Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pistol and the Princess.

After my family's sweet dog Tractor died around this time last year, I mentally hemmed and hawed about what to do about getting my daddy another puppy. I mean, that solved the issue last time, right? So that's what he needed to get past this tragic loss: something else to focus on and love.

Until I realized that if I gave my parents a puppy, I was just giving them something that required a LOT of work, and that they might not quite be ready for yet.

So I waited.

My mom would report for a few months that she didn't think Daddy was ready. (Since my parents' dogs are always outside, and she's not really an animal person, our dogs are mainly his.) Then she started letting us know that maybe he was getting there -- they would occasionally go by the animal shelter, he wouldn't fall in love with one, but he would go back another time, etc.

One day this past spring, I checked in with my mom through email and she said my daddy was on his way to central Mississippi to pick a puppy out of a litter. I was shocked. I was thrilled! I called him and asked what were apparently too many questions about how he made the choice, because he admitted he couldn't make a decision, so he brought home two puppies with the thought he'd decide once he got to know them. He concluded with this statement while clearing his throat, "But don't tell your mother. I -- ahem -- wanted it to be a surprise."

I knew she'd be surprised, all right, but I didn't give it away.

When I met the puppies, I noticed that while they had fun playing together, there was a distinct difference. One puppy (who was black with tan markings) never stopped. In fact, when I tried to take solo pictures of her, they were all blurs. Too cute! The black and white puppy was a different story. She always wanted to be petted -- always. She loved the world stopping on a dime just for her, and she was all about being in the spotlight.

The black and white puppy had similar markings to our longtime dog Tractor, but her personality was also very...royal. Which is why I started calling her "Princess."

My daddy had been referring to the tan and black puppy as "Pistol," which was completely suitable, too. :-)

He finally decided to keep Pistol and found Princess a great home in Georgia, where she apparently lives inside, has baby gates, and wears pink tiaras. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, if it's your thing. It's just never been something I've been used to, and definitely isn't something my daddy would consider.)

So Pistol has been at my parents' since the spring now, and is, well, a pistol. :-) She is a mess, and "retrieves" things for them all the time -- including prizes from my mother's flowerbed and a solar light they'd embedded in the ground by the walkway 10 years ago.

She is a sweet puppy, even if she is a little ADD. Which, of course, I lobby that no one should be faulted for. Shiny objects are shiny objects, after all. :-)

I'm sure it's more frustrating to live with her than to just occasionally visit, since she is fond of digging, retrieving (things my dad forgot were ever in the yard), scratching, and jumping. But she's preciously sweet, and has definitely earned the nickname "Marley" (given by my daddy) with her antics!

And, as my mom says, "I've learned you either have flowerbeds or puppies. Right now we have a puppy."

So, meet Miss Pistol!

Grown-Up Christmas List

"Grown-Up Christmas List" became one of my favorite songs the very first time I heard Amy Grant sing it.

The version here is by Kelly Clarkson and includes lyrics, which are also pasted below:

Grown-Up Christmas List

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee;
I wrote to you
With childhood fantasies.

Well, I'm all grown-up now,
And still need help somehow
I'm not a child,
But my heart still can dream.

So here's my lifelong wish,
My grown-up Christmas list.
Not for myself,
But for a world in need.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

As children we believed
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely
Wrapped beneath our tree.

Well heaven surely knows
That packages and bows
Can never heal
A hurting human soul.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end.
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

What is this illusion called the innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief can we ever find the truth.

No more lives torn apart,
That wars would never start,
And time would heal all hearts.
And everyone would have a friend,
And right would always win,
And love would never end,
This is my grown-up Christmas list.

This is my grown-up Christmas list.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To Plan or Not To Plan...

I've never been much of a planner. (In my personal life, I mean. Professionally, it's not really an option. When doing PR, you sort of have to plan.)

My longtime and super wise friend Jane and I used to have joking discussions about her penchants to plan just about everything, and my penchant for playing it all by ear.

I used to think my spontanaeity was part of my charm.

Lately, I wonder if that was the case, or if it was just, well, ill-planned. Or irresponsible. Or fun for that moment, but not now.

Are you a planner? Either way, has your mode benefited you? I seriously want to hear. I feel if I'm at a stage of life where I'm questioning my own wisdom (or lack thereof) in this area, then I need to feel out what there is to know about it.

So speak up, please. If you don't chime in, who will?

Five Things I'm Grateful For.

Five things I'm thankful for right now are:

1. Christmas! I love this time of year. :-)

2. Blissful boredom.  The days when drama dictated my emotions, my schedule, and my relationships were sadly not that long ago. And I couldn't be happier to be as far away from that mode as possible.

3. Health. I'm more than grateful for the good health I have, the better health I can work toward, and the modern-day options that we have to make our lives richer in the best ways.

4. Nan. My grandmother has been cracking me up for 34 years straight, and I'm grateful she's still at it. Even if I do disappoint her on a regular basis by being happily single and childless. ;-)

5. Tradition. In a world of unpredictability, it's increasingly nice to have things I can count on happening.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Farewell, Sweet Tractor.

