Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters


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Eat Like Your Life Depends On It (Which It Does)

This made me cry. Twice. First, because of the truth this video represents and how sad, in my soul, these facts make me.

Then I had a real tear of joy… because there are people who are fighting the current food system… and they give me so much hope, I can hardly stop smiling.

This new blog series, Eat Like Your Life Depends On It, is something I’ve been contemplating for a long time. The last thing I want to do is push people away from healthy food choices. I know from experience that having a “hippy agenda” or a “radical point of view” can be a big turn off. I try to remain positive in my outlook and the way I share my passion for real food.

I, too, was once skeptical. I have said OUT LOUD (wish it wasn’t true…), “Who cares if it’s organic? It tastes the same.”

But now, I’d like to seriously take back those words.

Because:

A. Real food and “conventional” food do NOT taste the same

B. I care very greatly if it’s organic, but more than that… I care if it’s local, because sometimes small operations can’t afford the fancy organic labeling

C. That comment was made by a version of myself who had a lot to learn. And so I did learn. And I’m still learning every single day.

If you care about your health and the long term health of those you love, keep reading my blog series.

Find out why I believe in organic farming and local eating so so so so much. Find out why I could easily cry, for many reasons, at the thought of the video Chipotle has just released.

Find out why I care. 

Someday, you might just leave your microwave, food-like-substances, and “cheap food coupons” in the dust like I did.

You might also save money, both now, and later in life when you aren’t taking medication for any number of ailments.

I can promise you’ll smile with me, laugh with me, cringe a little with me, and continue to learn, the way I will never stop learning.

The best is yet to come!

real food, organic, gmos, gardening, chipotle ad

Kate Burn Photography

 

Love, 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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The {Short} Story of Lou

Today I am participating in a challenge…

to write a blog each day in the month of May.

When I woke up today I had no such agenda. But when I looked at my blogging friend Jenny‘s blog, and saw that she was going to do this challenge… based on this other girl, Jenni‘s blog… well, I just had to join in. I will try my hardest.

Each day is guided with a prompt, which is pretty cool. Today’s blog?

Day 1, Wednesday: The story of your life in 250 words or less (or one paragraph… no one will be counting your words… probably)

new mexico, writer, young adult

see? always meant to be in NM :)

Melinda Grey (Wilder) Williams never wanted to be a writer. She grew up a pastor’s kid (still is one to this day {Lutheran, in case you were wondering}) and was born in Virginia, lived in Minnesota, until finally coming to New Mexico, which she considers home. When all the kids in class knew what they wanted to be, Melinda stayed quiet and simply couldn’t decide. But she always loved to read. Her first favorite book was Where The Red Fern Grows. Then it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Later on in life, she discovered many more books (Catcher in the Rye, A Prayer for Owen Meany, 1984, Middlesex, etc) that continued to change her life. She considers Tom Joad in Grapes of Wrath to be the best character ever written. She calls him her literary crush. It wasn’t until college, when prompted to write a Young Adult fiction “first chapter,” that she began to write her own fiction and fell in love with writing. She finally knew what she wanted to do and she is doing her best to make that happen. Melinda is lucky enough to be married to a great guy, Greg. She has three loving sisters (two older, one twin) and great parents. Growing up she was shy and awkward,

meredith and me... awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

meredith and me… awkward middle schoolers, but at least awkward together

but that has surely changed (at least the shy part.) She likes who she has become and what she believes in. She is no longer afraid to speak out for a cause (like boycotting GMOs, supporting local and/or organic, awareness of factory conditions for animals, & saving the BEES, just to name a few.) Melinda is currently building a chicken coop in her backyard, growing a garden she hopes will proved a large portion of her food, and working at a bakery. She has written three complete manuscripts and writes Every. Single. Day. Because being a published author is Plan A, not Plan B. Life is good! Melinda wakes up every day wondering how she got so lucky.

writing, fiction, short story

Lou & Lou… so lucky

That’s me in about 250+ words. Now you know a little bit more about me, Melinda, AKA Lou.

