Fifteen

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Seems like a pivotal age to me. A lot happened to me when I was 15.

I got my driver’s license. I got my first kiss. I watched my sister get married. I remember feeling so ready to experience more of the world. Being entirely uncertain of so much while also thinking I knew everything.

My daughter is 15 today. At 5:59 p.m., in the time it takes for that second hand to pass, she will begin a new year. A new journey. And I am nothing but optimistic about it for her.

I bought her a shirt to wear for her portraits this year. It says, “Nothing basic about me.” Because there isn’t. She is so unlike anyone I’ve ever met. Even in the ways she reminds me of her parents, she is entirely her own person.

She’s smart. Her analytical mind and attention to detail are sharp. Her reading comprehension has always been off the charts. Her memory….kinda scary. From the moment she began forming sentences, she has both fascinated me and driven me crazy.

She’s beautiful. Not just because I’m her mama do I say this. She is a gorgeous young woman by anyone’s standards. She doesn’t use it or even flaunt it. Probably because she doesn’t know it, or believe it yet. Blue eyes the color of a perfect summer sky, give away her inner thoughts. A smile that brightens any room. Long limbs and physical strength she hasn’t even begun to harness. Bone structure models would kill for. Dark hair turned purple occasionally, because, again, why be basic when you can be cool?

She’s kind. She doesn’t want people to see the softie that lurks inside, so she has a tough exterior. But she doesn’t fool me. That inner vulnerability is one of the things I find most beautiful about her.

She’s loyal. If you’re lucky enough for her to love you, she will have your back. Shank somebody for you if necessary.

She’s a homebody, but also up for some spontaneity. A late night movie marathon or road trip to nowhere. Her companionship is fun and entertaining. Her laugh and sarcastic wit has lifted my spirits on many a dark day.

She takes no shit. I was in a PISSY mood one morning last week and she called me on it in a hurry. I remember thinking how reprimanded I would have been for doing the same thing at her age, but I just couldn’t do it. Because she was right. And she ought to stand up for herself when people are out of line. And I was. And my respect for her increased that day.

I trust her. Shes going to make some dumb decisions, because she’s young. But I don’t fear those like I used to. With every passing year, she has proven her resilience. Dealing with many things her peers have not. Broken families, then blended ones. Anxiety. She’s overcome a lot, and handles everything life throws at her with competence and makes no excuses for her feelings.

She’s not perfect. But this isn’t a post about her imperfections. It’s just a post about her. Who she is. Who she’s becoming.

I’m so thankful that, of all the kids in the world, I got her for a daughter.

She is the light of my life.

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Thankful November Madness

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For the last several weeks, I have lived and breathed my job. With sprinkles of family life thrown in.

This week, that changes.

As of today, I’m off from work for the rest of the week, and will be preparing my contributions to our Thanksgiving meal, gathering with friends and family, enjoying the out of doors, participating in Black Friday shopping, and putting up Christmas decor.

Busy is my middle name, even when I’m away from my job.

Yesterday, after the end of another 12 hour work day, I collapsed into my bed, certain that I would likely require some sort of crane to remove me from it this morning. Thankfully, I slept a solid 9ish hours (which never happens) and I awoke this morning with a renewed fervor for life beyond my career.

Last week, I had a follow up with a new medical professional, a nurse practitioner recommended to me by my sister.

As it happens, I have similar health issues to my sibling, one of which is a gene mutation known as MTHFR.

This mutation affects the body’s ability to process B vitamins and folic acid, and can contribute to a wide variety of medical problems including fatigue, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, etc.

In addition, my previous doctor tried me on a hormone patch earlier this year, but when it caused me some problems, she told me I’d simply have to “tough out” the menopausal symptoms that I have due to my hysterectomy from 3 years ago.

The nurse practitioner I’m seeing now was not satisfied with that approach, and neither am I. We started a regimen of new things based on the results received from some extensive blood work.

For starters, now that we know I have the gene mutation, I can begin taking a superduper mega vitamin that will help me restore my body’s requirements of B vitamins and folate.

Secondly, I have begun monthly injections of HRT. This clinic doesn’t use synthetic stuff, only natural, and, just as the nurse predicted, I am experiencing a surge of energy today from the shot I took last week. My mental clarity is already improved, and due to the Progesterone she started me on after my first visit in October, I am sleeping better than I have in YEARSSSSSS.

