Technically, today's journey was from Ponchatoula, LA to Flower Mound, TX, but my guess was that many people wouldn't be able to get a sense of where to where that was. Well, thank God for coffee is all I have to say. Without it, this trip would not be possible! This trip is fueled by the following vital things:
1 portable DVD player
Take any one of these out, and the whole thing crumbles! LOL.
Wow, yesterday was a bit of a blur; I wish we had more time to sight see in the French Quarter. There is SO much fascinating history there. We took a carriage tour and we got off early to get back to our car, but in the 20 minutes or so, we learned so much that we never would have gotten from just wandering around people watching. People watching is fun, but as the evening progresses (and the alcohol flows) they aren't as much fun to watch as a family.
After spending the night with baby Tripp and his beautiful family, I wish we could have done the same with baby Jonah. Looking back, we hardly got to spend any time with just Patrice, Matt, and Jonah, but what can you do? I also hadn't EVER met some of my nieces and nephews so there was a lot of catching up to do in Winston-Salem... hmm, maybe we'll just have to come back!
Tripp was SO smitten... can you blame him?
Today, Courtney's dad made fresh, homemade beignets for us! Ali called them "yummy pillows!" Man, they were so good. A great way to start the day! Then, around lunch time, we found this little zoo in Alexandria that actually had a pretty amazing collection of animals, and we were THE ONLY ones in the zoo! Apparently, they had a big zoo-boo event leading up to last night, so everyone who had planned on visiting the zoo went then. It was a nice mental and physical break from the road and stimulation for Ali.
Funny note... sometimes google maps can mislead you! We were looking for the land of Happy Meals for lunch today, and google led me to a HOSPITAL! Quite fitting, eh? Eat enough McD's and you could end up in one! The hospital had a McD's INSIDE IT... google didn't realize it was IN the hospital, and neither did we! There is much more that could be said about all that, but I'll just leave it alone as I want to get back to sleep!
Here's the day on the road... started iffy but ended beautifully!
We are now at my old friend Doug's house in Flower Mound. Doug and I grew up in a little town in CT called Redding. We both lived within walking distance (if you cut through the woods) from our Redding Boys Club and spent many a day playing baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, whatever together over the years. We were groomsmen in each other's weddings, but have seen little of each other since 1995 when we began to leave Redding (first with me migrating to Phoenix, and then Doug moving to TX). We have both gotten married, had kids, settled down, found our true callings professionally, found church again, all the while staying connected, even if it be just a heads up every now and then. It's nice to have friends for life where no matter where you are or how long it's been, you can just reconnect like no time has passed, aside from hairlines and waist sizes!
Well, tomorrow is our second of 3 EB Gatherings celebrating Bella and THIS community that SHE has brought together. Here's the thing; I know that I write for Bella, and without me writing, this community wouldn't have happened the way it did, but without Bella, there was nothing to write about. I never blogged before Bella. I was "too busy for blogging." Besides, who really wanted to know what I was doing anyway in a world where thousands of blogs get created every year? BELLA caused all of us to come here together; there is no difference between me and you in THIS respect. Even Ang reads the blog the next morning after I write (I write at night after everyone falls asleep - my quiet time...NOT a morning person), and she can count on one hand how many blogs she reads now, much less how many she read before we started Bella's.
Now, we have thrown down the gauntlet and challenged you all to come out of anonymity and see how strong the bond really is over the internet. Several days ago, Jane articulated quite eloquently the social dynamics in play that might give one cause to pause when thinking about whether to become physical, or just remain virtual friends. There is a line in the sand here. The internet is fast, free, and can be anonymous, allowing people to leave their social filters at the door before jumping in. There is a great argument over whether the virtual world is "purer" in its relationship building in that there are no physical filters at play.
Yeah, well, when someone writes ((HUGS)) on facebook, the blog, or an email, folks, it just doesn't TOUCH the real thing... yes, pun intended. The virtual world is a good thing, but it isn't enough (for me at least). It's like as if I was going to try to subsist solely on power bars and protein drinks. Maybe I could get by technically, but the quality of my experience of nourishing myself would be lacking greatly.