Also- Today was a busy, great day!

flowers, garden, writing

“before”

I worked in the yard with Greg for hours. HOURS. We planted a flower bed (above… will hopefully have an “after” picture in the next few weeks!), shoveled pounds and pounds of compost, pulled weeds, neatly stored away our hoop houses for the garden, placed small logs around the periphery of our vegetable garden AND THEN went to run a 5K with my friend. Every second was a blast.  All the proceeds of this run went to Boston Relief. I am so grateful to have a body that is able to run and work in the yard. I am so thankful to be safe at home tonight.

And how cool is this? My dinner will have part of my garden in it! Spinach and garlic!!!

melinda, writer, young adult fiction

did you know young garlic looks like this?

Hope you all had a good day, too!!

<3  Lou


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Can You Find What’s Missing?

Sometimes people ask me one simple question:

How do you find time to write?

And workout? And read an entire book in less than a week? And cook all of my meals from scratch? And spend a large portion of my day just sitting outside, watching birds or gardening or hanging up the laundry to dry? 

Okay, I added all of the others, after the first simple question, How do I find time to write? But I’ve had at least a few people ask me these questions at different times. I really have. And I will be the FIRST to admit that I don’t have a perfect scheduled out system to my life. I forget things, I make mistakes and I do waste time.

Just not very often.

Let me give you a clue as to WHY.

Here are some pictures, taken at different angles, of my living room/dining room.

hey lou, writing, new writer, short stories

Piano and bookshelf

Greg plays the piano ALL THE TIME!!! Coolest thing about it? I grew up with my dad playing this very same piano. My parents recently bought a new vintage piano and gave us this one. Also- this bookshelf is inside the wall. No space is wasted and it is beautifully carved out of wood.

Here’s a close up of the picture of my grandmother, which is sitting on the piano.

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

My lovely Grandma, Pearl, sitting at her typewriter :)

Okay, more pictures. Keep looking to find out what’s missing!!!

hey lou writes, young adult, short stories

“Dining room” and front door

Best part of this picture is the table that my parents bought when they were newlyweds. I wouldn’t buy a new one, ever.

writing, short stories, new writer

Christmas trees and music :)

Yes, we keep our Christmas tree up all year long. We’ve had it up since October 31st, 2010, when we bought it on sale at Hobby Lobby. This room is usually filled with band equipment for Wildewood.

Justin Townes Earle, couch, hey lou writes, writing, reading

Where I read!

And there you have it. The rest of the house is similar. We have a small bedroom with hardly anything inside, a laundry room with a computer for Greg to work on music recordings, and another room that stores most of Wildewood’s equipment and Greg’s big drum set. It’s a modest, yet amazingly comfortable and spacious living arrangement. Oh, it’s also on a half acre. Don’t ask me how we got so lucky. But ask me how often I thank God for such a home. Answer: Every single day.

Did you see it? Or NOT see it? Have you guessed it yet?

I can read, write, blog, clean, sit in the warm sun, garden, workout and spend time with my husband ….ALL BECAUSE…

We have no TV. There it is. This is not a TV bashing blog, either. But will I ever own one again? Not for all the money in the world. (Okay, come to me with a million dollars and I might buy one. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be where anyone can see it) 

In our last place, a small apartment, I really tried to evaluate why I was either unhappy (at times), felt lazy or fat (at times), or felt disconnected with the world around me (almost all the time.) I remember this specific moment. I was watching a “reality” show. Maybe it was The Hills? I’m not quite sure. But what I do know is this: I thought to myself, “Oh my gosh. Here I am, watching someone else live their life. How lame. I need to go live my own life!” And there you have it. Greg and I moved into this place, got rid of our TV, and we’ve never looked back.

I know what some of you are thinking. But, Melinda, The Hills is trash reality TV and I watch great shows or the Food Network or the Discovery Channel… I don’t waste time. I learn and laugh and relax after a really long day. 

