January 31, 2013

It's An Irrational Life I Lead

I was watching an episode of Larry King's show when I heard him mention that he professes to be agnostic (an agnostic?). I've always had some level of uncertainty about what exactly being agnostic entails so I did what any normal person in 2013 would do...I looked it up on Wikipedia.

The following blog post that was inspired is not in any way intended to disrespect anyone who adheres to this belief. But it got me thinking about what I believe and I wanted to share something. 

The thing that struck me most about how Wikipedia defined agnosticism was the following sentence: Agnoticism is the view that humanity does not currently possess the requisite knowledge and/or reason to provide sufficient rational grounds to justify the belief that deities either do or do not exist. 

I guess what made me sad about this is the idea that the only things worth doing or believing are the things we can rationalize. I mean, where's the magic in that? And a life without magic is a life I want no part in.

You see, the best things about my life (and yours probably) are the ones we couldn't even begin to rationalize. 

They are things like loving people who don't love you back. 

Giving and wanting nothing in return. 

Hoping for a better tomorrow when there is nothing hopeful about today. 

Believing in someone who can't or won't believe in himself. 

Dreaming you can do something that's never been done before...and holding tight to that dream, squeezing the life out of it until it comes to fruition. 

The most wonderful things in life are the ones we cannot provide sufficient rational grounds to justify. And we shouldn't have to. 

But of course, we were given free will. So each of us is free to believe (or not believe) what we choose. 

The Larry King episode that I saw featured an interview with Rainn Wilson (famous for his Dwight Schrute character on one of my favorite shows, The Office). Larry asked Rainn how he could believe in God without any evidence or proof and I loved his answer. Rainn said "A cow has never seen the Internet...but that doesn't make the Internet any less real." 

January 30, 2013

The Rules of Civility and Being useful

I just finished reading the most wonderful book about the glamorous life of a group of New York socialites in the late 1930s. I think I enjoyed reading it because it was, for a few minutes each night, an escape to a more exciting time. The elegant, but stoic men went to work on Wall Street or in high-rise office buildings. They wore dinner jackets and drank martinis. The women shopped at Bendel's and had lunch at the Plaza.
Kroger Meat Department (my Pe-pa is 2nd from left)
But then I ran across the following poem and decided that while it's fun to imagine a life of privilege and elegance, that's not really who I am or where I come from. The words in Marge Piercy's stanzas speak to my heart on a much deeper level. As I read the lines, I see images of my great-grandmother...who, as a girl, learned to plow the field because she didn't enjoy her assigned task of chopping corn. I think of my mom's dad who worked his entire career as a butcher at a local grocery store -- "a thing worth doing well done."  It makes me want to jump into my work head first and I feel so lucky to have such work to jump into! I hope the poem brings up some pleasant imagery for you too. Enjoy! 
To be of useby Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

January 29, 2013

The Difference Between Belles & Beaux, part 1

There isn't enough space on the Internet to hold all the differences between southern ladies and southern gents, but I thought I'd start by sharing a story about my own southern beau, who often surprises and baffles me.

He recently got a haircut and while he was sharing a story about something funny his barber had said, I asked him what his barber's name was.

He said, "I have no idea."

I said, "Seriously? You have no idea what your barber's name is?"

To which he replied, "Of course not. I've only been to him 6 times. That's not nearly enough time to establish a connection where I could ask him his name."


I not only know my hairstylist's name, but we are also friends on Facebook. And I know she has a son and she knows about my job/life/etc. And I bet I learned all of this the FIRST time I had my hair cut by her.

Maybe this isn't interesting enough to warrant a blog post, but I just can't get over how differently men (or at least my southern beau) thinks about things. I'm not picking on him....I just find it kinda funny.

Do you know your barber's name? I'd love to hear about a moment when a member of the opposite sex did something that baffled you.

