Friday, February 26, 2010

Detox Camp--Graduation Day!

This is the last day of my week-long detox camp! I almost made it all the way through without cheating....almost.

I had a meeting last night with the past presidents of the Jackson Advertising Federation. It was a real who's who of Jackson's advertising community for the past 30+ years. I'm still in awe to be a part of that group. I was active in that club for many, many years and learned alot about what I know today from the great speakers and programs we've had over the years. Not to mention the great relationships I've made.

What does that have to do with my detox diet?

Well, we met at 6pm at the Capitol Club downtown, and they had an open bar and a spread of food. I couldn't fathom drinking a glass of water with that particular I ordered a glass of pinot noir. I passed on the hot artichoke dip and chips, mini hamburgers and other ::bad:: food and went, instead, for the crudite...slices of fresh bell pepper, cucumbers and carrots. No dip, please. Just the veggies.

Not too bad...the wine was not allowed, but I sipped it over the course of our hour and a half long meeting when in the past, I would have had two glasses of wine during that time.

But then I went with Gene and Maggie to dinner. At The Mayflower. Where redfish is sublime. So, I ate the redfish and a salad. NO bread (and they have the yummiest rolls ever!). I had water to drink, and also ordered a cup of hot tea...realizing halfway into it that it probably had caffeine. So I only drank half of it.

And it was good! I don't think I did too bad, all things considered. I had one glass of wine and one piece of fish that was not allowed, six days into a seven day detox. So far, my body hasn't revolted.

We'll meet at the YMCA again tonight for our Detox Camp celebration meeting. Several of us have decided to extend the detox another week. If I feel this good after six days, I can only imagine what it will be like after two weeks. Plus, I've actually dropped a few pounds this week. Four to be exact. That's a start...

I got big news this morning when I opened up my emails. If you've read the article in PORTICO this month, or followed Caring Bridge back when Nicole first had her accident, you know about the doctor I sat next to on the plane from Jackson to Baltimore as I was trying to get to New York. Dr. John Sampson is a Jackson State graduate, and a doctor at Johns Hopkins. He was a godsend, because he told me what I could expect when I got to New York, and he was instrumental in getting Nicole moved from Harlem Hospital to New York Presbyterian--the best place on Earth, I believe, for someone in her condition. He also "coached" me, telling me that my role was to be Nicole's advocate--a role I took very seriously.

The big news is that we will see Dr. Sampson this weekend. We've stayed in touch, and he will be in Ridgeland for his grandmother's birthday. We are going to meet up again, but this time, I won't be so frantic. And he will meet Nicole for the first time. I'm super excited, because I believe he was one of the many angels God sent to us to make this journey easier. Every step of the way.

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Detox Camp-Day 6

Our bodies are such a gift, and yet we abuse them so badly. At least, I have, and for much too long. It's amazing how we can dismiss what we see in the mirror. But I've seen way too many photos of myself lately, and I don't like what I see. I know the effects of aging are going to take their toll, but I have allowed the pounds to be packed on as well. A double whammy!

I'm not vain--far from it. But I do want to be healthy and enjoy the benefits of good health, which means a slimmer, trimmer  and more energetic body to carry me through life.

So, today is Day Six of the big Detox, and I'm really feeling better than ever! I've been doing yoga every day and every day it gets a little easier. I had no idea what all the hoopla was about yoga, but now I'm a big fan and I really want to get into a yoga class in the near future. It really creates a strong body awareness, helping with breathing, posture, and even digestion.

I was reminded this morning once again how badly I need this when I saw a YouTube video of myself. It was made at the Blissdom conference in the Hallmark booth. They were randomly asking people to choose a card they'd give to encourage their kids. I chose one for both Nicole and Joseph and explained why I picked those particular cards on video. I think I looked TERRIBLE...fat face, double chin...all I know is that when I go to Blissdom next year (and I WILL be going!), I will be taking a different version of myself.

And in case you're wondering, my office project has been sidelined day after day with other commitments. It's frustrating, not only to me, but surely to my family, as they have to walk through this every day:

It will happen when it happens...and it will be awesome.

I'd like to take a moment and that you for reading my blog! I spent some time with Roxie and Shari again yesterday...we are all learning this together. Be sure to visit their fun blog, Tiaras, Tatersalad & Toddies and if you like what you read, do us all a favor, please sign on as "followers" on both of our blogs. We'd appreciate it, as much as we appreciate your kind comments!

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Detox Camp--Day 5

I'm getting leaner and cleaner by the minute. I can actually feel my body getting healthier! I've been without caffeine, meat, dairy, fish, msg, wheat, and who-knows-what-else for five days. And so far, so good!

