Thursday, January 26, 2017

Looks Like You're Gonna Make It After All

As I was eating dinner tonight, a special about Mary Tyler Moore came on.  Not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden I found myself crying.  Then an image of Carrie Fisher pops into my head and I cried some more.  I paused to think about the legacy of both of these women and you guessed it, I cried a bit more. 

I was five when I first met Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia on the silver screen. In fact, Star Wars was my first movie I saw in the theater and I loved it!  I'm not sure why I connected with it, but to this day it remains one of my favorite movies.  Yes, Leia was "sass underpinned by pure steel" but what did that really mean to a little girl from the 'burbs?  Over the years, Carrie proved to be an honest, open person who faced her struggles head on.  And the characters she played were just as tough and just as funny. Remember Marie from When Harry Met Sally?  

I'm fairly certain my memories of The Mary Tyler Moore Show are all from reruns.  It aired on Saturday nights, from 1970-1977, so I can say with certain confidence I wasn't watching it then. Even when I watched it in reruns, I was still a kid, so how much did I really get and understand?

As I watched Princess Leia and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, I didn't have all these grand thoughts of what I could do with my life or the things I wanted to accomplish.  I don't know that I can pinpoint any monumental decision in my life to either of these icons.  So why the tears?  As I've read about both of these women and watched specials on their lives, I've had a realization.  How often are we living in a moment, not truly understanding the impact it has (or will have) on our lives?  How often have we read a book, watched a movie, or had a conversation that leads us down a certain path without us realizing it?  Perhaps there has been so much change and progress since that particular moment in time, but because we live through it (sometimes easily), that we don't understand the true impact of a person or event until years later.  Sometimes there are so many little forces that by themselves don't make a difference, but collectively, they have the power to influence a generation. Or what is happening behind the scenes that we don't see that has such an impact? Watching this special, there was a reference to the number of female writers on The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  One third of the writers were female, unprecedented for a sitcom at the time.  It was important to Mary, because the show was about a strong, single successful woman - how meaningful would a man's contribution be to this script?  One of the major influences these women writers had? Making sure Mary and Lou did not end up together, which confirmed the crazy thought that you could be a single successful female without having to depend on a man for happiness. 

Then I think about a specific part of Hillary Clinton's concession speech - 

"and to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams."

How powerful is that message?  Whether you voted for her or not, the message that her candidacy and these 35 words sent was impactful to people all over the globe, especially young girls.

Some final thoughts . . . 
While Mary Richards was a feminist, Mary Tyler Moore often said she didn't consider herself one. Carrie Fisher, most definitely a feminist, was able to turn her infamous bikini costume into a point of pride.  (Read this article if you're a bit intrigued.)   I don't know if they would agree with me or not, but I feel like both of these women, and even the characters they portrayed, left behind a legacy we may not know the full extent of at this point.  Maya Angelou once told Oprah Winfrey, 

"You have no idea what your legacy will be. Your legacy is what you do everyday. Your legacy is every life you’ve touched, every person whose life was either moved or not. It’s every person you’ve harmed or helped, that’s your legacy.’ I don’t think about it. I just try to live it."

My question to you is, what do you do everyday to impact a life?  And can you impact the people around you for the good?  How will you be  remembered?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekly Blessings

One of the things I've resolved to do better this year is to really reflect on what happens in my life and to find the blessings in everything I do.

One of my greatest blessings is my family.  Not just my immediate family, but my extended family. Every year my dad's side of the family gets together for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.  It's actually pretty amazing.  Nearly every year, the vast majority of us are able to come together for food, fellowship, and usually football.  There are four generations of us!  At Thanksgiving, there were 29 of us; this past Saturday, I think we had 20.  I mean, really, how cool is that?  We all contribute to the meal of the day, which is usually the traditional holiday meal: turkey, dressing, potatoes, pecan pie . . . the whole spiel!  For Christmas though, we did something really fun!  Heavy appetizers (and desserts, of course).  Such a great, stress-free idea!

While the food is important, what's really important is the time we spend together and the connections we have.  And the day is always great.  We're very low key, and we spend a lot of the day just catching up and talking about life.  So thankful and so blessed to have the family, near and far, that I have.

What blessings have you experienced this week?

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Wow!  I can't believe it's been 4 years since I've posted something for this blog. Because that also means it's been 4 years since I flew to Ethiopia with my sister-in-law for a court appearance in the adoption of two of my nephews. That just boggles my mind - so much has happened in the last four years.

I actually have a few other blogs going, so I guess it's time to ask the question, what is this blog really about and do I keep it going?  Currently I have Burger Babes and Brunchilicious which are really have really specific content - burgers and brunch!  Professionally, I also have Gifted Texan Girl. Admittedly, I'm not that good at maintaining any of them.  I mean, two of them are contingent upon my eating habits so there's that.  I know serious bloggers have schedules and such, including it in their planners and calendars.  I"m not sure I'm that committed, but maybe I do a need a little structure.