January 28, 2013

Memorizing Poetry

A former colleague of mine shared this article from the New Yorker on why it's important to memorize poetry and it caused me to try and recall the last time I memorized something. It's been a long time. In thinking about it, I realized a few things: I don't know many peoples' addresses...I have spreadsheets for that. And as for phone numbers, they are stored safely in my phone's contact list. I am notified of my friends' birthdays by Facebook so I don't have to remember those and my wide assortment of Internet passwords and logins are jotted down in a secure location.

It used to be that we'd have to remember when our favorite television shows aired so we could rush home to watch them...now I watch shows on Hulu whenever I feel like it. With all the technology we currently have at our fingertips, there is little need to memorize anything....except maybe where you put your phone or computer.

While reading the article about poetry memorization, I was reminded of all the poems I memorized as a child. I had an audio recording of Shel Silverstein's A Light in the Attic that I'd listen to as I fell asleep each night. I can still recite many of those poems even though I haven't seen the book in years. It's not that I ever get a chance to recite them, but somehow knowing that I still can gives me a sense of accomplishment.

This is how I ended up awake at nearly 1 o'clock in the morning on Sunday, reading a book of poetry. And this is why I've decided to start memorizing poems again. There are 48 weeks left in 2013...I'm sure I can memorize at least a poem every few weeks or so. Even if I just learned one a month, that would be 12 poems memorized over the course of a year...which is 12 less than I've memorized in the last 12 years. It might seem like a silly goal, but I'm pretty excited.

{If this post doesn't alert you to the fact that I'm sort of a nerd, I don't know what would.}

I'd love for you to join me in this, if you're so inclined. There is no test...no prize. Just the feeling of satisfaction and awe at our brains for being able to hold such a vast amount of knowledge. So wish me luck! I'll keep you posted on my progress.

January 26, 2013

Drink it up: Winter Party Punch

I just learned that my home state of Tennessee (good ol' Rocky Top!), was the first state in the nation to enact a prohibition law....on this day back in 1838. Since we're no longer dry in these parts, I thought I'd share a recipe for a delicious spirited punch. My friend was generous to give me some grapefruit so this is a perfect way to enjoy it!

A Wintry Mix Party Punch
  • 2 cups grapefruit vodka
  • 1 cup orange curacao
  • 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/3 cups cranberry juice
  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp orange bitters
  • grapefruit slices for garnish
Mix all ingredients in a large punch bowl filled with ice and serve immediately! You never know when the Temperance Society might come knockin' on your door!

January 25, 2013

Southern Belle Simple on Fox43: Brighten your Winter Day

This segment couldn't have come at a better time....this morning I woke up to a city covered in ice. The University of Tennessee closed for what seems like the first time in ages. I even saw on Facebook where Knoxville's mayor was riding around surveying the scene in a salt truck and the truck overturned on the side of the road (he wasn't injured, thankfully!).

I hope you are safe and sound wherever you are today. And maybe some of my easy tips to beat the winter blues will help brighten your day! Happy Friday friends.

January 24, 2013

How to Beat the Winter Blues

It's crazy how much effect the weather can have on us...from our health to our mood or our overall disposition. January is one of those months that can be kind of tricky. We're dealing with the inevitable letdown that comes after the pomp and circumstance of the holidays. The days are short and can be dreary. If we aren't careful, the winter blues will set in and I'd just hate to see that happen to such nice folks like you and me.

We've already made it through the shortest day of 2012 (Dec. 21) but there are still several more days of winter left to endure. I'm joining my friends on Knoxville's WTNZ Fox43 this morning and sharing some tips on how to beat the winter blues. These are some of the tricks that work for me, but I'd love to hear yours also!

1. Add Some Color to Your Everyday Life -

One way that winter can get you down is because it brings gray, dreary days. I combat this by infusing color into my life in every area I can, especially in unexpected places. Maybe a new dish towel or cleaning sponge will liven up your kitchen chores. I love snagging colorful office supplies because you can't take life too seriously when you're jotting notes on a neon pink to-do list. Whatever you choose, I hope it's something that brightens your mood when you look at it.

