Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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And That Makes 101

birthday, harry potter birthday, twins, one year blog I’ll say it again: The most interesting fact about myself, Melinda aka Lou, is that I share a birthday not only with my twin sister Meredith, but Harry Potter as well.

Because of this, July 31st just might be the coolest birthday ever. Just saying…. (cause what is cooler than HP?)

Also, being a twin is the coolest thing ever.

twin, birthday, harry potter, marriage, year, changes

 

Just like these pictures, I think the world looks better when Meredith and I are together. The first picture is great, but doesn’t the second one have just a touch more personality? (or a lot?) I have loved sharing every birthday with my best friend. I feel blessed beyond belief that I have had someone by my side for every day of my life… experiencing a lot of the same things… being my number one no matter what. It really hit me, just how much I depend on Meredith, when I was at my own bridal shower and basically felt like I was having a panic attack. The reason? It was the first time I had ever opened presents by myself. DO YOU REALIZE HOW SCARY THAT IS? When you’ve only ever had someone, usually opening a slightly matching gift, right beside you? Everyone’s eyes were on me, not us. It was weird.

But you know what? I’d rather have her beside me. It’s just a cherry on top of a great huge gluten free cake that my husband, Greg, and Meredith get along so well. I get to hang out with my two favorite people almost every day.

So, Happy Birthday to us. Happy Birthday Harry Potter. Love you all!

Today also marks one year for Hey Lou Writes. On my 23rd birthday I wanted to start something, but I wasn’t quite sure what. I wanted to write about writing, reading, and maybe share some tid bits about my life. (My VERY first post.)

One year flew by. Now I’m 24 and I’m a completely different person. I’d say that never before has one year changed me so much. Not even when I graduated from high school. Not even when I got married. Not even when I started writing. No, this year surpassed all of that as far as changes and growth. I feel as though the core of who I am was altered by people I met and things I experienced. I wasn’t expecting my 23rd year to be so …. important. But it was.

I…

lost more than I ever thought possible. 

gained more than I ever thought possible. 

made the biggest mistakes of my life.

was humbled. 

forgave and let myself be forgiven.

crossed something off my bucket list and became a chicken mama. 

had my marriage grow stronger… I thought I knew what love was… but now I know for sure.  (aka, I have the best husband in the world)

lost friends.

met new people who will be in my life forever. 

sang in front of people for the first time. 

got my biggest rejection letter EVER.

cut off my hair.

planted a garden, both vegetable and flower, and they are both providing us with beauty and nourishment. 

watched more sunsets and sunrises than ever before. 

cried.

laughed.

prayed.

spent time with my sisters.

watched my mom beat breast cancer.

realized that to live a life filled with true love, one ought not to be so selfish.

wrote 101 blogs. oh yeah, baby. 

There you have it. It was quite a  year and honestly, I’m not sorry to be moving forward. I think 24 will be a better year. Maybe not quite so eventful, but filled with growth all the same.

birthday, harry potter, twinsLove, Lou

 

 

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Poems, Laughter and {not} Swooning

Blog Every Day In May Challenge

 

{Today’s blog is going to be short and sweet after yesterday’s rant ;) }

Day 23, Thursday: Things you’ve learned that school won’t teach you

I’ve learned that poems don’t have to rhyme and boys don’t have to act macho in order to be strong. 

Case in point:

poetry, love, writing, fiction

PROOF that we do, for real, call each other Lou

Just in case you can’t read this, it says:

To my dearest sweet Lou,

How I love thee

You ARE my best friend

How I love sleeping in a twin bed

You ARE so warm and cuddly

I surely never want to leave

I love you so so so

You ARE the best Lou

Anyone can ever ask for

Enjoy your morning, love you so!

Lou!

*Yes, we do actually sleep in a twin bed. We’re cuddlers!*

Greg isn’t a super romancy guy. We never even went on a first date until after we were engaged. I can count with a peace sign how many times he’s gotten me flowers (um, that was my clever way of saying it’s happened maybe twice) and he would rather make me laugh than make me swoon.

I LOVE IT.

This poem is great for so many reasons. It doesn’t rhyme. He only left it for me to make me laugh. I used to have a saying that if any guy I once dated either got me a cheesy gift OR wrote me a poem/song, I would probably end the relationship. I guess I just can’t appreciate that stuff the way a girl should. There was one poem someone wrote me in high school that was so awful, I (naturally) told Greg about it as soon as we began to date. He’s been coming up with terrible poetry ever since.

Not that this was a bad one, but it did make me laugh when I woke up and saw it sitting next to my coffee mug.

Another thing I’ve learned that school never taught me:

Laughter trumps everything. 

poetry, funny, writing, laughter

give him a piggy back ride

writing, fiction, love

make pretty faces so he loves you

love, laughter, writing

no pda in this pool. just laughter

 

What have you learned that school never taught you?

<3 Lou


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Fare Thee Well

Blog Everyday In May Challenge

Day 13, Monday: Issue a public apology. This can be as funny or as serious or as creative as you want it to be.

