Tough Broads

11 10 2015

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Ever since my daughter, Jade, was a little girl and we both had to use a squat potty on a trip to visit her dad’s family in Malaysia, we’ve jokingly called each other tough broads.

It expanded during her Girl Scout years when we named a rainy weekend camping trip, the Tough Broad Campout. Whenever we said this, it was followed by pounding on our chest, then a thumbs up saying, YOU ROCK.

This past summer, my baby girl moved to Chicago to follow her dreams of maybe, someday, becoming a comedy writer. My sweetie and I u-hauled her stuff up North (meaning Steve did all the driving and heavy lifting). We spent a few days visiting my only child in the windy city, 1000 miles away. I have always supported her move, but have had my motherly concerns.

Me and my millennial at Chicago's Millennium Park

Me and my millennial at Chicago’s Millennium Park

I was concerned about where she lived. She has a teeny, tiny, expensive bedroom with a “kitchen” which is called a studio apartment in the big city. But she did her research and she was right. Lakeview is a great neighborhood; full of people her age, full of beautiful homes and full-sized apartments. While rent may be high by Baton Rouge standards, it’s good for the area she’s living in. I’m relieved she’s not in a bigger, cheaper place in an edgier part of town.

I was concerned about comedy being a pipe dream. Part of me wants her to get a “real” job with real benefits. But again she’s done her research and is well into classes with The IO Theater, a comedy company with a serious lineage. This is her graduate school and it took this trip for me to see it that way. No matter what her career eventually evolves into, she’ll be able to use what she’s learning.

I was concerned about her getting stuck waiting tables. She’s working at an upscale Irish pub, Wilde, a short walking distance from her place. She was right when she said it was a good place to work. The food and drink are great. But more importantly it’s well run and the staff is warm and welcoming. This job allows her to pursue her passion, to pay all her bills and even have a bit extra at the end of the month.

I was concerned about her being so far from family and friends. On my last night in the city, I went with her to see one of her friend’s perform on a small stage in a basement venue. The crowd was small, but Jade’s new friends were all cheering for their friend on stage. Most of these new friends were from Baton Rouge, connected by old friendships. I realize while Jade is embracing all things new and different, she has found a supportive, understanding family with her new tribe. A tribe who understands the importance of Mardi Gras and following your dreams.

Winter is coming

Winter is coming

I was concerned about the upcoming winter. The Chicago winter continues to be the main subject that everyone from Baton Rouge friends to Chicago Uber drivers issue dire warnings about. It is something we talked about when she began to consider moving. I agreed with Jade when she said, if she hated it or couldn’t take the cold, then she could move somewhere warmer. But the real tragedy would be to not go out of fear of really cold weather.

I was concerned about a lot of things. However reconnecting with my daughter after five months apart wasn’t one of them. We both find the name of a main Chicago thoroughfare, Wacker, hilarious. And the possibility of her working through the holidays makes us both weepy. We both loved walking the Chicago tree-lined streets; people watching, being a tourist in a great city and meeting new people. We loved telling our stories to others and making my sweetie listen to them over and over.

My baby girl is a tough broad. And I guess I am too, because I let her go. I’m beating my chest and giving her a thumbs up ’cause YOU ROCK.

___________________

SteveAnother huge YOU ROCK to my sweetie, he made the trip possible for these two tough broads.

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I’m a Winner!

16 03 2015

452676929I wrote the following story over a year ago. After I wrote it I saw the Waldorf Astoria was having a contest asking for travel stories. I submitted an edited down version and I won five days at a Waldorf Astoria! Woo Hoo! So my sweetie and I are headed to Key West to enjoy the warm sun, key lime pie, and umbrellad drinks served by cute cabana boys. I’m sure a story or two will grow out of my winning vacation. 

_________________________________

Time Travel

It’s a cold, wet, grey, winter day. The kind of day that gets my mind to wandering to a treasured warm memory, one that’s years ago and miles away. I’m savoring a memory that was a gift which has stood the test of time.

I’ve written about being the leader of my daughter’s Girl Scout troop before. This was a wonderful group of girls, many who had been together since kindergarten. I shared my love of travel with these girls and over the years we traveled near and far. As they approached their senior year in high school they set their sights on Italy. Several years of fundraising and selling lots of cookies got them there.

