New Orleans. Food. Food. Food.

Yes’m.

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.

THE FOOD:

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!!!

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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.

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Friday Flashback

A short list of laws that were blatantly broken in my youth.

  1. Tunnel running
  2. Water tank climbing/swimming
  3. Pool hopping
  4. Trespassing
  5. Speeding
  6. Too many people in my vehicle
  7. Signage collecting
  8. Curfew

 

  1. -Zion
  2. -Dixie Rock
  3. -Every pool in St. George
  4. -Every golf course in St. George
  5. -The Gorge
  6. -Record: 11 people in my VW bug
  7. -Taco Bell/KFC/GAP….
  8. -Up all night (go to cheer practice at 6am, work for a few hours) Sleep all day.

 

Aura Photograph


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.

Sixth Grade Picture Day-I didn’t care

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.

My biggest fear

My 2017’s list of resolutions means I get to grow and change and explore.  This is the reason most people make lists for themselves.  We all want to improve.  Two years ago the most important thing I did for myself was that I took ownership in all my feelings.  If I felt mad, I’d ask myself, “What about this actually irritated you?” or “Why does it matter, how will it affect you?”  If I felt sad, I’d ask myself, “What it was that made me feel this way and how could I change or prevent it in the future?”.  Or even questions to myself like, “Is it okay to feel like this, even briefly, to learn something?” (I know what YOU are thinking right now,  this is too deep.  BUT those questions are helpful when you’re an over-thinker).  Typically, I’m in great control of my feelings and emotions.  I get angry sometimes, but it passes quickly.  I learned at a young age that anger doesn’t serve me any valid purpose beyond what it was exactly that upset me and how I can move on.  I never liked that feeling of contention that settles in your stomach when you are angry at someone, something, or most importantly, yourself.  I never enjoyed that loss of control feeling from overexcitement, sadness, and even bliss.  I avoided it as much as possible to prevent myself from an emotional upheaval.  It’s time to change that.

Last week I had two quiet hours with my friend.  We discussed lots of things like the past and the future and our children and our hopes and our plans.  I had a small issue (and by small, the kind that brings me to tears and I never talk about because, well….. I avoid it) and needed to sort some things out in my head.  One of the only true disadvantages of being single is making every decision on your own.  I have no one to always bounce options or ideas off of and so my friend got to be my sounding board for the night.  To tease you just a little, my problem involved running away from something because it was causing emotions.  The easy way out would be to ignore and forget and remove myself from the problem.  But in reality, I was the problem.  My feelings were just too big for me to acknowledge.  Running was the easiest thing to do to avoid being hurt.  I knew that if I ran, I wouldn’t learn anything. I wouldn’t experience any growth.

I remember that urge to run right before I jumped out of the plane when I went skydiving.   I didn’t hesitate to get into the plane.  I was calm and relaxed the entire time we were gaining altitude.  But the moment the instructor asked me to step out onto the wing while my feet were still safely planted on the inside of the aircraft I lost it.  I was visibly shaking, the blood rushed from my face and I thought, “How could I have been so stupid?”  then “What is wrong with me?”  I urged myself outside anyway.  The goggles were anti-fog but not anti-tears.  I was crying against my will and the moisture slowly created a film along the edges.  It wasn’t a sobbing but the terror consumed me.  In a total of maybe 10 seconds, from stepping out to jumping off the wing, I pushed past the edge (literally and figuratively) from my biggest fear to one of the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.  I was flying without a care in the world.  It was magical.  But if I had let the fear stop me, I couldn’t have experienced the thrill.  That’s not say that the whole jump was perfect.  I landed and vomited twice before I could stand up.  I was still shaking for a while after and I made my friend drive me home.  I suppose it was because I was so worked up with emotion and the fear was so great that my body just reacted that way.  But one thing I knew;  I had done it.

It hurts to even write this, knowing I’m declaring out loud this resolution.  My heart feels squeezed and perhaps I have a punctured lung because my breathing is short and shallow.  My friend told me during our visit, “Just let it be. If it hurts, it hurts.  If it doesn’t, it doesn’t”.  I screamed “NO” at her, but only in my head and then sat quietly for awhile.  I want to feel stuff.  I’ve lived being numb to most things.  I can testify that feelings and emotions are so much better than nothing.  The thing is, I’m scared.  Being brave.  Standing up for myself. Standing up for others.  Doing what I know is right when everyone else thinks it’s wrong.  Chasing my dreams.  Being nice when I am not treated the same.  School. Making mistakes.  Work. Free time. Love.  Being loved is paralyzing.

I’ve got a plan.  I’m going to Face My Fears this year.  I’m going to jump off the wing over and over again.  I’m going to make tons of mistakes doing it and will most likely get hurt a lot.  But for the few times it’ll work out, I know it’ll be worth it.

2016

Falling in love in 2016 felt like tripping while my hands were tied behind my back. Then landing with a hefty face plant onto a sidewalk covered in glass. It happened fast and was completely unexpected. The recovery from that was comparable to how much time it would take for a human to regenerate an organ. In other words, I’ll never be the same person. On the bright side, I’ll never be the same person.

I learned a lot in 2016. *I hope I never stop learning. While 2015 was all about fun and new, in 2016 I discovered lots of new angles to my thought process. I care less. Love more. But still haven’t figured out how to sleep. I read the least amount of books in a year for as long as I can remember and enjoyed more Netflix than I’m proud of, spent a month eating zero sugar, took more quiet time to myself, and got 3 sunburns; all within one month.

I tried having a boyfriend. It was wonderful and he was sweet. But, it wasn’t love. At least not the kind of love to be in a committed relationship. Distance was hard for us too. We have huge amounts of respect for each other and always will though.

I accomplished 4 out of 5 of my resolutions. My favorite was a solo trip to Scandinavia. I made it to 13 concerts for the year. I enjoyed my birthday at a music festival with my best friend from high school who took me to an En Vogue concert for my birthday our senior year. And I have a millisecond onscreen with one of my favorite actors where I was paired up with some friends for life.
I have no complaints for 2016. None. It played out perfectly. Farewell 2016, I’ll remember you fondly.

  • New Years Eve 2016. 

Luckiest person alive

I usually hate the 15th of every month. So, this morning before I got out of bed, I tried to relax and meditate for a minute, but my mind kept going to all the bills I have to pay because it’s the 15th and if I wait any longer, I’ll get late fines. I thought, for a brief second, if I could wish for anything this Christmas, it would just one month without a million things to pay. Not worrying about money or saying no to my girls when they have something ridiculous like a fundraiser for band or cheer or soccer. Or tickets to the Nutcracker.  Or another white elephant gift.

When that moment passed, I got out of bed and started my day. I worked a little this morning. I shampooed my carpets.  I took nearly everything out of my closet and rearranged it. Caught up on dishes, did some laundry, went to the post office and sent out some packages. I ate lunch with Sara. All accomplished by noon.

I stay extra busy on the 15th to keep my mind occupied. But today small miracles happened. I opened an unaddressed Christmas card and in it was a receipt from someone who paid my electric bill for the month. Someone knocked on my door and brought me a ham.   And I was informed I have a credit for new tires waiting for me at the tire shop.

I don’t like that I sometimes feel greedy and sorry for myself.  I don’t like feeling like I need things when I have so much. I especially don’t like asking for help. I live in constant survival mode and it wears me out. But I’m happy. And I’m healthy. And days like this, when small things mean everything, I feel I am the luckiest person alive.