Mother’s Day with one less child…

It hit me last Sunday that Mother’s Day was coming and this would be my first with one less child.  My son, P.J., died on September 19, 2018 at the age of 26.  If I’d talked to someone like me a year ago I’d have said “It’s just another day.  Don’t let it bring you down.”  Mother’s Day aside, if I’d talked to someone like me a year ago, I’d have said “Don’t dwell in your grief.  Focus on happy memories and press on.”  I would’ve meant well, but my words would have come from an ignorant heart.

Since my husband was battling cancer at the time of my son’s death, I had a distraction.  So the first few holidays came and went with only a few tears shed here and there.  But then my husband got the “all clear” in late February.  He is cancer free!  Praise God!  At the moment we got that news, it was as if I had awaken from a six month coma.  Unfortunately, it was also as if someone had said to me “And by the way, while you were in that coma, your child died.” And then it happened. I started the true grieving process.

These last few months I have been a mess, and since I’m the one known for my positivity and strength, I feel like a failure.  I’ve been functioning in a fog, trying to keep everyone else from worrying about me but also barely being able to get the minimum things done.  Recently a friend called me “super woman.”  But grief is my kryptonite… making it more difficult to stand. I feel weak, but grief is not the opposite of strength, just as fear is not the opposite of courage.  Courage is pushing through even though you’re terrified at times.  Strength is moving forward even though you are grieving a terrible loss.

It’s just past midnight as I write this.  It’s Mother’s Day. I haven’t turned into a pumpkin and I am not any sadder than I was yesterday.  Today will be different.  It will be another first without P.J., but another day to be thankful that the joy of the Lord is my strength.

The trouble with the world today…

There’s an old Mandy Patinkin song that starts something like this: “The trouble with the world today, it seems to me, is coffee in a cardboard cup.” I am thinking that nothing about coffee could ever be bad, right?!?! But I had an aha moment just now (I’m a little slow, so it took me a while to get there). I have decided that the trouble with the world today is not coffee in a cardboard cup. The trouble with the world today is that being right has become more important than being kind.

Arguing has become more important than caring. Condemning has become more important than understanding. Principles have become more important than people.

Some are willing to engage in viscous arguments over statues… statues that no one had mentioned or cared about for years, but suddenly they’re extremely offensive and suddenly they’re extremely important to our history. For the record, I care about people, not statues, and I’m willing to listen, but only if the argument is stated peacefully and by open-minded people willing to consider both sides.

The trouble with the world today is that some people are ready to pounce. Sometimes they just want to get their 15 seconds of fame. Sometimes they are so angry about something else, they just react without thinking and then they’re too stubborn to back down. Recently, feminists are outraged because a football player expressed that he was surprised about a female reporter knowing so much about the game. (He wasn’t rude or ugly, he was reacting in the moment with an honest response. I’d imagine it is very unusual to hear females ask such technical questions.) Females don’t play in the NFL, so it’s not extraordinary to expect that many don’t take interest in or understand the specifics, at least not on a deeper, more technical level. I suspect if that reporter’s boyfriend or brother had made the same comment that Cam Newton made, she’d have punched them in the arm and laughed it off, maybe even taking it as a compliment, feeling pride that she’d impressed them with her knowledge… the way I did twenty years ago when my husband told me I drove a stick surprisingly well for a girl. As much as I believe in equal rights for all sexes, men and women are different! It’s a fact! It doesn’t mean one sex is better than the other. We need to stop turning every innocent comment into an opportunity to protest.

The trouble with the world today is that many people are hypersensitive. They are so hell bent on being treated as equals that they are not treating others as equals. They keep thinking they have to push everyone else down in order to raise themselves up! It’s time to stop being so SENSITIVE, but it’s also time to stop being so INSENSITIVE.

Let’s address the situation of bad people, not bad races, religions, sexes, etc. We need to stop looking at people as classes or groups. There are good and bad people of every color, race, creed, sex and sexual preference!!! There are good and bad teachers, police officers, politicians, and used car salesmen.

The trouble with the world today, is a lack of acceptance. It’s a lack of religious values or what stems from religious values. It’s a lack of love. In the words of Dionne Warwick, “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It’s the only thing, that there’s just to little of…”  Yep, the world needs more love… and more coffee.

The little things add up…

In “The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes,” Arthur Conan Doyle wrote: “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”  I, too, believe that the little things are the most important.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression “Go big or go home.”  Often times people have the mindset that if they can’t do something big, they shouldn’t do anything at all!  But the truth is, the little things add up!

Whether you’re trying to build relationships, reach your goals, or serve others, those little things add up!

Let’s look at relationships…  Think about the best relationship you have in your life today.  It might be with a spouse or parent, a child or simply a BFF.  Now think about the interactions or conversations you have with those people the majority of the time.  Do you primarily talk about super serious things?  Or do you make small talk?  If you’re like me, it’s probably mostly small talk!  I have a text group on my phone that consists of my mom, brothers, and sister.  Our text strings are mostly frivolous… My brother may write to us about something funny that happened at work, or my sister may send a picture of one of her daughters in a new dress.  These conversations, while seemingly unimportant, keep us continually engaged with one another all week long and they strengthen our relationships.  People often under estimate the power of small talk.  Small talk is what keeps the lines of communication open and flowing.  With your children, if you start making small talk with them from a young age, by the time they’re teenagers, it will feel like a natural process for them to chat with you about their day, their friends, their life, and they’re much more likely to share the problems they’re experiencing.

Another way to look at this with relationships is that the little things you do for each other or the little ways you say “I love you” (by opening a door for your loved one, by writing little love notes, by texting them in the middle of the day to say “I’m thinking of you!”) are what make for a stronger relationship.  Why?  Because the little things add up!

The small things are also important when we’re trying to reach our goals.  Often times we focus too much on BIG goals and then we get overwhelmed and we give up.  This is especially true of weight loss goals.  If, when I went to see my cardiologist, he said “Tina, you must lose 50 pounds!” I might say response “What?!?!?!  Are you crazy!!!!!  That’s impossible!”  But if I set a goal for myself to lose one pound per week, that’s a pretty reasonable goal, and in less than a year that 50 pounds would be gone.  For me, it was that way for college.  I dropped out when I was 20 years old because I was overwhelmed with trying to go to school and work full time.  EVENTUALLY, I went back and started taking one class per semester.  It took me until I was 36 years old to graduate, but guess what!!  My degree says the same exact thing as the people who graduated with me but had started their college careers much later!  Even though it took me longer to get there, we accomplished the same goal.  Why?  Because the little things add up!

