Thursday, January 28, 2010

Readin' and Writin'...

Words have been flowing into my brain and back out again through my fingers alot in the past few days. I've got a stack of books to read from my wonderful Girlfriends Weekend in Texas a couple of weeks ago, as well as the book club selection we will be discussing on Monday night. It's a fun read...The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells (the same author who wrote the wonderful "Ya Ya Sisterhood" books).
This book is different from her others. It's a little deeper, a little "darker," a little sexier but still lots of fun. To hear the author talk about the book, go to the Harper Collins website and watch the little video. Or just click on the link below:

I've also been reading Robin Robert's book that came out last year. It's her rules to live by...and since she's a pretty successful woman, I think she must have some pretty solid rules. We actually worked together--shared an office!--back in the early 1980's at WDAM-TV in Hattiesburg. I shared an office with Glenda Brundage in the morning. Glenda did the "Midday" show after the noon news, then left. Robin came in after lunch and worked through the 10pm news. She was in sports. She was rarely in the office, because she was usually off covering some high school basketball game or some other sporting event. Her book, "From the Heart, Eight Rules to Live By,"  is a quick read, and I really recommend it for high schoolers or those in college. I have the second edition. When the book came out, it was seven rules to live by...and the cover photo showed a healthy Robin with a head full of hair. The second edition was post-cancer, and she has a short hairdo, as she lost all her hair during chemo treatments. The eighth rule is "HAVE A REGULAR MAMMOGRAM!!!" and she's pretty serious about that one.

The writing I've been doing hasn't been as inspired, although the articles have been interesting. I wrote a series of medical/healthcare-related stories that will run in the MS Business Journal next week, and a FUN story about the uuber-chic apartment of Eddie Outlaw and Justin McPherson. They are the owners of the chi-chi-chi William-Wallace Salon. They used to live in the Fondren Corner Buildling, which was pretty cool, but now they are in the newly-renovated King Edward in a divine new apartment. You can see photos and read all about it in the March issue of PORTICO Jackson. (What? You don't subscribe to Portico? Quick! Hop over to their website and do so Right Now! And now, I'm writing my blog...feel free to leave a comment!

There's lots more writing on the horizon, thank God. I'm going to be covering arts stories around the state for be sure to log on to that every day! I am really excited about doing that, as I am a BIG supporter for the arts (about 25 or more pounds bigger now than ever before!!!!).

And speaking of the arts...there's a BIG event planned for March 27 at the Auditorium (in the old Duling School in Fondren)'s something Nicole is putting together to support arts education in Jackson Public Schools. It's going to be a wonderful event, and I hope you'll all want to go (only 200 tickets will be available...and I KNOW it's going to be a sell-out!).  Called "An Evening of HOPE," it's the kind of event that you'll leave with a guaranteed warm feeling in your heart. Tickets will be $75 each, but well worth it for a night of great food, entertainment, a live art auction and much more...start budgeting for it now!  By the way, kuddos to Talameika Brice, for the awesome job she did on this photograph and the incredible graphic design work. This is the start of the promotional poster that will plaster the metro area in a few weeks...I just love that my nekkid daughter will be seen all over town. (But she is beautiful, scars and all...)       
Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making History

There are some dates that are forever etched into our memories. Birthdays of special friends and family meembers, anniversaries, and even landmarks in history. Quick! When was Pearl Harbor attacked by the Japanese? December 2. Columbus sailed the ocean blue in forteen-hundred-ninety-two. With some historic events, the date alone tells the story: 9-11.

I always love those "on this day in history" segment in certain news programs. It's already 10:00am, I have a full plate of writing assignments and deadlines, and instead, I'm writing my blog. And I'm wondering what happened on this particular day in history. January 26. And of course, there are Entire Websites dedicated to nothing but telling me what happened on this day in history.

So what happened on January 26? Some pretty important things, actually. In 1802, Congress passed an act calling for establishment of a library within the US Capitol. In 1837, Michigan became the 26th state in the United States. In 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway. It would go on to become the longest-running Broadway show.

In more recent history, a magnitude 7.7 earthquake rocked the Indian state of Gujarat, killing more than 20,000 people in 2001. Just nine years ago, and I don't know about you, but I have absolutely NO recollection of that at all. That would be like wiping out all of Madison, where I live. I'm sure that this date will forever be etched in the brains of the survivors, as will the day the earthquake struck Haiti, where they say fatalities can reach into the hundreds of thousands.

Each day is a gift. It's up to us to decide what to do with it. What will you make of this day? I have no choice (unless I want to do without an income). I have deadlines that determine what I must do today. But sitting at home, in front of my computer, in my warm, comfortable jammies (don't hate me!), I can make a difference. Hopefully the articles I write will be provacative, informative, entertaining and interesting. With any luck, the readers will know more than before they read them, and some will be motivated to learn more.

And I can give a portion of what I earn today to the relief efforts in Haiti. I'm going to do it the easy way. We all know what the Red Cross does in times of disaster. To give, simply text the word “HAITI” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross relief efforts. Another organization doing great work is the YĆ©le Haiti--a foundation started by Grammy-Award winning musician, producer and social entrepreneur Wyclef Jean that is changing lives in the desperately poor but optimistic nation of Haiti. Text the word “YELE” to 501501 to Donate $5 to Yele Haiti’s Earthquake Relief efforts. Either way, the charge will appear on your phone bill. How easy is that? Imagine, if everyone with a cell phone did this. Another fact I found on the Internet: the United States has about 250 million cell phone subscribers – a number equal to 82 percent of the population. If everyone did this we could raise $1,250,000,000 to $2,500,000,000 IN A DAY! (For the math-impaired, that's BILLIONS!!!)

