiving! And even if your reflections are bittersweet, I hope you gain insight and awareness from that, too.

I'm thankful for each of you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Raw fear.

Tonight, I am scared for the health and safety of someone I love dearly. Please keep her in your prayers. Thank you so much.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Joie de vivre.



I've had one of those days that reminded me of the joy of life, and living, and how ridiculously thankful I am for all I have and where I've been -- good and bad.

So this time, I'm listing things my heart is brimming over with thanks for, and I'm not stoppin' at five.

  1. My home state. I am in mad love with Mississippi, and the fact that I've had the opportunity to spend so much time in so many parts of it. Faith Hill had it right -- no matter where I am, I'm still (and always will be!) a Mississippi girl. :-)
  2. Old friends. There is something to be said for the peeps who know you well, have seen you at your worst, and still love you. I'm overly blessed with the most wonderful friends EVER. How this happened, I have no idea, but I pray to God I don't do anything to mess it up! My peeps are the best peeps.
  3. New friends. Meeting new people never gets old! Sometimes I think it's not the best habit of mine (for maintenance reasons and all), but aren't new personalities the best?! It's so cool to learn where others are coming from and to see where they'll go.
  4. The past -- all of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all part of where and who I am now, and today, I happen to really love where and who I am now. I never thought I would be thankful for some of my ugliest experiences, but I'll be dadgummed if they're not reminding me of how good it feels to feel good today.
  5. Cruise control. I would love to hug whoever invented it.
  6. Fall colors. I know I don't shut up about this, but I'm all about some fall leaves and colors, and since I don't see much of those in BR (until this week!), it was absolutely breathtaking to drive up through Mississippi and see the vibrant colors. (I guess I would need to be hospitalized if I was actually up north, where real fall occurs.)
  7. Stereotypes. I was reminded this weekend that just because I set stereotypes, it doesn't mean they're in stone. That was a good reminder. Sometimes this redhead needs the "refresh" button clicked so she can see things as they are, not just as she imagines they are.
  8. A nephew who loves his aunt. There is absolutely nothing in the world that could make my heart fuller than to hear my hilarious nephew's voice trash talking me about football, or commentating on his 5-year-old life like the old soul he is, or incredulously getting excited because he "gets to see" me in only three days.
  9. Music. If you know me at all, you know I love it. And there's nothing like ten hours in the car to reminisce on the playlists of your life in every genre! Rock. On. Or country on. Or jazz on. Or...
  10. Scripture. It's amazing how, like music, Biblical reminders can pop up just when you need them. I'm thankful to have been raised in a family and church where I was taught Bible verses at a very young age, and that they still stick with me when I need them most.
  11. Being a girl. For real. Sometimes I gripe about it, but secretly, I love it. :-)
  12. Reminders of Aunt Mildred. I had the sweetest, funniest great-aunt ever, and since she died, I have noticed more and more when things remind me of her. Like good sweet tea. And decorative dish towels. And a new friend's laugh that sounds exactly like it came from Auntie M's kitchen table! Fantastic. I love that a beautiful sound allows me to see her shoulders shake from getting tickled, even though I can no longer give her a hug and kiss.
  13. My mother's cornbread dressing, and the fact that I get to eat it this Thursday. No further commentary needed.
  14. My family. They are the best of the best, hands-down.


A new friend said something this weekend I've not really heard adults state so frankly:

"Hey. I'm happy."

At the time, I grinned and told him I was glad.

Today I'm there, and can only grin again and think, "Well said. And ditto that!"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Change.

I read this article excerpt by Amy Bloom today and not only needed it, but also loved it:

Change is as inevitable as rain in the spring.

Some of us just put on our raincoats and splash forward, some of us choose to stay home, a few admirable nuts shed their clothes and cavort in the yard, and some people go out and get deeply, resentfully, miserably wet.

And no matter what, the rain falls.

God bless sturdy rain boots and timely reminders!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dear Saints: I believe!

So I was driving this afternoon and heard on the radio that one of my all-time favorite bands, Cowboy Mouth, redid a song to reflect their love for the Saints.

Here's the reworked version of "I Believe," compliments of Mix 92.3:







Geaux Saints!