She has put me on medication for anxiety/depression that is, what a concept, actually covered by my insurance, and added a baby aspirin to my daily regimen since blood work results also indicated an increased risk that I have for blood clots.

For the first time in many years, I feel cared for, treated, and properly monitored by a health care provider. But only because I have been a fierce advocate for my own health.

Once my ankle and leg have fully healed from my klutz moment on the stairs, I’ll be back on the treadmill (which I had somehow managed to be consistent with the last few months, despite feeling like walking death) and adding weight resistant pilates back into my routine along with lower sugar intake. I’m going to beat the problems and potential risks of my genetics and physical makeup, dammit. I’m not giving up.

I have much to be thankful for this week. I’m on to better days, physically and mentally. My family is whole and healthyish, my job is secure, my bills are paid, and my table is plentiful. My home is warm. My God is faithful.

My cup, indeed, overfloweth.

There are busy weeks ahead, as I’m in the middle of the largest liquidation I’ve ever had to oversee. The time of year that is usually most quiet on my professional front is chaotic and overwhelming at times. But the quiet peace and rich expectation of Advent is on the horizon. And I’m thankful for that as well.

Because of everything mentioned in the previous paragraphs, I feel as though I have wholly neglected many people that are important in my life. But I have had to put myself first a lot recently out of necessity, and I’m learning to not apologize for that. Because I can do nothing for anyone else unless I first care for me.

I was perusing Instagram this morning, looking at the Christmas decorations around places I visited in San Diego this past summer. It reminded me of that trip, and what a truly banner year 2018 has been.

There have been plenty of lows, of course, because the year started with some of the worst depression and sickness I’d experienced in a long, long time. But looking back now, I see how far I’ve come. How far my marriage has come. My parenting. My career. My perspective. I needed every high, and every low, to appreciate where I am and to know exactly what I needed to do to use them for my benefit.

I am a work in progress, after all. As are all of us.

November has certainly been full of madness. Good and bad. Exhausting and exhilarating. But I usually START a new year with the feelings that I’m having at the close of this one: hope, anticipation, high expectations. And there is growth in that realization.

And I’m thankful.

Sh*t Happens

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Like this:

That, my friends, is a sprained ankle. My middle name is grace, and I got it from my mama.

Not really, my middle name is Ann, but my mom did pass along her tendency for the klutz-like tendencies that make this type of thing, well, a thing.

Truthfully, I didn’t need this….ever. But definitely not right now. I’m in the middle of the biggest foreclosure/liquidation that I’ve ever had to deal with, and it promises to eat up almost every waking hour until well after Thanksgiving. Which is why I haven’t written anything in almost 2 weeks.

But that’s life. And sh*t happens.

So I ice it, I pop Aleve, and I go on with my days, little by little making progress and going ahead and listening to my Christmas playlist if I want to, dammit, because I’ve earned the simple joys.

I have come to appreciate many things during this injury and threat to my overall sanity throughout this stressful time. Such as:

My daughter being homeschooled. With her being ahead in her work, I’m able to take some of her free time to come help me inventory and move items around for a large sale I’ll be managing in a couple of weeks. She’s been a real help to me and I’m enjoying the extra time with her, even if it is work-related.

My husband. He spent yesterday cleaning the house while I worked, and I came home to clean floors and de-clutteredness. Which goes a long way for my mental health. I’ve been gone more than I’ve been home these last 2 weeks. Walking into a sparkly home last night with a freshly cleaned yard gets me excited to put up Christmas decor and start welcoming the Advent season. He has also helped inventory and move heavy items and has just generally been my rock. He’s a good one. And he looks hella cute in overalls.

My help. I have a crew of guys that work for me on foreclosed properties. We’ve spent a lot of time together the last couple of weeks and they have proved, over and over again, why they’re the best. Keeping my spirits up and always willing to do whatever I need to do my job at an optimal level.

My family and friends. The ones that, even though I’ve been MIA from their lives, know that I’m here and will still love me when I finally settle back into a more normal routine.

