Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Again: Let it go, let it go, let it go!

This evening, I got to see one of my favorite bands in the world -- Cowboy Mouth -- in one of my favorite cities in the world -- New Orleans -- with one of my favorite people in the world -- Tiffany Hess -- during one of my favorite times in the world -- spring.  That's good stuff.

Also good is the reminder that's it's essential to let my hair down, enjoy life as it is, and for the love of Pete, to occasionally let it go.

I remembered posting about this a while back, but didn't remember until I ran a blog search that it was almost two years ago! Time flies.

As I read back over the original post, it quickly came back to me what was going on then. This is very morbid, but a lot of people around me were going through a lot of insurmountable things. Like death. And terminal illness. And really, severe, harsh devastation. Like family members who were missing all of a sudden. I remember wondering why, and wishing that I didn't feel so much for others that I let it get me down as well.

Those things were terrible, and still are to remember, but thankfully, I'm not at the same point now. Each year, and season, and day presents its own issues. But whether we're gasping for what feels like our last breath or trying to keep our heads above water, life can feel like a tidal wave whose pressure never ends. Providentially, those tides really do ebb and flow, and we have our life boats and rafts and, of course, the ever-necessary sunscreen of friends and family that keep us afloat and comfortable when we need survival and health the most.

My original post from 2008 is below. This time I'm also including audio of Cowboy Mouth performing one of the best songs ever, "Jenny Says."

Let it go, let it go, let it go?
(Posted Summer 2008)

One of my favorite bands in the world is Cowboy Mouth. And one of my favorite songs of theirs is "Jenny Says."

Lately, it's been easy to let things get to me. There's been lots of sadness around me, and subsequently, in me. I don't like that.

I know that without the sad times, I can't really experience the truest joy of the good times. But I'm beginning to think there's only so much sadness a girl can take.

So along with my all-time favorite Bible verse (John 10:10 - "I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly."), the help of wonderful friends and family, and being on the look-out for those day-to-day pleasures that make life more fun to live, I am going to make an effort to live by Cowboy Mouth's lyrics this week:

I've got no reason for the things I fear

The things that plague me when I see and hear

A dime's a nickel and a nickel's none

I throw myself into the Sunday sun

That summer Sunday when you went insane

You said you're going, but instead I came

I'm throwing oranges in an apple cart

The ties that bind are tearing me apart

Jenny says turn off the radio

Jenny says turn off the light

Jenny says turn off the video

You beat yourself up to bring yourself down

Let it go, let it go, let it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go

When the world keeps coming down on me

I let it go

I've got no reason for the things I say

She turned toward me then she turned away

There's lots of voices in a modern world

They take their toll upon a modern girl

I've got no reason for the things I fear

The things that plague me when I see and hear

I press my finger on an itchy trigger

What once was small right now is so much bigger

Jenny says turn off the radio

Jenny says turn off the light

Jenny says turn off the video

You beat yourself up to bring yourself down

Let it go, let it go, let it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go

When the world keeps coming down on me

I let it go

I've got no reason for the things I do

The dealer deals and then the deal is screwed

You throw your cards up on the playing table

My name is Cain and I am now unable

I've got no reason for the things I fear

The things that plague me when I see and hear

A dime's a nickel, a nickel's none

I throw myself into the Sunday sun

Jenny says turn off the radio

Jenny says turn off the light

Jenny says turn off the video

You beat yourself up 'cause you love it

Let it go, let it go, let it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go

When the world keeps coming down on me

I let it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go

Let it go, let it go, let it go

When the world keeps coming down on me

I let it go

I let it go, let it go, let it go

I let it go, let it go, let it go

I let it go, let it go, let it go

I am really going to make an effort with this (and living life more abundantly, and paying attention to those "small" daily delights God blesses us with) this week, and I'd really love it if those of you who pay attention to things like MySpace moods and statuses (or stati?!) would keep me accountable on this.

Just remind me -- when the world is coming down on me, I let it go.


Happy 100th Birthday, Southern Miss!

My alma mater is celebrating its 100th birthday this week! True to form, political cartoonist Marshall Ramsey tied in Mississippi's current budgeting issues with the event:

Southern Miss, To The Top!

Go Golden Eagles!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Five Things I'm Thankful For.

Five things I'm thankful for are:

1. A job that keeps me busy and pays me.

2. Cousins who crack me up.

3. A mother who reminds me of the things that matter most.

4. Spring!

5. A sunroof.

Monday, March 22, 2010

No Duds Allowed.

I am fortunate enough to have a home away from home away from home, and it's at the Longs' house in Baton Rouge. Angela -- who started as a fun coworker and has ended up as an even funner friend -- and her whole family are just precious and real and so enjoyable to be around, including their gorgeous Goldendoodle.