In case you missed it, I've been going to the YMCA Weeklong Detox Camp. It started Saturday morning and runs through Friday night. And I'm very very very proud to say I HAVEN'T CHEATED ONE BIT!

That's because this has been pretty easy. And the food is actually very filling. Oatmeal for breakfast. Sweet potato or rice and beans for lunch, roasted veggies and fruit salad for dinner. And lots and lots of hot herbal tea and water.

I don't know if I could keep this up for the long term, but I can probably do this 75% of the time after I'm done with this detox. I've eaten out twice already, and that hasn't been an issue at all. I had sauteed veggies at Aladdin (no rice, because they serve white rice), and I had the rice and bean bowl at Rainbow yesterday. They were smoked kidney beans with sauteed onions. Actually very, very tasty. The side salad was yummy, too.

The only thing I've slacked on is the Yoga...I'm supposed to do 4 to 5 "sun salutations" a day...downward facing dog and cobra poses, etc. And we're supposed to stop and really breathe, concentrating on our breathing. Turns out that deep breathing increases your metabolism! I'm doing it the best I can, but my mind seems to wander alot. I do better in a classroom setting with our instructor, Jacklyn, talking us through it in her calming voice.

I had no time for downward facing dog poses or anything else yesterday. I took over for Caitlyn (Nicole's personal care assistant) yesterday and that was workout enough. Drop off a music CD at Belhaven College. Go to a meeting at the Fondren Corner Building. Head to the Convention Center for a dance performance (part of a Disability Partnership conference). Hurry to lunch at Rainbow. Go to an appointment at Methodist Rehab. Afterwards, visit with a new patient there (shout-out to Sarah Alexander--rock your therapy today!). Go work out with Eclecius. Stop by Len Stanga's to pick up a gift (Incredible! More on that later...). Back home...cook my detox dinner and collapse! Nicole's days are so full and busy, I could hardly keep up!

I meet with my detox group again this evening, so I'll get today's Yoga session in while I'm there.

I believe this detox diet is a good idea for anyone who wants to get a clean, fresh start before doing some serious dieting, or simply before embarking on a new adventure. I'm healthier and have more energy already.

Have you ever done a detox diet? Would you consider doing one? I'd love to hear about your experience or desire to try.

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Detox Camp: Day 2

It's day two of my weeklong detox and so far so good. I haven't felt hungry, and that's a good thing.

We spent two days at the YMCA today with our detox instructor/guru, Jacklyn. She really knows her stuff and wants to make sure that our detox experience is a gentle one. I guess she didn't factor in the fact that most of us in the class are middle aged, overweight and chronically out of shape. The wonderfully relaxing yoga we did yesterday morning kicked our collective asses. We were all sore and whiny today. But, we hung in there, using a chair when needed because our bodies simply wouldn't stretch the way Jacklyn's could.

This week's diet consists of primarily brown rice, beans, vegetables and fruit. And hot tea. Lots of hot tea.

As long as I don't feel like I'm being deprived, I'm OK. We don't go back again until Wednesday evening, when we'll have our mid-week check-up. Until then, we have to do our own "sun salutation" yoga poses four to five times a day. Thank goodness I have Nicole here. She's a long time yoga practitioner and she can talk me through it.

Nic is hoping to do yoga again soon, which will probably help with her balance. The question now is how much will her back bend with all the hardware in there? She wants to contact Dr. A (the doctor who did her surgeries in NY) to see if it is possible to have them removed eventually. She so wants to do what she could before the accident. That would be amazing.

The thing about Nicole that always impresses me is that whatever her circumstances, she manages to find a way to do the things she most wants to do. She's working very hard on the event she's putting together to benefit the "Ask for More Arts" program of Parents for Public Schools. It's March 27 at The Auditorium in Fondren. For more information, go to "An Evening of HOPE w/ Nicole Marquez" on Facebook. Tickets can be purchased online here.

Time for another cup of tea...

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Detox Camp: Day 1

Imagine a week without eating meat. Or chicken or fish or eggs or cheese. No sugar. No bread. And NO artificial sweeteners of any kind! Starting today, that's what I'm doing. It's no coincidence in my mind that this is happening during the same time as Lent.

Today is Day One of the Detox Camp at the Downtown Jackson YMCA. I'm doing it with some book club girlfriends. Thank goodness--I don't think I could do this alone!

Something had to give. I have gained 20 pounds since Nicole's accident. Obviously, I'm a stress eater.

I dragged myself out of bed this morning and drove to the Y (and I'm not even making this up--the Village People were singing "YMCA" on the radio as I pulled into the parking lot! Jonni told me it was an affirmation that I was supposed to be there!).

