Growing up in Texas, we had tornado drills just as often as fire drills. If I remember right, it was three short bursts of the bell and we lined up, went into the hallway, and ducked against the walls covering our heads.
Being one of the tallest kids in class, I mostly remember it being a pain in the butt trying to crouch down as tight and low as my classmates. I don’t think it ever really set in with me the importance of those drills either… Because we had gotten lucky for years. My little hometown missing the bullet.
I remember many nervous nights at home, though, listening to the wind howl, watching the weather, lighting hurricane lamps. Even then, we we’re lucky. Time and time again, the tornados missing us.
Fall 1996, our first football game of the year, storms billowed and churned. We warmed up in the band hall, when someone broke in and told us to take cover. We huddled up again the only brick wall in that building. I remember holding hands and praying with my friends for safety and protection from the danger. I remember how eerie it was hours later, after the game was postponed and we all went home safe, that the skies parted and we ended up with the most brilliant sunset. We once again got lucky.
No one knew, though, that about 8 months later another small town would not fare so well. May 1997, 20 tornados touched down within less than two hours of my home. One was an EF-5 tornado that hit the town of Jarrell, Texas, killing 27 people — 11 of which were teens like me… 6 of those had been on the football team. I remember crying for the loss of those lives. It hit so very close to home.
There is no asking, “Why?” There is only, “How can I help?”
When I moved to Nashville, it seemed “tornado alley” followed me. April 2009, the “Good Friday tornado outbreak” occurred. My husband and I were in Texas for Easter, and we watched online as a large EF-4 tornado swept across Middle Tennessee… Only a few miles from our home. Once again, tears were shed, especially for the mother and her 9-week-old who were killed.
Moore, OK. Joplin, MO. The April 25-28, 2011 outbreak. This week I happened to be watching tv as Tupelo, MS took a direct hit. The footage out of Arkansas was staggering.
Every time tornado warnings come I wonder if this is the time I won’t be so lucky. Is this the time we will be facing starting over… assuming we get through it.
And yet, outside of trusting I know what to do — seek shelter, protect myself the best I can, pray — there is nothing I can do about it. I can’t stop the tornados. I can’t avoid them entirely. What will be, will be. And should that day come that “my luck runs out” I pray I have the strength to do what has to be done and the faith to keep going forward.
My prayers are with all the victims of these latest storms as well as those still living with the scars of past tragedies.
CNN has compiled a great list of ways we can all help victims of these massive storms.
Let’s face it, we are, as a society, somewhat obsessed with a person’s weight. Our own weight. Other people’s weight. Models’ weights. Children’s weights.
And, you know, that’s okay if means we’re trying to make ourselves healthier as a population. It’s not okay if we’re tearing each other down and making unreasonable expectations of ourselves and others. It’s also not okay, if we’re standing in the way of helping each other make positive changes for ourselves.
An example that has stuck with me for years. While talking with a friend, I mentioned seeing a mutual acquaintance out at the track when I was going for a walk. Their response?
“What are they doing out there?! It’s not like they need to lose any weight!”
It stumped me. It threw me for a loop. I didn’t know how to respond in that moment, but later it made me mad. The REASON this person didn’t “need to lose any weight” is because they go to the track diligently. They maintain a great weight versus “letting themselves go” and having to backtrack later. In hindsight, I wish I’d said something to the effect of, “I think its great they’re out there! It’s inspiring!”
But I missed my opportunity.
I’ve run into that attitude more times than I can count over the last several years… occasionally directed straight at me.
See, I’m naturally built “slender.” But it does NOT mean I’m not susceptible to gaining weight. In fact, over the last ten years, I’ve watched myself slowly gain around 40 pounds. Now, for my height, I’m actually still right in the middle of “healthy” for my weight. I could TECHNICALLY gain over 10 more pounds before I’d be considered overweight.
But I don’t even want to think about that. I don’t even want to know that. I’d rather focus on losing about 10 pounds to be back down on the lower end of “healthy” weight. I’d feel better. I’d be more confident in my appearance. I could stop wearing a corset when I wear tighter fitting clothes.
Here’s the deal, though. When I talk about wanting to lose a few pounds, I often get “the death stare.” You know the one… the one that says, “Shut up. You have no right to even talk about that. You’re just fine the way you are.” And it’s always from other women. Always.
And I just don’t GET that! Now, if I was still what I weighed in high school — a weight in which health insurance didn’t even want to cover me because, “it’s just not possible to be healthy and weigh that little” (I actually had to get a doctor’s note to prove I wasn’t anorexic and was actually quite healthy, just super active!) — then I’d totally understand that glare. I’d hope that glare would actually be more like a look of deep concern for if I had an eating disorder. But when I, today, say, “I’d like to lose about 10 lbs.” I’d hope I’d instead get, “You can totally do it!” instead of, “What for?”
Why can’t we cheer each other on? Why can’t we encourage each other to be healthier in general instead of either letting there be jealousy or judgement?
Next time you see someone going for a jog that “doesn’t need it” or you hear someone say, “I’d like to lose a couple pounds,” don’t roll your eyes or sigh in annoyance. Instead be encouraging! Maybe, just maybe, their determination will be addictive and set a positive example.
1. Start the 100 Happy Days challenge on Instagram. I’ve been wanting to do this for awhile now, and I decided May 1st would be a great start date. It’ll run all summer this way. I have a feeling summer is going to be a busy season of change, and there will be stressful days that I will NEED this challenge.