My coworker. She was my assistant until I promoted her this year, and she’s proven why. Taking the reins and being my solid right-hand woman. A strong partner that I depend on more and more each day.

My bed. I’ve slept better the last week than I have in a month. I credit a new regimen of progesterone and being exhausted every night, still, insomnia, which tends to creep up on me in times of stress, has NOT been some of the sh*t that happens of late.

My car. I purchased Giselle about 20 months ago and I’ve put her to the test. I feel like we’ve been around the world together 3 times over, and I HAVE put over 50K miles on her. But I do enjoy not having to worry about my vehicle when I’m on the road so much. Especially in this monsoon of an autumn that we are currently experiencing.

So maybe this is my Thanksgiving list, just a week or so early, and it’s certainly not comprehensive. But I have a lot to be grateful for. And I am.

Ode to a Month

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November is my favorite month.

There’s just something about it.

Thursday was a rainy, overcast, dreary day where the falling temperature was felt by the hour. Storms then drizzle. Wind with small, chilling gusts.

But then….

Yesterday, the sun blazed. Sharp. All encompassing. And everything looked brighter. It’s as though the world came into focus again after the bleary-eyed haze of the day before.

I notice this phenomenon more in November. When the morning air is as crisp as the leaves on the ground.

In the winding down days of the year, November promises fresh focus. Warmth from a fireplace discussion or a dinner table spread with a Thanksgiving feast. People around me that I love and cherish. Excitement building about the Christmas season just around the corner. Late night laughs as my delirious compadres and I execute Black Friday hijinks.

Crock pot meals and cozy afternoon naps. Colors of nature on full display in red, gold, and deep, rich browns.

Fuzzy socks and warm, woven sweaters. Smart leather boots and soft denim.

Keep your pumpkin spice, but give me November in all of it’s sharpness and flavor. Let it envelop me like a familiar blanket of contentment. And let me dream with my eyes wide open.

Shhh

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I spent the whole of yesterday with 4 other people. My boss and some guys who work for me are preparing a retail store for liquidation. It’s an unusual experience, an exception to what I normally deal with in my day-to-day. Most of my work consists of paperwork, legal transactions, math, etc. This on-site, hands-on day had me on my feet all day, moving large items, trying to come up with the best layout to get the most for our liquidation dollar.

Problem-solving is most definitely in my job description. Every day. But this is a new kind of problem. It’s a challenge, something my job is never short on, but still, this particular set of problems is going to have unique challenges.

Before I took this job, I worked for 8 and a half years in an office with one other person. I most certainly had plenty of interaction with the public and those who came for meetings, etc. But I was alone. A lot. And I grew accustomed to it. As an introvert, that wasn’t difficult.

The job I have now, once again, is mostly me and one other person. My boss and his assistant are across the building in another suite, and we interact of course, but it’s a quiet setting. And i love it. It’s just enough “peopleing” for my personality and for me to perform my duties at an optimum level.

So much of what I carry on my professional shoulders is stressful, time-sensitive, and costly. Having a mostly quiet space to handle things is not only optimal, the older I get, the more i realize just how much it is a necessity. Not that I couldn’t get things done amidst the noise of a lot of people, but it would be much more exhausting, and I probably wouldn’t be long for looking for other employment.

I’m very thankful that I am placed exactly where I am, and that even, like yesterday, when I do have to do things outside the norm, it is on a temporary basis.

I love each one of the guys I worked with yesterday. They all go above and beyond for me and alongside me every time I ask, and even when I don’t.

But still, the “peopleing”. It was tiring.

The physical components of yesterday did a number on my body, not in optimal shape and still learning how the muscles and joints flare from the autoimmune bullshit that now dominates my physiology.

But my mind, it also felt overstimulated. Not just with the enormous task ahead of me for the next month, but with the “peopleing”.

When I got home, we ate supper. We are one of those families where the tv is always on during dinner. It used to annoy me, but now, I don’t care. I pick my battles. But last night, I said to my husband as I saw the remote laying on the dinner table, “Can we just leave the tv off right now?”

I don’t ask often, and he obliged my request and didn’t even pout about it. Even though there was a football game. 🙂

After supper, I took a hot bath and then put on my pjs and told both my husband and daughter that I was headed to my room to be antisocial. And, glory hallelujah, I think they are finally learning how very much I need to do that sometimes.