At the end of this day, will you look back on January 26,2010 and know that you've done something with this gift? Whatever it is, start doing it's almost half way over, and you'll never get this day back again.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Every Step of the Way

On the six month anniversary of Nicole's accident, she performed in a dance at the Belhaven College Performing Arts Center. The event was "Tunes, Tutus and Turning Wheels," and the pieces involved both able-bodied and disabled dancers and performers. Her performance was the finale of the evening. The piece was entitled "Every Step of the Way," because it was Nicole's feeling that God  had been with her every step of the way throughout her journey. Cynthia Newland, dean of the department of dance at Belhaven, choreographed the piece based on Nicole's accident. Click here to see the actual dance performance (get's almost nine minutes long...)

I named my blog after that performance, as a reminder to me and everyone else that we don't walk alone.

Just for grins, I "Googled" Every Step of the Way, and it turns out there are several songs by that title. Santana has a beautiful instrumental piece, and the Monkees  (remember them???) have a song by that name. The lyrics eerily apply to Nicole's situation. In one of the verses, it says:

"Do ya wanna, do ya wanna, do ya wanna dance?

 Take a chance, baby, take a chance

 I'll be with you every of the way

 I'll even show you how to strut one day

 I'm with you (yeah, you) I'm with you

 Every step of the way"

Nicole's heading off to the Coast with Caitlyn (her fabulous personal care assistant) this afternoon for two days of speaking engagements at high schools there, which is great, because I have a heavy load of writing assignments this week.

I'll be posting my blog daily, so stop by and feel free to make a comment!

Before I sign off...I just have to say: How 'bout them Saints????!!!

Blessings to all who read this,

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Obstacle or opportunity?

"What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity." --J. Sidlow Baxter, 1903-1999, author & theologian

I get an inspirational quote sent to me via email each day, and most are pretty good. At least worth pondering a bit. This quote hit me pretty strong this morning, because it's as if it was written for my daughter, Nicole. She's a person who very rarely sees anything as an obstacle. Most of the time that's a good thing, but it's also what got her into the situation she's in now.

Locked out of her apartment? No problem! She just thought she'd find another way to get in. A six-story fall later, she was in quite a pickle.

Broken body? Not the end of the world for her, by any means! Instead, Nicole immediately started looking for the opportunities to get stronger and better. She loved going to physical therapy in the hospital because she saw it as her opportunity to get back on her feet. Now she celebrates her scars as badges of courage. So much so, that she had photos made recently that will appear in an article about her in Gendance magazine.

While Nicole can't dance like she did before the accident, she is working feverishly to put together a big dance performance on March 27-- a performance where she will dance in front of a crowd of 200 people. Just putting together an event of the magnitude she is planning requires her to face obstacle after obstacle. But positive thinker that she is, she just finds a way around them--she looks for the opportunities instead of the reasons why she can't do it.

I sat in on a meeting Nicole had yesterday with Nathan Glenn and his attorney at The Auditorium (the awesome new restaurant in the old Duling School in Fondren: They were going over all the points of the event, which Nicole has named "An Evening of Hope." For $75, guests will receive a three-course gourmet meal, a signature drink, a chance to participate in a live art auction, and an incredible evening of multi-media entertainment featuring dance performances by students in the Belhaven department of dance. Proceeds from the event will benefit the "Ask for More Art" initiative of the Parents for Public Schools. (

She is working very hard on the event, learning alot about event planning along the way. Not only is she choreographing and producing the show, she's talking to artists to get pieces for the auction, and talking to businesses to obtain sponsorships to cover the costs of incidentals like advertising, security, etc. It's as if the words "you can't do that" aren't in her vocabulary. She just plugs along and finds a way.

I believe old J. Sidlow Baxter was right..."Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity." I'm seeing those words played out right before my eyes through the actions of my amazingly persistant daughter.

What are your obstacles today? Knowing that opportunities have difficulties, what will your attitude be towards them? Just think about Nicole, and face it head-on, with a firm image in your mind of what you want the end result to be.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, January 18, 2010

For the Love of Words

I've never been a morning person. Yet, I can go from dead asleep to reading in about thirty seconds flat. It's because I love to read.

When my children were young and in school, and I was working outside of my home, I got up around 5am so that I could drink a cup of coffee and read the paper, beginning to end, uninterrupted. It was my way of easing into the day, and by the time everyone in my house was awake, I was alert and up on all the current events. Except when the delivery person didn't get my paper here on time. Then I'd have to read something else, and that was OK, too, because I had plenty of books and magazines stacked up to be read.

Now there's an online source for local news in addition to the regular media outlets. launched today, and my blog is in it! It can be found on the OPINION page. That excites me more than you'll ever know. Now Who-Knows-How-Many can read about our crazy life! It's the power of the internet, but more's the power of Words.

I joined a book club in the early fall and I've been reading like crazy since then. I read the selection of the month and usually one or two more books each month. We have lots of lively discussion in our group, and it's all led up to this past weekend when ten of us went to a book club convention of sorts in the quaint little town of Jefferson, Texas.

