Sunday, December 25, 2011

And the soul felt its worth.

I would be terrible at pricing things for retail. I'd also make a pretty rotten salesperson. My elementary school fundraiser efforts usually ended with my asking the neighbors if they were SURE they needed that candle, because I'd hate for them to buy it just on my account.

I'm equally bad about how I value myself, deep down. I mean, sure -- I know I'm loved, I know I'm treasured, and I know I have a skill or two. I don't take lightly my amazing support system, and hopefully, everyone has people in their lives to reassure them of that.

But if I had to put a price tag on RJ; well, I'd do what I'd do with sellable items: look around and compare my value to other similar things. Which when it comes to me looking at the (wo)man in the mirror, is not going to make any dents in the market.

Of all the people my blunders have affected, I'm the one who knows them best, and can relive them with a mere thought. Of every one of my quirks lifelong friends can list, I have five more to add. Of all my efforts at betterment you could point out, I could highlight the many, many, MANY times I've failed. And remind you that in a hundred ways, I have yet to truly succeed.

Maybe because of my skills at these things, as I was shower-singing one of my all-time favorite Christmas carols today, a certain lyric of "O Holy Night" resonated with me:

Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
Till He appeared
And the soul felt its worth.


And I was reminded, we're not just celebrating the pre-inserted standard calendar's birthday of a heroic man whose political activism or philanthropy or inventive genius changed the world I know.

Christmas, and every moment of Christianity, is about realizing that the self-worth I price at rock bottom takes a 180-degree sticker shock once my Lord and Savior appraises it.

With self-help and weight loss sections growing like chia pets in bookstores, we as a world are clearly looking to place higher value on these bodies and souls we live in.

Our final hope for happiness doesn't lie in cutting out carbs (and having a BRAND NEW BODY in just six days!!!). And I'm sad to say that finding everlasting bliss and calm won't be achieved through daily "guided" meditation.

What does significantly up the way we view ourselves, however, is looking at our humanity through the omniscient eyes of a loving God who, for reasons beyond our imaginations, thought, "They don't have to be losers. Let's give 'em a chance."

And He appeared, in the form of childbirth far from a posh birthing suite, in the custody of Joe the Plumber-type parents who really didn't have this in their 5-year plan. (Or at least not in this order, I'd imagine.)

And prophesies came true, and the literal and spiritual world changed, and the collective soul of humankind felt its Divine worth for once, versus the shabby, tainted way we view ourselves.

No more dollar store pricing for us. In the eyes of our Savior, we're beyond Madison Avenue caliber. Which for me, both takes some pressure off, and pushes me to re-appraise RJ and how she's giving thanks for this precious gift.

O holy night, indeed!

Merry Christmas to us all.





Sunday, November 13, 2011

In Tennis Shoes: Open to Suggestions!

So, some of you know that I'm stuck in tennis shoes 24/7 due to a foot issue.

Some people this is no big deal. If you're one of those people and are a female who loves dresses and shoes and being in public, I hope that you never have to experience this issue.

Very related to the tennis shoes regimen, I'm desperately seeking serenity these days. The first 4 months' of treatment has not been working, which means I'm in this predicament for goodness knows how long until the right treatment does work.

I've learned that despite my best efforts, some things I need to achieve serenity are:
  • Socializing...
  • ...in public
  • ...where I don't feel like my attire sticks out like a sore thumb
(There are others, but three are enough for tonight.)

So, I'm now taking suggestions for your ideas of places I can go and socialize in public without sticking out like a sore thumb...while in tennis shoes. And  while wearing attire that matches tennis shoes.

Not the weak effort of "dress pants" at work that just makes me feel like a less attractive Ellen who cannot dance, is not funny, and is not doing this ensemble on purpose.

Ready...set....GO!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Closer Than A Brother.

I have some wonderful friends. I don't know how that's happened, because I'm so far from perfect, and honestly just plain don't try to be perfect nearly as often as a lot of people do. But still, these friends -- these true friends -- they stick around, and they love me in my ugliest form.

The Bible speaks of the type of "friend who sticks closer than a brother."
I've just had a text exchange with my sister that reinforces the thoughts I've had for so long: that would have to be one truly, out of this world, amazing friend.

And, of course, that Friend literally is out of this world, because the Friend the Bible speaks of is Jesus. Who I am utterly grateful for, and Who didn't have to try to be perfect (He just was), and Whose ultimate, bloody, incomprehensible sacrifice has made abundant life possible for me.

So among these amazing friends I've acquired, and ridiculously wonderful cousins who I think more of as siblings, and this one-of-a-kind sister who probably should've disowned me years ago, I'm really thankful that when Scripture gives me that analogy, I know its profound significance.

And I am grateful, and humbled, and undeserving, and really, at the end of a day like this, pretty speechless to be loved that much.

30 Days of Thanksgiving.

If you're on Facebook or Twitter, you might've seen the "30 Days of Thanksgiving" trend popping up in your newsfeed. 


I know I already do the "5 things I'm grateful for" posts (kind of sporadically), but I am participating in the 30-day trend, and will try to update my blog weekly with each day's reason for thanksgiving throughout the month.




So far, my list includes:

  • Day 30: I'm grateful for the chance to have gone places I've fallen in mad, eternal love with. DC, NYC, Boston, St. Louis...
  • Day 29: I'm thankful for exposure to variety, and that it fascinates and compels me to do and be more.
  • Day 28: Very grateful I haven't had foot issues forever & that I didn't deal w/ them during weddings or while traveling.
  • Day 27: I appreciate every day and with deep fervor each of the broken roads that've led me straight to here.
  • Day 26: Grateful for family who are also friends. 
  • Day 25: Beyond thankful for grace -- God's and man's.
  • Day 24: I'm so grateful to live in the land of the free. The ability to do, be & believe what I choose is a precious gift. 
Stay tuned for more. :-)


Saturday, October 29, 2011

5 Things I'm Thankful for Today.

Five things I'm grateful for at this second are:


1. Fall.

2. Weekends.

3. Fulfilling work.

4. Friends and family who love me past my flaws.

5. Energy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Free and 1/2

Today, I turn 35. That marks three decades of my life, plus five years.

