I have not sat down and written anything in quite some time. Life…. that is my excuse. But this topic has been stewing in me for quite a while. As some of you know my oldest daughter will be going to Law School in just a few short days. ( I have been shouting this fact from the highest rooftops) I am beyond proud of her. And of course I am – I am her mom – her biggest cheerleader. But what I want her to know and understand the depth of, is that – generations of women (not just those in her family) that came before her and paved the way are collectively holding their breath for you – cheering you on! I hope she knows that she is representing all of the faces of my friends, their daughters, other women in our community and their little girls reminding us that women can do anything we put our minds to – we to belong in the law profession or whatever profession we choose – we can contribute – AND WILL!
It wasn’t very long ago that we didn’t even have the right to vote (let that sink in for just a minute) let alone go to college…. Even today, in my family – There are still remnants of a generation who equated their worth to whether or not they were married. And here we are breaking that cycle – breaking those stereotypes or whatever you call them that have held women back for decades.
Tomorrow my community of amazing friends will celebrate her with a going away party. And just in case I forget – I am today raising a glass to the ones that thought they had to live in the shadow of others and never even bothered to dream anything was possible outside of what society saw as their role… It is possible.. Here she goes!!!!
And a special note to my baby daddy…. who sees her potential just as I do – and who is willing to move mountains (just as I am) to make this dream happen for her! More daddy’s should be like you!
Lizzy….. YOU can do HARD things! Now go rock Law School!
Here is my phone screen saver picture… My sweet beautiful girls.
It has been my screen saver on my phone for a year now. In January of 2021 I felt GOD prompting me to keep a journal of all the small, insignificant but beautiful and wonderful moments in my life. I didn’t understand why but was obedient and started an online journal to document them – and created this screensaver to remind me daily to be present and mindful of all the beautiful moments I get to witness.
My friend posted a devotional from Proverbs 31 Ministries the other day that I read. It was about Looking back before Moving Forward. Once I read that devotion GOD finally revealed the purpose of having me keep record of the beauty I witnessed in 2021. It specifically states: “the poignant power of looking back before we lunge forward – It readjusts our vision and reveals God’s faithfulness. It fine-tunes our memory and fortifies our gratitude“. WOW…. 2021 GOD did so many good things – moments that I wanted to pay attention to because he was doing something new and good in my life. However, with the hustle and bustle of a busy year I could have sailed through and missed so many beautiful moments had I not stopped to document even the smallest of these.
Now that we have turned the page to 2022 – I went back and read through my 135 entries that I made in the last 12 months. And as the devotional states it cleared my vision and encouraged my gratitude for how far I have come and the many blessings that 2021 had for me. These entries highlighted examples that I witnessed of redemption, friendship, love, restoration, thoughtfulness, selflessness, connection and so much more. What perspective is earned when we stop and smell the roses along the way. It definitely helped me not forget these small but beautiful moments – I am so thankful for documenting them. #beautyabounds God wants us to pay attention as we move through this world at the gifts he gives us, and not the monetary ones either. We miss all the good stuff when we aren’t present, mindful and paying attention to the important things.
I so encourage you to do this exercise – even for a month. You will have so much to journal about.. When your eyes are open you see so much!
I am resetting this year with a clean slate for 2022 – getting ready to set some goals, choose a theme (I never do new years resolutions) and see where GOD leads me this year. Stay tuned for this year’s THEME…..
On the heels of 2020, the pandemic and hurricane recovery that kept alot of us at home – we ushered in 2021 and all hoped that it would be an improvement. I am not so sure that either the weather or COVID cooperated with us in achieving the status of “improved”. However, early on in the year I vowed to live each day to the fullest and although things are different now – in our town, our country and abroad – 2021 pushed us to see an alternative normal and work around what we now have to deal with and not let it stop us.
After my dad passed away it was clearly evident that tomorrow is not promised – and for all his working, planning and saving for a time when he and my mom could venture off and travel – his journey ended and very little of his bucket list was ever scratched off. I am not saying that he didn’t live a great life – he did – but he saved all of those years and worked hard just to have his time on earth run out before he got to go, see and do all the things he had hoped. And his story isn’t the only one that has the same storyline and ending….