Me and my Girl Scouts in Italy.

Me and my Girl Scouts in Italy.

One night about halfway through the trip our tour guide, Patrizia, pulled me aside and wanted to know if I wanted to go out after the girls went to bed. There were plenty of chaperon parents, so I eagerly said yes.

I wondered what she had in mind. Would we meet up with Patrizia’s friends and have a glass of Italian red in a quiet café, or a late night meal in a family style ristorante, or even dancing in a discotheque? It didn’t matter, I’m always up for an adventure, especially when I travel.

Road with chariot grooves in Pompeii

Road with chariot grooves in Pompeii

We had spent the day walking among the ruins of Pompeii under the shadow of Mt. Vesuvius whose volcanic ash covered it in 79 AD. I actually didn’t tour the famed Pompeii House of Ill Repute relics with my Girl Scouts, but I had learned of it from my Dad who also walked these streets when he was a young man. He told me the you could still see the phallic symbols on the steets directing sailors landing at this seaport to the town brothel. And at the brothel you could still see the house specialties carved in stone above the doors.

It was a great connection to my own history, walking these streets with my daughter knowing her grandfather had done the same. Pompeii, that ancient Roman city destroyed in an instant, forever preserved in time, it’s streets still grooved by long ago chariots wheels. Streets walked upon by a lost civilization and now by three generations of my family visiting this ancient land.

After Pompeii, we traveled the narrow winding road hugging the mountainside down the Amalfi coast. To the right was the azure blue Mediterranean stretching to the horizon where we could watch the setting sun.

We stopped in Sorrento, a beautiful town facing the sea. After settling in our hotel, Patriazia and I took off for what would be an evening stroll through history. She guided me down an known-only-to-locals walking path that led us down the mountainside until we were outside the walls of the town. The moon lit our way casting her beautiful blue light on this old world. We passed a small grotto with gentle waves, it was so crystal clear you could see the sandy bottom of the sea even through the moonlight.

moonlight

On a cliff above the small grotto lay the ruins of a Roman villa. We sat and absorbed the beauty in comfortable silence. The family who had once lived here over 2000 years ago had chosen this location for the same beauty that I was experiencing. We were away from the town lights; you could see the distant lights of the other coastal towns sparking like diamonds on a necklace strewn on the coastal neckline.

coast

I am warmed by the memory of that timeless beauty on this cold winter day. My daughter went on to minor in Italian at college and spent a summer as an au pair in Italy because of that trip.

Travel expands and connects our world in unexpected ways and leaves us with memorable gifts that last a lifetime. Arrivederci.

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A Perfect Moment

15 09 2012

Honoring Nine-Eleven

It’s been eleven years since the 9-11 attacks.  In today’s contentious political environment, it’s hard to remember how united we were then as Americans. I don’t remember right wing or left wing factions yelling at each other. I remember intense patriotism and people proudly flying flags. I remember that saying the pledge of allegiance and singing the national anthem would bring tears to my eyes. I remember how important it was to go to church because we needed to pray together.

I’ve written in previous posts about being a Girl Scout Leader. I wrote the following story eleven years ago, not long after the attacks. When I look back on my life at moments that stand out, this remains an intensely loved memory. The 6th grade girls in the story are now amazing 22-year-old women fresh in adulthood. I miss them and am still proud of them all.

Written 11 Years Ago

A Perfect Moment

I experienced a moment that was not only a great Girl Scout experience; it was one of those moments that you savor because you know it is special and fleeting. My 6th grade troop was on a 2-night campout at Camp Marydale that is in beautiful W. Feliciana Parish.

We were now among the big girls. We were sleeping in tents for the first time. These were permanent canvas tents with a platform wooden floor and cots with mattresses, which is not really roughing it. But, it had gotten down to the low 40’s that November night, which is very cold to all of us southern girls. We had signed up to lead the 7:15 flag-raising ceremony on Saturday morning. Ever since the September 11 terrorist attacks, these ceremonies have taken on a deeper meaning and we really felt it was an honor to perform this ceremony. The girls organized themselves and had practiced late Friday night. Not only were we going to raise the flag, but also several girls who are in band had brought their instruments and they were going to play.