I believe!

Mmmm mmmm good.


Five things I've had to be thankful for this week are:

5. The goodness of life. Life really is great, fabulous stuff, especially when I stop letting its pesky details get in my way.

4. A job that allows me the occasional work trip to New Orleans. Ok, so a lowlight was a bum on a bike asking me for $20 -- hello? twenty BUCKS? are we in a recession or not?! -- but since he was dressed better than me, I felt no guilt about skipping on my merry little way.

3. Friends who stick closer than brothers.  Ok, so I've never had a brother. But I have cousins who come VERY close, and friends who make an effort to rank right up there.

2. Creativity. Without it, I really might just....sob. Uncontrollably. And often.

1. Texting. I know, we're back to my tweenager state of mind again. But it's such a fun, fantastic way to keep up with peeps without all the monotonous voice mails or calling at inopportune times.

:: happy sigh ::

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans' Day.



On Veterans' Day, it's hard NOT to remember those who have given and are still giving of themselves for my freedom.

In the interest of time, I'm pasting some Zac Brown Band lyrics (from "Chicken Fried"), which express better than I ever could how I feel:

I thank God for my life
And for the stars and stripes
May freedom forever fly
Let it ring
Salute the ones who died
The ones who give their lives
So we don't have to sacrifice
All the things we love
Veterans and soldiers, thank you for doing what I do not and could not, and for keeping our country safe.




Monday, November 9, 2009

Fort Hood.

I'm still devastated when I think of the disgusting, uneccessary shooting at Fort Hood in Texas last week.

I caught up this morning on Marshall Ramsey's cartoons from the weekend, and found this one particularly touching:





As usual, MR does a fantastic job of depicting what we all felt, and still feel when reading/seeing the coverage.

I hope that like Columbine, and Virginia Tech, and the Oklahoma City bombing, and 9/11, may we never forget.

Giving Thanks.

Five things I'm thankful for at this very moment are:

5. Cousins who are, hands-down, the coolest ever (ever).

4. Facebook. I know I sound like a 12-year-old, but seriously. I love keeping up with my peeps from different places and life stages. And as my sweet friend (and clinical psychologist) Dr. Jane says, updating one's status is definitely thereapeutic. Also, I'm an addict.

3. My nephew's ever-expanding (and hilarious) personality. It is so cute to watch him jump into new interests (and, of course, act like he's always been there).

2. Parents and grandparents who love -- each other and me.

1. New seasons. I love them when they're literal, but also when they're figurative. It's a great time to take a deep breath and marinate in this one.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Falling Back.

I love gaining an hour, but am not the hugest fan of the early winter darkness.

I happened to be in Jackson when the time changed, and thoroughly enjoyed a blissful, drama-free weekend with true friends who love me and who aren't afraid to say so. (Who'd have thunk that was so EASY?!) ;-)

So in light of a very cathartic trip back to a place that helped me become who I am now -- for better or for worse -- my locale for the time change this year seemed quite appropriate when I saw the following quote from a friend:

"Sometimes good things fall apart so even better things can fall together."

:-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Goin' to Jackson!


Much like Johnny & June Carter Cash crooned about years ago, I'm goin' to Jackson this weekend.

I absolutely love Baton Rouge with its spicy flavors and personality, but I'm very excited about seeing so many dear Mississippi friends and catching up with the people and the place who took care of me for so long!

Among visits to precious friends, on my list of must-stop-in are: Julep, Keifer's, and The Cherokee.

:: happy, happy sigh ::






Sunday, October 25, 2009

Five Things I'm Thankful For.

Five things I've been thankful for this week -- and even this day, in particular -- are:

1. The fact that I'm not where I was last year at this time, and that an entire year (albeit a bit too dramatic for my taste) has passed. Whew!

2. The beautiful, precious, kindhearted, loving friends and family who surround my world, and who are right where I need them to be when I need them to be there.

3. How many times can I say it? FALL! Love the cool weather!

4. The fact that I'm not the one who slid the ring on the finger of the obnoxious guy we sat in front of at tonight's LSU game. Lord have mercy on that poor woman. Seriously.