Well, I say HOORAY for all of those people who do exactly that. I would say in the beginning that I did miss those “good” TV shows. I like watching other people cook. I love a good special on Abraham Lincoln or a newly discovered animal in the ocean. But do I still miss it at all? Does it even EVER cross my mind? No.

In fact, I am still very busy and on the days when I have zero time to relax, I often wonder how in the world anyone has time for TV. I know that most people are on even tighter schedules than I am! Explain that!

Having no TV hardly makes me a hermit, either. We have Netflix and we watch movies on our laptop. Um… we have the INTERNET… so, yeah, it’s not like we miss out on any news. Simply having a twitter account makes me weirdly more informed about the world than I ever wanted to be.

I recently read this awesome blog about budgeting money. It made me think. I may not be the best at budgeting money, but I have become really good at budgeting my time. It’s something I can truly say I’ve grown to be good at, and I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Here’s what a typical day looks like for the Williams household:

A.M.

Greg and I try to wake up together, and unless he has to work at 5 (yikes!), which is rare, we make this happen. Our usual wake up time is anywhere from 6:00 to 7:00, depending. We wake up at LEAST an hour and a half before either of us have to leave. Why? So we can do this:

-Greg makes the coffee

-I made the breakfasts

-Weather permitting, we sit outside to eat and drink

-We might both spend 30 minutes reading

-We might start chatting, which I always love

-I’ll go for a thirty minute run or do a workout at home

-We talk about our days, challenges we might face, and how excited we are for the relaxing evening to come

MID DAY

Greg and I both work. He works full time and I work part time. (I do, however, spend more than a full timer’s worth of time writing.) If we happen to have a day off together, you can bet we’ve done these things:

-Pulled weeds/gardened

-Gone on a short walk

-Made some more coffee and sat outside (bird watching is our new hobby)

-Read more

-I write

-Greg will practice harmonica/drums/piano

-Whip up a good and healthy lunch

-Do laundry, sweep the floor

-Laugh our heads off at least three times (Greg is the funniest person I know)

P.M. 

This is where life really gets busy. Greg, being in a band, has lots of practices and shows. On a rare evening when we have “nothing” to do we’ll make time for:

-Making dinner together

-Talking about our day

-Getting caught up on life… dishes, putting AWAY the previously washed laundry… etc

-Reading some more

-Writing some more

-Practicing music some more

-Going on that run, if I didn’t get to it in the A.M.

See what I mean? Nowhere in there do we have space or a care to “budget” our time to fit in TV watching. Books are better, anyway. It might seem boring. I’m sure what I’ve just described, as a life being lived, seems utterly unexciting to the untrained eye. However, it is anything BUT. We spend quality time. I’ve learned to appreciate the sound of birds and learning what type they are. I’ve learned to savor each moment of silence I can muster up in a day, preferably with Greg right alongside me. I’ve learned to garden and I actually look forward to picking weeds. I get to be outside, I’m healthy and have a body that’s able, and I am caring for something that will provide me with vegetables and fruit to eat.

One drawback, if you can call it that, is how sensitive I have become to too much noise and distraction. I feel just a tad overwhelmed when I am somewhere with TVs blaring or a hundred different sounds buzzing around my head. I feel as if I can’t even listen to or hear the person sitting right next to me. Even in the car, if Greg and I have music playing, we’ll usually both reach to turn it down at the exact same time, and laugh and say, “I couldn’t hear a word you were saying.”

I guess that means I’ve learned to give my full attention to one thing at a time. Plus, I’m addicted to reading. This past month we got our Netflix DVD in the mail and we put off watching the movie for two weeks because each night, when it came down to it, Greg and I both opted for our books instead.