This has actually been quite a year for apologies. I’ve let go of a few grudges once I realized that they were only hurting me, weighing me down, and making my life a little more difficult. I’ve really had to swallow my pride and apologize for the way I’ve wronged people. Life happens, but I don’t think that’s any excuse. I feel so much better now that I’ve 1) admitted what I did wrong and 2) said sorry, and truly meant it. So it goes, I’ll probably never have to stop apologizing and bringing things back around. That’s a constant cycle. But I do think that we can always learn to treat people better and to forgive people, too. 

I’m constantly reminded of Wildewood’s lyrics in their song Several Things: 

…If I said I was better for the paths I have trod on

Would that justify 

All that I have done?

 

…And the thought of infinitely paying the price

For the selfish way that I have laid down my dice

It terrifies me to no end

With several things I have never said 

 

I am constantly asking myself this question. 

Well, that experience really made me who I am.

I had to go through it, even if it was all caused by me.

Well, it’s what I wanted at the time. 

No. Those excuses are merely that… excuses. Therefore, this blog today, won’t be a specific public apology, because many of those are too personal and hey, you’d be proud, I’m dealing with those things person to person! yay. 

I will close out today with a new poem. As always, thanks for stopping by Hey Lou. 

Fare Thee Well

I will see it someday

The shooting star promised

Or I could

The potential is there even if it doesn’t happen

In this life

 

I will never

So many things

This, too, could happen

But I do every time I rest and breath in and remember

Where people (I) think it’s just black

 

Unexpected

 

the gray area

the light

the only thing

not here

 

I wish

I wish my

I wish my name was

No, never mind

 

And I still

Have never seen a shooting star

Not once

 

So I say

Fare thee well

And I realize, after all of that

I have roots

Right here

 

100 I’m gonna change my minds

That time

Wasted

 

I will take these old shoes to get where

I am meant to be

I have a Grey area right here

That is better

That is Real

 

And I don’t need shooting stars

 

Love, Lou

(and I’m sorry!)


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2+2=4 {Not Just A Math Equation}

Update: WE HAVE BEEN BUILDING OUR CHICKEN COOP ALL DAY!!!!

but you can’t say I’ve missed day 4 of the challenge… it’s not midnight yet! The challenge continues…

Day 4, Saturday: Favorite quote (from a person, from a book, etc) and why you love it

First off- The Runner Ups:

You are what what you eat eats. -Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. -Ray Bradbury

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good. -John Steinbeck, East of Eden

I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy. Holden in Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger

All right, then, I’ll go to hell. – Huck Finn in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

(Pat yourself on the back if you can tell WHY those are quotes I think of each day.)

Drum roll please… my favorite quote of all time is this:

Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. -Winston in 1984, George Orwell

Have you read this book? If not, you should. I think it’s the most imperative read out there.

I’ll tell you why.

We are living in a day and age when media and advertisements rule all. One story in the news will disappear while another shows up out of the blue, telling us something completely different. It’s confusing.

One example:

Drink milk- we all need our calcium. What those ads don’t tell you is that drinking milk is one of the worst ways to get calcium into your body. In fact, calcium is actually stripped away in order to process the milk. Dr. Frank Sabatino, PhD (as quoted in Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran) says, “Bone health is not dependent on the calcium you take in, but on the calcium you keep in. Calcium, in its charged state, can be used to alkalinize the body by buffering or neutralizing acidity. As the body becomes more acidic from a diet high in animal protein, it will pull calcium out of the bones to neutralize the negative effects of acidity and inflammation.” Also: Scandinavia and the USA have the highest rates of hip fracture. And the highest dairy intake. (the good news- we can get our calcium where the cow got hers, through greens. one cup of collard greens has more mg of calcium than a cup of milk)

I won’t even get into the more depressing “facts” floating around. There are too many.

If you read 1984, you will see that Winston is conflicted. His job is to take yesterday’s news, make it disappear, and replace it with today’s news. He sees the error in this because the news stories are always opposites.

“We are at war with Eurasia” one day.

“We were never at war with Eruasia, we are now at war with Eastasia” the next.

Winston knows that they were at war with Eurasia. He remembers it. But that is not the way he is supposed to think.

War is peace.

Freedom is Slavery.

Ignorance is Strength.

That’s what Winston is supposed to believe. But guess what? He doesn’t. He knows that as long as he is aware of the Truth, he will be free. He can pretend to agree with the government. He can go with the flow of the crowd. As long as he can think the Truth.

When Winston is faced with the toughest, challenging moment of his life, here’s what he’s told:

‘How can I help it?’ [Winston] blubbered. ‘How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.’

‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’

Do you think it’s enough? To know the truth and hold onto it no matter what? Do you think that if you were in jail for years and years, but you still had your own freedom of thought and knowledge, that you would in some way, actually feel free? I honestly don’t know if I’m that strong. It’s scary to think about. All I know is that I will take Ray Bradbury’s advice and never stop reading. We can’t stop reading, ever.

We need to believe what Winston believed. We can’t let anything take that away from us. (Um, I won’t spoil the ending, but just know, your life will never be the same after reading 1984.)

If I ever get a tattoo, it will say: two and two make four.

Because freedom truly is the ability to say something real, even when the government (or any “higher power”) tries to tell you otherwise.

2+2=4.

It’s true.