Just after Thanksgiving last year, our family's precious, longtime doggie died.

Tractor was loyal, sweet, fun and energetic (up until a couple of years ago, at least). To boot, she was a trick-lovin', squirrel-chasin', talkative loyalist to my Daddy, most of all, since he saved her life as a little bitty puppy.

Even though Tractor was getting older and obviously not as spry as she had been in years past, it was still pretty hard to hear the news that she was gone.

Since my nephew started talking, he would refer to her as Tractor the Dog, because he also carries a huge fascination for my Daddy's machinery-type tractors, and talks about them a good bit. Have to keep those hugely fun things straight, you know. :-)

Another fun Tractor memory was getting to gauge expressions when I told her name, and the origin of her name, and the looks I received when I said, "Oh, yeah, and she's a girl."

Tractor came to our family uniquely -- just after my childhood dog, Spunky, died. And I mean literally just after. My daddy woke up really early one rainy, dreary, Saturday morning to go bury Spunky in the back field, and apparently Tractor came up to him out of the woods while he was digging Spunky's grave. He had no interest in the malnourished, not-so-pretty wormy puppy, but as he tells it, she looked him in the eye, and that impressed him. He told her if she could stay on the back of the tractor (bushhog), she could come home with him & he'd find her a family.

It probably goes without saying that she fell off several times on the way home. And that although we were all still really attached to Spunky, it didn't take us very long to be charmed by sweet Tractor, with her eager-to-please willingness and sweet tilt of the head.

There were ups and downs that, like with anything, I think we've chosen to forget. Tractor in my mom's flowerbeds...a lot. Tractor chewing up wires under the body of a van my daddy was working on. Tractor torturizing a kitten till it finally gave up and ran away.

But that special, sweet dog who came to us in the most unusual way also holds the most unique place in our hearts. She worshipped (and trotted on) the ground my daddy walked on. She talked to me every time I came home -- especially  when I rubbed the sweet spot behind her ears. She went crazy when she smelled my shampoo in my mom's grocery bag, or when my parents would say my name around her.

A very precious puppy, indeed.
My mom did a great job of letting my sister and me know she had died. It was a work day, and we received an emal titled "Tractor's Reward." I just knew she'd gotten another squirrel or learned some new trick, but my mom detailed in the email that Tractor's reward was her good, faithful life, and her peaceful, not-too-invasive death (in my mom's words, of course). 

I held it together ok until my work friends & I walked to B&N for coffee. Then I burst into tears and choked out, "Tractor died."  They were so sweet and understanding -- we probably all know how hard it is to imagine the loss of a loyal, furry friend.

So I started writing this post a year ago, but decided to wait until I was more emotionally stable to finish it up. I do miss that sweet puppy -- she went from an unhealthy, mangy puppy to a fun, loveable dog who above all, was loyal to my daddy. She loved to learn, and in the process made us laugh a lot.

My parents have gotten a new dog now (post to come later), and while she's not Tractor, she is equally sweet and eager to please.

So a really belated farewell, Tractor. You were a good, sweet puppy, and you were a constant in my life during a crucial coming-of-age time when I needed it most.

Much love from one of the redheads. :-)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Water Bottle Overflowing.

Thinking of five things I'm grateful for within a week is never very difficult, but lately, I'm finding that my cup (or, more accurately, my water bottle) is overflowing.

So here are five things I'm thankful for right now:

1. Modern medicine. Allergies and headaches and other day-to-day messes stink, but where would we be without Excedrin? And Zyrtec?   ::shudder::

2. Challenges.  I started a new job Monday, and am being challenged in wonderfully intellectual new ways! I'm so excited about this, and pray I'll be able to keep up and meet the expectations I and others are setting for me. It's so amazingly refreshing to have my brain stimulated!

3. Baton Rouge water. I know I say this a lot, but have you TASTED it? Right out of the tap. Delish.

4. Family and friends. That might seem like kind of a broad group, but I truly have the best of both worlds. Really. I do not take this blessing for granted at all.

5. Coffee. 'Nuff said.

This Day.

Today an old Point of Grace favorite, "This Day," came to mind.

I couldn't find it sung by POG on YouTube, but I did come across this performance by a church group, which I thought was very well done:

Lyrics are:

This day is fragile - soon it will end

And once it has vanished, it will not come again

So let us love with a love pure and strong

Before this day is gone

This day is fleeting when it slips away

Not all our money can buy back this day

So let us pray that we might be a friend

Before this day is gone

This day is fleeting

When it slips away

Not all our money can buy back this day

So let us pray that we might be a friend

Before this day is spent

This day we're given is golden

Let us show love

This day is ours for one moment

Let us sow love

This day is frail - it will pass by

So before it's too late to recapture the time

Let us share love, let us share god

Before this day is gone

Before this day is gone

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Curly Girl.

Ever since I started using hair products -- because yes, my friends, there were many verrrrrrry scarrrrrrrry teenage eons before I ever knew they existed -- my favorite and old standby has been Matrix Sculpting Glaze, now known (and in sale at regular stores) as Biolage Gelee'.