Who of my friends is out there blogging their little hearts out?  Do you have a specific focus?  Or is it more of whatever happens to be on your mind at the time?  Share your thoughts with me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shopping in Addis

I wish everyone could experience shopping in Addis. It's quite the experience.  Just down the street from the guest house, and really all over the city, are little shops filled to capacity with items from the States; still not able to determine the decade on some of those items.  

Imagine the smallest apartment you've ever lived in. For many of us that's going to be in college, or the first apartment you had out of college. Now imagine something smaller. In fact, think about that dorm room you may have lived in. For me, it was the 4th floor of Jester West. Room enough for two twin beds, two dressers, two desks and a little bit of floor space. Do you have a picture in your head? I would say that's a pretty decent comparison to many of the storefronts here in Addis. And that's being generous. Clothes are stuffed on shelves and hanging from every possible area. There's barely space to turn around, yet it appears to be very organized.  That's where Shanna and I found ourselves after a fruitless visit to the airport on the quest to locate our luggage.  Armed with enough birr to get clothes and toiletries to get us through tomorrow, we stopped at a women's clothing store. It was the first one we saw that didn't specialize in hootchie clothing. As I told the other family at the guest house, I didn't wear clothes like that back in college when I could get away with it. Pretty sure I'm not going to start in my forties to visit orphans. Highly inappropriate.  Fortunately, there was a shop with jeans and t-shirts nearby.  Unfortunately, sizing is different here and there was no way to avoid trying the clothes on. The dressing room is about half the size of a bathtub. That my friends, was fun.  I think what I enjoyed most was the fact that the sales guy tried to sell Shanna and me the same shirt, (Twinkies, anyone?) which by the way came from Ross. Yes, that Ross.  That's not even the best part. The tag was still on it and it was priced at $17.99.  What you need to know is that he tried to sell it for 400 birr, which translates to roughly $25. Does anyone else see a problem with that math?

We were excited to find Dove products so we can get really and truly clean. Our body wash even came with a loofah. Woo Hoo!!! 

I'll try and get some picture of the stores tomorrow so you can get a true idea. Hopefully I won't have to return for more clothes, just pictures.  I will leave you with this incredibly honest, somewhat embarrassing thought. But, I think it will make you giggle and hopefully also make us all a bit more appreciative for what we do have.  There is nothing more awkward than having to buy undergarments from a man on the streets of Addis.

Back in Ethiopia

It's my second trip to Ethiopia and it's still an experience that is hard to describe.  And our trip has been anything but easy. This time we took a different route and a different airline. I must say I did like the new route better than the first one. The first time we flew straight from Houston to Dubai. Yowza! That's a long flight. This time we flew Houston to Amsterdam to Ethiopia, with refueling in the Sudan. We were about 90 minutes late leaving Houston which obviously drastically cut down our layover time. In fact we deboarded and got in the security line for our second flight as they were starting to board. It was at that point that our luggage didn't make it on the plane with us. Now, I know what you're thinking. The airline just didn't have time to get the bags on the new plane. And yes, I would normally agree with you. But, we did get one of our four bags. Another adopting family from Houston got two of their many bags and boxes. And everyone else on that Houston to Addis flight got their luggage. Still trying to figure out what the airline's excuse is.

After we were told the bags would be put on the next possible plane (Amsterdam to Addis via Nairobi), we decided to muster through Monday the best we could.  By 4:00, we still hadn't heard from anyone, so we went to the airport. No luggage! And no clue where it is. We finally found someone who could help us (somewhat). We think the bags left Amsterdam and made it to Nairobi, but there they stayed. Now we're waiting for an early morning call that says our bags have arrived.

The airline did give us cash and we have enough provisions for tomorrow. We're thinking positive, people.  Hopefully we won't need to shop for more clothes.  More about our provisions later...that's a whole blog entry unto itself.

Anyway, when I first started thinking about today's blog entry, I was thinking about the things I am thankful for. After all, we did just celebrate Thanksgiving so the timing is right.
My original list of thanks -

  • Packing an extra set of clothes and deodorant in my carry-on.
  • Other adoptive families willing to share their shampoo and conditioner.
  • Hot water
  • My sister-in-law who happens to think I look presentable in public with just a ponytail and no make-up

While these things are a part of my world and it is frustrating as all get out that I don't have my things to make my life easier, driving around Addis today and spending time with the kids at the transitional home does put things in perspective. Am I ticked? Yes! Was I a bit stinky before asking the other family here for some toiletries? Absolutely! Am I worried that the care packages we brought won't get here in time to share with these precious kids? You betcha! But come this weekend, I will be back home with all the things I need and many more things I don't need. Life will resume for me. And unfortunately the absolute extreme poverty and the overwhelming number of orphans across Ethiopia (and the world) will also continue.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's That Time of Year