What idea or quote do you hold onto as a way of living life?

<3 Lou


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Lou’s Really Good At…

Here it is!! Day 2 of the challenge- to write a blog every single day of May. Uff-da!

Day 2, Thursday: Educate us on something you know a lot about or are good at. Take any approach you’d like (serious and educational or funny and sarcastic)

First off, let me tell you all a few things I am NOT so good at. I’ve tried and failed at so much, the list is hard to compile.

Being super fashionable. I just don’t do fashion. I mean, I think I pull off a great outfit every once in a while, but that’s largely thanks to Pinterest and the example of others. In high school my friends constantly teased me for my lack of ability to match. My shoes NEVER matched my outfit. I only have one purse. One. Not one for each outfit. I wear the same thing two days in a row. I could never do a fashion blog.

Arguing about politics. I know what I like, what I don’t like, what I want to support and what makes me want to cry. What I am bad at is arguing for these things, purely with political stats and facts. I am horrible at remembering which article x info came from, or which (scuzzy) politician said what (scuzzy) thing and the date it was said on, or what happened 20 years ago that directly impacts such and such decision. I get all shaky and my heart starts to pound when people have in depth political debates in my presence. I have a new approach- never get into a political discussion, at least with anyone who I know will raise their voice. It won’t end well.

Being completely organized and/or neat. This will never be a “how to organize your life” blog. I am kind of a run with it, figure it out as you go along, probably lose an important piece of paper kind of gal. I simply cannot change. There will always be piles of paper in my home. I’ve tried to write down all of my random thoughts in one concise place, like a small notebook, but I never stick to it. I try to keep a tidy kitchen 24/7, but sometimes reading a book is way more important than washing a dish. I am who I am. I’ll say it again: I cannot change.

That being said, there is something I am good at. I have said enough about writing and reading by this point, so I will shift gears today.

I am good at sticking to a healthy diet and keeping a gluten-free, semi-vegetarian home.

Here’s my story:

Suddenly, out of nowhere, when I was a senior in high school, I developed acne. Yes, acne. It was awful. The acne formed mostly around my jawline, mouth and cheekbones. I cried myself to sleep, cried in the morning getting ready for school (I remember one devastating morning, when the makeup just wouldn’t cover up the purple/red I had going on, and I broke down in my parent’s bathroom. They didn’t know what to do) and went to the bathroom between every single class, fixing whatever I thought needed fixing… by adding more makeup. I went to a dermatologist, who gave me THREE chemical peels, an antibiotic to take 2x a day, and a face cream: Retin A. The results? I constantly felt like my face was peeling off and to the annoyance of my twin, Meredith, asked her at least ten times a day, “Does it look like my skin is peeling?” My skin was bright red all the time. I still had pimples. I still cried a lot. I remember dreaming that I woke up with smooth skin. It was really a nightmare and I woke up… never to forget that dream. (there are zero pictures to show… I shied away from the camera. I didn’t want my face documented)

There are a two factors I believe contributed to my dilemma:

partially: High stress (isn’t high school always this way? but it was a particularly bad year, mean girl-wise)

but mostly: DIET  (with the new found freedom I had in going to class later a few times a week [flex schedule, being a senior] plus driving myself there, I was for some reason possessed enough to find myself going to McDonald’s on my way to school. Can I even believe that I ever did such a thing? Barely. But I did. It was truly weeks into eating McDonald’s ~2 times a week that I started having acne. Growing up we never ate fast food. It was rare, and every time I did eat it, it made me sick [surprise, surprise].)

I didn’t see the connection between diet and skin. I just didn’t. Dermatologists don’t say, “Hey, you should really try changing your overall diet.” No. They say, “Here, let me prescribe x, and x, and x.”

I’ve said before that I love the word CAHOOTS. Well, I think dermatologists (and most western health care professionals) are in CAHOOTS with the drug companies. ***NOT ALL. There are some who I think truly care, truly believe they are doing the right thing, and only want to help.*** But there is an overwhelming majority who, I believe, are influenced by $ and $ alone. If people simply changed their diets, what would the drug companies do? Go out of business, that’s what. 

Anyway!

It took years, YEARS, for me to discover a new way of eating and living. My mother-in-law has celiac. It’s absolutely no joke. She survived cancer, caused by eating gluten when “gluten free” was a term used by no one. It’s almost funny now, because one can hardly have a symptom of sickness without her asking, “Well, do you think you might have celiac?” But I think she may be on to something. She suggested I try going gluten free to try and fix my skin problem. I didn’t really think it would help.

But then I tried it.

I started eating a gluten free diet about two years ago. My skin improved dramatically. Whenever I would “cheat” and eat gluten, guess what? A pimple would pop up, pretty much the next day. I began to see a direct correlation. So I stopped cheating. I have been eating 100% gluten free for a year and a half now. My skin has improved. During that time I also started taking my antibiotic once a day, rather than twice… and eventually stopped taking it altogether. I didn’t want to depend on something like that. I stopped applying the Retin A. I stopped seeing a dermatologist.