Since I've rarely felt my age, and since in the past year, I've done quite a few very new things for me, I kind of find it appropriate to count the decades, and to say it the way a child would: free.

This works well for me, since in the past year, along with having several new adventures, I've also explored a new sense of freedom from my past, my present (and what I don't like about it), and my future (to claim my journey).

I've been free to discover my passion, and I'm even getting paid to realize that on a daily basis at work. That's really nice.

It's gradual, but I'm freeing myself from extraneous feelings and people and items that aren't contributing productivity to my life.

I even, by the grace of God, am in the process of freedom from some very deep-rooted ghosts that I've allowed to keep me from spiritual growth.

Finally, on the literal heels of what turned out to be a nasty foot issue, I freed myself from the misnomer that just because I'd been told to fatten up all my life, I didn't need to keep up that performance.

All this freedom is in the works, but it's very liberating.

I really like that 35 marks three and a half decades, just because "free and 1/2" has a fun ring to it.

While freedom comes with a high price (as well it should), it also comes with a great sense of, well, liberty. Joyousness. Exploration. Possibilities. Adventures.

I'm thankful for those, even with the prices I've paid to get to the levels of liberation I'm experiencing.

So, happy birthday to me. And let the good times roll.

I'm free and a half! :-)




"I have come that they might have life, and have it more abundantly." John 10:10


Sunday, October 16, 2011

5 (foot-related) things I'm thankful for.

5. Doctors who specialize in my issue.

4. Not having this in BOTH feet. (Ouch.)

3. Not having to chase anyone around. Like children.

2. Not being in a relationship with someone who would focus on his embarrassment from my being in tennis shoes 24/7.

1. Painkillers. Alleve. Etc.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

An Apple A Day.

The first time I snow skied, I remember thinking, "I got to EXPERIENCE the snow!"


As a true southerner, I'd always been fascinated by the wintry weather, but skiing gave me an opportunity to participate in something I'd been in awe of for so long. It was incredible.

My interaction with Steve Jobs' products and services did not affect me  in a big way on a beginner level slope, or later when I reminisced on that one-time adventure.

I sort of grew up, technologically, under his tutelage.

Of course I'm awestruck by his products, their design, the packaging, and even the name -- not to mention ridiculous coolness level of -- the genius bar. Even reading spoofs of Steve Jobs' chill, go-from-geek-to-guru, experiential personality quirks has left me thinking, "Dang. How does that just HAPPEN?"

Besides bringing together the amazingly complex pieces of technology, design, products, services, and finance into a seamlessly beautiful puzzle, Steve Jobs changed the world I live in.

Someone said he was our generation's Thomas Edison. Another said our daVinci.

I say Steve Jobs made my entrance into technology in the work world not just a job skill, but an experience, and one I enjoyed. In large part, because of this man's brilliance and vision, I loved technology long before a device smaller than my hand could hold 8 days' worth of music that I handpicked.
When technology wasn't yet personal or social for me, I'd already fallen into mad love with it.

Many of the quotes I've seen tonight from Steve Jobs have focused on living in the now, pursuing dreams, doing what it takes to make visions happen, and savoring life.

While it's achingly sad for such a generational icon's life to have been cut so short, it's also uncannily providential that his legacy speaks unarguably to dreaming and living. Right now.

I'd say whether it keeps the doctor away or not, that's the kind of apple I need to partake in every day.

RIP, Steve Jobs. You made technology fun to experience, and you made this geek feel cool.

Thanks for that.







Written on my iPhone.
 
 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Fifth Element.

Five things I'm thankful for today are:
5. Peace of mind.
4. Friends who support & love me.
3. Fun mail.
2. A car.
1. Books.

Monday, September 5, 2011

To All the Foods I've Loved Before.

In the past few years, I've gained quite a bit of weight. It's not pretty.

I won't blame it on the food, since this problem only started after I hit 30, but I would like to pay some homage to the lovely, decadent delicacies I enjoyed (whenever, in whatever quantities) before my notably agist metabolism screeched to a halt:

     
  • Bread. Sure, people talked about carbs (blah, blah, blah), but WHO KNEW?! I literally ate entire
    loaves of French bread between Gulfport and Saucier during college, but never dreamed this could be an issue. Until the ominous age of 32, that is. Now I could look at a bag of flour and only cancel it out by spending three days and nights at the gym. I miss you, bread.

  • Chocolate. Right?! I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. Apparently it's not normal to be able to wake up famished at 3am and dig into a bag of Hershey's Kisses with no repercussions...until you're 32. Gotta watch that. Hmmpfh.

  • Anything involving flour. (See #1.). I know this sounds weird, but it's true. Pasta. Biscuits (which, technically, is bread). Dumplings. Cake. Cookies. Hush puppies! All these things are included in the first bullet. Though I was never addicted to all of them like I was just plain bread. Sigh.

  • Desserts. See last bullet.

  • Anything else. It appears it doesn't matter what I eat. Now that my metabolism is anti-RJ, I could literally eat lettuce 24/7 and it will not make the slightest difference. I wish I was exaggerating.

So, my point is, I clearly cannot eat whatever, whenever, in however much quantity.You might ask, why blog about this?

