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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: Wish #3

My third wish is to start a band!  I know it sounds crazy, but music has always been one of my passions.  When I was growing up, my dad played lead guitar in a country and western band.  He mostly played in bars, so I didn’t get to go to his “gigs” often, but we occasionally were able to tag along with him to practice.  I always enjoyed that and longed for the day when I’d be old enough to sing with his band.  As I got older, the more interested I became in boys, the less interested I was in singing.  I had a short-lived experience playing keyboard and singing with a garage band my senior year in high school.  We weren’t very good and so we never had any gigs.  We just practiced… a lot.

I’m not sure what genre of music I would like my band to play.  Maybe it will be a Christian band, maybe not.  Maybe we’ll play oldies, maybe not.  But I do know that my band will be fun and will be made up of people I love -my husband, my brothers, my sister and brother in-law, my niece… we could be like the Partridge Family of the 21st Century!  LOL!

So be watching for news on this wish, dahlins!  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 #2

My second wish is to go on a romantic getaway with my honey!  I realize, of course, that this may not happen for many more years, but I can still look forward to fulfilling this wish one day.   My husband and I were married in 1983 and took our last trip alone together in 1992, just before the birth of our oldest son.  No alone time in almost 19 years!  That’s like… well… it’s just plain insane, don’t you think?!?!?!  It’s not that we haven’t had the time or the money, we have just never wanted to burden anyone with caring for our boys or upset the boys’ routine by making them sleep in beds that aren’t their own, etc.  Okay, so if you’re thinking “Why can’t the almost 19 year old care for the 11 year old?” let me remind you that I have two boys!  I value my home and my possessions and I value my children’s lives, so I wouldn’t want to risk them burning the house down or killing each other while we were gone.  Plus, I’d just worry the whole time and that wouldn’t make it very fun for anyone.  So I expect that this wish will take some time before it is granted, but I am totally okay with that.

Now, just in case you’re wondering where I’d like to go, I’m thinking somewhere in the New England states.  Ever since I watched the movie “Baby Boom” and saw the winding road that Diane Keaton drove down to get to the home she’d bought (by telephone) in Vermont, I’ve wanted to go somewhere in the fall when the leaves are changing.  In fact, I used to look at the wallpaper that came with Windows XP (the autumn one) and wish I could be in that picture, lying on the ground, soaking up all the beauty.  Absolutely gorgeous, dahlins!  I know of no other way to describe it.  If you drive down St. Bernard Highway, somewhere between Violet and Chalmette, there’s a stretch of road with trees on either side that are always full of leaves during the spring and summer.  Unfortunately, the leaves don’t really turn colors in this area of the country, and even if they did, the traffic is so heavy that if I tried lying on the ground and soaking up the beauty, I’d probably be road kill in a matter of seconds.  So one day, we’re going to get a room at a quaint little B&B, pack several bottles of wine, our Geritol, Denture Cream, and Depends Undergarments, and head for Vermont (possibly the Three Mountain Inn in Jamaica).  Hope to see you there!

To view all of the 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 #1

My first wish is to join Toastmasters InternationalThis is something I have wanted to do for years and years.  At some point, probably 20 years ago, I looked into membership, but for some reason I was under the misconception that it was a men’s organization and that women were not allowed to join.  Hogwash!  I am happy to report that I have already fulfilled this wish.  Okay… I was a bit antsy… you know, the way I have been every Christmas since I was two.  I couldn’t stand the waiting.  I should have written the wish down first and then gone for it, but I was too anxious.  I immediately looked for the website (isn’t the Internet awesome?) and located a meeting close to work!  There were lots to choose from, but I liked the idea of a weekly (rather than biweekly or monthly) meeting, so I chose to join the New Orleans Toastmasters group.  There’s no GRADUALLY getting involved with Toastmasters, so I am learning.  At my very first meeting (2 Mondays ago), I was picked to do a table topic (impromptu) speech (1 to 3 minutes) on the question “If you could go back and change things, what decision would you make differently?”  I didn’t learn until the meeting was almost over that you could “punt” to another member of the group.  Live and learn!  This past Monday, I was picked (after two other individuals punted) to respond to a question about reality TV shows.  I was told by several others after the meeting that they had no clue who the Kardashians were until I admitted (while blushing dramatically) that watching their reality TV show is one of my guilty pleasures.