Just be alone. Not because I don’t love them, but because I do. When my body and mind are in a state of overstimulation and exhaustion, I NEED the hushed sounds of silence. It will not only give me the internal and external break from interaction and noise, but it also helps me relax and sleep better. Something that I still don’t do well most nights. And right now, I need my rest so I can stay well and healthy to make the final push for the end of this year and all of the responsibilities that I will have to handle before the dawn of 2019.

Introverts will get this. Others will probably think I’m just a wuss. But I know myself, have gotten to know myself even better over the last couple of years. I think I may FINALLY be learning how to better care for me, and in doing so, caring for everything and everyone else in my life that much more efficiently.

Forecasting

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Heavy thunderstorms awakened me early this morning. ‘Tis the season in Mississippi. Severe storms are not unusual this time of year as Mother Nature seems to desperately want to keep us warm, while simultaneously whipping in a dash of cold front, resulting in the two air masses doing somersaults across the region.

Our weather will bounce from sunny and comfortable to chilly and rainy throughout the weeks leading up to the holidays. We might be wearing shorts by Christmas, or sweaters. Who knows?

There seems to be no predicting it.

Despite the bipolar weather patterns, I look forward to the winding down of another year. It’s been a busy one, for sure, and 2018 is slated to finish that way as well.

I tinkered with the idea of NoPoBloMo or whatever it is where bloggers commit to posting every day in the month of November. But I know better than to set myself up for failure. There will be days this month when I have the resolve and inspiration for writing, but I also have a lot of work and personal obligations in the coming weeks, so I am simply going to do what I do, and hopefully throw out some decent writing along the way.

Lately, I spend my days in full throttle at work, and trying to stay at least half a step ahead of what my family needs from me. Mornings are my time for this artistic release. And it has certainly been the part of myself that has been most shortchanged in recent weeks. But there has been little in the way of “a-ha” blog post muses anyway. Which saddens me.

Often, when I feel this way, I can just write my way through it. Which is what I’m doing here, writing about nothing. Writing about everything.

I am having to find new sources of inspiration and ideas. I’m off Facebook. I rarely read the news (for my own mental health), and I no longer have to contend with the drama of private school. My work is confidential, and the prohibitions on anything pertaining to it being shared in a public forum like WordPress, well….I’ll just say this, I could write about a LOT of things both political and philosophical that relate to my job, but I like my job and want to keep it, so, it’s off limits.

I could write more about parenting, but it too can be a sensitive thing, with many of my readers being intimately acquainted with me and my life. Some things I simply have to keep to myself.

Maybe one day I’ll write that book. Under a pseudonym, of course, and change the names and locations to protect the innocent.

In the meantime, A Pensieve View trudges on. Unsure of who she will become over the course of the next few months and years. Like the weather, there will be beautiful sunny days, and dreary, cold ones. And writing can be as unpredictable as Mother Nature. Sometimes she gives, sometimes she takes away.

I’ve never written to please my audience, and I never shall. But I thank you, my readers, for sticking with me during the highs and lows. For commenting and liking and interacting with me here. I read and cherish each comment, even when I don’t have a chance to reply.

The Kids are Alright

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No, it’s not just my favorite new sitcom, it’s actually a true saying in my life.

I’ve spent time this week with my daughter, “cousiniece” who is in her first year at college, “cousiniece” who is the same age as my daughter (and practically her adopted sister), and my nephew, yesterday watching his last performances as Drum Major in his high school band.

When our kids are small, let’s be honest, we’re just trying to keep them alive. From the moment the hospital puts them in our charge, we begin to worry if they’re eating enough, sleeping enough, and staying away from the things that will hurt them.

Over time, those worries become about whether they’re getting the right kind of education, making good friends, developing their potential, and still eating enough, sleeping enough and staying away from things that will hurt them.

Those all become less and less out of our control until, one day, they leave the safety of our nest and embark on a world that we’ve tried simultaneously to show them and shield them.

My daughter is thriving in her new homeschooling world. I see her leaning into it, relieved and confident. Stepping out of the drama that is junior high into a world of true bonding with the cousins that she is learning alongside, and starting to believe in alternative ways of reaching her goals.

