Pauline Reneaux

D is for Dream

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2019 is now upon us in all her glory. The topic for this piece actually came to me about a month ago so I used the last days of 2018 to really look into my topic in great depth. Normally, people make their New Year’s resolutions and pack the gym, but often these well-meaning goals are very short lived. So, then the idea came to me as I looked at my own life, what if we make what we set out to accomplish on January 1st something we can stick to and achieve!! What if we identify a dream we have and then make a plan as to how we can achieve that dream in 2019? Make your dream something that is doable, but something that will put a spring in your step when we reach December and realize, hey, I really did it!! It doesn’t matter how big or small, if it’s something you have always wanted to do, write it down. For me, approaching 2019 in this fashion takes the pressure off and instead of “resolution” being a 4 letter word, so to speak, the 5 letter word “dream” turns into a 4 letter word that I can embrace, that word being LOVE!!

For me, I want to see my first novel published. I used November and December to lay the foundation so that I can turn this dream into a reality this year. I have all the pieces of the puzzle, and now 2019 is my time to make this dream come true. I use a little stuffed elephant to remind me of the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This is for those times when working toward my dream becomes overwhelming or life has me slowing down. I have items around my house to remind me to believe in my dream. I would encourage you to do the same. The roses in my photo are to remind me that it is time to stop and smell the roses, because life goes by so quickly. They also remind me that sometimes the most beautiful things take time to bloom.
So what would you LOVE to do in 2019? What dream or dreams do you want to see fulfilled? Maybe make a vision board or a board on Pinterest that can represent your dream for 2019. I will work on my own vision board and will share that with you next month. I would love to hear from you. Our community has incredible creatives who love to help others discover their potential and I have always found great joy in bringing people together.
Until next month…
Blessings, Pauline

C is for Cultivating Cheer

     The holiday season is in the air, but in all honesty retail establishments had snowmen next to pumpkins before the first frost hit the ground. We have traded our pumpkin spice in for peppermint mocha lattes. We are of good cheer…or are we?

     I decided to name this piece Cultivating Cheer because it is not uncommon for this time of year to be challenging for people; some have lost love ones, some are alone, some have financial burdens, or any number of other obstacles. So how do we do this? Depending on where you are in life at this moment, it would be very easy to just enjoy the lights on the homes in our neighborhoods and skip the holidays all together, so that is why approaching the holidays this way intrigued me.
Merriam-Webster defines cultivating as to foster the growth of. My family knows that we are facing some very challenging days ahead in 2019, so Cultivating Cheer…well it has been a challenge. So how am I personally Cultivating Cheer this holiday season? I have always been a firm believer in the idea that when life tosses me lemons I can either make lemonade and buy lemon flavored desserts to share with others or have a sour attitude. 

     This past week I watched the movie Christmas in Mississippi. Cenla’s own Faith Ford plays the part of a widow who is decorating for Christmas. When her grown daughter comes home she tells her mom she does not have to go to such extremes to decorate. Faith’s character explains she is decorating for herself simply because she likes to. Last month I wrote about finding balance in my life, and I am doing this in a way that I have never known before. I am not creating and organizing to impress others. I am creating and organizing so that my little empty nest is a nest I want to come home to. Faith Ford’s movie really reiterated for me the idea that creating and decorating for the holidays is not about doing this for anyone else, it is about doing it for our own enjoyment.
In my own quest to cultivate cheer this holiday season I will decorate because I love all things Hallmark and white twinkly lights. 

     For me personally, I have always found that the best way to cultivate cheer is by creating things for others. Sometimes people know they are from me, sometimes they do not. Sometimes they are received graciously and sometimes I never know how they are received. When I do things for people, whether it is to cook a meal, make a gift, or simply send them a God Wink book, I do not ever do these things expecting anything in return. My mom use to say that everyone deserves a happy every now and then and I find great joy in doing this. I have found that cultivating kindness, even if the recipient does not know who we are, cultivates cheer in our hearts and souls.