This has worked great for my hair in its all-one-length-ringlet days as well as during times of layers, and I can't imagine not always having a bottle in my bathroom cabinet, just in case.

I have tried other products over the years, and recently found one that really works for me. I'm not sure it works as well as Biolage (the results aren't the same, but I don't want them to be, right?), so it's hard to gauge. I do, however, love the combo, and have received many curly compliments on it.

My hairdresser's niece (who also does hair) turned me on to it last time I was in Jackson at Social Agenda: Aquage Sea Salt Texturizing Spray. It gives the hair a great beachy, tousled waves look, and I'm really enjoying the variety! I do have to use some sort of smoothing/silk gel with it (CHI or another brand works for me), and it doesn't have the lasting effect of Biolage for my hair (as in lasting past one day and overnight -- it's easier for my hair to get tangled with this, much like at the beach), but it's fun!

So if you're a curly girl, and are looking for options, maybe it could work for you.

Also, if you have curls, and solutions, please share them! I'm always looking for new ideas. :-)

Weight a Minute....

I've been wanting and needing to lose weight, and last week (conveniently during my week off!), kicked off some healthier eating & exercise-inclusive habits.

My goal has been to lose 2 lbs per week, as doctors recommend. (Having grown up watching my Nan constantly on a cabbage soup diet or some worse fad of the week, I am determined to stick to dietary regulations.)

So, from last Monday night to last night, I lost not 2, but 4 pounds!

I am not sure how well I'll keep it up with Thanksgiving and such, but it's a start, and a fun new challenge. :-)

p.s. As much as I wish I could attribute this to some new, easy, healthy pill that's on the market, my "trick" has been -- shocker -- eating better & exercising. (Sorry, fellow Glamour impulse buy fans.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Five Things I'm Thankful For.

Five things I'm sincerely grateful for this week are:

1. Blissful time of R&R and clearing my mind.

2. Not having to waste energy on a birthday present for someone who will not appreciate one millisecond of the effort, thought or time that went into it, and who will demonstrate that by returning the gift to the store.

3. New opportunities.

4. Genuine excitement about #3. :-)

5. The peacefulness that comes with knowing people I love are safely home.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Watering the Weeds.

Ever since I've moved into my new place, I haven't had a lot of time to tackle the flowerbeds or yard. (This is all much to the chagrin of my neighbor Foxy, of course, who has to look at the jungles a lot more often than I do.) Because there were some plants worth keeping in the existing beds, I just kept watering them in hopes they'd still be thriving when I finally got the opportunity to take care of them and their nasty intruders.

And might I say, it's been a jungle out there. When I mentioned to Foxy that I had plans to tackle the outside once I had the time to get the inside a little more organized, she heartily answered, "That is GREAT!" Clearly, it was on her mind -- and in her line of vision -- a lot. (She then informed me I could do it that day, if I wanted. I explained to her it was kind of hot -- this was at the end of August/beginning of South Lousiana, at that -- and that I wanted to do it all in one day, when I had the time. She, in typical Foxy style, persisted, "But even if you just got out there and did a THIRD of it, it would make all the difference in the world!")

This has become a running joke with some friends, as many Foxy quotes have. ;-)

As much as I've laughed over that, I didn't realize how right she was till I tackled the job on Monday. Good GRIEF. The beds were so infested with weeds that they now look naked!

I noticed a few (admittedly elementary) things while I was tearing out those weeds:
  • While I'm glad I watered the good plants all this time, watering the weeds just made them grow more, too.
  • I've heard of weeds "choking" things, but some of them were literally wrapped around some really tall elephant ears, and it took some careful manipulation to salvage the big, pretty, healthy elephant ears.
  • Weeds are tricky. Some look a lot like good plants, but they're not.
  • The longer you let something go, the more time and effort it takes to get it back to right.
Again, I know these points are not potential breaking news headlines. They were just right in front of (and in, and even on) my face a couple of days ago, so they stood out. Literally. :-)

All this time I've been watering those weeds, I've been aware of times I've watered the many nasty weeds of Rebekah's flowerbed of life, and how unhealthy that is. And I've worked hard to not do that lately.

So, after I watered the weeds, then cleaned out the weedbed, Foxy came to her door and commented on what a good job I was doing:

Foxy: Look at you, out there in the yard!!! (beaming)

Me: Yes! I finally got to the flowerbed.

Foxy: Good for you for cleaning it out!
Me: It looks kind
Foxy: So whatcha gonna put in there?

Me: I was thinking pansies.

Foxy: That's real nice. What about that orange thing? You gonna keep that out all year? It's for OCTOBER, isn't it?

Me: The fall arrangement? I thought I'd leave it there till after Thanksgiving....

Foxy: Oh.

Foxy: Well, run along and be a good little girl, doin' that yardwork.

And, in addition to the laughter that conversation sparked, it brought a few other things to mind:
  • When we let the flowerbeds of our lives get overgrown, other people notice.
  • They also notice when we clear out the weedbeds of ourselves.
  • Weeds take up a lot of space, and we (and others) get used to seeing a lot of things in that space. So when it's cleared out, it looks empty, even if that does equal healthy.
  • Replacing the bad with more good is healthy, and the smart next step.
  • Even Foxy is rushing through Thanksgiving. Sigh.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bye Week, Part Two.

