Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blanketed with Memories and Experiences

"What you talkin' about Willis?" Gary Coleman is dead.

So is Dennis Hopper.

And sadly, so is Aunt Mary, a sweet, wise woman who was 103 when she went to her final rest last week. Her memorial service is this afternoon. My childhood friends have come from Texas to lay her to rest. Hal, Gayden and Paul Scott all drove over for a family reunion-turned-memorial service. I'm sorry about the passing of Aunt Mary, but so happy I got to spend time with such long-time friends yesterday.

Hal came to visit me at View Gallery, where I was working for my neighbor, Phyllis. We talked about old times, and caught up on our lives. I met up with Hal and the rest of the gang last night at Keifer's, where we sat out on the deck, reminiscing, laughing and reconnecting. Gayden's two beautiful daughters, Jordan and Lauren, were there as well. Sometimes, life just hands you such sweet moments.

It's been a long, full week, but it was made a little easier after such a relaxing time last weekend. I went on a girl's weekend to a beautiful lake house in Carroll County, Mississippi with five fun, intelligent, creative women. We cooked, ate, laughed, kyaked, read, and just generally enjoyed each other's company. I had a Scentsy party there one night, and we discussed blogging. I shared what I know to help the others work on their own blogs. So it was a "working" weekend as well...but in a most spectacular place.
We ate like queens and our souls were rejuvenated, making it easier to take on life for another week. And in case you're wondering why I didn't put photos of these wonderful women on this's because it was a no-make-up, wear-what-you-want weekend...with a rule that we wouldn't take photos of each other! Even Cole, the dog, had a phobia of cameras. If one came out, he would hide under the bed!

On Wednesday, we celebrated the soon-to-arrive Liam with his mom, Courtney ("Cricket"). Jonni, Diane and I had a baby shower for Cricket and Jason, and now I think they're more excited than ever about Liam's arrival in late June (I'm betting he won't wait that long!)

So, it's fitting that I began this blog post with the passing of lives...and end it with the beginning of a new one. Life continues to renew itself...we have rites of passage, both good and bad, and they all help to weave the fabric of our lives. Like the super-soft blanket we got for Liam, all of us are blanketed in our memories and experiences. I'm thankful for the experiences and memories I've had this week and look forward to a great week ahead.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, and please take a moment to remember what the day is all about.

Blessings to all who read this!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All You Need is LOVE!

There's nothing more life-affirming than witnessing a young couple vow to love, honor, obey in sickness and in health 'til death they do part. I got to do just that over the weekend with one of my favorite couples: Domenick DiPaolo and Tiffany Ladnier.

I first met Dom the summer before he entered the tenth grade, when he was on my Teen Board at Northpark Mall. He lived in Brookhaven and didn't have a driver's license yet, so his parents, Peter and Carolyn, drove him to Ridgeland for our events. Thus began one of our great friendships.

Dom went on to attend Millsaps where he was the goalie for the soccer team. It's also where he met Tiffany. The couple's love grew stronger during Dom's tour of duty in Iraq with the Marine Reserves.  Pete and Carolyn moved from Brookhaven to Key West, then back to their native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where they now live.

Family and friends from PA to FL all converged in Jackson over the weekend for the beautiful wedding. I was fortunate to be invited to the rehearsal dinner on Thursday night, and Jacqui and I hosted the bridesmaid's brunch on Friday morning. A look at the photos will give you a clue as to the joy felt by everyone.

We went from wedding vows and the reception dance floor on Friday night to Methodist Rehab's extended care facility on Saturday morning for the Walk & Roll fundraiser event. Nicole's team, "You Can't Stop This Dancer," raised funds for research at Methodist Rehab. (It's not to late to give! Click HERE to donate online now!)

The walk involved two laps--one mile--around Mirror Lake, across the street from the center. Nicole walked the trail the entire way without the aid of a cane! She had Jell-o legs by the end, but did alot of other able-bodied people! It was very emotional for me to know that just 21 months ago, she was laying in a hospital bed in NY in critical condition, with a prognosis of quadriplegia. Her recovery has been remarkable, and as usual, so many people in attendance on Saturday were inspired by her. She visited with patients, and even found some time to DANCE, of course, to the sounds of the MS Swing Band.
Nic and friend, Pam
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
Get it, girl!
Talamieka's beautiful smile
When the Saints Go Marching In!
Eddie Streety and his wife came to walk with us.
Friend Karen Skeen and our neighbor, Liz Grant

It's good to participate in events like these from time to affirm our faith in love, and to remind us that even though it can change in the blink of an eye, life goes on and we can still find the joy in it every day. 

