Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Be Still Inside

Busy days. Sometimes I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. We have all this technology that is supposed to make life easier, but it comes at a price. Our parents didn't have to pay for high speed internet access, cell phones, or Direct TV. It didn't exist. Now we've got it, so we have to pay for it...which means we have to work harder...a vicious cycle.

I was reminded this week about being still and listening. A facebook friend posted a quote from Ekhart Tolle's The Power of Now: "When listening to another person, don't just listen with your mind, listen with your whole body. Feel the energy field of your inner body as you listen. That takes attention away from thinking and creates a still space that enables you to truly listen without the mind interfering. You are giving the other person sp...ace--space to be. It is the most precious gift you can give."

Someone very special in my life is also learning to focus on the stillness within, when all around you is chaos. I sent him this quote the other day, which he said he liked: "In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you." It's from Deepak Chopra. (Not that I'm into lots of new age stuff, but I believe that Chopra and Tolle are somewhat enlightened, if not only with some incredibly good common sense on how to live our lives.)

Talking to my friend in need has also reminded me to once again be still. I stopped yesterday to meditate on some very special Bible verses sent to us via Caring Bridge when Nicole was in the hospital that reminded me that God has a plan and it all unfolds in His time: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men, yet they cannot fathom what God had done from beginning to end." --Ecclesiastes 3:11

And when all is crazy around us, it's good to remember what it says in Psalms 37: 7-9: "Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for him to act. Don't worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper--it only leads to harm. For the wicked will be destroyed, but those who trust in the Lord will possess the land."

To that friend, I offer this quote from Tolle: "All true artists, whether they know it or now, create from a place of no-mind...from inner stillness."

Sunday was a full and wonderful day...a great day to just slow down, be still and be in the moment. It began with brunch at Que Sera with our perky friend, Cindy Poole. She brought Nicole and I presents...including a beautiful scrapbook of the "An Evening of HOPE" event. And the food was wonderful!

From there, we went over to Social Agenda, the salon where our friend Crystal works. She is a new consultant for Scentsy, (she signed up under me) and I helped her with her launch party. We had a great afternoon with Crystal, Sunny, Attala and everyone who came to help Crystal have a strong start with her new business.

But the day wasn't over yet...I had to drive over to The Cedars to see Nicole participate in a reading for a play written by the talented Beth Kander. "Unshelved" deals with the difficult topic of Alzheimers. The play was so well written, and the character Nicole read was simply horrid. The audience loved it!

Lots of work this week...I'm so thankful. I'm going to be doing some of it from View Gallery today so that Phyllis can go to the funeral of the brave mother who laid on top of her three small boys during the big tornado in Yazoo City Saturday. The boys survived, but she died. Phyllis taught her in the second grade. But first I'm going to eat lunch with my sweet friend, Delores Ulmer--a visit that is long overdue.

Just one more quote from Tolle...who just seems to nail it: "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life!"

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Morning After...

After watching the morning news and seeing the photos of yesterday's big storm--and its devastating aftermath--the old Maureen McGovern song "The Morning After" has been playing in my mind. I first heard it in the movie "Poseidon," about a sinking cruise ship.

There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on looking for the light

Oh, can't you see the morning after?
It's waiting right outside the storm
Why don't we cross the bridge together
And find a place that's safe and warm?

It's not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It's not too late, not while we're living
Let's put our hands out in time

There's got to be a morning after
We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searching anymore
I have many friends from Yazoo City...most of them transplants to the Madison area. They are a fun, compassionate, tight group who have a strong bond to each other simply because of where they grew up. Yazoo City is a small town, where everybody knows everybody. With power out in most of the city, many of the Yazoo City folks in Madison and surrounding areas have opened up their homes as a temporary haven for those affected by the storm--not unlike the days following Hurricane Katrina. 

Mississippi's governor, Hailey Barbour, is a Yazoo City native, and was, in fact, in route to the town when the  tornado stormed through. It was touching to see him tear up on TV last night after reviewing the damage. "This is where I grew up," he said. "These are people I've known all my life."

The devastation was incredible. 
So this morning, folks around this area will do what we do best: we'll rally. I experienced it firsthand when Nicole had her accident. People came out of the woodwork to pray for her, to organize fundraisers, and to contribute to her medical fund. I think that's one of the things we do the best. Post Katrina, we rallied and did what we could do to help. After the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, we rallied to collect money for Red Cross. 

In churches across the state today, I'm sure special collections will be taken for the tornado victims. And certainly, prayers will go up...for the souls of those who did not survive, and for strength for those who did. 

That's one of the reasons I'm glad I live where I do. I love the consistent strength and compassion and generosity of the people here. 