SOOOOOO that was my motivation behind 2021 – my dad and a year wasted sitting at home because of covid and recovering because of mother nature. As this piece is titled numbers – let me give you my numbers for 2021: 4, 1, 2, 3, 2, 18 (these are not lottery numbers but they have yielded something way more valuable)
4 – weddings – 1 of which was mine
1 – funeral
2 – engagement parties
3 – Parties hosted by me – Eat the Cake, Mardi Gras and a Derby Shower
18 – places I have traveled to this year. I was on the move every month but June. And some were weekend driving adventures – but we went… we explored, found adventure, and we enjoyed. Here is that list, in no particular order:
Fredericksburg, Tx (twice)
St. Francisville, La
Cabo San Lucas
Mandeville, La – we love this place and went several times with friends
Yogi Bear Campground
Marble Falls, Tx
Orange Beach, Al
St. Louis, Mo
Colorado Springs, Co
Isla Mujeres, Mexico
Las Vegas, NV
Goal accomplished. I refuse to live my life waiting on a better time to go, see and do. I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me and today I am healthy and able and have this voracity for travel. In honor of my dad and others who worked their whole life and never got to their bucket list – I will not make your same mistake.
What I learned this year is that people and connection are so important…. that there is a lot of beauty to see in nature and within the US and sometimes a short drive outside your town you can find the best hidden treasures. We had such good times. We traveled alone, with our family (kiddos) and with our friends. We are tired and will be taking the rest of the holiday season to just stay home, rest and reset for 2022.
My day started with my youngest in tears. Her tears were over mean girls at her school. So the conversation ensued about friendship and how as a 5th grader you should choose your friends wisely and run far away from those messy, mean girls. It’s a tough conversation to have with a 10 year old who is heartbroken and thinks maybe I will just change schools. Sorry to break it to her (and I did) those mean girls exist at all schools, Middle Schools and high schools, colleges and even in the workplace. They never go away.
This lengthy conversation was followed by a phone call from one of my besties and a conversation about our friend group. She told me of a conversation she had with someone who was asking who she surrounds herself with and if those people were mediocre. She laughed…. they are far from mediocre! No – on the contrary – our friend group is comprised of extraordinary women! When she said that I echoed that same sentiment – EXTRAORDINARY not the least bit mediocre! And I have written about my friends before but felt like it was appropriate to revisit this topic as there is so much to learn from our group. I actually used our friend group as a model and an example for Mia this morning – and to my children all the time!
We are strong women…. all of us have been in the trenches in some capacity throughout our lives – we have buried children, parents, grieved losses, faced divorces, breakups, relationship challenges, life changes, etc. We are fierce, strong and fighters! And what makes us special and unlike most adult friendships is that we are authentic! We tell the truth to each other, even when it is not what the other wants to hear. We are compassionate, kind and forgiving. We champion and celebrate our goals and accomplishments. We stand in the gap when we are needed for whatever. We are not messy, hateful or mean (not that we are by any means perfect) however, we truly love each other! It’s all this that shifts the friendship paradigm and propels us to a new level of being…… its the level of family.
And we are nothing particularly special but oh so special – if you know what I mean. We are teachers, hairdressers, accountants, chemists, personal trainers, entrepreneurs, real estate agents, stay at home wives/mothers, Lab Managers, medical office professionals. Each one unique and extraordinary in their own right. We bring to the table different experiences, knowledge, personalities and skill sets that feed our group. We live and work among many but have a distinct connection and community with each other. We chose each other and have weeded through the muck and many a mean girl to find the group we have. My hope that is that my daughters and my friends daughters see us a beacon of light of what friendship can be and strive to get there themselves. I hope others in our sphere of influence see us and learn a thing or two from our group.
Now for a quick PSA (hollering this from my imaginary megaphone)——Moms of daughters….. TEACH your girls to be this kind of friend. KNOW how they treat their friends and other girls in their class/school and correct them if they are off track. Quit fighting the fight for your daughter to be “right” and be open to maybe your daughter did hurt someone’s feelings or isn’t the best friend to others —– stop encouraging “popularity” and focus on kindness!!!!! Women we must do better!
