Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Yellow Roses

I ran out of things that inspired me, so I decided to write down my memories. All of them. Here is the first one.

My Daddy liked to give his girls flowers. Mom and I love flowers. They’re so cheery and alive … and I am not a green thumb. And then they provide height and texture, but that’s another story. Anyway …

When I was little, I took dance class, and every spring was recital time. We would spend countless hours beginning immediately after Christmas learning the choreography, trying on costumes (I remember quite vividly playing with the loose sequins on the dusty floor.), and practicing in our spray-painted-to-match tap shoes (and ballet shoes, and whatever-else shoes), all in anticipation of the big night. Then we would lug everything, including VERY heavy makeup (and by “heavy,” I mean the application, not the weight) and shiny accessories, down to the beautiful Perot Theater, where girls of all ages would cram together in one big “dressing room” to change costumes, primp, spray, laugh, practice, and be hovered over by our mothers. We were admonished for hanging out backstage (“I can see you from the audience!”), for running behind the curtain (it made waves that were distracting to the audience!), and for clomping up and down the stairs in our tap shoes. We were hollered at from the front row for not being in sync, for not smiling, for counting with our lips moving, for not using the entire stage … You name it. We dealt with stage fright, bright lights in our eyes, strange people and places and noises, and more hovering mothers that were not our own. For girls ages anywhere from 5 to 18, it was a grueling and emotionally draining week. For those of us who didn’t really particularly enjoy it, it was just torture. I would rather be playing softball.

But the big night (or afternoon, as it were) was almost magical. Once the music started, it did not stop until the finale. Backstage was like its own city, running like clockwork. We went on stage, we performed, we came off, we changed costumes, and we did it again. We snuck backstage to watch our heroes—the older girls who amazed us with their grace and beauty. And some of us, to our own astonishment, became the admired after a time. And the most magical moments of all were those surprises where loved ones wanted to honor us, usually in the form of having a young dancer present a bouquet of flowers to the soloist at the end of the dance. She so elegantly accepted them and kept on dancing. I always wanted to be one of the recipients, but I never was. I don’t think Daddy knew how special that would have been for me, but his way turned out better.

Daddy handed them to me himself.

The first time, we were in the parking lot when recital was still at Texarkana College in the old auditorium. (It’s no longer there, but my memory is as vivid as if I were there last night. I can still smell the popcorn they allowed in the auditorium, still see the girls sitting in the seats in their costumes, and still remember the annals of the backstage area in my mind.) He said something about forgetting to give me something, and he opened the trunk and pulled out a huge bouquet (to me, anyway … I must have been about 10) of yellow roses. I was stunned. My heart was bursting with love for him, and with the knowledge of his love for me, and the understanding that no matter what, I was still his girl. Daddy wasn’t always a very demonstrative man when it came to affection, so it was moments like these that I held on to, even when I was all grown up, because I knew that was his way of saying he loved me, he was proud of me, and he was proud to be my Daddy. Always.

And from then on, it was tradition. I came to expect my flowers every year. Sometimes he sent them to me at school. Sometimes he brought them home. Sometimes Mom would bring them backstage, so I could be the envy of the girls in the big dressing room. I don’t remember the last time he sent me flowers. But I know he loved me, and that is all I need.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gain and Retain: The Basics of Membership in Your Nonprofit

Originally posted three years ago, but the ideas are the same. Altrusa District Nine reached ONE THOUSAND STRONG by following some of this advice. We can attain those lofty goals. Just BELIEVE.

On Tuesday night I attended the DFW Club’s installation banquet. I had a fabulous time! The food was great, the company was great, and of course, the cause was great. I want to tell you, though, about something in particular this club did very well. They hosted an event that was effective for both guests (potential Altrusans) and members (Altrusans we’d like to retain). It was amazing, and looked almost effortless. You can do it in YOUR club, too. Make every meeting an EVENT, and you’ll “gain and retain.”

I bet DFW gets at least two new members out of this meeting, and perhaps one for another District Nine club. Why? Because they showed off their programs and their members were thrilled to tell the guests all about them.
  • A presentation showed off their projects from the entire year. Just pictures set to music. I heard guests asking all about the projects, and I heard members enthusiastically describing them.
  • Display boards, along with samples of some of their projects like blankets they are making, set at opposite corners of the room, drew guests in as they wondered “what is up with that cute blankie!” and allowed guests to explore the offerings of their club on their own time.
  • DFW has a great group of ladies. They are all chatty and engaging, and they are proud of what they’ve accomplished. The slide show really allowed them to reminisce and reflect about the great things they’ve done. With that combined with the inspirational installation program, current members came away with some inspiration to make the coming club year even better.
  • Adorable (yet simple) decorations added a special touch. They had their napkins tied with ribbons … that had our great new logo! I kept my little yellow bow and attached it to my pin ribbon. It’s fantastic!
If I had one suggestion for the club, it would be to make sure to get the contact information for your guests and follow up. You don’t need to “close the deal” right away, just send a note to say thanks, and give her a call about a week before your next event to invite her along.
Thank you, Altrusa International Inc. of DFW, for a wonderful evening. Linda Pavona, you put together a great program and installation. Carla Helstrom, you’re going to be a great president. And Altrusans of DFW, please invite me to your next event. I want to be part of the amazing service you provide!