Good question.

I blog about this to tell those people who enjoy no-risk binging this: ENJOY IT. Really. Whether or not it will ever end, just enjoy it. It's like good hair, or clear skin, or nice bone structure. You did nothing to deserve or earn it, but not everyone has the privilege. So enjoy!

Also, I submit the following note to the foods I've loved before (including, but not in any way limited to: pastas, baked goods, white rice, breads of all varieties, buffalo wings, ice creams, fatty granola bars, sugary cereals, deceptively tiny candies, boudin balls, etc):

Dear All The Foods I've Loved Before:

You were so good, but not necessarily good to me. (It's not your fault. I didn't know, either.)

So, I wish you the best in your endeavors. Unlike other unhealthy relationships in my life, I'm not saying goodbye forever, but rather, see you later. I won't see you as often as in the past, but I won't cut you out altogether. I just need you in low-dosages now.

And, finally, while you're not necessarily GOOD for society as a whole, it's really not you. It's me.

That is all.

Love,
rj







5 things I'm thankful for.

Five things I'm grateful for today are:
5. Tropical weather that doesn't get serious.
4. Holidays!
3. A hint of fall in the air.
2. Books. Books. Books!
1. Electricity. (See #5.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Man!

There's a reason why, as grown women, my sister and I still call our father "Daddy."

It's not because we have princess syndrome, or because we're trust fund babies, or because we've been mentally diagnosed to act forever six years old. (For the record, we are officially none of those things.)

Having not cleared this with Kim, I won't speak for both of us. But we did grow up hearing both of our (equally adult-functioning, non-trust fund) parents call their fathers "daddy." I didn't know either of my biological grandfathers, but from the measure of love and respect I saw that my parents had for both of them, I learned the term "daddy" to mean one of great endearment.

So when I reached the age where some of my friends (mainly guys) started referring to their dads as, well, "dad," it never seemed natural for me. And it still doesn't.

To me, the term "daddy" means kindness, integrity, fun, a great sense of humor, willingness to work hard, not being afraid of learning something new, and a sincere respect for God, country, and fellow man.

My daddy has never, in my 3+ decades, not shown any of those qualities. Because of that, I have a pretty high standard for not only who a father should be, but also what a man should be.

Also because of that, on his birthday, I thank him from the bottom of my heart for teaching me life's fundamentals. Especially by example.

I wouldn't trade one junior high utterance of "daddy" for the role model he's been to Kim and me.

Happy birthday, Daddy.







Sunday, August 28, 2011

High Five.

Five things I'm thankful for are:
5. Sleep.
4. Friendships that cross boundaries of time, space, and even logic.
3. Renewal.
2. A hilarious nephew.
1. Holidays!

Monday, August 22, 2011

On the Bookshelf: "Unbearable Lightness"


I recently finished reading Portia de Rossi's "Unbearable Lightness," detailing the actor's struggle with eating disorders for the majority of her life.

Having never come close to having an eating disorder, I was really curious as to what the mindset behind such an illness would be. And wow, was it mind-boggling.

Since I was, well, born, I've been eating whatever I wanted. And only in the past few years did that have any real consequence. So the idea of mentally portioning everything while my bones were still growing...it just did not occur to me. By the grace of God, I mean.

As stunning and raw as this read was for me, it was also incredibly eye-opening to a world that has nothing to do with my thought processes or internal prompts or conceptions of necessity.

And I'd recommend you read it.

That said, know that Portia de Rossi, Ellen's wife, is a lesbian, and that part of her life is not left out of her book. Nor is the language she uses (mainly toward herself, whom she wasn't very kind to until recently), and nor is the reality of Hollywood. So if you read it, be forewarned.
But whether or not you read it, please be grateful that you were formed in your mother's innermost being before your mother even knew you existed.

Be grateful that God doesn't create anything He does not love.

Be grateful for every ounce of support and generosity you've ever received.

Be grateful for every time you've had the ability and comprehension and openness to receive it.

And for goodness' sake, be grateful for the bravery you've had, even when  you didn't know you had it, and didn't know where it came from, and maybe didn't even know you were displaying it.

Not everyone knows the immense value of themselves, or of these things, but everyone should.

Five Things I'm Thankful For.

Five things I'm thankful for today are:

5. Haircuts.

4. Fulfilling work.

3. Prayer.

2. Digital photography.

1. Music.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Sharp Knife of a Short Life.

There's a song out this summer by The Band Perry that is country, but has crossed over to some pop stations. Its haunting tune and lyrics refer to young death, and how while abbreviated lives are sad, their victims' words and actions get more attention and concentration than they normally would.

Although this is obviously a truly morbid topic, it's spot on with how things work.

"A penny for my thoughts?
Oh no, I'll sell 'em for a dollar
They're worth so much more
After I'm a goner...
The sharp knife of a short life
I've had just enough time...
What I never did is done..."

I wish it wasn't true, but I'm guessing most of us are all too familiar with the sharp knife of a short life.

My first experience with it was in high school, when one of our star sports players was tragically killed. What the papers saw as a significant gap in the next year's football and baseball season for d'Iberville High, we knew as the tragic loss of a friendly, easygoing guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Suddenly, as the lyrics above paint, our mental pictures of him were accented with his kindness and good intentions, and punctuated with his favorite sayings.

Years later, a second cousin my immediate family was very close to died from leukemia. A young teenager with disabilities, he'd warmed many hearts with his sweet smile and hilarious nature, and left a gaping hole for many of us.