There are eight of us in the class. Most can stand to lose a few pounds, myself included. We were met by a very perky yoga instructor named Jacklyn. Skinny. Young. And very knowledgeable about nutrition, the body and how a weeklong detox can help the body in many positive ways. OK. I'm in.

Jacklyn passed out little plastic bags filled with all kinds of goodies we'll need for our detox.

Detox tea. Tumeric powder. Pepitos. Flax seeds. Dried papaya. Aloe capsules. Multivitamins. And chia seeds. As in chi-chi-chi-chia pets! Evidently, they are a great source of nutrition. A quick online research revealed that the use of chi seeds as a superfood can be traced back as far as the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Warriors used it as a high energy endurance food, but also as medicine. Indians would pack the wounds with chia seeds to avoid infections. It is said that one tablespoon of the seeds could sustain a person for 24 hours. Jacklyn told us to sprinkle it on our oatmeal in the morning.

What I didn't realize going in is that we were going to be doing yoga. A lot of it. I've never practiced yoga, but  I liked it more than I thought I would. Of course, I predict that I'll feel it tomorrow, but that's OK. I was doing the cobra, downward facing dog, and all kinds of poses. Jacklyn also placed a huge focus on breathing. Really deep, controlled, intentional breathing. It was amazing how relaxing it was. We don't breathe deep enough in our daily lives, and according to Jacklyn, deep breathing will increase metabolism and reduce stress.

After class, I met up with Shari and Roxie, authors of Tiaras, Tatersalad and Toddies, at Rainbow Whole Food Coop. We went shopping for some of the things we CAN eat over the next week, and ended up eating lunch and visiting  in the atrium. These girls are lots of fun, and they can seriously cook, so it's going to be very interesting to see how they incorporate their detox experience into their blog. I'm counting on them to come up with some great rice-and-bean recipes! (A challenge? You bet!

It was so beautiful out today--with a high in the mid-60's--and I wanted to work in the yard so bad. But the crud still has a hold on me, and I ended up falling asleep not long after I got home. I'm hoping that this detox will also get rid of all the toxins that have been making me sick for the past few days.

Tune in tomorrow for the update on Day Two of Detox Camp.

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Detox Time!

I'm the kind of person who likes to have a clean slate before I can begin a new project (unless there's a pressing deadline, in which case I can work within total chaos!).

 I like to have a clean kitchen before I begin baking. I like to have a clean bathroom before I get ready for a big night out. I like to have a clean patio before I can start grilling. So, needless to say, I'm having a hard time right now because while in the process of creating a wonderful office/studio space, my house is in a total state of disarray.

I've put off an exercise and diet program, too...and I couldn't figure out what the cause of my extreme procrastination was. Then it hit me with a facebook invitation to a Detox Camp at the Downtown Jackson YMCA. Hmmm....maybe I need a clean body before I can begin a fitness program. 

The camp lasts one week. We'll meet at 9am tomorrow morning, again on Sunday afternoon, back on Wednesday evening for a mid-week checkup and a final time on Friday evening to celebrate! The program combines dietary, environmental and emotional detoxification to clean out, revitalize and start fresh. Sounds like just exactly what I need!

The invitation asks:

- Do you want more energy and less stress? (YES!!!)
- Do you want to feel younger and more vitalized? (YES!!!)
- Are you concerned about how your diet impacts your health? (Uh, yeah...)- Do you want to shed pounds in a healthy way for 2010? (OH YEAH!!!!)

The fact that I've had the crud--bad--for three days may make it a bit more of a challenge. Just getting up and being somewhere at 9am tomorrow will be difficult, but I'm committed to this, and I will, of course, let you know how it's going every step of the way!

I wish I had more to report on my office project. It's the same today as it was two days ago. I'm hoping that I'l experience a miraculous burst of energy tomorrow and really make a dent in the project. I think of that project as a sort of detox as well.

It's a good idea to remove the toxins from your life from time to time. There are toxic people who are like poison to your system, toxic obligations that we get ourselves into and toxic clutter that literally bogs us down to the point where we can't get anything done. 

What's toxic in your life, and what are you going to do to detox?

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best Laid Plans...

I hate it when a plan doesn't come together like, well, like I planned it.  I started my big office organization project last week, with intentions of being finished by the end of this week. Larry helped me alot when he was home on Monday. We got the twin bed out of there and put my work table back in. That was huge.

I had lots to do on Tuesday...meetings and more not much done on the office that day.

But I had the entire day blocked out yesterday. No deadlines. No writing. No meetings. A full day, dedicated to organizing and making my office my own blissful haven.

Then I got sick. I'm not talking a little sniffle. I'm talking full-blown feel-like-crap head cold. With fever. Bad.