Girlfriend Weekend was started ten years ago by Kathy Patrick, who owns a combination beauty shop/book store in Jefferson called Beauty and the Book. She is also the founder of the Pulpwood Queens, a book club that met in her shop. Before long, there were spin-off clubs and now she has chapters worldwide. ( She later wrote a book, The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing GUIDE TO LIFE. Our group, the BB Queens, is a chapter of the Pulpwood Queens. So, off we went to the tenth anniversary of Girlfriend Weekend, where we had a ball! (Of course, any time women get together wearing tiaras and boas, a good time is had by all...just ask my friend Jill Conner Browne!)

Jefferson has about 40 bed and breakfast inns, and we stayed in the Old Mulberry Inn, although most of our time was spent in Jefferson's new civic center with women from other bookclubs and AUTHORS, who were invited to come and talk about their books, their writing routines, and whatever else they wanted to talk about. I bought a ton of books, because all the authors were signing them, and I can't resist a personalized signed copy of a book, especially when I've heard the author read from it.

 One of the highlights of the weekend was a panel discussion with best selling author Pat Conroy (The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, South of Broad, etc...)and his daughter, Melissa Conroy, and up-and-coming children's book writer. They were discussing her book, Poppy's Pants, written about Conroy and his endless supply of khaki pants. It was sweet to hear him talk so fondly of his daughter, but tempering it with "grouchy grandfather" stories about his seven grandchildren! Conroy was the keynote speaker at the luncheon on Saturday, where he spoke to a roomful of adoring fans (including plenty of other authors!)
for over an hour. He entertained us with stories about how he stumbled into the publishing world (he wasn't born a best-selling author!), stories of his childhood, stories about practical jokes with his best friend and sister, and touching stories, including the fond memories of his mother reading books to him as a child. "When I'm reading over my manuscripts, it's still her voice I hear."  He was fun and entertaining, as good ol' boy Southern storytellers tend to be, and it was a real treat for us.

Then each night it was time to strap on the boas and tiaras...Friday night we had a "Barbie Ball," celebrating Barbie's 50th birthday. Everyone dressed up like their favorite Barbie, or as the Barbie they'd like to see.

 Merilee Hall and Theresa Reed dressed up as "Pajama Party Barbie." The next night was the "Big Ball of Hair Ball," with a Wizard of Oz theme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the movie. There were some very creative costumes, like this mother and daughter Munchkin duo. They rocked it out on the dancefloor to "She's a Brick House." That was worth the trip...they were hysterical!

I had a little Barbie lunch pail that served as a fun accessory (my purse!) as well as coming in very handy for the Barbie Ball...

It's always good to get away on a girls' weekend to recharge your batteries, open your eyes to new experiences, and to bond with other incredible women. That's exactly what I did, and here are some of the witty, intelligent, caring, fun, friendly, creative and fabulous women I spent my weekend with:

While I was away, Nicole had some promo shots taken...this is my favorite. A quick update on her therapy program...she "graduated" from outpatient rehab, and is now in the Methodist Rehab QUEST program, which focuses on independent living skills. She had her first full day there today (I feel like it's the first day of school!). She'll go to QUEST three days a week. She's still working out with Eclecius (in the basement of the Fondren building) five days a week, and soon she'll be in a dance class, if all goes as planned. Nicole's still persuing a career in motivational/'inspirational speaking. Tomorrow, as a matter of fact, she'll be speaking at the Professional Women's Association luncheon at River Hills Country Club. Her message is a strong one! For more information about Nicole, check out her website (which is a work in progress!):

It's nice to know that her life is back on track in such a positive way, and I can resume mine...writing, reading and spending an occassional weekend with the girls!

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Girl Trip!!!!!

I'm sitting here with Revlon #42 on my head (red by choice!) counting down the hours until I am in the car on my way to Jefferson, Texas. Fellow BB Queens (book club members) Jonni and Leslie are swinging by around 11am to pick me up. They won't hardly have to slow down. Just pull up in the circular driveway and I'll throw my bags in the car, jump in and we'll be ON THE ROAD!!!

When I was growing up, moms didn't go on girl's trips--or I don't recall any conversation about such when they gathered for coffee. But back in my day, not many of the moms worked outside of the home. Today, it seems like just about everyone I know has a group of girlfriends who take a girls' trip at some point each year. These are all hard-working women who are dedicated to their husbands, children, jobs, civic work, church work, etc... Taking off for a few days with the girls is a great way to decompress...and to recharge.

One of my most memorable girl trips was to Destin several years ago. Nine of us, in three cars, took off on a three-day adventure in early February. The holidays behind us, kids back in school, it was the perfect time to go spend a few days of fun together.

We stayed in Jacqui's big, beautiful condo (that was back before the D-I-V-O-R-C-E...). We cooked, ate, sipped wine, talked, laughed, watched movies, slept a little, shopped and generally had a happy, relaxing time. Just spending so much uninterrupted time together was rushing home to the kids, no pressure. Just a chance to put our feet up, let our hair down and say or do whatever we wanted. We got to know each other better, create stronger bonds and develop stronger friendships--things that were difficult to do back home due to our busy, active lives.

