Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hopes and Wishes for 2012

My Hopes and Wishes for 2012 are simple.  To live the life that God has planned for me…a life filled with Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness,  and Self Control.  Galatians 5:22-23 

I hope to love without fear of heartache.

I wish to laugh until it hurts.

I hope I will never stop trusting that I am on the path that will lead me to a life everlasting.

I hope to offer up grace and mercy to those who cross my path.

I wish for everyday of the new year to include random acts of kindness, so much so that they become a part of who I am and not something I do.

I hope to live my life above reproach so that my actions do not cause others to stumble.

I hope to have the faith of a child..to believe in the wonders of the world without question to why or how.  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

I hope to continue to grow a spirit of gentleness that has only come to me through stopping to consider the other persons situation before reacting.

And lastly but certainly not least of all…I hope to continue to grow in my understanding that self-control does not come from my self-centered mind-set but a mind centered on the Spirit that dwells within me and the small quiet voice leading me, guiding me through all that is my life.

I hope to continue to live a life filled to overflowing.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

This past year has been filled with many blessings. My husband blessed me with his unconditional love and support without fail or hesitation, he is my biggest fan.  I have watched my son treat his girlfriend with love and respect that can only come from the example set by the way his Dad treats his Mom.  Although a few friends have passed away from this life my life is richer for having known them and called them friend.  I have enjoyed a renewed love and passion for writing.  I have realized a long time desire to have a little junk resale business of my very own.  I have entertained my friends and family in my home.  I have seen my prayers answered when the Doctor finally found  a treatment for my Dads Parkinson’s that has given him back his quality of life.

“Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” unknown

This past year has been filled with many new friendships.  I have met their families; rejoiced at the arrival of precious little ones and experienced heartache over their losses.  I have enjoyed a cup of tea as well as delicious desserts at their kitchen table.  I have watched the sun rise and set from their decks and patios.  I have heard them sing in church and I have celebrated their anniversaries and birthdays.  I have even traveled with a few of them on their wonderous and amazing vacations. I have come to appreciate the differences that make each of us unique.  But it is our uniqueness that draws us together and links us together.  Our camaraderie comes from our willingness to “just write”.    My friends have shared their lives with me yet we have never met in person.

Here are some their reflections of the past year as well as some of their hopes and wishes for 2012.

Making Room (emjayandthem’s blog)

“Your closet should contain 3 categories of clothing: clothes you love, clothes that fit you now, and clothes that garner you compliments whenever you wear them.” Peter Walsh, organizational expert.

View Outside My Window for 2012 (This Man’s Journey)

“I wish for 2012, more love, inner peace, loads of smile and laughter, of happiness that comes from a contented heart for me, for my family, for my friends but more importantly for those whose 2011 had been covered with anguish and struggles.”

Zen Living for Idiots (Spirit Lights the Way)

“As we cultivate mindful awareness, we begin to view the world with alert curiosity, rather than through the distorted lens of stale judgments, attitudes, and opinions.  We start to see things as THEY are rather than as WE are.”

Failure Succeeding In the Opposite Direction (Janna T Write’s Blog)

“My relationship with God is the glue that bonds me as a wife, mother, friend, writer, employee, leader, and compassionate human being. Sometimes I feel like parts of me threaten to peel away, but I want my life to be held tighter than crazy glue between fingertips.”

Reflecting on… this past year, today and the coming year (Pocket Perspectives)

May those of us who might be reflecting during the next few days…

review with clarity
ponder with insight
consider with love,
gentleness and forgiveness

appreciate with heartfulness

prioritize with wisdom
wonder with depth and imagination

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Filed under Blogging Challenges, postaweek2011, Thoughts on Blogging

Music Moves Me…When Love Comes to Town

In keeping with my love of duets…today’s offering is BB King and U2 from 1989 Lovetown Tour in Australia.  It’s hard to believe its been 22 years…Time goes by in a blink of the eye, don’t blink or 2012 will pass just as quickly.  Make the most of everyday…slow down and listen to the music.

