The Blogosphere

29 12 2013

Year’s end is a natural time to stop and look where I’ve been. I started my blog because I needed a place to express my creative voice, which is why I call it My Creative Journey. All journeys have twists and turns that lead us to unexpected places. My blogging journey is no exception.

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It was last year on Huffington Post that I stumbled on a bloghop by a group of midlife women. I then found this group on Facebook, and in what was a bold move by me, asked to join. It was through this warm and accepting group of fabulous women that I became comfortable calling myself a writer.

More importantly, I developed new friends over the last year and I want to introduce you to some of them. Each has a unique and authentic voice that I admire.

Midlife Boulevard is a great group of women with a great website. It’s is run by friends, Sharon Greenthal of Empty House Full Mind  and Anne “Not a Super Mom” Parris.  I’m thrilled to be a part of this group and their monthly bloghops have both pushed and challenged my writing.

Generation Fabulous is now organized by Chloe Jeffreys, an OB/GYN nurse. My day job is at a woman’s specialty hospital; the challenges in today’s healthcare market are something we both care about. Her journey has taken her to Haiti this year and she brings her readers on her life journey at Chloe of the Mountain.  

Another group that I discovered and now write for is Better After 50 (BA50). This is yet another group of powerful women writers. Their tagline is real women, real stories.

It was because of the connections to these groups that I went to BlogHer in Chicago this summer to meet my new friends IRL. I roomed with someone I had never met and only knew through blogging. Virginia Sullivan and I became instant BFFs. Virginia can be found at First Class Woman.  She writes from the point of view of being a professional woman in corporate world.  I know we have something that we are going to do together in the future; we’re not sure what it’s going to be, but look out when it happens!!

I have several friends who have health blogs and the following three have all been nominated for a prestigious award, the Wego Health Activist Award. Check them out (the award link is on their name) and give them a vote.

Cathy Chester is one of the kindest women I’ve ever met. An Empowered Spirit is about life and about living with MS. Her sweet spirit shines through her words in every post.

Ruth Curran writes Cranium Crunches.  It’s about keeping your brain active and in shape. She was inspired by my post on New Orleans as a way to keep your senses fully engaged.

Walker Thornton is another fascinating writer I’ve come to know who writes about sex at The Diva of Dating. I admire how she puts her life’s experience out to the world over a subject she believes all women should embrace and enjoy fully.

Lois Alter Mark is another new friend. She just won Blogger Idol, Woot! Midlife at the Oasis always brings a smile to my face. (She also went with Oprah to Australia—how cool is that.)

I’ve become friends with women who live far away from my little Louisiana world. I enjoy the words of Karen and Wendy Irving, sisters who share writing duties at After the Kids Leave. One sister lives in Canada and the other one in England.

Amanda Fox of The Fur Flies is another Canadian with whom I’ve connected through the blogosphere. While we live miles apart, we share a similar sense of humor and have discovered unexpected similarities.

I made an instant friend at BlogHer from New Orleans, Cheryl at A Pleasant House. I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting Cheryl’s beautiful and very pleasant house. I know my love of New Orleans and cocktails will bring us on adventures in the near future.

I love when synchronicity happens. While I’ve developed friends near and far from blogging, it’s the two women in my own backyard that have been the best gifts this year.

Lisa Froman and Melinda Walsh and I have all had similar career paths, are close to the same age, live in the same town—where all of us advertising types know each other. And even though we have many of the same friends, we somehow didn’t know each other. It was the blogosphere that connected us in a way that our careers never did. We now don’t let many weeks go by without getting together (and we are overdue).

Lisa has written an insightful book, Tao Flashes. Her blog is a continuation of the book’s insights.  She looks at the Tao through the eyes of midlife and writes of how to bring the Tao’s age-old lessons into our lives. We even guest blogged on each other’s sites.

Melinda is a storyteller and her blog is how we are in charge of our own story.  It’s called Love Applied and if you go to her blog you can see the pictures from her recent wedding!

I’ve made so many blog friends this year that this post would go on for days if I listed them all. I look forward to where this journey will take me in the New Year. One thing for sure is that there will be unexpected twists in this journey that will lead to new adventures that will lead to new stories to tell.

If you like My Creative Journey, I’d love for you to follow me. My posts will then arrive in your email and I promise no spam.





New Orleans, a feast for the senses

8 12 2013

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I only live 90 miles away, but New Orleans is a world apart. Every time I visit, I love it more. I’ve never been there during Christmas. My sweetie and I just spent the weekend savoring it all. I discovered Christmas in this old city has it’s own feel; it’s not Mardi Gras or festival time or it’s-so-hot-I-can’t-breathe-I-must-find-a-cold-bar-summertime. It’s beautiful and sparkly, people aren’t in a hurry, there’s more children with their families in the grand hotels all dressed up in their holiday best. There’s the odd mix of evergreen and palm trees and the illusion in hotel lobbies that it’s cold and wintery yet everyone is wearing short sleeves. The city feels more ancient at Christmas, maybe it’s the carolers dressed in vintage clothes sitting in the bars taking a break from singing their carols. Or maybe it’s the old spirits of those who have walked it’s streets, have once again come back for a visit.

I love the aromas of New Orleans
New Orleans has it’s own smell that’s like no other city. It’s the wet, humid, tropical, heavy air mixed with french bread, coffee, frying foods, beignets, alcohol and car exhaust. You sense the decay and the decadence and the history. It fills your senses the moment you arrive. For me it breathes welcome back.