Want to know something kind of sad? The first 5 years of my relationship with Greg, he never once touched my face. Because I was obsessive compulsive about anything touching my face. I didn’t touch it, I changed my pillow case every night, and heaven forbid Greg touch my cheek. I wouldn’t let him. How sad is that?

I’m proud to say that now, I don’t have to worry about anything touching my face. I once said, “I want to use make up as an enhancer, not a cover up.” Now I do. I wake up, wash my face, and I sometimes put on make up, sometimes go without it. I no longer buy or use pimple cream. I stopped with those harsh cleansers… the ones claiming to be “acne fighting” and make up containing salicylic acid. None of those things helped. They only make things worse.

Now I use natural skin care products. I mostly buy MyChelle brand items, use 100% Argon oil, and a light fruit enzyme mist. That’s it!!! It’s cheaper and easier, let me tell you… than relying on prescriptions galore and all kinds of horrible make up.

My skin has never been better. And it wasn’t just the gluten free. Cutting gluten out of my diet helped, but it didn’t solve every single problem. I still had a little bit of red, my scars still needed to fade, and I’d wake up every once in a while with a blemish.

There was one more step on my road to clear skin. And I thank God every single day for what I’ve learned.

I began to eat organic. I started eating greens every single day. I stopped eating meat every day. 

Which inevitably led to educating myself on the food system in general. It’s outrageous, if you do your research. I started with Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma. Then I read The Food Revolution by John Robbins. Next was Main Street Vegan by Victoria Moran. The list goes on, but the knowledge gained goes on forever. I began to see the connection between big companies… whether they’re GMO seed companies, like Monsanto, or big animal torturing meat companies, like Tyson, they’re all contributing to the unhealthy distribution of food. No WONDER our generation has seen an influx of medical maladies. No WONDER kids suffer with acne, obesity and overall sickness of health. Look at what we, as a nation, are eating!! “Food like substances.” That’s what. You can hardly call a McDonald’s Happy Meal food. Or happy. (I haven’t eaten fast food in over two years. It overwhelms me to think of every bad element that goes into one fast food item. I simply cannot do it.)

I try my hardest to advocate for the things I like, rather than bashing the things I cannot abide by. Like Michael Pollan says, we can vote for what we support THREE TIMES A DAY!! That’s a lot of voting. And how is that done? By what we eat. What we choose to buy… each time our food gets scanned at the grocery store… that’s a vote. I choose to vote for smaller companies, preferably organic, and to limit my meat intake, which ultimately helps water conservation, the way animals are treated, and my own health (Please, please.. I beg of you… read those books I listed above!!!)

When I started:

-cooking every meal from scratch

-eating 100% gluten free

-buying ~95% organic

-eating a ~90% plant based diet (roughly…)

my skin became perfect.

I am not here trying to boast about it. I’m not here saying that makes me, in any way, better. But it makes me happier. When I wake up, I can touch my skin and smile, feeling that it is smooth. When I look in the mirror, I no longer want to cry. (Though I have, literally, cried from the joy and hardly being able to believe that my dream of having clear skin finally came true.) I want to shout all of this from the rooftops in order to help every teenager and adult who feels like their acne just won’t go away. The solution is so simple. If I can do it, you can too.

I love this topic. I love discussions about healthy eating. PLEASE FEEL FREE to email me (mgreywilliams@gmail.com), comment on here, or contact me on facebook. I will tell you every single meal I eat, if that will help you. I’ll give tips on how to shop this way, make it affordable and tell you over and over again… it’s easy!!!

So many people blow off a good diet and use the excuses it’s too expensive or I don’t have time or I don’t believe it. Don’t let these poor excuses keep you from knowing the truth and improving your life!!! Because investing in your health today is a whole lot cheaper than paying for medical help later on in life. BE that older person who doesn’t rely on pills or a doctor. BE that person who is free from that and who lives simply.

I want to write all day about this. But I think I’ll stop here.

Just a recap…

– I had acne, which directly correlated with eating fast food, being stressed, and gluten intake

-I fixed my skin… my own way, by:

– educating myself on the current food system

– choosing to “vote” for and support local and organic food and farms

– NEVER, ever, ever, eating fast food or supporting big companies such as Monsanto, Tyson, McDonald’s, etc.

– cooking from scratch, always including healthy greens like spinach, arugula or kale

– choosing to make my household primarily vegetarian (for so many reasons… too many to write about today)

I am so excited to be sharing this with you. I hope it helps!

I just want everyone to know how attainable a healthy, glowing complexion is!!! I don’t want ANYONE to suffer the way I did. No one deserves that.

food, acne, writing

the smile I wear couldn’t BE more real :)

Love, love, love

Lou


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One Art {aka The Art of Losing}

Today I want to share with you my favorite poem. Not just my today it’s my favorite or one of my favorites, but my true, kindred spirit, love of my life poem. I had to read it in my American Literature class a few years ago when I was still in college. It was life changing. Not only does this poem point out our trivial wants and needs, but it also points out what truly matters in life. What could possibly break us, if we let it, and why sometimes losing something is our own fault… or completely out of our control.

~~~

ONE ART

by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master; 
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

– Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

~~~

I get chills when I see the (Write it!) and I feel as though I should look around for a pencil and write down everything I have lost. This poet, Elizabeth Bishop, had a hard life. Her father died when she was a baby and her mother was “institutionalized.”( Given that time period, ~ 1916, it was a touchy thing… the “hysteria” of women. Gives me the chills to think of what her mother went through.) We’ll never know what exactly happened to Elizabeth’s mother, but we know enough already to see that her childhood wasn’t exactly normal. She lived with different grandparents and always remarked upon her life with a dark tone. “I’ve never concealed it,” she wrote, “although I don’t like to make too much of it. But of course it is an important fact, to me. I didn’t see her again.” How… sad.