I almost included this in my last post, but decided to wait.

In many ways, this was a bye week for me aside from football.

I am changing jobs -- and could not be more excited! -- but to get to point B from point A took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. (Well, maybe not blood. Unless you count paper cuts and scrapes from hauling coolers across Lafayette Square in New Orleans.)

Today was my last day at my current job. I was excited to go there three years ago, and to tackle Community Relations, and to have the opportunity to work with communications there. But the latter never happened, and it didn't look like it was going to, and I was starting to shrivel from lack of creativity (and from too much non-creativity, which I'm very, very bad at, anyway).

So this was a bye week for me with my current job, and my current coworkers, and the physical location I've worked at since I moved to Baton Rouge.

Kind of odd. But exciting.

And I've been realizing I have not been living up to my potential in a lot of ways -- not just with work.

So that's something I'm going to work on.  And to blog about another day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bye Week.

This past weekend was LSU's bye week.

I wasn't thinking in terms of that when I made the decision to chill for the weekend, but as it turned out, I took a bye week of my own.

I stayed home. I rested. A lot. It was bliss.

Let's just hope I'm geared up for the Crimson Tide-like challenges that are already hitting me this week! And Geaux Tigers. :-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Boldly Approaching.

I well remember the day I stepped off the bus at Woolmarket Elementary School and was (kindly) told by the chuckling driver who overheard some conversation I was having, "Well, you're a feisty one, aren't you?" Having never heard that word, I just shrugged, smiled, and and told her to have a good day.

When I got home that afternoon, I asked my mom what "feisty" meant. She looked concerned, then asked me why I needed to know. Once I told the story and learned the definition, my steel-trap-minded 4th grade self could tell from the smiles my parents were trying to hide that they were proud, but we did have a talk about controlling our feistiness (among other things -- like redheaded tempers, and my tendencies to talk too much, and...etc.).

Those who know me as an adult laugh when I say I need to control my temper, or bite my tongue, or things like that. But anyone who grew up with me or who has ever met my sister understands that my role model was not typical. Kim is so sweet, and precious, and humble, and submissive. In fact, much of my fiestiness on the bus came from taking up for her during her awkward years when she was quiet and occasionally getting picked on (not that I would've known what to do had anyone actually hit me, Heaven forbid).

So that said, controlling my temper, and my tongue, and the unabashed boldness that's always been just below my surface has been something I've tried to keep in check over the years, whether people knew it or not.

Like most things, though, I think I got to a point where those traits became less something I wanted or needed to keep in check, and more something I just subconsciously learned not to do in public. (Which is good, and is why I haven't been arrested for road rage -- or worse.)

In the past year, I have learned a lot of lessons. Like, more than I have in some whole decades.

Throughout 12 months, I have learned that things are not always what they seem, and people are rarely ever what they seem.

I have realized, several times over, that life is entirely too short to always give and never receive.

I have been harshly shown the old adage that I must look out for myself, because everyone else is doing the same for themselves, and sometimes, no one else will be there to offer the hand I've tried to give so many times.

I've literally watched precious friends and family members die.

I've lived through the shattering of corporate and personal promises to me that I never thought would be broken.

I said goodbye to my favorite furry friend.

I've learned that in spite of the song my youth choir beat like a dead horse, friends are not always friends forever.

And I've had to learn that while I'm definitely not perfect, the origin of a lot of these lessons have not been my fault. In fact, nothing has been 100% my fault. This has really taken some learning, and wise counsel, and serious prayer for me to come to grips with. (I'm not sure why. I was never labeled remedial, but, who knows. It was the 80s & 90s.)

The lessons I've learned do include maintaining the kindness and meekness that I constantly need to remember the importance of by nature, but the ones that have dug their ways into my soul have been about reclaiming boldness and courage (for good, not evil -- or mischief).

For 33 years, I have laughed in the face of "me time." I've inwardly shuddered at the thought of "always lookin' out for number one." And I have perceived that my friendships were pure enough, and true enough, and real enough to survive anything.

And I was wrong about all those things.

I need to take care of Rebekah, or no one else will want to be around her.

I have to look out for myself, because Lord knows that a) putting that pressure on people who want to is unrealistic, and b) not everyone follows through.

And somehow, after three decades of being able to comprehend and relate to others, I've just come to realize in the past few months that friends can't be friends forever on their strength and love alone. We're human. We err. We bow up. And we crumble.

Some people (maybe including my family...?) may not like this, but I and several friends have referred to 33 as our "Jesus year."

This stems from having always associating 33 with the year Jesus was crucified, and certainly does not mean I think I'm Jesus. Or perfect. At all.

It just means that about 6 months in, it hit me that this was a really hard one so far. And that I was trying to do the right thing in a lot of areas, and praying that God's will be done, yet the hits just kept on comin.' And when I mentioned it to a couple of friends, they agreed that it had been the same for them during that year, and the same thought had occurred to them, too.

For those reasons, I am happy to bid 33 farewell.