And now, a programming message for those who have been waiting. Our last message from CBS producer Paige Kendig said that the profile story on Nicole will run MONDAY morning--tomorrow (4/26) in the Early Show. The show airs 7am to 9am central time, so set your DVR's! 

Blessings to all who read this!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Sky is Falling!

Alright...I'm sitting here waiting for the sky to fall.

I've been up since 4am anticipating Apocolyptic weather. Hail storms of death. Tornadoes. Driving rain. I listened to meteorologist David Hartman rattle on for hours on end this morning...and all we've had is a spattering of rain and a steady breeze. Hmmmm....

It has made Roxie absolutely a nervous wreck. I've never seen any living creature be so skittish. She's paced, whined, shook, and tried to mold her body into mine. I guess I'll have to deal with this for a few more hours, as David Hartman just broke in on my mindless viewing of Entertainment Tonight to show there is a big thunderstorm in Vicksburg heading our way. It may move north, but those weather fronts usually come our way. Right now, however, the sun is peeking out of the clouds.

I'm hoping we don't get hail, because I cannot put any vehicles inside my garage. It is filled with the furnishings from both Nicole and Joseph's apartments. Plus anything anyone decides we no longer need in the house. If we get a hail storm, my car and Joe's truck will be pockmarked toast. I keep thinking that some day we will have our house back, and I'll be able to pull into the garage when I come home. Once upon a time I used to do that...

Bad weather has a way of making me want to be lazy...fact that I've been up since 4am might have something to do with it. I want to take a nap, but with bad weather threatening to roll through, I may be sleeping with one eye open. David Hartman just came on TV again saying a super cell thunderstorm has formed west of Vicksburg. He's really giving the Storm Shield 16 Live Dopplar Radar a real workout this morning! He's used every bell and whistle that system has...including Pin Point Predictor Plus. I think this is a big adrenaline rush for him.

So, hopefully the sky won't fall...and the weather will pass on through with no bad effects...and Roxie will be able to once again roam free outside, chasing squirrels and birds beneath sunny skies.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Spring Cleaning and Lizard Love

It's that time of year when you just want to bust loose! All that nesting for winter seems confining now. With the beautiful weather we've had for the past few weeks, the urge to throw back the curtains and open the blinds is just too strong....

But then it hits me...dirty windows. And all that sunshine coming in magnifies the fact that floors and furniture are dirty. Hmmm....good thing I seem to have a burst of energy in the spring! I've been a cleaning fool lately!

Nicole was even in the cleaning mood yesterday. Caitlin came over and the two of them did  alot of work in her room. So much of her life has been stored in boxes, up in the attic, since her accident. All her stuff  from her apartment in NY was packed away, and she's been surrounded with things she's received since her accident for months. Nice as everything is, it really isn't her...and they are reminders of a tragic event in her life. So, out with the old in in with the older....she has now filled her space with the things that remind her of who she really is, and I can tell that has added a little spring to her step!

The piece the CBS news did on Nic still hasn't aired. She got an email from the producer yesterday that said:

 "So I hate to say this - but your CBS News debut has to be pushed back a week. Betty has another story on this week that is pegged to a news event, so because yours isn't it got bumped to next week. But the plan is for it to air Monday. So rally the troops, set the DVRs, get out the popcorn and prepare yourself!I'll be in touch with a more exact time when I know it. Cool?"  

I'm not sure about popcorn so early in the morning, but set those recorders!

Another great thing about spring is being able to leave the back door open so that Roxie can run in and out on her impossible squirrel hunt. The squirrels taunt her to no end...but she loves running after them. When Joe and Emily helped me clean the patio, Emily cleaned and filled the birdfeeder I keep outside my keeping room window. The birds have found it again, and I've enjoyed sitting on the loveseat inside and watching the birds so close up, but it makes Roxie crazy! She will sit inside, watching the trees for movement, then runs outside to try to catch the elusive wildlife.

In the middle of it all, the beautiful chameleons have been active, running up and down the brick columns on our patio. We jokingly called it the "Lizard Lounge" last summer. We took a break from cleaning yesterday and saw that a couple of the lizards were getting a little frisky, enjoying a little lizard love...'s a good time to clean out a home, clean the cobwebs out of your mind and to celebrate love, anywhere you can find it! 

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Day of Rest

I've been as busy as a one-armed paper hanger this week...dancing as fast as I possibly can. I'm really getting a little tired...

