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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Women Are Elephants

It was a hot summer in Upstate New York.  Summer was the time filled with tiny town fairs and fields of lightning bugs.  Most of this particular summer was spent with my friend Lori.  I'll never forget the night I learned how to hate something about myself.

We were at yet another county fair.  The two of us loved to get all sassed up at around age 12 running around looking at boys.  I never really learned the hair thing very well, though Lori with her gorgeous chestnut locks tried to help.  My hair typically laid flat and limp having no body to speak of, though I am positive we tried to get the rainbow bangs happening.  It was no different that night.

There was a dunk tank.  Fun right?  You know chuck the ball at the target and watch the dope in the tank sink into his little pool of doom.  This guy did his job well.  He threw you off your game by insulting you.  He called my friend "zipper-lips" something we both giggle about today.  Then he focused his target on my hair.  

"Hey little girl, you have kind hair.  The kind nobody wants."

It stung.  I was 12, clueless, and completely unsure of myself.  This one incident didn't make or break me, but there it is still hidden in my memory bank.  Women are like elephants in that we never forget.    Every time I try to make my hair look like those flowing tresses of my friends, that memory stings me again.  Could it really be that I just never learned to fix my hair or do I just have kind hair?

I'm approaching 40 and my self-esteem has never been more solid.  Losing those pounds that I always wanted to lose helped me tremendously.  Having a team of people believe in me and support me has helped me remember the powerful woman that was hiding inside.  I DO NOT CARE what that clown said about my hair.  I continue to suck at making it flow, but I do my best.  That round brush may have been trapped in my nest of hair at some point.  

It does make me concerned about my kids though.  What little jabs they hear will remain with them throughout their lives?  Are there enough "I LOVE YOUs" to counteract the nasty grams people send?  The truth is there aren't enough.  Me loving them matters, but them loving themselves matters more.  

That's the job of a mother.  Teaching your kids to love themselves, teaching them to show kindness to others, and teaching them to overcome the tough things that inevitably happen in life is the job.  In this particular job, there is no payment better than watching them succeed.  Maybe one day I'll get this hair thing figured out.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hiatus Apologies & Our NOLA Bucket List

I apologize for the hiatus.  Been busy with a new lifestyle adventure and helping people get healthy, which has been inspirational and fun!  In this new year though, a resolution was made to post at least once per week and I've already failed at it for half the month.  This doesn't mean that it's time to throw in the towel; it means it's time to get busy managing my time a little better.

This tour is flying by!  The bayou has embraced us and we've all made some new friends and have new favorite things about the area.  We're focusing less on what we've been missing and more about what we need to see while we're still here.  Living a life of gratitude makes every day better!

That being said, we are developing our NOLA bucket list.  Before our time drifts past too quickly, as we're constantly moving with our buzzing busy bee lives, we need to make time to do things that we can only do in the land of jazz and gators.  It's never cool leaving a billet when you haven't seen what you should before you move away.  I have a list of regrets from previous spots and that's not going to happen here.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has a line up that makes me want to pitch a tent on the grounds and just stay there all week!  I don't think I've been this excited for a music festival since Lallapalooza '92 (oops aging myself a bit there).  This year is our year for sure!  We'll likely take the RV on down to New Orleans and have a local spot to chill while we move in and out of the venue.  My kids' minds are going to be blown!  Hopefully they won't inhale anything wafting through the air.

Everyone talks about their tours through the crypts.  We haven't done ours yet, so we're searching out the best scary stuff we can get!  The kids will complain at first.  Thank goodness we're so good at pushing them past their comfort zones. 

We've seen the World War II museum once.  It was so enjoyable, that we need to see it twice!  We are still hoping that we'll be indulged with some more visitors, so we have a good excuse to go back and do it all again. 

John and I have never spent a night out on the town in NOLA.  We're not big drinkers and we're a tad squeamish about the crime, but we need to do a little of the night life before we leave.  This needs to include the House of Blues. Same requests here for visitors!!

