Monday, May 31, 2010

The Turnaround.

My adorably hilarious nephew is 6, and he's a pretty brave kid. He did inherit his mother's preciously tender heart, which I love with all of my own semi-tender heart, but he also is all boy, so the sweetness comes out when you least expect it. And I love that.

This year, Caleb graduated from kindergarten. My sister teaches language arts at a school near his campus, so getting him to and from class has been an interesting set of logistics to work out. At first, he was expectedly sad to see her go. Then other older students of hers started walking him to class, and things smoothed out a little.

About a month ago, my parents visited them for a weekend and took Caleb to school on the Monday morning before they left to go back home. According to my parents, he was super big and brave, and walked to the door with his backpack (looking much like a little man, I'm sure), then turned around and waved bye and proceeded into his building. My parents lost it. It's hard saying goodbye to kids anyway, but their only grandson, and looking so grown up, and being so brave... You know. Tough stuff.

Later, my parents learned that after Caleb entered his school building, he lost it as well. School starts early (I'm not sure how early, but you remember the outrageous times those first bells would ring), and apparently Caleb's teacher could not get him calmed down until around 8:30. In kindergarten time, I'm pretty sure that's like 4 days.

Later, when my sister talked to my nephew about why he was so upset, he explained very simply, "I don't know, Mom. I'm always ok till the turnaround."

Thankfully, things like his sweet teacher, recess, and even math can help distract him.

This weekend, I am in a place I love deeply and that I resided in for nearly ten years. Ten very crucial post-college, growing up years, I might add. Jackson, Mississippi holds a plethora of beautiful memories and coming-of-age markers for me, but it also holds some bittersweet pivotal life points, as well.

I knew before this visit that it wouldn't be 1,000% rosy. A friend was dying. His wife is aching, while still trying to function and work at her paying job, and work even harder to take care of him and their children. And even aside from that, I've had enough emotional precursors over the past few months to realize that this trip would hold more than just a feta dressing fix from Keifer's and long laughs with my best-good girlfriends.

This trip to Jackson is definitely a turnaround for me. Change was in my air before I even got in my car to make this drive, and I am really, truly happy about it. I've been given a few opportunities for some new beginnings, and much to my own surprise, I'm lapping them up like an overplayed puppy would a fresh pan of cold milk.

Even so, Caleb is right. Athough I'm walking into a wealth of opportunity for learning and life experiences, the turnaround is hard. I know that when I turn around, something beautiful will happen, it will further my life education, and I am prepared to make the absolute most of it that I can. But a look back at the old can still make one cry -- whether one is a 33-year-old career chickadee or 6-year-old kindergarten grad.

After thinking a lot about Caleb's and my own situations, I think it's ok to get emotional at the turnaround -- it honors the good times you had in the past, and lets your peeps know they're loved and valued. In fact, it might be odd to NOT get emotional at the turnaround.

But part of the turnaround is in the actual turning, and the bright, unlimited possibilities that await.

Which will be super cool, much like kickball at recess.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Don't Wait.

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

I'll even say it out loud: Lynwood seemed, at first, 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.

Don't get me wrong. Lynwood was an excellent daddy to Shelby and Kylie, and showed more true, honest devotion to his commitments than most people do to their favorite TV shows. He just lived large. If Lynwood's hand was in it, 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 the deer camp where he so loved to hunt. Lynwood's passion for life included play and work, and from the time I've known him, he succeeded at all of it.

One of the most fun things I got to do while living in Jackson was be a ticketholder to the love that blossomed between Lynwood and Hiller. She appreciated his spontanaeity, 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 has always been "Don't wait." It's not hard to look back on the small window of his large life that I've glimpsed into and see that very theory come into play. Whether he was talking houses or convincing us to 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 this larger than life teddy bear of an entrepreneur didn't wait to get to know the short, geeky redhead with glasses. Not because it enhanced his life so much, but because his and Hiller's love and friendship have made such an indelible impression on my world. I have had the honor of working, playing, vacationing, laughing, crying, 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. That is true love.

So Lynwood, thanks for living out your motto with me, too, and for not waiting to hang with a less cool kid, despite my initial (and wrong) thoughts about your crazy shirts. Truth is, I could learn some fashion tips from you, even now. Including the motto of not waiting, and of living and loving passionately, which will never go out of style.

Much love, my fun and colorful friend.

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

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Worlds Apart

So many Fbk friends commented on statuses (stati?) I have posted with lyrics from Jars of Clay's "Love Song for a Savior," that I thought I'd post my equal-level favorite JoC song: "Worlds Apart."