Dude K. Long joined their family soon after I started working with Angela, and he's absolutely beautiful. He also manages makes me feel like I'm the only person in the world he wants to play with and lick, which is always a fantastic trait in a new friend. :-)

Michael, Angela's 7-year-old, also loves Dude. However, Michael lives with Dude, so he's understandably had to set boundaries that are not required of me.

Last year, when Michael was 6-ish and Dude was 1-ish, Michael decided to keep Dude out of his room by posting a sign on his door: 

No Duds Allowed.

I'm not sure if Dude recognized 3/4 of his name enough to follow the instructions that night, but the message on the sign has stuck with me as something I'd love to post on all my doors -- literal and figurative. I mean, really, who wouldn't want to keep out all the duds in this ridiculous world?

After all, it's up to us to keep our homes (and hearts, and souls, and dreams) as safe and sound as we possibly can.

Geaux Michael! Such a wise, wise future Saint-slash-animal caretaker at the zoo.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sticks and Stones.

I've only had one broken bone in my life, but do tend to bruise pretty easily. I don't know if it's the fair skin, or that I'm a klutz, or just that I'm a girl, since a lot of girls say the same thing. At any rate, I can look down any given day and see all kinds of random bruises that I can't remember getting. They don't always hurt, but they're ugly and sometimes they last a long time.

Especially having red hair, I've been ridiculously fortunate not to be the brunt of nasty jokes much throughout the years. Maybe this is because I laugh at my own self a lot. Maybe peeps are considerate enough to save their ugly talk for behind my back. Or maybe -- just maybe -- it's because I try really hard to follow the rare and consistent traits that I grew up watching my parents and sister live daily and seemingly effortlessly, and I try to be kind (though I don't always succeed, especially when I'm stressed out). I'm forever laughing with people about my faults, and often pointing them out to those around me, but am not proud to say that especially in the past, I tend to be pretty sensitive when facets of me that I view as negative are pointed out, even by friends who mean well. But basically, when it comes down to it, I have really, really escaped a lot of life's barbs, and I am utterly grateful for that.

My precious sister got picked on a good bit in elementary and middle school. She is absolutely the sweetest person in the universe, so I think it offended me almost as much as it did her. She was very shy and quiet at the time, so I don't think that helped matters much. Thankfully, she came out of her shell and blossomed into a gorgeous, more outgoing but still very kind young lady, and boom, the jokes stopped. I don't think I ever realized, though, how much those jokes could have hurt her. I mean, I still haven't talked to her about it (I'm typing in a very stream-of-consciousness way right now, so I'm sure we'll discuss it soon), but good grief. It had to hurt. Basically a stick figure of a child, I often took up for her on the bus or wherever, using words as my fight and praying I wouldn't get beat up by the instigators.

Yesterday, I was insulted worse than I can ever remember. I also experienced raw, emotional hurt in a way I can never remember hurting. I don't know if the (not particularly nice in general) person knew she ruined my day, and possibly month, but she did. It was just a thoughtless comment, but absolutely unneccessary, and it made me feel fat and slobby and small (but definitely not in a good way), and like the biggest loser (but also not in a good way).

After crying pretty hard about the rude comments and seeking immediate e-counseling from 10 of my closest friends, including my mom & sister, I realized: there's something to that old saying.

Sticks and stones -- or in my case, being thrown from a horse -- may break my bones, but words won't break me.

(I wouldn't go so far as to say words can never harm us, because the initial bruise is pretty nasty. But thankfully, we have our circle of peeps who take care of us with the effect that rubbing alcohol and antiseptic have on bruises and cuts. And after a little bit, the bruises fade, the cuts stop bleeding, and hopefully later, we can look back at that experience as un-fun, but not life-altering.)

So what lessons did I learn from being school-bus-picked-on at 33 1/2? 
1. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
2. Remember to be kind to others, because what we think are lighthearted comments may be really hurtful to them.
3. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
4. Keep your "surmising," as my Nan would say, to yourself.
5. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.
6. Keep Taylor Swift in your iTunes. Always.
7. Always have a few of your closest friends nearby to stand up for you, even if it's only to you.

Because in the end, thank the Lord, bruises really do fade and cuts heal. Especially with the soothing ointment of wonderful friends and family.

Friday, March 19, 2010


This week, for the first time, I had the opportunity to hear the infamous Rebirth Brass Band in New Orleans. They were fantastic! I was mesmerized!

Their name, though, accompanied with my current season of self-evaluation, made me think a little about how great it was to experience some Rebirth internally. Sure, the band was amazing, but really, so is going through a time when you allow yourself to think about the old, ponder the present, and hope for a better new.

Quite a melody.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Best Day.

I was going to save writing about this song for a Mother's Day post to thank my mom for all she is and has been, but I've been realizing how much it applies to so many people in my life: both of my parents, my sister, her husband, their son, and, as I've so been reminded the past two days, my cousins.

