Thursday, September 23, 2010

The value of life

Last week, during one of my visits with Ms Betty*, she was telling me about her best friend from childhood. The focus of the conversation ended up being not on the friend's life or their friendship, but on the woman's oldest son. He wasn't like every other boy on the block. He had cerebral palsy, much like this beautiful young lady...

As I listened to his story, I was inspired. He was without the use of the majority of his body. Not many people could understand his speech if they were not accustomed to him. He was, by our standards, broken. But he would not let that deter him. In fact, when he finished high school, he decided that he wanted to go to college at LSU. It took a year for him to meet the special requirements they gave him for admission. His were requirements that we wouldn't even think of as applicable to a college admissions process, such as using the bathroom and bathing without help, brushing his own teeth, making it to class on his own.

But he did it. And he graduated. When he took his (st)roll across the stage for his diploma, he received a well-deserved standing ovation. But that wasn't enough for him. He became a successful business man, he wrote a book that somehow, by the way, was never published...I would like to know how an inspirational book written by this man never made it to a Barnes & Noble bookshelf. But I digress. Not only was he successful independently, but he was successful in love. He met a beautiful woman, fell in love, got married, and ended up outliving his wife. The only thing this many couldn't accomplish by shear power of his will was to have children...something Ms Betty believes he still regrets.

The interesting thing about the turn our conversation took this day was one of the news headlines of the day. It seems there was a man who got so angry about his daughter (who has cerebral palsy) being made fun of incessantly on her bus and in school, that he took matters into his own hands. What loving father wouldn't?

You can read the article and think about all that on your own, but the conclusion Ms. Betty drew for me in our time together that day is that (this is a paraphrase) everyone has gifts that should be realized. God did not create everyone to be the same. He made us different for a reason. Even diseased and handicapped (those effected by the natural messiness of our world) have gifts and abilities that God will use. God is bigger than their disability and his power to overcome can be seen in the determination of this man who made it across that LSU stage for his diploma...and in the ability of a 13 year old girl to go back to school, day after day, as she is mocked for something she has no power to control.

Life is valuable. All life. And we need to make sure we teach our children, our coworkers, our employees, our family and our friends to value each person who crosses our paths. We should teach it by example and by exposure. We should love as best we know how...always.

*name changed to protect privacy

For more information on Cerebral Palsy, please visit

Monday, September 20, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Yesterday, I picked up a book at LAX and was actually able to read a lot of it on the plane thanks to Bella's exhaustion from our 2 day trip to SoCal! Maybe you've heard of it...Animal Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.

It's a bestseller and in the same vein as In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma. My husband has read the latter of the two, but I wasn't really interested. I picked up Kingsolver's book because it was not only about being healthy and eating naturally, but it's also the story of how her family of four picked up and actually DID IT (I'm a sucker for Memoirs). They moved from Tucson to a family farm in Virginia and actually made living off the land a family value. They raised chickens, planted and harvested seasonally, bought only local goods, and stuck it to the proverbial man.

I love Kingsolver's storytelling style. She's engaging while being incredibly informative and passionate. I was appalled at some of the facts I had to digest, not the least of which is the involvement of certain companies in producing, trademarking and regulating seed for the food we eat.

This book is becoming a call to action for me, much like The Omnivore's Dilemma was for Christopher. I am being challenged to only shop local and to do everything in my power to provide the most natural and seasonally appropriate food I can for my family.

If you're interested in learning more about this book or getting involved in the movement to reclaim our food, check out Barbara Kingsolver or Slow Food USA. And, of course, I'm happy to continue the conversation publicly or privately (

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Give that little girl lots of memories

There's nothing that will put life in perspective like looking into the kind eyes of a slow, imminent death.

Don't panic, it's not my death I'm talking about.

You may or may not know that my current get-me-through-with-some-kind-of-income job is as a non-medical caregiver. The latest client I've been assigned to is a wonderfully creative and kind-hearted 80-something year old woman who's been diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. She went to the Doctor's office feeling pretty healthy, but left with the knowledge of aggressive form of cancer taking hold of her body. She's going to die. She knows she's going to die. She lives everyday knowing she will die.

From my first visit last Thursday when I asked her if there was anything I could do around the house, she looked at me with a peaceful, yet telling smile and said, "No, I think we'll let all that wait until later. Let's just spend some time getting to know each other." I knew it was a diplomatic way of saying, "None of that really matters anymore, you know? All that matters now is you and me. Not the laundry. Not the floors. Nothing but the time we have left to be friends."