So I spent most of the day yesterday sleeping when I really wanted to be in my office (and getting all that stuff out of my den). Finally, about 4:00, I ventured back, ready to at least get a little something done. I got a box from the den and took it in the office, ready to find a place for everything with everything in its place.

What I discovered in that short amount of time was that I'm a hoarder. Just like those crazy people on TV. I started with the stapler (which had babies, and then there were three staplers!) and staples. For the record, I will probably NEVER have to buy staples ever again. In my best estimation, I have about 25,000 staples. I'm set for life. In a desire not to be wasteful, I was picking stray paperclips and rubber bands out of the bottom of the box, putting them with the other paperclips and rubber bands. And then there were more staples. Stray staples, not in a box. So I attempted to put them back in a box of staples...which never works. Sorry, Earth. There are going to be some stray staples in a landfill somewhere. Sue me.

In just one hour, I found at least 25 pads of sticky notes, easily 2000 or more paper clips, a couple dozen alligator clips (love those!), and countess pens and pencils. I actually had a scratch pad out and tested each pen before I put it in its place. In doing so, I found some old my pen from the Smithsonian Museum of Natural Science that lights up neon green and has fish that float up and down inside the barrel. And my Elvis pen from Graceland with a little Elvis and a pink Cadillac that also float up and down. There's the heart-shaped pen from St. Dominic, a pink furry pen with a crown on top I got back in my "goddess" days, a beautiful beaded pen I got from the first Anthropology store I ever visited (in Denver, I believe), and some very special pens, made of exotic woods, turned by my dad. Those special pens went into their own holder, not to be mingled with the peasant pens.

Next I opened a drawer in a rolling cart and found....more pens. All in packages, brand new, never opened. At least 100 of them. I'm a hoarder, I tell you. Yet, when I need a pen when I'm out and about, I'm always digging in the bottom of my purse, and I usually end up borrowing one from whoever is next to me (which is probably one way I ended up with so many pens!).

So much for streamlining and simplifying my life.

Even though I still feel rotten, I have a full day today...beginning with a coffee meeting in a little while. So I won't be in my office today...or tomorrow, when I'll be doing my Friday afternoon volunteering gig at the Mississippi Museum of Art. (If you haven't seen the fabulous Jim Henson exhibit at the MMA, don't miss it!)

Maybe I'll make some progress this weekend. I'm not going to make plans. Instead, I'll just let it happen when it happens, which is how most of my most productive projects get done.

Do you have any projects you want to get done? If so, do you have a plan, or will you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants hoping it will happen?

Blessings to all who read this!


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sleepless in Madison...

Here it is, 4:21am, and I'm wide awake.

Maybe it's the excitement of Mardi Gras...

No...that's not it.

Chinese New Year? (It's the year of the TIGER!!!)...

No...not that.

Maybe it's dreams (nightmares) about my office.

It's a work in progress...and I tend to ponder those alot when I should be sleeping. But tonight, I don't think that's what's keeping me awake.

Maybe it's because when I was cleaning stuff out yesterday, I found this picture:
And I wondered how I went from that to this:
The realization hit me yesterday that Nicole is 27 years old...the same age I was in the photo of us above. That photo was taken 25 years ago! And I remember everything about that day...from getting dressed, going to the photo studio, how Nicole made us all it was yesterday.

I had some serious flashbacks yesterday as I thumbed through some old photo albums (a no-no when cleaning/organizing. The goal yesterday was to clear everything out. Period. But I couldn't resist). I really saw time pass before my eyes as I looked at these old photos:

That's me...with a waistline I'll probably never see again, looking all bridal-veil-ish with the fountain at USM behind me (Was that planned? Larry took this photo while we were dating...). The 'fro is hot, don't you think?

Speaking of HOT, how about these two babes?

That's my sister, Sarah, and me, hamming it up at the Germantown Fire Department!

We were so young, and too stupid to know that those big glasses weren't flattering on anyone...
And we were totally clueless as to how this little pink bundle o' joy was going to change our lives in such a huge way...
We had no idea how simple life was then...and that we were only just beginning the journey of a lifetime...
Or that our hearts could ever feel as much love as they could for a child...
And we wondered if we could ever love anyone as much as we loved that little girl...
Then along came...
...Joe. The sweetest little boy ever!
He was ALL boy...all the time...and he turned our lives upside down and inside out in a fun and crazy way, and he made us laugh all the time.
But somehow, in the blink of an eye, something happened.
This little boy with his frog boots began to grow up.
And before I knew babies were adults. And our lives are rich and full...
Except the people around us keep getting older...
And a look in the mirror tells us we are too...

So I guess I just don't want to sleep, because I want to savor every drop of this wonderful life that I can...
Only, I'm too sleepy, and I've spent the last hour writing this....
And I'm thinking if there is such a thing as "beauty rest," I need to grab some while I can!
Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Call Me Mrs. Happy...

