I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed my trip to the deep south. Without a doubt, it’s the best trip for destination food I’ve ever had. Seriously. So let’s start there.
Mothers Restaurant’: Just a few blocks from Bourbon Street. Here was southern chicken and Turnip Greens at it’s finest. I couldn’t decide which side to order, so, of course, I ordered all of them. I had Cabbage, Red Beans and Rice, Green Beans. The history of the place is cool too. It’s written on the menu. The owners sit by the door and greet everyone as you come in and thank you for coming as you leave. High five me for that recommendation.
GW Fin’s: Found on Beinville Street. If you want a swanky place near Bourbon Street, go here. I will say that I’ve had oysters 5 times while in NOLA. And these were the best. Dreamy food all around.
In the French Market District there’s a little seafood place called J’s Seafood Dock. I got lucky; crawdad’s were in season. We got a lesson on how to eat them, twist off the tail, suck out the juice from the body, peel off one side at a time from the tail, enjoy. I DID!!!
While wondering around the state of Lousyanna, as one google map declared, we found a little chicken shop. Jenny’s Overstuffed Po-Boy’s & Chicken Shop. I’ve been heavily avoiding meat since the beginning of the year. But I walked in and immedietly knew I’d be eating Jennies Fried Chicken. It’s what y’all have heard about. Fried chicken at it’s absolute finest. Her slaw was unbelievable too. I don’t even like cole slaw.
The Original Brown Derby. This crazy place was hidden in a gas station. And not the clean kind. I was slightly hesitant but it was the last day of my trip and the smell made it impossible to resist. I went for the Radish Greens and Debi got BBQ ribs. Once again, I enjoyed southern comfort food that only the south knows how to perfect.
Beignets. You can find good ones everywhere. I enjoyed mine at Cafe Du Monde and Morning Call in the city park.
As a second generation southerner, we grew up on grits and cream of wheat. It’s one of my favorite foods, I make some tasty grits, and so I wasn’t interested in trying any while there. But, of course, we did and now I have new things to experiment with at home. I found a shaved ice stand and a popsicle stand that were so yummy too. I only had one meal that was not delicious. It wasn’t bad just not delicious. We went out of our way to find hole-in-the-wall, old school, real southern food and we came out as champs.
A short list of laws that were blatantly broken in my youth.
- Tunnel running
- Water tank climbing/swimming
- Pool hopping
- Too many people in my vehicle
- Signage collecting
- -Dixie Rock
- -Every pool in St. George
- -Every golf course in St. George
- -The Gorge
- -Record: 11 people in my VW bug
- -Taco Bell/KFC/GAP….
- -Up all night (go to cheer practice at 6am, work for a few hours) Sleep all day.
An atheist, a vegan, and a crossfitter walk into a bar…I only know because they told everyone within two minutes.
It’s funny because it’s true.
It only took me 9 seconds, the time for you to read that joke, to announce my current life as a vegan.
Every year I choose a random diet plan to educate myself about what I use as fuel for my body. It is not about weight loss. It’s about awareness. And this diet was significant. I started with information from the Netflix documentary Forks Over Knives. I read tons of articles and doctors point of views on eating vegan. I looked at recipes for a month before I decided it was something reasonable that I could do. Protein was not going to be an issue and being hungry never happened. I actually felt full most of the time. It was a challenge only to cut out dairy but I loved the experience.
Here are a few things happened while not eating animals:
1-ENERGY. I’m still exhausted the majority of the day, however, I noticed I’m not obsessing about wanting to take a nap every afternoon. In fact, since January 1st, I’ve only taken 4. Compared to usually trying to sneak in at least 3 a week!
2-CLEARER THINKING. I set aside time to meditate everyday and I’ve actually done it. A few reasons why I think I can concentrate more is because I think food allergies give me ADD.
3-SKIN. I believe it’s true what they say about dairy affecting your skin.
The hardest part was no butter. And cheese is a staple around here. I missed them both terribly. Surprisingly after only 2 weeks I didn’t crave any meat or dairy products at all. I’m a self-declared cheese addict who no longer feels the need to add cheese to every meal and snack. I learned that I was addicted to the casein, which is the protein in milk products. I won’t go into any more educational detail but I learned so much about food on this diet that I will not go back to my regular eating habits. I won’t be 100% because what fun is Thanksgiving without turkey and who wants toast without butter. But I can give veganism a hearty 98%.
66 days later and I ordered a vegan roll at Island Sushi. Our waiter informed us that all the speciality rolls were half off. Of course I ordered the baked scallops with eel sauce. It tasted like heaven but I didn’t need to eat it and I’m happy to eat meat on special occasions. (When bff’s come to town, it’s a special occasion, right?)