5. The future, and that we can look forward to it, without being bound to our pasts. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Celeb Sighting!

Everyone I know sees celebrities but me. This is true. Even when I'm visiting New York, L.A., Boston, Vegas, and other places you'd expect to see them, I just miss them. Always.

The most ironic part of this story is that in the past few weeks, I've decided to whine about that fact. A lot.


But last night, while we were waiting to be seated for Angelle's birthday dinner at Roberto's River Road Restaurant right outside of Baton Rouge, I noticed a beautiful girl who reminded me of Natasha from SATC. (You know, Big's skinny/model/wife?)  Anyway, I kept glancing back, and thought if it wasn't her, some girl was really fortunate to look that much like her.

A few minutes later, it was confirmed by another friend: I'd seen my first celebrity sighting! And with no help! I was very excited.

(Several movies have been being filmed in Baton Rouge lately, including Battle: Los Angeles, which she has a role in.)

No one said anything to her (tempting though it was), and she and her date were seated while we waited for a table for 15 to open up.

Way into our dinner, Bridget Moynahan poked her head into our room with a big smile and waved goodbye! We all acted like the Southerners we are, waving excitedly. Someone asked if she'd take a pic with us, and she did:



Pictured left to right: Mike Betz, Erica Bankston, Brandon Kelly, Bridget Moynahan, Angelle Bertrand, Tiffany Hebert, myself, and Tiffany Hess.

Below is a solo shot of her (from IMDB):




And here is a snapshot from her role on S&TC (Natasha, Big, Carrie, Aiden):





Yay!

I am so hopelessly cheesy.

Miracle in the Making.

The purpose of this post is to ask prayers for my cousin Lacey as she prepares to undergo the removal of her pancreas this Monday, 10/26.

She and her family are in Minneapolis now preparing for the surgery, and her husband Jeremy (who is a nurse and who understands what the doctors are telling them much better than I ever could!) has been blogging about their experience.

There's also a Facebook group in support of Lacey, Jeremy, their daughter Elyse, Lacey's parents and siblings, and Lacey's October 26th pancreatomy if you'd like to check it out.

Please keep them all in your prayers. Thank you!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Patience is a virtue...


When I was a little girl, I had a t-shirt or poster or button for my denim jacket or something that said:
Please be patient; God isn't finished with me yet.

For the past several months in particular, I've been pretty hard on myself about some things. Not being able to predict others' actions, for one. Also, there's not having foresight to "know better" about decisions that seemed rational at the time. Etc.

A couple of dear friends have chimed in with  my mother and sister's encouragement for me to be nicer to myself. In fact, Cicily even said the other day that she wished I'd be nicer to myself in my dreams (because for a while there, I wasn't).

It occurred to me tonight that the phrase from elementary school doesn't only apply to children. At 32 9/10, God still isn't finished with this redhead yet (thankfully!). I don't have to beat myself up for not having "arrived" or not knowing the answers far in advance. I just have to pray for His will to be done, take the path that seems wisest, and learn from it all.

So RJ, please be patient. Even 1/3 (or 1/2)-way into my life span, I know for a fact that God is definitely, positively, in no way finished with me yet.

And that is so comforting!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Five Things I'm Grateful For.

1. A family who makes me laugh.

2. Friends who truly must love me -- otherwise, why would they put up with me?

3. Acquaintances who generously accept me into their wide and varied circles with grace and ease and hospitality.

4. Churches where God's Word is preached without shame.

5. Fall weather and cool, crisp air.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Junior League.


Several years ago, when church friends in Jackson, Miss., formally
asked if I would like to join the Junior League, I totally balked at the idea.

I sputtered excuses like, "But I'm not a soccer mom," and "That's really not my thing," and "Why would you even THINK of me for this?!"  Crestfallen, these ladies looked around at each other like they'd made a huge mistake. (And who can blame them?)


Then one friend, Ruth McMillan, gently informed me that it was a very big deal to be asked -- especially with no family ties in the area, and convinced me that I should at least go to an informational meeting before making a decision.

Thinking of longtime colleague, friend, personal hero and very active JLJ member Beth Hansen, I did.