Beth Blair

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day

Amazingly enough, Labor Day was productive in the Blair household. Some cleaning got done (which is a miracle in itself), some volunteering got done, and some introspection happened, too.

The introspection is probably at the top of my list. My BFF texted me this morning to tell me that a mutual friend of ours had passed away Friday. He was her boss, and my client. I remember him well and love him dearly. Many a lazy afternoon we would spend talking Baylor and/or Texas Tech football, or him showing me photos of his precious grandbaby, or me listening to hours of fly-fishing stories. Terry knew how to spin a yarn, and he was a passionate guy. I was fascinated, and I loved working on his stuff, too. No matter what the project, whether difficult or simple, mundane or exciting, the good clients make everything worthwhile and make me remember why I do what I do.

Another client left me this week--just to Kansas, though. His departure is still rough. When he came to the national office, a friend of mine told me that I would "love Mark." He turned out to be right. Mark was the easiest client I ever had. He explained things, and he let me in on his plans. I knew what to expect, and in return I tried to give him the same. He taught me a lot about leadership, planning, and (maybe most of all) making work fun. Thank you, Mark, for the Disney tips! How can you not be the best client ever with all the insider's knowledge of Disney World, I ask?

So, good-bye, Terry, until we meet again. Enjoy heaven's version of Philmont. And as for you, Mark, I'll see you soon. Isn't it funny how things never stay the same?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Seriously. Hungry Words.

Does this get easier? I’m on … let’s see … day seven of my “pre-op liquid diet,” which consists of a protein, meal-replacement shake for breakfast and dinner and a box (Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, etc.) for lunch. This morning it was an Advocare berry-flavored meal-replacement shake with ice, which I really like. But I just couldn’t get it all down. Then I followed that up with a Smart Ones turkey and stuffing, which was mediocre at best. I’m not hungry, really. Maybe a little. But I am hungry FOR something. I want Cheetos.

I begged my (only, last, remaining) friend at work to bring me donuts, chocolate milk, and a big bag of crunchy Cheetos. I offered him $500. He’s being nice and not doing it. But I’d seriously sell my car, cat, or husband if they’d give me a big cheesy Cheeto… You know, the kind that gets coated with all that glorious orange stuff at the bottom of the bag? That’s the Cheeto I want. My kingdom for a cheesy Cheeto! Really, I’m hoping against hope that the surgery takes away all cravings. They say it will. Sometimes I forget.

See how hunger has made me deliriously digress?

NSV: That’s “non-scale victory” for you who aren’t in the know like me. I’m like the weight loss process queen. Notice I didn’t say I was queen of losing weight, because that would be stupid. Anyway … NSV: My wedding rings fit again. I love wearing them, because I rarely wear jewelry of any kind. They remind me of my new outlook on life: Work is just a job. Get through the day. Go home and live your life with your family and friends, and let that be your joy.

Waitin’ on my 4:30 joy ride home to kiss my dog, my cats, and my husband, probably in that order.

Highest weight: 374.
Current weight: 324. (How does that happen? How do you gain two pounds overnight when all you had was two shakes and a box?)
Surgery date: March 28, 2014.
Goal weight: Not within sight yet.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Change of Focus

Way back in July 2013, it was a whopping 374.
On November 5, 2013, it was 364.
On December 30,  2013, it was 345.
On January 10, 2014, it was 347.
On January 31, 342.
February 13, 339.
February 19, 335.
Today, 322.

That's right. I'm talkin' about my big fat weight. Yep, I'm throwing it out there for the world to see and letting you know that I'm changing my focus. I haven't blogged in several months. Lots of months. Over a year. Now I am starting again.

The cool thing is, I'm having weight loss surgery, specifically gastric sleeve, next Friday. I started a liquid diet (1000 calories a day) several days ago. It seems to be working. Anyway, this is my last chance. This post won't be particularly eloquent, but I expect future ones will hold more emotion than you can shake a stick at. So come back and read, and keep me accountable and away from the Cheetos. I desperately want a big bag of crunchy Cheetos...

Highest weight 374.
Current weight 322.
Goal weight whatever's healthy.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

People I Can't Wait to Meet in Heaven

I'm doing a lot of cleaning up (and cleaning out) of stuff, including lots of old papers and pictures that were my Daddy's. I ran across some stuff from Granddaddy's Book of Remembrance that I haven't read in forever. I love this stuff.