At last week’s meeting, I also filled out the official paperwork to join the organization and wrote out a check.  Immediately, one of the officers said “Now that you’re a member, you can volunteer to give a speech at one of the meetings!”  And then she very casually turned to the person making out the next week’s agenda and said “Put Tina down for an icebreaker next week.”  I smiled and said “I’m so happy to volunteer!”  LOL!  I am, actually.  I am so excited and looking forward to Monday night.  I am sure I will not be perfect at all, but the whole point is to learn and that’s exactly what I am hoping to do.  I’ll give an update on my first speech next week.

In the meantime, be watching for more of my wish list to come!  I’ve set up a category list on the right side of the screen.  If you click the “20 Wishes” category, you can filter out only entries that have to do with my wish list.  I look forward to sharing more with all of you!  Have a great weekend, dahlins!

UPDATE, May 3, 2011:  WOW!!!  I couldn’t have asked for a better response to my speech last night!  Everyone was so gracious and I ended up winning a ribbon for “Best Speaker.”  I was so surprised because the competition was really tough.  I went up against an award winning speaker who I so admire.  She is amazing and just last week won first place at an important competition.  I am so honored.  I was most concerned about my nerves.  I can sing in front of a gazillion people and I am not that nervous, but to speak in front of so many who are themselves great speakers… now that was a challenge!  But I obviously hid it well.  🙂  At the next meeting, I will serve as the Table Topics Master, which means that I’ll be the one presenting the topics for the impromptu speeches.  I can’t wait!  I think I have found my creative passion!!  I’ll be sure to keep you posted on my progress.  In the meantime, thanks for all the encouragement dahlins!

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!

Introducing Ms. Perfect…

Hello dahlins!  Tonight’s post is actually something I wrote many years ago when I was doing some consulting work out of town.  I was bored at night at the hotel and had emailed it to my husband.  We discovered it a few days ago when we were searching for something else.  We laughed so much at how silly the whole thing was that I thought you might get a kick out of it as well.  It is meant strictly for entertainment value, and I assure you, is not as malicious as it sounds.  Happy reading!

She’s the perky, super-mom type.  She has a great figure, an extensive wardrobe, and she’s probably never had a bad hair day in her life.  All of her children are perfect.  They get good grades, say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” and all of their clothes fit perfectly.  Her husband is God’s greatest gift to women.  He’s tall and handsome, has a six-figure income and he helps with the housework.  Sound familiar?  She’s “Ms. Perfect.”  If you don’t know where to find her, try checking the cubicle next to mine.  I promise you that’s where she sits every weekday of her life and it’s everything I can do to get through the day without wishing she’d trip on her high heels and break that pretty little neck of hers!

I’m sorry.  I really don’t mean to be like that.  It’s just that all that perfection gets old after a while.  Her phone rings and it’s one of the kids.  They’re calling to say they love her no doubt or to let her know that they’ll be happy to run to the market for her if she’d like.  Later her husband calls to say don’t even worry about dinner because he got a promotion and he’s taking the whole family out to celebrate!  Isn’t that wonderful?  I think I just threw up a little…

I can’t help but overhear her always pleasant conversations with her family members and friends.  She talks loudly because she WANTS me to hear.  Her voice drips with more sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut, but to me it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard… long fingernails on a very dry chalkboard.

So, why I am bothered by this perfect specimen of a working woman?  Because she doesn’t like me and in my world, EVERYONE has to like me!  In fact, they not only have to like me, they have to LOVE me!!  And in the rare event that they don’t love me or even like me, it makes me crazy to have to listen to them being nice to everyone else all day long.