Thank you to my tribe for your authentic friendship – much love to you all! And cheers to many more years of friendship and eventually…. nursing home shennanigans….. lol
Warren Shorty Breaux was my uncle. But he was also a brother, cousin and friend to many. People in the Sulphur Community saw him ride his bike all over town some knowing very little about him other than he had a smile and a wave for everyone. Today I want to share my perspective of who he was.
He was 1of 7 children born to my grandmother. They were a very poor family – He went to work early in his life to help his mom support their family. ( my mom told me that his first job was a shoe shine boy (which if you think about it this was a job with a humbling position), he worked as a dishwasher – they had to get him a stool to stand on – the apron was too long for him., and many other odd jobs throughout his young life.)
He had little more than an 7th grade education but was a hard worker all of his life. He never married – although he almost did once. He was a merchant marine and travelled all over the world working. He didn’t always ride a bike – he had a car and drove. He even had a corvette. He was the best dancer – he taught my mom to jitterbug. When he was home and I was a little girl – I would wait for him to come and pick me up. He would tell me – Let’s go Honky Tonking” – which really meant – let’s go get coffee milk at the Pitt Grill. He never had any children. His nieces and nephews were the closest he had. We all loved him – and it was a big deal when you finally grew taller than Uncle Shorty.
The generosity the community sees in his latter years was always there. He always provided for my grandmother. When my mom married my dad she did not have the money for a wedding dress – Shorty stepped forward and paid for her dress. and I am certain there are many more similar stories within our family of his generosity.
He never wanted to be front and center or boastful about his generosity within the family. He was always kind and giving. After he retired many years ago, He gave up driving and started getting around on a bike. That bike started his legacy of collecting cans and then pull tabs, and the rest was history. He donated thousands of dollars from his pull tabs to the Ronald McDonald House and did many charitable acts in this community.
He had his route that he rode for many years and would stop in and visit all of his friends around town. He had quite the social circle. I heard a similar story of him as a young boy getting on the bus system in Lake Charles riding around making his rounds when he was only 10 or 11 years old. He was social even then- he liked to visit and when I would stop in town when I spotted him and talk to him he would always tell me where he was going, who he was going to visit and of course about his pull tabs!
He lived a simple life but he lived it to the fullest. He took what he had to work with and made a beautiful life filled with people who he touched everyday.
For those in our community and my family – I hope you take away from Shorty – that a life well lived will never include how much status you have, how much money you make or how many things you have accumulated. A life well lived and the legacy Shorty leaves is one of humility, kindness and giving.
There is story in the bible about the Widow’s Offering: Mark 12 verse 41-44 says
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”
This is Jesus’s best description of what we have witnessed in Shorty. He had nothing.. Truly owned nothing. But even in his nothingness he found something to give. Max Lucado says No One Can do everything, but EVERYONE can do something! Shorty found his something and did it with passion, love and kindness. And his passion was contagious …..
What a great lesson for future generations and what an amazing legacy left by a little man who had no status or fortune – just a bike, a smile, a handshake, some pulll tabs and a desire to do good! We should all strive to live by what Shorty modeled for us.
I want to personally thank several people for your kindness and generosity to my Uncle throughout the years:
Joe McMurry – who gave him a place to live for the longest time and was good to him.
Betty and Mitch Martin for giving of your time and attention for coffee talk when he stopped by
Jennifer Watts – who gave him her endless friendship – always looked after him and championed him in the community. She went above and beyond for him and we are forever grateful
Roxanne and Donald Doucet for allowing Shorty to move in to your apartments after the storm and being so kind to him when he needed anything as well as your generosity through these last few days.
To the community of donors (in name and anonymous), Judy Goodner and the funeral home who covered all of his funeral expenses. We are blown away by your generosity.
To all the community members who rallied around Shorty and provided him bikes over the years. It kept him connected, doing what he loved, moving around and staying healthy for such a long time. Thank you Thank you Thank you
John Bridges for highlighting his goodness on TV for all to see and taking your job a step further and extending your friendship to Shorty
For the City of Sulphur and all of the Mayors that recognized him for the his contributions to our community and beyond, especially Chris Duncan.