My cousin is starting to find her way in her new college setting. She’s a fish out of water for a couple of reasons, but, knowing her like I do, I believe that she is exactly where she is supposed to be in her life, and is already making a difference in the lives of the students and teachers around her. I love that she’s still close enough that I can take her to lunch, or still have her at book club.

My other cousin is a fixture in our lives and, often, in our house. I love it. I love her. She is so different from my child yet their bond is so strong. So rooted in love and family. Her wit and sarcasm keep me rolling in laughter and she is the reason that I no longer feel incredible guilt for never being able to give my child a sibling. Because she already had one in her all along. She and Reagan have a lot of future plans together. I love to see them leaning on each other as they start to discover what it is they want to be.

I’ve written about all of these kids before today. While my nephew was the first child I really loved as my own, I certainly wasn’t counting on it happening with each new addition to our family whether they were my own child or not.

My daughter is my life. Anyone who knows me, knows this. Not in an helicopter parent way, but in a way that I only have the one child. She’s it. I’ve been blessed to be able to devote all of my resources to helping her become who she wants to be. She’s independent and strong, and has become so grown and mature that it takes me aback when I really stop and look at her.

My cousin, she has a quiet strength of character and resolve in her goals. She has a HUGE heart, is sickeningly intelligent, and is a true kindred spirit to me, just like her aunt and uncle before her.

My other cousin, like her sister, has that quiet strength. She’s been such a rock of support for my daughter and has so much talent for the arts. Both she and her sister are accomplished violinists and have a deep appreciation for music, literature and art. Yet another reason we, my cousins, daughter and I, are so close. We love so many of the same things.

My nephew, Josh….oh lord, I’m going to try to not cry while writing this. I spent yesterday at his senior pep rally and was overcome by my own tears by the end of it.

Josh is an amazing young man. He has somehow managed to retain an endearing innocence, and is a perpetually happy person, which tends to be infectious. When he was little, ever the music lover, my mom taught him “You are my Sunshine” and he would sing it upon request every time we asked. He is still my sunshine, even though he is on the threshold of being a grown man.

These kids, they all have such unique markers in their personalities. They all have different goals and dreams. They all hold my heart in different ways. I continue to be amazed at how my capacity for love has been stretched and shaped by each one.

This past week was a hard one. Every anniversary that passes of losing my cousin Eric still brings a fresh wave of sadness. Remembrance. Bittersweet nostalgia. I have thought of him even more often than usual this week. Looking around at these kids that he loved and would have delighted in as much as I do.

Maybe I feel like I am loving them for both of us. Shoring up these bonds because of the bond he and I had that was so strong and important to me throughout my life.

Mothers never stop worrying. But the kids are alright. They’re all going places. They’re all happy, beautiful, inspiring souls. They all bring me joy.

It is the highlight of my life to watch their journeys unfold.

Keep looking

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***This is one of those posts that I’m writing because, frankly, I don’t know what to write. I need to write, but sometimes I have to just start. And stop trying to come up with a great first draft idea in my head.

When I go a long time without posting, sometimes I’m writing a lot of drafts, only to delete them. Other times, like recently, I’ve just felt like I had nothing to say. But I hate being stuck. And the only way out is to just write. That’s what this is. And it may not be profound or eloquent or anywhere near my best work, but it’s the closest thing to a revelation I’ve had in a long time. And I felt like it was as good a place to start as any.

I don’t have a lot of “quit” in me. I cling to bad habits like gold, and I am stubborn to a fault sometimes. Most times.

But this isn’t always a bad trait. In fact, I prefer to think of it as one of my strengths. I’d rather try and fail a thousand times than never try at all. I just don’t think life is meant to be lived with a fear of failure hanging over our heads.

I spent the entire day at work yesterday looking at a loan. My adding machine tape was several feet long by the time I locked up for the day, and I was no closer to the answer to the problem I was trying to diagnose.

My job, in a nutshell, is “problem-solver”. Usually that comes in the form of collecting on bad loans in whatever way is most beneficial to the bank. But, yesterday, I couldn’t break the surface of what was going on with this one account. The numbers just didn’t make sense and, in my job, the numbers always make sense. Even when it isn’t good news.

