Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Musings: Miley & Modesty

You know how I know I'm old? In the wake of Miley's VMA performance last night I am more heartbroken for her than disgusted by her. Admittedly I didn't even see the whole thing. Not because I'm too righteous that I immediately turned the channel, but because I'm easily distracted so I'm sure I got wrapped up in a very important text to Allison about how my two crushes (JT and Bruno) were both performing, be still my heart. If you haven't seen it, please don't go back and watch it because the reality is, there's not one single positive thought that can result from it. Case in point: The part that I did see, I noted how jiggly her legs looked. Y'all. She's maybe a size 00 on a day that she's bloated and the first thing I noticed was how her legs shook when she danced. Keep your stones in your glass house, Heather.

If one thing is for certain, she sure does have people talking. Perhaps she accomplished her goal. I cannot for the life of me though believe that in the core of her soul, the chatter blowing up Facebook and trending on Yahoo is what she really wanted. Who really wants to be questioned or ridiculed or pitied? So why am I adding to the yammer? Maybe it's because I'm female. Maybe it's because every day since I have  been a "grown up", I have worked on college campuses full of 18-22 year old young women. Maybe it's because one day I'll raise a girl or two. Even though the easiest and initial response is to immediately begin some intense praying for boys only if I'm ever going to be a mama because raising a girl seems so hard. But the truth is, we were made to do hard things and we are required to do so during our lives. It could be something like sharing an opinion publicly when we typically don't or living a life of influence so that the little eyes who see and ears who hear, see and hear positive things. In short, we can't take the easy way out because we're smarter than that.

Sometimes taking the easy way out is dismissing the things that the celebreties do by chalking it up to them being "child stars" or "having more money than maturity" or the simply the intense pressure of "being in the public eye". Similar choices and behaviors extend far beyond Hollywood. It doesn't really matter if the audience is 1 or 1 million, the scars that result from the choices we make run deep in the heart that lives in us.

I think another easy response is to just say "well, she's an adult, she should've known better" and leave it at that. Without turning this into a church service, I am so thankful that God doesn't just shrug his shoulders and wash his hands of me every time I do something that I should know better than to do simply because I'm adult. Maybe what matters most is not how or why someone ended up in a bunny suit kissing the booty of a gigantic stuffed thong-wearing bunny [seriously, don't waste your time watching this, just trust me when I say it went down something like that because I could not make that up if I tried], but now that she is there, what does she need and what can we do to get her back into some below the finger tip length silk boxing shorts and a full-sized sports bra? [Katy Perry reference for those of you with a bedtime or without cable]

Um, I hope you're not expecting me to provide the answers. I'm the one asking the questions. But I will go out on a limb and say that it's got to start with us who are comfortable in our mid-30's+ skin so that it will filter down to the younger ladies.

If I ever have a daughter, I hope that I do not teach her that men are pigs but that women are powerful. Some of you may bristle when you read this but just hear me out, please. By no means am I about to go off on some "I am woman hear me roar" tangent. Nor am I totally giving men a pass but let's be honest, we ladies know that there are times when we can ahem...use what we've been given to get something we want. We all know that with great power comes responsibility. It's up to us to stop the abuse of power. If we want to be taken seriously by the male population in general, we have to make it impossible for them to treat us any other way. Because men are such visual beings, I'm primarily referring to our wardrobe choices. Look, I'm not saying go all Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie when it comes to wardrobe. You can still be a sassy and trendy and classy dresser with your Loft colored jeans and v-neck ruffle shirts. BUT, modesty isn't dead.  

Speaking of, I think sometimes we have a hard time believing that being modest and being sexy do not have to be mutually exclusive of each other. The same woman can possess both traits. It's just that the sexy traits should be presented before a very exclusive audience. And by audience, I mean one. Within that context, I'll go so far as to say that it makes her even sexier.

Because I think in the most bizarre analogies possible, think about the last time you went to Sam's Club. Were they handing out samples of meatballs dunked in that oh so delicious grape jelly/worchestershire sauce potion or were they handing out prime cuts of wagyu beef? Which event would you remember more? The meatball sample during the monthly trip to Sam's or that one really awesome $700 dinner with the wagyu beef? In other words, when it comes to being remembered by men, do you want to be the Sam's Club meatball that's really not that unique and is lounging in the crockpot with all the others simply waiting to be taken? I hope not. And guess what? It's not just the fancy presentation on the plate but the actual substance that  makes one remember something long term. I believe that Ashton Kutcher's acceptance speech at the Teen Choice awards was spot on. I really hope he means it. Because I'm tired and therefore a bit lazy, please open a new window and search "Ashton Kutcher Teen Choice Awards Acceptance Speech". While you're watching things, please take a second to watch Jessica Rey's talk on The Evolution of the Swimsuit. Very interesting, if you like a scientific perspective.  