Congratulations Dom and Tif, and congratulations to all those who came out to support Walk & Roll...(and remember, you can be a part of that support group by donating HERE!) 

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Yoga, Arts, Herbs and NO TV!.

Ever notice how a dog or cat will do a full body stretch each and every time they get up from a snooze?

I started a yoga class yesterday.

I'm sore today. Real sore. And stiff.

I think the practice of yoga awakens muscles I haven't been using in awhile. It felt great while I was doing it, and I felt amazingly energized and relaxed at the same time when the class was over. It's just that now, the next day, I'm a little stiff and achy. I'm thankful for means my body is transforming! I'll just have to stretch it out again!

My friend, Leslie, was at the yoga class, too. We began and ended our day yesterday together. Because I'm the program chair of the Whisper Lake Garden Club, I asked Leslie to do May's presentation on growing herbs. I found out things about Leslie that I didn't know before! Like how she got into herbs. And that she's a really good speaker! Everyone had fun smelling all her sweet-smelling spritzes, and she sent everyone home with a opal leafed basil--a beautiful purple plant that she says will grow like mad. We'll see.

Today I'm excited about going to a big luncheon at Millsaps College. I've been asked to be on the board of the Millsaps Arts & Lecture Series. I'm really excited, because I've been a patron of the series for years. I've heard the most amazing lectures and enjoyed some of the most incredible performances at Millsaps over the years. It's amazing who they bring in. Most recently, Kathryn Stockett, author of "The Help," (on the NY Times Best Seller list!), spoke to a sell-out crowd. Still vivid in my mind are the Chinese acrobats, which I saw at Millsaps about three years ago. So, you'll be hearing all about next fall's lineup soon. Stay tuned!

Speaking of staying tuned...thanks to all of you who have set your DVR's so many times, for so many false alarms of Nicole's story running on the CBS Early Show. was supposed to be the day! She was supposed to make her national TV debut! (Well...not really...she was in the PBS "Now" Show, and she danced in a national Coca-Cola commercial, but this is a story all about her!). We spent a good hour or more last night beating the drums to let all our friends in the jungle know to tune in. People MISSED WORK this morning to stay home and watch. DVR's set all over the country.

Well, we're done. If we get word again that it's airing, we will NOT tell you...we will instead direct you to the CBS Early Show website after the fact so that you can see the video there.

So...on a positive note, there are two important things you can help with today, if you feel so inclined. One is to donate to the Walk & Roll event this Saturday. It's a fund raiser for research at Methodist Rehab. Nicole will be walking ONE MILE around the Mirror Lake Plaza track. You can go online here to register to walk with the You Can't Stop This Dancer team, or to donate to the cause. Her goal is $1000 by Saturday.

Blessings to all who read this!


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Don't Take it for Granted

I've been thinking lately about how we really take the things that make our lives easier/nicer/more fulfilling for granted. Channel flipping during commercials during the noon news, I came upon Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He's was in the Rockies, in Livingston, Montana. On horseback with a cattle rancher, he asked the rancher if she just marveled at the view of the snowcapped mountain range he saw from his backyard. The rancher admitted she hardly noticed it anymore...she realized she really did take it for granted. 

After Katrina, we were reminded in a big way how nice electricity--and the air conditioner it powers--really is. We were without power for seven days. That means the freezer wasn't working, so all the food inside thawed out and spoiled. And we were hot. Very hot. 

Folks in Yazoo City and Nashville are now experiencing some inconveniences and discomforts as they deal with the aftermath of a tornado and floods. My friend Carol honestly, and humorously, conveyed her frustrations about not having cable after the flood:

I’m having my own personal crisis! The cable has been out since Sunday! Today I called Comcast AGAIN – and apparently I don’t have it on the right channel. I must go shoot myself now. All I need is a Laura Ingalls Wilder dress and I can just stay home in my little prairie condo and shoot at varmints or  push Nellie Olsen down the well.

And as if that's not bad enough, her phone isn't working and her air conditioner is not operating well. 

I’m fed up with the flood. Still don’t have phone service. Can’t even get an elderly woman with a hatchet to look at my air conditioner (all the legitimate people are dealing with the floodies so I’m up to begging for Freon on street corners)

And to top it off...there are sightseers who want to see the flood and/or resulting damage.