*Next diet starting in 2 weeks. 14 days of Vegan/Keto. I’m interested in learning about carb and protein balance. If you’ve ever done a Ketosis diet let me know how you liked it, what you did to stay motivated, and any tips you may have.
While in New York last summer I wondered into China town and found myself in the Magic Jewelry Shop to have my aura photographed. I had read a lot about these photographs with one blog in particular that made me curious. And who can resist the colors? The door was locked when I arrived and I had to wait to be buzzed in even though it was midday. The tiny shop had two display cases filled with, of course, jewelry.
Right away I asked for the picture and a lady had me sit and place my hands to the sides of me on small black metal boxes. She asked me to hold very still. The photo was taken and I followed her to a display case where she did the reading.
Much to my surprise I was overwhelmed with the accuracy of the reading. My aura colors that afternoon were bright yellows and oranges and reds. There was darkness over my tummy, cloudiness over my heart and my body was tinted green. The first thing she told me was that I needed to be mindful of eating breakfast every day and that not eating was the cause of the darkness in my photo. Immediately I was impressed that she would know that I skipped breakfast the past three days. She then told me that the orange meant I was a friendly, outgoing person. The yellow represented that I had a major life change about two years ago and that it all was for the best, that I was growing into the person I was much more comfortable with and that it was making me truly happy. The red was informing me that I needed to reach out to my creative side. And the green tint picked up on my need to be compassionate. Not surprising since I’m comfortable doing Hospice Care. And the heart thing, cloudy, well, no surprise there. I was given a few more details and it concluded with her telling me that the intensity moving from the bottom right to the left meant that the future was bright and I’d see amazing things in the next year.
She finished the reading while taping the photo to a card and suggesting a few pieces of jewelry to enhance the good and protect me from the bad. I politely declined and was invited to come back again at a different time of day or the following day because our aura changes as often as our feelings. While I didn’t get a chance during that trip, I plan to go again next time I get into the city again.
For those of you who didn’t know me when I was 12, let me paint the picture. I’ll need to start by doing a quick rewind to when I was 11. I had knocked out my front tooth when I slipped at a water park and the dentist tried shoving the tooth back into the empty gap in my gums to see if the root would reattach. By sixth grade the tooth in question turned gray and died despite having nine root canals. I had to have the tooth pulled. So in an attempt to avoid a bridge and keep real teeth my orthodontist decided to shift all my teeth forward with braces and then do bonding on the original teeth instead of having a bridge. By the time yearbook photos came around I was a 12-year-old without a front tooth and braces. Take a moment to envision this…
In addition to this lovely image, I had decided the evening before picture day to cut myself some bangs. My friend and I stood in front of her bathroom mirror, wet our hair and proceeded to give ourselves a trim. Did you know that if your hair is wet and you pull it down to your eyebrows, when it dries it’ll be shorter than what is considered to be okay for bangs, and then if you add curly hair into that mix-you’ve got a front fringe of hair that looks slightly like a mullet but not quite as cool?
To top it off, oh yes, there’s more, I decided to wear a yellow V-neck sweater with a black dickie for pictures. If you can not recall what a dickie is it’s because you were born too late to enjoy this fashion trend of the 90’s. It’s a fake turtleneck. Not to be confused with a mock, or shorter turtleneck, it’s fake in the way that it doesn’t have what would it require to have to be considered clothing. It doesn’t have sleeves or even sides to go under your arms. It’s simply a square piece of material with a hole cut in the middle to squeeze your fuzzy newly cut bangs through. It is only enough material to cover a bust. Go ahead and google it if you need to. It is an amusing thing to discover that they are still sold. Now I should reiterate here that I was wearing a black dickie under a yellow sweater. You could see this anomaly of a black shadow outlining my bust clearly.
This photo is classic. I love it. It’s so horrendous. I was the ugliest person in the history of ever that year. But I didn’t care.
Life in sixth grade was a continuous disaster. I cut my middle finger off when it was slammed in the gym door at school. They stitched it back on with fingers crossed (pun intended) that it wouldn’t die like my tooth. I had to learn to write left-handed and keep my middle finger, in a splint, raised above my heart for six weeks to help circulation. This gave me permission to set my elbow on my desk and flip the bird in class for 7 hours a day. I didn’t have any classes with one of my best friends. My mother was dating a creep and eventually married him. We had new step-siblings. We moved ….again. My brother stole my bike for drug money. My father was basically absent and that year he sent me the exact same thing for Christmas as he did for my birthday.
When you’re 12, these are defining moments in your life.