When I walked away from the informational meeting, I was hooked. So what if many of these ladies were addicted to social gatherings and wore feather boas to meetings? This group was a great organization, and they buckled down and got things done in the community. Big things. Much more than piddly ol' me could ever do alone -- that's for sure.

So I joined. For months afterwards, I never told my own group of fun, hip-to-be-square, young professional or just-out-of-law-or-med-school peeps. I would turn down offers to meet at Keifer's on Tuesday night because of "community service meetings," or say I couldn't go walking on a nice night because of "a prior obligation." Understandably, my friends started getting suspiscious. Finally, they staged what I still feel was an informal intervention, where they casually asked what these community service obligations were all about. (I think they feared I was in some sort of trouble with the law.) :-)

I finally admitted to being part of the Junior League. The girls immediately got it -- they knew that as a proud Coast transplant, this was not something I wanted or needed on my resume', yet after a good chuckle, they seemed to appreciate my motivation. The guys had no clue, as many good guys don't. (One even asked if I would go on to the Senior League afterward.)

My time with the Junior League of Jackson (JLJ) was immensely rewarding. I met new friends, got to know other acquaintances on new levels, and was introduced to a ridiculous number of community needs and organizations that I was formerly unaware of.

When I moved to BR in August of '07, I changed my status with the Junior League of Jackson to non-resident active. I was burned out from so many obligations in Jacktown, and didn't want to add more to my plate or to make a group renowned for their posh-ness my first venue of contact with this new place and life.

Now that a couple of years have gone by, I'm actually missing the League. I think that doing something worthwhile, and with tangible results, and whose reach is bigger than most peeps give it credit for, has much more value than many of us can imagine.

I've joined Forum 35, and am excited about the volunteer and community activities I can hop onto with that, but the League is a different level of community service, and I think I might just be ready to test the Jr. League waters again here in BR.

So....maybe so. It's a huge time commitment, and I don't have a lot of those demands right now aside from work. But I always felt I was part of something bigger than me, and so worthwhile. And at the end of the day, I'm thinking that's just what this redhead needs.

I'll keep ya posted. I know you're all sitting around and waiting with bated breath -- just wondering how RJ's world will turn next. ;-)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Tornadoes in my Body.


I hate the feeling that I termed years ago as "having tornadoes in my body."

Pop artist Pink best describes it in "Hazard to Myself":

I'm a hazard to myself
Don't let me get me
I'm my own worst enemy
It's bad when you ignore yourself
So irritating
Don't wanna be my friend no more
Wanna be somebody else
So Pink's a little morbid. And quite down on herself.

But for real, who hasn't gotten tired of themselves? Ever? (And go ahead and speak up if you haven't, though it might take you a while to convince me!) ;-)

I, for one, go through phases where I get so tired of myself that I think split personalities would be welcome. Granted, these phases are fewer and farther in between than what would probably guarantee mental institution, so that's good, I guess. But ya know, they come.

And maybe that's what friends are for. Or new life seasons. Or distractions.

At any rate, good riddance to this body's tornadoes. Maybe if you come again another day, I'll be a little better suited up for you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

An Update on my 101.

If you're not familiar, the “101 Goals in 1,001 Days” concept is a self-challenge to complete realistic tasks within a set period of time.

I love list-making, so I hopped onto this idea not long after I first heard of it through friend/PR colleague/former Bunko-member Nicole.
As I work my way through my own list, though, I see more chances to grow and to have something to strive for beyond my typical goals. A fun but unexpected side effect is being able to look at these aspirations as I see them now, and then look back to see how I view them once they're completed.


I'd love to make one of these every 1,001 days just so I can compare how my goals (and I) change with time. I don’t really expect to complete all 101 items by the 1,001st day, but I hope to complete as many as I can. I will try to start updating my list more often -- I began the challenge about a year ago on 10/17/08, and my end date is 7/15/10.


Here's the list (as of tonight, #30 inspired me to get goin' with the updates):


Bold tasks are completed. Italicized tasks are in progress.


