I Give Up! Or Not.

Being a transplant to South Louisiana, I’ve always had a difficult time with Lent. Where I grew up, there weren’t many Catholics. In fact, I can’t think of one person I knew that was Catholic until I moved here. I never understood Lent. I simply thought it was a time to repent after the debauchery of Mardi Gras.

In the years I’ve lived here, I’ve come to more fully understand the Catholic faith. I even started taking Catholic classes. I think “classes” is a bit of an exaggeration, I think I attended ONE class, until I found out that whole process ended in a public baptism and that did not appeal to me at all. So, that was that.

I have embraced parts of the Catholic faith. I love the quiet reflection, being alone with your thoughts to offer up prayers or meditations. It’s how I’ve started my days for the last few years. It’s a little bit of peace and quiet before the chaos of work, home, and life in general.

But, back to Lent, I’ve tried to give up something every year for Lent. I’ve tried beer, carbs, red meat, you name it. I’ve never made it until the end. This is probably because I’ve never really took it as seriously as I should. I think I’ve done it because I thought it was a good idea.

I’m going to try something new this year. I’m going to give back something rather than give up something. I’ve never been good at self-deprival anyway. As soon as I tell myself that I can’t have something, my mind instantly fixates on that one thing until I become borderline OCD.

I’ve already been trying to give back in small ways by doing “small things”. I’m just going to be like Emeril and “kick it up a notch”. I’m going to keep doing the small things I’m doing, throwing a few cans into the local Food Bank basket every week, and trying to encourage my students to do small things. But, I’m going to brainstorm new things to do.

I read an article yesterday (see below) that confirmed what I’ve already been thinking. In these times of recession and unemployment, it is really a time to give back rather than give up. So many have had to give up that those of us that do have should give back.

So, my goal for the next 39 days is to give back, not give up.

After all, doesn’t a benevolent Queen keep in mind the needs of others? (Oh yeah, I rolled my eyes at myself on that one.)

For now, I’m off to figure out what to do with the rest of my day. I love vacations!

Peace!

Queen Out

For those of you interested in learning more about Lent, or haven’t figured out what you want to give up or give back. Here are some resources I’ve found….

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/christians.encouraged.to.give.rather.than.give.up.this.lent/25313.htm

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1BtbnM/learnthis.ca/2010/02/100-ways-to-serve-others/

A Lenten Reflection
Give up complaining——focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism——become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgments——think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry——trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement——be full of hope.
Give up bitterness——turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred——return good for evil.
Give up negativism——be positive.
Give up anger——be more patient.
Give up pettiness——become mature.
Give up gloom——enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy——pray for trust.
Give up gossiping——control your tongue.
Give up sin——turn to virtue.
Give up giving up——hang in there!

Click to access quoteslent1.pdf

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

“Sometimes you have to go through the dirtiest and the ugliest things to appreciate the good things in life.”

I heard this quote last night from one of my friends while having a few beers, and it immediately it made me stop, cock my head to one side, and contemplate.

What a profound statement.  It seems alcohol makes us great philosophers sometimes.

I’ve heard this quote in various forms, but never with the “dirtiest” and “ugliest”.  It made me think of all the “dirty” and “ugly” things I’ve been through, and how I see life these days.

How do I see life these days?

I try to find the good in every day. Sometimes it’s difficult, but after a moment of reflection, I stop and think “it could be worse”. And immediately, I can find something good.

It’s all those things that have made me who I am. It’s the good, the good friends, my family, my job, that make me happy. It’s the bad and the ugly, the loss of family, of friends, that makes me stronger, but also makes me appreciate the days I have, the people I have.

Maybe it’s like a grittier version of the “Facts of Life”. You take the good, you take, the bad, and there you’ve got the facts of life.”  Or something like that. I wasn’t a fan of that show.  Apparently.

And maybe that’s Queen Alisha’s Guideline to Life #2. Life is the total package, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Live through the bad, survive to appreciate the good.

For now, the Queen is off to celebrate the last day of Mardi Gras.

Definitely, the good.

Peace!

Queen Out!

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

About six months ago, I finally committed to losing the weight that had slowly snuck up on me as I hit my thirties.  I went out and bought the fancy scale, the one that tells you how much water you’re retaining, how much body fat you have, and exactly how much body fat you have.