Do I think 34 will be perfect? Um, no. (Have you met me? I still skin my knees. As children are calling me "ma'am." I'm pretty aware that my life will never be a walk down Wisteria Lane.)

But have I felt a new wind blowing in the past few months? Yes. Am I more hopeful about life in general than I was last fall? Definitely. Am I more at home -- in a hundred ways -- than I can ever remember being? Absolutely.

I attribute mental and emotional survival of these very hard last 12ish months to having been broken in a lot of ways, and humbly and meekly crawling back to the Source of all that's good: the Cross.

For more than a year now, when it's come to all decisions, great or small, I've taken the same approach. I've prayed quietly, then more steadily, and now with an amazing confidence, "Thy will be done."

I was reminded in Sunday School this morning that that is the kind of audacity neither earthly nor Heavenly Fathers hide a smile at. We're encouraged to boldly approach the throne of grace! I hadn't forgotten this Scripture, per se, but I definitely hadn't applied it to my situation in a while.

So while I don't expect to be spared the daily grind, or the broken promises, or the humanity of life and death that will surely come with this 34th year of life, I will boldly approach God with my request for it all to be for His honor and glory.

Will I mess it up? Royally. Will you read this, then see or hear or anticipate me acting like I never wrote it? Most assuredly. But is that my goal? No way.

This year, I'm going to take those lessons learned, add a little of that natural-born school bus feistiness, keep sprinkling in the kindness and meekness I so appreciate my parents and sister modeling for me, and build up some arm muscles as I steadily stir it all with a bold approach to my Father's throne of grace.

May His will be done.

And happy birthday to me. :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Love & Light.

I feel like I'm posting a lot about Elizabeth Gilbert in this blogging comeback period, but a) I like her stuff, and b) I have a slew of notes in my phone that I took while I was computer access-less, or didn't have time to blog them.

In light of all that, here's a gem by Richard from Texas (made famous in Eat, Pray, Love) that I just adore:
“You miss him? So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.
You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of [him] because then you’ll be really alone, and [you are] scared to death of what will happen if [you're] really alone.
But here’s what you gotta understand, Groceries. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot – a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with the doorway? It will rush in – God will rush in – and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.
So stop using [him] to block that door. Let it go.”
Sadly, Richard from Texas died recently. Well, I say sadly. But really....right now, he is experiencing more about love and light than I can fathom. So maybe it's just, as my nephew would say when I'm at a wedding and miss target practice with him and Grandpa, "so sad for Rebekah." :-)

I'm grateful to have long passed the point post-relationship drama that Richard talks about here. I mean, I once was there, and it royally stunk, so I know how that feels, but I believe this applies so well to so many things that nag at our well-being. Things we leave behind, things we haven't yet accomplished, regrets of what's undone, how we could've handled something versus how we did handle something...etc.

It has been hard for me in the past to just let go. I have a horrible (and really, when I think about it, egotistical) tendency to think if only I'd done something differently, everyone would be happy and healthy and the whole world would be peaceful and the educational system would be fixed and the economy would bounce back. ;-) But we all know that's not true.

So I've been trying to do two things in the past few months:

1. Cut out like a cancer things and people and situations and interactions that eat away at me, and drain me, and cause me to be a rebekah I don't necessarily like. (I realize this is impossible and unrealistic to completely avoid, but when I have a choice, why choose what is bad for me?)

2. Let go. Not obsess about how I could have done something differently -- even if it were to my detriment -- just so a situation may or may not be better in the end. And again, this is not about romantic relationships for me at this point in my life. I'm well past that (praise God above). I have to let go of not being able to be Superwoman for every single person I know. I have to let go of the fact that not everyone is happy with me for making decisions I feel are best for me. I have to let go of the concept that everyone will not agree with my choices, even when those choices are the result of what I've prayed diligently about and are content with. And it also applies to smaller stuff. Grocery store altercations. Stupid drivers who honk at me for no reason. (Even with me, there's not always a reason.) Wrecks I've had that have been my fault, or not. Things I've done that I know have hurt people, and that I've apologized for, but aren't yet back to shiny and happy yet. Etc.

Not everyone has these issues, I know. But I do. So because I do, I appreciate Richard from Texas' words, and his sentiments, and that Liz Gilbert chose to document and share those with people like me.

I'm still working on the "sending light and love" part. That might be a lifelong struggle, especially for that woman in Albertson's who huffed and puffed about the number of items in my basket while her child was climbing all over my basket. And that was a few weeks ago, so clearly I've let it go and am totally cool about it. :-)

I do love the idea of "clearing out that space" that is currently used by all the anxious, unnecessary thoughts. Because Lord knows there's not a lot of space left to let the good in. So spring cleaning that part of my world is a necessity.

(The photo I've posted here is of Richard from Texas and Elizabeth Gilbert on the Oprah show.)

Putting It Out There.

I recently read somewhere that if one blogs about a goal and the process they're taking to get there, accountability is higher and success is more likely. So here I go.

I need to lose weight. And I guess, embarrassing and odd (for me) as it is, I'm going to blog about it.