Also if I ever have a daughter, I hope that she knows she's beautiful. To know it, she has to be told it. I may be wrong but I believe it's absolutely ok and appropriate to tell a little girl that she's beautiful. As long as that's not the only thing she's ever told. Because she will be that and so much more. She also needs to be told why she's beautiful. Not because of her thick golden locks or her deep blue eyes but because of her kind heart and her generous spirit. Those traits are what sustains beauty. And instills confidence. I want her to be confident that it's ok to be a brainy beauty. I want the same for Miley too.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A Spoon in My Purse

Earlier this morning when I was cleaning out my purse (aka, The Receipt Graveyard), I discovered a spoon. No officer, I have no idea how long it's been in there but I promise it's one from my own collection. Rest assured, you're not dealing with a klepto wreaking havoc on the flatware supply at local eateries. I might have also found a contact lens case, bottle of nail polish and tweezers. If ever I'm dropped onto the set of a reality survival show with only my purse, I'm confident that I would give the likes of Bear Grylis a run for their money.

After that little exercise in sanity restoration, as I was out running I came to the conclusion that the contents of my purse is actually a pretty accurate illustration of my summer: chaotic, unorganized, but full of some pretty good stuff. I'm thinking the same thing you are - "Is she really drawing parallels between her purse and a season? Where is she going with this?" Yes, I am, and your guess is as good as mine.

Work is always a little bit nutso during the summer. This summer was nutso times infinity. Yes, that measure is totally valid and reliable. In the grand scheme of things, my job is a great one. I'm hoping for no more summers like this one though. On the days I managed to escape for meetings or lunch, upon return I was often greeted in the parking lot by folks with questions. Which is awesome considering how sunny and rain free this summer was. My lunch served a dual-purpose as conditioning for my next career as a competitive eater. I've managed to take a full 20 seconds off of scarfing down a turkey sandwich. Actually I have no idea about that because who has time to time something? There have been many times though when I had to take a Zach Morris time out to keep things in perspective. My work is important and it matters and I cannot lose sight of that for my students, but at the same time, I am not a surgeon with a patient on a table bleeding out in front of me.

Speaking of perspective, I think more often than not, we tend to remember the stressors of life far more than we remember the sweet spots. I mean, for the love of pete, I just rambled on about my first-world problems ranging from the excessive junk in my purse all the way to having to hurry to eat my lunch so that I could get back to work because I have the ability to help folks with something pertaining to their college education.

Regarding the sweet spots, I am thankful that this summer served up many opportunities for times with precious friends and family. It's not the places we went or the meals we ate or the musicians we saw that I will remember most, but it will be the people I was with and the conversations and laughter shared when doing all of those fun things. By nature I'm a bit of a planner and I love my routine and my daily schedule as much as any good Type A, first-born, basically only-child does. As I look back on this summer though, some of the best times were the spontaneous ones. My mama said to me the other day "oh Heather, just roll with it." To which I promptly replied "I did not plan on spontaneity today." [Did I end up following her advice? Yes. What she right all along? Oh, probably.]

As a proponent of less is more, I realize that there's no time like the present to stop yammering on endlessly. Now that I'm at the end the whole thing seems a bit scattered and chaotic. But "you know, Neitzsche says 'out of chaos comes order'". Here's hoping Blazing Saddles (and Neitzsche) is right.  

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Back By Popular Demand

Let's be honest - I'm not really back by popular demand, but my dear pal Angel suggested via a Facebook post the other day that I update the old blog. So I thought "might as well" and here I am. One of the things I've always loved about Angel is her way of making suggestions through encouragement. Kind of like that time during our sophomore year of college when she threatened to lock my make up in her dorm room if I didn't get up and get ready for class. That tactic didn't really carry much weight though because 82% of the time that I actually went to that class, I went in my jammies. And why would I want to waste perfectly good Cover Girl foundation on a stunning flannel plaid get up? [We now know that the brain doesn't fully develop until the age of 25. I blame lack of brain development on my unwise fashion choices during the early college years.] Anywho, enough about 1999, let's focus on the hear and now.