I’m not saying you should go throw your TV out on the curb today. I realize that for some people, this is extreme. (Like the lady who told us we were practically Amish for not owning a microwave… I think she’d faint if she read this.) But just like my last post about phones, I guess the reason for writing this is to encourage people to follow their dreams and not have distractions from those dreams. IMAGINE what you could accomplish if instead of watching TV for two hours a day, you did something productive… something you’ve always wanted to do. Like…

-get in shape (those two hours could be spend hitting the pavement)

-WRITE (it takes tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiime)

-sign up for an art class

-volunteer

-go outside and TAKE A WALK (the most therapeutic thing on the planet, in my opinion)

-or whatever it is you’ve been putting off!!

JUST DO IT! (like Nike says…)

Your brain, body, and family will thank you for it. I promise! Feel free to ask me anything about my no-TV household. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about and I have a LOT MORE to say, believe it or not.

Let me know how it goes, or if you do something similar!

<3 Lou


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I Ran, I Read, I Cried

I had quite the weekend. I would consider myself having had TWO workouts.

The first, was the 5K Color Me Rad run I completed with my older sister, Emily.

reading, writing, melinda williams

at the finish line!

If you haven’t heard of this, or if no color run of any sort has graced your own city or town, it’s kind of weird. People run around for 3.1 miles and there are these stations where you get hosed down, sprinkled, or thrown buckets of paint on your person. People show up wearing white. They leave looking colorful (or like they just have on a green shirt! Emily got the bucket!)

I’m really happy because I didn’t have to stop and walk, which was my big goal. Yayyyy

writing, running, reading, hey lou

I thought this really shows just HOW colorful everything was!

It was super fun!! I highly recommend you find one of these races and participate. Families with little kids were walking the course and the kids loved getting paint on their clothes!

Alright. My other workout was one of the best whole body workouts, definitely including the abs quite a bit. It left me a little sore.

Doesn’t that happen to you, too, after you’ve sobbed your eyes out reading a book?

It totally happened to me.

I read Barbara Kingsolver’s greatest novel, The Poisonwood Bible. Again  AGAIN!  I judged a book by its cover. Why do I keep doing this? This is another book, lent to me by the same person as the last book I so wrongfully judged. It sat on my bookshelf for many days. This cover stared at me.

reading, writing, short stories, young adult

it’s kind of a cool cover, actually

I feel in love with this book and wound up finishing it in two days. I could NOT put it down. I brought it in the car, just in case I turned up early anyplace and I could read for another precious few minutes. I hardly slept. Maybe part of running the 5K and not walking at all was simply my determination to get home and read… ha  just kidding!

If you read this, get ready. You will need a whole box of tissues, or you will simply have to throw whatever sweater you were wearing into the wash.

But you should also get ready to laugh out loud, cringe, pick up some new sayings, and have some preconceived notions thrown out the window. I know I did all of these things.

The family in this book is similar to my own in a few ways:

There are four daughters, two of which are twins

The father is a pastor (mine’s Lutheran, in the book, they’re Baptist)

My grandpa (mom’s dad) grew up in Madagascar with this missionary parents (and wrote a book about it!) 

reading, writing, missionary

I know, so cool, right??!

The family in this book is also very different from my family in a few ways, too.

Our minister dad isn’t totally and awfully abusive, like in the book (writing Bible verses as punishment just doesn’t seem to match up with what they’re actually there for… )

The youngest two in my family are twins, not the middle two

None of us have been to Africa

That’s just to name a few ;)

Yet again I read a book that made me reevaluate my entire life. It gave me a new perspective on my own country, my home and the way I judge people. It seems that is all books have been doing for me lately, which I am thankful for.

When I put the book down, I LITERALLY stood up and was overwhelmed by the size of my living room. It felt humungous… It took many steps for me to get to my kitchen, which just absolutely shocked me. Weird, I know. But you have to understand – for two days I’d been living inside the book, meaning I was living inside a tiny mud hut in a small village in the Congo and I had almost zero resources. Walking across a wood floor in an adobe house with everything in the kitchen I could ever want was suddenly amazing. I made my dinner in a daze. I took out my frozen peas, heated them up on the stove with soy sauce and a little tofu, put it on a bed of arugula and added olive oil. I hadn’t quite considered the technology it took for all of that to end up on my dinner plate.