You can watch/listen here, and lyrics are below:

"Worlds Apart"

I am the only one to blame for this

Somehow it all ends up the same

Soaring on the wings of selfish pride

I flew too high and like Icarus I collide

With a world I try so hard to leave behind

To rid myself of all but love

to give and die

To turn away and not become

Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves

more deeply than the oceans,

more abundant than the tears

Of a world embracing every heartache

Can I be the one to sacrifice

Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow

To love you - take my world apart

To need you - I am on my knees

To love you - take my world apart

To need you - broken on my knees

All said and done I stand alone

Amongst remains of a life I should not own

It takes all I am to believe

In the mercy that covers me

Did you really have to die for me?

All I am for all you are

Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart

I look beyond the empty cross

forgetting what my life has cost

and wipe away the crimson stains

"dull the nails that still remain"

More and more I need you now,

I owe you more each passing hour

the battle between grace and pride

I gave up not so long ago

So steal my heart and take the pain

and wash the feet and cleanse my pride

take the selfish, take the weak,

and all the things I cannot hide

take the beauty, take my tears

the sin-soaked heart and make it yours

take my world all apart

take it now, take it now

and serve the ones that I despise

speak the words I can't deny

watch the world I used to love

fall to dust and thrown away

I look beyond the empty cross

forgetting what my life has cost

so wipe away the crimson stains

"dull the nails that still remains"

so steal my heart and take the pain

take the selfish, take the weak

and all the things I cannot hide

take the beauty, take my tears

take my world apart, take my world apart

I pray, I pray, I pray

take my world apart

Beside the Still Waters.

I grew up near water.

My parents live about 20 miles inland of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but even so, water was always accessible to play in and sit by, and was super easy to get to. The beach wasn't too far away, and while it wasn't Jamaica, it was a beach. And then, of course, there were rivers and creeks galore. I was baptized by my Southern Baptist uncle in the creek near my home, and a friend's mom dubbed our senior class "river rats" because of our penchant for hanging out there.

Growing up near water, though, also means growing up near hurricanes. And flooding. And storms. They happen. They're part of it. It doesn't mean they're always fun (in adulthood, that is), but they do happen.

But as much energy and inner and outer turbulence as crashing waves can cause, there is truly nothing quite like still waters. The calmness, peacefulness, and general sound of softly lapping waves bring a feeling that nothing else can quite measure up to.

The more into life I delve, and the more birthdays I have, the more I realize that (much like the "fires" we talk about putting out so often in our work environments) we experience more of the turbulence and hurricanes and watery messes to get ourselves out of than we do the peaceful, easy feelings.

I mean, yes, I'm an anxious person by nature, but good grief. Everyone talks about hectic days, and wasn't it like 20 years ago that the song "Manic Monday" came out? So now, with email and smart phones and life at the speed of 4G light, I'm afraid Manic Mondays have become the norm for everyday...even our weekends.

That said, Psalm 23 has been comforting to this anxiety-ridden redhead lately. God promises to lead us beside still waters. And although the Psalms were written way back when, He doesn't even limit that promise to David's shepherd days (which I'm pretty sure aren't as calm as I envision them, with giants and such).

Lately, I just can't help but have my confidence be reassured that God, when inspiring David to pen the Psalms, did know that one day my own memories of "still waters" would go quite mad, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. And that water would become scary versus soothing for a while for me, and for my entire hometown and the entire Gulf Coast. And that one day, our quest for efficiency combined with our ignorance about safety and neglection to protect His creation might one day come back to bite us -- in this case, with a very nasty oil spill leading to, well, oil spill waters rather than the still waters we so long for.

So Psalm 23 has been very comforting to me, and has gently reminded me that no matter what my environment is, God can take me to a still, calm surrounding that only He can create. And that He can restore my soul, even in the presence of those who could care less about me, and who want to see me fail.

And really, that is the best kind of still water ever.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

American Honey.

I have a new favorite song by Lady Antebellum, mainly because it reminds me so much of how I grew up. Good, and slow.

I hope you like it, too.

"American Honey"

She grew up on a side of the road

Where the church bells ring and strong love grows

She grew up good

She grew up slow

Like American honey

Steady as a preacher

Free as a weed

Couldn't wait to get goin'

But wasn't quite ready to leave

So innocent, pure and sweet

American honey

There's a wild, wild whisper

Blowin' in the wind

Callin' out my name like a long lost friend

Oh I miss those days as the years go by

Oh nothing's sweeter than summertime

And American honey

Get caught in the race

Of this crazy life

Tryin' to be everything can make you lose your mind

I just wanna go back in time

To American honey, yea

There's a wild, wild whisper

Blowin' in the wind
Callin' out my name like a long lost friend

Oh I miss those days as the years go by

Oh nothing's sweeter than summertime

And American honey

Gone for so long now

I gotta get back to her somehow

To American honey

Ooh There's a wild, wild whisper

Blowin' in the wind

Callin' out my name like a long lost friend

Oh I miss those days as the years go by

Oh nothin's sweeter than summertime

And American honey

And American honey

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Second to Breathe.

This weekend I took a second to breathe.