Last year, the typical jovial nature of a close-knit group of friends where I used to live was rattled in a big way when we learned one of our closest friends had been keeping a secret: that he was dying of cancer. Some learned the answer just months before; I got to visit him literally just in time -- holding his all too thin hand and seeing his trademark huge grin on a cancer-eaten skeletal face the night before his body had enough. From the sweet wife, daughters and stepson he left behind to the memories none of us were ready to stop making, he left his indelible mark on many lives by living like it could be his last day, mainly because he knew for so long that it could.

Most recently, the death of someone I've never met was more front-and-center for my family than that sort of thing typically would be. A cousin I'm very close to was with one of his best friends when he died. Although he was doing what he loved, this guy was in his 30s at his time of death, which makes anyone grimace. A decorated war hero, Navy SEAL and Marine, this guy had many stories of a life well-lived, which immediately surfaced after his death. A couple of vivid points stand out: 1. "Live free or die trying." - a motto he clearly lived by; and 2. The importance of living, not just merely existing. This was Facebook statused by another cousin after the tragedy, and has stuck with me.

The sharp knife of a short life.

It's harsh, it's messy, and it's never easy. Ever.

But it's always, without fail, an invisible and influential teacher.

Lesson #1: Don't just exist. Live.






Monday, August 15, 2011

5 things I'm thankful for.

Five things I'm thankful for right now are:

5. Balance.
4. Spontanaeity.
3. Smart phones.
2. Syndicated comedy sitcoms.
1. Electricity.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On the Big Screen: The Help (No Spoilers)

I just left the theatre, where I saw "The Help" on the big screen.

The movie was superbly done, and addresses a subject that is more talked about now than in the past, but is still hairy: race relations.

I am from Mississippi. I am not proud of the slavery my state participated in past years. Most of us aren't.

That's not all, though.

There are many things I'm not proud of that people I love have done. I still love the people, though, especially in cases where they change, and see the need for a difference, and at the time, sometimes might not have known better.

Sometimes, I've been that person. I'm thankful my friends and family love me anyway. I'm guessing we all are, and that we're grateful for those who believe in us and the improvements we can make.

That's all on that subject.

My favorite thing about "The Help," which I blogged about after I read the book, is the way the story's told. The writing and use of voice are excellent, and from the perspective of a former Jackson junior leaguer, certain nails are hit squarely on the head. I really want to meet the author.

My thoughts for those who haven't read the book: read the book. See the movie. Share it all with a friend.

My thoughts for those who have read the book: see the movie. Share it and the book with a friend.

Well done. Very well done.



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

My Hair Affair.

"It's just hair! If you color it or cut it, it'll grow.
Do what you want! It's just hair."
- statement made all the time by everyone everywhere, except my family


You see, I was "blessed" with my Grandma Johnson's hair. (I put "blessed" in quotation marks only because curly hair does what it wants to do, and only with the right product, weather, and mood does it do what YOU want it to do when  you want it to do it.)

My hair is auburn -- not red, according to Grandma Johnson's very stern admonitions throughout the first 14 years of my life -- and it's curly. When I grew it longer after high school, older family members started telling me that not only the color, but also the all-one-length curls reminded them of Grandma Johnson when she was younger. This was particularly special to me since she died during my freshman year of high school. She was also older when she had my dad, so I never knew her with red -- ahem, auburn -- hair, but I took their word for it, and thought it was kind of fun.

Strangely for a redhead, from what I hear, I have never minded my hair color. It doesn't disgust me, and I never got picked on or taunted like Gingers in the infamous South Park episode did. (Heads up: there's questionable language in that video, so watch at  your own discretion.) When anyone (namely 14-year-old boys, or people who happen to be having a 14-year-old boy moment at any age) has ever joked with me, it's been very good natured and hasn't ever upset me.

I've really always kind of liked the uniqueness of the color, honestly. I didn't even realize how much I'd gotten used to hearing comments about how "you don't see that hair color everywhere you go" until a recent visit to Scotland, when it took me a few days of being in the Land of Gingers before comprehending that it might've been the first period of my life that no one new had commented on my hair color.
Disclaimer: I know that sounds kind of vain. I don't mean for it to at all -- seriously! I'm also not saying it's not awkward to be complimented on something you didn't create and have no control over, but when you're used to the attention, you notice when it's gone. That's all. And for the record, as a child, I wanted Elizabeth Taylor's curly, black hair. This may or may not have been because she was in "National Velvet" and I logically thought that with her hair, I'd get a horse like hers.
Back to Grandma Johnson's hair (which coincidentally is known as "Rebekah's hair" outside of my family).

Grandma's hair is auburn, and it's curly.

"People pay for hair like that!" became a running joke with my sister after hearing it a few times years ago. I often respond to that sort of comment that I, too, pay for what makes anyone ever compliment my hair, which is product. Without it, I would still be the frizzball head I was all during my awkward phase that lasted no less than 11 years.

So, to recap Grandma Johnson's hair, we have color and we have curls.

About that color:

A while back, I decided I wanted to try highlights. You know, like the rest of the world. For some reason I still don't understand, I mentioned this to my family. I received such wise counsel as, "Color that beautiful red hair? That would RUIN it," etc. (I'm not saying any of this is rational, btw. I'm just telling it like it is.) Despite these warnings of hairpocalypse, I did get my hairdresser to try a couple of tiny highlights in the front of my still curly, still long, still red hair. When my only living grandmother, Nan, saw it, she gave me a very ingenuine little smile. Later, I learned she told my cousin I had "a big ol' yella streak in th' front of" my hair. (This was a slight exaggeration.)