And yesterday about 5 pm ¾’s of Nashville apparently decided “lets get in the car and go look at Bellevue and lets drive really slowly so that tired people trying to get home from work are stuck behind us.” It took an hour and a half to get home – it usually takes 25 to 30 mins. Where are these people coming from??? Go back to the shelters people!!!

Electricity. Cable. Phones. Necessary for survival? One could argue...

As I sit in my cool, air conditioned home this afternoon, taking a lunch break from "real" writing to watch a little cable TV, I'm counting my blessings. Blessings that we rarely even think about unless we have them snatched from us unexpectedly. Just sitting here, I'm thankful for my house, my sweet Roxie laying at my feet, the cardinals in the feeder outside my window, the quiet of being alone for a few hours and for the opportunity to be able to make a living writing in this environment. And I'm thankful for the blessing of knowing that soon this quiet house will be filled with many voices of people I love.

And I don't take for granted this beautiful weather--sunshine and blue skies for Fondren After Five tonight! I;ll be heading to Sal & Mookie's to celebrate Lou Shornick's 92nd birthday! I'll be Lou doesn't take much for granted. And neither should we.

What are you thankful for today?

Blessings to all who read this!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


It's on again! Off again! On again! Off again!

CBS news did a piece on Nicole that will air on The Early Show. Some day.

I's already been scheduled to run five times. And delayed five times. Nic got an email from the producer who said that the piece would run Wednesday morning. So we started beating our drums, telling everyone in jungle to wake up early, turn on their TV's and see....Nicole.

And just as we finished getting the word out, Nicole got a phone call. From the CBS producer. The segment has been bumped again. We're starting to feel like "The Boy Who Cried Wolf."

Karen Gilder asked if it would help if we started an email campaign to CBS. Hmmmmmm. Good thought....
So I emailed the producer. I asked if it would ever run, and if the email campaign idea would help...

The producer emailed me back:

There is no way the piece isn't going to air. Unfortunately because it is what we call an evergreen - it can air whenever because it is not pegged to a single date. So when something as important as the terrorism plot happens, it messes everything up. And the features that do still air are ones that are pegged to specific dates - like mothers day say. I promise you the piece will air you just have to be patient. I know its a pain - but try and understand that we are putting on two hours of news and entertainment everyday which is tricky, and we don't want to slight the story and make it shorter or have to put it at a time where it won't fit in. So we just have to wait. A letter campaign won't work - because everyone here is very excited for it to air (one senior producer even thinks its the best piece the show has done all year) So it will air. Just try and hang in there. 

That's big time TV for ya. So...we'll continue to wait.

Today has been full and fulfilling. It started at 8am at the training facility in the Nissan plant in Canton. I taught a bunch of guys how to assemble a drive shaft. Not really. I attended the Madison County Economic Summit with lots and lots of movers and shakers from all over the county. Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove was there, and he told the "back story" of how Mississippi landed Nissan. Lt. Governer Phil Bryant was there, and he told of his experience on the Gulf Coast the past few days. He said the oil spill threat wasn't nearly as bad as the national news was making it out to be. I pray he's right. And Dr. Phil Pepper, the state's economist, gave a very informative presentation of the economic condition of Madison County (it's really good). It was an enlightening morning, and I'm really glad I went.

Lunch was at Kristos, a fairly new restaurant in Madison. I met up with several ladies who attend a monthly
Bible study gathering. This particular luncheon had no agenda, other than fellowship and getting to know each other better. But there was alot of "unloading" (I guess some of the women had it bottled up and felt comfortable sharing their burdens with other women.)

Well here's the deal: I've heard many times that if we all threw the crosses we have to carry in a big pile, then we could go back and choose any cross we wanted, we'd almost surely choose our own. It's still a cross to bear, but it's our own cross--problems we already know how to handle. Well, if that had happened today, I'd have jumped in first to grab my own cross! You only think you have problems until you hear about other people's problems. And trust me, I got an earful today! I left feeling a little wrung out, but grateful that my problems didn't seem so big.

After lunch I headed over to Dolores' house, where her friend Loicka came by to smell my wonderful SCENTSY samples. We had a great visit, sipping on peach tea and solving the world's problems. You're welcome.

Then it was do some more social media network marketing for Walk & Roll, a fundraising event for research at Methodist Rehab. The event will be held on Saturday, May 15, from 10am to noon. It involves a one-mile walk around the track at Mirror Lake Plaza on Lakeland Drive. There will be food, live music and lots of fun. NICOLE WILL BE WALKING THE TRACK ON HER OWN, WITHOUT A CANE! But she needs two things: 1) people on her team and 2) donations. The more people she has walking with her, the more fun we'll all have. To register to walk, go to the link above ("Walk & Roll") and click the participant link on the blue bar across the top of the page. To donate, just click on the donation box. Her team is called "You Can't Stop This Dancer," of course. So, please, sign up to walk (it's only one mile!), donate if you can, and share the link with your friends!

Finally...Tuesday night TV...lots of channel flipping between "Biggest Loser," "Lost," "American Idol," and "Glee." A great way to simply veg out and relax after a very busy day...

I have a feeling that something good is brewing. I can't say what...but I'm hopeful...  ;-)

Blessings to all who read this!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

She Smiles

Earthquakes. Tornadoes. Volcanoes. Now floods. It beginning to think Mother Nature is angry. It certainly makes me feel like I need to do what I can to reduce my "carbon footprint." Our family recycles, but is it enough?

I was going through my closet over the weekend, cleaning out clothes that I know I'll never wear again, but someone who has no clothes may be happy to have. My friend Tam's church group was collecting clothes for the victims of the Yazoo City tornado. It felt great to not only give my closet some breathing space, but to know that someone will benefit from the clothes my butt is too big to squeeze into.

Alot of folks in Yazoo City and other areas where the huge tornado hit last weekend lost everything. I can't imagine. As I continue my quest to pair down my life, getting rid of the clutter and things that just don't have a place in my life, I can't help but think about those who lost everything in the blink of an eye. They had no choice about what went and what stayed. The furious winds of the tornado swooped everything thing up at once and now those folks are having to rebuild their lives.

Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. --Galatians 6:2 

It's no wonder Mother Nature is pissed. Look at what's happening on the Gulf Coast with the oil spill. So sad...but I don't understand how people can so quickly turn on BP with such hatred. Sure, someone was negligent, but no one had a problem with the offshore oil wells when all was going long as they had gas at the pumps to put into their cars. It seems to me that when disaster happens, people are quick to lay blame. I believe we are all responsible...the desires of consumers drives the manufacturers.

Many feel a sense of helplessness, but I guess I have more of a Pollyanna attitude. I'm determined to see the bright side of life. And there is plenty to see. Like friends who have new babies to rock, a happy family, wonderful friends, and so much more. Not that I'm putting my head in the sand and ignoring the natural and man-made disasters. Instead, I am taking the time to pray for those affected, and pray that collectively, we will all make attempts to be more gentle, more kind, more responsible, and more grateful for what we do have.

And in the midst of it all, there are life-affirming events that add joy to our lives. For me, one of those events was watching Nicole dance on Friday night. She participated in the National Dance Week Dance-a-Thon at Belhaven. The event benefited one of her favorite causes, the "Ask for More Arts" program. I felt a tinge of deja vu as I sat in the audience and watched as dancers performed. The program opened with two three-year-old ballerinas. One was a natural, performing all the moves, playing to the audience, while the other spent her time on stage planning her escape. We were treated to ballet, hip hop, salsa, Irish dancing, tap and Nicole's interpretive dance, performed to Talamieka Brice's spoken word--a poem she wrote about Nicole's accident and recovery. Powerful, beautiful and moving...

"She sits alone in her tutu, hair tousled, limbs stiff from the fall, body bearing the scars that fractured it…and smiles for she is not broken.

Found in the pit with discarded items, the darkness paled underneath the weight of her light…
She lived
Through broken promises and doubts
Through bleak medical prognosis and love gone cold

Legs that would not move anchored her,
Toes that yearned to wiggle failed to communicate their desires to a shattered spine, and then one day She STOOD!
Dizzy from life, the small frame many thought would be six feet below stood 5 feet above and triumphantly smiled
The seed was planted and nurtured with love and warmed with well wishes, she broke through the concrete of paralysis and blossomed

Slowly at first, held by the spunk that led her to a dancer’s life, a Harlem roof six stories high and a tumble down the rabbit’s hole. 
One foot in front of the other, steadily she walked, supported by the prayers of those she never met and some she had, she walked.
And one day, she tested her wings left the support of her perch, believing she she flew, finding the balance, shifting the pain, trusting she’d dance again
She DID!!!

…She sits in her tutu, body bearing the scars from her life, paralyzed legs walking again, bones still mending and she SMILES…shouldn’t we all?
A special thanks to Talamieka for her beautiful words, and to her husband, Charles, for these photos.

Blessings to all who read this!