Two months ago, four months after I bought it, it broke. I tried new batteries, I tried re-setting it, everything.  Needing some kind of measurement to keep myself motivated, I went out and bought the old-fashioned kind with the dial. I’d had one of those for years before I finally had to just throw it out because it was getting all rusty and gross.

I brought it home, unwrapped it, and got ready to step on it the next day.  So, the next morning, I get up as is my routine, and weigh.

Now I have a new scale and a new problem.

Either my eyes aren’t like they used to be ten years ago, or those little spaces between the numbers have gotten smaller. I can’t exactly see how much I actually weigh. I can kind of guesstimate between two and three pounds, but exactly not quite.

I instantly begin complaining. Now I have to go back and buy yet another scale. Because I NEED to know to the pound what I weigh.

This went on for about a month. I’d get up in the morning, and I’d gripe. Sometimes because I couldn’t tell, sometimes because I’d been bad the last few days and gained a pound or two, or three.

Then, a few weeks ago, while I was griping and standing on the scale,  I realized this scale gave me something my other scale couldn’t. A daily reminder of how far I’ve come. I can see how much I used to weigh and I can see all the little pounds I’ve worked so hard to lose.

I may not always be able to tell exactly how many pounds I’ve lost, but I CAN see how far the scale has moved.

And then I realized something else. That scale is a lot like life should be. We should be able to look back and see how far we’ve come. Sometimes I know that I get frustrated. I can’t always get to where I want to go as fast as I want to get there,  just as my weight loss is going, but the important thing is that I’m working on it.

And that I celebrate the small milestones in between. Even if they are a little blurry sometimes. 🙂

And that, my friends, is Guideline Number One. Always appreciate how far you’ve come, even if you can’t always see EXACTLY where you are.

For now, I’m off to get ready for another hectic day of work and home.  Here’s to life and lessons learned!

Peace!

Queen out!

🙂

Queen Alisha’s Guide to Life

Hear ye! Hear ye! After many months of bouncing from one subject to another, I have decided to focus my writing on one topic. What’s that topic?

Queen Alisha’s Guide to Life.

Even the title of my blog is changing to reflect this change.  I’m becoming the Prince of blogging. Well, maybe not that extreme, but my blog will now be titled, “Queen Alisha’s Guide to Life….The blog formerly known as Groovy Kind of Life.”

I’ll still write about some of the same old things like music (I can’t ignore something that’s such a big part of who I am), South Louisiana, and the random topic that strikes my fancy. But, my main focus will be on my New Year’s Resolution to treat myself and have other’s treat me like a Queen.

A Queen.

Not a doormat.

Not a diva.

Not a bitch.

What is a Queen? I found this definition of a Queen on a website this morning and I thought it pretty much fits the definition of what I am trying to achieve.

The Queen

The Queen is the part of us that attempts to establish lawful order and moral virtue by focusing on relationships and by nurturing, encouraging, and protecting the individuality and authority of others. Our Queen addresses social problems and issues with warm, loving, merciful, and forgiving feelings toward otherness. The primary characteristics of the Queen are (1) benevolent feeling, or caring, and (2) shared authority.                          http://www.souljourney.net/archetypestudies/queen.html

Basically, it’s the mature version of Tart, the alter ego I clung to during my misspent youth.  Not quite so selfish, not quite so reckless.

I’m a little older and a little wiser.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s still a lot of Tart left in me. I still love good drinks, nights out on the town, and throwing caution to the wind every now and then. That part of me will always be there. But eventually, we all have to grow up and become who we are meant to be.

Besides, Tart still wants to travel and have a house that befits her new Queen status. Tart can’t have that if she’s throwing her money away on drinks and nights out on the town.

Priorities.

And a good Queen knows how to prioritize.

So, for the most part, my blogs will be about my year of living like a Queen.  And what the hell, if I have a good time with it, I’ll continue after the year is over.

It IS my blog. And I AM the Queen, after all.

For now, I’m off to cook some dinner and feed my royal subjects and get ready for the first Mardi Gras parade in our town.

Maybe I can find a tiara before the parade……..

Hmmmmmm……..

Here’s to living the Queen life, and Carnival time in South Louisiana.

Peace!

I’m out!

Earl, Karma, and Mother Theresa

My Name is Earl has to be one of my favorite tv shows. Not only is it hilarious, it has a good message as well.