2. Liven Things Up with Fresh Cut Blooms and Branches -

Because winter seems like a time when everything outside is dead, I find that surrounding myself with living things helps to beat the winter blues. Grab a cheap bunch of grocery store flowers or even cut some branches from a tree in your yard. You don't have to spend a lot of money to create a lovely arrangement that will brighten up your home or office.

3. Beat the Blues with Color from Head to Toe -

Another way that I show winter who's boss is by refusing to wear dark, drab colors (even though that's what I feel like doing most of these cold days!). Wearing bright, punchy colors always lifts my spirits. You just can't help but smile when you're wearing vivid turquoise, brilliant orange, or luscious yellow. And if you don't want to go all out, add color with your accessories such as a statement necklace or scarf. It's all about the little things we can do to make a big impact.

These are some more fun ways, but the regular old tried and true methods are also great for keeping the blues at bay. These include getting plenty of sleep, eating a balanced, healthy diet and taking time to exercise your body as well as your mind. It's one thing to have a bad day, but seasonal affective disorder is a very real thing and if you're experiencing feelings of hopelessness or long bouts of not wanting to get out bed, don't ignore that...please seek medical help!

What are some ways that have helped you stay cheery even when it's dreary outside? I always love hearing from y'all so share! 

January 23, 2013

How to Give Compliments

Tomorrow (January 24) has been designated as National Give a Compliment Day. I've already written about the importance of learning how to accept a compliment, but today I want to talk about giving them. How often have you been the recipient of a compliment that felt like a thinly veiled insult? This has happened to me more than I'd like to remember. Since I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, let's pretend they didn't mean it to come across that way.

I'm sure I've probably been guilty of doing this myself, sometimes without meaning to (and maybe on purpose from time to time). Our words have such power. I'm not one to make resolutions with the coming year, but one thing I do want to be more conscious of is how I speak to people. Since our words can have such an impact, I want mine to bring encouragement and peace....not doubt and self-loathing. This applies to what I say to others as well as my own inner dialogue with myself.

I bet that if we really took the time to look with our hearts at the people we encounter, we wouldn't soon run out of compliments to pay them. And doesn't it feel so good when someone takes the time to positively acknowledge a small thing about your behavior or appearance? Let's do the same for others.

Last year had its fair share of challenges for all of us, I'm sure. One of mine was a work situation. In it, I learned that folks are often unable to pay others compliments because their own self-worth is lacking. I am learning that the best way to feel better about yourself is to make someone else feel good about himself. It's like a big ol' contagious warm fuzzy love fest whose impact can spread beyond our wildest dreams.

Each day, I want to look for opportunities to give compliments. I hope you'll do the same. I'm just one person and so are you. But our words have power and we can make an impact for good if we just look for small ways to do so.

Source: tweakiz.com via Lacey on Pinterest

January 22, 2013

You Might be a Yankee If....

I'm sure you've heard Jeff Foxworthy's You might be a redneck if jokes. But you probably haven't heard of my grandpa's jokes You might be a Yankee if. A Texas-born southerner through and through, my paternal grandpa has a great sense of humor. He hasn't been in the best health these past several years, but in many areas, his mind is as sharp as ever. When I told him about my blog, he wanted me to take down some of his Yankee jokes and share them with my readers. 

Today, I'm sharing one that gave me a chuckle. 

"If you've never had a washing machine, refrigerator or Coke machine on your front porch, you might be a Yankee." 

{I'm really lucky to have both grandfathers still in my life....my mom's dad is a devoted reader of this blog...Hi Pe-pa!} 

January 21, 2013

Home Makeover Mishaps or Why I'll Never Be a DIY Blogger

Have you ever had one of those days that you just can't wait to end? That was Saturday for me. Nothing really bad happened, but all the little snafus added up to my nerves being turned into a frazzled mess. Instead of dwelling on it, I decided to do what any good blogger would and share it with y'all. Please don't laugh at my misfortune. By the way, there are no pictures because my camera died, another lovely moment of the day.