To all his friends and acquaintances that waved, smiled, chatted with him and looked out for him! We thank you.
We will certainly miss his smiling face riding his bike all over this town. But I know he was greeted at the gates of Heaven and heard the words…. Well done my good and faithful servant. Well done.
I have written small tidbits of the most amazing love story (outside of mine and Dean’s) that has been unfolding over the last year. I have been holding on to this story for a while, allowing this beautiful couple some space and time. And like most stories there are stories within stories – I have written about these nested narratives before and how in life – they appear and need to be told to get the full breadth of the stories they reside in.
When my dad passed away my mother was riddled with grief, as we all were. She owned that brutal, devastating grief for a long long time. Until…. there was him. He was walking in his own grief after losing his beloved wife of many years to cancer. A chance meeting and some super pushing from me – and they connected. At first, I could see she was torn…. torn from 55 years of marriage vs. wanting to grab hold of something new in her redefined existence. She chose to take a leap and be ok with different. I tell her all the time that different isn’t always bad…. its just different. So after many months of fighting it she embraced that Craig was the one… And for me having my own love story I paralleled what I knew about how I was treated, loved and adored to what I saw.. and Craig absolutely adores and loves my mother. Her tears have been turned into laughter…. Laughter abounds when they are together and even when they are apart I hear her tell funny stories about him and she laughs.
What can I say about Craig. Some of you that know about me and my dads relationship might be a little shocked at my open arm willingness to welcome this man into the role that was left vacant by my dads passing. I always knew I was mature enough to want my mother to move on in her life – and I thought when she does I will be respectful of this new person in her life. What I never imagined is that GOD would fill that void so fully for me. Craig showed up and stood in the GAP for all of us and soothed our sadness. He so beautifully told my mother – that I am not trying to take T-boy’s place – I am just trying to finish where he left off. And he has – in every aspect and role of life my dad played – Husband, Father and Grandfather.
Same as my mother had loss in her story so does Craig… doubly so. He not only lost his wife of many years to cancer but he also suffered the most tragic loss a parent can… losing his only son when he was only in college. A life cut short. With Mac gone, so are the things we as parents look forward to: The marriages, The grandchildren, the great grandchildren, the family gatherings, etc. A void bigger than most of us can imagine.
When he and my mom fell in love, the rest of us fell in love with him as well. He has welcomed us into his life with open arms and taken us on as his own – kids, grandkids, animals and all. A void filled on both sides of this equation. GOD’s handywork at its finest. Ephesians 3:20 “Now all glory to GOD, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think” When you step back and look at it from a 100 foot view you must cling to that scripture and know that GOD’s hand is in this and revel in the wonder of how beautiful it actually is!
Craig has a beautiful spirit and is funny as shit. He brings with him 2 beautiful sisters and an amazing circle of friends….friendships that have been forged over decades…. Mom being the social butterfly fits perfectly into that life. And together they have plans…. plans to see the country and even the world. To keep connected to the people they love and to laugh a whole lot along the way.
A wedding is forthcoming this weekend. October 8, 2021! And the planning has been a journey to say the least but has been fun for me and my sister – not many people get to say they helped their mother plan her wedding – its a beautiful role reversal.
What a beautiful and true testament this story is that GOD can turn mourning into dancing, our grief to joy. Stay tuned for wedding pics and more stories!
Divorce changes you. In many ways. But all who have been divorced know that you come out of the process broken, armored up and a little worse for wear. When I emerged, although I felt better – I could breathe easier and I had a plan for what I wanted my life to look like – I still had triggers, guarded emotions and just plain broken tendencies from years of a bad relationship.
As hard as I try those survival skills that I needed to get me through hard core divorce battle and re-establishing life as a single woman won’t go away that easy. They appear often even now in my married life when they are not needed. The triggers show up even though I know I am safe and loved. Add some PMS to those situations and at times I can be quite a challenge – for anyone.
Here’s where my story gets super beautiful. GOD knew all of this – he knew my struggles and what I would continue to struggle with and he delivered DEAN… I might would call him JOB from the bible, as his patience through suffering perseveres lol.
Marriage is work – we all agree to that old adage, however remarriage is even more work. So many lives intersecting, blending of families – but moreover so much trauma, triggers and history trying to heal, come together and be better for each other. Only if you are purposeful in trying to be better for each other do you survive.