Earl, the main character, has done a lot of bad things in his life. After winning money on  a lottery scratch-off, he gets hit by a car. Somewhere in that scenario, he decides to make his “Karma List”. He’s listed all the bad things he’s done to people and sets out to make them right, improving his karma as well.

I believe in karma. I believe you get what you give. What goes around does tend to come back around. Good or bad.

I always try to do the right thing. I can’t say that I do, that would make me perfect and perfect is one thing that I’m definitely not.

If you give kindness and compassion, you get kindness and compassion in return. If you give hatred and impatience, you get hatred and impatience in return. You probably won’t have many friends either.

Another thing that Earl talks about is how good he feels after crossing something off his list. He enjoys making other people feel better.  How many of us try to do something on a regular basis just to make someone feel better?

A few months ago I read a quote by Mother Theresa. She said, “In this life we cannot do great things, we can only do small things with great love.” After I read that, I tried to start doing weekly “Small Things”  One week, I bought enough food for a meal for one needy family and put it in our grocery store’s food bank box.  And it made me feel good. I’m so blessed to always have enough to have food on my table.  Not everyone is. Especially not these days with this economy the way it is.

I did it again this morning when I bought my weekly groceries. I bought enough food to give a needy family a meal. And again, it made me feel good.

It made me stop and think. Maybe karma is more than being nice to people or trying to always do the right thing. Maybe it’s also going out of your way to do something for someone else. Just like Earl does. It’s not easy for him to make amends to everyone on his list.

And it’s not always convenient or easy to do something for someone else. But it is worth it.  So, I’m challenging myself to keep trying to do something for someone else. Something that may make life just a little easier for someone else.

After all, we’re all fighting the same battle.

Peace!

I’m out!

That Was Then

This weekend we acquired a Wii. After two days of Wii Bowling and Wii Golf, the adult members of our household had to take a break yesterday. This is mainly because we are old and out of shape. Our bodies were protesting in parts that we had forgotten existed.

So, I decided to head up to the little hangout by my house yesterday to see what was going on. One of my favorite regulars was there so I made my way over to sit with him, easing into my chair. He asks me if we partied for New Year’s, and I told him we had gotten the Wii and we were so busy with that we lost track of time and almost missed New Years.

He looks at me funny, cocks his head and says, “Alisha, I didn’t know you did that.”

And then I realize that he thinks I said, “Weed”, not “Wiii”.
I burst out laughing because of course I’m not into that. So I explain to him that I meant the game system Wii. And we talk about that for awhile. He had heard about it before, but didn’t realize how physical it is. And we discuss what a good thing it is for kids these days to get them active.

He tells me that he got an email recently about a dad who said he punished his kid and made him go play outside. And I had thought this before, but it really hit home how different things are from when my generation grew up. Even a little different from when my son was growing up.

When I was growing up, going outside wasn’t punishment, it was something you just did.

In fact, in the summertime, you played outside because it was cooler outside than it was inside. You found a big tree with lots of shade and you found something to do. The only rules I remember was, be in the yard before dark, and if mom yells for you, then you better be within hearing range and your rear end better be scooting toward your home soon.

Of course, I grew up in a very small town where everyone knew everybody. And if you were doing something wrong, your phone was ringing before you even made it home.

Twenty years later, we’re buying game systems for our kids to keep them active. Nintendo and Super Mario Bros have come a loooong way baby!

But have WE? Good question. And definitely something to think about.

Something I will ponder later.

For now, I’m off to be as lazy as possible on my last day of Christmas Break.

Peace! I’m out!

My Mid-Mid Life Crisis

For the past few weeks, I’ve been wrestling with a certain decision. I’ve gone back and forth, back and forth, with no real conclusion. During this process, I’ve asked for advice and one particular piece of advice that to be honest has completely freaked me out.

One of my friends asked me, “Alisha, where do you want to be in the next five years?”?

It seems like a pretty harmless question doesn’t it?

And I didn’t think much about it until I realized that in five years, I’m going to be knocking on the big 4-0. I’ll be 39 and some change.

Forty.

4-0.

Turning 30 didn’t freak me out at all. In fact, my thirties have been my best years so far. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve settled in to my own skin and become (for better or worse) more of who I am. I’ve done things that I was old enough to know better to do, but had a damn good time doing them anyway.

But 40?

Yeah, I can already tell that I don’t think I’m going to handle that one well.