I recently mentioned that since 2013 rolled around, I've been cleaning out my home and getting rid of the clutter in a major way. That was phase 1 of my small scale home makeover. Phase 2 was painting the walls a bright, cheery color. Saturday, I enlisted the help of my southern beau to begin our painting adventure. He manned the roller while I used a brush to cut in the edges (I do read Young House Love so I know a thing or two about painting.) 

Oh, first I should mention that when I went to open my bedroom window to let in some fresh air, my window blinds came flying out of their frame and landed in a warped heap on the floor. So I was already cursing quietly under my breath. 

But back to painting. We heard a snap and my southern beau, who apparently doesn't know his own strength, had broken the paint roller. I didn't even know those things would break...I mean, they are metal. So he proceeded to try and use the broken roller for a bit (while complaining) and I finally convinced him to go to the hardware store for a new one. 

While he was gone, I was painting when I heard water dripping in the living room. I live on the ground floor of an older apartment building that has been converted to condos. For some reason the melting snow had found its way down through four other floors of condos and into my living room ceiling, where big fat drops were dripping from the ceiling's seam across the width of the room. And landing on/soaking my furniture. And television. 

When I heard my beau's key in the door, I said "honey, something has happened." But I'm not sure I could have prepared him for what. 

Nine buckets, assorted cooking pots and garbage cans later, we caught most of the leaking water (after moving everything from that side of the room to the other side). Then someone stepped on paint and tracked it around on the carpet. Then one of the dogs went number 2 in the bathroom floor. 

And then I loudly said to nobody in particular, "THIS IS WHY I'LL NEVER BE A DIY BLOGGER!!!!!" And I silently cursed those darn cheerful self-deprecating Petersiks for every single DIY project they do that looks so darn easy and fun. But everything worked out in the end. We finished painting the hallway (which was less than I'd hoped to accomplish, but considering the furniture moving/bucket brigade situation, I'll take it). We even managed to laugh about everything after it was all over. 

But I can't visit Young House Love for awhile. It's still just too raw. 

January 19, 2013

Guilty Pleasure TV: Pretty Little Liars

I've heard my blogger pal Julie rave about her guilty pleasure of watching the show Pretty Little Liars for some time now and since I've exhausted my dvd collection during the recent snow and ice that came my way, I was in the market for a new show and decided to give it a watch.

Pretty Little Liars is loosely based on a series of young adult novels, which I haven’t read. I’ll never forget my first experience watching a show that was based on books I loved. The year was 1992, I was 10 years old and the show was The Baby-sitters Club. Pretty Little Liars is much more Sex and the City than BSC, but still has all that fun girl power we love in a guilty pleasure show.

Basically, it’s about four friends and the drama and intrigue that develops after the leader of their little clique disappears. It has all the teen angst you expect plus a little murder thrown in.

And just like Sex and the City, PLL has the fashion. Isn’t that always one of the best parts of these kinds of shows? I just started watching the SATC prequel The Carrie Diaries for the fashion alone. If you’re a fan of one of these shows, you can usually watch any of them (although I couldn’t get into Gossip Girl…oh well).

I think the current season of Pretty Little Liars is the third so I’m pretty far behind, but I don’t mind. That’s how it is with guilty pleasure shows…you can watch several in a row while doing other things like laundry or chores. I’m curious if you watch Pretty Little Liars? I’d love to hear what you think about it, but no spoilers please! 

January 17, 2013

Shifting Faith Paradigms

The duck/rabbit illustration shows how a paradigm shift can make you see the same thing in a totally different way
As a kid, I used to love to learn new big words that I could use to make myself look smart. The only problem was, I often used them incorrectly or just pronounced them wrong. This sort of blew my cover. One such word was paradigm. I remember hearing it and thinking how I couldn't wait to use it in conversation. Of course I pronounced it para-dig-um.