When you’re trying to help others – for example, giving to charities, give what you can… no matter how little.  ANYTHING you can do to help is appreciated.  If a million of us each donated $1 to the Make-A-Wish foundation, they’d be a million dollars closer to their goals.  If a friend needs someone to drive her child to school during the six weeks she’s recovering from surgery – we might say “There’s no way I can commit to SIX weeks of chauffeuring that rugrat!”  But if five of her friends help out ONE DAY per week, the job is covered.  Why?  Because the little things add up!

Friends, I urge you today to consider focusing more on the little things in your relationships, in your work toward your personal goals, and in your support of others.  You will accomplish more than you could ever imagine!  Why?  Because the little things add up!!

Restraint anyone?

Ready… Set… Go!

Do you feel like you never get across the finish line with your goals?  Maybe you’re not even able to get to the starting line!  What’s holding you back?  Are you waiting until you “feel” ready?  Wait no more!  Noted Psychologist, Jerome Bruner, once said “You’re more likely to act yourself into a feeling than to feel yourself into an action!” It will never “feel” like the right time… you just have to start!

I’m a goal-oriented person, but I still have trouble getting started on occasion.  Here are some things I’ve discovered along life’s journey that have helped me to stay motivated:

  1. Whether you begin or not, time will pass all the same.  When I was 31, a coworker approached me about returning to school.  Our company was encouraging all employees to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program.  My friend and I had taken classes here and there and each had the equivalent of an associates degree, and so we’d be able to earn our bachelors degrees in two years.  “Two years!” I thought.  “There’s no way I can invest two years into night school!”  I didn’t seize the opportunity because I had a new baby at home.  I had longed for many years to become a mother and I wasn’t letting anything get in the way of my enjoying my son’s early years.  Two years later, my friend was graduating with her bachelor’s degree and I thought “Has it really been two years already?  Wow that went by fast!!”  Those two years had passed for both of us, but my friend had accomplished so much more than I had in the same time.  I regretfully realized that I could have easily managed the work and still have plenty of time for my child.  I immediately enrolled and had my degree two years later.  Time will pass all the same.  Don’t let time be a factor in preventing you from starting.
  2. It gets easier as you go.  In June 2015, my cardiologist became concerned about my cholesterol and wanted me to start taking yet another prescription.  I knew the only way I could avoid this was to lose weight and get my levels in check, so I acted that day (no time to wait for a feeling)!  I immediately replaced my diet sodas with water and began eating healthier, smaller portions.  Those changes were very difficult at first.  Drinking water with meals was a huge challenge!  Even harder was giving up fried foods.  The first few days were so tough, but each day got better and within a couple of weeks I had adjusted to my new diet.  I was so proud of the fact that I didn’t need drugs or special potions, I simply ate healthier!  After 15 months I am down over 50 pounds, and while I still have 30 more to go, I am happy to report that my cardiologist is thrilled with my progress and I haven’t had to add any medications to my list!
  3. It may take a while before you see your progress.  Sometimes others will notice your progress more than you do.  Sometimes, no one will notice.  Results can’t be your focus.  Progress is what counts… any amount of it.  Weight comes off slowly and so with my diet, I had to avoid weighing myself daily.  I restricted myself to once per week on the scale and I tracked my progress on a chart.  I knew that as long as I stuck with the process, I would see improvement gradually, not overnight.  It was the same for my schooling.  I knew what classes I had to take and checking them off my list as I completed each one felt amazing!  It inspired me to keep going!

What is it that you’ve been putting off?  Start working toward your goals today.  Act yourself into a feeling!  Franklin Roosevelt once said “To reach a port we must set sail – Sail, not tie at anchor – Sail, not drift.”  Start sailing now!  Ready… set… go!

 

Do’s and Don’ts for Emotional Health while Recovering from a Natural Disaster…

100_2274Next week marks the 11th and 4th anniversaries of Hurricanes Katrina and Isaac, respectively.  Many extended family (including my parents and brothers) lost everything in Katrina.  Seven years later, our immediate family (my husband and I and our two children) lost everything during Isaac. Our home was flooded with 14 feet of water.  Even items that we’d moved to safety (presumably) on the second floor did not survive.  Now here we are in 2016 and it’s happened again, this time to many of our family and friends in other parts of Louisiana.  The physical journey we’ve all had to go through (or are now going through) is tough, but the emotional side of the journey is even more unsettling and difficult.  Here are some do’s my husband and I learned during our recovery:

  1. Do be patient and take it one day at a time… Recovery doesn’t happen overnight and insurance and other resources for income and assistance do not pay off immediately.  Hang in there.  Do what you can while you can.  It seems cliche to say “This too shall pass…” but it really does pass. You will work your fanny off for months, but at some point, you’ll suddenly discover you’ve accomplished much more than you ever imagined you could, and you’ll realize how close you are to the finish line.
  2. Do be an advocate for your cause…  One of the most difficult things for us to do is accept “charity.” When we were going through recovery from Isaac, we quickly realized we could not do it on our own. It’s okay to ask for assistance! There are so many people who want to help but don’t know how.  Post messages (often) asking for specific help on your social media pages. Don’t assume that everyone knows what you need and when you need it, or that everyone will see your one post asking for general help and know what to do in response. Also, keep in mind that there are lots of non-profit agencies willing to help as well, but you have to be willing to do the research and request that help.  Google is a great tool for finding that support. Make sure you check regularly and watch the news as in emergency cases, not every resource available to help is able to get the word out quickly.  Ask your friends to keep you posted as well when they hear news about help that is available.
  3. VolunteersDo team up with your neighbors and friends… When Hurricane Isaac ripped through the community of Braithwaite Park, members of our homeowners association formed a non-profit, “Braithwaite Matters,” and began helping one another.  Donations that were over and above our needs were shared with other communities impacted by the storm. Residents formed informal teams as well. While working on our own home, we took turns with some of the neighbors moving heavy things that required more hands. We ran back and forth from one house to another helping each other. That’s what community is all about. Team up with those you know who have been impacted and see what you can do for each other.
  4. Do be good to yourself…  As we were accepting donations of various items from many different sources, I felt guilty. I hesitated to do anything for myself that would cost money that could be used for recovery. I chopped at my own hair and even avoided doctor’s appointments that were simply routine. I stopped taking care of myself because I made my home my priority. Then, suddenly, I spoke with a Pastor who helped me put things in perspective. He reminded me that many of those who had donated to help us did so because they loved us, not because they wanted us to have a nice house. He reminded me that we, as people, were more important than the things the money would provide. He reminded me that my friends trusted me to use the resources they’d provided as we saw fit.  Make sure you take time for yourself during the recovery. Set aside a few hours a week to do something special for you and your immediately family – go out to dinner, go to a movie, or just sit and enjoy each other’s company.
  5. Do look for silver linings…  It’s been said that “every cloud has a silver lining.” I believe that to be true. The silver lining for us with Hurricane Isaac was that thanks to our insurance paying off and the Small Business Association offering us a loan at a low interest rate, we were able to purchase a new home at a much lower note. Our financial position drastically changed and we were no longer living paycheck to paycheck because of high insurance costs and an inflated house note.  Every cloud does have a silver lining, but in some cases, you have to look a little harder to find them. Keep your eyes open. I’m sure you’ll discover some rainbows along the way.