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Looking Back at Post a Day Challenge 2011 meme…

I am looking back at Post a Day Challenge 2011 as the end of 2011 is fast approaching.  Many of us are taking stock of the past years accomplishments and challenges.  I have been thinking about my January 2011 commitment to the post a week challenge.  Then the good folks over at The Daily Post offered up a post to help evaluate 2011 blogging and 2012 goals.

Here are the 11 Questions from the Daily Post to help break things down to bite size pieces.  I turned it into my first meme.  It took me all year to figure that one out.  Oh well, better late than not at all…Right? Right!

  • Why did you start the Post a Day/Week Challenge?

I began the Post a Week Challenge strictly as a way to stay focused on blogging.  I had been blogging for just less than a year and I wasn’t very consistent. 

  • Describe the state of your blog at the time you started the challenge.

In December of 2010 I was averaging 3 posts per week, 21 daily views, 9 total comments for the entire month, half of which were from my family. 

  • How did your blog evolve over the course of the challenge?

I can honestly say that my blog blossomed through the Post a Week Challenge.  I quickly met other bloggers who were committed to supporting bloggers involved in the challenge.  Their comments were supportive and encouraging!  My blog has quadrupled in followers and views.

  • Did you post as often as you had hoped? Why or why not?

I signed up for the Post a Week Challenge but found myself posting on an average of 5 days per week.  There was an incredible amount of encouraging and creative ideas being shared by bloggers that helped to keep the creativity flowing.

  • What type of blogging strategy works best for you?

I found that mixing up the type of posts helped to keep things fresh and interesting.  I participated in the Weekly Photo Challenge, the 30 day A-Z Challenge and Wordless Wednesday in addition to my general blogging topics.

  • If you could go back to the beginning, what would you do differently?

I definitely would have given more thought to the name of my blog.  Originally it was just “Jeanne’s Blog”.  I added nolagirlatheart later on and it really has become my blog name. 

  • What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?

The WordPress Challenge helped me find my voice and rekindle a passion that was smoldering under the surface.  I am a writer!  Even if it is only in my own mind.

  • Name 3 great blogs you discovered through the challenge.

NOLA Details  Carla takes me on a tour of New Orleans neighborhoods through her snapshots.  She loves New Orleans as much as I do.  This blog is always colorful and fun just like my beloved NOLA!

Incredible Lightness of Seeing Teresita hosts an incredibly beautiful photoblog.  Her posts are always beautiful with a dose of inspiration and a sprinkling of daily gratitude.  This blog is a quiet peaceful place in a world of noise and confusion.

This Man’s Journey This blog is the path of a man whose past has carried him to his present on the way to his future.  He loves his family and he has a unique way of sharing the depth of love in his heart while respecting the privacy of his sweet family.  I am always amazed at the thoughtfulness of his posts as well as the way he uses his photos to give us a glimpse of all that is his life.   

  • What surprised you about the challenge?

It was much easier to “just write” than I thought it was going to be.  When my creativity waned I found inspiration in the simple everyday experiences.  Especially the weekly photo challenge.  It became a game for me to find ways to think outside of the box when interpreting the weekly topic. 

  • What advice would you give to others who want to blog regularly?

Make a commitment!  Be consistent!  Just write!

  • What are your blogging goals for 2012?

I am hoping to figure that one out very soon.  I am considering committing to 3 or 4 focused weekly segments.  One being a photo from the same place, day and time of the week for 52 weeks.  I am also considering a weekly post highlighting a vintage find from my junking adventures.  I haven’t figured the rest of it out just yet.  I am hoping to find inspiration from the same place I have found it this past year…from my blogging buddies!

That’s my look back at the Post a Day Challenge 2011…How did you do?

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Am I the Only One?…

Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one…The trouble with emails is it can be almost impossible to determine the intended tone of the person typing the email.  That is unless the email contains exclamation points or bold capitalized type, then you might have some inkling of what the sender of the email is trying to communicate.  When there are just words laying on a screen it is up to you the reader to interpret the intended tone.  Unfortunately, the tone is usually interpreted in the same tone that reflects the mood of the person reading the email.  Therefore, leaving huge opportunities for misinterpretation.

Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it. Peter Drucker

Let me explain…

This Christmas, buying “Made in America” was on the forefront of my mind when making my Christmas gift purchases. As many of you know I am committed to “buying American” and “buying local“.  You may have even noticed the air time that the National news committed to promoting companies that are creating American jobs by manufacturing products in America.

I spent a considerable amount of time researching companies that had potentially promising gift options.

I discovered a website that represented over 100 “Made in America” companies.  I found one particular item that I knew would be a great gift for my husband.  However, I can not reveal the actual item at this time as I am still waiting for it to arrive.  Which brings me to the rest of the story…

Let me just say that I knew going in that there was a possibility that my order may not get to me in time to find its way under the tree but the manner in which the delay was handled is in my opinion totally unacceptable.

I ordered my product on Monday December 19th sometime after  5pm CST.  Within an hour I received an email from the website administrator notifying me that the shipping address and billing address on my credit card did not match.  Therefore my order was cancelled.  No problem..thanks for the quick response.

I immediately re-ordered using a different credit card and my order was accepted.

Good service is good business. Siebel Ad

On December 22nd when I had not received a tracking number I contacted the website administrator requesting my tracking number.  Within an hour I was notified that the product was being shipped from the manufacturer and the tracking number had been requested.  Wow…I wasn’t expecting such a fast response.

Christmas Day came and went with out a follow-up email with the promised tracking number.

Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. Donald Porter, V.P. British Airways

On Sunday Christmas Day in the evening I sent a follow-up email to the website administrator advising him I was disappointed and again requested my tracking number.  Hind sight being what it is I should have elaborated a bit as to why I was disappointed and included a winking smiley face…but I just sent a one line email, the words were just laying on the page, waiting to be interpreted by the recipient.

It is now obvious to me that my email was not received with the intent it was written.. The email response I received on Monday was typed in much larger type than the previous emails,  informing me of my tracking number.  I was also notified that “people” were working on their Christmas holiday to help me out.  I was also informed if I was disappointed I should shop elsewhere!  What?  Really?  Oh NO you didn’t!!!  But oh YES he did….

Needless to say I have sent Mr. website administrator a very detailed email expressing where my disappointment stemmed from and exactly how I felt about his invitation to shop elsewhere…I am tempted to share the entire email correspondence with you but I think you know me well enough to know that I was never rude or demanding in my requests.  The only thing I ever expected and asked for was the tracking number for my purchase so that I could check on the progress of the shipment.

I would like to say that I hope the lack of professionalism that I experienced is an isolated incident.  I would hate to think that the owner of the website representing these “Made in America” companies makes a habit out of inviting customers to shop elsewhere.

In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away. Doug Warner

However, I did not just delete the email and stew over what I deemed an unnecessary comment.  I responded!!!  With vigor!!!  I do not believe I am the only one who is fed up with the lack of respect and customer service that is dished out by business’.

Am I the only one who thinks that a business owner would want to know the level of satisfaction his customers experience when visiting his website or place of business?

Am I the only one who thinks that the needless and rude comment suggesting I shop elsewhere could have been avoided had the company provided the tracking number in the first place?

Am I the only one who expects a certain level of customer service from the companies I spend my hard-earned American dollars with?

Am I the only one who takes it personally when treated rudely by an employee of a business I visit?

Am I the only one who is fed up with rude employees and mediocre products?

With the exception of food, water and gasoline there isn’t one item I can think of that I must purchase.  I don’t need another picture on the wall or shirt in the closet.  I don’t need another chair to sit on or electronic device to click away my time.

However, I may choose to buy a new dress for a party or a picture frame for a special family photo.  I may choose to replace my old patio chairs with new ones or invest in a Kindle.

I will no longer accept poor customer service or look the other way when treated rudely by an employee of a business.  I will no longer spend my money with companies who do not believe that the customer is their most important asset.  I will no longer…well I think you get the point!  I am over it and I am not going to take it any more!