So, that all being said, I am asking you all that if you are within even a 'reasonable' distance of one of these last two gatherings in TX or AZ, that you take the 'unreasonable' step of coming out of cyberspace and coming together with us to share a meal. We will never be here again, just like we are, right here, right now. You will be different. We will be different. Geographically, this is only the second time in my life I have been in TX, and the first time was in 1999 for Doug's wedding, so I know it's predictable we won't be doing anything like this again in TX. Phoenix is another story since we used to live there and still have family and friends there. Dallas/Plano (the biggest nest of blog followers in TX): tomorrow is literally just for YOU. We left I-10 and headed north TO YOU. We could have just headed straight on through to El Paso, but we detoured for you.
No pressure. :P
Seriously, though, I ask that you get over whatever is in the way of you coming to Richardson and spending some time with us. Here is what we DON'T CARE about:
1) what you say
2) how you look
3) if you cry or not
Trust me, if you just SHOW UP, that is way more important to us than any of the above three. The act of showing up is gift enough. It means you cared enough to move your normal busy hectic life around to be in the same place at the same time with our little family. That definitely 'takes' something. So, I thank you in advance for handling whatever it took to come out and give us A REAL HUG.
Here's the info again:
Bella's TX Blog Gathering:
Tuesday, Nov. 2nd @ 5:00pm
Community Christian Church
1300 Holly Drive
Richardson, TX 75080
So far, I have only gotten 2 emails RSVP'ing for tomorrow, and both parties have to come late or leave early. PLEASE, RSVP... we have a deli tray, some lasagna that Doug's wife Heather has made, and a cookie tray on the menu so far. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bella's AZ Blog Gathering:
Friday, Nov. 5th @ 5:00pm
Franciscan Renewal Center ("The Casa") Pool Patio
5802 E. Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85253
RSVP to email@example.com with what potluck you will bring. I have gotten 1 RSVP from 1 person so far for this event, and they are FROM TUCSON AND ARE DRIVING UP.
Bella's CA Memorial Service
Sunday, Nov. 14th @ 2:00pm
The Wallace All-Faiths Chapel
One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866
Food and beverages will be provided for this event, but there is a facebook event set up for this; it works better than the survey we set up. Here is the link to that event page to RSVP:
I ask for a lot from others, but to them I also give a lot. The circuit of giving and receiving is what being in relationship is all about. We enjoy giving, and we enjoy receiving. We can't do either without another. YOU are the other. Ang, Ali, Bella, and I are the other. WE all are 'the other.' Please, do whatever it takes to come give us a real hug.
Think of it this way. Many people are worried they don't have the words to say. You don't need any words to give a hug. If you remain here in cyberspace where all you have is words, what can you give if you don't have words? You remain "out there." Step out of the shadows and into the light. I promise just this small act will transform you. Ask Kim from Durham, a blog follower who drove an hour each way to come to the NC event and didn't "know" anyone when she got there. That wasn't the case when she left. Or the three nurses that drove 2 and a half hours to attend the event, then got up and ran a race for EB back in Asheville the next morning in 32 degree temps. Together, all the runners raised over $2,500 for DebRA. In addition, after speaking with me at the event, they are planning on not only educating their staff and hospital on EB in Hendersonville where they work, but going to the NICU at the larger hospital in Asheville to promote EB awareness there and install EB protocol there as well. They are already getting connected with our EB NICU nurse in CA to exchange research and best practices. THANK YOU, Kendra, Melanie, and Lacy, you are an inspiration to us all! These are the same sweet ladies that also made the t-shirts with Bella, Daylon, Tripp, and Jonah on them, and the same ladies who put us up at the Sweet Biscuit Inn in Asheville. You ladies ROCK.
It's now 4:07 am. I should probably go back to sleep. I now fall asleep first, then when I wake up in the middle of the night, I just post then. Seems easier for some reason right now.
I will close with my favorite benediction. It is Franciscan, and LaDonna, our chaplain at U of M read it at Bella's memorial. What she didn't know was that it IS my favorite benediction. She picked it based on knowing me, but we never spoke about what she would say. It goes like this:
May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe you can make a difference in the world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done, to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
Enjoy the fabulous antics of Ali...
and... NAP TIME...
One of my favorite pictures... pretty much says it all...