I felt ashamed of the life I live, thankful for the life I live, wary of the choices people in high places have made all throughout history, yet hopeful. This book did it all.

I was riddled with the smart and witty quotes.

“I’ve seen how you can’t learn anything when you’re trying to look like the smartest person in the room.”

“Sugar, it’s no parade but you’ll get down the street one way or another, so you’d just as well throw your shoulders back and pick up the pace.”

“Everything you’re sure is right can be wrong in another place.”

The Poisonwood Bible also made me stray away from my usual and slightly ignorant belief that I should feel sorry for people with less. This book showed the beauty of living with practically nothing. The people in the Congo (at least in the village written about in this book) lived on one primary source of food, a gooey and tasteless substance, but it was simple and kept them alive for hundreds of years. They had homes made of mud, one pair of clothes (if even) and schooling wasn’t a top priority. They were smart in other ways. I am reminded of that famous quote:

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Albert Einstein 

I am now a Kingsolver fan. Next on my list is her book about living a year on only local food (something I wanted to do!) called Animal Vegetable Miracle. Can’t wait!!

Don’t forget how lucky and blessed you are on this fine morning. If you’ve complained about the size of your home or the fact that your car isn’t nice enough, you definitely need to read Call the Midwife by Jennifer Worth and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver :)

You’ll wind up a much more content person if you do!

<3


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Three Days of Muses

I had the best three days EVER!!!! Thursday, Friday and Saturday were amazing in every way. I wish I could experience them over and over, but I’ll settle for writing about it and holding the memories in my heart forever! <3

Basically, I had a chance to see live music. Not just any live music, either. But three musical groups/individuals who inspire my writing. I mean… literally, I have written characters and entire short stories based on their songs. These three above all others. It didn’t even really dawn on me all the way until the very last night. I was brought to tears. It seemed very meant to be and I felt lucky… so lucky!!

Here’s how it went down:

THURDSDAY: WILDEWOOD

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Kate Burn Photography…Wildewood

Here is where you can check out some of their music. My short story, Proud Mothers, has a strong relationship with their original song Goodbye Morgan. Lemon Moon is another song for which I’ve written a short story…but that one is a work in progress :) In one of my (currently :) ) unpublished manuscripts, a character named Mason Andrews has characteristics and plot surrounding him- all based on another original by Wildewood, a song called Keep My Distance. When I listen to their music at each and every show I make it to (which is most!) I never fail to get inspired to write something, whether directly related or not. They’re just that good!!!

FRIDAY: DEER TICK

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Deer Tick

This picture was taken on my really old school flip phone, but hey! It’s a picture of them! You should check them out here. The lead singer of Deer Tick is also in a band called Middle Brother (favorite songs? Wilderness & Blood and Guts!!), and many of their songs inspire my writing, too. It’s also the Deer Tick song, These Old Shoes, that just so happened to be the first (and maybe last?) song I really learned to play and sing on the guitar. It was fun! To me, that’s the greatest love song of our time.

Bonus: For one song, they called a guest singer onto the stage. Guess who it was? Vanessa Carlton!!! Yeah!! I know!! It was weird. I can only picture her sitting at a huge piano, can’t you? But there she was, at a small-ish bar in Albuquerque, singing along with Deer Tick. She sounded awesome!

I would walk 1,000 miiles....

I would walk 1,000 miles….

and… drum roll please….

SATURDAY: MARK ERELLI

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OMG! I was shaking!

The name may not ring a bell, but I promise you, if you listen to his music you will not be disappointed. Especially the album he recorded with Jeffrey Foucault (another person you should listen to every day!), Seven Curses. THAT album is the REASON I began to write short stories.