When I was in college, I heard a lot about paradigms (it's so much more fun to say para-dig-ums) and how they can shift, causing us to see differently something we've looked at our whole lives.

This has definitely been my experience in the last several years when it comes to issues of faith. I learned about God as a child and formed many ideas about who He is and what it all meant. Now, I'm having to un-learn a lot of stuff.

I used to think that I was defined by how much I loved God. Now I see that I'm defined by how much He loves me.

I used to think my value came from how much I could do for Him. I'm realizing my value is demonstrated by what He already did for me.

I always thought peace came from an ability to manage my circumstances in a way that looked good on the outside. I see now that true peace comes from believing what God says is true...even when my life doesn't look the way I had hoped.

I always thought trusting God meant going through life, holding my breath, hoping nothing bad happened. I am learning that trusting Him means trusting in His character. Trusting that He is who He says He is no matter what is going on around me.

I'm not sure exactly how all these shifts took place but I'm glad they did. I still have so much to learn (and un-learn) but I'm grateful for the journey. And I'm grateful that you visited Southern Belle Simple. If the winter winds are blowing where you are, I hope you are managing to stay warm and toasty!

January 16, 2013

Gardening in January

"January is the quietest month in the garden. But just because it looks quiet doesn't mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come."

-  Rosalie Muller Wright, Editor of Sunset Magazine, 1/99

Happy January! 

January 15, 2013

Letting Go of a Lifetime of Stuff

I was born into a family of collectors. This is a wonderful thing and it's enriched my life, as well as come in very handy. Not many people could volunteer to decorate for a "construction-themed" luncheon and round up 35 vintage metal dump trucks to use as centerpieces (borrowed from my generous grandpa's collection).

Even now, I collect English ironstone dishes as well as vintage post cards and little knick knacks I've picked up throughout my travels. I love my collections. They bring me lots of joy...from the hunt to find new pieces to choosing the exact right place to display them.

But somewhere along the way, I ended up collecting a lot of extra stuff that didn't fit into any collection. I collected stuff like my life depended on it. I went to yard sales. I shopped from clearance racks. I bought things because they were cheap or because I wanted one in every color. I bought things that I thought somebody might be able to use...never mind that I wasn't that somebody or I had no idea when the need for those things would arise (if ever).

From my childhood bedrooms (we moved a few times) to my college dorm room to my post-college condominium, I've never had a massive amount of space to call my own. But the space I did/do have has always felt like less because of my stuff. Stuff filled my closets, spilled out of my jam-packed drawers and lined the walls.

I thought my stuff belonged to me. I'm finally figuring out that the truth is, I belong to it. What I never realized is that my stuff has been suffocating me. Have you ever felt this way?

It's kind of embarrassing to even talk about. I mean, there are people in the world who have nothing. Literally nothing. And I'm complaining because I have too much. [crickets chirping].

But I'm not beating myself up....just looking at it from that perspective.

Anyway, 2013 has ushered in a new era for me. I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm letting go of stuff. I mean really letting go of stuff. Cleaning it out, bagging it up and hauling it away. And it feels amazing. Like I-can't-wait-to-wake-up-in-the-morning-and-donate-it-all-to-Goodwill amazing.

Maybe I'm the only recovering wanna-be hoarder out there who has experienced this. But I wanted to share because if there's just one more like me, I want you to be encouraged. You don't need all that stuff. Seriously. There's a lot of freedom in letting go.

January 14, 2013

Anti-Recipe: Tuna, Beans & Greens

Winter months are my least favorite of the year especially where fresh produce is concerned. I try to eat local and there isn't as much to choose from when the weather is cold. One of my favorite easy go-to lunches is tuna and beans. I always try to keep the ingredients on hand so I can whip it up on the fly. And the fresh greens add color and nutrients that boost my immune system and mood when I need it most (can we say seasonal affective disorder?). 