We got up at 6:30 a.m. and were ready despite being cold and still sleepy. It was a beautiful, cool, crisp morning without a cloud in the blue sky. Our breath left its presence in the air. Other troops slowly wandered up and we all formed a horseshoe around the flagpole. My girls marched in with the flag and a Scout gave the flag commands in a strong, clear voice and the flag was raised. After everyone said the pledge of allegiance, the band played the Star Spangled Banner. I was thinking of how proud I was of all these girls, many of whom I’ve known since they were Daisy Scouts in kindergarten. And I was so glad that I could have this experience with my flute-playing daughter. Just then, silently, as if not to disturb us, a flock of geese in a V formation, flew low over us, just above the flagpole. It was as if someone said “Cue the Flyby”. And it really sent chills down my spine.

It was a moment that transcended the ordinary. I have rarely seen so clearly the interconnected web of life as I saw that early morning. The patriotism, the mother/daughter bond, my role in the lives of these girls, and this fabulous display of nature were all so clearly on display. I was truly blessed with this awareness-raising ceremony.

 

Feel free to share your perfect moments.





Knowing Where You’re Going

26 08 2012

Cruising with my AAF-BR crew

I just got back from a cruise.  While it was great fun, it was a working cruise. It was an Advertising Leadership Conference. (If you ever plan a conference, this is actually more affordable than booking a hotel/convention center.)  Club leadership from the district attend and share information on how to run a successful club.  I love my ad peeps, not only do we work hard, we play hard.  As I reflect back on the past several days, I realize this cruise was the culmination of some small and large personal goals.

I also learned that while it was a great time, my sweetie Steve and I are not cruise people.  Someone accurately described it as a floating Golden Corral.  I always say to support good design, well…let’s just say the boat’s interior would make an interior designer cringe.  I’m sure with cruises you get what you pay for and this was a budget cruise, so I’m not complaining. Just saying, we have no cruise goals in future travel plans.

Goal Setting

One personal goal was to lose some weight for the cruise.  I’ve been in training for the cruise for a few months now.  I lost the weight and now that I’m back, I have to stop eating and drinking things with umbrellas in them!  The larger life goal was that I realized I’ve gotten over my intense fear of public speaking.  I’ve heard that some people fear public speaking more than death.  I was almost in that group. I’m sure I’ll get that nervous feeling again, but being prepared, knowing your subject and continuing to put myself in front of an audience has worked.  I had a plan that I’ve been working on for four years and am still continuing to work on this skill.  It’s like that diet, you just have to stick to the plan. If you stumble and you will, pick yourself up and keep moving forward.

People who know me, found it hard to believe I had this fear.  I am not shy and tend to be loud.  I know I have a laugh that can be heard above a laughing audience in a packed theater. But I had that sick feeling in my gut and I would start to sweat and I could hear myself start to ramble when I stood in front of a large group.  It was at the workshop I gave on the cruise that I discovered that I wasn’t nervous any more in front of a group.

In preparing for that workshop I combined the two things that I’m very proud of and know well; being the president of my professional organization and being a Girl Scout leader—I was my daughter’s scout leader for 13 years. I married those two things in the workshop.

On my honor, here’s what I know.

• Set goals and break it down into bite size pieces

• Award achievement

• If you don’t have a plan, you might get lost.

• If your plan isn’t working, be creative and change it. That’s what being prepared is about.

OK, this photo really doesn’t fit, I just wanted to use it.

• Anyone is more likely to succeed if they doing what they’re interested in.

• Use the resources that are available to you. Ask for help when needed, listen to others and trust your gut in making decisions.

• It is often like herding cats and not everyone plays nice in the sandbox.

•It’s not about earning the badge, it’s really about the journey to get there.

I can teach you the hand motions to Kumbaya.

• When asked to sing along, say yes and join the fun.

Girl Scout Promise

Goal setting works, not only have I become confident speaking in front of a group, last year my Ad club won Club of the Year and I got President of the Year. And I really did take my Girl Scout troop to Italy.

Me and my Girl Scouts in Italy. We sold a lot of cookies to make this trip!