The beginning of this poem makes me laugh at myself. We’ve all lost our car keys. We lose items, as well as time, when we go looking for them. Do car keys get lost intentionally? No, they’re not alive. But losing them has never been a disaster in and of itself. (Except for when I made it the 35+ minute car drive to work, and Greg called me, saying that the other set of keys must be in the console to the car I was driving… and I had to drive all the way back home, then back to work. At the moment, I was feeling pretty disastrous.)

I already feel as though I’ve lost certain aspects of my life. Memories that slip away of where I’ve been or who I’ve known. My life goes on, there is no disaster there. If I really try, I could probably recall such things. They’re only lost to my everyday life.

To Elizabeth, losing her mother’s watch might have been a disaster. Imagine your mother being taken away at the young age of five, and having only a few items of hers left. (Maybe she feels that her mother was one of the things “seemed filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” But that’s just me, speculating almost 100 years later…)

For those of you who have traveled to another continent, I wonder if you would especially connect with the idea: “…vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.” I haven’t traveled all that far, but this is how I feel when I think of the river I used to see at camp every summer in Colorado. I loved the camp, the people there, the green mountains, but I most often find myself remembering the flowing river. I would sit beside it during our morning “quiet time” simply because it was the loudest place. I felt hidden. So much happened there, as far as the inner workings of my brain and heart were concerned (all during the tender ages of 8-15.)

And finally, we get to the personal, human to human part of this poem. I love it and it makes my heart so heavy. Who did Elizabeth lose? Who had the joking voice and the gesture? She wrote it for me. And you. She wrote this poem for anyone who ever dared to read it. I truly believe that.

Because to be human means to lose things every day. They may be big or small. We can’t keep track of everyone or everything. Memories slip away, moments are lost before anything worth remembering has a chance to happen, and most importantly, people slip away from us. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. My sister once wrote a song that said, “Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense.” Do you understand how profound that statement is? It rocked my world. Each time something good happens, chances are, it was at the expense of someone else. This might sound like a terribly negative way to view the world, but I think it’s fundamentally true. Think about it. When you got that job promotion, yay for you, sad for whoever was the runner up. When you got married, your life changed for the better, but someone out there may have once believed him to be their true love. If you were to list all of the factors that make you happy, I’m sure that at least half will fit the bill. Nobody’s happy at no one’s expense. 

Which isn’t to say that you don’t deserve that happiness! We do! It’s simply one of those facts of life, like a revolving door, that good things happen, bad things happen, people are happy, people are sad, and the majority of people get on with their lives.

We all lose someone along the line. Whether that cause is a death, a lost love, or a big mistake… we all have a story. Most of these resonate with people on a personal level. I know I have been in jeopardy of losing the most important people in my life. Sometimes we are blind to just how important they are. Remember to cherish the ones who love you back. (I hear Hanson in my head… “So hold on to the ones who really care, cause in the end they’ll be the only ones there… MmmBop)

Just make sure that the one you are keeping is worth more than the one you are letting slip away. If it’s right, do all you can to find something, even if it desperately wants to get lost. It could be a disaster. Elizabeth- it could be a disaster, and I think you agree. {And you certainly got me to (Write it!)}

It’s been a long day and obviously, my mind is in overdrive. I think I’ll go do these three things:

Tell Greg how thankful I am that we are 6 years in (3 and a half years married) and growing stronger every day. I won’t let that get away. Ever.

Make more tea, because I have been sick all day long.

Try to get more organized so I don’t LOSE anymore TIME trying to find my car keys.

<3 Lou


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Lou, the Conspiracy Theorist

I have this, ahem, problem with “smart phones.” They make me nervous. Therefore, I still have a regular old flip phone. Or what someone referred to the other day as a “dumb phone.” I love it. I can text and make phone calls. I wish it didn’t have voicemail, because I hate listening to voicemails and it gives me anxiety. (I think this might stem back to high school, when the only person who ever left me a voicemail was my dad, and it was usually when I was in trouble, not answering my phone… but that’s a whole different issue.)

This has caused me problems, I won’t lie. I’ve been lost without a way to look up directions. But hasn’t everyone, up until this recent phenomenon that is the smart phone, been a little lost? I know I’m not dealing with something new. Finding everything at the click of a button is new.

Back before Greg ran over his iPhone with the minivan, I would occasionally look at his phone and wonder why every ad that showed up on websites was showing me drums. Or recording equipment. Or harmonicas. I quickly realized that somehow, this little phone was tracking all of the searches Greg was making and then showing him what he wanted in the ad space.

The realization literally sent shivers down my spine.