  1. Organize the (many) books I own and resell, donate, share and/or shelve them. Attractively.

  2. Obtain a copy of and read the Johnson family history compiled by my Aunt Troy & Co. years ago.

  3. Get settled into a church home in Baton Rouge.

  4. Work on my APR (Accreditation in Public Relations) certification.

  5. Sing at least once a day. This is something I love to do but often forget brings me big joy.

  6. Organize, scan and share the (many) hard copies of photos I own.

  7. Move all MySpace blogs over to Blogspot.

  8. Find a worthy cause in the city I'm in and devote time and energy to it.

  9. Make a living will.

  10. Write letters to each of my parents' brothers and sisters thanking them for their contributions to my life and history. (Daddy has five brothers and five sisters. One of his brothers passed away last weekend, so I will write a letter to his children; Mother has three brothers.)

  11. Send Christmas cards, and mail them by December 10.

  12. Send at least one non-occasion-related card per month.

  13. Exercise at least 3 times a week.

  14. Lose 10 pounds.

  15. Keep it off for one month.

  16. Walk a mile in Central Park.

  17. Go to at least one professional association meeting per month.

  18. Write an article and have it published.

  19. Plant herbs, help those herbs live, then cook with them and/or share them.

  20. Clean the boxes out of the garage.

  21. Take swimming lessons.

  22. When friends say, "What? You never saw such-and-such movie?," make a note of the movie and see it within the month. Current movies to see are: Sixteen Candles, Pulp Fiction, Fight Club, The Big Lebowski, Royal Tennenbaums, Being John Malkovich, Big (all the way through), Big Fish, The Wedding Singer, Rain Man

  23. Read at least one non-fiction book per month. (Yep, I was an English major, but this is tough for me. I do love my chick lit.)

  24. Visit the acclaimed St. Francisville, Louisiana, take the camera, and savor the day and the beauty.

  25. Host a (small, rebekah-sized) gathering at my (small, rebekah-sized) townhouse.

  26. Wear hats. In public. Even if I'm the only one doing it.

  27. Finish a special project for a special someone. (The project and recipient will remain a secret until the gift is complete.)

  28. Give the gift.

  29. Clean out my car at least once a month.

  30. Take tennis lessons.

  31. Get a makeover and practice new makeup tips on an ordinary day.

  32. Cut out carbs after 3pm.

  33. Do not miss one kickboxing class (held weekly at my gym) for one month, starting the first Monday that I am able to breathe and move like a normal person.

  34. Go to Highland Road's Observatory some night and watch the stars.

  35. Give blood as often as permissible…after eating breakfast, of course.

  36. Pick back up my old tradition of adopting an angel at Christmas.

  37. Sort, purge and organize cassette tapes. (Yes, cassette tapes. I was born in ’76. Work with me.)

  38. Write letters to three of my favorite college professors -- Dr. Joan Fitch, Dr. David Fitch, and Jeanne Ezell.

  39. Sell, transfer to hard drive, share and/or organize CDs effectively and neatly.

  40. Host a picnic for friends with food that I made, not food that I bought.

  41. Take dance lessons for a month. Jitterbug, ballroom, salsa – the possibilities are endless!

  42. Pay for the person behind me in line.

  43. Stop gnawing at my nails. (Yes, they’re fake. I know. It’s bad.)

  44. Right a wrong.

  45. Blog five things I am thankful for each week.

  46. Visit at least one farmer's market a month.

  47. Take my lunch to work at least twice a week. (Weeks containing lunch meetings can be exceptions, and leftovers can count.)

  48. Be able to at least jog the entire weekly Happy's Run.

  49. Write out, carefully review, and stick to a disciplined budget for 6 months. (I think I have this in my head, but I hear it's smart to do on paper.)