If you’re wondering WHY she doesn’t like me, all I can tell you is that it’s one of those work things.  You know what I’m talking about.  The kind you can’t quite put your finger on.  You’ve done everything in your power to accommodate this person, help when they need it, offer them coffee when you’ve just made a fresh pot, etc., etc., and they just decide they’re not going to like you.  Most people tell me she’s jealous.  Jealous of what?  She’s Ms. Perfect.  I come in a sloppy second to her.

I’m beginning to understand it, I think.  It must be very hard work being her.  I think back to a time when I was almost as perfect as her (well, not really, but let’s just say that things were going pretty well for me).  If I remember correctly, those were the most miserable eight minutes of my life!  ; )   So much pressure!  So much stress!  It’s no wonder she’s jealous of me!  I am happy, and she is PERFECTLY miserable.  Awe… somebody find me one of those tiny violins so I can play a song for her.  Sniff sniff…

The secret to happiness…

If I told you I had discovered the secret to happiness, would you believe me?  Would you send me $18.95 plus shipping and handling to read my book and discover the truth?  It amazes me how many people are searching for the key to happiness and it is so abundantly available and at a really reduced rate!!  It’s FREE!

I’m sure many of you have heard the acronyms that are supposed to remind us of our dependence upon God.  You know the ones I am talking about:  FROG (Fully Rely On God), WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?), and PUSH (Pray Until Something Happens).  I made up one of my own:  SWAP (Stop Whining And Pray)!  It is based on the ever popular scripture Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 

A very wise person (I don’t remember who, but I’m guessing it was my mom since she’s pretty much the wisest person I know) once told me:  If you know something is wrong, fix it.  If you can’t fix it, then forget about it!   And the best way to forget about something that is bothering you, is to turn it over to God.  Let Him take care of it for you.  He can carry the burden.  He can carry you when you are too weak to stand.  And he can make you happy when you’re at your lowest point.  SWAP!!

My husband and I have a home church group that meets at our house every Saturday.  Our group is made up of a variety of people, each of us with our own share of worries and problems, each of us with our own gifts and talents.  I believe it is truly a “God” thing that we are together.  Yesterday, our gospel lesson was from Matthew 5:1-12 – The Beatitudes.  Having come to know each other so well by this point, we were able to laugh together when we realized that if the “poor in spirit” are blessed, we are filthy rich with blessings!

All too often, people dwell in misery.  I can remember getting dumped (more than once) by my boyfriend when I was a teenager, and I would dwell in the misery of it.  I would look at his picture while listening to “our song” and I’d cry like anything.  Everyone in my family tried to comfort me to no avail.  They just didn’t know what I needed.  Looking back on it now, I know that what I truly needed was for someone to whack me upside my head with a bible and say “SWAP!”

So here’s the deal… If you want to know the true secret of happiness, just send me $18.95 plus shipping and handling… NOT!  Just SWAP!  Stop whining (or worrying, as the case may be) and pray.  Surrender yourself to Christ.  He is your Creator, your Lord, your Daddy.  Turn your problems over to Him and let them go.  While they may not disappear overnight, you will begin to look at them in an entirely different light.  Your outlook will change.  Wake up tomorrow and decide that you WILL be happy.  If that doesn’t work for you, give me a call and I’ll come over and whack you upside your head with a bible.  (Just kidding!)

Can you hear me now?

After many years of keeping my mouth shut when I didn’t agree with something someone said or did, several years ago I made a new year’s resolution that I would speak up when I felt I needed to do so, and I am proud to say that I have kept that resolution to the best of my ability.

Whenever I am asked to speak at a church service, meeting, funeral, or other event, I always plan ahead and take certain measures to ensure that my words are well received.  I think about the audience and what I know about them as a group.  I try to craft my speech so that it is interesting, valuable, and entertaining to them.   I consider their education and/or experience and shoot for a level of understanding that is comfortable to all of them.  I practice my speech in front of a mirror, and most importantly,  I pray about it.

Whenever I am faced with a difficult conversation, I try to follow these same rules.  I consider my audience and the value they will get from my message.  If absolutely no good can come from my comments, I try to keep them to myself, no matter how difficult that may be… and trust me, at times it has been nearly impossible.