Because everyone is her friend. She has a family who is always visiting and checking on her. A son and daughter who adore her and want nothing more than to protect her from the diseased cells filling up her esophagus.

Today she was telling me about her family, her children and her life. She talked about all the wonderful memories she has and commented that, "All life is is making memories. It's all memories." Then she turned from her audience in the air, leaned toward me, looked me straight in the eye and said, "You give that little girl of yours lots of memories, okay?"

Well, after a morning filled with complete emotional breakdown and sobbing prayers to God that he would give me a job and help us get more income, and of course a regular babysitter to watch Bella while we make money, the only thing I could do as tears began to well up in my eyes was to say, "Yes ma'am". I will.

And forget about the bills I can't pay. Forget about the time wasted worrying or being emotionally distant or unavailable. Forget about the trivial and remind myself everyday of the important. To love. To show kindness. To forgive. To pray. To laugh. To sing. To dance. To enjoy.

To make memories.

Because in the end, that's all I will have.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Let's Move

As a lover of this great city of New Orleans, and as someone who believes in the benefits of healthy living, I currently find myself engrossed in a developing vision of what it would look like to completely change the way New Orleans does health.

Louisiana is in the top 5 obese states in the nation, with a 31% obesity rate. And up to 65% of the state can be counted as either overweight or obese. New Orleans is absolutely reflective of these statistics and it's time to change something!

Michele Obama is on a quest to challenge the entire nation to reverse the trend in childhood obesity and she stopped in Slidell (a town neighboring New Orleans) this week. She wanted to encourage a school that has been doing health right...

I want her to be able to say these things to AnySchool, New Orleans. So the question becomes, how do we do this?

There are various national groups trying to motivate and make change, such as Play60 and Playworks, but there are countless opportunities that we (local citizens and business owners) miss by allowing these organizations to do all the work for us. I have a friend who is a disgruntled parent and personal trainer, wishing for a healthier school day for her kids. I have the ability to use my Beachbody business and our aspiring Community Center as a platform for doing good in the school system. Other fitness businesses in New Orleans could come together to encourage our children and families to get healthier by offering incentives for joining, getting out in the community to motivate, offering free or next to free public services, etc.

But who is moving? Who is leading this united community-wide charge against the cycle of obesity? I suppose if I'm the one with the dream, I should lead the charge. And I'm sure there are others like me who have already begun moving within their circles of influence. And if not, then maybe this will be their call to well as my own.

Let's Move, New Orleans!

And P.S. If you are reading this, and you are local and/or interested in what I'm saying, please contact me. Let's get this conversation started.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Holistic Evolution

As anyone who knows me knows, I am a believer in growing and changing in every manner of living. I have been reminded of this during my unexpected illness this last week.

I don't get sick. Ever. My husband gets sick. My daughter gets sick. I don't. When I get sick enough to need a Doctor or medication, there's usually an underlying reason that I needed to be laying in my bed with no energy nor opportunity to do anything but reflect on the direction of my life.

So that's what I've been doing over the past week. It took me until Monday (I started feeling sick on Wednesday night) to realize that perhaps I was missing something. Granted, I was sick over the 5 year anniversary weekend of Katrina, so reflecting really wasn't something I would have avoided altogether over those days. But the problem is that I can reflect without taking action. I can see things I'm not happy with and not take a turn to change them. Well, luckily, Monday, my body wasn't feeling any differently than it had been, and then I finally realized that maybe my body was stopping me in my tracks so I could finally DO SOMETHING to change my life instead of being disgruntled with what may or may not have happened in the past while using the present busyness to distract myself from dealing with that hurt or anger.

This all has also coincided with the loss of my iPhone.

Granted, I chose to give it up because, really, my lifestyle certainly does not mandate an iPhone. I have the internet at home...and I'm home at least half the time. I don't need to have everything in the palm of my hand and be constantly distracted from anything and everything happening around me. I'm sure it's my own issue with self-control or impulse managementl, but I was constantly looking at something on that screen. The other day I rode in the car for the first time since getting my iPhone with my feet on the dash, staring out the window, noticing the things around me instead of wondering what I was missing on Facebook or Craigslist or my inbox. It was nice.

And frankly, I'd rather give up my iPhone than give up the ability to see what's in front of me...or the joy of seeing new roads I could turn onto if only I wasn't looking down and on auto-pilot all the time.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Sore and happy

Good Saturday Morning, fellow Evolutionaries!

I woke up this morning thinking I'd go for a run, but after feeling the effects of the Shakeology 50 minute workout, I decided I would let my body rest!