The trip I'm taking this weekend is a little different. There's a reason for the gathering--it's a book conference, attended by members of book clubs around the country as well as by several authors. There will be panel discussions, workshops, and a fair share of fun. Called "Girlfriend's Weekend," it's the biggest event every year in quaint little Jefferson, Texas--a town that doesn't have a single hotel! We'll all be staying in the many bed and breakfast inns in and around Jefferson. I'm most excited about the luncheon with author Pat Conroy tomorrow.

This is a turning point for our family right now as well...Larry will be working, so Nicole will be "on her own" for much of the weekend. She's ready. As a matter of fact, she "graduated" was her last day at Methodist Rehab Center's outpatient therapy clinic. They surprised her with a beautiful (and delicious!) cake:

We ate some before anyone  thought to take a picture!

And just like it's been since the time of her accident, the media was there to cover this milestone. Stephanie Bell Flynt from WLBT news interviewed both Nicole and me and the story aired on the 4pm and 10pm news yesterday. Nicole's story has been reported on WLBT's Medical Matters since her return to Mississippi, a month after her accident. To see her stories, log on to and click on the Medical Matters link at the top of the home page.

Time to go rinse the color off my one will be able to criticize me for having gray roots, not that I really care. In an hour and a half, me and my newly-red hair will be on the road for a weekend of friends and fun!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Loving the 'net

I'm writing this tonight, because I have a busy day tomorrow and have to get an early start...

Stop me...stop me NOW! I have become a blogging addict. I love to read other people's blogs. It's like a little window into their world. Some people have blogs dedicated to their families and they fill it with photos of the daily goings on in their lives. No matter how monumental or inconsequential. I mean, thanks for sharing your precious baby's throw-up with us--NOT. Although some of them are really cute and touching and heartwarming and even inspiring. I remember what it was like to be a young mother. A young working mother. At times (most times) it was overwhelming. Reading these blogs brings back memories, but also a twinge of regret that I didn't have that kind of support and network to other moms who were going through the same things I was. Most of the mommy bloggers handle it all with alot of humor. With a blog called you just know life's gonna be alright!

I also enjoy home decorating blogs, particularly those that repurpose everyday items into splendid accessories for the home. Some are reallllllllly tacky, while some are incredibly clever and creative. One of my favorites used to be, although now you have to kind of weed through her ads and giveaways to see her true blog, complete with photos. Now this chick, The Nester, is like the ROCK STAR of bloggers. Women flock to her site and from what I've read, they actually ask for her autograph at blogging conferences. I watched the You Tube video tour of her home (which pretty much just included the entry hall) and it cracked me up. First, there's the giggly Nester-groupie at the beginning. Then, there's the house...nice, but not THAT nice. Right off the bat I noticed an empty urn by her front door. I'd rather keep my fake Christmas trees standing in the urns on either side of my front door until Easter than have empty urns. And inside, nothing special...she even brags about the hastily made pillows on her sofa. And the comments slay me: "LOVE netster! Her house is just stunning!!!! Its so fun to see it "for real" not just in photos on the blog!" These people have obviously not seen my friend Ann's house. Or Jacqui's house. Or Debbie's house...or MY house, for that matter. Oh enough...view the video for your own self:

For the past couple of days, I've been reading writer's blogs. These are totally different. Some review books and some post their writings, or what they're doing to promote their writing, etc. It's been very eye-opening for me, since I want to write a book on Nicole's accident and miraculous recovery. Today, my friend Nancy Kay sent me the link to a writer's conference that will be held at Ole Miss in October. So, in rooting around on that, I came across a blogger who I felt an instant kinship with. She's originally from Jackson, graduated from Murrah, and now lives in Memphis. And not only that, she's going to the Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas this weekend. So am I! And she's riding over with River Jordan, one of the authors we've read in our book club! Too much. I immediately friended her on facebook, and she messaged me right back, and that began an afternoon of banter back and forth. So, now I'm going to meet one of my new best friends in Texas this weekend!

Sometimes, I believe that with all the "stuff" there is in the universe (and 98% of that is now on the internet) God has a way of leading us to people we're supposed to meet. I mean, how else do you explain a white bread Southern girl like me meeting/falling in love with/'getting married to a swell guy from Venezuela? (And that was almost 30 years ago!) My new friend with the beautiful name, Susan, lives a parallel life to my own. She's a writer, a reader, and a lover of life! I'd like to introduce you to her:

This has been long...lots of extracurricular linkage going on today. All to say, I love the internet...I love connecting with friends old and new...and I'm seriously thinking of powering my computer with bike pedals so I can at least get some exercise while reading all the creative blogs.

QUESTION: Do you read certain blogs regularly? If so, what are your favorites and why? Please leave a comment and if you are a HUGE fan of the Nester, please don't hate me...

Y'all say a prayer for those poor people in Haiti, who are suffering following the devastating earthquake there, and for all the people in Jackson who have been adversely affected by the broken pipes/water shortage. I'm extra thankful tonight that I live in a warm, cozy home with plenty of running water. God's been good to me.

Blessings to all who read this!

Can you dig it?

So much of what I learn happens in gatherings of women. Last night, I attended two gatherings. The first was the bookclub I've been a member of for about five months. I've LOVED it!