After many years of keeping my mouth shut when I didn’t agree with something someone said or did, several years ago I made a new year’s resolution that I would speak up when I felt I needed to do so, and I am proud to say that I have kept that resolution to the best of my ability.  Unfortunately, knowing when to say something and when to not, is a delicate science.  There are the obvious answers, like a husband shouldn’t tell his wife when her dress makes her butt look big, but girlfriends should tell girlfriends when their husbands are cheating (no matter what the consequences).  But then there’s the not so obvious… like should or shouldn’t I tell my neighbor that I saw her teenage daughter buying an early pregnancy test at Walgreens?

Sometimes, however, there’s no time to prepare or think or decide what is best.  I find myself in a position where my gut instinct tells me I have to speak up without notice, to defend a friend, clarify a misunderstanding, stop an injustice, whatever the case.  And sometimes, even when there is time to prepare, all the planning in the world does not make my sermon in church or my talk with a close friend (or my blog entry for that matter) successful, especially if it’s a message the receiver doesn’t want to hear.  Sometimes, nerves on my part interfere, and on the flip side of that, sometimes emotion and resistance on the part of the listener get in the way.

In the meantime, I’m finding out that it takes almost as much effort and practice to be a good listener as it does to be the speaker.  I have to consider the person who is talking and what I know about him or her.   Is he or she a good person?  Do they appear to be well intentioned?  Is it even remotely possible that what they are sharing is true?

Twice recently I have been hurt by the responses I’ve received when I spoke up about things I believed needed to be addressed.  Once I spoke to a group, the other time to an individual.  The hardest thing to stomach in both cases was that my audiences were people who knew me well, and I would have thought (at least I have always hoped) that people who know me well, know what kind of person I am and that I do have the best intentions.  In the case of the group, it was difficult that people who had expressed privately the same opinions I shared publicly did not support me when I spoke them aloud.  In the case of the individual, it was disheartening that this person overlooked my sincerity, and shut me out without a moment’s hesitation.

Have no fear!  These two experiences will not stop me from speaking up in the future.  I will continue to stand up for what I believe in, defend the people who need defending, and right the wrongs I can right if at all possible.  I can only hope that no matter how the message is received in that instant, the listener will eventually find some value or lesson in what I am sharing.

Pseudo Parent Syndrome

I have a confession to make.  I am extremely sensitive about my parenting skills.  I attribute this to the fact that I tried for so many years to get pregnant that I promised myself and God that if He would just give me a baby, I’d be the best darned parent in the Crescent City.  My little plan would have been a cinch to carry out if I had adopted a goldfish, but God wanted to test my abilities and blessed me with not one, but two, real live human beings; and if that wasn’t challenging enough, He gave me BOYS!  “Boys?”  I wondered, “What’s up with that, God?”  I was certain I had specified girls in my request.  The only thing I could figure was the database must have been malfunctioning on the day I sent my prayers up.

Back then, I believed myself to be an authority on childrearing.  After all, I’d watched “Leave it to Beaver,” “My Three Sons,” “The Brady Bunch,” and all those other shows with perfectly functional families and I always knew the solution to every problem faced on every episode.  I was an expert!

So here I am, 18 years after the birth of our oldest son, wondering whatever possessed me to think that parenting would be so easy.  I realize now that I was suffering from Pseudo Parent Syndrome (PPS).  PPS is a condition that afflicts people of all ages, races, and sexes, and oddly enough occurs primarily in folks who have never raised children and have no educational background in childrearing, yet its effects cause these individuals to believe themselves to be authorities on everything there is to know about the subject matter.

Many, many people in the United States suffer from PPS.  You know them.  They are the ones who provide you with cold, hard stares in the grocery line while your 2-year old throws a tantrum over a pack of M&Ms.  They are the ones who shake their heads disapprovingly when you let your 5-year old have soda at a restaurant.  They are the ones who are ready to call 9-1-1 or the local Family Services Agency when you spank your child in public.   And they are the ones who act like it’s easy to dissuade a 14-year old from having sex or doing drugs – after all, it’s as easy as “just saying ‘no.’”