My computer does this same thing, of that I am aware. I’ve had some smart tech-y type people tell me that there are ways to avoid this from happening, but it really doesn’t make me feel any better. The fact that someone, somewhere out there, knows what Greg or I look up on our phone or laptop just makes me nervous. It’s a little too Nineteen Eighty-Four. It’s a little too creepy. I don’t want anyone to know what I’m doing (except for what I post on Hey Lou!)

The whole reason why I’m even writing this is because I seem to have lost my camera. We can’t find it anywhere. And now that we are left with my flip phone and Greg’s even worse replacement a co-worker gave him for free, we have almost no way to take decent pictures. I love adding pictures to my blog. If I had instagram or one of those fancy “newest version” smartphones I’d have some of the clearest, cutest pictures out there. I’ve seen them. It really is amazing.

I won’t deny that the technology of today is practically a miracle. People walk around with access to EVERYTHING. Every person they could ever want to communicate with… every store they could want to buy from… every song they could want to listen to. It’s a modern luxury that has become so common, that to be without a smartphone makes me kind of a rare breed.

But let me tell you something:

Once, about a year ago, I lost my phone. Or broke it. I hardly remember what happened to said phone. But what I do know is that I waited THREE MONTHS to replace it. Yes. Three months. Can you imagine? Three months without a phone? Here are some examples of what the outcome was:

– I felt FREE. No one could get a hold of me, except through Greg’s phone. 

– I was the safest driver in all of New Mexico .

– I didn’t make it to at least three events, because I am horrible at directions and had no way to call and figure it all out.

– I became organized. I had to plan ahead. Decide where and when to meet people. Greg and I had to communicate more than ever, about our work schedules and what we had planned. I had to write down all of my reminders on an actual calendar, not on my phone. 

– I read twice as much as I usually do (which is quite a lot).

– I wrote twice as much as I usually do (which is a quite a lot, too). 

– I began to love it and dreaded getting a new phone. 

– I started seeing the negative effects that phones have on others. I remember sitting at lunch with a friend, and she looked at her phone non stop. I realized that I, too, had been guilty of this and I hated it. I hated the fact that something held in her hand and shown on a screen could be more important than the conversation we were having. 

– I had way less anxiety. No “unknown” number could call me and leave an ominous voicemail. IT WAS AMAZING. 

WORTH missing a few things I had planned… and besides, I got better at looking up directions before I drove away from my house. 

Now that I have my little old flip phone, things have changed again. I use it to text Greg funny messages throughout the day and to check in when either of us gets home. I have used the hilarious excuse of a camera on this phone to take pictures that I have used for this blog. I’ve made it successfully to everything I had planned, given that my phone wasn’t dead.

But you know what? Sometimes I “forget” my phone. I … drumroll… venture out of the house without it. On purpose!!! 

You can’t imagine how liberating it feels. Sometimes I come home and zero has happened. Does that make me an unpopular person? Maybe. All I know is that each time I separate myself from the little black thing that I realize is sometimes glued to my hand, I never seem to miss anything Earth shattering.

I love to use the word “cahoots.”

As in, “I truly believe that the standardized testing people are in CAHOOTS with the scan tron companies, because they both make so much money off of each other and it isn’t really about the students at all.”

OR

“I think the flip phone people are in CAHOOTS with the smartphone people, because mine seems to malfunction every day. Are they doing that on purpose so that I switch over to the dark side?”

Call me a conspiracy theorist… I’ll agree with you. Call me crazy… and I’ll argue against that. All I am asking is that you at least TRY to free yourself of the bondage that is a cell phone. Maybe take baby steps. Ten minutes a day. Then twenty. Eventually, you’ll leave the house without it and you won’t turn around to go get it. You’ll be fine!

I know lots of successful people who are attached to their phones. I know that people get work information and doctors are on call. I’m not talking about the extreme cases. I’m talking about the average person who seems to have morphed lately, in the past decade, to someone who can’t function without a phone in their hand. Maybe step one for you is setting your phone down, rather than holding onto it. 

new york, hey lou writes, poetry, phone, smart phones, short stories

I’m trying to get him to pose… but he’s too distracted by his phone! :P

You might find yourself reading more, writing more, laughing more, sleeping more, or communicating with others in a way you forgot was possible.

Just try it? For me? And then let me know how it’s going :)

(one great thing I discovered, trying to stay off the computer as much as possible, as well as my phone, is that setting specific time aside to check emails and do all of the technology related stuff at once has really helped.)

Love, Lou

<3


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Bad Poetry, Bowl Cuts & The Past

We have all done things we regret. Right? Please don’t tell me I’m alone. I’ve done things that I still feel guilty about. I’ve also done things that are embarrassing or just silly. I can’t change the past, even if I really, really want to. Too bad. I can, however, use what I’ve learned and start a better future. My husband Greg always says, in moments when I’m down, “Don’t water last year’s crops.”

It says so much. Last years crops are dead and gone and there’s absolutely no point in watering them. Do, however, water this year’s crops- the ones growing right now. I need to nourish the future I have by taking care of my present. That silly old past- it won’t get me down!!