I'm not excited about the blogging-about-it part, though I generally love to write about anything. (Or so I thought.) I am, however, excited about the journey and the end result. I truly believe the term "joy in the journey" isn't just a nice book title. If we don't find joy in our journeys, where will find it? Processes are part of what make us who we are, and I'm actually looking forward to the process. Interesting and new for me.

So, here goes. I'm trying to be realistic, so my goal is to lose 2 pounds per week. I'll blog next Monday evening or Tuesday about my progress.

Wish me luck! And lots of celery!

Cinco de Octobre.

Five things I'm thankful for at this moment are....

1. New beginnings. Especially for ADD, shiny-objects-distract-me-all-day-long people like me, having new and fun adventures to look forward to is just pure bliss.

2. My sweet sister. Kim came to see me this past weekend, and as always, I have to marvel at the built-in best friend God gave me in her. For one thing, she puts up with me. And then, there's all the other sweet, saintly stuff that just comes so naturally to her. :-)

3. My brother-in-law. Steve made Kim's trip to BR happen, and happen fast. And he did this not just because I wanted time with her, but because she needed it. And he recognized that, and did something about it. How rare and precious. I love that -- and him -- so very much.

4. Home. I was able to see my parents and Nan very quickly this weekend, and truly, there is no place like home. ::happy sigh::

5. Pear cake. My mother made one for my birthday! It's like apple cake, but with pears. If you have not had it, you're totally missing out. Especially when the pears and pecans come from the yard you grew up playing in. :-)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Meet Foxy.

I recently moved within Baton Rouge, and Foxy is my 87-year-old neighbor.

I've been itching to blog about Foxy, so if you're not already on my Foxy text list, or if the person who lived here before me is not a mutual friend of ours, this is your official intro.

Just to set the record straight, "Foxy" isn't some name I cheekily came up with on a whim. I don't know Foxy's first name. (And for the record, I don't want to, unless she tells me. Her storytelling is the best.)

Foxy originally hails from Opelousas, "stayed in Lafayette a bit," and has lived near downtown since she retired from the state. She likes to say, "M' momma was a Chachere and m' daddy was a Fox. An' I'm Foxy."

And boy, is she ever.

The picture here is of Foxy and me a couple of years ago -- around the time I first met her -- when my friend still lived here and was her neighbor. It was taken during Mardi Gras, when Foxy (and I quote) "isn't the same as when she was a young Fox, but still likes to pass a good time."

Stay tuned for more tidbits from the Fox den. :-)

5 Things I'm Thankful For.

Five things I'm grateful for today are:

1. Fall weather. Mmmmmm mmmm good!

2. New opportunities to learn, discover, and be educated.

3. Fruit.

4. A hilarious nephew.

5. New hair.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The House That Built Me.

There is an amazing Miranda Lambert song that is out right now called "The House That Built Me." It is absolutely incredible, and though she didn't write it, and even if you totally loathe country music, I sincerely encourage you to step outside of your norm, take a trip down memory lane, and give it a listen:


I know they say you can’t go home again
I just had to come back one last time
Ma’am I know you don’t know me from Adam
But these handprints on the front steps are mine

Up those stairs in that little back bedroom
Is where I did my homework and I learned to play guitar
I bet you didn’t know under that live oak
My favorite dog is buried in the yard

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From Better Homes and Gardens magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
Nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to mama’s dream

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could walk around in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

You leave home and you move on and you do the best you can
I got lost in this old world and forgot who I am

I thought if I could touch this place or feeling
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I walk around I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

Beautiful Disaster.

I sincerely appreciate Kelly Clarkson for recording "Beautiful Disaster." If it so aptly so applies to a couple of my past relationships, I know at least several of you must relate as well:


Beautiful Disaster by Kelly Clarkson (written by Rebecca Johnson & Matthew Wilder)  

He drowns in his dreams, an exquisite extreme I know

He's as damned as he seems and more Heaven than a heart could hold

And if I try to save him my whole world could cave in
It just ain't right, Lord, it just ain't right

Oh, and I don't know, I don't know what he's after

But he's so beautiful, he's such a beautiful disaster

And if I could hold on through the tears and the laughter
Lord, would it be beautiful or just a beautiful disaster?

He's magic and myth, as strong as what I believe
And a tragedy with more damage than a soul should see
But do I try to change him? So hard not to blame him
Hold me tight, baby, hold me tight

Oh, and I don't know, I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful, he's such a beautiful disaster

And if I could hold on through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful or just a beautiful disaster?

I'm longing for love and the logical but he's only happy hysterical
I'm searching for some kind of miracle, waiting so long, I've waited so long
He's soft to the touch but frayed at the ends he breaks
He's never enough and still he's more than I can take

Oh, and I don't know, I don't know what he's after
But he's so beautiful, he's such a beautiful disaster
And if I could hold on through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful or just a beautiful disaster?

He's beautiful, Lord, he's so beautiful
He's beautiful

Boys of Fall.

God bless Kenny Chesney for recording "Boys of Fall." What a fabulous, deep South-rooted tribute to so much of what teaches so many of us our first elements teamwork, whether we participate or not. From the Saints, to d'Iberville, to Southern Miss, football remains a beautiful part of what I love about home. And now, the Tigers are added to the mix.