It's official! The holiday season is over! Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, Birthdays,Super Bowl, Valentine's Day...all done! The next holiday isn't until Easter, so I've got some breathing room.

This morning I'm breathing a sigh of relief. For the first time in forever I'm not anticipating and planning. Starting today, I can focus on my home, mainly my office. Which is getting worse by the minute. But when you're doing a major clean-out, it aways gets worse before it gets better, right? 

After several years of things piling up around me, I've decided the best way to tackle this job is to take EVERYTHING out of my office, then put it back in an organized fashion. But when it comes out, it has to go somewhere, and that somewhere is everywhere else in my house! 

I'm also going to focus more on learning what I can to make this blog better. I switched up the format last night, which I like better. I also added Nicole's event, but for some reason, the date won't show up. It's on March 27. And tickets are on sale NOW. Just go online at for this event are limited--only 200 available, so get them early! A's a benefit for the "Ask for More Arts" program of the Parents for Public Schools. The event includes a signature cocktail upon arrival, a three-course dinner prepared by Chef Nathan Glenn, a live art auction, including a signature piece by Tony DiFatta, and a multi-media dance performance with dancers from Belhaven College. Nicole is doing the choreography and will actually perform in the program. I's a miracle!

Another thing that will make me happy is the lack of cakes, cookies, and other "party" food stacked up in my kitchen. Between Nicole and Joseph, we've had entirely too much birthday cake around here, and it must be magic cake, because I could swear it was singing my name. "Susan! Eat me! Eat meeeeeee!" So I did. But seeing myself on the cover of a magazine was a pretty big wake-up call. I'm just tired of being fat. 

I went online last night, just looking for diet and exercise motivation, and ran across It's a funny, yet disgusting website featuring ridiculous food that people really bacon turtle burgers:
Beef patties, covered with a woven backon strips, with hotdogs for head, feet and tail. Now that's a heart attack waiting to happen! The website promotes the book by the same name, by Jessica Amason and Richard Blakely. They actually ask for--and get--submissions of fatty, high calorie food that people really eat. I'm feeling better about eating my bowl of oatmeal this morning...

So, I'm going to pop in the exercise DVD I ordered right before Christmas (it's still in the plastic wrapper) and I'm going to begin this day with a heart-pumping workout. Then I'm going to tackle the's going to get done this week. (Repeat: It's going to get done THIS WEEK!)  

I feel happy.

Here's an idea...if you didn't have a special Valentine this year, but if you have the desire to do something for someone, consider giving blood. It's fast, it's free, and it's a gift that will keep on giving. Nicole benefitted from 13 units of blood, all donated by unselfish folks. Larry gives on a regular basis (he has the precious O+ blood). Stop in at Mississippi Blood Services--or a blood bank near you--and give the gift of life.

What are you going to do with this week? I'd love to hear from you!

Blessing to all who read this!

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Death of a Snowman

If it's cold, white and piles must be SNOW! Sure, places all across the country are experiencing record snowfall, but it's still just such a novelty in Mississippi that we all get excited. And we all freak out. Schools and businesses are closed! Power is out! People are wrecking their cars because they don't know how to drive in it!

As for me, I'm snuggled up on the couch, under an afghan, laptop where it belongs--on my lap, with Roxie curled up at my feet. I'm next to a big picture window that overlooks my backyard and it's been better than anything I could have watched on TV. The snow hasn't stopped since I first woke up at 7am, but the temperature is rising, so the snow that accumulated is melting, and the snow that is falling now just turns to a wet slush. In the early morning hours, the child in me (which is still very much alive!) made a little snowman...

He was introduced to the world on facebook and received a very warm reception. Maybe too warm, because here is what he looks like now:
A call went out on facebook this morning for snow ice cream recipes. There were some good ones, but I don't know if I can find enough "clean" snow to make any...

Snow days are wonderful excuses to do nothing. I alternately read the blook we'll be discussing at our bookclub on Monday, cruised facebook to see what other friends were doing with their newfound time, and watched the wonder of the snow in my backyard. It's like a not to go anywhere if you can avoid it because of the "treacherous" roads!
I usually volunteer at the MS Museum of Art on Friday afternoons, but the museum is closed too. I have to admit, I wasn't disappointed, although it would have been fun to see the Jim Henson exhibit again (if you haven't seen it, GO!!!!  Talk about waking up the kid inside...that will do it for sure!).

And now, for your reading pleasure, I'd like to relay a little story I shared on facebook yesterday that got a HUGE response: 

I was feeling pretty prissy today, all dressed up for an important luncheon with the Madison County Business League. Stopped by View Gallery afterwards, then to Kroger, where I ran into lots of people I know. Got home and realized my cute Carol Little top was on INSIDE OUT, with the tag just flapping in the breeze just below my neck. Thanks everyone, for not telling me...