That’s a pretty big deal!!! At least to me it is! So you can imagine what it was like to hear Mark Erelli sing in person. The show was at a house … about fifteen people were there. A new project called “The Standing O” had him come into town and they first interviewed him, then he sang! It was just amazing. It’s the songs The First Mrs. Jones, Wyoming Wind, and Ellis Unit One that made me write my first two short stories ever, I Looked Over Jordan and Wilde Wood Saloon!! I had him sign my short stories!! How cool is that?

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“Keep on writing.” Oh Mark, I will!!

The paper stapled to the top is an e-mail I printed out from over a year ago. I wrote to him and he wrote back! I never thought I would get to meet him.

And there you have it. In three days I had beer sloshed onto my feet, sweaty people mosh pitting beside me, fancy chocolate served on a table in a living room, hard cider, sparkling lemonde, and lots of awesome music (I’ll let you figure out which things go with which shows….) ;) .

Thanks Wildewood, Deer Tick and Mark Erelli!!!!!!!

And as ALWAYS, thank YOU for stopping by Hey Lou!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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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

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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.

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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.

:)


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Happy Birthday, Lou

Yesterday we celebrated Greg’s birthday. He turned 27, and I am simply trying to wrap my head around the fact that when we started dating, he was 21. In a lot of ways, I still picture us as that couple, me 17, Greg 21, but in many ways, we’re not the same people at all.

Since we’re, ahem, less than rich (but rich in love! yes, it’s true!), I decided that I’d write a blog and post some pictures of my very favorite moments with Greg. It’s my gift to him. I figured, after he proposed on my 19th birthday, there was no one-upping him on gifts. Besides, even if this is a day late, it’s something. I’m not an organized person at all, so I had to scramble around facebook and my in-law’s computer to locate some good pictures.

Here they are. I would also call this list (after “The Happy Birthday Lou Photo Album”), quite simply, “How to be a happy couple.” It’s pretty darn easy, if you find the right person!

Take your very first picture together, the very first day you ever hang out alone, and then don’t stop hanging out. (this is that age I was telling you about… 17 and 21!)

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First Picture of the Lous

Go to some weddings, drink too much, and have fun in a photobooth!

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drunky?

Always ask him to dance, even if he really doesn’t want to. He will have fun, even if he doesn’t quite know it at the time!

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Me, so happy!

On your very first lake trip, make up even after a sleepless night spent trying to fold one tiny blanket over both of you (think, like a taco…).

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the lake

Eat a giant hotdog together, no matter how unhealthy/gross you know it is. He will rub your back when you throw it up later that day. (um, and get some matching sweatshirts.)

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ugh

Go to New York and attempt to get a good picture in front of the Statue of Liberty. :)

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I’m trying to get him to pose…

Always support his facial hair. 

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the beard

Take some great pictures at sunset. (especially if you are doing long distance- for two years-… it will help you remember those good times!)

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hugs!

Never take yourself too seriously. Ever.

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pool time

Hang out with your friend’s cool Great Dane, and don’t get one of your own if neither of you is quite responsible enough for a dog…. 

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our dream dog

However, if you do wind up getting a dog, take him on hikes. Then, when it just isn’t working in your small apartment, send the dog to family in Minnesota who will take him on long runs every day!

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Aksel, he was a good dog.

Go camping, hunting, or simply rough it together for a few days in the outdoors. It will bring you closer together. (no one likes doing anything alone and in the dark in the middle of the woods… you know what I mean.)

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don’t we look tough?

Always get a very nice dessert and share it. And try to go on dates. Our first real date only happened thanks to Greg’s older brother, Chris, who gave us a gift certificate. I am pretty sure we were already engaged. haha

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my 21st

Wake him up from naps just to take a picture, just to get a good picture onto your blog. :) Hey, I only had so much time to put this together before his parents took us out for dinner….

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today!