The ladies in the bookclub call themselves the BB Queens, and they wear tiaras. From the beginning, that appealed to me. There are about 30 women in the club, from all professions and walks of life. It's a lively, interesting group. The group is a chapter of the Pulpwood Queens, based in Jefferson, Texas. A crazy redhead hairdresser started it all about ten years ago from her beauty parlor/bookstore. Appropriately, it's called "Beauty and the Book." There are now chapters all over the United States! Check it out at These wonderful women have taken me under their wing and provided me with a monthly night out, which was sorely needed after the past year. They are even packing me up and taking me with them to Jefferson this weekend for the annual "Girlfriend Weekend," which is a conference for readers and writers. I'm particularly excited about the luncheon with author Pat Conroy on Friday. We read his book "South of Broad" recently and it made me want to visit Charleston, South Carolina really bad.

We had a delayed Christmas party last night, and played "Dirty Santa" with books from our own bookshelves at home. It was impressive to hear the squeals of delight when each book was opened. Cries of "I love that author!" or, "You're gonna love that book!" rang out. These women are READERS and they know their authors well. It's great to be around fun, intellegent women and I can't wait for our weekend getaway!

After the bookclub, I made it back to my own 'hood, where a new garden club has formed. I have lived in my house for 14 years, and in all that time there has been no garden club. Leave it to a newcomer to the 'hood to stir things up. Now we have a garden club, bunco group, day trippin' group, luncheon's amazing how women love to get together for just about any reason!

I'm the program chairman of the garden club, and last night I was patting myself on the back after hearing Ben Profilet talk to us about things we can do to our yards now to make them more beautiful in the spring and summer. He "dumbed it down" for us when necessary, but again, the women in the group amazed me with their extensive knowledge of gardening. For awhile, it was almost a game of "stump the presentor," but I'll give it to Ben, he handled it well and in the end, he really knew his stuff. He has a passion for gardening that is contagious. I learned alot in the hour and a half I sat listening to the program (he could have gone on all night, and many of those in attendance seemed like they were ready to question him all night).

I'm so thankful that opportunites for knowledge sharing and idea exchanges exist here for me. From professional groups like the Professional Women's Association, to more informal groups like the BB Queens book club and the Whisper Lake garden club, I take something away each time I attend--not to mention the wonderful, supportive friendships that develop along the way.

Now I have to put what I've learned into practice!

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, January 11, 2010

From Slug to Participant

There's something to be said about living the life of a slug. Being a couch potato for the past three days has been relaxing and rejuvenating! It's not that I've been totally unproductive...I got the last of the Christmas decorations in the house put away, I cleaned out some cabinets and through Facebook, got rid of years' worth of cooking magazines, cookbooks I didn't use, and other things. Cleaning out the cobwebs and clearing my plate for the New Year...

Staying in was a good idea, as the weather was too darned cold to go anywhere. We live on a golf course, and it cracks me up to see all those fanatical golfers who will endure all kinds of incliment weather (for me, that means too hot, too cold, too wet...) to play golf. Or maybe they just need to get out of the house. But for the past few days the only golf cart I saw was full of stupid teenage boys, who were having a ball sliding the cart on the ice patch in front of my next door neighbor's house. I just said a prayer for their stupid selves and busied myself with cleaning out my cabinets. Lord knows we've seen enough brain trauma patients in therapy over the past year.

I swent to bed full of of good intensions. I set the alarm clock for 6am so I could get up, exercise, bathe (a three-day slug fest can get gross), and be a productive citizen starting today. REALITY CHECK:  I got a bit of a workout rolling over to hit the snooze button for over an hour, and I'm still in my pj's, but I'm up, drinking coffee and writing, so that has to count for something! I'm going to have to ease into be a participant in life again, but I have to ease in's already approaching mid-January and I've got a calendar full of things to do this week.

I'm finished with my coffee, and I'm about done with this post, so all that's left to do is to hop up and do something with this day that will make me go to bed tonight feeling a real sense of accomplishment. I'm gonna go take care of my family, make some money, and either discover a cure for cancer or facilitate world peace, whichever comes first...

What are you going to do with this day?

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Learning new tricks

Have you ever noticed that some people--most people--don't really like change? Humans are creatures of habit and there is a certain comfort in waking up every day knowing what to expect. But in order to grow, we must embrace change.

In my own life, change often evolves around food. When I think back to my own childhood, we didn't eat sushi and other things that are so common for us now. I think back to the first time I ate sushi. I was apprehensive, unsure, and almost determined not to like it. But a patient friend who had lived in CALIFORNIA (so she knew) helped explain the different types of sushi, and I tried several kinds to determine which I like the best. Now, I am a sushi afficianado! It's quite possibly my favorite thing to eat!

Technology is another area that challenges most of our lives. I actually have friends my own age who have no idea what to do with a computer. In my opinion, they are missing out on so much. I love the fact that I can Google just about anything (notice, Google can now be used as a verb). What's the recipe for a wedding cake martini? GOOGLE IT! What kind of bird is that outside my window? GOOGLE IT! Where can I find the best deal on UGG slippers? GOOGLE IT! And I do, all day long, whenever a question pops into my head.

All that technology is now available at my fingertips, with my new HTC Hero phone, which I may have mentioned before that I HATE. It's basically a computer that also functions as a phone. I can access the internet, check and send emails, go to facebook, and much, much more. Mind-boggling more. Hurts-my-brain more. I've already had friends who have given up--returned their Hero and gone back to their Blackberry comfort zone. But I'm determined to LOVE my Hero. I am going to go to the "how to use your Hero" class tomorrow. I guess I have to prove that this old dog can, indeed, do new tricks!