We also learned a few things not to do during our recovery:

  1. Don’t agonize over stuff… Most things are replaceable and those that aren’t won’t keep you from living a wonderful life.  As we were removing the wet and moldy items from my parents’ home following Katrina, it broke my heart to realize a big, lumpy and smelly rectangular object turned out to be their wedding album.  When I dropped it on the pile, it popped open and revealed my mom’s beautiful smile covered in mold and mud. As I pealed back the plastic cover on one picture, it took the top layer of the image with it.  We’d heard that some photos were recoverable, but we also knew it was not likely with this and would be expensive. With our parents’ permission, we opted to discard the soggy mess. My husband and I went through a similar experience with our own photos after Isaac.  I wept as I tossed one album after another of baby pictures into the trash pile, but I can honestly tell you that I haven’t thought much about it since. With a simple email to some close relatives and friends, we received copies of many old photos. Thanks to FaceBook, many of our recent photos were in digital format and easily accessible. Do I ever wish I had certain pictures? Sure, but the loss of this memorabilia hasn’t scarred me in any way.
  2. CrossRotatedDon’t expect the world to stop revolving… Life goes on. It’s business as usual. Bills will still arrive. Tuition will still come due. Meetings will still take place. Understand that lots of people around you are not going through the same things as you and some may not be aware of your struggles.  Don’t hesitate to share with them what’s happening. When our home flooded during Hurricane Isaac, my son was in the hospital two hours away.  A quick phone call to some friends who lived near the hospital was all it took to get the support we needed.  Several good friends volunteered to sit with him on days when we were tied up with recovery efforts.  We also discovered that late charges were quickly removed when we contacted bill collectors and let them know the situation.  Again, life doesn’t stop for everyone because some people are in recovery mode, but that doesn’t mean you’re forgotten or that people don’t care.  Communicating with them is critical.
  3. Don’t be bitter… Sometimes when you’re going through a crisis like this, it’s easy to expect others to mourn with you, and while they probably do, they won’t be as consumed with the grief as you. Some will be living out happy experiences (weddings, births, vacations, etc.) and smiling in all of their Facebook photos. Here’s the deal… it’s not only okay for them to smile, you should be smiling with them!  When you can’t have joy of your own, share the joy of others. Remember, too, that while some are recovering, others still have regular commitments they have to fulfill. Some will provide help when they are able. Others will not help at all. It isn’t because they are bad people.  It doesn’t mean they don’t care or that they are insensitive to your needs. Some people are not equipped to deal with the recovery and others may simply be too busy. Respect that and allow everyone to help in various ways as they are able.

I hope these lists help you and yours as you recover. C.S. Lewis once wrote “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary journey.” My thoughts and prayers are with you all for an amazingly extraordinary journey.


Contact me (tina@tinaguillot.com) to speak about the emotional side of recovery at your next community meeting. 

Blessed are the Moms…

Everyone has those moments in life when they question the value they bring to the world in general and especially their families who love them.  If you’re a mom, you’ve almost certainly had that experience.  I know I have on more than one occasion.  My most recent such moment was last Sunday.  Everything was fine until I had a disagreement with our youngest son.  He’s almost seventeen, so you’d think that’d be a regular occurrence in our home, but that’s not so with Josh.  He is a different type of child, worldly in so many ways and sheltered in so many others, but very logic-driven and confident… such a contrast to our oldest son, P.J., who has lived the last ten years of his twenty-three so far dealing with one internal struggle after another and fighting many physical battles as a result (click to read more about P.J.’s Journey).

Author Howard W. Hunter once wrote:  “Motherhood is near to divinity. It is the highest, holiest service to be assumed by mankind.”  But what if we screw it up?   Surely all mothers feel this way at one time or another.  I think about some of my closest friends and our conversations about this very thing… we’ve all had so many worries and concerns.  I think of how blessed their children are to have them, and I suddenly realize, I don’t know a single mom who has not struggled in some way.

  • Blessed are the moms who work fulltime and still manage to attend every baseball and soccer game in which their kids play.
  • Blessed are the moms who labor over dance costumes and make cupcakes for the 4th grade bake sale.
  • Blessed are the moms who sit at the kitchen table for three hours every night helping with homework.
  • Blessed are the moms who agonize over bullying, teasing, and self-esteem issues their children are facing.
  • Blessed are the moms who give their children the freedom to make mistakes so they will learn the truth.
  • Blessed are the moms who play dad as well, filling in the gaps left by an absentee father.
  • Blessed are the moms who feed their children through tubes and sleep in chairs in the PICU.
  • Blessed are the moms who look at the child who has just declared himself an atheist and simply say “Well God still believes in you, and so do I.”
  • Blessed are the moms who never give up… who continue to care, pray for, and love the children who have detached themselves in some way.
  • Blessed are the moms who cry at the drop of a pin because they’re so exhausted and overwhelmed with life.
  • Blessed are the moms who have to revive their own child or call 9-1-1 after a drug overdose.
  • Blessed are the moms who place flowers on the graves of their children and never stop grieving.
  • Blessed are the moms who do their best and give it their all.
  • Blessed are the moms who struggle.

There I was last Sunday, following the disagreement with Josh, and wondering if perhaps I should have accepted my infertility as a cross to bear.  (That’s what one Pastor told me I should do when I asked him what the church believed about fertility treatments… that and the cost involved with the in vitro fertilization process is what convinced us to seek adoption as an alternative.)  In retrospect, I wondered if by adopting I had meddled with God’s plan… Clearly anyone would have made a better mother to these boys than I, right?

The next night after things settled down, we sat and talked with Josh and it was all good.  I was thankful I had allowed time for prayer between the disagreement and the resolution… a smart move on my part.   A sense of peace came over me.  I suddenly realized these things… the disagreement, the follow-up, the adoption of both our sons, were all part of God’s plan… not a diversion from it.  No matter what happens with their respective futures, God has given me an opportunity to make a mark on our sons’ lives one way or another.  The difficulties we’ve encountered, all of us moms, do not define the value we have added to our children.  God has entrusted us with these precious souls and all He’s asked is that we do our best.  Blessed are the moms who struggle.