     To cultivate cheer this holiday season what if we send an anonymous gift to a friend that finds the holidays painful? What if we write a note to a colleague, friend, or neighbor and tell them how much they mean to us or what an impact they may have had on our lives? What if we set up our little tree with the white lights and listen to festive music, and not think of the things we have lost or the trying days ahead?

     When we cultivate things we are helping them grow. When we smile, studies have shown that it helps lift the spirits of others. So I challenge you all to work on Cultivating Cheer this holiday season. You never know, it may help make this season bright for a multitude of people.

Until next year….


B is for Balance

Monday, December 3, 2018

     Fall is in full swing at my house because it is my FAVORITE time of the year, but it is also my most hectic time of the year. Festivals, football games, planning for the holidays leave all of us with calendars that are filled beyond what we can fit into a 24 hour day. An avid reader, Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face has me approaching this time of year a bit differently.

     If you listen to her Podcasts or read any of her work you will learn that she is all about helping us use the last 90 days of the year to make BIG changes, as opposed to waiting for January 1st to roll around and then see what resolutions we want to make. She refers to this as the #Last90Days. 

     In order for me to do this, I knew that I first needed to make sure that I had balance in my life. I have said for quite a while that my goals for 2019 include finishing my books, and making sure my house and health are in order. Sometimes this is a challenge and life can get in the way, but my friends and children will tell you that I am approaching this like a 4 year old at her first t-ball game. I am all in, setting goals and moving mountains. My goals are both short term and long range. My goals are doable and I have made sure that my date to complete each one of my goals is realistic.

     What I am finding is that with each goal I attain I am feeling more and more empowered. What I am finding is that even when life throws me unexpected curve balls, the fact that I know I am working on finding balance so that I can be a better mom and friend to those I love, makes it so much easier to stick to the plan. What I am finding is that if I find balance it helps my children also learn to have balance in their own lives. And yes, I am a walking testimony to the fact that balance can be found in the happiest, most hectic times of life, as well as in the most trying times of life.

     So as you head into this season to all things pumpkin spice, think of ways that you might find balance in your own life, a way that you might be able to catch your breath for just a minute and identify all that you are thankful for. Give this gift to yourself this holiday season, I think you’ll be glad you did.

Until next time...


A is for Adventure

     Fall is finally here and maybe it’s the décor at Hobby Lobby, the fact that Steel Magnolias is showing at the movie theater and the play is being presented at Louisiana College, or maybe it’s the fact that Reese Witherspoon’s new book Whiskey in a Teacup has been released, but I find my sense for adventure for all things dear to us southern women is in full swing. So what did I do? I bought the décor, went to the play, bought the book, and broke out a map.  I jumped in my precious Volkswagen Beetle convertible and drove to Natchitoches to see the home where Steel Magnolias was filmed, but I didn’t just travel up I-49 in a rush, I took the back roads. I wanted to see the beauty of the cotton fields. I wanted look for the plantation homes Lalita Tademy wrote about in Cane River. As a writer I wanted to research adventures that I can take my characters on in my novels.

     As I drove through the back roads on the first day of fall, I couldn’t help but think to myself, how many of us have gotten so busy with our everyday lives that we don’t think to take a “Sunday drive,” as my grandmother use to call them. Studying the history of our community isn’t something we generally think of once we leave school. I was fortunate enough to discover a long lost treasure recently. In a folder I found where my grandmother had meticulously written out the history of Alexandria as she knew it and had experienced. I was never fond of history in school, but I think my longing to explore our state and document all I can about its rich history may have been prompted by finding her work. It showed me what a treasure our words can be to our families long after we leave this earth.

     Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias did that very thing for us. Watching his own family’s experience he saw the women in his life as strong as steel, yet their southern roots made them beautiful like magnolias. On Simon & Schuster’s website, of Reese Witherspoon’s book they write. 

“Reese Witherspoon’s grandmother Dorothea always said that a combination of beauty and strength made southern women “whiskey in a teacup.” We may be delicate and ornamental on the outside, she said, but inside we’re strong and fiery.”