Sometimes we have to challenge ourselves to be open to learning new things. I did that with my pal, Maggie Clark, just yesterday. We went to a very interesting lunch meeting yesterday where we were introduced to the future of news delivery system. We all know and understand television and radio newscasts, and of course, newspapers. But with broadcast, we are limited to have to tune in when they are broadcasting the news. You can read newspapers when you want, but there is a little bit of effort required--walking down the driveway or driving to the newstand--and the news is only updated one time a day.

Yesterday we saw a new news delivery outlet that will be available online beginning January 18. It's called, and it will be Mississippi's only dedicated online news source offering state and local news, as well as news about business, sports, religion, lifestyles, opinion, obituaries and daily audio broadcasts. One of the cool things about it is that anyone can create an account and submit content--press releases, articles, etc. It's something that's going to take getting used to, but I think it has great potential.

There is one change I don't think I'll ever get used's this coooooold weather. Wind chill is at 11 degrees now. I like our temperate climate in Mississippi. I like that I don't really need a heavy coat. I don't like feeling that bone-chilling cold that happens when I step out my door. I got a comment yesterday from a faithful reader from Minot, ND, where the air temp was NEGATIVE 18 and a wind chill of 50 below zero! And they have snow, snow, snow. (By the way, happy 50th birthday Marlarae!) I'm thinking that a warm beach sounds pretty good right about now!

The cold weather really does a number on Nicole. She has so much hardware up and down her neck and spine, and the cold weather makes all those rods and screws really cold. They are all touching her bones and muscles in her back, so it causes pain. The solution at home is a space heater in her room. She loves it. But when I open her door, it feels like a blast furnace to me! We have to be very careful, too, to be sure she wears heavy socks and slippers. While she can feel her feet, she is still lacking the sensations of hot and cold, which can really be risky. So when the floors are really cold, she can't feel that. And when the water in the bathtub is too hot, she can't feel that. She has had to learn ways around it. Thank goodness she's not an old dog and that she's quite willing to learn new tricks!

Stay warm everyone!

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Wonderland?

Oh my! It's cold outside, and the weather reports are frightening! Schools are closing and winter warnings are in effect. So much for living in the Deep South.

Joe called last night and said classes were cancelled at Holmes CC. He said the dorms were clearing out fast, with students heading home before the roadways freeze. He and Emily went to the home of one of Joe's suitemates. His parents have a large home just outside of Goodman, and several kids were going over there. I hope they are prepared to have a houseful of college kids for a few days!

On the homefront, I decided to make a Wal-Mart run late last night. Larry said there were lines at gas stations when he was driving home from work. I expected it to be bedlam at Wal-Mart. I was pretty much right. And the shelves were empty of the necessities I needed. There were NO bananas! For real...when was the last time you went to Wal-Mart and they were out of bananas? Probably NEVER. (Interesting fact: during a particularly boring time, I watched a documentary on Wal-Mart. The number one selling item in all the Wal-Mart stores in all the world is BANANAS!!!)  I was thinking ahead, because if we have an ice storm and our power goes out, we still have a gas stove (a blessing I'm very thankful for!). I can cook all kinds of things in the event of a power outage, beginning with a big pot of chili!

So I went to bed last night, expecting to wake up to a winter wonderland, and instead, woke up to temps in the mid-thirties (it's not freezing yet!) and rain. It's just generally yucky. But when the temps do dip below freezing later tonight, we will have a big mess, because the rain-soaked world here will freeze. I'm cold just thinking about it!

I spent the day with Nicole yesterday because her Personal Care Assistant, Caitlyn, was under the weather. First to physical therapy, then to work out with Eclecius, then to the "big" Methodist Rehab, then a little shopping therapy at Repeat Street. I was exhausted by the time we got home. Nicole's life is always a whirlwind of activity.

Caitlyn's back today, and I'm meeting up with Maggie Clark to go to a media luncheon downtown. Life goes on, despite the impending bad weather. I'll just be happy when we're all snuggled up back at home in front of the fireplace.

I just got some good news that my friend, Nell, may be attending the blogging conference with me next month...Yeah! The more I look at the agenda, the more I know I'm going to learn. And you, my faithful readers, will benefit! If you haven't registered as a "follower," feel free to do so, and any comments you care to make will be appreciated. It's the best way for me to grow and learn.

Think warm thoughts today!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bob's got his wings...

This morning when I was coming home from driving Nicole to her workout with Eclecius, I saw a sad sight. It was the beautiful crane that I have been watching for several months, dead on the side of Highway 463. He must have gotten hit by a passing car. I had started looking for him near a marshy area as I drove up and down the highway each day. He always looked so stately, standing tall on his long legs. And to see him fly was such a treat. His wingspan had to have been three feet or more.

But today, those feathers were scattered by the side of the road, and as I passed by and saw his carcass, I cried. I was already a little weepy this morning, as a good friend of mine who also flew on a daily basis found himself grounded as well. I woke up to the sad news that Bob Rall, "Chopper Bob," had died in his sleep. I was stunned. I had talked to him a week or so ago, and he sent one of his trademark jokes on facebook New Year's Eve night. ("I just saw a dyslexic policeman writing tickets for IUD's.") Bob was a very intellegent, witty, compassionate man with a beautiful voice. He had spent nearly his entire career in radio before becoming the traffic reporter for WLBT-TV, flying above the skies of the tri-county area giving traffic updates to commuters. He went to sleep early last night to get back in his's been a couple of months since he's flown as the helicopter was in California for a "tune up." This morning, his wife, Elizabeth, woke up and realized Bob has passed during the night. Lucky for us, Bob has earned his angel wings while here on Earth, so we know he'll be looking down on us from Heaven. Rest in peace, dear friend.