I guess it got such a big response because EVERYONE has done something similar at one time or another...which is what makes us all so human. I read some hilarious stories...and I thank everyone for sharing! 

This afternoon I'm tackling my office. I did make some headway this week...I'm taking every single thing out of it...even the pictures on the walls, and starting over. I've been hauling stuff out and it's all over the den. Still tons more to remove. Surely a big portion of that can be trashed...This is a huge undertaking. I'll take pictures and keep you posted! (Because I'm certain you are dying to know the details!)

Is it snowing where you are, and if so, what are you doing on your snow day? AND...have you ever had any fashion faux pas similar to mine? If so, what were they and what did you do? I am looking forward to reading your responses!

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Love is in the air!

Ah....Valentine's Day is fast approaching...a time to reflect on the loves in our lives.

I've been fortunate to be surrounded by some long-lasting relationships that set a great example for me in my own life. My parents have been married over 50 years, Larry's parents were married for over 50 years as well. We are the products of two very committed couples.

This August, Larry and I will celebrate our 30th anniversary. An unlikely couple in many people's eyes, we just knew that we were destined to be together.

He was a student from Venezuela, and he was only supposed to be at the University of Southern Mississippi for eight weeks. He was taking intensive English-as-a-second-language classes at USM's English Language Institute. Thanks to his crazy cousin, Leo, who broke his leg in a motorcycle accident in Hattiesburg, Larry stayed after the eight weeks and enrolled in the University. I had transferred from Mississippi State to USM, and I was placed with a Venezuelan roommate. The rest is history!

We had two beautiful children, both of which have had their share of heartbreak. The good news is that this Valentine's Day, our Joey Joe will celebrate with his beautiful girlfriend, Emily. She is a dream come true. She "gets" Joe, but she doesn't cut him much slack. She holds his feet to the fire and demands the best out of him. As a result, he's doing better than ever in school and has a bright future ahead of him. That's important in a relationship--bringing out the best in each other. Emily brings out the best in Joe and for that we are very grateful.

I think Valentine's Day should go beyond "couple love," and highlight the love we have for friends and family. Nicole and I were surrounded by love last night at Brenda's birthday celebration. An impromptu text message resulted in 15 loving women who showed up to celebrate a birthday and to shower Brenda in love. It was so strong, I could physically feel it. Brenda wasn't the only one the love was directed towards. The women there all truly love each other, and they are quick to say so. It's not uncommon to hear "I love you" spoken over and over with that crowd. Several of them singled me out to let me know they loved me, and Nicole, and our whole family, and that Nicole would forever be "theirs." We were immersed in. Enveloped in it. Drowning in it. And the love was good. Happy Birthday, Brenda! I love you!

So in honor of Valentine's Day, I'm repeating a couple of awesome quotes I put in my facebook status yesterday. I got a surprising response from people who loved it. Some wanted to repost it. Some were in relationships...some weren't. But the quotes resonated with people in a way that was quite unexpected. So here is the first quote, by Bess Meyerson:

"To fall in love is awfully simple, but to fall out of love is simply awful." 

The other was by author Henri Nouwen who wrote:

"When those you love deeply reject you, leave you, or die, your heart will be broken. But that should not hold you back from loving deeply. The pain that comes from deep love makes your love ever more fruitful."

Well if that's true, I know some people who have experienced pain from deep love, yet, they continue to love more fruitfully. To me, that's real love. And it gives me a good feeling to know that there is still HOPE in the world!

Speaking of hope, Nicole is working hard on making her "Evening of HOPE" an event to remember. I'm really proud of what she is accomplishing. She's figured alot out on her own and it's coming together beautifully, thanks to the help of her talented and creative friends. 
Mark your calendars for March 27...keep reading this blog for more information coming soon!

With each birthday and each holiday, I am reminded again how very BLESSED I am to have my beautiful daughter with us, when medical science said she should not have survived her fall. I am grateful, thankful, and I have such a full heart. If you haven't already, get the February issue of PORTICO Jackson and read about Nicole's accident and how it affected every member of our family. It's appropriate that the story is in the February issue. Both Nicole and Joseph have birthdays in February...and Valentine's Day is in February. And on Valentine's Day, we remember the ones we love the most. And I do especially love Nicole. So read the article, then hug your children, spouse, friends and everyone you love a little harder and a little longer. 

Who do you love and why? I'd love to hear your comments!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's a Big, Big, Big Blog World

I'm totally overwhelmed.