Ironically enough, I found myself at work one morning last week without a dab of foundation on my face [I've upgraded to Mary Kay - thank you, Anna], spotty eyeliner and pieces of the previous day's outfit. Why am I admitting this via the Al Gore information highway? Because I'm 92% confident that not many of you will make it through this entire ramble because we've grown accustomed to life updates in 140 characters or less. No big shocker that I'm terrible at the Twitter. The previous day's night out with a couple of my favorites totally warranted the 20-something antics in my 30-something world though so when it comes to shame, I've got none.

Since my last post in February, I have been quite busy. Those episodes of Arrested Development and Downton Abbey aren't going to watch themselves. Nor are all of those races going to run themselves. All those college students aren't going to admit and register themselves either, it seems. 

Oh - I did go to Vegas. Again. I know. It's an addiction but I'm still up in my overall winnings so I'll keep going back until I'm not. Clarification: when I say "overall winnings" I'm referring to that trip about 5 years ago when I randomly put a $20 in a slot machine, turned it into 2K and immediately retired from the sport of professional gambling. I'm happy to report this recent trip included a Boyz II Men concert which only proves it's never too late for your pre-teen wishes to come true. 

It was also in Vegas when a great friend asked me the question "when did you abandon your faith?" to which I promptly replied that I hadn't and one could still have a relationship with God without regular church attendance. Which is true, but y'all - unbeknown to me at the time, that question kind of rocked my little world in the days and weeks that followed. Frankly, it was a valid question and one that needed to be asked. I'm thankful that I have people to ask me the tough questions even if they have no idea at the time that it's a tough question. Please allow me to clarify a bit before my grandma gets wind of the fact that I might have abandoned my faith. Here lately, if someone were to ask me if I believe in God I would say without a doubt absolutely, I do. However, if someone were to ask me if I believe God as in "do you believe the promises that he makes to his kiddos?", my response would not be said with such confidence. I know the "right" answer in terms of what I'm supposed to say. But hello, hypocrite if I just repeat the Sunday school answer and don't actually believe it.

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch with another pal and over lunch I admitted that I believed God could and would do amazing incredible things in the lives of other people and I see it happen all the time, but my confidence that he would do something similar in mine was pretty low. [Um, I never ever ever intended to jump into this post this deep but it's been what's going on in my world so here we are.] Why do I feel that way? Because I haven't seen it yet. Yet. Entire books could be written or speeches given on the phrase "not yet" when in fact the simple explanation is that "not yet" is not synonmous with "never". But in this instant gratification, fast-paced, twitterific world we live in, I forget that truth more often than I remember it.

As I was driving home from work on the day Angel recommended an update I was thinking about how I had celebrated and begun another trip around the sun since my last post. I also thought about how my life looks nothing like I ever thought it would at this age, but for the first time in a long time I was totally ok with that. I realized that in reality we should never get to the point of feeling like we've completely arrived or have totally accomplished everything we have planned on by a certain stage of life because once we get to that state, what's the point of tomorrow or the next day? Have I mentioned before that I'm a slow and stubborn learner? Because I am. Still. It adds to my charm.

Truth is, we never know when we're finally going to find ourselves at that Boyz II Men concert, but suddenly one day we just might end up there long after that dream was forgotten. We should always be ready and prepared because what a travesty it would be to find ourselves in the audience or have to miss it all together because we didn't have the proper outfit for such an event. And who knows, Boyz II Men may not ever happen but in the long run that's a-ok too once we arrive only to realize NKOTB has taken the stage.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Designer Imposter.

Last week I went to San Antonio to present at a conference. Before I left town I was telling Mu about my presentation topic and apparently she didn't  hear me correctly because the conversation that followed went down something like this...

Mu: "Iced tea? You're going to Texas to talk about iced tea?"
HP: "No Mu...IT. Like working with Information Technology in university Admissions Offices."
Mu: "Well what do you know about that?"

Great question, Mu. Truthfully I'm probably better qualified to give an hour long presentation on both iced tea and Ice T, as in the one who loves Coco. I didn't pick the topic. Honestly I didn't want to give the presentation at all. I will chalk it up to one of those "other duties as assigned" they always tell us about but somewhere in the back of our naive thick skulls, we never really think they are serious. Until they are. True to form I waited until the eleventh and a half hour before I even started thinking about it. My phantom co-presenter from Oklahoma materialized literally the week before show time after I had written her off as any help back in, oh July, after countless attempts to make contact with her.