It is that time of year where we get together with friends and family, some of whom we don't see but a few times a year. It's also the time of year that many of us reflect on the previous twelve months and think about the upcoming year. We think about personal, spiritual, and professional goals, as well as big events that are in the near future(I turn 40 in just a couple of months!)I don't always write my goals down, but I always have them in mind. Of course, I have the typical resolutions: lose weight, be healthy, save better, spend less, etc. But after tonight, I'm adding another to my list and I encourage everyone else to think about doing the same. I think the most important thing we can all do is spend time with those we love. In a time of Facebook, Pinterest, Words with Friends, and countless other time wasters, it's easy to fill up what free time we have with things that really aren't that important. It's true social media and gaming do have their places, but it's friends and family, old and new that should receive our undivided attention.

Tonight, I attended the viewing of a dear, old family friend, Bob. And when I say old, I mean he and his family lived in the house behind ours when my parents moved to Farmers Branch in 1971. Both he and his wife, Barbara were like second parents to me and my brothers. Their kids babysit us when we were little. And even when they moved to a different neighborhood a few years later, Bob and Barbara remained a constant part of our lives. We attended the same church, they played bridge with my parents, and they were always there for us when we needed them. Even after my parents moved to Tyler when I was in college, I always had a place to lay my head when I came back to town.

Over the course of time, as it happens to most of us, we simply lost touch. The annual Christmas card was sent and we might see each other at occasional events, but it just got harder and harder to "find the time" (Really? Have you seen the amount of time I spend on Facebook and Pinterest?). The last time I saw Bob & Barbara was three years ago as they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. (Yes, you read that correctly...53 years of marriage after dating only one week.) So to receive that call on Christmas Eve was a bit jarring. And after attending the viewing tonight (Bob's 80th birthday, btw) and seeing so many important people from my childhood, it's reminded me that I need to be smarter with my time. When I have five extra minutes, instead of playing WWF, why not pick up the phone and call a long lost friend? Even better, I need to be intentional and proactive about my time. So, my New Year's resolution this year, is to carve out time to spend time with those who are dear to me. It might be a Sunday afternoon visit, or a 30 minute phone call. I might be a little old fashioned and write a letter. No matter how it occurs, my goal is to spend time with the people who are important to me.

Our time here is limited. Perhaps we should use it a bit more wisely.

Happy 2012!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


This week I had the opportunity to travel to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with my brother, David, and sister-in-law, Shanna. They were at the end of their eighteen month long journey. They finally had a date at the U.S. Embassy that would finalize the adoption of Musse. Musse is a little over 2 years old, although he's about the size of a one-year old, and he is the cutest little thing. He has a gorgeous smile that lights up a room and eyes that dance with laughter. And his laugh! What a beautiful, infectious giggle he has. Musse is also the master of facial expressions; the best is when he rolls his eyes and smiles a very sly grin.

We arrived at the transition home where Musse had lived for the last 10 months to pick him up and bring him back to the guest house with us. It was so beautiful to see how naturally he went to Shanna and David. He had last seen them at the end of May and it was now August, but it was just like he had see them just the day before. And in the four days he's been with us, that bond has already grown exponentially. He walks to them with his arms open wide and grins when they pick him up. When he cries, a hug and simple words calm him down. Despite his limited vocabulary, his eyes and his smile have communicated so much to us. Words can't really express how awesome it is to see the three of them together. It's hard to believe it's only been a few days. And I can't wait to see Kyle (my other precious nephew) and Musse together. Kyle has such a good heart and he has been waiting for a little brother for so long; I am excited to see their relationship grow.

Families who adopt are the ultimate rock stars, in my opinion. It is a long, frustrating, and often heartbreaking process. But despite that, thousands of families adopt children into their families every year. And the process, however painful it might be, yields rewards that are immeasurable. It is a game of waiting - waiting for the referral, for court & embassy dates, and for answers. And it is during the waiting that families grow stronger, closer, and even more faithful.

Many times you may hear people (often strangers) comment on how lucky an adopted child is. And to a degree, that statement has some validity to it. Adoption does afford a child the opportunity he or she might not have had otherwise. There are millions of kids out there who have been orphaned; the reasons are numerous and not even that important. What is important is that these children deserve the opportunity to live a life of happiness without fear of hunger, disease, abuse, or neglect. But a greater than a child's "luck" are the blessings the adoptive family feels. When I think back to the conversations and the tears of joy and frustration over the past 18 months, it's no wonder that families grow closer. As I sit here and think about what to write next, I feel overwhelmed for my blessings are too many to count.

Mostly, though, I think adoption is about love, hope, faith, and doing what is right.