Parents who are forced to deal with these well meaning people who suffer from PPS should take heart in knowing that at least 50% of these folks will someday have children of their own and will be instantly cured of this dreaded affliction.  Just like me, they will see a young mother struggling with her 2-year old in the grocery line, and instead of thinking “Why doesn’t she control that brat?” they will say a silent prayer that God will give this woman strength and peace, and bless this energetic little child.  Just like me, they will empathize with the parent of the 14-year old boy who is facing issues with sex and drugs and they will offer prayers and simple advice (but only when it is solicited) on what agencies provide the most helpful information on these types of struggles.  And just like me, they’ll thank God that they didn’t elect to write a book about childrearing without first having experienced it.  Live and learn – that is the best piece of advice my parents shared.

Molly and Me

For 47 years of my life, and the first 24-1/2 years of my marriage, I was virtually pet free (unless you count the occasional goldfish or hermit crab).  I was sure God had never intended me or anyone like me to take care of pets.  The only emotion I recall ever having when being around animals was fear!  But then came Molly.

Molly is the daughter of Isabel, dog-child of my cousin, Liz.  We often joke that Liz is responsible for 40% of our family being with us.  She introduced us to the birthmother of Joshua, our youngest son, and then later, gifted Josh with Molly, an adorable Miniature Schnauzer, that has changed our family dynamic in more ways than one.

I allowed Molly to come live with us only because we thought she might be the perfect medicine to build Joshua’s self-confidence and help him mature, but I laid down the law.  Being the neat freak that I am, I remember telling my husband and the boys “The dog stays OUTSIDE!  My house is clean and I want it to stay that way!”  But the first time I looked into those dark eyes of hers, I knew we couldn’t make her sleep outside.  She was just too darned adorable, and Josh was already in love with her.  We all were.  And things were even better when I suddenly realized what this really meant — I was no longer the only female in the house.  I was no longer outnumbered 3 to 1.  Now Molly and I could fight the testosterone battle together!

Two years have passed since that day and Molly has become a regular member of the family.  I can honestly say she is better behaved than my kids (of course she is, she’s a girl) and easier to take care of, too.  Of course I still get harassed by P.J., our oldest, about how we wouldn’t let him have a dog when he was little (I’ll never finish paying for that, I’m afraid), and how we do more for Josh than we did for him, but all I can do is plan to gift him someday (after he has a place of his own) with a dog of his own.  I can only hope that his pet is as much of a companion to him as Molly has become to Josh.  They make such a great team!

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!

Unplanned outage…

We get emails all the time from the service desk at work letting us know that there’s an “unplanned outage” in one of our offices, like when the phones were out a few days ago in our Lake Mary office, or when the Houston office lost power a few months ago and went offline.   For the past couple of weeks, my blog (or my “blawg” as I am told I should call it, being a N’awlins gal and all), has suffered an “unplanned outage.”  The truth is, I am one of those people who knows just enough about technology to be dangerous!  I managed to break my blawg by trying to switch hosting and domain registration from one company to another without properly installing software, pointing the “A” record in the right direction, etc.  For the record, I’d never even heard of an “A” record until Tuesday!  Over the last few days, I have spoken to multiple technicians at GoDaddy.com who, with much patience, have managed to get me up and running again.  Shout out to Brian, Jordon, and Kevin, my three buddies who I have come to know so well I believe I will invite them for Christmas dinner!  They were most gracious — never have I complained about the service provided by GoDaddy.com.   They receive high marks in my book and I don’t mind advertising for them!

Now… if only I could find a hot line, like the service number at GoDaddy.com, to call for all my personal aches and pains!  So I am experiencing an unplanned outage this weekend.  If I were to send an email about it, it would look something like this:

“Attention All Users:

The Guillot family is experiencing technical difficulties with Tina at the moment.    Her leg is not working properly, she is moving slowly, and several reboots have not seemed to correct the issues.  Technicians are working around the clock to correct the problems and we hope to have Tina up and running within 24 to 48 hours.