Here are a few examples of past moments I need to move on from (go ahead, laugh… you’ll be laughing with me, not at me… I think)

My first acrostic poem:

poetry, past, writing, young adult, fiction

Looks kind of violent from far away- all that red

For anyone who might have trouble reading this, it says:

M elinda how creative was that? at least I used two different colors

E nergetic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still love the exclamation point, to a fault

L emen   ? maybe, although that’s debatable. I do like lemons, though

I nsperacian   my spelling did improve, with time

N eet   never, have I ever in my life been “neet”… or neat

D o   well, that’s just common sense. I do lots of things

A ward   I like to think I’d just won some great award in my classroom, but there’s no solid evidence for that

I’ve been humbled by so many things. I’ve learned not to compare myself to my sisters (my twin, Meredith, wrote a poem just like this and hers is awesome!! straight lines, correct spelling, and words that actually described her) If I did that, I’d just go crazy. I’ve learned to laugh at things that might be embarrassing… like… LIKE THIS PICTURE!!!!

My first “mistake” haircut:

fiction, past, young adult, fictiion

most likely, I wrote the poem around this same time (yikes)

I looked like a boy. My bowl cut matched the baby Tommy doll in the case I’m holding. I think that’s a classic Christmas morning nightgown. I had braces at age 6… brutal.

But I digress.

This beautiful, coherent acrostic poem (and the bowl cut) is in my past. I can’t change that! (which I’m completely okay with…I’m one of those people who can laugh at myself…thank goodness) But you know what else? Something I CAN do?? I can write a new one!!! Yes!!

Here is a new version, written today.

M elinda some things from our pasts shouldn’t change, so there, I kept the original M

E nigmatic sometimes…

L aughing daily

I nterested in almost everything

N ever neat though I’m working on it

D edicated to those I love and pursuing my dreams

A pprehensive at times

There! Done. Changed, or updated, something from my past.

Although- now that I’ve gone and done that, I think I like the original one better <3

Another example of something I can’t change:

The dreaded brown and short hair. I don’t know what I was thinking. Hadn’t I learned from my childhood, that short hair just isn’t my thing? I went through an identity crisis. Luckily, Greg still proposed when I had this hair, but even more lucky…. it grew back.

My second “mistake” haircut:

past, regrets, writing, fiction

not me at all!

It took years to get back to my “normal” self. In the same way, when I make big mistakes and hurt those I love, it seems as though it can take years (or even longer) for things to go back to normal. Sometimes the people I love most in life surprise me and show me complete grace…forgiving me right away. Greg is the best at this. It is often ME who has a tantrum-like moment and often HIM who smiles and says, “Okay, can we be done arguing now? I just thought of the birds outside and it made me so happy!” Literally. This exact thing has happened.

writing, love, past

Everything is back to normal ;)

I’m so grateful for poetry of my youth, the fact that hair grows back, and people who chose to forgive, rather than hold grudges. I’m thankful for mistakes and the fact that we can LEARN from them, rather than wallow in them forever.

<3

If you’re interested… Here are some examples of my poetry. I like to think I’ve come a long way since the acrostic poem of my younger days, but you should let me know what you think ;)


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I Did The Thing You’re Never Supposed to Do

reading, writing, hey lou, short story, young adult

I have to admit it: I did the thing you’re never, ever supposed to do- especially as an avid reader or writer who knows better. And it isn’t the first time I’ve done that, truth be told.

I’ve committed similar crimes. Like the time I broke that sacred rule among all women and excitedly said to a woman I barely know, “Oh my gosh! You’re PREGNANT!!”

And she wasn’t. (I know, I’m still cringing, too. It was awful.)

I’ve done worse things. I’ve learned many lessons on what to say in public (my mom’s rule after a family outing, “Don’t say a word until all the car doors are shut and we’re driving away!”) and when to bite my tongue.

You may not think it’s as big of a deal… this other thing I did, but I do. I’m always glad to be proven wrong, yet I always fall back into the similar pattern. Have you guessed it yet?

I JUDGED A BOOK BY ITS COVER!

That’s right. I do this all the time, despite knowing how wrong covers often are. One solid picture that represents hundreds of written pages? A picture can say a thousand words… it can also misrepresent about 100,000 words!

My latest victim of judgement:

Call The Midwife by Jennifer Worth

This is the cover I sat and stared at, not really wanting to pick it up:

books, writing, reading, short stories Let’s admit it. It looks kind of cheesy. I guess it’s some tv show now, though I’ve never heard of it. My boss at work gave me this book to read and I ignored it for about a week. I was turned off by the three gals riding bicycles and the funny expressions of the two older women in the bottom picture. I didn’t want to know why the nun looked so smug/full of knowledge/kind. Weird of me, right? I just couldn’t really get past it.

Then I read the first page. And I finished the book in about three days.

It was an excellent, fantastic read! A real page turner.