How to Attract Others to Your Purpose with a Significance Story (by John C. Maxwell)

Most people want to live a success story, and that’s a good thing. Success can bring you money, accomplishment, power and invaluable experiences. But success still falls short. Success alone cannot bring lasting happiness or deep fulfillment. Success, by itself, does not inspire others to remember and share your story long after you are gone.

If you want success, and you want happiness, a legacy, and the certainty that you have made the world better for having lived, then what you want is more than a successful life; it is a life of significance.

What’s the secret to living a story of significance?

Living each day with intentionality.

When you live each day with intentionality, there’s almost no limit to what you can do. You can transform yourself, your family, your community, and your nation. When enough people do that, they can change the world.

When you intentionally use your everyday life to bring about positive change in the lives of others, you begin to live a life that matters.

Intentional living is about living your best story.

Your story still has many blank pages. Write them in with a life well lived.

4 Ways to Start Creating Your Significance Story

If you want to make a difference and have a significance story to tell by the end of your life, I believe I can help. But first, you need to be willing to take an important step forward. And that comes from a change in mindset, from a willingness to start living your story by approaching your life differently.

1.  Put Yourself in the Story

No one stumbles upon significance.

We have to be intentional about making our lives matter. That calls for action—not excuses. Most people don’t know this, but it’s easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success.

In a famous study by Victor and Mildred Goertzel published in a book titled Cradles of Eminence, the home backgrounds of three hundred highly successful people were investigated. These three hundred people had made it to the top. They were men and women who would be recognized as brilliant in their fields. The list included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Helen Keller, Winston Churchill, Albert Schweitzer, Clara Barton, Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and Sigmund Freud. The intensive investigation into their early home lives yielded some surprising findings:

  • Three-fourths of them as children were troubled by poverty, a broken home, or difficult parents who were rejecting, over-possessive, or domineering.
  • Seventy-four of the eighty-five writers of fiction or drama and sixteen of the twenty poets came from homes where, as children, they saw tense psychological drama played out by their parents.
  • Over one-fourth of the sample suffered physical handicaps such as blindness, deafness, or crippled limbs.

 

Adversity tried to knock these people out of their stories, but they wouldn’t have any of it. Why? They were highly intentional. They had a strong why—a purpose—which drew them forward even if the road wasn’t wide and smooth.

2.  Put Significance in Your Story

A well-lived story of significance is built when we focus on adding value to others and making a difference in their lives. When we live for significance, we are telling people around us that it is important to us. Almost everyone wants to live a life of meaning and significance, whether or not they express the desire.

To put significance in our stories, we must do things out of our comfort zone. And we must make changes that we may find difficult. We often avoid trying to make those changes. But know this: though not everything that we face can be changed, nothing can be changed until we face it.

Your story won’t be perfect. Many things will change. But your heart will sing. It will sing the song of significance. It will sing, “I am making a difference!” And that will give you satisfaction down to the soul level.

Put Your Strengths in Your Story

Recently I had an enlightening lunch with Jim Collins, author of Good to Great. “Jim,” I asked, “What is required to bring about positive life-change to a community?” I knew he had done a lot of research on the subject of transformational movements, and I was very interested to hear his answer.

“There are three questions you need to ask,” Jim replied. “They are:

Can you be the best in the world at what you do?

Are you passionate about what you are doing?

Do you have the resources to change your world?”

Since our conversation that day, I have spent a lot of time thinking about those questions. Here is what I discovered. The first question is about talent. You have skills and abilities that can help others. Can you be the best in the world using them? Maybe, maybe not. Can you be the best you in the world using them? Absolutely! You are unique, and have a unique chance to make a difference only you can make—if you’re willing to get into your story.

The second question is about heart. Significance begins in the heart when we desire to make a difference. We see a need. We feel a hurt. We want to help. We act on it. Passion is the soul of significance. It’s the fuel. It’s the core.

The third question is about tools. No doubt you already have many resources at your disposal. My desire is that my book Intentional Living will be another one. It will show you the way so that you can become highly intentional and live a life that matters according to your heart and values.

4.  Stop Trying and Start Doing

There is enormous magic in the tiny word do. When we tell ourselves, “I’ll do it,” we unleash tremendous power. That act forges in us a chain of personal responsibility that ups our game: a desire to excel plus a sense of duty plus complete aliveness plus total dedication to getting done what has to be done. That equals commitment.

An attitude of doing also helps us to become who we were meant to be. It is this doing attitude that often leads to the things we were meant to do. While trying is filled with good intentions, doing is the result of intentional living.

As you read this article, you may be thinking, I’m not sure if I’m ready to make a commitment to creating such a significance story. It’s an understandable reservation. But what if it is the one thing holding you back from a remarkable life?

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, identifies this reluctance. He calls it resistance. He writes, “There is a force resisting the beautiful things in the world, and too many of us are giving in.”

Choosing to live each day with intentionality and purpose helps us break through that resisting force, and the world needs that.

It needs for us to live our stories and contribute to the greater story that’s happening around us.

What story will you create?

~ Adapted from John C. Maxwell’s new book Intentional Living


I am thrilled to be able to publish the above from my mentor, John C. Maxwell.  If you’d like to find out more about Intentional Living, click below to order the book and participate in a 30-Day Journey to Transformational Living.  

All things new…

Katrina Volunteers

This has been a week of remembrance.  For most, those memories are of Hurricane Katrina.  For others, those memories are of Hurricane Isaac.  For some, those memories are of both life-changing storms.  Some suffered great physical and emotional loss during both events.  For my family, Katrina’s effects were minimal, at least in the physical sense.  There was no damage to our home.  We lost a refrigerator and its contents and were displaced for roughly three weeks.  I lost my job with a consulting firm, but received three months of my salary as “bench” pay while I sat simply waiting for a callback.  Those three months had no sooner ended and I was blessed to receive another job offer, but that unexpected “paid vacation” allowed me to help my parents and brothers and other family members and friends who had lost everything and were living in trailers while they were in the process of rebuilding.  I was able to start a website, KatrinaWishList.com, where we told the stories of the victims (vetted for legitimacy) and posted links to their wish lists with Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.  This gave donors an opportunity to directly help families who were affected by the storm without any concern that a portion of their donations would be eaten up in organization fees.