Monday I wrote and wrote...deadlines were upon me. I got my articles written, then had to hustle to get ready for a house full of women. It was time for my Scentsy launch. What is Scentsy? It's my new seems I'm always hustling...always looking for a way to make an extra buck. This is a fun way to do it. Check it out here. Margaritas and pulled pork and lots of fun folks made it a great evening. Thanks, Anita, for coming over from Birmingham to help make my launch party such a success!

Tuesday was Eudora Welty's birthday! The more I'm around writers, the more I appreciate them...and the more I write, the more I am able to get into their heads. I had the honor of taking a group of women from my neighborhood--the "Day Trippers"--to Miss Welty's home in Belhaven on Tuesday for a tour. If you've never gone, you need to...and you need to tour the beautiful gardens. She lived a fairly modest, simple life. She wrote all her works on a manual typewriter, until her arthritis got too bad, then she used an electric typewriter, which she hated. All her many awards were found in a closet after her death, including her Pulitzer. We were fortunate to have my friend Ann Bittick as a tour guide...she is very well versed in all things Welty. After the tour, we sat on Miss Welty's side porch and ate birthday cake.

On Wednesday, Nicole and I went to the River Hills Club where she was the guest speaker for the Chi Omega spring luncheon. Yep...she made a room full of grown women cry...

Yesterday kicked my thing after another all day long. It started with a networking meeting at River Hills, then on to Methodist Rehab for a promotional photo for the upcoming Walk & Roll event. Then on to a meeting of the Jackson Advertising Federation (now American Advertising Federation of Jackson). It was time to present the annual Silver Medal award, the highest honor the club bestows upon a member. I received it several years ago, and it was one of the most exciting days of my life. Yesterday the award was presented to Peter Marks, who was the third generation in his family to be honored. His dad, Sutton Marks (my former boss from way back in the day...) presented the award. Then I had to rush home and file tax extensions--no time for Uncle Sam today! I ended up the day at the USM Founder's Day dinner at the Capital Club. As president-elect of the alumni board, it was important for me to be there. The University's president, Dr. Martha Saunders, spoke about "budgets, building and birthday celebrations." I'm amazed at what's happening on that campus. It makes me want a "do over!"

So today, I'm going to stay home for awhile...doing a little house cleaning...doing some writing...and not getting in my car at all until this evening...I'm going to the opening of the Crossroads Film Fest and then hopping over the the Ask for More Arts reception at the Arts Center downtown.

I'm thankful for a wonderful, full and fulfilling week...but I'm ready for a long, slow relaxing weekend...we'll see how that pans out...

It's great to have alot going on in my life--but sometimes it's just too much. I have to focus on what's important and not get stretched too thin, or then I won't be able to do anything well. Do you ever get overwhelmed? If so, how do you handle it? I'd love to read your comments!

Blessings to all who read this!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Centennial Post

One of the cool features of Blogspot, the blogging platform I use, is that it tells you how many entries you've made.

Today is my 100th blog entry!

And before this blog existed, there was, of course, Caringbridge. Just in case you weren't a reader of our caringbridge site, it began on August 31, 2008, the day after Nicole fell six stories off the roof of her apartment building in New York. That site was a godsend, as it provided not only a way for us to communicate to a lot of people at once (preventing us from having to say the same thing over and over on the phone), but it provided us with amazing support from those who signed the site's guestbook. The beautiful prayers, well-wishes and Bible verses that seemed to speak directly to our situation lifted us up daily and gave us strength to care for Nicole.

In the last couple of months, Nicole wrote her own Caringbridge passages, including the last one, on December 16, 2009. The site is still there...and you can go back to the read the passages from the first few days after her accident to get a real feel of where she was back then...and how far she's come.In all, we posted 301 Caringbridge entries. Just click on Caringbridge.

In a way, I think it's a good idea for everyone to look back to see where they've been--how far they've come--to appreciate where they are right now.

Switching about this beee-u-ti-ful weather?! The weekend was absolutely glorious, and we did all we could to take advantage of it!

Saturday morning found Nicole and I at The Auditorium in Fondren, where Nicole was the featured speaker for the St. Joseph School Mother-Daughter brunch. Despite major technical issues (the Auditorium's video player wasn't working, so Nic couldn't show her video), she did fine, winging it, speaking from the heart and talking to the girls in attendance about perseverance, moving on in the face of adversity, and about (sniff-sniff_ the important relationship between mothers and daughters. She told the crowd I was her biggest cheerleader (I am!), so I couldn't resist shouting out "GO NICOLE!). Good times...