     So I encourage you to break out your maps, or GPS, which ever you prefer and see what adventures you can plan so that you too can experience all that our beautiful state as to offer. I had so much fun on my own day trip that I plan to start writing a weekly piece on my own website called Saturdays with Sara Jayne. Don’t worry, I will be more than happy to share some of these adventures on here as well.

     One of my favorite quotes is by Helen Keller. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
I say make it daring!

Until next time...


A Digital Age: Immediate Gratification

In September I was asked to write for the new digital magazine here 318Central. I thought I would share my article with you. Happy reading!!

     Long, long ago, in a faraway time, and what some people may even describe as a very different planet, as the school bells began to ring, parents all over Cenla began to reinforce the “no phone calls after 9 pm” household policy.  Some families shared a party line with multiple families on the same phone line and a rotary phone was the norm.  As phones progressed, each family had one phone line per household and if you were really high tech there was a kids’ phone line and a separate phone line for parents.  College students returning to school would make collect calls home that their parents would not accept, but it let them know we had arrived safely. 

     Long before a fast food supper was the norm and YouTube helped you repair home appliances, the biggest challenge a family faced was getting supper on the table by 6 pm and keeping it warm if anyone was late, because microwave ovens were not even a thought.  Technology has brought the world to our finger tips and allowed us all to view a world outside of Cenla, but a question we must all ask ourselves, what price do we pay for the instant gratification we all know and enjoy?  It would be easy to blame kids or millennials, but the thing is, this want, desire, demand for instant gratification is unfortunately not reserved for the young.  Not a day goes by that I do not have someone from one business or another in our community, all in very different industries, share stories with me about how customers want the product or service that they offer immediately.  Countless articles address the impact technology is having on people’s health.  I read an article last spring in which someone actually set an alarm to get up in the middle of the night to respond to their boss’s emails.  Now of course I know no one in our community would require that of their employees…or do they?  I know no one reading this goes into a business and wants a good or service yesterday.  I know everyone sits down as a family for a home cooked meal each night to talk about their day.  Or do we?  I will include myself in this group, because again, very few are immune to this age of instant gratification.  In Michael Pollen’s book Cooked he addresses the impact that our fast paced, desire for instant gratification has had on the way we cook, which has, in turn had a tremendous impact on our health and the relationships that we have within out families.

     Cal Newport, author of Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World came to Central Louisiana several years ago and his words had a profound impact on all that heard him.  One of the things that he notes in his book is that while technology has advanced tremendously, the quality of work that people produce has actually decreased.  Could it be that if people are trying to respond to emails all hours of the day and night and not receiving adequate rest that their work is not of the same quality that it could be if they were able to actually rest at night.  When you are preparing presentations, designing new products, studying for classes or writing pieces for print what distractions do you find technology brings to the table?  I have a beautiful new iPad Pro that I love, but when I wrote this piece I started with a tablet and paper.  Why?  Because I could get away from the distractions that my phone or tablet often bring and think about the numerous articles I have read and research that I have done and take the time to truly process it all.  So much is put on the cloud both in academia and business, yet study after study shows that students perform better when they take notes by hand.  Study after study shows that creativity in our country has decreased by as much at 84% across all industries.  And while all of this has taken place, while phones and computers have progressed at a rate that we did not see in other industries, our want and need for instant gratification has kept pace with those trends.

     “Good things come to those who wait.”  This is a phrase that many of us grew up with, but the wait, the delay, the work that must be done before we can receive the “good things,” is something that we find harder and harder to do.  When was the last time you asked a question and truly thought about the answer before asking Siri?  When was the last time you stopped to truly enjoy the day to day tasks that you may have to do?  Has your desire for instant gratification had a negative impact on your life?  It may have been a long time since you heard a school bell ring, but I do not think any of us are too old to learn something new.  I think all of us could stand to put a sticky note on our mirror to remind us every now and then that “Good things come to those who wait,” or at the very least save an image as wallpaper on our phones or iPads to remind us.  After all, waiting is one thing, but having to give up our digital devices, well that is another.       

