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):


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!

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 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.