I am prickly at times. I have flashbacks in some situations, to feelings that are 20+ years old – and in response I armor up!!! I want to be in control but want him to be in control – yes you read that right. Stop, go, yes, no – its exactly like that. Dean tells a story that so accurately depicts this real life struggle. When Dean first came to town and owned the bike store there was an older gentleman that had founded the local bike club aka “The Bike Club President”. He reached out to Dean and wanted to pass the torch to him and engage a younger generation so that the club would continue. But anytime Dean went to change the way things worked in the Bike Club – the former bike club president would jump in and have his say. He wasn’t quite ready to give up power, yet he said he wanted to. So often Dean uses this story to describe me – “The bike club President” – How I want him to take control yet I don’t want to give up control. And hence, everyone is left struggling for control, doing a dance trying to find position within our marriage. Dean is so good at using humor to call me out on this and it is funny. But like most things I struggle with – this is a leftover from the trauma of divorce. However I am learning to surrender and allowing my husband to lead. Again the patience of JOB I tell you!
What I have noticed in my moments of pushing myself to be better and do better – I look up to find someone in my life that LOVES me in a way no one has ever loved me. It is overwhelming at times how completely he loves me and to the depth in which he does. What I experience with Dean leaves me numb sometimes – like its all too much for my senses to be loved and adored like he does. Its palpable, people see it – our friends feel it. It even jumps off the screen in pictures. It’s real.
His love and how he loves me so completely pushes me everyday to do it better for US. To continue to grow in our relationship and figure it out. It is an honor for me to push myself beyond my comfort level and do something that feels vulnerable and uncomfortable for my marriage – for him. He so deserves it.
Moral of the story…. there is much work left to do even after you find Your Person. Keep pushing yourself, identifying what is holding you back and communicate!
Not to long ago I wrote about “The Box” – the box of letters from my dad to my mom while he was in Vietnam. Well I have my own box of treasures. Let me back up. A few weeks ago I get a call from one of my ex husbands employee’s who has been cleaning out a shop and found what he described to me as a box of keepsakes from my childhood. He asked if I wanted them. I thought what box would my ex have of my stuff but I told the employee – yes I do want the box and I would come and get it. Well several weeks past and I have forgotten about it frankly until today. I went and retrieved the box and haphazardly looked though it before putting it in the back of my car. It was a box of stuff my mother had packed for me when I got married and I guess it had gotten stored in a shop after one of our many moves.
Later this afternoon I went through my box to see what treasure I could find. It contained birthday cards, valentine cards, etc from friends and family. It had a “School Days” book that I would fill out every school year – include a picture and then all the keepsakes from the year. Kindergarten through Senior Year. And I apparently was pretty religious about completing the book and saving all kinds of sweet keepsakes. My box even had all of the posters from my room as a teenager – I was apparently in love with Sylvester Stalone – lol.
Then I came across a brown envelope with just my name on it. Inside of it was notes and letters. I began to read them and realized these were all the notes that were sent to me when I made my confirmation retreat as a Junior in High School. My heart stopped and I immediately started looking for his handwriting….. I held my breath when I found it. My DAD’s letter written some 30+ years ago to me. I read every word and it was like I was reading it for the first time. I don’t remember ever reading it although I know I did. Now at age 48 his words resonate with me and the young girl that I was. The letter echoed how proud he was of me. That we had our disagreements but he knew I had my own way of doing things that would serve me well one day. He knew that I was reasonable and would understand that he had to make me live within the rules of his household. Even then he promised to always be by my side and to help in anyway I needed him to. He knew I would forge my own path and believed in me. I am certain it was the most difficult thing to stand idly by and watch me become someone who he knew I wasn’t – someone that had become so small and meek- all those years while I was married. My mom always told me that when I did things in my youth that they didn’t necessarily agree with – That we got no reaction from my dad or opposition from him was because he didn’t care. But that wasn’t the case – he did care – he cared differently than she did. He was a quiet man – he let me live my life and only stepped in when I needed or wanted him to. In his letter he states that he isn’t good at expressing his feelings. Most men aren’t – especially from that generation. But for my dad he didn’t always need to say his feelings – as I grew up I knew them – she showed me by his actions.