I got to San Antonio on Sunday, paid a cab fare equal to my entire retirement fund, checked into the conference and quickly discovered that 1. my job title and name of school were both wrong, 2. my middle name was included in everything so suddenly I appeared like one of those women who decided to start going by a double name once it became trendy in the 2000s to name babies double names, and 3. my session description wasn't included in the conference agenda. Fantastic. A handful of hours contemplating the subject matter and 2 hours of actual work down the drain because who in their right mind was going to show up to a session in which the topic was a complete and total mystery? Let's not even mention the 3 hours I had spent shopping for the perfect presentation outfit.

Tuesday morning finally rolled around way too early and much to my surprise the room was full. I should have been nervous about this fact because hello, you mention java and I think of coffee and you speak of code and I think of either Morse or DaVinci. Had I learned 5 minutes into the presentation what I did 55 minutes into the presentation (that 3 staff members from UT Austin's IT department were in the audience) I would have been mortified and stumbled over every other word. Mortification actually set in approximately 5 minutes after the presentation was over when I checked a mirror and discovered part of a blueberry from breakfast holding on for dear life in my teeth.

As my "reward" for a job well done, I ventured over to the local Target at The Rim afterwards. Confession: I was looking for Big Mama. Sans blueberry tooth and with a fresh coat of lipstick and cute outfit, I set out on my way. Sure, this sounds absolutely stalkerish to the Nth degree. What would I have said had I actually spotted this woman simply going about her business of buying Method hand soap and Merona clothing? Probably something as brilliant and eloquent as Baby did when she mumbled "I carried a watermelon" upon coming face to face with Johnny at the staff party at Kellerman's.

I discovered the Big Mama blog around 2009ish when I started loosely calling myself a blogger. Her blog makes me laugh on a regular basis. I think the reason why she's so good at what she does is because she shares parts of her own story that her readers can identify with whether it be her role as a mother, wife, friend or combination of all three. When I read last year that she was writing a book, I determined that I had to have my own copy. When it became available for pre-order back in December, I hopped over to the book page for "Sparkly Green Earrings" and was admittedly a little deflated. What business did I have pre-ordering a book about motherhood when I haven't even managed to meet my babies' daddy yet? So instead I pre-ordered a copy for a dear sweet friend who is about to embark upon on her own adventure in mommyland.

Fast forward to my Tuesday outing. You see, Melanie lives in San Antonio. It wasn't that I just got in my mind that she might by some weird  twist of fate be strolling the aisles of a Target that I happened to be close to. I have no way of knowing if it's actually the Target that's an extra 7 stoplights away that she references in her blog on a regular basis but what do we have if we don't have hope? Besides I needed some cash and I refused to pay the extra fees at the hotel ATM so it wasn't like it was a completely wasted trip. I bought my very own copy of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking and got my $40 pesos in cash back. Let's just consider the chances of me actually saying something to Big Mama had I actually spotted her in Target given the book I was buying. Slim to none and slim left town. Then I realized I was close to a LifeWay bookstore so I meandered over to that part of the shopping center because while her book wasn't officially released until the 8th, I had read on her blog that it was out in some stores. Did I mention it was 76 degrees and sunny during this meandering? In February. At 11:45 a.m. I might have been pouring buckets of sweat by the time my walk finally ended at my lunch destination. So I walked into LifeWay, scouted the aisles and lo and behold, there it was:

I was too close now not to buy my own copy. Besides, it wasn't like the clerk was going to ask to see a photo of my children as evidence that I was qualified to make the purchase. I started reading it on the plane on my way back to Atlanta. Fortunately the  middle seat was empty in my row, but I knew that my row mate wouldn't be too judgmental if she looked over at any point to see me either laughing or my eyes welling up with tears. She was engaged in an intense Farmville-type activity on her iPad when I boarded the plane and she was reading "The Five Love Languages". Nothing screams loving person like a person who reads about the love languages and cares for the well-being of animated pigs in a virtual farm, right? I wouldn't know since I've never actually read the book nor fallen into the Farmville trap, but I was certain she would know to give me some words of affirmation had my tears become noticeable.