Later, after I moved to Baton Rouge, I pulled My Only Successful April Fool's Joke via Facebook and somehow convinced even my mother that I had dyed my hair blonde. (If I could in any way pull off a blonde look, this would be more hilarious. I totally could not!) Anyway, after getting loving feedback from her like, "That's the worst frost job I've ever seen!" and hearing "You are KIDDING me. You did THAT and I get harrassed for covering my grays with highlights?!" from my sister, I was reminded once again that this hair situation is nothing to play around with in my family. However, the blonde joke did make it easier for everyone to process when I actually DID get highlights to cover MY grays a couple of years later. So that worked out for the best. For me, at least. My mother still has post-traumatic spasms when we talk about "that frost job."

So anyway, on to the curls:

After college, some girlfriends started talking about this crazy contraption that people like me had never heard of: the flat iron. One friend insisted that I should try using it, even after I adamantly told her that my hair would NEVER straighten. I just knew it wouldn't. But guess what? It did! I was thrilled! All my life, I'd had one hair option: curls. Now, I had two: straight, or curls! It was great!

I know that since you've stuck with this post this far along, you'll be nothing less than shocked and awed to hear that my family did NOT think the flat iron was so great of an invention. My mom was very reasonable about that, which I appreciated, but it was clear from Day One that Nan did not like it. I learned this when she leaned over in church one Sunday that I was home for Easter or Mother's Day or something and whispered to me while stroking my long, silky, still red, unhighlighted hair, "Hon-ey.I.don't.like.it."

Much later, I learned my dad was in Nan's boat by his announcement to a room full of cousins, aunts, and uncles who had traveled to Mississippi for a family reunion: "Don't you think Rebekah's going to ruin her hair if she keeps puttin' all that heat on it? I wonder why she doesn't like her curls? I hope that heat doesn't burn her hair altogether." While I know my male, adult cousin that my father was talking to really cared and was genuinely interested in the topic, it was an enlightening way for me to learn that straight did not equal great in my daddy's eyes.

So as you can tell, I've dealt with a lot of abuse surrounding my hair. (And I've only touched on people I'm related to, not the oddly hair-obsessive ex-boyfriend who literally sulked every time I got it slightly trimmed, "because it's not as long anymore." Weirdo.)

But, there is a bright side! I'm happy to announce that after years of pro bono therapy from a friend, she helped me realize a hidden gem of truth: It's not my hair. It's Grandma Johnson's hair. That's why everyone feels free to give me so much input about it.

(Oprah may have more money than America, but she's not the only one who can have "aha" moments!)

Continuing on -- because this does have a point, I promise -- I recently decided to chop off my long, still red, still curly hair. As you can imagine, I didn't exactly feel like my history with my wild and crazy hair decisions set me up for any sort of success, but I still really wanted to cut it.

I'd always wanted to donate to Locks of Love, but had never wanted short hair. I never thought I'd like it, or would look good with it. But after convincing myself I could pull it off (and yes, getting counsel from 68 of my closest friends and family members by sending them pictures of Christina Applegate from her "Samantha Who?" days), I went to Via Veneto and asked Mimi* to let the scissors fly.

And guess what? I love it! And I haven't yet talked to anyone who's said (to me) that they miss my long hair. Which trust me, I thought I'd hear from at least twelve relatives. It's so refreshing for it not to be a major ordeal!

Not only do I love the new 'do, but I was also able to donate 8 inches of Grandma Johnson's long, curly, red hair to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, another cancer/wig program (Locks of Love takes 12 inches minimum), which was lagniappe I'm very grateful I was able to do.

The moral of my story? I have cut my hair. It is still red. It is still curly most of the time (I like how the curls bounce with the new cut, and I hate fighting humidity). And for the most part, crazy hair days aside, I don't growl at the mirror too much.

Which really is the best part of any affair, right? True love and genuine contentment?

Ok. Maybe that was a stretch.  Guess it's time to head back to Angela for counseling. :-)


* Note to Dyanne Sellers and fellow followers of Dyanne: I would have loved for my longtime hair artist to have made this drastic change. However, time, distance, and the price of gasoline kept us apart. But I did get Dyanne's very thorough counsel on the decision, and she did give it her Seal of Approval. Also, BIG props to Mimi for putting up with my "please just trim what Dyanne did!" requests for the past several years since I moved to Baton Rouge. AND for giving me a fun, fabulous haircut that I ADORE. Adore.

Monday, August 1, 2011

5 things I'm thankful for.

Five things I'm thankful for right this second are:

1. A job I love and want to excel at.

2. Balance (that I also love, and want to excel at, which can get tricky with #1).

3. Family who can talk straight to me, and vice versa. Specifically, I'm thinking of two of my closest cousins who I adore like brothers.

4. Fake tans. The last thing I need is skin cancer.

5. Fun TV shows and movies about fun people who remind me of good times in the past, and the fabulousness I've yet to have. Bring it on!






Monday, July 4, 2011

Gratitude.

5 things I'm thankful for today are:

1. Memories. I don't have the most remarkable memory in the world, or even in my immediate family, but I am super thankful that the good, vivid and funny stories rarely escape my mind. And that I DO have some of the most remarkable memorIES in the world. :-)

2. Channels. If I had to watch shows like "The Bachelorette" with no other options, I would literally cry.

3. Motivation. We don't always have it, or at least I don't. So when I get it, I savor it.

4. Encouragement. I just probably couldn't do this life thing without it, and am blessed not to have to.

5. Freedom. Obviously.






Sunday, June 26, 2011

Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady.

I have a very specific definition of what a "lady" is. Opposite of that is my ingrained definition of a "woman."

Thanks to my mother, my sister and I not only heard about things that were ladylike and unladylike, but we also saw the correct kind of behavior displayed by my mom.

The classic song "Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady" comes to mind as I think of all the ways I've gotten to see my mother act like "a lady, NOT a WOMAN."