As with all my recipes, you can pretty much add or omit anything you like. You're the one eating it, after all. I buy pre-washed organic greens because it makes prep easier but you can use whatever you like. I usually pick a mix of baby chard and kale varieties. 

For the tuna & bean mixture, I drain the tuna and mix it with a can of drained cannellini beans. Then I add some brown mustard and/or a little olive oil...whatever I'm in the mood for. A few shakes of dried dill complete the dish. 

It's filling and oh so tasty. You can add some type of salad dressing if you need it to help choke down the greens, but I find that keeping them plain and tossing them with the tuna and beans makes for the perfect combination. 

I hope you are having a nice January...and don't forget to take your Vitamin D3! I find it helps me combat the gray day blues during this time of year quite nicely. 

January 10, 2013

How to Organize your home with Style

Improvements a' la Home: Getting Organized

A new year has begun and doesn't it feel like a clean slate? I don't know about y'all, but I've been spending quite a bit of time cleaning and de-cluttering my home and it feels great. I'm joining those fab folks on Knoxville's WTNZ Fox43 this morning and I'm excited to be sharing some easy ideas that have helped me get organized without spending much (if any) money.

This segment could also be called "new uses for old things," because I love to take things I already have and find new and unique ways to put them to use!

1. That Can-Do Attitude (Mason jar trinket organizers) - It's no secret that I love canning jars....even though I'm ashamed to say I've never actually canned. I always have extras around the house and I use them for all sorts of things. I wanted to organize some of my office supplies so I spray painted the lids of three jars in three fun colors (the left is a pale mint green, but it reads in the picture as white).

Now my assorted clips have a new home and my twine (center) will be tangle free when I'm ready to snip a piece (it's threaded through a hole I punched in the top of the jar).

2. Raid the Kitchen - There are all sorts of fancy schmancy organization/home stores that sell containers galore, but instead of spending a lot of money, I'd rather just use what I have on hand. I always raid my kitchen when I'm looking for containers to use for organizing. I have several bowls that I use to organize bracelets and rings. And while shopping at one of my favorite thrift stores recently, I picked up a couple of retro ashtrays that will make a  great catch-all for change, keys and lipstick.

It may sound cliche but the old adage "a place for every thing and everything in its place" does help when trying to stay organized!

3. Frame it up! - My final organizing ideas are oldies but goodies. By getting a little bit creative, you can do so much with just a little. Picture frames can become a lovely vanity tray with the simple addition of a sheet of paper behind the glass. And you may have seen this picture frame earring holder around the blogosphere, but mine makes getting dressed in the morning such a breeze, I wanted to share it again. If you're still digging through jewelry boxes of earrings when trying to pick out your accessories, do yourself a favor and give this easy project a try! You'll be able to see what  jewelry options you have and nothing gets tangled or jumbled. Easy peasy!

As a recovering pack rat, I know firsthand that the biggest enemy of creativity is clutter. I've been hauling stuff to my local thrift store like crazy and just freeing up some space in my home has helped me get much more organized already. I hope you'll try some of these ideas or others that strike your fancy. I wish for you (and me!) a clutter-free, creative and productive 2013!

January 9, 2013

Mending Broken Things

Do you ever feel like things just aren't fitting together? Like maybe the cogs in the gears that make up your life are off a little bit? Sometimes I wake up with this feeling, although it's hard to describe and even harder to put my finger on what is causing it.

It's sort of like thinking you left the coffee pot turned on, but you can't get home to check it for several hours. There's just nothing like that feeling of peace when you finally make it through the door and see that it was indeed turned off.

I read something today that encouraged me and I thought it might encourage you too so I decided to share.