Most importantly, love every day! Say the words, appreciate who your significant other is, and smile when they look at you. Be forgiving and understanding. Work through anything. When you wake up and find that you’ve been together for more than six years, it’s a good feeling. Nothing can quite compare.

Happy Birthday, Lou!!!! 


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It’s The Little Things In Life

It’s the little, everyday things, that make life good. Today was such a good day. Nothing exceptionally exciting or amazing happened, but absolutely nothing bad happened, and a few nice things happened. My morning consisted of making breakfast and coffee with Greg, finishing up our spring cleaning, and listening to great music. I then joined Greg for his lunch at work, took some stuff to Goodwill, and returned back home to do a little more cleaning. Next Alex and Meredith came over, we had dinner, and that was pretty much it.

Amazing day. I can’t help but smile. Here are a few images I captured:

My new boots made me happy. They were affordable and comfy… keeping me warm all day long!

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Yay, boots!!

Our beautiful backyard! I came home, hung some clothes up on the line (how cool!!) and enjoyed the weather. Birds were flying above me… I just love being home <3

My backyard... I'm so lucky!

My backyard… I’m so lucky!

This tree is in my backyard. It’s crazy… it’s so picturesque!!!!!!!!!!

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The coolest tree ever

Yes, it’s the wild west here in Albuquerque. We have tumbleweeds! I saw this one on my way home an snagged a pic. I’m glad it didn’t blow in the wind and stick to the front of my car!

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huge tumbleweed!

Meredith and Alex made me laugh as we sat around and ate dinner!! Love it!! BFFL (best friends for life!) (I just made that up…. I think)

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alex and mer

My husband, Greg, sittin’ by my side and looking great! Could life get any better?

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Lou

I submit that it cannot!!

Can you see why it was an awesome day? I had a lovely scenery to gaze upon, fun friends and family at my table, and a tumbleweed blowing in the wind! It truly is the small things in life.

I hope you enjoyed your day, too!!

<3

writer, hey lou, short stories, novels

The other Lou


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Confidence, Truly

There have been times in my life when I felt anything but confident. I have felt, just like any gal, that I was less than pretty, less then talented, or just plain unwanted. Thankfully, those moments have been few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t exactly walk around thinking I have it all or anything, but I have had some great moments of confidence. It started at a very young age.

Case in point:

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confidence, truly

Please notice: I wrote,

Today and yesterday I figured out that I am good at drawing. (age 7!!)

The teacher must have chuckled as she wrote, “You certainly are!” But then secretly worried about me…

I don’t think anything phased me. I sat there and drew this face and I was proud of it. I wish I could find that little girl and be there again without fail. I wonder what happened? What day came and went where all of a sudden I doubted whether or not I was good at drawing?

I’d like to think that every kid starts out this way. They can do anything. It isn’t until someone tells them they can’t or someone laughs at something they do that they begin to doubt. I wish, so badly, that everyone could be as confident as I was at the age of 7.

And then stay that way.

Another great moment I had as a 7 year old was writing a story titled “The Floppy Bunny.” I really did a horrible, half-assed job at the drawings for that book. But I was so, so proud of the story.

It’s the story of a bunny who has no hair. He’s a bald, naked bunny. He goes around to all these animals, asking them if they have any hair to spare… could he have some? Of course, everyone says no. It isn’t until the Floppy Bunny meets a sheep, who has wool to spare, that he can finally have some hair. They make an entire suit made of wool and the Floppy Bunny wears it, finally feeling comfortable and covered up.

Yes. It was a gripping tale.

I’d like to think that my writing abilities have gotten better ;)

Obviously, if you are here on this blog, you can see that I never did give up on the whole writing thing. I have my short stories, my poetry, and three books I’m working on daily, trying to get published. I am trying to hard to keep that 7 year old version of myself close at heart. I want to be her… unafraid and entirely confident in my abilities.

I hope you can find your own version of her, too!!!

<3

Fun fact: I think I did get a little better at drawing. Wildewood even let me do their cover art…. !!!!

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confidence, later ;)