What a treasure that box brought me today. His handwriting. His thoughts and words on a page to me. Him loving me as a teenager who challenged him in every way – lol – but him seeing and knowing my potential! I am forever grateful that MY Box found its way back into my possession.
There was even a letter from my sweet Grandmother. Oh the treasures…. Here are a few newspaper clippings that I found in the box – who knew I was in the newspaper that much.
Everything has a reason for showing up in your path, some things last for a lifetime and others just for a season. Although bittersweet, the season that was my Camp at the Tickfaw River has come to an end.
Let me rewind to 2017. I was freshly divorced, broken and needed a place where I could recharge and have some fun out of the spotlight. The Camp at the Tickfaw was that place for me. If you have read my previous posts about the camp and the Tickfaw river you will know that it held a special place in my heart. I found healing there, solace and a whole lot of fun. I had many many good times with my friends and my family. The camp was even where Dean and I met face to face for the first time. Just driving there and getting to the exit sign – all the stress of the world I was carrying around would instantly melt away. Just seeing that sign would make me smile.
Things change, healing happens and new chapters begin. Although bittersweet, (and I did shed a few tears driving there for the last time) – it was time to close this chapter. I’m a different person with a different life than I was when I initially bought this place. BUT..with the close of one chapter – a new one begins. And so I have a couple of new projects I am working on and who knows where or even if we buy a camp again. You’ll have to stay tuned. But I can say this…. I am so excited about the future and what is in store for me and my family!
To the new owners of my beloved House on the Tickfaw…. I hope that it brings you many good memories, good friends, lots of new adventures and healing of your own.
Just to close I had to include some pics (not all) of the amazing times I have shared at the camp. Thanks to all my people for being part of some wonderful memories there.
I have been super weepy these past couple of weeks as we approach my dad’s birthday. This blog was entitled “Life After” but I never really thought or wanted it to be about Life after my dad, but here I am. Here I am with tears welling up in my eyes thinking about all that he has missed and all that I want so badly to tell him about. My mind starts making a list, so to speak…. So here is the list:
Lizzy’s College Graduation – this was the 1st event he missed and it was hard. He was so proud of his grandchildren.
The toxic girlfriend of my ex-husband finally left our lives – Boy did we all rejoice on this one. He would have too. It was a long 4 years and he prayed many days for GOD to remove her from our lives. I like to think he finally got some face time with the man in charge who got this done for us.
My ex and I finally stopped warring and we co-parent well together – He was my sounding board for all things that I struggled with in that situation.
Lizzy landed a job in Houston at Aire Liquide in the HR Department and most recently received a promotion
Christopher landed his dream job at Purina and has had a couple of subsequent big promotions.
Maddie plays on a U15 Boys soccer team and wears his number 00 proudly as she kicks those boys butts!
I built some more apartments, bought a couple of houses and most recently another apt complex… Even named the new apartments after him – Clifton Heights had a nice ring to it..
Mia is playing tennis!!!! Finally one of his grandchildren that love Tennis like he loved it!
Christopher secured us a spot to compete on Family Feud
Lizzy made a fantastic score on her LSAT and will be heading to Law School in the near future…
We endured a global pandemic, COVID itself and quarantine…. and the most ridiculous presidential election ever. – I would have fiercely protected him against COVID and he would have thought all the media hype about it was horseshit. I can hear him now.
We survived 2 hurricanes and an ice storm. He would have been proud of how I handled all that was thrown at me in 2020
I got married… this one was a big one to miss
Baylor won its first ever Final Four – March Madness was truly maddening
I went back to work for the coolest company EVER – He would have loved hearing all my cool stories about what we do.
I bought a new car – this really isn’t that significant except that it is – see he LOVED cars.
The list could go on and on…. It would seem the more time passes the less I would miss him but it is quite the opposite. The more time soldiers on and the more things that transpire in this life with me and my kids – the greater the longing for him to be here for me to tell him about it.
“Life After”_________ (many things: divorce, re-marriage, etc) is so good. But “Life After” my dad is bittersweet.