There's a Strawberry Festival in Pontchatoula in the Spring that I don't want to miss this year.  The RV will be helpful again on this one!  This one is mainly for the kids, but who doesn't love strawberry  shortcake?

A new tour is developing in Avery Island at the Tabasco company!!  As a huge fan of tabasco in and on EVERYTHING, this is a must see.  Plus I think they give out teeny, tiny samples.  I NEED teeny, tiny bottles of tabasco in my life.

The list will expand, but these are the "musts" for upcoming months.  This spring is going to be fantastic!!  Any suggestions are always welcome!  So are guests.  Seriously, come and visit.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Sibling Rivalry And The Murder Of Mother's Love

They're trying to murder me.  The bickering and nasty back biting is killing the very spirit that I enjoy as a mother.  The teacher, the inspiration, the cheerleader, and the provider of unconditional love were all in jeopardy this morning.

Homeschooling is not for the weak.  Controlling my frustration and aggravation has taken more willpower than anything I have ever done in my life.  We chose homeschool because my kids are worth it.  The only problem arises when I feel like I'm worth more than this.  

I'm worth more than the apathy and the angst I get from the students.  I'm worth more than being cooped up in a tiny room in my home.  I'm worth more than having no time for anything, but them.  Sounds resentful doesn't it?

That was me this morning.  Then I stopped and listened to my whiney self.  

"Suck it up buttercup!" ran through my head and those boot straps got yanked up.

All of the Grandmas would say, "They'll be gone in a blink."  I'm trying to remember these types of comments in the moments when I would rather string these kids up by their toenails.  

When I have to nag 50 times to get them to do something I will say to myself, "they still want you around."  

After I discover a wet towel on a bedroom floor (something we have tried to change since they were 3), I will simply say to myself, "they are clean and healthy."

After a meal when they retreat to their electronics leaving me and my husband to clean up I'll say, "they have full bellies."

When they argue with me I'll say, "they know I love them."

In the midst of a sibling WWF event I'll say, "remember when you found them reading to each other?"

After a trying day getting them to do their schoolwork I'll say, "you get to stay home and know that they'll understand it eventually because you don't quit."

This homeschooling thing isn't forever.  It's a short lived opportunity to get my kids to understand the value of their role in their own education.  This is a gift.  I KNOW what they are learning.  I KNOW that this education will be used in their futures.  I KNOW that they will one day thank me for it.  

With any luck their rivalry will not murder my maternal instincts first.  Instead something will click and they will strive for the greatness I see in them.  Oh heavens let me hear the click!!  

Monster one flashback

Monster two flashback

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sometimes I Suck At Being A Girl

There they are!  Those beautiful women who make it look so effortless.  Their hair is perfect.  Their outfits are from stores, I clearly don't shop in.  They know how to use accessories. They rock their heels like it's their job.  Then, please scan to the left and envision yours truly.  

My legs do not go on for days.  My hair is a disaster most of the time.  Trying to wear make up is like me trying to paint the Mona Lisa, I usually don't know where to start.  Heels make me want to cry.   It's as if I missed the day they taught how to be a girl.  

This is not a criticism for those beautiful people, it's more of an observation about myself.  The most comfortable I feel in my own skin is when I'm in some jeans (not skinny jeans) and rocking a concert t-shirt and a pair of chucks.  Being almost 40,  I'm coming to realize that my "I can hang with the boys" look is not as desirable for me anymore.  

I want to look clean and sophisticated without looking like I tried too hard.  There was a woman who breezed through the mall last month who is my new "look idol."  She must have been in her 60s, and she was gorgeous!  She was sophisticated, simple, and confidence oozed out of her.  Maybe that's just it, the confidence accessory.

There have been moments that confidence sat on my shoulders like a proud mountain cat.  Real confidence tends to ebb and flow in any human because situations change and put us in a different mental space.  My new goal is finding that cat and letting her be with me each and every day.  It's time for me to purr through my daily life knowing that what I've accomplished is enough.  

My husband brings out that inner cat.  He sees the "me" I want to be.  I don't know how he does it, but he looks at me like I'm a shiny penny most of the time.  For that I will always be grateful.  I'm a fortunate person to have found someone like him so early in my life.

Wanting to be more accomplished and more sophisticated comes from a deeper, personal place.  It's not built of envy.  It's not built of regret.  It's built more of the stuff that is driving at the innermost workings of me.  It's a desire to know what I'm truly capable of.  There has not been a pinnacle yet.  

She's inside trying to claw her way to the surface.  She's that girl who wanted to be a profiler at the age of 18.  She's the girl that was fearless.  She's the girl that wasn't scared to speak her mind and confront someone who was being passive aggressive.  She's the girl that got buried beneath years of being sweet, little mommy.  She's the girl who would get in a car and drive, not knowing the exact destination though a concert was probably it.  She's the girl I'm searching for, but in a much more realistic and grown up version.   

My make up will never be perfect.  My outfits will not likely be like the cover of Cosmo.  My feet will likely be sporting some chucks.  My legs will forever remain short.  What will change is the way I carry myself.  That inner cat is going to help me reach some goals I never thought possible.  Perhaps my 40s will be my best years to date.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Happiness Is The End Game

This billet is tough on me.  My family gets together and I miss it.  My friends get together and I miss it.  The foliage is beautiful in the North, and I miss it.  It just plain sucks when you feel homesick for your people and your places that you love.

That being said, what do you do when you know your situation sucks, and you have to bring yourself from the pits? You scratch, claw, and curse your way through it!  There is no other solution for happiness than hard work.  It doesn't hit you like a train on a track, like Florence says.  You have to find it in every moment your children laugh.  Or in your husband's loving embrace.  Or an unexpected day of fun.  The end game is holding on to a series of tiny moments.

My son and I had one of those moments this morning.  We were both covered in mosquito bites (a regular occurrence for those of us who like being outside in the bayou).  We were wrapping up a Boy Scout camping event and a lovely gentleman delivered a message that we both needed.  

The blue sky glowed through the Spanish moss hanging from the limbs above our heads as he talked about the difference just one person can make.  He asked how much our devices were stealing our family time and what else we could be doing with that time.  We stood there feeling an actual cool breeze together, receiving the message.  

Now my devices are required for my job, but that doesn't mean that I should be glued to them 24/ 7.  This motivates me to continue utilizing my 5:00 AM wake up to get myself connected with those I'm trying to help before homeschool starts.  That way there is no distraction while I am wearing my teacher hat.  I also get my work out in and get showered before any of the family even opens their eyes.  It's MY time.  Now I just need to stick to it, as I fall off sometimes in favor of my comfy bed and the snooze bar.

As for my boy, he got the message too.  His grades were not what either of us was hoping for on his first test.  He'd been hurrying through the academics to get to the video games on his laptop.  That's no longer an option.  We are both dedicating ourselves to our goals.  We are in this together.  We will not be defeated by circumstance!

Sure situations can be tough from time to time.  It just means that we have to be stronger and vigilant in our pursuit of happiness.  Though I'd love to say it gets delivered each month, like my wonderful food does, but that just isn't true.  Hard work is the key.  Dedication to the moments of clarity and savoring them is how we'll get to that end game.  A little more light will let itself into our worlds with every one of those moments.    

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It's been awhile!  For anyone who actually reads my little musings, I apologize for my absence.  My new venture (independent consultant for health and wellness)  took most of my time last week and well before that, I had nothing to write about.  Things are different today, though we remain in Houma.

Not too much changes in the bayou country, so we took a break and headed to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons last month.  It was a mind blowing trip!  We loved every second and I thought I'd share a little of Yellowstone with you today.

RV road trips aren't the same as other road trips.  My husband is a beast driver and just keeps going because he can!  Seriously, I only drive 2 hours of the total.  We all know our geography right?  Montana is FAR!  We had books on CD though, so we felt very accomplished and well read by the time we arrived.