 But I'm determined that this old dog is going to learn some new tricks! I learned so much at Blissdom, the blogging conference I attended in Nashville last weekend. And the number one thing I learned is that I have so much more to learn!

I got a handful of cards from the many bloggers who attended the conference. Tonight I've been visiting their blogs. Many of them are seasoned bloggers, which means they've been blogging two or more years. As they kept saying at the conference, "we are still in the pre-game."

Good to know.

I guess I'm still in the pre-game on my office project. I had good intentions today, but they took a nosedive. A 9:00 planning meeting for the Taste of Mississippi event benefitting Stewpot was moved to 9:30. I didn't get the memo...drove downtown from Madison and back for nothing. Oh well...I got to catch up with an old friend on the phone while I was driving, so that was good. Then it was up to Madison to meet with Nic's Voc-Rehab councilor. (The Mississippi State Dept. of Rehabilitative Services is a state agency you probably wouldn't know much about unless you are in a situation like Nicole's. They are a great agency, and they do so many wonderful things. But, sadly, budget cuts will soon be affecting Nicole. Programs she's benefitted from will end at the end of this month.)

By the time I got home it was lunch time...and nap time....(I didn't see that one coming!). Then a little writing, and it was too late to start The Big Office Clean-Up and Organizing Mission.

So, early to bed and I'll be up bright and early to get busy on my office. The thought of what lays ahead for me overwhelms me as much as the whole blogging world does. But I'll wade through it. I may be overwhelmed, but I'm not intimidated. I'm motivated to be organized and to learn...I'll be able to accomplish so much more!

I'll chronicle the whole process with photos and details in this blog. Maybe it will help motivate you to do the same!

I'm I the only one, or is there anything that overwhelms you too? Please feel free to share in the comments section. And if you haven't registered as a follower, please consider doing so.

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Blissdom, Birthdays, Reality and Rain

Wow. I got home last night after an incredible weekend in Nashville where I attended Blissdom, a blogging conference. My head is still spinning! I learned so much, in the company of 500 absolutely incredible women who are doing the most amazing things with their lives. There are mommy bloggers, frugal bloggers, fashion bloggers, home decorating bloggers, etc........(we did have an entire session dedicated to niche blogging...). I'm not sure what kind of blogger I am. Middle-aged, overweight, hard-working, volunteering, dealing-with-it-all-the-best-I-can blogger, I suppose.

We heard an incredible motivational speaker named Kevin Carroll (I know, I've never heard of him either). He was a 51-year-old black man who I would have sworn up and down was easily in his early 30's. He happens to have a 30-year-old son. He's amazing. He has lived an inredible life, and he learned some valuable life lessons on his own that he now shares with audiences around the world.  Kevin is a katalyst (yes, with a "K") for change. He travels the globe speaking to businesses and to young people about the importance of sport and play in life. He is a dedicated advocate in the Sport for Social Change movement.I was honored to hear him speak and look forward to reading his book, "Rules of the Red Rubber Ball."
(FYI...this would make a wonderful graduation gift for either a high school or college graduate...)

In addition to all the great panelists and speakers, we had lots of time to meet and get to know the other bloggers in attendance. It was so funny to see someone meet a blogger they read regularly. I heard lots of "Oh my God! I read you every day! I LOVE you!!!!" I have never experienced anything like that at any other of the many, many conferences I've attended over the years.

Friday night was an unforgettable experience. We had a private concert by Harry Connick Jr. in one of the clubs inside Opryland. It was amazing. He was up close and personal and I could easily have listened to him croon all night. He said he felt comfortable in a room of 500 women because he had been married to his wife for 20 years, had three "strong women-in-the-making" daughters, three female dogs, a female manager, and his mom was a very strong woman in her own right. He talked about the Musician's Village that was built for displaced musicians in New Orleans after Katrina, and how that was made possible by massive efforts made on the internet...and he ended his show with, of course, "When the Saints Go Marching In." Heaven.
It rained buckets all the way from Madison to Nashville. I was glad to have my friend Nell riding with me. We stayed at my friend Carol's house, so we drove back and forth to Opryland every day. In the rain. That. Never. Seemed. To. Quit....Ever. Until it started snowing yesterday. I was happy to see blue sky and some sunshine about the time we crossed the Mississippi state line on the way home yesterday. My friend Susan Cushman is hosting a snowman contest on her blog, Pen and Pallette. Word has it we may get a little snow here by the weekend. If so, roll some up and take a photo to send to Susan.