It’s already got me thinking. Where DO I want to be in five years?  What do I want to be doing?

In five years, Keith will be 21. An adult and pretty much on his own. I’ll have raised a child already and have a freedom I’ve never known. 

Where do I want to be?

Do I want to be still in education?  Do I want to be writing?  Do I want to be married?  Do I want to be in Lafayette? In Louisiana? 

Would I want to be tied down with so much newly found freedom?

It’s alot to think about. And when I think about where I want to be, and when I figure that out, then I have to start thinking about how I’m going to get there.

All I’ve really figured out is where I am now, is not where I want to be.

So, where DO I want to be?

Hmmmm…Right now?

Right now, I want to be mixing me up a blody mary and enjoying the rest of this lazy Sunday.  For now, the questions and the thinking can wait.

Cheers and Peace!

I’m out!

This Is What I Get for Reading

Recently I’ve recommited myself to losing weight.  Right now, in South Louisiana it’s waaay to hot to do my preferred form of exercise which is walking.  I’m too much of a girly-girl.  I don’t like to sweat.

 

So, I’ve started riding my exercise bike. I’ve got one of those reclining bike things that you can read a magazine or a book on while you pedal away to your heart’s content, or your legs give out.  Whichever happens first.

I’m a big fan of personal growth books.  I love to read books about relationships, money matters, etc.  And yesterday, I just happened to pick up the Love Smart book by Dr. Phil. Of course, I’m not really looking for a new relationship.  I’m quite content with the one I’ve got, but the last couple of chapters are about how to keep your relationship from becoming stagnant.

I’m reading through the chapter and one of the techniques he lists for keeping your relationship healthy is to write love notes to each other. Okay.  Seems like a good idea to me.  I haven’t been cheesy and done something like write a love note in years. 

So, I whip out my pen and paper and write something up real quick.  I have to go into work and we’ve planned to bbq later in the evening so I leave the note with his name on it and smiley faces on it on top of the bbq stuff and later head to work.

He comes to meet me at work, thanks me for the note, calls me “SuperCheese” and we head home.

We start getting the stuff ready to bbq and something catches my eye on the ceiling.  It’s a HUGE bug.  South Louisiana doesn’t have regular size bugs, they have these things that look like they belong on a sci-fi movie.  It looks big enough to grab up a chair and join us at the table.  It looks like something Ian will have to take a bat to to get rid of.

“Kill it, Ian!” I tell him.

He reaches on the counter, grabs the love note I’ve written him and begins to try to kill this predator that has taken up residence on our ceiling.

I’m looking at him like he’s lost his mind. He kills the bug, and looks at me triumphantly. 

“What?” he looks at me, his smile fading as he realizes I’m unhappy.

“You used my letter to kill that bug.”

“And?  What else was I supposed to use?”

I look down at the sandals I had discarded as I’d entered the house. “How about a shoe?”

“I can’t win with you, can I?”

I look at him, THAT look still on my face.

“Ugh, Alisha, stop being such a…a…a….WOMAN!”

Now, I can’t do anything but laugh. What else was I supposed to be?

I guess it’s true.  Men really are from Mars and women are really from Venus.

He was happy to be the hero, to save me from the evil creature on the ceiling.  I was upset because of his use of weapon.  How many times has this scenario played out over the centuries?

Caveman:  “Man bring home sabertooth tiger for family.  Food.”

Cavewoman: “Did you really have to kill it that way?  Poor thing.  Did it suffer?”

Caveman:  Ugh.

Knight:  “I’ve come to rescue you fair maiden, from the enemy.”

Fair Maiden (as she looks around at the fallen captors around her):  “You expect me to walk through that?”

Knight:  Ugh.

20th Century Fisherman to Girlfriend: “Okay now. Reel the fish in reallll slow.”

Girlfriend reels in the fish real slow, gets it to the bank. “Throw it back.”

Fisherman:  “What?”

Girlfriend:  “Throw it back.  He looks like he’s suffering.”

Fisherman:  Ugh.

See what I mean?

Something tells me things aren’t likely to change anytime soon either.  🙂

Peace!

I’m out!

Good Advice

I’m one of the most hard headed people I know.  There are only two people I’ve ever met who actually are more stubborn than I am. You cannot tell me what to do.  And one of the worst things someone can do is to tell me what to do. Then, I will more than likely do the exact opposite. I don’t know why this is, but I’ve grown to accept it over time.  I do listen more than I used to, but ultimately at the end of the day, I’m going to do what I want to do.