 The kids were very well behaved the entire way.  After our nights in the Walmart parking lots, we were thrilled to have a real campsite with electric and everything.  The first night was great because we stepped out of the Big Montana and heard the wolves howling.  We knew right away the trip was going to rock!

Our campground for the week was called Grizzly RV Park.  It's a nice park, if you ever get to visit.  They have a dog walk area and there are even folks available in town to help you with dog walks during the day if you're hiking all day like we did.

The first day was the geyser loop.  We did the museum and awaited Old Faithful's eruption.  It was so cool to be sitting there all together in such a historic and amazing spot.  We did the whole loop!  My husband and my son shared a special bonding moment when they witnessed the grand geyser and old faithful going off at the same time later in the day.  The rest of us missed it.  It's just as well because those father/ son moments are special.  Why do I have NO pictures of this in my cloud?  I know we took them!

We all did see animals though, which was most of the fun of this place!  My Uncle is adept at putting us in the right spot to find them.  We all sat still as our rental car became part of a herd of buffalo and another herd passed us out in a field.  The best sighting was our hike in the middle of nowhere on a tiny path that belonged to the buffalo.  We moved quickly out of his way.

My squared away man wrote all of the stats down on all of the hikes we did and it was around 30 miles for the whole week.  Needless to say, it wasn't the typical vacation where you gain a ton of weight and then feel bad afterward.  No, we actually lost weight!  Portable nutrition is a wonderful thing.

Though there are a few wonderful shots of our trip here, I may have to revisit this post and do a strictly photo add on.  If you have never made your way to Yellowstone, you should put it on your bucket list.  I wouldn't mind doing it twice.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Some "Houmasapiens" Are Fun!!

Though the past few days were spent dealing with FB rants and my general dismay at the stupidity of mob mentality, I am choosing to concentrate on the fun that I had with my new Houma friends.  It is a constant desire to concentrate on the positive, as it keeps me sane.  The major positive of this weekend was hanging out with some genuinely kind and wonderful people at a back to school bash.

Since we moved here last year, I've been meaning to try out a treat unique to Louisiana, the drive-thru daiquiri.  Yes anyone North of this area will immediately tilt their head with a bewildered and questioning look on their face.  In Louisiana, you can pick up booze in a styrofoam cup on your way home from work!

As I had never tried Daiquiris To Go and my friends found this amusing, they decided to "pop my cherry."  We had a sober driver take us on down to try it out.  As we waited in the drive-thru line (still shaking my head), one of my friends insisted on taking pictures with the Mardi Gras krewe that was enjoying their Saturday afternoon treat via bus.  This place truly never ceases to amaze me.

We decided to get the full experience and walk inside to see what was what.  Another krewe was inside partying.  I understand why people would want to drive thru too because you can apparently still smoke inside bars in Louisiana, P-U.  The "cherry" piece were cherry bombs that were sitting on the counter awaiting our arrival.  It was a vat full of cherries that had been soaked in Everclear.  We each (not the driver) did a cherry bomb and ordered our daquiris to go.  My drink (the smurf, with an extra shot) was tasty, if perhaps a bit sweet for me.

The only way you get to have your daquiris in your car is by having a straw taped on top of your cup.  Who are they fooling?  What is to stop someone from lifting the plastic lid on the styrofoam to indulge while driving?  Integrity?  It's hilarious!!

My friends had a good laugh at me because of my bewilderment at the whole experience.  In New York, if you have a bottle open in the trunk of your car and you get caught you're in trouble.  Louisiana sure is different.  These constant discoveries make me wonder if I'll ever get used to this place.  The people of Louisiana do love to have fun.

What I could get used to is being around people like my Houmasapiens.  They are fun people, these new friends of mine.  When we got back to the party, we kicked the kids off of the waterslide we'd rented and had a go ourselves.  My whole family had a blast and felt so welcome.

What makes any one of our moves bearable is the group humans that we find.  We got lucky when we found people that are kind and fun loving.  They tolerate our "foreignness"  with a  laugh as tour guides to help us discover our inner Louisiana.  I look forward to more adventures like these.