Five years later, life was fresh and new again for most.  All of our friends and family members had started over and were thriving.  After helping my parents rebuild, we had purchased a gutted home in Braithwaite, Louisiana and were excited at the sweat equity we’d earned.  The likelihood of the area ever flooding again seemed minimal.  Then came the “Great Wall.”  With the 26-foot high Caernarvon Floodwall to the north and the 17-foot high federal levee to the south, Braithwaite became the bull’s eye for any strong storm surge.  Our home owner’s and flood insurance immediately shot up from a combined total of roughly $3,500 per year to a whopping $10-12,000 per year depending upon our deductible and our coverage.  We elected to remove our contents coverage and drastically raise our deductible to get our costs down to a barely affordable amount.  What could we do?  We had a mortgage and had to carry insurance, but we could barely afford to live.

Two years after that, on August 29, 2012, the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isaac brought a beating to our small community and pushed fourteen feet of water into our beautiful home.  We will never underestimate the devastation and level of suffering those in our neighborhood and other affected areas endured.  Lives were lost, lives were saved, and lives were dramatically changed.  It was Katrina all over again for some.  For our family, what we salvaged from both floors of our home fit into the bed of one pick-up truck.  What we lost was stuff.  That’s it, just stuff.   We had learned a valuable lesson in January of the same year, when our son was burned over the majority of his body in a tragic accident and nearly died.  But at the time of Hurricane Isaac, he was still recuperating safely in the burn unit at a Baton Rouge hospital, and my husband and youngest son and I were safely waiting out the storm at my mother’s home.  We had been through so much during the previous eight months of P.J.’s recovery (read more under P.J.’s Journey), that this seemed like small potatoes (at least after the initial shock wore off).  Some felt it would be the nail in the coffin for us, but we took it for what it was… another new beginning.

IMG_0548We were incredibly blessed that those who had “been there, done that” with Katrina were quick to offer advice on everything from how to argue your claim with the insurance companies to where to go to get family photos restored.  They were filled with empathy and caring.  As random people handed us household items, gift cards, and checks, some of them reminded us that we had been there for them following Katrina.  People from all over the country offered their support.  We couldn’t have had more or wanted less.  I likened our rental property to Joseph’s coat of many colors.  It was filled with mismatched furniture from multiple sources, but it was the nicest, most comfortable furniture you could imagine because it was donated with love.  The opportunity to finance another house at a low interest rate through the Small Business Association was a huge blessing, and by May 2013 we were the proud owners of another beautiful home, different from our Braithwaite home, but with it’s own certain benefits.

I will always pray for our friends who have been through Katrina, Isaac and other similar events.  My heart goes out to each and every one of you.  We each have a story of our own.  But while there are glimpses of sadness, there is hope for the future.  Katrina and Isaac may have taken our memorabilia, but we still have our memories. While our spirits were wounded, we are one in the spirit of the Lord and NOTHING can separate us from His love!  Revelation 21:5 reads, “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”  All things are new.  God is true.  God is faithful.

The Season of Seasons and Senses

Black and orange, ghosts and goblins, and brightly lit jack-o-lanterns… Candy corn, candied apples, candy, candy, and more candy everywhere you look.

Not only is it the season that wreaks havoc on our diets, Halloween is the start of the season of seasons! It is like the first chapter in a book of seasons that takes us from October to April (or from witches on brooms to little yellow, melt-in-your-mouth, marshmallow chickens).

I get so excited about Halloween… not because of anything it represents, but more so because of what it introduces. It introduces us to the seasons of senses… Beginning with Halloween, our senses are almost on overload with everything we see, smell, hear, touch, and (my personal favorite) taste!

Each season touches each of the senses in a different way. For Halloween we see black cats, yellow moons, and orange jack-o-lanterns, and we see beautiful costumes on adorable children.  We smell pumpkin spice and we hear the laughter of the young and tiny voices yelling “Trick or treat! Smell my feet!”  We touch the guts of a pumpkin and sticky little hands that have been tasting chewy, chocolate chunks.

For Thanksgiving we see a cornucopia of color in oranges, browns, and greens. We smell the traditional turkey baking.  We hear the laughter of our families enjoying the Macy’s parade and bowl games on TV.  We touch the warm bread fresh from the oven, and we taste it all.  We taste the turkey, we taste the bread, and we taste the sweet potatoes.  We taste the cookies, we taste the fudge, and we taste the pumpkin pie.  (I told you “taste” was my favorite sense!)

I must admit, Christmas is my favorite time of year. It’s appropriate for me that it falls almost in the middle of this season of seasons and senses.  It’s like the mountain peak of holidays!  As Christmas approaches we see lights, tinsel, beautiful ornaments on the tree.  We smell evergreen and spruce, holly berries, and cinnamon.  We hear church bells, jingle bells and beautiful holiday carols.  We feel the softness of winter gloves and the crispness of stiff foil wrapping paper, and we taste… oh, we taste so many wonderful things that it’s hard for one to imagine.  There’s a reason that Weight Watchers offers free enrollment on January 2nd.

Right on the heels of Christmas, only a week behind, is New Year ’s Day. Upon the arrival of the new year we see the ball drop in Time Square, we smell freshly popped firecrackers, and we hear voices asking “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind?”  We touch our lips to the lips of others at stroke of midnight, and we eat black-eyed peas and cabbage to bring good fortune in the days ahead.

At Valentines we see hearts and cupids, we smell red roses, and we hear lots of love songs on the radio. We touch fuzzy stuffed animals, elegant jewelry, and other gifts from our loved ones, and we taste Russell Stover’s and Whitman’s chocolates.

At Mardi Gras we see purple, green and gold decorations and people masquerading in costumes of all types. We smell the beer on tap and the diesel fuel from truck floats.  We hear crowds of people roaring almost in unison “Throw me something mister!” We touch beads and trinkets and toys tossed from the floats, and we taste Randazzo’s king cakes with cream cheese filling.

At Easter we see bonnets and dresses in beautiful pastel colors. We smell lilies lining the altar at church.  We hear the sounds of children yelling “I’ve got one” as they pick up and touch construction-paper eggs that have been hidden in the gardens.  We taste solid chocolate rabbits and jelly beans of all flavors.

October to April… Halloween to Easter… It’s the season of seasons and senses. Throughout the season of seasons, we see striking smiles, we smell fragrant flowers and food, we hear lots of laughter filled with love, we touch hands and hearts, and we taste delicious dishes and decadent desserts.

Friends, this is only the beginning. Welcome to the season of seasons and senses!