There are two people in my life who seem to know this well.  One is my dad, the other is my friend Christy.  Whenever Dad gives me advice, he doesn’t tell me what I should do, he’ll tell me a story, a joke, a piece of wisdom that relates to what it is that he wants me do.  One example of this is when he told me the shad story.  When I was going through my divorce and dating men that were butt heads,  he told me, “Alisha, there’s a type of fish out there that you can’t do anything with, you can’t cook it because it stinks and there’s nothing you can do, it will always stink.  You might as well just throw it back.  Alisha, stop trying to bring home shad.”

Hmmmm…I definitely stopped and listened to that one. 

It happened twice again this week, only not through my dad.  One was a blog that my friend Dana wrote.  She wrote about cleaning out the b.s. in her life, and I thought how true that was for my life too.  I had so much chaos going on around me that it was starting to affect me.  I was stressed out, angry, and ready to pull my hair out because of drama that wasn’t my drama. 

It was b.s.

So what did I do?  I started clearing it out.  I think not only do we spring clean our houses, I think we need to spring clean ourselves sometimes and we don’t do that.  At least I don’t.  I let things accumulate, little dust pockets of drama, until the mess simply becomes overwhelming.  When all it would take is to clean it out.  Get back down to the basics, organize.  We need to figure out what’s important. Get rid of things that aren’t working, polish the ones that are.

And while I was thinking about this, and working on getting some matters “cleaned up”, I was having lunch with some friends of mine and Christy threw out this gem. “You have to keep people in your life who encourage you to grow.”

And how true that was too.  It actually helped me make my mind up on one particular issue I was having.  When people stop growing, they become stagnant, stuck in the same routines, the same problems, the same situations, until they learn whatever it is they need to learn.  If they ever do.

It was like when I was single.  I was stuck in the same situations, repeating the same actions over and over and of course getting the same results.  When I learned what I needed to learn, it was time for something new. And now that I’m in a relationship, I’m learning so many new things.  I’m learning about me, about compromise, and about communication.  In many ways, I’m growing.

And in some ways, maybe I’m actually learning to listen in the process. 🙂

Here’s to cleaning, growing, and listening!

Peace!

I’m out!

Small Things

I’m not a Michael Jackson fan, I have to confess.  Haven’t been for years. He simply became too eccentric for me. But, in the days since his passing, I’ve listened to the radio stations play music from him that I haven’t heard in years. I’ve heard “Beat It”, “Thriller”, “Billie Jean”.  And my favorite, “The Man in the Mirror”.

That’s probably the first time I’ve heard it in my thirties.  When I heard it as an adult, I thought of how true this song is.  How many times do we see a homeless person and just walk on by, caught up in our own lives and our own problems?”

I’ll be the first to confess that I am guilty of this.  I’ll see a homeless person, think, “What a shame” and go on about my merry way, thinking of groceries that need to be bought, bills that need to be paid.  And it doesn’t strike me as ironic that these “problems” that I’m so caught up in and stressed about are problems that this person I just passed would love to have?

Not only do I not stop enough to count my blessings, I haven’t done anything in years to make a positive change in the area around me.  Yes, I teach, and that probably makes a small impact, but when was the last time I volunteered in a food kitchen, gave to a homeless shelter, or other worthwhile cause? Or really did something to make someone else feel better?

I think we get caught up in our own lives and think things should be changed, but we always expect someone else to do it.  We think that’s someone else’s job.  But really, Michael’s right.  It starts with the Man (or Woman) in the Mirror.

It starts with us.

Mother Theresa said, “We cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.” 

So, I’m committing myself to do one small thing a week this month. What small things?  I’m not sure yet.  I may buy a few extra groceries and throw them in the Food Bank donation box on my way out.  I may check off that “Share the Light” box on my utility bill and help out someone who can’t afford their light bill this month.  Or I was watching the morning news last week and the council for the elderly needed box fans to help keep our elderly cool.  Or I may just do all three.

All small things. 

And I’m challenging you to do the same.  Do one, two, three, four, or however many small things.  Forward this blog, challenge a friend.  And tell us your stories.  What small thing did you do?

Peace!

I’m out!