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. :-)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

It All Pays the Same.

Don Smith was a guy I worked with a while back.

Actually, I should correct that.

Don Smith was a guy who worked, and worked hard, and his work actually invoked sweat. Mine does not always do that.

But not only was Don a great coworker, he was also a fun person to know. He had fabulous stories and comments, and one that has stuck with me in the three years that have passed since we wore the same badge was, "It all pays the same."

He'd usually say this when I was apologizing about asking him to do something that I found entirely unappetizing -- perhaps unloading a pallet of boxes, or sorting through a bunch of junk, or measuring random square footage so I'd have the proper dimensions for an upcoming event. The absolute best, though, was parking (and reparking, and reparking, and reparking) 50 Nissan trucks so that...get aerial photo shots would be enticing to the media.

You KNOW he loved that.

For real. This man did WAY too much "beck-and-call" mess for my preference, but he did have a great point as he laughed and, without fail, shrugged and commented, "It all pays the same."

Maybe it's sad; maybe it's introspective. But fact is, I've probably mulled over that statement much more often than the deep, insightful career advice I've been fortunate enough to receive from PR/communications mentors and counterparts. Because on days like today, when I'm -- for real -- counting way too many rocks & seashells for my own good, or when I'm sweating my head off at an outdoors event, or when I'm practicing "the customer is always right" initiative, I have to remember, it all pays the same.

And that is something to be truly grateful for, whether I like what "it" is or not.

So thanks, Don Smith. I get it. And you're so right.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Saying hey.

A few months ago, I took a road trip with my sister, her husband & their son. (I was invited. By her husband. Just to clear the air on any potential intrusion claims.)

One of my (very many) convos with my very talkative nephew (could I be prouder?!) included a discussion about cell phones. And how I use mine a lot. And how he doesn't have one. And how I didn't, either, at that age -- partly because my parents never would've stood for it AT AGE SIX, but mainly because they didn't exist...and when they did, they were in bags.

My favorite response from Caleb (with a similar expression to the embedded pic) was, "But....if you and my mom didn't have cell phones, how did y'all say hey?!"

It was SO cute (from my unbiased perspective, of course), and frighteningly, so telling.

I mean, from birth, this child has been totally used to us picking up the phone or texting at any given moment to "say hey." No boundaries, no long distance, no time constraints -- we just do what we need to do to get through that moment, or day, or hour.

Which is super nice. And makes me wonder how we survived before. Although I know we did. And even before email. (Which is enough to make this communications addict shudder.)

But thank the good Lord for modern technology.

I do love my sister. And saying hey.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Little Time.

Friends know that I often refer to myself as "the last remaning Amy Grant fan." Clearly, I mean that in a good way. :-) But, one of my favorites by AG is one I think everyone could benefit from -- at least the lyrics.

I've recently gone through some junk that if I had been asked at the beginning of the process how long it would take me, I'd have never guessed a year or two. But you know, I didn't push it away. I processed, and dealt, and I refuse to apologize for that.

"Takes A Little Time" really speaks to that, and I appreciate that. A lot:

Takes  A Little Time

It takes a little time sometimes

To get your feet back on the ground

It takes a little time sometimes

To get the titanic turned back around

It takes a little time sometimes

But baby you're not going down

It takes more than you've got right now

Give it time

What's this walking thru' my door

I know I've seen the look before

Sometimes in faces on the street

Sometimes in the mirror looking back at me

You can't fix this pain with money

You can't rush a weary soul

You can't sweep it under the rug, now honey

It don't take a lot to know

It takes a little time sometimes

To get your feet back on the ground

It takes a little time sometimes

To get the titanic turned back around

It takes a little time sometimes

But baby you're not going down
It takes more than you've got right now

Give it time

Now it may not be over by morning

But Rome wasn't built in a day

You can name this thing a thousand times

But it won't make it go away

Let me put my arms around you

And hold you while you weep

We've been talking and talking

I'm sick of this talk

And it's nothing that won't keep

It takes a little time sometimes

To get your feet back on the ground

It takes a little time sometimes

To get the titanic turned back around
It takes a little time sometimes
But baby you're not going down

It takes more than you've got right now

Give it time

No you can't fix this pain with money

You can't rush a weary soul

You can't sweep it under the rug now honey

It don't take a lot to know

It takes a little time sometimes

To get your feet back on the ground

It takes a little time sometimes

To get the titanic turned back around

It takes a little time sometimes

But baby you're not going down

It takes more than you've got right now

Give it time

I love this sooooo much. Because, really, if you're going to process something -- or many things -- and really feel them, rather than just brush them under the rug like yesterday's dirt, and deal with them with the kitchen floods, you know that it does take time to get through things.
I don't regret one second of my processes, even though I know they weren't fun for others. Shocker: they weren't so much fun for me, either. :-) Just necessary.
And thank the good Lord above for that time.

Julie & Julia.

I didn't read Julie & Julia, but I did see the movie.

I love anything related to blogging, and setting a personal goal for oneself. The cooking part was great fun for me, too! As I understand it, had I read the book, I'd have been grossly -- in all senses of the word -- disappointed in the graphic, grody details of the book, yet the movie was just right for this particular chiquita banana.

A couple of takeaway quotes for me from the movie were:

  • It's 10:30 in the morning, and I'm already running behind. This is hardly unusual, but it pisses me off every single time.
  • It's a good thing there's always another disaster to poke a hole in the old self-esteem before it gets dangerously inflated.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Louis Armstrong.

 I really, really, really love Louis Armstrong.

So when I saw his display at the Louisiana State Museum in Baton Rouge, I was overly excited.