First, of course, I saw my mom as, well, my mom. During my growing up years, she was kind to us, but was very much our mother. We were disciplined, we were loved, and we could be stopped in our tracks with The Look. (There's a strong chance we still can.)

Secondly, we saw our mom in her other relationships -- with our dad, our grandmothers, aunts and uncles, friends, coworkers. And if "ladylike" is respectful, kind, fair and generous as we were taught it was, then yes, our mother is certainly a lady in those roles, too.

And lastly, I see my mom as a fellow adult, which is great. The progression has been natural, but the things I'm learning from my mom each day and with every interaction are well above average. To add to her original definition of a "lady" from our childhood, I'd say that as well as kind, gentle, genuine, and not crass, I can include dryly funny, open to new experiences, willing to work hard for desired results, and 1,000%, no-holds-barred, loving.

So this June 27, I'd like to wish my sweet mother a birthday full of the type of happiness she gives to me with every interaction, and has shown me at every turn.

After all, not every 60th birthday girl is once, twice, three times a lady. :-)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kicking Against These Goads.

I often resist anything involving discipline, or correction, or the general feeling that I'm wrong about something. But, as it turns out, I often AM wrong about things, and do need that discipline and correction.


That happened today. It didn't take long for me to appreciate the correction, which at the tender age of 34 1/2, is sadly still a relatively new accomplishment for me. 


Even odder than my sooner-than-usual gratitude for the correction was the reflection on other areas that much discipline is required for me, and how I should appreciate that, even when I'm the one who has to administer it. (Even after more than a decade of playing it, adulthood can still be a very tricky game for this redhead.)


The whole thought process reminded me of a lyric in one of Caedmon's Call's songs, "Where I Began."  The group sings, "Kicking against these goads sure did cut up my feet / Did Your hands get bloody as they washed them clean?"


The first time I really listened to that song, I was curious and had to look up the word "goad." So, with the risk of thoroughly disgusting every English/composition instructor I've ever had or known, I type the next few words.


Webster defines "goad" as: 1. a stick with a pointed or electrically charged end, for driving cattle, oxen, etc.; prod.; 2. anything that pricks or wounds like such a stick.; 3. something that encourages, urges, or drives; a stimulus.

And as it did that first time I looked it up, seeing the definition now brings to mind all the discomfort of discipline. 


Sometimes it physically hurts (look me up the day after a hard workout). 


Sometimes it emotionally hurts (I can describe way too many details of the day last year that my soul was so wounded by someone's words I felt I could barely breathe).


Sometime it takes its toll on the ego (who wants to be told they're wrong -- ever?).


But always -- whether it's well communicated, poorly spoken, or doled out in a negative or positive manner -- discipline takes its toll on the action or lack of action that brought on the corrective measures. Pavlov's dog is a prime example.


Chances are, I won't stop messing up or being wrong, even after I turn 35. Or even (gasp!) 40. 


And, with any measurement of grace dealt to me, I won't stop being disciplined for those wrongdoings.


So as I see it, the only variable here is how I'll react to discipline. I can kick against the goads, cut up my feet, and have to deal with the wounds and scars. Or, I can accept discipline as the gift that it is and learn from it with grace.


Let's hope I'll choose the latter, early and often. Goodness knows that after three decades, I've done enough of the former.













Monday, May 30, 2011

Chee-ahs.

One of my favorite things about leaving the country was how happy everyone was. (Granted, this happiness generally displayed itself as we were leaving a place, but I'm choosing not to analyze that.)

In London, then all over Scotland, peeps of all ages, sizes and origins cheerfully called out, "Chee-ahs, lovey!"

Whether we were exiting a restaurant, had just ordered some coffee, or were leaving a store -- ahem, I mean shop -- we received the same salutation:

"Cheers."

However touristy or fake this was, the warmth of receiving this word in small cities and larger towns alike certainly worked its magic on my soul.

And how sweet it was.

"Chee-ahs."

I'll definitely drink a spot o' tea to that!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Gone.

There are times when a single word is used to denote the status of something really simple, like apples, or a visit from neighbors.

Then there are times when the same single word can change lives. Turn stomachs upside down. Cause hearts to skip beats.

I really learned this nearly six years ago when Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of where I was born, raised, and learned how to be who I am.

And today I’m reminded of the power of the word "gone" as devastating tornados have ripped through so many states, including Alabama.

The city where my sister and her family lives has been almost completely decimated, and “gone” is the word I keep hearing in the news and reading online in references to the landmarks that have been the site for so many sweet memories Kim and Steve have made since moving to Cullman.

“Gone” is the word that was used to describe my little nephew’s barber shop after the first tornado hit Cullman yesterday, and “gone” is the word that is being repeated over and over as people worldwide comment on videos, photos and reports from Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and other states as a “super cell of tornadic activity” roars its frighteningly massive way across half our country.

Gone.

A great description for a bad headache, weird noise in the night, that strange thing my hair sometimes does for no reason at all… Not so great when it comes to people’s homes, workplaces, creature comforts, transportation means, roadways, and livelihoods.

I still hear an empty echo ring in my own voice when someone asks me about “that library you always loved as a little girl – the one with the winding staircase,” and I have to shrug and tell them the status: “Oh yeah. That was the Gulfport Library. It’s gone.”

Same for Beauvoir.

Same for my grandparents’ original house.

Same for too many of my beloved Gulf Coast landmarks to even count, really.

I hate in a big way that now it will be the same for my sister and brother-in-law, and the sweet community they have been wrapped up in while they were growing their beautiful family. I also hate that there will always be an amount of fear for me when another storm heads to the Gulfport and Biloxi area, just like my nephew might have some adjusting to do when it rains in Cullman. (My fingers are crossed against this, obviously, but you never know.)