Set it London in the 1950’s, this book depicts the true accounts of Jennifer, young midwife (about my age), and what she saw and learned and dealt with. I had no idea conditions for people were so awful. My perspective on life has completely changed. It’s one of those books… the kind that have you reevaluating what you take for granted every single day. After reading I realized I am LUCKY and BLESSED beyond belief because I have:

A running toilet, in a nice bathroom (many people in large cities in the 1950’s were still using outhouses or communal bathrooms in apartment buildings… one single “toilet” for hundreds of people)

A house for only two people (small one bedroom apartments would be occupied by a family of six or bigger)

A great hope for a healthy pregnancy with luxuries, such as prenatal visits and a clean facility to show up to (the nuns and young midwives traveled around on their bicycles for home deliveries, mostly to small and overcrowded apartments, as mentioned above)

A husband who is very kind and gentle (domestic abuse was prolific and unspoken)

Plenty of sunshine and green vegetables to eat (rickets were common due to lack of vitamin D, being in the big city and surrounded by tall buildings and therefore, shade, and other deficiencies due to poor nutrition)

A car (the nuns and other midwives seriously only had their bikes. I want to challenge myself to ride my bike when I leave the house, but I just haven’t done that yet. When it’s freezing cold and raining, I’m glad I don’t have to go out with that as my only option)

A job that has great hours and smiling faces and doesn’t include the word “factory” (many worked in factories, some of which were so awful that if a family arrived at the “workhouse” they were all separated – like a concentration camp- and rarely left)

That’s just to name a few. This book was filled with gripping stories of childbirth, poverty, laughter, tears and human nature. Some of Jennifer’s preconceived notions were completely turned upside down. The crazy lady who showed up at almost every birth wasn’t just being a pest, she truly cared to know if they were healthy and alive. The girl who had stolen a large amount of cash wasn’t just a horrible thief- she’d been tricked into prostitution and couldn’t find a way to escape. The women who had the dirtiest apartment was depressed and driven to drink because her husband was so abusive.

I know it’s just a book, but these stories are such a great reminder to me to not judge people. To give them the benefit of the doubt (one of my new years resolutions!) and to look kindly on all people, as you never know what they’re going through. Some stories in this book were hilarious, too. Some filled with joy and hope. Those were my favorite parts.

I highly recommend this book! Just don’t pay any attention to the cover.

:)

 

 


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Being Patient and Kind <3

I’ve never been a huge believer in giving up something for lent. It can be fun to challenge yourself… but only if it’s just that: FUN. It’s no good to give up something and then make everyone around you as miserable as you are. Am I right, or am I right? I’ve never successfully given up one particular thing for the entire season, which always left me feeling like I didn’t accomplish something I should have.

SO! This year, rather than giving up something, like coffee or sugar or laughter (ha), I decided to add something to my every day life.

Greg and I have been reading 1 Corinthians 13 every single night.

It sounds simple… the “love is patient, love is kind” verse we all know. I have done a lot of thinking on this particular verse of the Bible, and I think that I’ve always passed it over as something that is “too popular.” How ridiculous of me, first of all. We didn’t have it read at our wedding because I wanted to be more original. Again, how ridiculous. The entire chapter is beautiful and meaningful in a way I had never understood until reading it with my husband every night. It’s perfect for a marriage. In fact, I’d say it’s downright required.

I recommend this sort of “every night ritual” for anyone. ANYONE. Single, married, divorced, dating… basically, if you interact with other people at all, this verse could do you some good. Why not try to be patient and kind in all we do? It will only make the world a better place. Why not STOP being envious of other people, STOP being too proud, and start living a more humble and content existence?

I want to be someone who isn’t quick to get angry. Especially before I ever have kids… I’d love to get my temper in check. (not that I have a crazy temper, but we can all use some improvement, I’m sure!) I want to be someone who can forgive and clean off the slate, especially in my marriage. “Love keeps no record of wrongdoing” has been one of the most influential parts of my lent challenge. I’ve let a lot of things go. I want to protect what’s important to me, trust in Greg, never give up hope for our future and persevere through it all. I’m more than three years into my marriage and I can say that I’ve failed in every single one of these and I will probably fail in them again. I’m human. All I can do is try, pray and wake up every day with a smile that we’ve made it this far! Making something real last is worth it.

The result of all this?

I’m happier, smile more often, I feel lighter (in my soul!) and my marriage is in better shape than ever before. If you read something over and over, eventually it takes on a whole new meaning. Each day something different will pop out at you. It’s just like hearing a song and because your life is different than the last time you heard it, the song has completely changed.

I recommend this challenge, and not just for lent. It’s almost over, anyway. I have a feeling that even after Easter comes and goes, Greg and I will still continue to study this passage and I will continue to pray for those changes to stay with me and grow in my heart. <3

writer, short stories, young adult, new writer, fiction

one of my favorite pictures of us!

On a different note, another thing I did in the past month was read one of the craziest stories of my life.

myra breckinridge, short stories, poetry, young adult, hey lou

you will not believe what these pages hold

Ever heard of Myra Breckinridge by Gore Vidal? I hadn’t, either. That is, until my brother-in-law told me I should read it. Let’s just say, I wouldn’t tell anyone under the age of 18 to read this book. It was excellent, but uncomfortable (aren’t most great books at least a little bit uncomfortable?) I don’t want to spoil the ending in any way, shape or form, so I won’t tell you too much. I will say that this book is a page turner, CRAZY, sexual, surprising, and will make you gasp as you read it.

Just trust me.

:)