I have tons of cousins -- really, not an exaggeration -- but was super fortunate to grow up in close proximity with three boy cousins, who served as brothers-in-kind for my sister and me, without the harassment and bathroom humor and embarrassing displays of overprotectiveness.

Russ, Jeff and Greg were -- and are -- three of the most amazing people I've ever met. They're all unique from each other in every way, from their talents to their appearances to their skills and career paths. In fact, the only qualities I would say they truly share are their innate desires to work hard for what they have, their ingenuities in their own fields, their senses of humor, and the kindness that lies within them all. It's kind of always been that way.

Russ (who was once "Rusty" and is now "Russell," but I can't seem to shake "Russ"), has forever been an academic. Brilliant, communicative, and witty, this oldest of the three is the best person ever to talk about books, current events, politics, and theology with. He's also good for some quality country music and bobblehead convos, among other things. His quality level only doubled when he married sweet Maria, who happened to be my sister's best friend in high school (perk!). Russ and Maria complement each other in every way, and have seen their share of life issues, but are still some of the most fun people to be around that I've ever met. Thankfully, they're teaching their four sons to be the same way. It's already fun to see how Timothy, Benjamin, Samuel and Jonah's personalities are emerging.

Greg is the youngest of the three, and is truly a shining light. That sounds really ethereal and even almost feminine, but Greg is one of the most real people I've ever met, and definitely one of the most masculine guys ever. My first memories of him involve his sweet smile, adorable dimples, and blonde curls, and he's been consistent with the first two of those ever since. (The curls got cut off, much to my Nan's chagrin, I'm sure.) Gregory Scott is hilarious and the pure definition of "entrepreneur," but he is also a wonderful friend. He listens and cares and can turn anything -- and I do mean anything -- into a complete laugh riot. In fact, I've just decided that if I really want people to celebrate instead of mourn at my funeral, he should speak. :-) His wife, Alicia, and her daughter, Lauren, have added more to our family than I can even say. Lauren plays soccer with the best of 'em, resists all things diva, and will never have an awkward stage. She's the coolest adolescent ever, and if she weren't so sweet, I'd be bitter about this. At 33 1/2. Like Maria, Alicia is beautifully supportive of her husband, and their mutual adoration is so clear. I love this about them, and for them, and particularly for Greg, because he deserves that so much.

The one-third of this fabulous trifecta that I most recently got to spend time with is Jeff. Jeff's the middle, and to the naked eye is as polar opposite from Russ and Greg and Russ and Greg are from each other. Because of his job, I don't have the opportunity to see Jeff nearly as much as I do Greg, who lives where we're all from, or even Russ, who lives in Kentucky. So when I do see Jeff, we get concentrated time rather than short visits, which is where The Best Day comes in.

Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, I got to hang out with Jeff for the first time since Christmas. A lot has happened since Christmas, and I'm not really in a season full of guy friends right now, so getting to see and debrief and talk and laugh with Jeff was just the most fantastic thing I could've asked for. Not to mention, we saw each other in one of our favorite cities, New Orleans, so that was wonderful and the weather was perfect and the food was as delicious as it's made out to be.

I've been working like a dog lately, and I've been tired physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Very few people in my life are like vitamin shots to my soul, but everyone mentioned in this blog is, including Jeff. And I suspect that just hanging out and laughing over po-boys did more for my soul than a vacation ever could.

This song is by Taylor Swift, and is called "The Best Day":

So, to my sweet mother and excellent father, and my beautiful-in-every-way sister, and my brother-in-law who exceeds expectations, and to my ever-growing nephew who makes me smile by thinking of him, and to Russell D. who continues to inspire me and make me proud, and Greg, who can crack me up with a one-line text, thank you for all those Best Days. There have been many, and I can't hear this song without thinking of each of you, and so many others from my childhood.

And to Jeffrey Allen, who is really too cool to be hanging out with me but does anyway, and who does for my spirit what Dyanne does for my hair, I really did have The Best Day with you. Thank you for sharing your time and wonderfulness with me. :-)

* The pic above is of Russ, Jeff, myself and Greg on Christmas Eve 2009 at Nanny and Pop Ball's house. Have I mentioned I love these people?!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Holy what-rimony?!

I don't always treat the institution of marriage as kindly as I should.

I'm not mean about it, per se, but I am very aware that I'm just not as consistently polite about it as my mother raised me to be.

This is probably a good time to reinforce several truths:
It's not that I don't like the idea of marriage, and it's not that I like it too much. I'm neither adverse to joining my life with the right person's, or so jaded that I scoff anyone who does it, or even what i consider to be the worst of all -- a single person who is so envious of married people that I'm bitter that I'm not there.