I spent the better part of the day taking down the Christmas decorations in our house. The tree is naked and on the curb, but before I undressed it, I took a picture to remember it. This was the prettiest tree, in my opinion, that we've had in years. Thanks again to our friend Kathy who gave it to us! I can't honestly remember putting all that stuff out all over the entire house. It seems like every time I thought I was finished packing it up, I'd turn around an see an elf peeking out from a bookshelf, a snowflake hanging from a light fixture or a Santa Claus popping up out of a potted plant. Now it's all packed up for next year.

With the weather being soooooo cold, I decided to put some extra bird food out. Roxie was just going crazy watching them from her perch on my loveseat. I pulled up the bamboo blinds so she could look right out the window at the birdfeeder. I counted six different species of birds, several of each kind. They were so happy that I am helping to boost their metabolisms!

It's late, and I'm tired, but content. Joe is back in the dorm and starts classes tomorrow. He "survived" having his wisdom teeth out yesterday just fine. Nic has been out with friends, singing karaoke and having fun, and she's on her way home. Larry is home from work. "Law & Order" is on...a fire is burining warmly in the fireplace.

As happy as I am right now, I can't help but think of sweet Elizabeth Rall, who went to bed with the love of her life last night, and tonight, she'll go to bed alone. Life is fleeting, so we have to make the most of each day. Bob's death is a reminder for us to live each day as if it's our last. Live your life with no regrets and be thankful each morning that you awake to a new day.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Getting back to normal?

What a beautiful family! Oh, to have hair like this mom...if "the higher the hair, the closer to God" is true, she's tickling his beard! I don't know where I got this photo...and no, I don't know these people, but aren't they just the happiest looking family you've ever seen???

Aaaaagggghhhh! One thing I promise I will never do is sugar-coat our life. That means that along with Nicole's miraculous recovery, the hard work and amazing progress, there are bumps in the road that no amount of SAM-e could ever take care of.

How many of you have "boomerang kids" at home? You know...they left the nest then ended right back in it. Most do so on their own, knowing they have a safe, welcoming place to come home to. Others have no choice. Finances, or issues that they can't handle on their own drive them back home. But that's not the case with Nicole.

She's lived in France, traveled around Europe, been on several "solo" trips to Venezuela...she spent a summer in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, a year living in downtown Louisville, KY, all before moving to New York. She's as independent a person as I've ever met, and always ready to spread her wings and fly to the next big adventure.

So her accident brought her home not by choice, but by shear necessity. She'll turn 27 next month, and she is living in the room she grew up in. To say that part of her life is making her crazy is a major understatement. And while I am GRATEFUL beyond all belief that she is alive and well and home with us where I can protect her and know she's safe, I'm also going NUTS having her here! I guess we're pretty much back to normal, huh?

Except that Nicole wants to live on her own now. And she's not ready, physically to do that. There is still so much she cannot do on her own, mostly having to do with her limited hand function. That part just really sucks for her and for us. And financially, there's NO WAY she can live on her own. She gets a modest "stipend" of disability money each month--barely enough to cover her lunches out (she has to eat lunch out, because she's out all day, going to therapy, working out, etc.). We may have to start sending pb&j sammiches with her. And thanks to the Ridgeland Chamber of Commerce, which started a medical fund account for Nicole at Trustmark, we've been able to pay off alot of medical bills. I kept some money in the account to cover prescriptions, supplies, gas money for her personal care assistant and to pay for her trainer. But, that money has dwindled down to under $300. So, paying rent, utilitities, etc. isn't an option for Nicole right now, as she simply doesn't have the money to do it. Details, details... (By the way, the account is still open at Trustmark: it's the Nicole Marquez Medical Fund.)

There is a light at the end of the tunnel...Nicole is working on developing a motiviational speaking career, but that will take time. She's joined the National Speaker's Association and she's been making speeches at area schools, churches, chambers, civic clubs, companies, etc. She made a commitment to not charge for her services for speeches she makes in the tri-county area for the first year. It's her way of giving back to the community that has done so much for her.

So, we've got to find our rhythm we are going to get along while moving ahead? There's alot of "I can do it myself" but that lasts until "I need some help." I have to learn to let go, but still be in the wings, ready to jump in and assist when needed...mothering without smothering. And Nicole needs to learn to accept help when offered...she doesn't have to do it all alone.

And then there's Joe...who had his wisdom teeth out today and the only thing he needed me for was to pay the $1060 to the oral surgeon with a credit card--by phone. His sweet girlfriend Emily took him this morning, stayed with him, went to get his prescriptions, took him to her house and she dealt with the moaning and groaning all day. It was a sweet deal for me, I guess, although I really did long to wrap my arms around him while he was in such a vunerable state and rub his head, telling him it will all be OK. Instead, I talked to his woozy self on the phone.

He's fine. Nicole is fine. So I guess Larry and I will be fine too. Might as well....we're all getting back to normal.

Blessings to all who read this!

Baby, It's COLD Outside...

Thank goodness Roxie has her long johns on! Actually, she HATES them, but she's a good sport about letting us dress her up in ridiculous outfits. She's a good dog.