As I headed to my car at the end of the day, my head was spinning. I drove in silence, except for the occasional conversation with myself until, about halfway home, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I think I finally figured it out.

But had I stayed in my office the rest of the night, I doubt I’d have seen it until I stepped away.

I did step away a couple of times yesterday for brief breaks, but it wasn’t until I really separated myself from the problem that it began to show it’s truth to me.

And isn’t that the way sometimes?

So often, in life, we live amidst a cloud of circumstances and problems that threaten to steal our very sanity. But when we begin to relax, and focus our energy into something else, the answers will come.

Those answers may not be what we want, but at least they are answers. Something we can identify and then take measures to correct.

Last night, our best friends came over to play Rook. We’ve taken to gathering once a month to play cards, but I knew very little about the game when we first started.

Being me, after our first game, I vowed to learn more. Get better. So I downloaded a similar game on my phone, and began playing regularly to improve my skills.

Last month, I had a better grasp of the process, but still lost pretty miserably to the other team – very experienced players.

This month, I haven’t had a lot of time to practice on my app. So, when we gathered last night, I had a “just do the best you can” mentality. And my partner and I won 1 out of 3 games!

Again, a situation where I tried my damndest to think my way through something, only to find that it was in the relaxation that the answers came to me.

This isn’t a post to condone laziness or lack of action, reflection. It’s just a reminder to me about how often I try to control an outcome, expending energy to the point of mental strain, only to realize that most, if not all of it, was unnecessary.

I think, the payoff, is in those moments of realization. Maybe they mean more to me because I have spent so much time obsessing about the answers and what they might be. Maybe I would have more moments of clarity if I didn’t try so hard sometimes.

Who knows?

I just know this: just when I think I’m fully actualizing who I think I am, I learn something new about myself. Usually in a moment when I stop trying to figure me out.

Relaxation doesn’t come easily to me. Staying busy is my way of deflecting anxiety. It’s healthy sometimes, but not all the time. I’ve got to learn to balance my busyness with moments of not trying so hard. And let the answers and peace have an opportunity to show up. Because, more often than not, they will.

Recent Happenings

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The last several weeks have been quite busy, with lots of outside-the-norm activity.

THEATRE AND LUNCHEON

Ever since I started watching Downton Abbey, I prefer to say “luncheon” instead of “lunch”. It sounds much more dignified and proper.

A few weeks ago, I attended a play with my daughter and some of our family with whom she is now homeschooling. The play was Morningside, and it was written and directed by a Mississippi Native.

The scene was a contemporary living room in a quaint southern town, and a baby shower hosted by quaint southern ladies. A family drama with lots of laughs, the production and performances were fantastic.

I don’t get to the theatre much these days for plays, but I do love live productions and make a promise to myself every time I attend one that I’ll do it more often. Maybe I’ll keep that promise this time.

After our morning matinee, we headed over the Brent’s Drugstore, a not so secret diner in Fondren. I’ve seen Brent’s featured on news stories and even on the big screen, but I’ve never tasted their famous milkshakes. Until recently.

I savored the patty melt and fresh cut fries. Yummmmm.

Their special shake for the month was Salted Caramel, which only proved that it was divine intervention that led me to this gem of a place in the heart of the Capital city because I LOVE caramel anything.

It was a fun outing and one that I hope to repeat with some of the most fun-nest 😁 ladies in my family.

BILOXI BABES

My mother’s and sister’s birthdays are less than 10 days apart on the calendar so I decided that, this year, I’d treat them both to something they need more than they often admit: a night away from their families!

We all love the ones we care for, but we all, also, need a break from the frustration that is the day-to-day stress that goes with those responsibilities.

So I scooped them up one Saturday morning and we headed to the MS Gulf Coast for an evening of laughs.

Anjelah Johnson was headlining at the Hard Rock Casino, and she put on a great comedy show.

We visited Dolce Bake Shop in Long Beach for, ya know, midnight snacks to keep in the room, and we were not disappointed with the selections. My favorite? The cookie butter. I don’t know what heavenly concoction was placed in that cupcake, but it was simply divine. Such a cute little shop, too.

For dinner, we opted for Lil’ Ray’s, and each enjoyed some crazy good po’boys.