I only expect what I am willing to deliver to those who choose to shop in my business or stop by and visit my blog.  Excellent Customer Service with a Smile!!!

Am I the only one? I don’t think so…

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so. unknown

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Long Live the Spirit of Christmas!!

Are you already thinking about packing up your Christmas decorations?  I am not quite ready to tackle that project just yet.  However, I have been thinking about a few things…Keeping the Spirit of Christmas with me through the year…Long live Christmas!

I have been thinking about how much I love this time of year and what it would be like to keep Christmas close at hand every day of the year.

What might that look like?

Long Live the Spirit of Christmas!

Christmas lights up on the house for the 4th of  July…Christmas decorations sitting dusty in every room of the house…and jingle bells playing on the radio at Halloween.  I guess there are people who love the Christmas Holiday so much they would consider embracing these ideas.  But I think NOT!

However, what I am thinking about is the Spirit of Christmas…the Spirit of love and laughter, the Spirit of giving…the Spirit of Peace on Earth and goodwill toward mankind.

Here is someone who I think keeps the Christmas Spirit in his heart day after day, year after year and now even decade after decade.  Meet the Bicycle Man of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

For 20 straight years, 72-year-old Moses Mathis has been playing Santa Clause to Fayetteville area children.   In the past 2 years he has given away 2300 bicycles!  Mr Mathis accepts donated bicycles and restores them to give away at Christmas to families that can not afford to purchase them.  He says that as long as he has a building to work in he will continue to do this.

Why does he do it?  He carries the true Spirit of Christmas in his heart.  He doesn’t unpack it from a box in late December.  He keeps it with him always!  Working diligently throughout the year like one of Santa’s elves…getting  the bicycles ready for the big day in December when he gets as much joy from giving the gifts as do the children who receive them.

“To see the smiles, the kids’ laughter, the hugs, the kisses. That’s why I do it.,” he said.

Long Live the Spirit of Christmas!

I won’t be packing up the Spirit of Christmas with my forever tree and all the decorations…instead I will pack it deep in my heart and carry it with me through 2012.  Loving, giving, sharing and rejoicing every chance I get.  I imagine it will make an amazing difference in my Spirit!!!

Long Live the Spirit of Christmas!

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All I want for Christmas…

Christmas cannot be all that we want it to be. It’s only a holiday.

Christmas cannot bring harmony to your home.

Christmas cannot bring peace on earth.

Christmas cannot bring happiness.

But Christ Himself can do all of this and more.

That is really what we are longing for deep… inside.

 • Not Christmas, but Christ.

• Not merriment, but the Messiah.

• Not goodwill, but God.

• Not presents, but His presence.

Anything or anyone short of this will disappoint.

 But God never will.

That’s what I want for Christmas–Jesus Christ.

Taken from the Greg Laurie Daily Devotion

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Music Moves Me…Louisiana Christmas Day

Music Moves Me…Louisiana Christmas Day Video is as close as this nolagirlatheart will get to being home for Christmas.  This song is sung by Aaron Neville a native of New Orleans, Louisiana.  I thought the pictures chosen by LaLeroux captured the essence of a New Orleans Christmas; the St.Charles Streetcar, The Balconies, The Horse Drawn Carriage, The River Road Bonfires, The Alligator Santa Clause and Mr. Bingle the Maison Blanche department store icon and the St. Louis Cathedral.   It all reminds me of my beloved NOLA.

Joyeux Noel de Cajun!!!

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Louisiana Christmas Tradition…Lighting of the Bonfires

I have so many wonderful Christmas memories from my childhood in Louisiana…however, this particular memory is not specific to me or my family alone.  This memory is shared with thousands of South Louisiana Families.  It is the lighting of the Christmas Eve Levee Bonfires

Once few in number, the local bonfires were originally a neighborhood or family oriented activity. Now they line the levee for miles and attract thousands of visitors.  The event has had local and national television coverage and has been featured in metropolitan newspapers and magazinesThrough the years, there has been an intermingling of facts and fantasies concerning the origin of the bonfire tradition.