Today is my #1 son's 21st birthday. He's my baby, so that means both of my children are legal, in their 20's and relatively responsible adults. But my work is far from done! Joe is heading to the casino tonight, a crisp new ten dollar bill in his pocket, ready to try his hand at gambling. We are so proud.(For the record, please note the sarcasm in my words). He'll either lose his $10 in the first five minutes (he HATES to lose money!), or he'll stretch it out and play for awhile before it's gone. But he could just be a big winner tonight, and that could be dangerous...  We enjoyed watching the Super Bowl last night with him and his precious girlfriend, Emily. We had too much chili, Ro-Tel dip, chips, guacamole, salsa, birthday cake....but we had lots of fun and it was great having them here to celebrate not only Joe's birthday, but the New Orlean's Saints victory!

I have been easing back into reality today...sometimes that's hard to do following such a wonderful trip. I had writing assignments to work on, and more tomorrow...then it's time to get busy on my Big Office Organizing Mission. I may have to refer to some of the organizing blogs I discovered while at Blissdom. I wish I had the funds right now to hire my beautiful friend, Stephanie Davis with Let's Get Organized! She'd be a tremendous help to me, but, alas, I have to do this on my own.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Inspiration Everywhere!

I'm feeling quite inspired a matter of fact, there seems to be creative inspiration everywhere I look!
I'm also feeling a little anxious, because I have so much to do and so little time to do it...I have to cram about three days of work into this one day, and on this day, I also have lots of other things to prepare for. Like my trip to Nashville tomorrow to attend Blissdom '10--a blogging conference where I'll learn all sorts of wonderful new things about blogging, design, etc. I'm sure I'll be quite inspired when I get there! My friend Nell is going with me, and we're leaving at 7am sharp so we can make it to our first workshop at 2:15 tomorrow afternoon at the Opryland Hotel. So there's packing to do...

My first inspiration this morning came when I watched a piece on The TODAY show about Bill T. Jones, who did choreography for 20 years in the modern dance world. At a time in his life when he could easily retire, Jones instead is directing and doing choreography for "Fela!," a show on Broadway that's getting alot of buzz...( Jones told Ann Curry that he was "reinventing the wheel again and again...such is my lot." I'd like to think I'm doing the same thing. It keeps things fresh and alive! As a choreographer, Jones likes to push boundaries, to be an orginal and to be real. The theme of the play, over and over again, is originality, not artificialty. To see Ann Curry's interview with Bill T. Jones, click here:

I was also inspired when I opened an email from Anthropologie, a store I have no apologies for loving. I've only been in two other Anthropologie stores in other cities before one opened ten minutes from my house! The person who does the displays at the store in Ridgeland is a creative genius! I'm so impressed with her work. She can turn anything--and I mean ANYTHING--into works of art. I actually enjoy just strolling the store and looking at the creative and innovative displays! And low and behold, in the online newsletter the store sends out, they talked about displays! After giving staggering statistics about the number of plastic water bottles we manage to add to landfills, and how they take 100 years or so to break down, they showed some beautiful images of displays made using flowers cut from water bottles. I was quite inspired! I've mentioned in my blog before that I love the show "Man Shops Globe," on the Travel Channel. It's about Keith Johnson, a buyer for Anthropologie, and his travels around the world to seek out unique items for the store. Oh, to have that job!

Talk about inspiration...I got a new book: Art Making & Studio Spaces: Unleash Your Inner Artist: An Intimate Look at 31 Creative Work Spaces by Lynne Perrella. I'm hoping it will help motiviate me to do something to make my office and studio space more productive. This book is like eye candy for me...and all I want to do is take Every Single Thing out of my office and put only the things I need back in, one-by-one, until it's a perfectly organized, smooth running, made-for-creativity space that I can feel really good about going in every day...because right now my office looks pretty bad...

I wasn't stay tuned. I'm going to block out chunks of time all next week to work on this project, and I'll keep you posted. You may just be inspired to do the same!

Finally...I want to share with you that at my highest weight ever, and old as the hills, I've been featured prominantly on the cover of a magazine. But, despite all working against him, photographer Josh Hailey, managed to make me look OK-ish. I think it's because I'm loving on Nicole, who in my eyes, is a miracle and a gift from God. This month's PORTICO Jackson magazine has an article called "Nicole's Story." And although her story has been written time and time again over the last year and a half, this article tells it from some unique perspectives--mine, Larry's, Joseph's and Nicole's. It was a difficult article to write, but cathartic at the same time. I read it last night (I always like to see my words in real print!) and it was just as difficult for me to read, but at the same time, it reminded me of how far Nicole has come, how strong we are as a family unit and it gives me confidence that we can handle with grace whatever life has in store for us. 

I won't be blogging again until Monday (unless we do some in our classes at the blogging conference...). Until then, look for inspiration in your surroundings and in the words of Bill T. Jones, "I want to say to the world: Take a solo! Go for it! Whatcha got?!"

Blessings to all who read this!