Thank you.
The Service Department”

I can’t seem to get it together lately!  My memory is shot (must need a new hard drive), I am moving so slowly (must need additional RAM or ROM or whatever it’s called) and my kids think I have lost it (I think my mother board has gone out).  I’m thanking God I’m not overly committed this Christmas as I have been in past years.  Perhaps if I sleep late tomorrow, everything will be much better on Monday?  I’m hoping!  At any rate, I hope to get back into the swing of things now with my blawg (I like that… thanks, Shay)  that we’ve successfully made the transfer to the new host.  : )  Be watching for more posts!

I’m Thankful

Many years ago, my family and I attended a concert at our church.  The singer was Paul Hill, an old friend of my pastor’s who was visiting from California.  Paul was responsible for collaborating on many wellknown songs, but I think his greatest gift was for entertaining children.  He knew exactly what to do to make them smile and laugh and take joy in the Lord.

Of Paul’s most memorable songs was one that he composed with the help of some of the students where he was teaching.  He had all of the kids list what they were thankful for and then he put all those things together in the song.  One of our favorite lines from the song was “For nice clean clothes and boogers in your nose, I’m thankful, I’m thankful.”  The kids at our church laughed hysterically when Paul got to that line.  Over the years, he updated the song to include current things to be thankful for, like “For the Easter Bunny, Santa, and Hannah Montana, I’m thankful, I’m thankful.”

Paul passed away in 2009 and will be greatly missed.  I can only imagine that he’s up in heaven entertaining the angels.  As for us, his music will remain in our hearts forever.  We can learn a lesson from Paul and the children who helped him write that “I’m Thankful” song, and that is that we should give thanks for everything.  We so take for granted everything that God gives us.

Verses 4 and 5 of 1 Timothy, chapter 4 are:  “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.”

So what will you be thankful for tomorrow?  How about everything?  Yes, even the boogers in your nose.

Sunday Sunday

Today is Sunday.  For years, Sunday has been my favorite day of the week.  When I was a little girl, Sunday was the one day of the week we ate fast food!  I looked forward to my Burger King french fries so much that sometimes it was difficult to pay attention in Sunday School.  Sad, right?  Although food was a great source of enjoyment to me at the age of 10, and still is today at the age of… (well, you can read the other pages of my blog and do the math), those french fries were not my only pleasure on Sunday.

When I was real small, my mom’s side of the family always gathered at my grandmother’s house on Sunday afternoon.  I loved seeing and playing with my cousins.  We had enough in common that our time together was usually lots of fun.

The other highlight of my day was always church.  I loved church.  I loved listening to the choir, I loved singing along on the hymns, and I loved the feeling that I had when I walked out of the doors of Mt. Calvary Lutheran every Sunday.   I was spiritually restored and didn’t even understand that at the time.

Today, Sunday is still one of my favorite days of the week.  Some of the joy has spilled over onto Saturday (an additional favorite) now that we worship a day earlier than we used to, but on Sunday, I get to see my family.  Every week, we gather at my mom’s and go out to lunch together.  It’s wonderful to see my Mom and my brothers and my sister and her family.  Sometimes my nephew joins us with his family and we have a houseful of children and fun.

I hope that as time passes our Sunday traditions never change.  I look forward to spending special time with the Lord and time with my family every weekend for many years to come.

Hello, dahlins!

Welcome to my blog!  This is the first post in what I hope to be a long term adventure.  My messages will be quite random in topic and at this point, I have no idea how often I will be able to write, but I will try to be somewhat consistent.

So I was trying to think of a name for this blog… one that would be catchy… one that would be easy to remember… one that would not have already been taken (not an easy feat), and my amazing sister suggested “spicychickenlegs.com.”  Sounded good to me, but I thought that might just be a little too random in the world of randomness.  I started out calling it “DishinDahlin” which, as you might guess, comes from the words “dishing” (as in talking, chatting, telling) and “darling” (as in dearly loved… wishful thinking on my part).  Eventually, I decided to just be me, Tina Guillot, but if you see the use of the word “DishinDahlin” anywhere else in my blog, this will help you realize what it’s about.

I hope you will susbscribe to my posts (enter your info on the right) and visit often.  Blessings to you all!

Tina