One of the more recent and increasingly popular explanations is that the bonfires were a “Cajun tradition”, first used to light the way for “Papa Noel”, the Cajun version of Santa Claus. This charming version, although improbable, has been depicted annually in front of a Paulina, LA business establishment where a levee scene shows “Papa Noel” with his pirogue drawn by alligators named Gaston, Ninette, “Te-Boy”, Celeste, Suzette, etc.

The building of the each bonfire takes dozens of individuals and weeks to assemble.  There is an official announcement made around 7pm on Christmas Eve giving the go ahead to light the bonfires which happens simultaneously.  The bonfires light up the Mississippi River and burn for hours and some will burn into the wee hours of Christmas morning.  Friends and family gather together to wait and watch for Papa Noel to make his way along the river making his deliveries to all of the good little children. 

I hope this YouTube video will give you a glimpse into the Louisiana Christmas Tradition…Lighting of the Bonfires!  Joyeux Noel!!!

Information gathered from St James Parish home page.

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Christmas is..

Christmas Is...Memories

I was talking with my sister the other day and she was sharing a few memories from one of her first Christmas’ spent living away from home.  She shared with me how when she puts up one of her Christmas trees it reminds her of a Christmas long ago and far away.  Our conversation got me thinking about things…like what Christmas is and isn’t. 

Christmas is not… only about a big tree loaded down with expensive store-bought ornaments.  It is not only about what you can buy at the big box store. It’s not even how many gifts are wrapped up and nestled under the tree.  It’s not about decorating your house to look like Christmas exploded on your front lawn..  It’s not about parties, presents or plates piled high with pastries…Christmas is not a lot of things.

Christmas Is...Memories

But Christmas is…about the memories of Christmas’ past that come flooding back when you begin unpacking boxes of  old ornaments collected over the years.  It’s the memories that are attached to a special ornament or two that make you feel a bit melancholy or nostalgic.  For me it’s the hand embroidered ornaments made by my Mom when she was recovering from back surgery. The detail is incredible, the colors are still vibrant after all these years and they remind me of how much she loves her family.    I also have a few handmade ornaments from my sisters and mom that bring a smile to my face every year when I unwrap them and hang them on the tree.  When I hold these ornaments in my hand and look at them it’s almost as if they are right here with me in the moment.

Christmas Is...Memories

For my sister her memories are attached to a box of $1 store ornaments that remind her of her first Christmas starting out as a family and funds were tight. The ornaments remind her that the joy on Christmas Day does not come with an expensive price tag…she remembers a Christmas when the toys purchased at the general store brought the same kind of joy to her childs face on Christmas morning just as if they had come from an expensive retailer. When my sister was unpacking her special ornaments she was also reminded of a wonderfully happy day spent in 4 story mall where all the shopping that was done was window shopping because that’s what they could afford.   These special ornaments also reminded her of coming home to find a box of groceries on the front porch complete with everything for Christmas Dinner and how a tradition of sharing Holiday meals with Friends began…

Unpacking ornaments is a great way for us to unpack the memories of what Christmas is really all about…making memories with loved ones that can carry us through the coming year.

Christmas Is....Memories

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Repurposed Pumpkins…Snowmen Welcome You to our Home this Christmas!!!

How cute are these little guys…Pumpkin Snowmen Welcome You to our Home this Christmas!!!

Back in early October I ventured into Houston to the open air produce market to purchase my heirloom pumpkins as well as my seemingly ordinary pumpkins.  I really love mixing the different types and shapes of pumpkins to create an interesting look for Fall.  They really welcome the season the changing season without having to go all out.  However, I like the pumpkins so much I always have a difficult time disposing of them when its time to put the Christmas decorations up.  This year I stumbled on a crafty blogger who had a stellar idea on extending the life of her pumpkins.

Coco Chanel once stated that “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” so I hope Stephanie over at Under the Table and Dreaming will be flattered should she happen to see that I borrowed her wonderful idea.

Christmas Entry...Repurposed Pumpkins

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