Pauline Reneaux

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...

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