Life was crazy. But I loved it. And this is the part I can’t figure out: I was confident and had no reason to be. Isn’t that the coolest? A slightly mulleted, toothless, dickey wearing, bird flipping 12 year old with family issues was generally happy. I was lucky. I had self-esteem. I look back and wonder why it was possible. Massive dorkiness combined with the outside appearance of a mutant.
So why am I writing this post? To embarrass myself? That hardly needs to be done in a written statement. I happily oblige to do that at any point in time. The reason is because I have spent a lot of time in my adult years with middle school girls from having my own daughters and their friends to coaching different things. I see my own girls accept the pressures that they have to be perfect from social media. High self-esteem is something that has been taken away from the youth who now not only feel they have to compete with those they know in real life but with their social media icons. The standard of normal jumped into hyper mode and is now an edited perfection that is impossible to reach. The pressure is mounting that to be special you have to be someone you’re not. To be special, girls need to know that they need to be themselves. Average should be the new special.
I wish I could have that kind of inner love for myself now that I did when I was in middle school and stop letting other people’s opinions of me effect my self-confidence. I wish my kids had my 12 year old kind of self-esteem. I wish all middle school girls could love themselves like that. And especially all those darling girls I know from coaching.
So why did I manage to survive middle school without suffering? I said it before-I didn’t care. I didn’t care about what people thought of me. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I cussed a lot, had spitting contests with the boys during lunch, played bloody-Mary, ate so many cherries I was sick for days. We went toilet papering 14 days in a row (but often went back the next day to help them clean it up as this was my strategy to see the boy as often as possible. (It worked)). We played night games late into the night and took over entire neighborhoods. I wore clothes that didn’t match and shoes with holes. I made weekly long-distance prank phone calls to Tucker T. Fuddrucker. I cut my own hair and flipped the bird for 6 solid weeks with a smile on my face. I told my friends if they had stuff in their teeth, if they smelled bad, or if their hair looked funny. I was blatant and direct with everybody. (Luckily, my parents had instilled in me some sense of respect for adults because I could mind my manners when needed). I could speak my mind or hold my tongue but the choice was mine. In my own little world-I ruled.
I wish everyone would stop caring so much about things that don’t matter and choose the things that are important to give their time and energy. I wish they would embrace their curly hair, love their crooked teeth, wear their favorite shoes until they fall off, join coding club if they want to even if their friends say it’s nerdy. I wish they’d stop caring what their friends think and instead do what they love because they love it. I wish they’d start thinking for themselves and outside of what social media tells them to think. There’s love and freedom in being yourself. It’s the only true way to develop your self-esteem.
This past week I had a few crucial decisions to make and instead of hanging around to face the problem, I ran away from them. This is a direct contradiction to my only 13 day old resolution to Face My Fears. But I don’t want to call it a failure because ….running away was exactly what I needed. My problems aren’t solved but my head is clearer and my stomach is untangled from the tight knots that were collecting there.
It was a last minute decision to go. The thought occurred to me on Thursday morning knowing it was an unlikely scenario though. Who leaves with no where to go? I decided late Thursday after having dinner with friends that I’d just do it. Friday came, work was done, it was getting dark outside and I hadn’t even packed. I didn’t have a place to stay or a true destination for the night but I had to get away. The gnawing in my gut from decision making was cutting through me. I knew I’d end up Saturday in the Pheonix area, it’s somewhere I’d been wanting to do for a while and cancelled going twice last year, I just didn’t have any plans to get there. Usually I’d have mapped out a route and decided all the plans ahead of time. Planning is one of my favorite things but this trip I found myself on the road at 7pm and nothing ahead of me. When I got tired of driving, I got on Priceline and booked the closest hotel. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon when the rain was pouring and my hiking goals were squashed that my heart slowed down a bit and I just enjoyed the scenery.
I ended up Friday night in Kingman, Arizona. Saturday morning I woke up to rain so I had to cancel my Grand Canyon viewing and instead drove up highway 66 for awhile and then turned south on the Joshua Tree National Forest Highway to go to Scottsdale. When I got there in the mid-afternoon I explored Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesan West. The view was stunning from there and the rain was refreshing. Then I found a room nearby and also enjoyed a boba. That night a good friend noticed where I was from my Instagram post and told me she was in Pheonix too. She was running the Rock and Roll Marathon and the finish line was 6 miles from where I was staying. I got up in the morning and met her there. We enjoyed the finish line festivities, had lunch and I headed home feeling a 1000 times better than when I left.
My problems were not resolved. My life still has issues I’m currently trying to figure out. But I was reminded why the best place for me work out any troubles are outside. And what I discovered was the fear of the unknown was much more healing than I could’ve imagined.