Saturday night, Joey-Joe arranged a special night at the ballpark to celebrate my dad's 83rd birthday. We went to see theMississippi Braves play with Mama and Papa Dale, Joe, his girlfriend, Emily, and her parents, Jan and Wally. We hung out in the Trustmark Skybox and ate hotdogs, hamburgers, nachos, peanuts, brownies, cookies and ice cream...I felt like an Alka-Seltzer commercial: "I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"  So, here's a brief commercial message for Trustmark's an awesome place, and the Braves are a great team. We are lucky to have such a fine stadium here, and folks need to go out and support it. Once you're there, you'll love it--great baseball, lots of fun entertainment, and enjoyment all around!

Yesterday was equally as beautiful, and Emily and Joe fulfilled a promise to do an "Extreme Patio Makeover" for me. We took everything off the back porch and hosed off all the pollen, planted flowers, and spruced everything up for the spring and summer. I couldn't have done it without their help. I was dog-tired at the end of the day, but waking up to a beautiful patio this morning was worth the strained and tired muscles.

So, on the 100th anniversary of this blog, I'd like to say thank you for your support...and for your interest...
Our family has been put into an extraordinary circumstance and we have been blessed with a miracle that is Nicole's life. Your prayers, support and concern have helped us through and we appreciate it more than I can ever express.

If you haven't already, please become a follower of my blog...and once again, thanks for reading!

Blessings to all who read this!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Do You Need Some Help? last night was "Arts, Eats & Beats," the annual street party in Jackson's Fondren area. Stores, galleries and restaurants all stayed open on every street corner...and more people than the state fair. It was simply wonderful!

Here's my absolute favorite part of the evening:

Nicole was walking around the festivities--on her own--with no cane--doing her little drunk-looking shuffle. But hey, she was WALKING. And she did have on sensible shoes.

Nicole was talking to Johnny Bertram and a lady approached her and asked if she needed help. Nic said "no thank you," that she was fine. The lady said that she had been watching Nicole and really, she'd be happy to provide her with assistance if she needed it. Nic laughed and told her she wasn't drunk...she just walks funny.  The lady leaned in and told Nic that she had children who were addicts, and she'd be happy to help Nicole. At that point, Nicole pulled out her business card and gave it to the lady. Now, Nic's card has "You Can't Stop This Dancer" in bold letters on the front, and an x-ray of her back on the opposite side.

The lady took one look at it and said, "Oh. Nevermind," and she walked off...


Nic and I will be going to the St. Joseph High School Mother-Daughter brunch tomorrow morning at The Auditorium, where Nicole will be the featured speaker. She's also speaking next Wednesday at the Chi Omega spring meeting at River Hills Country Club.

Still waiting to hear the definite date on when Nicole's story will air on CBS. Until then, you can see some of her dance on her website:

Have a glorious weekend!

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Blessed Easter Weekend

I'm finding it hard to make time to write this blog daily, although it's something I enjoy doing so much. It's time to reexamine my priorities. I guess I'm the kind of person who likes to "have my house in order" before starting a new project. My problem is that I wake up and check emails before writing...and my inbox is always full every in over 100 spam emails that I have to weed through, because it's not all spam, and about as many regular emails. I have got to get off so many email the time I answer emails, delete emails and read a joke here and an inspirational passage there, I've eaten up the first hour or more of my day!

I got in the habit of writing Caring Bridge the first thing each morning when Nicole was in the Neuro ICU at NY Presbyterian. I would wake up around 5am, get ready for the day, get coffee and a bagel (they really are better in NY!) and head to Nicole's room to see how she did through the night, and to talk with her neurosurgeon, who made his rounds around 6am. Then I'd settle in for the day in my little corner behind the head of Nic's bed and type up my Caring Bridge entry. I knew that many people "back home" started their day by reading about Nicole's condition on Caring Bridge. If I was late writing it, or--heaven forbid--missed a day, people would panic, assuming something was wrong.It was a release for me to write about Nic's condition. It was a vital link to her for those who couldn't be with us in NY. People became very intentional with their prayers, which I saw answered daily. After writing my daily post, I'd spend the rest of the day checking back in and reading all the comments people made on the site. Those comments really sustained us, lifted us up and kept us going.

People read the entries because they cared about Nicole, about us, and they were caught up in the drama of it all. I mean, it was the most amazing story, and as she recovered and began her journey towards rehabilitation, folks prayed her on...and cheered her on...and it energized us all.

Well here's the latest update: over two weeks walking without a cane! It's one step at a time, and yes, He's still with us all, every step of the way!

We've had a fun few days...on Saturday (a glorious spring day!), Brenda called and asked Nic and I go take a little road trip to Louisiana. It seems the Lottery was over $100 million! So off we went, driving in her swanky Jaguar, across the Mississippi River Bridge and into Louisiana. We pulled into Daquiri World (which should have been called Daquiri Shack!) to purchase our Lottery tickets.