With sincerest gratitude…

Our dear family members and friends (new and old), what a year this has been for the Guillot family!  As I was recovering from my October 2011 ankle surgery in early January, I remember saying to my physical therapist, “I can’t wait for life to get back to normal!”  I quickly learned that those days of swelling and pain were minor inconveniences compared to what was in store for us.  If you are reading this, I am sure you are aware of the circumstances that followed…  The fire that almost took P.J.’s life in January and the flooding of our family home by Hurricane Isaac in August.  Although we all often wish that we could turn back time and change the outcome of both those events, we can’t help but be thankful to God for His glory that has shone through in both tragedies. 

This letter is to thank you all for the love and support that you have shown us already and continue to pour on us each day.  During the first few weeks after P.J.’s accident, we were told to be prepared for the worst.  Your prayers and ours were heard and God woke him from his sleep and brought him back to us.  His days continue to include pain and suffering that most of us could never comprehend, but he is alive and fighting the battle courageously.  We thank you all for the prayers, calls, emails, Facebook posts, contributions to P.J.’s video, “Get Well” cards, and the hundreds of cards, letters, and gifts he received on his 20th birthday.  Your thoughtfulness has truly made a difference in our child’s life. 

After Isaac destroyed our home, we were reminded once again of the great support network that we have in all of you.  I do believe we have more clothes, sheets, and towels than we had before the storm!  Our rental home is filled with furniture and household items and appliances from countless sources.  I tell everyone that it has the value of Joseph’s coat of many colors.  As my mother always says, “We couldn’t have more or want less.” 

The friends and volunteers (from four different organizations so far) who have come to help with the emptying, cleaning, and gutting of our home, have shown us what selfless giving is all about.  We are inspired by their sacrifices and hope to “pay it forward” someday. 

Many of you have shared our story with your friends who have shared it with their friends and so on… (just like the hair commercial)!  We need your help now in sharing our thanks with these individuals, who in some cases remain anonymous to us.  We apologize that we were not able to send individual thank you cards to each one of you, but we ask your help in passing this message along to everyone.  Please feel free to email it, share it on Facebook, or photocopy and distribute it.  There is no way to adequately portray what we feel.

This is just a small attempt to let everyone know the enormous depth of our gratitude.  We are humbled, overwhelmed, and forever thankful for the generous gifts of all kinds that have been provided.  May God bless each of you twenty fold.  We love you.  We truly do.

Tina Guillot
(On behalf of A.J., Tina, P.J., Joshua, and Molly the Schnauzer)

Twenty Wishes: Wish #8

My 8th wish is to write a book! I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time and have had many different ideas about subject matter.  The only thing holding me back has been fear of failure.  Fear of failure… how sad that I would allow such a thing to stop me from even trying.  I often read wonderful stories about other people’s success and think to myself “I’ve never had that kind of luck!”  Instead, I should be saying to myself “That could be me!!!”  I need to remember to pull out all of the weeds in my field of dreams.

A couple of years ago I heard the story of Richard Paul Evans.  Evans was working as an advertising executive when he wrote a Christmas story for his children.  Little did he know, it would some day turn into a best-selling book and Emmy award winning movie.  When I’m in the right frame of mind and am thinking positive, I love stories like that!  They inspire me to reach for my dreams.

But I have now set a short term goal for myself to get mine finished and published by the end of this year. Egad!  That’s not that far away… only a little over 5 months left.  I’ve heard of people writing a book in less than 30 days, though.  I’m going to start writing today and I will continuously remind myself that perhaps the only difference between me and Richard Paul Evans is that he actually tried!  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

If you would like to read all of the posts in the Twenty Wishes series, simply select “20 wishes” from Categories list on the right.  Happy reading, dahlins!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #7

My 7th wish is to take a ballroom dancing class with my husband!  On the very first night we met, I danced with my honey.   I’m sure the only reason he agreed to dance with me was because I was dateless that night (and most others, come to think of it) and I was also the sister of one of his best friends, so he took pity on me.  It was painful for him, I’m sure, as he was (and still is) a much better dancer than I could ever hope to be.  Nevertheless, we took to the floor and started… jumping.  We were on board the Riverboat President in New Orleans and the band, Ivy, was playing “Freak Out,” the Chic song… and I do believe my dancing was super freaky.  It was 1981 and punk rock and disco had pretty much opened the door for any form of movement being considered dancing.  Jumping while on the dance floor was actually very popular, and the thing I liked best about it was that it didn’t require much talent.  That, I could handle.  I could actually do a decent job of jumping.   As coins started to fall from the pockets of the other… jumpers… I hit the floor!  I think I collected over $10.00 in change that night , and A.J. often teases me and says he fell in love that night, watching me crawl around the dirty floor picking up money people were dropping.  Yeah right!

There are so many wonderful things about couples dancing, like getting cozy with the one you love or moving together as one (unless you’re like me and you’re just dragged along in confusion).  This is why I want to learn how to dance well!  And I want to learn a variety of dances like the Salsa, the Waltz, the Rumba, the Cha Cha, and the Tango!  Yeah, baby!  I want to learn them all… the fun ones, the romantic ones, the fast ones, the slow ones.

Dancing is beneficial in other ways, too.  It gives you face time with and attention from your partner you might not otherwise get.  It also is great if you have big hips but a small waist, because you can look amazing in those swirly skirts that are tight at the waist but full and swooshy.  And dancing is great exercise!  Consider the cases of Marie Osmond and Kirstie Alley who actually lost weight due to their work on “Dancing with the Stars!”  It would be great… if we lost weight from dancing, we might actually be able to eventually fit our arms around one another!

I’ll keep you updated on this wish, dahlins!  In the meantime, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #6

My 6th wish is to win a competition!  It doesn’t really matter what kind of contest it is… except, it has to be a win that I earned, not a win by chance.  Anyone can be lucky, right?  But not everyone can win a contest because of their ability or talent.  I don’t think it even matters what prizes are awarded.  I just want to win!  I guess if I could win a trophy, that would be nice.  I don’t think I’ve ever won a trophy before.  Once in third grade, I won a Halloween costume contest.  I went as Ms. Universe.  No, I wasn’t a beauty queen, I was the Universe!  I had a moon for a head and the planets were all around. (When it comes to needing creative ideas, it helps to have an artist for a mom!)  My moon head had a cow jumping over it (and there was a little dog who laughed to see such sport).  Two years later when I was in 5th grade, I won numerous classroom spelling competitions.  Mrs. Geary, our teacher, would give candy bars to the first and second place winners.  Maybe I can blame Mrs. Geary (and my excellent spelling skills) for the weight problem I have today.