2. Implement better eating habits. I’ve never ordered a “diet” book and followed it before. But the new book by Travis Stork of The Doctors has caught my attention. I’ve ordered it and plan to start following it this next month. Care to join me? The Doctor’s Diet: Dr. Travis Stork’s STAT Program to Help You Lose Weight & Restore Your Health
3. House shop. We really want to buy a house. I’ve been completely happy in our rental home for the last two and a half years. I’m STILL happy in it. But the small size of the house has reared its head time and time again lately. I have no idea if we can even get approved for a home loan, and even if we can if it would be enough to get into a house we’d be happy to live in… but we’re going to start the process! Prayers welcome. LOL
4. Photography business full swing. I will get my website up and a Facebook page started for my photography in May. It’s going to happen. It has to happen. I did a photoshoot yesterday, and I have another one on Sunday. I’m so in love with photography and its time it get even more of my focus.
5. Keep chipping away at my new years goals! I’ve been doing okay on them, and I can’t stop now!
Update! For Lent this year, I had the goal of doing a photo a day. I’m taking a break from doing a Project 365 this year, but I had missed taking a daily photo. So I figured the season of Lent was a great time to take it back up temporarily.
I. Love. Aggie. Muster. Even more, I love telling people about Muster and why it, in my opinion, sets my university head and shoulders above the rest. Forget football. Forget national championships. Forget all the research and medical advances being done. Remember the PEOPLE. Remember the SPIRIT.
Aggie Muster lands every April 21st. It’s a day in which Aggies gather all around the world — including on military bases during times of war — to visit with each other, remember our times at A&M, and at the pinnacle of the event, call the roll of Aggies who have passed away over the last year. As the names are called, they are answered with a “Here” as their spirit is always present in our hearts.
From the Aggie Traditions website:
Still remembering and honoring the time spent in Aggieland, the tradition of mustering has grown in strength, meaning, and spirit. By 1929, meeting had grown worldwide, and in 1942 Aggie Muster gained international recognition. Twenty-five men, led by General George Moore ’08, mustered during the Japanese Siege of the Philippine island of Corregidor. Knowing that Muster might soon be called for them, these Aggies embodied the essence of commitment, dedication, and friendship- the Aggie Spirit. They risked their lives to honor their beliefs and values. That small group of Aggies on an outpost during World War II inspired what has developed into one of our greatest traditions.
Muster is celebrated in more than four-hundred places world wide, with the largest ceremony on the Texas A&M campus in College Station. The ceremony brings together more Aggies, worldwide, on one occasion than any other event.
Some day my name will be called and answered with a, “Here.”
If that’s not a staggering and humbling realization, then you just don’t GET it.
We have a saying at Texas A&M, “Once an Aggie, always an Aggie.” Aggie Muster really embodies that fact, as we pause to remember and reflect on this bond we share with other Aggies. It’s not just a diploma on the wall. It’s not just wearing something maroon and white. It’s not even our beloved Aggie Rings. It’s something so much more. It’s much deeper. Its respect. Dare I say, its about love of your fellow man. As the roll was called and Silver Taps was played, I looked around the room to see many tears being shed. Its overwhelming.
I’ve organized Muster for middle Tennessee since 2008. I do it because I love it that much. I stress and stress and stress over it, because I want it to be perfect. I can’t relax until we are done, because I feel like if something goes wrong its my fault. I want the spirits of those names we call and their families to know we love and respect them enough to give them a proper “send off.” Logically, I know that no one would hold it against me if something fell through, but in my heart I want it to go perfectly.
One of the biggest things is the guest speaker for each Muster. This year, we had Mike Flynt. His story inspired me when I heard it the first time, and I hope it inspired everyone else at Muster last night.
How can you not be inspired by a man who went back to college at the age of 59 to play his senior year of football? And who also has such a strong faith and belief in God? I’m still on a high from last night.
So forgive me if I happen to think my university is a little better than the rest. Forgive me if I get fighting mad when people “put down” Texas A&M based strictly on football. Because its so much more. Its so much deeper.
From the outside looking in, you can’t understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can’t explain it.
Gig’em and God Bless.
Sometimes, things can’t be captured fully in photo form. That is a hard thing for a photographer to admit. But tonight… tonight was one of those times.
The night the moon turned red. A blood moon.
I always think of the movie Practical Magic when I hear of a blood moon, of as they said, “Blood on the moon.” They didn’t have to explain it signified danger ahead.
I don’t fear a blood moon, though. I view it with humbling wonder. It was totally worth sitting out in the middle of my parents yard with the dog, bundled up and wrapped in a blanket to watch this occur. To see the moon slowly fade, then turn that deep blood maroon. Stunning.
I didn’t realize, going into tonight, that this is the first of four times this will occur in the next year and a half. It will next occur on October 8th, then again April 5, 2015, and then again September 28, 2015. Doing my homework, this phenomenon, while rare, did occur before… in 1909-10, 1927-28, 1949-50, 1967-68, 1985-86, and 2003-04.
No matter how often it happens, though, its still an awe inspiring thing to watch. For me, its the whole experience. The dogs barking in the distance. The light wind. Wrapping up in a blanket, camera in-hand. Some people think a blood moon signals the end of the world… and if it does, well, at least the world ended while I was living and experiencing the moment. Why fear such a thing? Embrace it. Be thankful for it. I say God is the best artist, and nature the most amazing canvas. Tonight was just an example of that fact, and I’m so glad I took the time to experience it.