 It was the most interesting place. A biker bar, pretty much, but with the most diverse group of people coming and going, all hoping to find their fortunes in the numbers on the pink slips of paper they were purchasing. And wouldn't you know it--Nicole ran into an old friend...a surly biker dude clad in a black leather vest and steel toed boots. "Badass Billy" she called him...and she invited him to join us.

 Billy, it turns out, is a CFO of a production company Nicole used to work for. Suits during the week, biker persona on the weekends! He bought her $20 worth of Lottery tickets, which made her day.
And together, they were thrilled to see that there was plenty of 'Skynard on the jukebox!

It was a great way to spend a spring afternoon. That Brenda comes up with some good ideas!

Easter Sunday found Nicole and I on our own for most of the day...Larry was working and Joe went to church with Emily. We decided to go to Easter services at Mayes Lake, where The Journey (a non-denominational church that some of Nicole's friends attend) was holding a Baptism in the Pearl River. We started with a picnic, then enjoyed watching the children have an egg hunt. Afterwards, everyone made their way down to the river bank for the sermon and Baptisms. Five people were cleansed of their sins during the service. It was very moving, and a wonderful way to spend our Easter Sunday.

We were blessed by being there.

The day ended on the patio at home, eating good ol' grilled hamburgers with Mama and Papa Dale, Larry, Joseph and Emily, Nicole, and her great friend Christy. It was wonderful sitting outside, celebrating Easter, celebrating spring and celebrating family.

I feel especially renewed and blessed!

Blessings to all who read this!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What a week!

I'm loving this week. Everything about it. So far, it's all good!

It's Thursday, and we're all still riding that high from Nicole's event Satruday night. Alot of money was raised for the "Ask for More Arts" initiative.

Sunday, Larry and I met up with my parents, sister Sarah, and Nicole for brunch at Que Sera. There's nothing like a seafood omelet and a spicy bloody Mary to wake up your senses. Afterwards, we enjoyed cake and coffee at my parents' house before going to take care of Roxie.

Monday was busy all kind of ways...writing, therapy, dealing with details of the event...

I spent Tuesday morning writing, then headed over to Lemuria to see authors Shellie Rushing Tomlinson and River Jordan, who were in town as part of their "Southern Wing and a Prayer" tour. They are two seriously funny women. Both are radio hosts, and both have written great books. We read River's book, "Saints in Limbo" in our book club. I bought Shellie's book,"Suck in Your Stomach Put Some Color On! What Southern Mama Tell their Daughters that the Rest of Y'all Should Know Too."  

By the time we listened to them, and ate lunch at Broad Street, it was time to go to my Tuesday networking group at The Alumni House. Thanks, Leslie, for the drink...I forgot I had given Nicole my credit card to go to the movies with Caitlin!

I spent all day Wednesday in a writer's workshop presented by author Glen Allison at the MS Museum of Art. There were 11 people in the class, inlcuding my book club buddie, Jonni Webb, and my MS Writer's Guild buddy, Lydia Dell, as well as another freelance writer friend, Susan Deaver. I was impressed with the others in the class, including 17-year-old DeScott, who is a junior at Murrah High School. He is an aspiring writer and took a day off from school to attend the workshop. If he's doing this kind of thing now, imagine where he'll be in the future. Our instructor, Glen, is an accomplished writer, with two mystery/crime novels out and more on the away. 

Aftwards, I headed over to La Canzuela to sit out on the deck in the beautiful spring weather and sip icy cold margaritas with my friend, Brenda. It was a great way to end the day...

Yesterday I've played catch up on some writing assignments...I'm thankful I have so many. In between writing and telephone interviews, I was out in the yard helping Joe. We were trying to make it look decent for Easter. The bar has been raised by our showy next door neighbors, who hired a landscaper. The crew was next door working all day with really good yard tools, while Joe and I had to be content with a dying lawn mower, manual hedge clippers and a rake. But we managed to trim up bushes, get the yard cut and bribe the garbage man into taking away all the clippings. The good thing is that when all the weeds in the yard (which I believe far outnumber the actual grass), are cut the same length, it looks decent. A couple of ferns on either side of the front door, a pot of assorted flowers, and it looks pretty good.

Except for the pollen. Which is everywhere. Clouds of yellow have enveloped our house. Roxie got out earlier today, and when she came back, she did one of those al-over dog shakes and yellow dust just flew out of her coat. It reminded me of Pigpen in a Peanuts cartoon. 

This morning will be spent in a manicure chair, followed by an afternoon volunteering at the Museum. All in all, a very nice week. 

I'm looking forward to a meaningful Easter weekend.

Blessings to all who read this!