For the most part, I really hate the “gone” of it all. Post-tragedy, things are so messy, then so bare. They’re icky. They hurt to look at. They put a scar on something you didn’t even know the depth of your love for…till it was gone.

What I don’t hate is that “gone” now also applies to that tornado cluster on steroids. And the monster that was Hurricane Katrina, and the terrible earthquakes and tsunamis that so many of our international brothers and sisters have suffered through.

Those disasters were hellacious, but they are gone. We’ll have other scares in our lives, but those times, on those dates, with those circumstances can never come back.

Similarly, who I was on August 28, 2005 can never come back.

In some ways, that’s a little sad. The innocence of thinking Hurricane Camille before I was born was the worst thing that could’ve happened to my home was kind of nice.

But am I glad my ignorance for how it feels to see your hometown rubble from afar is now gone? Absolutely.

Do I miss the unintentional lack of empathy I had for people who went through natural disasters? No way.

I’m glad that is gone. I’m glad I can look at the shock and horror of what has happened to Tuscaloosa, and Smithville, MS, and north Georgia, and know a little of how those people are feeling. I’m thankful to know how to pray. I’m thankful my fellow Mississippi Coast natives – and so many others who’ve dealt with this mess – know what to do, and how to help, and even what to say or not say.

Gone isn’t always great, but it also isn’t always bad.

What can never – should never – be gone are our prayers for these disaster-ridden times and people.

Because there will be a day a few years from now, when everything is for the most part cleaned up, that some Alabama 34-year-old will go home to visit her parents, and desperately long to drive up to something that is now gone.

So let’s keep our empathy intact.

Some things, in spite of nature and time and forces stronger than us, will never be gone. They can't be, if we don’t let them leave.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quite A Lot.

My nephew is the youngest history buff I've ever met, and is a huge fan of "usin' army men t' set up battles," as well as dressing for the occasion.

The kid loves hats. Cowboy hats. Abe Lincoln's top hat. Army hats.

(I could go on and on, but if I did, I might steal thunder from the overflowing toy box in his room that's pretty much reserved specifically for hats.)

Yesterday, while my brother-in-law was working on something for Caleb's room, Caleb rushed downstairs to where my sister was and said, "You might wanna come up here and see me."

At this point in the story, I wondered where it was going. I mean, did he have a special job to help with his dad's project? Did he have a battle set up? What exactly was there to see...about HIM?

When my sister went upstairs, she found out.

There stood a beaming Caleb, loaded down with three play guns, other weapons, a vest from the French Revolution, and a hat from a battle I didn't catch specifics of.

When my sister commented on Caleb's outfit, he grinned and stated, "I've got quite a lot on."

Aside from being adorably quotable, isn't that exactly like me? (Ha... Really! Ha!)

I want my playtime when I want it, I love the things that make me uniquely rebekah, I do what I need to do to get by, but dadgummit, when it's time for the attention meter to be fed, puh-leeze come upstairs and comment gushingly when I've taken on "quite a lot!" This type of load doesn't need to go unnoticed! And especially not when I feel it's time for some credit.

While I'm not particularly proud of this self-realization, I do hope it'll help me be more aware about how I'm setting up my "battles" and what I am putting on -- and not just clothing-wise.

Long day at the office? What attitude am I choosing to wear?

Too tired to work out? Where's that self-discipline hat?

Exhausted from that person who always seems to withdraw more than she deposits? How about the perfume of kindness?

With any luck, foresight into these things will help me be prouder to show off the "quite a lot" I've got on when something big's occurring, instead of needy for the notice because I'm overwhelmed.



What's the plan?

My friend Jane is brilliant.

Not just because she's earned her doctorate, or is uncannily discerning, or has made excellent relationship choices, or continuously shelved her own needs to honor her father and mother in the most optimal and sacrificial of ways.

My friend Jane is brilliant because she is a planner.

From the moment our friendship developed in our early 20s, Jane had a plan. I'm not talking for the next 5 to 10 years (though we'd be nuts to not recognize that of course those did and still do exist in her world); I'm talking about a plan for Errands Saturday. A plan for dinner on Tuesday. A plan for Christmas and birthday shopping. You get the idea.

Some people look at me and think I'm a planner.

A little clarification for those very kind people: I'm not. By nature I'm not, I mean. I have learned -- the very hard way -- that it pays to plan. That doesn't always mean I do it, though.

I'm, by nature, the farthest thing there is from a planner. In most things that are rebekah, I prefer to -- wait for it! -- play it by ear.

If I had a nickel for every time Jane asked, "What's the plan?" and I responded with, "Eh, let's just play it by ear" in the year 2000 alone, well, I'd have bought a new car in 2001. (Jane, however, would've saved diligently, researched investment options, and would likely be living out the retirement part of her plan before she turns 35.)

It's no secret to Jane or to me that these personality traits are likely part of our DNA, or that we both dream of achieving a fabulous balance between the two. We've been laughing about this for a while, and have gotten closer to The Mystical Balance each time we revisit the subject.

What has been a secret to me until just now is the Scripture that points so directly to my sweet friend's natural tendencies:

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" (Luke 14:28-30)

There are many ways I've tipped my hat to Jane over the years, and for many reasons. Today, I salute Jane via the blogosphere for her wisdom of being a planner, and for her patience with me as I continue my struggle to learn what is a rare artistry in this age of instant gratification.

So, I guess the next question to ask myself is... what's the plan?



Sunday, April 17, 2011

A heart full of gratitude.

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Love. It's in the air, not only with several dear friends getting married and planning weddings, but just all around. ::happy sigh::

2. Sunshine! It's amazing what a little Vitamin D can do for ya.

3. True colors. Even though they're not always pretty, they're certainly valuable, and teach us many lessons (that hopefully enrich our lives).