The truth is, there were times on that flight home when the stories she had written made me both laugh and cry. Through her book I was reminded that God uses different events in our lives to continuously shape us into the people he created us to be. Whether it be motherhood forever or moving back into your own mother's home for a stint. [Maybe my book will be about that.] Yes, she is a mother, and no, I am not. But we are both children of God. Her story speaks of grace and redemption of a loving God and sacrifice and surrender to a plan that is far greater than any plan we can fabricate even in our most vivid imaginations or wildest dreams. At this particular point in my own story I really needed to be reminded of this. I'm thankful that the God who loves me beyond measure speaks truth in a much louder voice than the Enemy who works so hard to convince me that I'm a designer imposter [Do y'all remember that line of perfume that was sold at KMart in the 80s?] who has no business giving presentations on things that are IT in nature when I don't have a degree in something brilliant or reading books about motherhood when I'm only responsible for making my own peanut butter and honey sandwich for lunch each day.

 Yesterday I had to take Micah to karate and I saw this on the mirror in the waiting area:
[Yes, I still love my fancy camera.] This is a verse from Nehemiah (6:3, actually). What a great response the next time the devil himself tries to convince me otherwise. While my current work may not be exactly - or anything - like I always imagined it to be, clearly it's a work that I've been created to do for now.
Time to make the donuts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A little of this. A little of that. A lot of nothing.

Hello, and Happy New Year! I realize that wishing you three readers a happy new year this late in January is so yesterday's news, but it's been a sweet forever since I've blogged. It's been a busy month and let's be honest, I haven't had anything of worth and value to contribute to the blogosphere. In fact there's a 99.2%  chance you're going to find yourself at the conclusion of today's post and wonder to yourself what the point of all that rambling was. Spoiler Alert: There's not one. Unless you just chalk it up to my standard HP [high procrastination] behavior. You see, I'm presenting at a conference in Texas next week on a topic that I know absolutely nothing about. When my knowledge of "speaking IT as an admissions professional" is completely exhausted 90 seconds into the hour long session, I plan to start discussing Downton Abbey.

Look. I get it. I am 2.5 seasons late to the Downton Abbey lovefest, but I made it and that's what matters. I'm only 5 episodes into season 2 so for the love of Matthew Crawley, puh-lease stop lamenting via Facebook about how horrific this most recent episode was. And if he died or something, don't tell me. On a related note, the new season of Dallas premiered last night, and yes, I love it too. It's three parts hilarious and maybe one part horrifying that I associate Dallas with my childhood. My kids are going to think I'm the lamest mom ever when I don't let them watch primetime dramas. They can just go over to their grandma's house to see who shot JR, I suppose. Larry Hagman's eyebrows were there in all of their glory. Now that they've gone on to Glory, I'm a little interested in how he's going to be written out of it.

I promise I haven't been spending all my free time watching television. I've been busy getting full nights of sleep too. The week it rained and rained and then rained some more, I managed to sleep between 8 and 9 hours every night. That's a sleeping record for me. It was delightful. Clearly it was since I'm devoting precious bandwidth to the topic.

Perhaps it's the extra shut eye that enabled me to finally empty my work inbox last week. Not going to lie, it was one of my prouder moments. Now if I would ever take the time to do something  with the 1375 unread emails in my yahoo account, I would be in business. Maybe I'll just get a new personal email account. Seems easier.

In other news that really isn't news at all, I'm looking for a good 10k to run and live show to see in February. Anyone have any suggestions for either? I didn't make any resolutions for 2013, but I did set the goal to run at least one race and see at least one live show a month throughout the entire year. I did the Hot Chocolate 5k with pal Angie a couple of weeks ago [Have I mentioned that I am incredibly out of shape? Because I am. I'm sure it has nothing to do with Downton Abbey, holiday baking, or copious amounts of rain.] And tomorrow Mag and I are headed to Athens to see Willie. I'm so excited. I just can't hide it.

Oh did I mention what else I've been doing this month? Getting used to a new job. Sure, I've been technically doing this job full-time since November but in  January is when the consolidation became official and I shifted my focus on what I'm supposed to be doing here instead of the same stuff that I've been doing for the last few years.  I've been up to my eyeballs in Excel spreadsheets [which I love more than Dallas and Downton Abbey - this should come as no surprise coming from the girl who still wears her 6th grade academic bowl team t-shirt on occasion] I'm really excited about my job because it's a chance for something new in a place that's still familiar. I realized the other day when I was running that I've been connected to what is now University of North Georgia since 1997. I've learned more from this place than I ever imagined possible. Maybe I'll talk more about that another day but probably not.

If you've managed to make it all the way to the end of this, congratulations. Here is your reward. Watch it. It will make your soul happy. I can't get it to embed correctly so just follow the link from here: