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As many of you know, I went to the University of Alabama.  I’m pretty proud of it.  I’ve been known to drop “Roll Tide” into conversations, hashtags, text messages… And, as a proud alum of THE University of Alabama, I don’t like Auburn.  But maybe, just maybe, I’m softening.

In February, a fan of my proud school made a grievous error, poisoning centuries old Oak trees standing at Toomer’s Corner at the “school down the road.”  Most of us associated with UA were outraged and heartbroken.  While those trees are not ours to love, they’re also not ours to destroy.  A grassroots group known as “Tide for Toomer’s” sprang into action, raising awareness…and $50,000…to save the mighty trees and strengthen sometimes strained relations between two proud universities.

Last Wednesday, the skies opened up and cut a swath across my former Sweet Home.  Many died, more are missing, and still more have lost everything.  The images we’ve all seen are heartbreaking and the stories much worse.  I still have friends in the community and unfortunately, they’ve relayed that the pictures merely scratch the surface on the utter devastation Tuscaloosa faces. 

And then, the “school down the road” came calling.  A Facebook group of Auburn fans and students called “Toomer’s for Tuscaloosa” appeared.  They’ve sounded…and answered…the call for donations, for deliveries, for volunteers.  With each new tweet or status update calling for school supplies or stadium cups or someone to cut limbs,  I relent a bit more.

Now, never completely will my disdain for Auburn disappear.  Nor should it.  That’s what makes our rivalry great.  But from an Alabama grad currently hundreds of miles away from her beloved T-Town and feeling helpless, I say “thank you.”  And, just this once, “War Eagle!”

Bring in da noise…

So, at the end of 2010, I had an ear infection.  And I still have days I wake up and can’t hear well (yes, I use q-tips, thank you).  But, this week, I’ve almost grown to appreciate it.

So often we get caught up in the “noise.”  The iPhone ringtones.  The text messages.  The iTunes shuffle.  The talk radio pundits.  The TV talking heads.  All I seem to hear is other people’s noise.  And for a moment, not hearing was the best loss of sensory perception I’ve known.  I heard my own thoughts, my own wishes, my own advice.  I’ve heard the beating of my heart, faster when in a stressful situation, slow and steady when I focused and relaxed.  I heard my needs…and will hopefully act on them.

Earlier this week, I posted my resolutions.  I still believe in and hope to complete the course with them all.  I also posted a few weeks back about my word.  While I remain “thankful” always, I think my newest word might be “listen.”  Listen to myself.  Listen to my friends and not my text message tone.  Listen to God when he speaks to my heart.

When we “bring in da noise,” we also “bring in da funk.”  The funk of falling victim to so many distractions from our goals; from our path.  I hope this year, I learn to ignore the noise…and LISTEN to the beautiful silence of myself.

The Resolution Roll

There’s not much ado I can muster for resolutions, so…drumroll…no?  OK, here we go:

  • Take more pictures.  Of people.  Of places.  Of things.  Even of myself. 
  • Blog more.  (That better not be a collective groan I hear…)
  • Cook more…which leads to…
  • Put the fire department and poison control on speed dial.
  • Fall in love.  With my situation, my life, myself.
  • Follow more closely my Jesus.

The last one is the best one.  Usually I like to employ that “save the best for last” trick.  I wish you all a blessed and bright 2011.  And I thank you for the part you played in blessing and brightening my 2010.

…Right This Very Minute

“For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute,
Candles in the window,
Carols at the spinet”

First of all, what is a spinet?  … Anyway, I love Christmas.  I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember.  Growing up, Santa always came to my house, drank the “little coke” (in a glass bottle) I placed out for him, left what I had been pining for.  Grandparents doted on me throughout the year, but Christmas was always over the top.  And not just materialistically, although there were gifts…but with time, with memories, with great stories told around a dinner table.  My house was the Christmas dinner house, where both sides of the family merged, ate, laughed that magical afternoon while I performed puppet shows, rode my new bike, or made brownies in the easy-bake oven that rivaled my grandmother’s pie (ok, not really).

But, this year, it’s different.  All of my grandparents have left for a heavenly home.  My small family is getting tinier.  And I’m just not feeling it.  I’ve said that putting up a tree feels like too much work.  I have yet to finish shopping, when usually gifts are wrapped right after Thanksgiving.  I’m not in the spirit yet.  And I don’t feel like it’s around the corner either…  My childlike wonder for the season has been replaced with grumblings over the lack of parking at the mall.

So many say that Christmas is diluted, that the real meaning of the holiday is lost in tinsel and Black Friday campouts.  For the first time in my young life, I might agree.  While the true reason for the season lives in me all year, I can’t quite get caught up by the commercialism this year.  I’m hoping it doesn’t mean my heart is a few sizes too small…

Therefore, the song holds especially true this year.  Maybe if I expend the energy to “haul out the holly,” I’ll get the Christmas I remember.  The Christmas I need.

Word.

I read Eat, Pray, Love.  I saw the movie.  I have wondered for a while what my word is.  I read this fabulous post by a friend.  And still, I was unsure.

This week is a holiday week.  No, not the Iron Bowl, although that’s a pretty big deal for me.  Memories of turkey day growing up flood back and I can easily recall myself rolling out pie crusts with my grandmother, tasting (and gagging at) my grandfather’s oyster dressing, being amazed by the cranberry sauce that keeps the shape of the can…which I still marvel over and love.  As we’ve discussed, my family is small, but holidays have always been huge and the memories of them feed my soul more than a double helping of mashed potatoes with giblet gravy.

It comes to me.  My word is thankful.  Thankful.  My life, though not perfect, is mine.  My family, though few and far away, loves me.  My friends, though I don’t see or talk to some of them as much as I would like, bring laughter.  My faith, though shaken more often than I would admit over coffee, sustains me.  All of these blessings, which I tend to overlook, have been given freely to me.  I am undeserving, but ever thankful.

Merriam-Webster defines thankful in three ways.  One, conscious of benefit received.  I am ever-cognizant of all that I have graciously been given.  Two, expressive of thanks.  I hope that I appear to express my appreciation; for gifts, for comforts, for friendships.  And three, well pleased.  I am more than glad to have what I have, know whom and what I know, and be who I am.

Part of the struggle to find my word was that it needed to be able to grow with me, continue to encompass me.  And, when I arrived at thankful, I realized, that if I live my life in a way that I continue to be such, I will have been a success.  As a daughter, as a friend, as a (future) wife, as a person.

I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.  And I’m thankful for you.

The List

”Life is either a daring adventure…or nothing.” – Helen Keller

Because my much cooler friends Savannah, Audreya, and Kerri posted a “Life List” recently, I was moved to do the same.  John Goddard’s famous list has also inspired me, and my mom used to ask her high school students to journal a life list on the first day of class. 

However, while speaking to another friend last night, the caution was raised that such a list can make you feel unaccomplished if the boxes don’t get checked.  And, there are some things you don’t want to share with everyone…  But, an abbreviated, fluffy list follows (please don’t hold me to it):

  1. Visit all 50 states.  (32 down.)
  2. See the Rain in Spain.
  3. Invent something of usefulness.
  4. Witness a record-breaking athletic feat in person.  (Division IA – NCAA Football – Most rushing yards per game – 406 – LaDainian Tomlinson)
  5. Teach a child to read.
  6. Buy a house.
  7. Learn to read, write, and speak another language fluently.
  8. Meet a Former President.  (2 down – George HW Bush and Bill Clinton)
  9. Run for public office.
  10. Go to the World Series.
  11. Go to the NCAA Final Four.  (2003 – KU, UT, Marquette, Syracuse)
  12. Go to an NCAA Football Playoff Game.  (I’m with my friends Audreya and Kerri here – if we’re dreaming, dream big!)
  13. Go to all four golf majors.  (1 down – US Open)
  14. Take a long road trip, preferably set to music, a la Elizabethtown.
  15. Go to the Kentucky Derby and drink multiple mint juleps.
  16. Go to Yankees/sox game at both Yankee Stadium (old) and Fenway.
  17. Overcome fear of snakes.
  18. Overcome fear of failure.
  19. Shop for a wedding dress with my mom.
  20. Win big money in Vegas on a “hot roll” at the craps table with my dad. (If this happens, so can #27!)
  21. Learn to play the piano.
  22. Learn to yodel.
  23. Run a 5k…then a 10k…then a half marathon.
  24. Travel by train and eat in a dining car.
  25. Cook a gourmet meal.
  26. Appreciate stinky cheese.
  27. Buy one pair of amazing Christian Louboutin shoes.
  28. Consistently stand up for myself.
  29. Take more than one picture I like of myself.
  30. Tame the frizz.
  31. Enjoy nature (bugs, snakes, and all).
  32. Appreciate “being here now.”

There are more, I am sure…and hopefully I’ll keep adding to what has been a full life in only 28.5 years.  All in all, I’m a lucky girl with lofty goals.

    

Descanza en paz.

It’s been less than a week since I posted about not attending my class reunion.  My thoughts were on my high school days, when I was reading the news feed on Facebook over the weekend.  I was shocked…and then saddened…and still troubled to learn that the valedictorian of my class had died.  While I am not close to anyone I graduated with, nor had I spoken to this girl in nearly a decade, my heart broke reading posts on her wall and reliving high school days.  We were in many of the same classes, on much of the same path.  I was nominated alongside her, for outstanding senior woman, and we participated in extracurricular activities together.

High school was filled with many good times, however, also marred by harshness of the “real world.”  The class before mine lost their valedictorian, a friend of all of us as well, in what became the last official Bonfire, the fall of his first year of college.  My own class lost a member less than a month before graduation in an automobile accident.  This weekend brought back those painful memories, as well as created new ones. 

Again, my high school days are far behind me.  I only shared two years with those classmates, and have moved many times in the past decade.  However, the stinging shock of losing someone who was once so close, someone so much like me just a decade ago, is very real in the here and now.  I become younger and older in the same moment, as I regress to adolescent memories yet once again become hardened to pain that some my age have yet to experience. 

I borrowed the title of this post from a message to her this weekend that resonated with simplicity, sincerity, and solemnity:  Descanza en paz.  Rest in peace.  This is my fervent wish for her, along with so many others who struggle on Earth, and pass into eternity.