It's been a long time since my body has felt a workout so much! I can't tell you how good it feels. Seriously. You know the sore feeling you have after you ate too much or slept the wrong way or have been on your feet all day? That's not the kind of sore this is. This is the kind of sore that says (coming from my muscles), "Hey...we enjoyed that and you don't use us enough! Let's do that again!"

I like that kind of sore. How about you?

I'll write more later this weekend. For now, there's a barking dog, a hungry daughter and a lot more Saturday morning chores! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Back, and better than ever!

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm constantly changing, I'm terrible at making decisions and I don't land in the same place for very long. I'm inconsistent, I'm moody and I'm not very driven (when it comes to work, anyway). If you've followed my blog, you know that it also ebbs and flows with the waves of my whimsy. I may blog everyday, and then you may not see me for months.

But now I'm back.

Not only am I back, but I've decided to take a step in my own personal development. There is one thing in my journey that has remained consistent since 2001, and that's my personal journey of health and fitness. So now, through an opportunity with Team Beach Body, not only am I choosing to build a life and business from my personal health journey, but I am attempting to bring an entire city with me.

Don't get me wrong; New Orleans has some great gyms and personal training facilities, but as a whole, we are one of the most unhealthy cities in the United States. We are obese, we are overweight, and we are feeding our children the wrong things as they follow in our footsteps of lethargy and complacency. We are happy, yes...but we are killing ourselves.

This blog will continue to be a reflection of my journey...whatever it may be on a given day. But my journey is now grander...the vision broader...and the challenge much greater. I hope you will join me, whether as a reader, a supporter or a fellow advocate of the health of this great city.

Thanks for continuing along this road with me!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lingering thoughts from a loony king.

Since coming home to New Orleans, I've been part of a group of ladies studying the book of Daniel. Words cannot express how ideal the timing of this study is for me. To enter a study of Babylon while transitioning from a time in which I felt a lot of me was lost--lost to materialism, lost to a calloused heart, lost to selfish motivations--has been refreshing, eye-opening and wholly challenging.

When I got to the end of chapter 3 (the story of the 3 in the furnace), I was asked what might have been surprising to me about this story. Understand that I've heard this tale ad nauseam since I was a small child, so, unfortunately, it is not surprising to me that a mysterious fourth figure appeared in the fire. It is also not surprising to me that the 3 (along with their clothing) did not burn, even though the soldiers who threw them into the fire did indeed die because the fire was so hot. What was surprising to me this time around was the response of the King who ordered them thrown into the fire.

Rewind with me for a moment. This was not the King's first encounter with the One True God. Many years prior, the king had a dream that could only be interpreted by a messenger of the One True God. None of his other magicians or astrologers or wise men could tell him about his dream; only Daniel was given godly insight to explain the meaning. The King then, as a result, fell down to the ground in worship of Daniel (read carefully: in worship of DANIEL), proclaiming that Daniel's God was the greatest God--"the Lord over Kings."

But his admission was not to be taken as a submission.

Back to our original story. Years later, faced with another miraculous experience, the King again proclaims the greatness of this God. After the 3 emerge from the fire, the King decrees that there is no God like the God of the 3, and he orders that if anyone should speak against this One True God, that man should die. But again, his admission was not a reflection of his own personal submission. You see, this was my surprise. This great king, to whom God had revealed his absolute power time and again, was ready to defend the One True God, but he was not prepared to rescind his image of himself as the One Great King. He would acknowledge this God of Power, see him as at least equal to himself and worthy of the worship of his subjects, but the king himself would not bow.

And here I am, declaring there is a God in Heaven who is powerful. There is a God with a plan. There is a God who is Mighty and works on behalf of His people. I am echoing the words of the King: "There is no other god who can rescue like this!" I believe it. I know that it is true because I've seen this God act.

But will my knee bow? Is my admission of God's greatness with my mouth a reflection of the submission of my life, heart and pride, or simply a statement of intellectual understanding? Do I think I am God's equal? Obviously I know God is greater, but do I believe it enough to humiliate all of myself under his good and all-powerful hand?

The jury is still out. Of course I want to be in that place of great self-abasement, but I'm not. I want to be comfortable. I don't want to fight my own desires. I want to feed them. Deny myself? What on earth do you mean? I am rich. I am powerful. I am, and there is no other.

God is worth worship, but is he worth my worship? I don't mean on Sunday. I mean everyday. Every action and every motivation of my heart. Can I lower myself so that His glory can be seen instead of my own tainted, rotting image of myself?

I sure hope so. I certainly don't want to follow the path of that king. You can read Daniel 4 on your own to find out what I'm talking about. But I guess if that's what it takes, it would be worth it in the end.