Since I have been involved in Toastmasters, I’ve won a couple of ribbons at meetings for Best Speech, but I’d love to actually win a formal competition speaking, singing, writing, or whatever.  At my husband’s urging, I recently signed up for the second season auditions of “The Voice.”  If you haven’t seen the show, it is where contestants sing for the judges while the judges have their backs turned.  The whole point is that you’re not judged on what you look like, only what you sound like.  So if  you’re 150 years old and 800 pounds overweight, but you have a great voice, you’ll have a shot at winning that you might not have otherwise!  In other words, they actually judge your VOICE like they’re supposed to, without bias to the way you look.  I love the concept, although, I told my hubby not to get his hopes up.  I am not sure that when the time comes, I’ll be brave enough to stand in line for hours and follow through with this thing… unless… the prize is chocolate!

I’ll keep you updated on this wish, dahlins!  In the meantime, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

UPDATE, November 13, 2011:  Well, it took me a while, but I finally got wish #6.  This morning I won first place in the Toastmasters District 68 “Up and At Them” Club’s Tall Tales Contest!!  It was the coolest thing!  I really didn’t expect to win as this was my first time participating in a speech contest and the competition was fierce! Click here to check out the video of my speech!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #5

My 5th wish is to sing the national anthem at a major sports event.  I mean, isn’t that every singer’s dream?   The closest  I have ever come to doing this was once at a company event.  Three friends and I formed a group and sang “The Star Spangled Banner” in four-part harmony.  It was the coolest thing.  I have heard that some of the local teams, like the Hornets and the Zephyrs, will allow nobodies like me to audition to sing at games.  One of these days I will get up the nerve to try it.  I’m just afraid that when it comes time, my nerves will get the better of me and I’ll end up making Christina Aguilera’s Super Bowl rendition seem flawless.   I must admit, I judged her harshly right after her performance.  In fact, I think I tweeted something along the lines of “O-oh say can you sing, the right words to this song?”  I know… not nice… but I couldn’t believe she would flub such a great opportunity.  I mean, come on!  Since then, I have regretted my rash criticism and have tried to apologize to no avail.  She won’t return my calls!

I will keep you posted on this wish and all the others!  In the meantime, I am off to practice… Oh say can you see?

Note… If you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty Wishes: Wish #4

My 4th wish is to be on the stage again!  For years, my husband and I and other members the family participated in a number of plays and musicals at our old church.  Our kids even got involved on a couple of occasions.  We were all members of a group called the “POP-Corn Players.”  (POP was short for Prince of Peace, as in Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.)  It was truly great fun and between us we played quite a score of characters!  My husband, A.J., was a grandpa in several of the plays.  In more than one he was married to my mom; in another he was trying to marry my sister but married me by mistake (much to his chagrin).  He also played a country singer (ex-husband to my character who was also a country singer), King Pharoah to my brother’s Joseph (in a tribute to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber), and he was even Joliet “Jake” Blues to my brother’s Elwood once or twice!  Meanwhile, I portrayed everything from a cafe hostess to a city clicker to a swine and a singing bird named “Kookie” (the pet of a mad musician).  Most of the plays were written and directed by my mother.  She is so talented and we were thankful that her nepotism always ensured we’d get a good role.  (Just kidding… NOT!)  Doing those plays together was such great fun.  I look forward to it again, someday soon, I hope, before we’re all too old to climb the steps to the stage.   Start writing, Mom, and find us a venue!  It’s showtime!

Watch for more news on this wish, dahlins!  I’ll let you know where to buy your tickets.  Meanwhile, if you missed any of the previous Twenty Wishes entries, just select “20 Wishes” from the Categories list on the right side of the screen to see them all — posts are ordered most recent to oldest.  Happy reading!

Twenty wishes…

I’ve never had much time for recreational reading and so when my mom suggested that I listen to books on tape (or CD) while driving, I jumped on it.  When our small group at church was reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren, I listened to it in the car on my way to and from work.  When I was working in Baton Rouge, I listened to the entire New Testament of the Bible on CD.  Recently, I have been listening to some fictional novels that my mom has passed on to me.  In the past, I always felt guilty if I listened to fiction because I felt I would be making better use of my time if I focused on books that encouraged self-improvement and growth, but truthfully, sometimes I just want to be entertained.  Surprisingly, I have found that even some of these fictional stories have helped to shape my life and my decisions.  “Twenty Wishes” by Debbie Macomber was one of those such books.  It’s the story of a group of women of various ages who decide they will each come up with a list of twenty wishes — things they would like to do in their lifetime, sort of like a bucket list.  There are no real guidelines the women must follow, but the things they put on their lists are obviously achievable.  Some are as simple as dancing in the rain and some are as indepth as going to Paris with someone you love.  Some include small dreams like buying a pair of red cowboy boots, while others are huge… like becoming a mother.  The book takes you through the journey of these women as they each fulfill their twenty wishes.

Twenty Wishes” inspired me more than you can possibly imagine.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it was the fact that I turned 50 last week, and so I’m feeling old and unaccomplished… or maybe it’s just that Debbie Macomber is simply a great writer who speaks to me in more ways than one.  Her stories are intense yet comforting and her happy endings bring me great joy.  In developing their twenty wishes, the characters in the book learn about themselves and experience a variety of emotions, sometimes surprised with the things they decide to include on their lists, while other times realizing that fulfilling even the simplest of them could trigger other events that are incredibly lifechanging.

I make no promises, but I have every intention to develop my own twenty wishes list very soon, and I may even share that list with you and blog about my own journey.  You’ll just have to wait and see.  : )  I have a feeling that a number of my wishes will have to do with the things that I am most passionate about, God, family, friends, and music, but I have no idea what they will be.  I can only hope that the story of my journey to fulfilling my wishes is as good as the book.

Thanks, American Idol!

In this stressful time of war, continued Hurricane Katrina recovery, and a declining economy, we here in New Orleans have taken comfort in a number of things.  First and foremost, of course, is our religion; second in line are our family and friends, third is our awesome football team (Who Dat?!?!) and if not in fourth place, somewhere very close to the top is the American Idol television show.  We have become so enthralled with the excitement and wonder of it all that even our closest friends don’t dare call us when the show is on the tube!  Although the faces have changed to some extent and the contestants are new each year, we have grown to know and love them all so much that it’s amazing our children don’t now refer to them as Uncle Ryan, Uncle Randy, Aunt Jennifer, and Uncle Steven.

Every year it’s the same.  We spend each week waiting for air time, watching, and then mourning the loss of yet another of the kids we’d be happy to adopt.  For many of us, we love all of the contestants, and we don’t even vote because voting for all of them would be pointless.  We talk about and think of them regularly and we are so proud of them that we wish they could all win.  And when the last show of the season airs, we cry.