Until next time...


Let the Adventure Begin

Saturday, September 29, 2018

     Hi! Well, it's the second weekend of fall and I am in my element! This is my favorite season and so it gives me  plenty to write about.  I'm also very excited to share my second piece that I submitted to our new local magazine, called "A is for Adventure." This piece also mentions that my readers will finally start to receive a sample of my work as I get ready to bring my character Sara Jayne Nunn to life for you guys. She has been a part of my creative process for as long as I can remember, but my circle of friends who have been reading as I have written over the years have been encouraging me to embrace my writing and share Sara Jayne's adventures with you as well.

     My plan is to write a weekly column called "Saturdays with Sara Jayne." Given the depth of this character and the fact that her adventures have led me to write two novels, I felt she deserved her own website, because truth be told, most Southern ladies love to be the center of attention...since most people tend to associate Southern ladies with Scarlett O'Hara that is.

     Sara Jayne embodies all that could be considered Steel Magnolias or Whiskey in a Teacup, but you will get to know her soon enough. So I will get back to my writing and website creating, because next weekend is a very special weekend for this Southern lady and she will be sure to share it all and her new website with you as well.


As We Wait

Monday, September 3, 2018

Hi, my name is Pauline Reneaux and I'm excited to be taking my work out into the world on the new digital magazine 318 Central. In this month's piece I reference the timeless saying,

"Good things come to those who wait." 

     After turning in my article I kept mulling this phrase over in my mind, so I decided now was the perfect time to launch my new website and lean into the words that I have been jotting down in notebooks for years.

     Often times writers of both books and film will focus on the good thing or bad things that happen in the characters' lives, but they never tell us how the characters got from point A to point B.  They never tell us about their "mean time," about their wait.  It's true that technology has allowed our wait time to diminish in some respects, but for the big things, the life changing things, a time of waiting is usually required. Or rather what time has taught me is that when we do have to wait for something or work for something we appreciate it more.

     But how do we do that? How do we wait when the world around us and people in general ask, "What are you waiting for?" And we often have well meaning friends and family tell us how quickly time passes, so don't wait too long to go for our dreams, move those mountains, find our feng shui, publish those books. The wait is a careful balancing act that really we have to place in God's hands, for if we try to get ahead of His plans the consequences can be catastrophic. I think it also depends on if we are a "glass is half full" or a "glass is half empty" type of person, though some would also say it all depends upon what exactly is in the glass.

     I'm a "glass is half full," type of woman and I guess as a creative and a writer I have learned to embrace the wait. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean the wait is easy for me, but it is in the wait that we is in the wait that we is in the wait that we are able to truly savor all that life has given us. I have spent years working on my books and the characters that inhabit the covers of them, but it has been through the wait that they have developed and the plots have developed and the twists and turns have developed. So to me my writing has been no different than someone creating fine wine. Just like wine has to age until it reaches it's full potential, the wait allows us the time to really give our projects the best we have to offer.

     So as I go through this season of waiting, I don't sit by idly hoping that what I want is going to appear like a package tossed off of Santa's sled. As I wait I read great books, like Cheryl Strayed's Brave Enough and Rachel Hollis', Girl, Wash Your Face, studying their words, and letting their quotes sink into my heart and soul. I have surrounded myself with incredibly supportive, but tell me like it is "ride or die" type of friends. As I wait, I study ways to improve my writing, and accept constructive criticism from those who are mentoring me as I meander along on my journey. I watch powerful films like they are visual textbooks. As I wait, I work on me. I work on me so that I may go out into the world and help make it a better place. As I wait, I write down all of the steps in the process, so that my journey can one day be someone else's road map to help them get from their own point A to point B. To help them see what one sassy Southern lady did to make it through her season of waiting, so that one day, not only will they see that "Good things come to those who wait," but that when the wait is over, the end result was even more incredible than this writer, with the very vivid imagination, could have ever imagined.

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