  50. See a Ronald Reagan movie.

  51. See a Paul Newman movie.

  52. See a Marilyn Monroe movie.

  53. Go to a drive-in movie.

  54. Learn to make a really good gumbo.

  55. Call at least one out-of-town friend each week. Return calls don’t count.

  56. Appear as an extra in a film.

  57. Save at least 20 un-earmarked dollars per month for six months.

  58. Decide on a suitable name for my blog, and share it with friends and family.

  59. Reward the idea-giver(s) who helped most with picking this vital name, especially since it’s taken me forever to decide on one. :-)

  60. Take a train ride to Kim's.

  61. Purge my closet of items I don't feel attractive in. Recruit friends' opinions if necessary!

  62. Deliberately accessorize at least once a week.

  63. Send at least one piece of mail per month to my nephew.

  64. Watch my weight regularly.

  65. Learn to make really good cornbread.

  66. Participate in at least one kid-related event per month.

  67. Make friends with an elderly person I'm not related to, and keep in touch with them.

  68. Set dates to visit my sister at least twice a year, and stick to the plan.

  69. Cook an entire meal for my parents at least once during each visit to their home. (Holidays and quick work trips could be exceptions, depending on timing and the amount of leftovers in the fridge during holidays, and the amount of time available during work trips.)

  70. Paint something on canvas.

  71. Handwrite in my journal. (It's been years, thanks to electronic communication and blogging.)

  72. Visit or make solid plans to visit at least three states I've never been to. My current unvisited states are: Washington; Oregon; Idaho; Montana; Wyoming; Utah; Arizona; New Mexico; Colorado; Nebraska; N. Dakota; S. Dakota; Kansas; Oklahoma; Minnesota; Iowa; Wisconsin; Michigan; Indiana; Ohio; W. Virginia; Connecticut; Rhode Island; Vermont
    Yikes...what a long list! Longer than I thought. Kind of sad. But repairable!

  73. When time to buy new lightbulbs, switch to energy-saving ones.

  74. Do one nice thing for someone who will never find out per month.

  75. Consciously work on becoming a better listener.

  76. Develop a personal career goal outside of my job description and achieve it by November 2009.

  77. Drink hot tea instead of coffee at least two mornings per week.

  78. Have myself painted (I'm thinking a portrait -- not my actual body -- by a street artist in New Orleans. So not anything too off-the-wall.)

  79. Treat myself to a weekend at a Bed & Breakfast with a favorite girl friend.

  80. Water my office plant...before it starts looking puny.

  81. Free my spaces of clutter at least one a week.

  82. Try Vietnamese food. (How did I grow up on the MS Gulf Coast and never try it? IDK. But I intend to correct that.)

  83. Learn to make at least three amazing shrimp dishes.

  84. Go through old childhood books and toys that are still at my parents' house and relieve my mother of what she doesn’t want (or doesn’t have space) to hang onto.

  85. Watch The Godfather movie series with my daddy.

  86. Share the HBO John Adams series with my daddy when it's out on DVD.

  87. Have someone take posed and candid photographs of my sister and me, when we're dressed for the occasion and feel great about how we look.

  88. Read my Bible at least once a week.

  89. Attempt to recreate at least three of my parents' favorite childhood dishes.

  90. Work on praying throughout the day. (Celestial complaints do not count.)

  91. Unless allergy-ridden or planning to be around those who are allergy-ridden, wear perfume, not because of a special occasion, but just because it makes me happy.

  92. Get CPR certified.

  93. Learn the Heimlich maneuver.

  94. Visit friends' churches, including those not in my own denomination.

  95. Share digital photos from events with friends and family within two weeks of said event.

  96. Save $10 for every completed item on this list, but…

  97. Donate $10 for every item not completed at the end of the 1001 days.

  98. Obtain an authentic item from Tiffany’s. (I don't have to buy said piece from the actual store -- eBay is ok -- but the accompanying blue box is essential.)

  99. Read at least one published book by authors whom I know personally, and especially ones by those whom I’m related to!

  100. Don’t text and drive, and try to make this a much-needed, very safe, super-conscientious but oh-so-hard difficult of my overly communicative world.

  101. Throw a party on the 1,001st day, Friday July 15, 2011. Don’t tell anyone who doesn’t already know what the party is for.

Start date: 10/17/08
End date: 7/15/10


Monday, October 12, 2009

The Hunt for Red October.

Fall is my favorite time of year.

Not only because my birthday is smack in the middle of it, but also because of the gorgeous color changes in the foilage, football season, cooler air, and the sheer excitement that comes with any new season.


(Plus, we girls get to look forward to hats, and scarves, and sweaters -- oh my!)