Over the past 10 years this show and its stars have been welcomed into our hearts and our homes.  Simon was always the aggravating brother or coworker we’ve all known.  You know the type – the one all the girls flirt with at the water cooler – the one all the guys envy because he’s not afraid to say how he feels – the one who, when we least expect it, actually makes us smile.  Paula was (and now this year J-Lo is) the sister or girlfriend we envy – the one who cares so much that she tells us what we need to hear, but in such a loving way that it actually makes us feel good.  She’s the one who is so beautiful inside and out that every little girl wants to be just like her some day.  Steven, another of this year’s new additions to the team is like the eccentric uncle with the vulgar mouth who you want to (and know you should be) mad at, but he’s too funny to chastise, and you know that deep down he’s really cool.  And Randy is that next-door neighbor who tells it to you straight.  He’s always there when you need him, but “Dawg… you know I love you, but man, don’t park on my grass.”  Ryan is Ryan.  He’s cute and funny and “metrosexual” (whatever that means) and he keeps it all together making the short time we have with them all that much more enjoyable.

American Idol… hmmm… idol is not exactly the word we would use to describe someone who has a great singing voice.  After all, it is “in God we trust,” not Kelly Clarkson.  Nonetheless, the show has swept us off our feet and brought to our lives a new sense of hope.  The opportunity we’ve had to watch the contestants, our dear, new friends, live out their dreams is just the motivation we need to reach for the top and accomplish great things on our own.  So move over Kelly, Rueben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin, David, Kris, and Lee!  There’s always room for one more star in the sky!

May I take your order, please?

I’ve never worked in a fast food establishment before, unless you count my coffee shop that stayed open for about 13 months in 2001/2002; but after 40+ years of frequenting them, I am convinced that I could offer some valuable customer service training for the employees of these venues!  My husband went through the drive-thru at our local Wendy’s last night (there’s only one Wendy’s for miles, so YES, it’s “THE” local Wendy’s).  Anyway, I had been so pleased as of late with the service we’d been getting until yesterday.  When the Wendy’s first opened, they rarely got our order right, and when you’d question or complain, the workers would become indignant.  After the 5th or 6th straight time of going through this same routine, I was livid.  I pulled up, got out of my car, and went inside, asking for the manager.  I always begin any such complaint with something positive, but in this case, I couldn’t think of a thing, other than to say “I really like Wendy’s food, and I am a very loyal customer, but…”  After that complaint, I was pleasantly surprised that service seemed to improve, until yesterday that is.  A.J. ordered and when the girl quoted him a price that was clearly not correct, he said “Wait, I said I wanted a chicken value meal,” to which she replied, “That ain’t what you said!”  Rude!  I mean, whatever happened to “The customer’s always right!”  Give me a break!  I love Wendy’s food… I really do!  But lately, I have not had good experiences with the atmosphere or service at many of the chain’s establishments.  There’s a Wendy’s on St. Charles Avenue where my husband and I used to have lunch regularly, but the foul language that was used by some of the employees as they bantered back and forth behind the counter was beginning to spill over into the dining room.  That same Wendy’s never has an average room temperature of more than 30° Fahrenheit.  We asked one time if they could turn up the A/C and were rudely told “No!”  At one of the Metairie Wendy’s, our problem is that, without fail, as soon as they ask “Can I take your order?” they turn their backs and start getting other orders together or talking to the other folks behind the counter.  Then they turn around and say “What was that again?”  UGH!

I don’t mean to pick on Wendy’s.  I can tell you all the problems I have had with the 10,000 or so other restaraunts we’ve visited (okay, I’m exaggerating.. we really don’t eat out as often as it sounds).  Wendy’s just happens to be on the brain because of yesterday’s occurrence.  I think the problem with customer service these days is that the folks working the counter are there because they have no other options… NOT because they are particularly talented in that area!  But the way I see it is, you get hired to do a job and whether you like it or not, you should do that job, to the best of your ability.

On the flip side, our company Christmas Party was held at Zea’s on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.  It was AWESOME!  We had a private room, a buffet of food that was to die for, and our own personal server (David).  Special thanks to David, Mina (the party planner at Zea’s), and the rest of the crew there for making the night a great one for us.  It was super enjoyable.  We have frequented Zea’s since I started working in the area back in 2006.  We had lunch there at least one or two times per week.  The reason we kept going back was the amazing service.  Our regular waiter, Michael Short, was the best.  We’ve never had better service from anyone else.

I challenge you to DEMAND good service!  Comment to the management (in a calm and constructive way) when you’ve had bad service, but also let them know when you’ve had good service.  Most of the restaurants have call-in numbers on the backs of their receipts… they WANT your feedback.  Give it to them!

Happy holidays, dahlins!

A belated “Merry Christmas” and a very “Happy New Year” to all of you!  I have been so frustrated trying to get my technology to work the way I want!  My hope was to publish an audio blog entry for you on Christmas Eve, but I struggled with recording issues and then playback issues and then file conversion issues… UGH!  At any rate, I am belatedly posting my Christmas message below (imagine an amazing alto — that’s me… haha… singing this song to the tune of the Carpenters’ “Merry Christmas, Darling.”

So I am sorry it didn’t get posted earlier, but your forgiveness will be my Christmas gift. 🙂  Love and blessings to all of you as you celebrate the holiday season.  Hope you enjoy this.  God’s peace!

<intro>
I’ve Facebooked all my friends and now,
my Twitter’s current, too!
I’m working on my ‘blawg’ right now…
as I sing this song for you!

 <verse 1>
Merry Christmas, dahlins!
I’m happy you are here.
So I can share my thoughts with you…
and offer Christmas cheer.

<verse 2>
I know we’re not together,
but really that’s okay.
‘Cause thanks to social networking
you’re just a click away!

 <bridge>
You can post all your news,
add friends if you choose,
and play a game or two…
Upload your pics,
add captions for kicks,
and tag all of your friends.
 
 
 

 

<verse 3>
So I’ll look for you on LinkedIn,
Yahoo, MySpace, too…
I’ve just one wish on this Christmas Eve…
that is to network with you.

   <musical interlude>

<bridge part 2 repeated>
Upload your pics,
add captions for kicks,
and tag all of your friends. 

<verse 3 repeated>
So I’ll look for you on LinkedIn,
Yahoo, MySpace, too…
I’ve just one wish on this Christmas Eve…
that is to network with you.

<ending>
I want to network with you.
Merry, merry, merry Christmas.
Merry Christmas, dahlins!