4. Modern medicine. I'm counting on it for small(ish, relatively speaking) things, like a non-coma-inducing fix for my nagging headaches, and for massively large things, like cures for the nasty monster that is cancer, and for proactive genetic indicators for dear friends whose parents suffered from frightening diseases.

5. Time. It's a valuable thing, and I learn that more with each day, not to mention year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

I have many things to be thankful for this Thursday, but I'll try to narrow it down to just five. :-)

1. Help. It's so nice to get a little help when you need it -- even when you don't know you have access to the resources.

2. A finished product. Instant gratification is rare, but even slow-cooked gratification is lovely. And I'll take all of it that I can get!

3. Peeps. I mean, I do love my friends and family, but I find it hilarious to repeat the little play on words each Easter season. :-)

4. Technology. I'm an addict.

5. Light, love and letting go. That is all.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Testing 1-2-3.

I'm attempting a blog post from my phone, so this is only a test. If it were an actual post, you know it'd be a lot more verbose. ;-)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Baby Jesus Cake.

My sister and her family are Yankees.

Ok, not really. They live in the northern part of Alabama. And in all fairness, they're transplants. But compared to the Biloxi, New Orleans, and Baton Rouge areas, it's kind of a stretch.

One of the more significant differences between here and there is the lack of Mardi Gras celebration "up north."

While our conservative Southern Baptist family is Protestant to the T, we still make room in our hearts, religions and tummies for king cake each year, so it was pretty important to us to introduce my nephew to king cake as early as possible.

Caleb is now 7, so I guess it was 4 or so years ago when he had a friend over during the Mardi Gras season after a king cake from home had arrived. It was time for a snack, and Caleb excitedly asked Will, "You wanna piece of baby Jesus cake?"

Caleb's friend reacted the way any Yankee -- ahem, I mean non-coastal person -- would, and firmly said no.

Who wants a piece of cake that sounds like it's made from the baby Jesus? No thank you!

However, Caleb's little-boy-terminology makes me think each time I remember it.

King cakes' inclusion of the plastic baby representing Jesus isn't just random; it's symbolic. While the whole point of Mardi Gras has been wildly exaggerated into a Bourbon Street perspective by the general public, its roots stem from the devout reverence for the many sacrifices that Jesus made for us.

So tasting this delectable pastry is more than just fattening up one particular Tuesday (and maybe every day before then, depending on how many delightful king cakes you're exposed to). Eating king cake and being reminded of the baby Jesus -- sometimes painfully in the tooth area -- are all part of what really is logical about Mardi Gras. We enjoy, we indulge, we celebrate life and all its gifts, and then we take some time to somberly appreciate those gifts, minus the indulgences.

But even still, if I were a Yankee (or something like that), and someone offered me a piece of "baby Jesus cake," especially when I was in pre-school, I probably wouldn't take 'em up on it, either. :-)




Tuesday, March 8, 2011

FLASHBACK: A Southern Baptist's Crack at Lent.

In honor of the season, I'm flashing back blog-style to my very first Lenten participation.

The year was 2008, the setting was my first Mardi Gras in the BR, and my first one back in Mardi Gras/Catholic majority territory since moving from the MS Gulf Coast in '99.

And the blog format was -- wait for it -- MySpace.

That's right, kids. We all have our sordid pasts to live with. I appreciate those of you sturdy and willing enough to look past mine and read on.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


a Southern Baptist’s crack at Lent

I am giving up bread for the Lenten season.



Those who know me well might ask yourselves, "Why would a Southern Baptist girl give up anything for Lent?"



Well, in the midst of all this Catholicism over here in the BR, and especially during the Mardi Gras season, I have become much more aware of the meanings of these things, and since my friends here are making sacrifices in honor of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, I thought, "I might could do that, too."



So far, I am on Day 2 and I have only had one Subway sandwich. (That was yesterday, when the Subway Sandwich Artist told me she could not make me a salad. What else was I to do? Tonight, however, I managed to eat around the rice in my leftovers, which I considered a huge practice of discipline.)



The second question you may ask yourself is, "Why bread?"



I can understand the puzzlement, because when my coworker Shannon brought it up as her sacrifice, I laughed myself silly at her. I was like, "No way would I give up bread! Pasta! Cookies! Crackers! Bagels?!"



But then I started thinking about it beyond my surface level and realized that would represent a TRUE sacrifice for me. (I do love my bread.)



So there you have it. Pray for me.







Currently watching : Lost - The Complete Third SeasonRelease date: By 11 December, 2007



6 Comments - 7 Kudos



From one bread lover to another...Godspeed!

Posted by Bethanie on February 7, 2008 - Thursday 7:22 PM



Boy, do I understand. No one here has ever really understood when I try to do this each year. But, I am a Catholic out of water over here in Big Baptist, Mississippi. I always try to give up Cokes, but usually fail by day 3 or 4. This year, I'm giving up french fries. Yep - I said it! French fries, baby! ....eh, we'll see how it goes. Hopefully more than the standard 4 days :)

Posted by Skye on February 7, 2008 - Thursday 9:16 PM



i've done this before as a southern baptist. chocolate was my sacrifice. it gives you a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment. hang in there.

Posted by monica on February 8, 2008 - Friday 6:55 AM



You will be happy to know that I too have given up a few things for Lent:

1) Liver

2) Goat cheese

3) The worm in the tequila

4) Raw red meat

5) And last but not least, moldy bread

I knew you would be proud of me!

Posted by Greg Mo on February 15, 2008 - Friday 9:14 PM

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