I know I live in the deep deep South and probably won't get to see many color changes down in Baton Rouge and on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but this Autumn has been, except for a few teasing chilly days and nights, unseasonably warm. Like hot. Like summer, even. And the rain! For real! Shall we build arks?!


I was delighted to see that the weather is forecast to be much nippier come this weekend. I am READY!


So Fall, this is your formal invitation. Show your face. Join us before you leave us!
Puh-leeeeeeease....?




Thursday, October 8, 2009

I have a dream.

Every night -- several times a night.

And as far as I can tell, I remember ALL of them.


And here lately, I'm about sick of it.


I'm not saying I'm anything akin to a Biblical character, but in the past few weeks, I'm starting to wonder if I don't need a dream interpreter.


My dreams have always been odd -- always. But lately, they leave me feeling unrested and unhappy with myself when I wake up. UN. ACC. EPT. A. BLE. Completely unacceptable!


Off the top of my head (no pun intended), my recent dreams have included:


  • My being on my way to prison (for what, I'm not clear on).

  • My parents being disappointed in me for not having children (which, to their credit, they never harass me about, so it's a really odd dream).

  • Working again for a former boss (from a lifetime ago) who was uber-critical, and who said he was still let down that I wasn't following his advice from the year 2000.

  • My being on the "Lost" island (pretty sure I know where that one stems from, since I got hooked on the show while I was out with strep).

  • Plans I've made being very messed up (orders not coming in correctly, things going awry, etc.).

And the list goes on.


I've always had a bit of a guilt complex in general (even though if you know my sister, you're aware that mine pales to almost transparent in comparison), but good HEAVENS. Waking up every morning feeling bad about myself is RIDICULOUS.


I would say I need a vacation, but as I told some friends earlier this week (or was it last week?), every vacay I've taken lately has resurfaced some very unwanted and tangible ghosts from the past. So, no thanks.


I never thought I'd say this, but I might be ready for my "normal" dreams -- where everyone from all stages of my life are hanging out, but we're all Smurf blue. Or friends from a certain time period have a reunion...with paintball wars...in a department store.


But these current dreams -- how to fix them?


Is there an app for that?

Or, at the very least, an herb?



Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Spacing Out.

I am struggling with spacing issues on blogger.

I enter hard returns, but don't get the results. I go back to edit, the post, do it again, and still nothing.


Is it just me? Does anyone else have this issue?


I'm weird about presentation, even if I'm the only one who's reading my writing. :-)


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Fifth Element.

It's been a while since I've posted 5 things I'm thankful for... Today, here's what I've got:

1. New beginnings, and the opportunity and freedom to initiate those when it's time. (Like August of 2007, and October of 2008.)


2. Friends who freely give and accept love. It's great to know you have peeps who are there for you, and equally wonderful to know you can help them when your turn comes around. It really is more blessed to give than to receive!


3. My love for reading. Some probably view this as an issue of mine (not that I care at this point), but I LOOOOOOVE to read. So much. I mean, I'll probably be blind by 40. But you know what? I enjoy it. It helps make me who I am. And there's a whole world out there in the library. Yep, I'm a geek. And I'm proud of it. Bring on the books. :-)


4. The South. It's great to be where mostly, the weather is warm, but we also get some fall breezes and winter gusts. Lord knows I'm not cut out for real winter or too much snow, though I do love snow skiing, sweater weather, scarves, gloves, boots and hats. :-)


5. A safe downtown. One of my favorite things about Baton Rouge is how safe downtown is. I've heard from many locals that this did not come to the Red Stick easily, but I still appreciate it -- possibly more than most? -- having come from Jackson, Miss., where a girl could feel really sketchy downtown in the day, much less at nighttime. So yay for a fun, accessible, safe and pretty downtown. :-) And may Jackson get there quickly, too!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Lordy, Lordy, look who's 40!


My parents' marriage, that's who!
That's right -- as of October 4, 2009, my parents have been married for 40 years. (WOW.)

I'd love to speak for them and say they were all blissful, but since 32 3/4 of those years have included this feisty redhead, I'll hold off from doing that, and just focus on the enormity of forty years...of anything.