Well, here we are on the first Monday of the New Year. I hope everyone had as good (relaxing) a weekend as I did. Not much pressure to get alot real demands on my time...just alot of relaxing and renewing in preparation for a busy 2010!

Since I'm writing about good moods, can I just tell you that watching the TODAY show has done wonders already for my mood this morning? That precious Apolo Anton Ohno is on. He has the sweetest smile! I loved watching him on "Dancing with the Stars," and now he's getting ready for the winter Olympics, where Matt Lauer is saying he could easily become the most decorated U.S. winter Olympian ever. All I know is that he's a real cutie! Thank you, TODAY, for providing all us middle-aged women with such delicious eye-candy!

Just so you know, I'm on day six of taking SAM-e, the natural mood enhancer. The box said it takes seven to 14 days to "kick in." Larry is counting down! So sometime between tomorrow and next week, I should be in a really good mood!

OK, here's the deal: the real truth is that I'm NOT in a good mood all the time. It's because I'm ...HUMAN! But I do make a real effort at trying to be positive as often as possible. It makes things go a little better. I've noticed that when I'm in the middle of a "bitch fest," I tend to get knots in my stomach. Maybe I'm a conflict-avoider. I'm not going to over-analyze it. I just like to be around happy people, so I want to be the kind of person I'd like to be around!

I'm excited this morning because my parents have offered to pay the registration for the blogging conference I want to go to next month in Nashville. It's called "Blissdom '10" and includes seminars on both writing and business tracks. I see alot of potential in blogging and I'd like to blog for companies. I did that crazy contest to get the "Good Mood Blogger" gig. I didn't get it, but what I did get is the knowledge that companies see the value in real people like me writing about their companies/products/services.

On the homefront, it's freezing (literally) outside. Larry had to go to work today (he's usually off on Mondays) for a staff meeting. Joe is getting his wisdom teeth out this morning. Nicole is heading off to therapy and her workout with Eclecius. She's starting ballet classes again this month, so that will be interesting. She says she's ready...and Lord knows, I'm not going to stop THAT dancer!

I'm going to start working on cleaning out/organizing my office, which may easily be a week-long project. It's a new year...time to clean out and start the year off fresh.

Go make the most of this day!!!!!!

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Good Moods in 2010!

SO...This is the first installment in my six-month personal commitment to write about good moods...and it's my second time to write it. I was trying to edit the first one, and LOST the whole damned thing. And I haven't had my first cup of coffee yet. I'm not sure if that's a bad omen or not...but I'm going to keep on going, because...It's The Marquez Way.

Starting over...HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I hope everyone had as much fun as I did last night. Fun isn't always defined by people, places or things...I sat my big rear at home, alone, playing on facebook and watching back-to-back episodes of "30 Rock." I had no deadlines, no demands on my time, nothing else to do but relax and usher out the old year. Larry surprised me by coming home around 10:30pm...I haven't seen him before midnight on New Year's Eve in years. Seems folks at the club just wanted to enjoy a nice dinner, then go on home for the stroke of midnight. Nice.

This morning, I woke up to let Roxie out. She had a hard time last night with the festivities in my neighborhood, which involves alot of fireworks. For some reason, the popping of the firecrackers scares her to death. But this morning, she's over it, and she's back in "Roxie the Wonderdog" mode. She spends a good part of every morning running in and out the back door, barking, crying, spinning around, and craning her neck to see the squirrels running in the tops of the trees. She can't get to them, but it doesn't stop her from trying. Even when she's taking a break, she sits on my loveseat, looking through the blinds to look for movement in the treetops. Her perseverence is very inspiring, really. She doesn't look at the situation and think "this is impossible, so I won't even try." Instead, she pretty much knows that she can't get the squirrel, but she wants the squirrel, so she keeps trying, day after day.

Alot of people have told me they are impressed with how strong Larry and I have been throughout Nicole's ordeal. In my mind, there was no option. Very early on after her accident, I was told by an emergency room physician that Nicole would be a quadraplegic for life. I was by myself in the Baltimore airport, trying to make my way to her in New York when I got that nugget of news. I couldn't bear to think of my beautiful, active Nicole confined to a wheelchair. So I made a decision to put that image out of my mind, and not to tell anyone. Instead, I thought out her moving...walking...dancing...and that's all we ever talked about outloud to her or anyone else.

It was a survival mechanism for me, I admit, but I believe it set the tone for her care in the hospital. We refused to accept the easy way out, but instead chose the path that was difficult, bumpy and sometimes scary. But at the end of that path was the ability to dance once again. So, Nicole has spent the past year navigating that difficult path with grace, perseverance, determination, motivation and pure grit. She just simply won't give up.

So as I start this new year, I, too, have personal goals. Some seem hard to reach, but I have to take my cues from Roxie and Nicole. I can't give up. I must continue to try. I know some days will be difficult, but if I continue to plow on through, I know I'll see positive results.

Even though I had to write this entry twice, I'm finding myself in a pretty good mood at the start of this new year. And I'd like to remind you that this has all come without my first sip of coffee--yet. I'm going to take it pretty easy again today, enjoying my quiet house with Larry (Nic and Joe return from New Orleans tomorrow). We'll see friends Sylvia and Terry, who are here from Atlanta, this afternoon.

Here's wishing you all a fruitful and happy new year!

Blessings to all who read this!