Ok, I took a whole weekend to breathe. But anyway. :-)

I really needed the time out. I've been running fast and furiously (mainly with work, and using any leftover/in reserve energy to spend on family and friends), and was just out of steam.

I truly, truly appreciate friends and family who don't pressure me to be more than I can possibly be, especially when I'm running on pure adrenaline as it is.

Because, really, breathing might seem way overrated, but only when you have time to do it. When you don't, it's true, quality time that you want others to experience, as well as yourself.

So thanks to those of you who are kind enough to understand that RJ can't magically bounce back like an air-inflated ball after an extremely hectic time of work. :-) I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cinco de Beko.

It has been a WHILE since I posted five things I'm thankful for. I know I've had a little bit going on, but for the love. That's really no excuse not to stop and smell at least five roses now and then.

So, given that, here are five things in my life I am thankful for, right this minute, at the ungodly hour I'm blogging instead of sleeping due to mistimed adrenaline:

1. The Help.  The book with this title will get its own special post very soon, but right now, I'm superbly grateful not only that I read the book, but also that I got some Help of my own during this Busy Event Season. Since I started my current job in August of 2007, I have desperately needed some temporary assistance with my bank's annual Baton Rouge-area customer appreciation Crawfish Boil, and praise the Lord, I got it this time! And not only did I get it, I got it good. Aimee is an amazingly kind and hard worker, with an enthusiasm I forgot I once had. It's good to be reminded of those things sometimes. The Rebekah of 10 years ago... wow. She also worked like a dog, not because the project's success would ultimately land on her, but because it was new, and she craved doing a good job, and was new to that world, and needed to prove to those around her that she had something to offer, and that it was good. ::sigh:: Good reminder. And GREAT help.

2. Opportunities.  Sometimes opportunities come around, and though the turnaround to take advantage of them may be tight, there is absolutely no denying God's timing in them. I've experienced a big example of that lately, and am actually in the throes of it, and am just amazed when I think about the positive change it will be for me. And grateful. So. Very. Grateful.

3. Ideas.   Often, during hectic times when I barely remember to set an alarm by the end of the night, I feel fresh out of new ideas. Yet give me a few breaths of fresh air, or the right combination of songs on the radio, or a little bit of time to just be, and bam! Here they are again. I've heard of people feeling antsy after they retire. I think I would feel antsy if I didn't have that rush of new ideas every once in a while. It keeps me going, and allows me an outlet for creativity that is much-needed and much-appreciated.

4. Puppies!!!!   Oh yes, my friends, puppies. :-D   They're not mine, but my parents recently got two wriggly little things and I just can't get enough of them. And this is after one 24-hour visit! Mmmm mmm.  I love me some puppy time. Let the good times roll! In the grass! With the puppies!!!

5. Constants.   The things that never change are so very, very underrated. Like my sister and brother-in-law, for instance, and my parents. What would I do without the stability they offer, when so much of the world is spinning like a top?! I love having 5 special friends who I can text when I learn a dear kindred spirit has been diagnosed with cancer. And that no matter where I am, I must let Robert know when I see a mullet. And that despite good or bad days at school, or sickness, or rainy weather, my nephew can always make me smile, if not laugh hysterically.  The older I get, the more I realize that so many things I didn't anticipate to be seasonal are. And so many people are, too. This epiphany was sad at first, and can still be tough, but wow. The contstants definitely make it worth it.

So this is what happens when I go too long without expressing gratitude? I turn a list of 5 things into 5 pages. Good grief.

The Mourning After.

It doesn't take a PR person to know that after a big event, there's the inevitable big letdown. I call it the post-partum of event planning. I don't at all mean this nonchalantly toward parenthood; I'm aware that true post-partum is real, and serious, and nothing to joke around about.

But you work really hard on something, many times for up to a year in advance, and watch it come to fruition, and worry and fret that every little detail goes right, and then bam! It's over. I mean, you have a (hopefully) fabulous finished product when the "labor pains" are over, but all the prepping is just...over. Of course, a good event won't haunt you for 18 years to come, but still. The analogy can't last forever. ;-)

Even theatre friends get what they call the "post-show blues," so I know it's not just me. As a fellow event planner commented on Twitter the other night, we tend to to plan for everything but the letdown after events. I do try to schedule hair appointments, or massages, or other forms of pampering afterwards, but maybe I should lock myself in a room with "Steel Magnolias" and a carton of tissues or something instead.

At any rate -- and I'm fully aware that only girls will get this -- tonight, after my last event from the past few months' full of events, I was overdue for a good cry. So what was on TV when I finally found my hotel? Only the saddest episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Private Practice" EVER. Sigh. But they worked. I bawled like a baby. I'm hoping I got it out of my system, but should probably stock up on Kleenex in case another episode presents itself.

For now, I'll just bask in the Busy Event Season afterglow, and prepare for all the physical and emotional tasks that are still to come. At least the ones I know about. :-)