I should also probably clarify that this has become my view of marriage in general, not when it specifically applies to those I'm close to, and whose love I've watched unfold and strengthen. I am fortunate beyond measure to have parents and a sibling and other close relatives and friends who have lived out the true ideal of marriage, through thick or thin, for better or worse. And I'm super, amazingly grateful for that. Really.

It's just that, since friends my age have started getting married (and unmarried), I haven't very often seen the institution being lived out as the sacred commitment I believe it should be. As a result, more often than not, I view jumping into it as a lottery purchase of sorts, or a fad weight-loss buy-in.

("You signed up for that? Just because you want the ideal version of you? And you're expecting results with no work? And you think YOUR one-in-a-million shot's gonna pan out perfectly? Ohhh-kaaay...")

And there are the people who seem to be getting married only because it's time to do that, or because their friends are, or because it's expected that that's their next logical step. And while those factors aren't bad by any means, and could probably use a little more attention from this redhead, they're, to me, just not enough to hold water on their own. Especially when the couple constantly fights, or complains about each other, or puts one another down in public or private. In those situations, doing what's expected just because it's expected is like refusing to exercise but spending good money on a fad weight loss pill: why bother, when this probably isn't a healthy or long-term solution, and will only cause more damage in the end?

And even when one -- or both -- walks down the aisle with an accurate, secure, sane definition of "forever," where's the guarantee that no one's dictionary changes after a baby is born, or a house is built, or a job is lost, or a disease is discovered?

Maybe my perspective comes from having dated a commitment phobe for too long. (Despite my protectiveness of that relationship in the past, placing myself under the direct influence of a guy who, even in his 30s, broke out into hives over "the 'L' word" couldn't have been healthy. Also, still saying "the 'L' word" in your 30s is probably not a good sign.)

Or maybe watching beautiful people whom I dearly love privately writhe in pain as their marriages shatter has taken its toll.

Or perhaps my not-so-happy-ending-assumptive view comes from the jaw-dropping, ever-growing number of my high school classmates and childhood friends who are already, after 15 years, divorce statistics...some more than once over.

Whatever the reason, I'm not always giddy when someone tells me they're engaged.

This was totally not the case when James Findley called me last year with his news. When I heard my best-all-around guy friend's voice tell me that Melissa said yes, I couldn't stop the happy tears from forming in my eyes.

James and Melissa are, like so many dear friends of mine, a precious couple whose love has intensified and withstood enough obstacles to ensure that they'll give marriage a good name, and will treat it as holy matrimony.

I am honored to be their friend -- individually and collectively -- and am truly sad to be missing their wedding (even though James promises he understands and I've promised to share dinner and their wedding video once they're back from the honeymoon and things are a little calmer for all).

I couldn't be at their ceremony today, but my heart is full with how proud I am of my sweet friends, because I know they did not speak or feel their vows lightly, and that they won't take them lightly, either.

And because of newlyweds like they are now, I don't find myself wondering what they're getting themselves into, or only holding a mere hope that things will go okay. Because of couples like James and Melissa, today I am smiling as I'm thinking about marriage.

So here's to you, Mr. and Mrs. Findley! I'm with you in spirit, and will absolutely celebrate this special time with y'all in person as soon as life allows. May God bless and keep your life together, and make His face shine gently upon you both. And above all, may He give you peace.

I love you both.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010


I haven't posted much of what I'm thankful for lately, but that doesn't mean I'm not well aware of it. This week's top five are:

1. Experience. I have learned a lot in the past 33 years, and in the past 23 that I can remember the clearest as a semi-adult. :-) And I am so everlastingly grateful for that. 'Cause guess what? Even though I might change a few decisions along the way if I had to do it all over again, I would definitely not want to lose anything I've learned. Life: invaluable.

2. Spring. It's coming, peeps! For real! I felt it a couple of times this week and I am NOT giving up hope.

3. Lent. Even though I'm not giving anything up this year (I have a few excuses, but no really good ones), the season still has an impact on me and makes me appreciate all that Christ has done for me, and all the lagniappe I experience as His Child.

4. My daddy. He is SO smart. Really. I can't even express to you how I amazed I am when he starts talking cars. I love that his speciality is so polar opposite of mine. Sometimes it's hard to appreciate people's areas of expertise when they're similar to what you delve into every day. Ya know?

5. Our country. I know, I know. I always say this. But for real. We live in the land of the FREE. How cool is that? How close were we to being born in a Communist or Socialist country, where we did not have what we consider to be super simple choices daily? I'm just saying. I appreciate it more and more the older I get. And as my nephew will readily attest to, I'm gettin' on up there. :-)

Happy weekend, everyone! Live it up!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bloggin' gone bad.

I've been slacking on my blogging lately. But an acquaintance of mine has been doing just the opposite -- she's vowed to blog EVERY DAY.

Since Crawfish Boil season is upon me (at work, my busiest time of the year ever), I won't be blogging every day by any means, but I might try a little harder to release some of this pent-up creativity more often.