The two quotes I took from that exhibit -- at this viewing time, at least -- were:
"What we play is life."

"Music has no age...  There's no such thing as on the way out. As long as you are still doing something interesting and good. You are in business as long as you are breathing." 


As a general, unspoken rule, I'm not a huge Nicholas Sparks fan. His work is always super sappy, sad, and I end up crying after I watch it. (Call me snobby, but I refuse to spend quality reading time on something that I know will make me cry in the end, but will probably not afford me any introspective, how-can-RJ-be-better moments.)

That said, a few weeks ago, I needed a good cry. So, naturally, I rented a Nicholas Sparks movie, "The Last Song."

The first thing you should know is that it has Miley Cyrus in it. For real.

Secondly, it's full of angst. (Why did I expect anything else?)

Thirdly, it did the trick and made me cry.

Fourth, it was filmed in Savannah, a place I have mad love for.

And finally, I gleaned this quote (and a ridic craving for the beach) from it:
"Love is fragile, and we're not always its best caretakers. We just muddle through, and do the best we can, and hope this fragile thing survives, against all odds."

- Nicholas Sparks' "The Last Song"
I thought that was really lovely. And pretty freakin' true.


Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, recently published a follow-up book: Committed.

I wasn't sure I'd love it -- especially since the content didn't really apply to me as a content, unmarried person. To be honest, it wasn't my favorite. But as it turned out, my brain was so thirsty for her enchantingly refreshing writing style that I just drank that whole book up in spite of myself.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book are:

  • When you are the giant, alien visitor to a remote and foreign culture, it is sort of your job to become an object of ridicule. It's the least you can do, really, as a polite guest.

  • The happier twin sister of loneliness is privacy.

  • Lebensneid - life envy, the certainty that somebody else is much luckier than you.

  • When you have only one path set before you, you can generally feel confident that it was the correct path to have taken.
  • Marriage becomes hard work once you have poured the entirety of your life's expectations into the hands of one mere person. Keeping that going is hard work.

  • I need him because I happen to adore him, because his company brings me gladness & comfort, and because, as a friend's grandfather once put it, "Sometimes life is too hard to be alone, and sometimes life is too good to be alone."

  • The emergency that always gets you in the end is the one you didn't prepare for.

  • There is hardly a more gracious gift that we can offer somebody than to accept them fully, almost despite themselves.

  • At some point in our lives we must stop beating ourselves up over bygone blunders -- even blunders that seem so painfully obvious to us in retrospect -- and we must move on with our lives.

For Better or Worse.

My parents have been married 41 years today.


I am amazed, humbled, and grateful to have grown up with such a lovely, practical, constant example of consistent love and faithfulness.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wednesdays in New Orleans, DC in May: Yada, Yada, Yada.

In my first job out of college, I went to Washington, D.C. every May for a conference. Stressful, huh? :-) Truly, we did have to go to meetings and such, but in those five years, I really got a feel and developed a strong love for our nation's capitol. I still fondly refer to those times as "DC in May."

Since I moved to Baton Rouge to work for Hancock Bank, I've spent a lot of Wednesdays in New Orleans. Between our past sponsorships of the Young Leadership Council (YLC)'s Wednesday at the Square and our current sponsorship of 2nd Harvest Food Bank of Greater N.O.'s Harvest the Music, I have become well acquainted with NOLA. Well, at least one particular square in NOLA. :-)

Last night, during a rare lull in customer/prospect entertainment in our tent, I was mulling over these Wednesdays and how great they've been for me. Anything that can take a city I'm not familiar with -- or, in this case, a particular part of a city I'm not familiar with -- and make it part of who I am and what I do cannot be duly complained about. I try to complain, but really, it's not logical. Just because I sweat from 2-9pm each Wednesday does not mean I'm not in the Crescent City listening to fabulous jazz and smelling delish jambalaya. And...each week I get to see the Superdome in person. Really? I gripe?

I guess my rambling point is that things that were not once commonplace for me often become that way, but do I really stop to think about what I'm learning from them? A few of my examples are:
  • Having a nephew.
  • Knowing the streets of my new city.
  • Living what life is like before, during and after a massive natural disaster hits your hometown.
  • Dealing with death.
  • Experiencing heartache.
  • Experiencing it again.
  • Knowing what it feels like to gain weight.
  • Seeing the other side of the coin.
  • Having hurtful misunderstandings with friends as adults.
  • Hurting someone else's heart by being true to my own.
  • Realizing that change does not always equate lack of loyalty.
  • Prioritizing a healthy balance, knowing I'm the only one who can do that for me, and doing what it takes to get there.

(As most of you know, I truly could go on and on.)

I well remember the first time I complained because I needed to get my nails done but really didn't have time. As soon as that flittered through my mind, I increduously wondered, "Seriously. When did you get spoiled?"

Even though work is the primary reason, when DC each May becomes a chore and Wednesdays in New Orleans are just another thing to check off before the weekend finally gets

Whatever happened to Carpe Diem?

Seizing the day isn't just about being in a fabulous city and not being acutely aware of that. It also applies to the not-so-fun stuff -- being hurt by a friend. Hurting someone else. Those aren't great. No one I know would look at those as great, or I doubt they'd very often say it out loud if that was their perspective.

But while I'd love to progress from my tenderhearted nature of those things rocking my world, I also really hope to never see those things as commonplace. I've been hardened before, and it's just not a good look for this redhead. I want to seize it all -- the good, the bad and the ugly. All those days have been given to me, and they're mine for the taking. Or the wasting. Totally my option.

So, in the words of Lee Ann Womack years ago, I hope I still feel small when I stand beside the ocean. Because really, it seems to be the only way to truly live.