Absolutely. Love. It.

The Boys of Fall by Kenny Chesney

When I feel that chill, smell that fresh cut grass/
I'm back in my helmet, cleats and shoulder pads/
Standing in the huddle listening to the call/
Fans going crazy for the boys of fall/

They didn't let just anybody in that club/
Took every ounce of heart and sweat and blood/
To get to wear those game day jerseys down the hall/
Kings of the school man, we're the boys of fall/

Well it's turn and face the Stars and Stripes/
It's fighting back them butterflies/
It's call it in the air, alright yes sir we want the ball/
And it's knocking heads and talking trash/
It's slinging mud and dirt and grass/
It's I got your number, I got your back when your back's against the wall/
You mess with one man you got us all/
The boys of fall/

In little towns like mine that's all they got/
Newspaper clippings fill the coffee shops/
The old men will always think they know it all/
Young girls will dream about the boys of fall/

Well it's turn and face the Stars and Stripes/
It's fighting back them butterflies/
It's call it in the air, alright yes sir we want the ball/
And it's knocking heads and talking trash/
It's slinging mud and dirt and grass/
It's I got your number, I got your back when your back's against the wall/
You mess with one man you got us all/
The boys of fall/

Well it's turn and face the Stars and Stripes/
It's fighting back them butterflies/
It's call it in the air, alright yes sir we want the ball/
And it's knocking heads and talking trash/
It's slinging mud and dirt and grass/
It's I got your number, I got your back when your back's against the wall/
You mess with one man you got us all/
The boys of fall/

We're the boys of fall

We're the boys of fall

Friday, October 8, 2010

Update on My List.

So I just learned that when you're incapable of blogging for 3 months, you check a lot of things off your list! I've updated my list (at the bottom of the blog), and bold items are completed. Yay!

Saying Goodbye to Pop Ball.

In late August, my grandmother's nearly 89-year-old husband took his last breath.

It was a shame for many reasons, and more than just the obvious. The man was brilliant -- I'm talking -- but his body just wouldn't support that strong, thriving mind anymore. Even in his last days, he was giving my mom details about documents that I couldn't even keep up with at age 19, much less now.

Despite the terrible illness that was affecting his quality of life, it was really difficult to say goodbye, but it's been equally tough to know that Nan is now going it alone. Her best friend and last living sister, our great-aunt Mildred, passed away a few years ago. I can't imagine what it's like to lose your peers gradually. Nan is doing well, and is showing some major strength and stamina that I hope to have by my next birthday, not to mention at 84.

During the days after Pop Ball's death, the family did a lot of things. We laughed, we cried, we ate, we talked, we slept, we painted toenails (well, Nan and I did, at least), and we reminisced.

My mom, however, was asked to do something that she begged me to do for her: speak at the funeral about what Pop Ball meant to our family since he married Nan when we grandchildren were in junior high and high school. Knowing my mother's fear of public speaking despite her great talent for communicating, I worked with her on what to say and took the job on as, well, a job. Because of that, it was a lot more bearable to deliver than it would've been otherwise.

This is my part from the funeral, spoken after Cliff's granddaughter Helen beautifully read his obituary, and before my cousin Russ preached a poignant, moving funeral service detailing Cliff's life and death, and their eternal implications:

Cliff Ball was a brave soul -- and not just because he literally fought battles and flew fighter jets and managed crews of airmen throughout his career.

Despite all those accomplishments, I think we all realized how truly brave Cliff Ball was when he walked into my Nanny's family. We don't mean to be dysfunctional (who does?). We really think we're pretty great (who doesn't?). But for a career Air Force Colonel to merge his life with Woolmarket's orginal social networker and her happily protective family?

Definitely deserving of a purple heart.

In time, I think Cliff came to accept our family's penchant for over-hugging, long phone conversations, and even the ridiculous, neverending banter every Christmas Eve.

And we came to accept...well...the retired Air Force Colonel. Who still talked like a Colonel, operated like a Colonel, and all the while loved our grandmother like she hung the moon.

And in time, Colonel Cliff Ball became Pop Ball to my cousins' and my sister's children.

And, not too much longer after that -- especially having watched Cliff nurse Nan through a health scare -- I realized that even though my family is excellent at keeping memories alive, and I feel like I know the biological grandfather who died when I was a few months old, Cliff had been the only living grandfather I'd ever had.

Pop Ball spent a lifetime doing what I have benefitted from for nearly 20 years. He gave a little something extra in so many areas of his life.

I'm pretty sure he would've said he had some regrets. (I am not sure there's anyone who doesn't.) But the Pop Ball I knew and loved gave through volunteerism, and finances, and wise counsel. The man was driving cross-country road trips in his 80s, and tackling technology that some 30-year-olds still haven't mastered. He dedicated himself to things and people he believed in, and in true Air Force Colonel style, put some umpfh into it, always giving a little something extra.

After hurricane Katrina devastated their home in 2005, I couldn't help but chuckle through my tears at the familiarities in the front yard that showed we were at the right driveway: Nan's Slim Fast cans, and Pop Ball's Gideon Bible materials.