I love the sights and sounds of New Orleans
Car horns, people talking, laughing, arguing, but mostly I hear music and as the sound of one musician fades you hear another. A trio of men singing Temptations-style wearing matching suits and standing in the middle of the street; musicians playing instruments I’ve never seen; crowds dancing and clapping; young street people with matted hair making up for their lack of talent with their great enthusiasm.

I love the tastes of New Orleans
Almost immediately upon arrival, we go to have a drink at my favorite spot in the Quarter. The balcony at Muriel’s overlooking Jackson Square in the shadow of the Cathedral.  Muriel’s is a favorite place for a memorable meal; their crawfish and goat cheese crepes will remain a sense memory that stays with you for the rest of your life. But this is also a haunted restaurant. It was once a private home and the owner gambled it away in a poker game one night long, long ago. He came home and hung himself so the home wouldn’t be taken away from his widow. If you meander through the back hallway on the way to the balcony, you’ll see the table set every day with bread and wine for his ghost.

Great food is so much the heart and soul of this city. And whatever restaurant you stumble upon will quickly become your favorite until you stumble upon another. Even the bread and coffee are better here. Herbsaint is a little bistro that we’ve been hearing about. I love to watch cooking shows and am always intrigued by the food combinations that I never thought could be put together. The magic that occurs when tastes blend and marry in your mouth with the perfect pairing of wine.  We had one of their signature dishes Housemade Spaghetti with Guanciale and Fried-Poached Farm Egg. I do not know how you can fry a poached egg with a crust and keep the yoke buttery. But they did it. When you cut that egg and it drizzles into the pasta, well, my eyes rolled back in my head, as I tasted total deliciousness.

A toast to New Orleans
When I win the lottery, I’ll buy a French Quarter home with a courtyard and a balcony. I’ll call to you from the street and invite you up for a drink, maybe a Pimm’s Cup or a Sazarac. And you’ll join me on the balcony and we’ll wish everyone below a Merry Christmas.

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The Pooping Holiday Toy Collection and other Traditions

1 12 2013
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It’s time to haul the boxes of decorations out of the attic, which hold my pooping holiday toy collection and other treasures. As each box is opened, memories and traditions spill out. My sweetie and I are still blending our lifetimes of traditions together. Happily our shared offbeat sense of humor has allowed our different customs to play well together. Thank goodness we’re both more Christmas Vacation style than Martha Stewart style. A tradition I hold dear is that my mom, my daughter and I must repeat the stories behind each ornament as we hang them on the branches of our fresh tree…every single year. Steve having a bourbon during the telling of these stories has now become part of this tradition.

The ornaments are eclectic and cross four generations; there’s ornaments from travels, tiny wooden shoes from Holland, an Elvis ornament from Graceland, a starfish dressed up like Santa from a beach trip; a glitzy fleur de lis from New Orleans. There’s the Disney IMG_0112princess phase my daughter went through represented with Snow White and Pocahontas ornaments. We have lots of handmade things too; the Wizard of Oz collection my Mom made when I was young that’s only a little chewed up from the dog who thought Dorothy was a chew toy; an empty beer can that’s painted with the pop off lid hole designed to look like an angel singing; lots of God’s Eyes—popsicle sticks with yarn wrapped around them—that my Girl Scout troop made me on a long ago campout; and even a faded crayon-drawn ornament on cardboard held together with lots of staples that survived from my early childhood when I had just discovered the magical properties of a stapler. My sweetie’s White House collectible ornaments from his decade in Washington blend well with everything. The blingy silver beaded garland and colored lights tie it all together.

We have several little holiday collections, none real large and none that really match. Other than the pooping toys I have nutcrackers, reindeers, angels, Santas; there are lots of candles, a Yule log and a menorah. Steve added his Holy Land village that he collected over decades with his children. It fits in our idiosyncratic collections and I agree with him, that a turkey is a nice addition to the traditional manger animals.

While I appreciate well designed, simple and tasteful holiday decorations, it’s the shiny, whimsical, silly and tacky side of the holidays that I’m drawn to. The classic wreath on the front door with simple white lights is lovely—but it’s the house with an over abundance of mismatched lights, Santa and Frosty the Snowman standing with the three wise men looking at baby Jesus in the manger that’ll make me slow down.

When it comes to gifts, we believe in quantity over quality. A pair of socks equals two wrapped gifts. We’ll even wrap a package of Oreos and a six-pack of cokes. We have a large shabby bow that we call the family bow; it’s too ratty to give anyone outside of immediate family. It’s considered lucky to have your gift wrapped with the family bow.

This year we’ll be blending in a new tradition. My sweetie has little grandchildren so we will have Christmas dinner at their home where Santa will have just made a big stop. His adult children have requested a return of Steve’s Christmas spaghetti. As I understand it, you add green food coloring to the noodles so when the red meat sauce is added, everyone will have a plate of red and green deliciousness. I’m looking forward to this new tradition and love that it’s a revival of a treasured family memory for a new generation.

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

Baking Christmas cookies and making ornaments

I’m going to make wine cork ornaments to go along with my Christmas cookies. I need to get started so it must be time open a bottle now that I’m collecting corks! Cheers to happy holidays and your own treasured traditions!