Going Blond

26 03 2013


My mother advised me years ago “don’t go grey, go blond.” So when those grey beacons starting lighting up my dark hair, I remembered my Mom’s sage advice.


At 84, Mom is frail and in a nursing home. She is living with her 89-year-old boyfriend. She says she has no intension of getting married, but she did make him buy her an engagement ring. She speaks her mind and can play an audience like a fine instrument with well-timed comments. She knows that if she talks about sex, drops the f-bomb or gives someone the middle finger that she’ll get a reaction. No one expects this from a sweet little old Southern Baptist lady with a walker. She’ll tell you she doesn’t smoke or drink, but she’ll tell you with a twinkle in her eye, “So I lie”.

Despite her occasional lie, she is my model on how to age. Whoever said, “Getting old is not for sissies,” was correct. I’ve learned by watching my mom how to pick yourself up when life knocks you down and to stand tall with grace and humor.

I was catching her up on her 22-year–old granddaughter. She asked me if she had a boyfriend. When I said no, she responded that maybe she should get a girlfriend. Apparently Dr. Phil has said this is perfectly okay. While it doesn’t matter to me if my daughter prefers men or women, the fact that it doesn’t matter to my mom either is something I take real pride in. I hope that as the decades pass and I get older that I stay as open to the changing world around me.

Not only have I inherited my mom’s sense of humor, I’ve also inherited her klutziness. My mom and I, as well as my daughter, all have issues with the ability to stay upright. My friends know I’m not known for my grace and my dancing has even been compared to Elaine’s from Seinfeld. Not that it has ever stopped me from dancing to my own beat.

From my female lineage, age is clearly showcased in heel height. Mom, much to her chagrin, is in orthopedic shoes these days. After a recent tumble, she cut her hand bad enough to get it sutured. She had the ER staff in stitches as she regaled them with stories of her love life in the nursing home. “Yes, those nursing aides come in all during the day and night trying to catch me and my fiancé doing it!”

My own acknowledgement of age also has to do with the lowering of my heel height. I gave away my high heels for my fortieth birthday, but by my fiftieth I was divorced and feeling sexy again, so I was back in shoes that made me about 4 inches taller. However, now that I’m half way through my fifties, I must recognize that I have a tendency to fall off those beautiful, sexy high heels. I was warned with my last purchase of an adorable pair of towering platforms that I was likely to take a fall. Sure enough, on my second outing, I found myself face down, spread eagle in a hot parking lot. And unlike a toddler with skinned knees, my knees and bones no longer heal fast. So along with going blond, I’ve now gone to flats.

As I grow older, I’ve stumbled upon a few things. I no longer care if people see me fall down, literally or symbolically. Most of my stumbles are funny and I’m the first to laugh at myself. And if I tumble too hard, I welcome the hands that pick me up again.

Neither my mom or I will ever be described as graceful, but I’ve learned from her to accept aging graciously with a wicked twinkle in my eye. I think I’ll keep those cute tall Spring shoes. My mom and I also like to repurpose things. I should be able to turn them into a flowerpot.



A Weekful of Gratitude

17 03 2013


Monday: Move Day
My work office moved. Files purged, things thrown away, a fresh start in a new light-filed space. I work at a place that I really believe makes a difference in the community I call home.  Woman’s mission is more than a framed poster on a wall in the executive suite. We really live that mission; to improve the health of women and infants. The people I work with are all remarkable in their own unique way.  We are all striving in making our community a better place.

Tuesday: Artist’s Way at Work
I started facilitating an Artist’s Way at Work group in January. We are more than half way through our creative journey. In these past weeks, we have bonded as a group. Some of us have had big life events happen in the weeks we’ve been together. It has been a blessing to know this group backs and supports each of us on our life’s journey.

Wednesday: AAF-BR community meeting
The American Advertising Federation-Baton Rouge (AAF-BR)  is more than my professional club, it is my tribe. The Louisiana Governor is proposing new taxes on our livelihood by taxing creative services.   AAF-BR quickly gathered forces and hosted a meeting within days of the first mention of this proposal came to light. Our proactive meeting went viral and even made the national trade news. No one can predict the future, but this strong club will do it’s best to get all the information out. We will have our voice heard in the crazy Louisiana political system.