My mother worded it well the other day, and I think this sums up how our whole family feels: She said that after she lost her daddy, she never expected to love anyone like that again. When Nan & Cliff married, she accepted and loved him as Nan's husband, but never expected that her love for him would grow to the extent it has. I guess the combination of a gracious spirit, sweet smile, intelligent mind, accepting love, and incredibly quick wit are just hard to not adore.

When Pop Ball died, our family lost a dear friend.

The extra that he gave to the world, he also gave to our family. Because of Cliff Ball's bravery, the Moore family is far more blessed than we ever were before.

At the gravesite, my sister, her husband, and I sang "He Leadeth Me" a capella after a very dignified and moving full military service. It was definitely not easy, and undoubtedly did not sound as professional as the recording below, but we did get the idea years ago of singing this beautiful hymn a capella from this extraordinarily talented Southern gospel trio, The Martins:

He Leadeth Me

He leadeth me, O blessed thought!

O words with heav’nly comfort fraught!
Whate’er I do, where’er I be
Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me.

He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful foll’wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.

Sometimes ’mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea,
Still ’tis His hand that leadeth me.*

Lord, I would clasp Thy hand in mine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever lot I see,
Since ’tis Thy hand that leadeth me.

And when my task on earth is done,
When by Thy grace the vict’ry’s won,
E’en death’s cold wave I will not flee,
Since God through Jordan leadeth me.

*We did not sing the second verse (for brevity and emotions' sake), but it's one of my favorites.

Lynwood's Eulogy.

A few months ago, a dear friend in Jackson, MS, died of cancer. It was way too early for this to happen. I guess we always say that, but Lynwood was only 42. And he was married to sweet Hiller for far too short of a time, and his daughters were both younger than 13. That's just ridiculous.

Lynwood did, however, spend his 42 years showing those of us around him how to live life to its fullest, and in the most hilarious ways possible. I mean, I only knew him for a few years, and I was an ancillary friend as someone who dated one of his close guy friends, and I was still impacted in a major way. So I can only imagine his entire life span's reach.

I was deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to say goodbye to Lynwood in person the night he left this earth, especially since I'd only learned of his illness a couple of weeks before.

And I was incredibly honored when Hiller asked me to read a blog I had posted as the eulogy at Lynwood's beautiful celebration of life. In fact, that memory still is an honor.

I did some editing for the funeral, and this was the final version:

A few years back, I met a guy who was larger than life. Not physically -- though he was very tall -- but he was larger than life in personality.

I'll even say it out loud: At first, Lynwood seemed kind of flashy to me. It wasn't just his wildly printed shirts or fashion dares, but also his penchant for grabbing life by the tail, seeing where it took him, and enjoying the ride, no matter what it involved.

Don't get me wrong.

From the minute I met him, Lynwood was an excellent daddy to Shelby and Kylie, and showed more true, honest devotion to his commitments each day than most people do to their favorite TV shows each week.

Lynwood just lived large. If he was involved, it was grandiose, and all out, and full throttle.

In time, I came to realize that in spite of -- or maybe even because of -- what I initially considered to be his flashiness, Lynwood's depth went far beyond the seats in his Humvee and the road to his deer camp. Lynwood's passion for life included play and work, and during the time I knew him, he succeeded at both, 1,000%.

One of the most fun things I got to do during my decade of living in Jackson was to be a front-row ticketholder to the love that blossomed between Lynwood and Hiller. She appreciated his spontaneity, and he adored her sweet heart of gold. And best of all, they weren't afraid to tell each other that, much less show it.

That's not as common as I once thought it would be, so I revered this trait as a rare gift I had the privilege to watch them give each other.

Hiller told me recently that Lynwood's motto was always "Don't wait." I didn’t know this prior to his illness, but looking back, it’s not too difficult to glimpse through my small window of his very large life and see that exact theory come into play. Whether he was talking houses with his real estate peeps, discussing fine points of neighborhood golf cart riding with Charlie, or convincing all of us to just get out of dodge for a trip to the Big Easy, Lynwood never waited.

Today, as I know where his body is, and the much better place where his soul is, I'm so grateful that the larger-than-life teddy bear of an entrepreneur that was Lynwood Vinson didn't wait to get to know this short, geeky redhead with glasses.

Not because it enhanced his life so much, but because his and Hiller's love and family and friendship have made such an indelible impression on my world.

I have had the honor of working, playing, vacationing, laughing, crying, mourning, celebrating, relaxing, and sharing comfortable silence with these two beautiful souls, and I'm so grateful for that. They've even seen me at my messiest, and still came back for more. And that, my friends, is true love.

So Lynwood, thanks for living out your “don’t wait” motto with me, too.

If you’d stalled on hanging out with the less than cool kid, I’d have never realized that my initial thoughts about your crazy shirts were wrong.

Truth is, I could learn some fashion tips from Lynwood, especially his motto of not waiting for things and people and ideals to come “in,” and of living and loving passionately, which will never go out of style.

I always have, and continue to wish you much love, my fun and colorful friend.

I will see you in Heaven, and be prepared. I will ask for a dance. :-)