I liked their philosophy. I need a sign like that in MY office!

The next morning, we enjoyed a fabulous breakfast before doing a little shopping and heading to our respective homes.

It was a long overdue trip for us three as we rarely get to just “hang out” much these days.

I hope we don’t wait so long before we get away again.

OCTOBER IN THE BIG EASY

I had the pleasure this past weekend to attend a seminar hosted by my employer at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in New Orleans.

The speaker was there to teach us about leadership and employee engagement. It was unlike anything I’d ever really heard and presented in a way that I found both interesting and thought-provoking.

The Ritz, I learned, has one of the lowest turnover rates in the hospitality industry. No small feat and one that qualifies them to teach others the lessons of their success.

As a Psychology major, learning about human behavior, what motivates, what fosters problem-solving, etc. – these things are both interesting to me and things that I find are often overlooked in other sectors of the workforce.

The seminar was, in short, great, and our employer was generous enough to accommodate us for two nights at The Ritz.

I’ve lived in the south for 25 years, but have only visited NOLA 3 times. I have to say, bar none, this was the best trip yet.

Though we were hoping for some fall-ish temps, it was hot and humid for the duration of our visit. Still, that didn’t slow down our exploration of the city, or diminish our appetites for some of the best food in this part of the country.

The food and drinks were spectacular, living up to the reputation they boast across the world.

From Mexican fare to freshly shucked oysters, pineapple-cilantro margaritas to the famous Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane, my tastebuds enjoyed the city tremendously.

And, of course, I finally got to visit Café Du Monde for the Beignets!

The travels are winding up now for 2018, but what a year it has been. It’s time now to save up for some new tires so 2019 can have some adventure as well.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Real Possibilities

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2018 has been a stellar year for my luggage.

The saying goes, “If I had money to travel, you’d never see me again.”

I’ve made it my life’s motto.

I live to see new places and have found that my melancholy spirit is best soothed with a change of scenery.

I seem to need it. Actually need to get away from life as I know it, from time to time.

Not only does it refresh me mentally, it sparks some creativity. Something that needs new life breathed into it, on occasion.

Mississippi, despite it’s reputation for simply being fat, stupid, and racist, is a lovely place to call home. We have rolling hills and thick forests. Babbling creeks and long, winding rivers. It’s the center of my universe, but it’s not the entire universe.

This year, I’ve been to either side of this country. Something, honestly, I thought I’d never do. I never once thought I’d dip my toes in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, let alone within the same year.

Never say never.

I’ve seen both the Carolinas. Visited my beloved Mobile. Took a girl’s trip to Florida. Rested in Tennessee on a long drive home from retrieving the girl child. Spent a week in SoCal.

Closer to home I’ve spent some hours in Vicksburg, the River City. Spent a few nights in Biloxi. Natchez.

Coming up, we have a weekend in New Orleans for a work retreat.

Some of these miles were for work, but mostly not. And I’ve enjoyed them all. Each one. The time sitting in conferences and the time exploring a new city. Eating fried oysters on the gulf and sampling fresh Guacamole in San Diego.

Watching the sun rise in South Carolina. Watching it set on Coronado Island.

The time spent with my daughter, my friends, my mother and sister, my cousins, my husband. The time alone. It has all wrapped me in beautiful memories that I will carry for a lifetime.

My heart, as I reflect on all of the places my eyes have seen this year, is full of overwhelming gratitude.

I used to feel so stuck in this place. I go to work, day in and day out, to a job I love with people I adore. I come home to a family that is everything to me. And yet, I have this wanderer’s soul. This need to see other.

This year, I have. Mardi Gras parades, the Sunset Cliffs, monuments of history, vast oceans, mountains, rivers. I have felt sand between my toes and a chilly wind nip my face. I have tasted. I have heard. I have seen.

I don’t cling to the notion that all years of my life can be so full of adventure. Limited time off and limited finances definitely provide limitations to travel.

But the memories will sustain me. They already do. I’ve learned to not doubt that I will see more of the beautiful places my heart longs to explore. The dream is within my reach.

In the meantime, between adventures, I remember.

The wistful heart turns thankful.

The mundane becomes bearable.

And possibility is born anew.