Thursday; Dinner cooked, wine poured
I have a wonderful man in my life. He takes care of me. He supports me in whatever I want to pursue. He cooks for me and he brings me coffee every morning. We both know what we have is precious and neither of us takes each other for granted. I continue to blossom because of this unconditional love.

Friday: LSU lecture
I treasure my relationship with my 22-year-old daughter. She’s in a screenwriting class and dropped by my office to film me for a class assignment this week. When she asked if I wanted to go to a lecture by the director of the award-winning film “Beast of the Southern Wild” I immediately said yes. I picked her up after work and we joined friends for drinks before going to the talk and then had dinner afterwards. Not only was the lecture insightful and engaging, so was the conversation before and after. She and I are in the wonderful evolution of becoming more than mother and daughter, we enjoy each other’s company and we want our friends to know each other.

Saturday: St. Patty’s Day parade
Listening to Friday’s lecture only reconfirmed how much I love this magical place where I live. Saturday dawned into a spectacular spring day. The trees are budding out spring green, and the azalea’s are in full bloom. No one does a parade like south Louisiana. The St. Patty’s parade is really just a continuation of Mardi Gras.   The parade winds through the city’s most beautiful neighborhoods. We started early by bringing Grillades and Grits  to my daughter who lives near the parade route. We meandered through the tree-lined streets and met up with friends. After catching our share of green beads, we party hopped  friend’s homes in the garden district for the rest of the afternoon.

Sunday: Catch up
I spent a lazy morning in bed watching CBS Sunday Morning, reading the paper, writing and drinking coffee. Nothing is planned today other than the typical Sunday chores and getting those taxes done.

I am full of love and gratitude and leftover Grillards and Grits.

Thank You, Amen, Blessed Be, Namaste. 

From a Bike Rider to a Rocket Scientist

10 03 2013


I can now check, “Go to a TED talk” off my Bucket List. Only now that I’ve had my first taste, I want more. Good thing for me that TEDxLSU will be back next year. What an exciting, exhilarating, thought-provoking day. I had high expectations—I was the first one to arrive—and those expectations were exceeded.

One of the first things I quickly realized is how embedded I am in the Baton Rouge community. Not only did I know many in the audience, but I knew several of the speakers. Baton Rouge is a big town; I always say there’s just one degree of separation here. I’m so happy to say that my hometown and my Alma Mata did me proud. Listening to 24 passionate speakers talk about what was of utmost importance in their lives also gave me the promise of a bright future, not only for Baton Rouge and Louisiana, but also for the country and the world. We are all interconnected.

Two overriding themes were an unplanned part of the talks; the first was about the importance of community – from inner city blight to the vanishing Louisiana wetlands.  The second was the importance of following your bliss – from being a librarian to swimming 32 miles.

All the speakers were living their dream. Here’s my takeaway from each:

  • Desmond-The beautiful LSU campus is based on classical architectural concepts especially from Thomas Jefferson and his design of the University of Virginia.
  •  Bowen-The need to make college more like a good video game.
  • Rodrigue- The son of famous “Blue Dog” artist George Rodrique expanded on his dad’s creative legacy and is trying to bring teaching through arts integration to Louisiana education.
  • Kopplin-College sophomore, Zach Kopplin is our bright future. He is trying to get Louisiana’s creationism law repealed. He’s got 78 Nobel laureate scientists on his side.  He makes me ask myself “what have I done today?”
  • Allison-You can manipulate sound with the computer, kind of like how I can manipulate photographs in Photoshop.
  • Hwang & Conlin-Ideas in the head are like strings in the orchestra.
  • Godshall-Rid yourself of lofty aspirations and be totally vulnerable.
  • Kruse-Maybe we’re all born with a song in our vibrating DNA.
  • Manning-Broome-Urban Planner Manning-Broome truly lived what she believed. She and her husband bought a drug dealer-filled, dilapidated inner city apartment complex and moved in to live what they believed. 5 years later, overcoming real life obstacles including theft and murder trials, their block is a proud and better community.
  • Shaffer-When the speaker said poop could save our wetlands. My laugh was heard and recognized above everyone else’s and tweeted about.
  • Nguyen-Kenny Nguyen – my young friend – talked about the power and importance of saying no. We are all going to work for this young twenty-something someday – which is not the only reason I’m nice to him. He also said what I believe, listen to your heart and follow your gut.
  • Dixon-We all need a mentor, a mission and a mindset.
  • Stein-Libraries have reinvented themselves. Mary Stein wowed me. I don’t know what but she and I are going to do something together in the future. It’s not your grandmother’s library. geekthelibrary.com 
  • Freeman-I wish I was back in school so I could be in Craig Freeman’s class.
  • Darden & Hinton-LSU’s Create Lab is freakin’ blowing my mind. Today’s students really are changing the world.
  • Barry-Amateurs are valuable for every field.
  • Martin-If we got rid of cars and rode bikes, we’d all be healthier and happier. While I believe this, I also know I’m so klutzy I fall off bikes as friends and family will attest, it’s not because I go fast, I just have issues with stopping.
  • Moore-Social media is changing how we grieve.
  • Phillips-I’m a bommeranger like the speaker. Meaning he moved away, vowing never to return, yet the Louisiana siren call lured him back home.
  • Jetson-Our cities are like our bodies, the core must be healthy.
  • Kandalepas-Coastal erosion. In 90 years Baton Rouge will be a coastal city.
  • Comeaux- Lead scientist on the Mar’s Curiosity rover. We really are exploring the planet Mars. This is not a science fiction movie; it’s the real deal. The reality of that is hard to really wrap my mind around.
  • Shaffer-King Kong is about more than I ever realized. The giant ape is a true icon and brought up issues like exploitation and slavery…who knew?!
  • Fellows-You need a BHAG-Big Hairy Audacious Goal

TEDxLSU…your ideas are worth spreading…job well done.

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Self Doubt

5 03 2013


I just accomplished a goal. I traveled to give a workshop. It’s the first time I’ve been asked to present my Creativity and Innovation workshop out of town. It was also the largest audience I’ve ever presented to. Since it was a regional women’s conference, it was not filled with familiar faces.  I did great. I’ve presented this several times, so it’s been fine-tuned. I had good involvement with the audience, they laughed when I wanted them to and a few lingered afterwards to talk. Immediately after I had that speaker high from the knowledge that I did well.

So the surprise came on the daylong drive home. I did well, but I asked myself,  “Was it good enough?”  I know I was not as good as the keynote speaker.  I’ve got no future bookings.  I’m really a fraud.

Wow! Where did this negative self speak come from? I’m immersed in what the creative process is. Not only is it what my workshop is about, I’m also facilitating An Artist’s Way at Work group and we’re halfway through the 12-week program. Even my professional club’s last speaker a few days ago was on the Creative Process.

I was experiencing the very thing I talk about—negative self speak. I know this can be roadblocks to creativity, if we allow it.

My club’s speaker said something that put it all into context. It’s that yes, self-doubt is part of the creative process (at least for many). We all experience it somewhat differently. When it happens, simply recognize it for what it is.  What’s important is to know your own process.

AH HA! So for me, this self-doubt is part of me pushing my own boundaries. That doesn’t mean to stop moving forward.  This happened after I gave my presentation, not before, which is when I expected the emotion.  So, I must be gentle with myself and not let this emotion stop me.

I’ve also leaned to recognize the gifts the universe sends me. In the middle of all these negative thoughts, I get an email. I’ve been asked to be a conversationalist at the upcoming TEDxLSU . I respond immediately with a big YES.  I don’t even really know what the duties of the job entail, but I figure they know I can talk to most anybody. Me being a talker, of this I have no doubt.

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