Day in, day out. In sickness and health. For better or for worse.

I don't really know anyone who has everyday memories reflective of a "Leave it to Beaver" or "Brady Bunch" type happy-go-lucky environment, but my sister and I did learn from our parents that sticking it out is the preferred method when it comes to marriage.

Congratulations, Mother and Daddy, on 40 years of ups and downs, good and bad, sickness and health, and showing us what it means to stick together for better and worse.
And, while we're at it, you're very welcome for being the good daughter. O;-)







Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bottom Line.

My parents are currently working on a HUGE project: reflooring their house. (I know -- ouch! But what a great reward once it's over.)

Anyway, when we were all home for my Daddy's birthday in September, they asked our opinions on the type of flooring they'd chosen. They had a sample and were showing us how it looked against the fireplace, etc.


Caleb was busy flying Star Wars ships around as we talked about it, and at one point when he landed near us, I asked his thoughts on the new floor.


As soon as my sweet nephew made an expression pretty close to the one in this picture, just like it was yesterday, I could see my Grandma Johnson's dining room table, and watch her rolling out the dough for chicken and dumplings while singing sweet hymns in her gorgeous alto voice.


And the ceiling in Nan's house in Woolmarket -- all the wood and knots and how fascinating it looked from way down where I was playing on her oval rug.


And my Aunt Mildred's dishwasher-less kitchen -- the stove and sink and how she was always ready with fun conversation and fresh pitchers of lemonade, no matter what time of year or day you visited.


And Uncle Gary and Aunt Renee's dining room, and the countless meals and birthday parties and cakes (by Renee!) that we celebrated so many fun years over.


And the light fixtures that hung from the wood ceiling (much like my Nan's) at Woolmarket Baptist Church, and how I always daydreamed about swinging from them off the balcony all the way into the choir loft.


It's a strong possibility that a few of those decorative items I'm recalling weren't top of the line, or the most updated recommendations from interior designers, yet they were and still are vital to my memories. They helped compose the lyrics of my childhood.


So, in that rush of memories, I wasn't too shocked when Caleb asked with a puzzled look, "Why would Grammi and Grandpa get a new floor?"


Pulling him into a hug, my mom said, "Well, this carpet is just too old to keep, but you can always remember Grammi and Grandpa's old floor."


And really, she's right.


No matter what floor we're standing on, our memories are a key part of our foundation.
And that (as infamous former Jackson, MS, mayor Frank Melton used to say), is the bottom line.






Sunday, September 27, 2009

Y'all two sisters.


My 5-year-old nephew has taken to calling his mom and me "y'all two sisters."


I think he's grasping the concept of siblings, and of course the number thing, and I just love that he's tying "y'all" in with it.


Some of the ways Mr. Man will use this and similar phrases are:


  • Are y'all two sisters about done talkin'? Dad and I are ready to go.


  • Yep, that's what I thought y'all two sisters might say.
    (especially after we say something in unison, which we sort of do a good bit)


  • Leave it to y'all two sisters to come up with that.


  • Your OTHER sister said the same thing!


  • Etc.

It's really too cute, and I've definitely added it to my list of things I wish he'll never self-correct, like "Behbeh" (first "Bekah" term, which is long gone), "lello" (kids' infamously adorable "yellow" pronunciation, also quickly self-corrected), and "zee-ert" (Caleb's very own term for dessert, which thank heavens, he still says).

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Banana.



When my cousin was student-teaching in history, he was across the hall from the high school's Spanish teacher. He would tell us about how low the quality of Spanish was that the students were learning because of the Spanish teacher's poor pronunciation, but I'm not sure we ever believed him until he told us this:
One day as class was wrapping up, he could hear from across the hall the Spanish teacher instructing her class about their homework. I believe her words were similar to, "Ok, be sure to have all that finished by the muh-nan-uh."
(As in, rhymed with "banana.")
Ever since, as a joke, I'll refer to manana (tomorrow) as "the muh-nan-uh," or sometimes, when under the influence of my silliest friends, "the banana."
So, goodnight, peeps. See y'all in the banana.
p.s. The pic was a total fluke. I searched Google Images for "manana," and pow! Cracked me up.