This is an excerpt that my great-grandmother Emma (Daddy's grandmother, Granddaddy's mother) wrote to the church paper. The "little 15 year old Robert" mentioned is my granddaddy. I love this. I love being able to claim a strong Christian family. I want to make them proud, and I am proud to have them.

Will, Robert, and Emma Rash
"Dear Brother Richards:
"It is with a thankful heart I wish to write a few lines to tell about our wonderful meeting at Waco yesterday. Two deacons were ordained. Then Elders Childers and Watts preached so good for us, it sure was a heavenly place on earth to me, for my little 15 year old Robert came home to the dear old church. I asked him about a month ago what his evidence was, he said he heard me singing 'Jesus, thou art the sinners friend,' and something came over him that he wanted to join the church. He said to me, 'Mamma, don't you remember Grandma read in the Bible to remember thy Creator in the day of thy youth?' But first of all, six years ago he lay at the point of death in the hospital. The old Sisters came and knelt around him with a black cross in their hand, but last night he saw a white cross. Some of the children asked him if he was going to be a [C]hristian, he answered very proudly that we was going to be an Old Baptist.
"Oh dear Lord, let me so live that he will always want to live in the church and follow in thy footsteps.
"Mrs. Emma Rash
"Lorena, Texas"

And so he did.

Here are some of his memories about that time, written in his book of remembrances to me (reading this book always makes me cry, so forgive the typos):

"I know there is a God because A presence outside of human stayed beside me during a number of serious illnesses. I did not know that it was God, but it had to be He. He told me many times that He would not take me from those I loved. He also convinced me that all humanity must die or be transformed when time is no more in order to gain immortality."

"The first time I knew God was real I thought that he was angel sent from God. Occasion--I was 7 years old and dying of ruptured appendix. God sent the good surgeon to pull me from the brink."

"The things my mother taught me about God That is God--only one God. Love Him and His Son with all your heart. Have faith in Him because without faith, it is impossible to please Him."

And my favorite: "I experienced a turning point in my faith when I was 14. Primitive Baptists beleive that you must be born again to be with Him forever. I was lying on a grassy bank of the Bullhide Creek in the shade of a weeping willow when a ray of sunshine found its way through the leaves. It seemed to say, 'You are Mine. Come.'"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I'm Sick

Not "as a dog" or even a "sick puppy." Just messy enough to raise eyebrows if I show my face at work today. Aches and pains? I can't tell if it's steroids or coughing, but I gots 'em.

So, I attempt to work from home on a project I need to get done, and this is what happens. Mindless blogging because I can't concentrate. Here, then, are some random things to pepper the day. Nothing exciting, mind you, but random can be fun sometimes.

Macy is lying in the hall, using the closet door to prop up her head so she can appear awake to the cat, who is lying on top of the couch behind my head, waiting to scratch her eyes out.

Scott, who got me sick in the first place and is also home sick today (a rarity to say the very least), is snoring in the recliner, mouth open. I wish I had a feather on a stick ... :)

It occurs to me that I am wiped out after having made the standard chicken noodle soup for lunch. The dishwasher, which is on probation right now while we decide whether we need a new one, is churning with several days' worth of dirty dishes. I hate it when Scott loads and doesn't run the thing. How gross. Anyway.

It's 13 days until my birthday! At least I won't be 40 anymore. :) And to celebrate my new oldness, I am going to see Fuel at Hat Tricks. Love Fuel. Love love love.

Speaking of love... It's also 12 days until Valentine's Day. For V-Day this year, I am going to do the Love Dare for my husband. Before you get too excited, look it up. I told him I was doing it, but I look forward to seeing his reaction. In other Valentine's Day news, I think I will send a candy bouquet or something. I don't know. Any ideas are welcome.

I was nice to my mommy this week. After a vendor visit in my own neighborhood, I was off work a bit early on Tuesday night, so I surprised her by taking her to dinner and to the neighborhood shopping spots until she pooped out. She enjoyed it, and so did I, and I was still home by 7 in time to rest. These steroids really wear me out. I think it's harder every time I have to take them.

Things I hate about steroids: The taste of the vile things. Swollen ankles (and I mean REALLY swollen). Constant hunger. Constant eating, interrupting what was a pretty good start on some dieting. Crabby pants attitude that is obvious even to me, but unstoppable. Strange, constant feeling that something just isn't right. Fitful, light sleep. Need for more rest than usual (but no more hours in the day to do so). Steroids just suck. And if you've never been on them, you just have no idea.

Scotty's on steroids right now for his sicky. One whole week. Woo. But any steroids means evil. We should be a pretty good pair here in a couple of days.