"So spacious is He, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in Him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe --- people and things, animals and atoms --- get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of His death, His blood poured down from the Cross."
-- Colossians 1:19-20 (The Message Bible)

Whenever I have those disjointed feelings I described above, it certainly gives me hope to know that I am part of that vibrant harmony. I hope you feel truly loved today. Happy Wednesday!

January 8, 2013

How to be Southern: Beauty Pageants

I was in a couple of beauty pageants as a child. I'm not sure what prompted me to want to do something like that...actually, looking back I think I just wanted a fancy dress. I know there are lots of scholarships that can come out of pageants and many folks enjoy participating in them. I'm not sure though....I sort of think they have potential to do more harm than good.

What do you think? I'm curious about your views on pageants. This SNL clip poking fun at the pageant world cracked me up....especially Zack Galifianakis' insult to Kristin Wiig that she smells worse than a bunch of "old Bojangles sausage biscuits." Who comes up with this stuff?!?!

January 7, 2013

Remembering Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Today would have been Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's 47th birthday. It's hard to think of people who die so young growing older. They are sort of frozen in time at whatever point we last saw them. 

She will be forever in our minds and memories as the happy young bride, the style icon, a symbol of poise and elegance. 

January 3, 2013

Everybody Wins

I am maybe the least competitive person who has ever lived. Seriously. Sometimes when I watch college football, I think to myself "Can't both teams just get a trophy?" I hate the idea of anybody going home feeling like a loser.

This is much to the annoyance of friends when we attempt to play games together. I don't mind bending (i.e. breaking) the rules if someone needs an extra spin, a do-over or to be slipped a couple freebie hundreds from the Monopoly bank. That's just how I roll.

Just because I don't have a great competitive edge doesn't mean I don't want to do well. I just want everybody else to do well too.

Over the holiday break, I got to spend some time catching up with a few high school friends. Sometimes getting together with folks from the past can be stressful, especially if you feel like your life isn't exactly where you'd hoped it would be by now. Why are we so quick to judge ourselves (or each other) as losers based on a few arbitrary factoids?

If I've learned one thing in my 30 years, it's this: Life is not a contest. It's just not. And if you look at it like a contest, you are likely to feel like the loser. Because there's always somebody who has done more, met more people and been to more places. It's not about comparing ourselves to anybody else. It's about comparing the thoughts we have about ourselves to the thoughts God has about us. If they line up, we're good to go.

Maybe we should instead think about life the way I think about playing board games. Yes, there are some rules but you don't really have to stick to them. If someone needs an extra turn, why not give him one? If I were in charge, I'd give free do-overs for everybody as needed, including myself.

January 2, 2013

Random Blessings on a Wednesday

Don't you just love those days that come out of nowhere and bring all sorts of wonderful little gifts you weren't expecting? Today was one of those.

After quietly ringing in the New Year, I spent yesterday cleaning up around the house and putting away Christmas decorations. Then today was back to work...an exciting thing as this is the first New Year's since I started my own business. I feel so blessed to wake up each day and do something I love from the comfort of my own living room.

I was also able to grab a bite of lunch with my parents and the southern beau. My parents were in town today for a doctor appointment because my dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a couple years ago and he sees a wonderful neurologist in town.

It felt like such a rare treat for us to be together for a meal that isn't a holiday, and we were thrilled to hear my dad got a great report from his doctor.

It's the little things that really are the big things.

I'll leave you with this story (which I don't remember happening, but it made me laugh all the same). When I was a child, my grandparents' home was robbed while they were at church one Sunday. We all came over after church to eat lunch and take stock of what was missing. Apparently I surveyed the kitchen and said (with great relief) "Don't worry granny, they didn't get the banana pudding!" It appears I've always had my priorities in the right place ;)

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, 2013!

 A happy New Year! Grant that I
May bring no tear to any eye
When this New Year in time shall end
Let it be said I've played the friend,
Have lived and loved and labored here,
And made of it a happy year.
--Edgar Guest