Thursday, November 6, 2014

Lessons in Motherhood: The First Year

It has been almost a year since I last blogged. One of the last times I wrote was the day before my due date, and I was unpacking in my head and heart the truth that I was not in control of anything that was about to happen to me – when I would go into labor, how long I would be in labor, what labor would be like, whether I would have a baby boy or a baby girl. In the past year, I have learned even more intimately that I am not in control, and I haven’t blogged once because I only blog when I have something to say, and I’ve been too busy living and learning to have much of anything to say.

Today marks one year since the birth of Baby Brick, and I wanted to share a few things that have been on my heart, and just a few things being a momma has taught me.

What I’ve Learned…

1.       I can’t do this alone (It really DOES take a village)
Living ten hours away from family with a baby presents some unique challenges. I’m not complaining about not having family close (though I miss them every day). I recognize that we have made a choice to live here in New Orleans – BUT that makes getting out regularly for date nights, getting a last minute sitter, going away for the weekend, and such a lot more challenging. Thankfully, we Bricks are blessed with such an amazing group of friends who are like family. I don't know what we'd do with out Ashley who watches Elizabeth every day while Matt and I are at work. It is a gift to have peace of mind every day knowing that our girl is not just taken care of but loved on. Elizabeth also has so many babysitters (Ashley, Anna, Mary, Sara, Sarah, Torie, Rachel and Lucy just to name a few!) who have been lifesavers on many occasions, and who have loved her as if she was their own. And I am so glad to be building this network of friends who I feel safe leaving my girl with for hours (or sometimes a couple of days) knowing she will be clean, fed, snuggled, played with and loved on. This gift of community can’t be understated, and as a mother, I can truly say I don’t know what we’d do without y’all!

2.       I can’t have or do or be it all (and I don’t really want all of it all the time)
After a much needed and much appreciated 6-month maternity leave, I headed back to work. To be honest, up until Elizabeth was a couple of months old, I wasn’t sure if I would want to go back to work or not. But around Christmas time last year, I really felt confirmed that I was supposed to go back to work. I didn’t take this decision lightly. But I honestly do feel called to spend time in the workplace, building relationships, loving and encouraging my coworkers. As a recovering perfectionist who expects herself to excel at everything, learning to manage my expectations of myself in all realms of my life has been a learning process. I told a friend last week that I’ve realized that I’m not as good at many things as I was before. There is the same amount of ‘me’ to go around and more people/activities/things sharing in the pie, so just doing sheer math one can deduce that there would be less of me to give to each person/activity/thing. I am so thankful to be surrounded by a loving husband, supportive coworkers, and understanding friends. There are days when I feel like I’m failing at one or all of the things on my plate, but I’m trying, and I’m starting to learn, really learn, that you can’t have it all, but you can have pieces of all of it. That’s what I’m going for in this season.

3.       Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing (Learning to Be Present)
Between Matt’s job and my job we are busy people. In the past month, we’ve probably had four nights at home with no meetings to attend, or work to do, or people to have over. And while we love doing all those things, it has become increasing apparent (perhaps due to the sleep deprivation that has built up since Elizabeth stopped sleeping through the night two months ago) that sometimes we just need to BE. Sometimes we need to say no to hosting people, no to meetings, no to laundry, no to errands, and just enjoy the quiet moments at home. This has honestly been one of the hardest lessons for me. I have people-pleasing tendencies and often over-commit myself.  A couple of weekends ago, I signed us up for 2 events on Friday night, errands and grocery shopping Saturday morning, a birthday party in the afternoon, one-year photos in the evening, followed by dinner with some other friends. Needless to say, that was too much, and by 2pm on Saturday, Elizabeth was sleeping through the birthday party and I was a hot mess in the kitchen having a panic attack because I overcommitted us and then realized too late that it was all too much. So, through trial and error, I’m learning - learning to SLOW DOWN, to SAY NO to some good things so that I can SAY YES to the better things. Our time here is fleeting and I don't want to miss out on these little and big moments.

So, there you have it. My first attempt at unpacking a few of the thousands of lessons I’ve learned over the past year. All of this feels a little raw. My heart honestly feels a little raw still from all of the changes and all of the newness I’ve experienced. But I’m holding on to what I’m learning, giving thanks for grace along the way, and trying to extend more grace – especially to all the mommas out there. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Christmas Onion: Peeling Back the Layers

Christmastime is here, y'all.

So far this Christmas season I've been experiencing an internal struggle. Something within me has been feeling "off" or not fully into the Christmas spirit. Our tree is decorated. Some presents are wrapped (others still need to be purchased). Outdoor lights are hung. There have been Christmas parties to attend  or host. We've started watching our collection of Christmas movies - and if Elf doesn't get you in the mood, I don't know what will. We even have a new baby to celebrate with. Yet, I've felt disconnected, discombobulated, and otherwise lost somewhere in the Christmas cosmos. I excitedly purchased a new Advent book, The Greatest Gift, by one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp. However, I've even been struggling to connect with each day's devotion and questions. To be honest, even with all the good and exciting things there are to celebrate this time of year, I've just been feeling "blah". Does anyone else ever feel this way?

This morning at the Freret Donut Shop I was discussing my problems with Matt, mostly just processing with him that I was beginning to think that the things we most celebrate about Christmas (family, giving, gathering, etc.) are good things, but they don't fully satisfy because they are not the whole point or purpose of celebration. I was struggling, though, to quantify what I thought the meaning of Christmas was. I knew the surface level/Christianese answer about Jesus being born but even that wasn't enough. This afternoon, reading the Advent book I'd been struggling through, everything that seemed off and all that I couldn't verbalize jumped off the page and pierced my heart. Just like the people of Isaiah 9, who had been walking in darkness but were to see a great light, I feel like the Lord gave me a deeper insight than I'd ever before.

"Christmas cannot be bought. Christmas cannot be created. Christmas cannot be made by hand, lit up, set out, dreamed up. Christmas can only be found." (The Greatest Gift, p. 138)

And then, something awesome happened, friends. I found my Christmas, on the very next page!!

"We are saved from our loneliness because God is love and He can't stand to leave us by ourselves, to ourselves. That is the message of Christmas. The message of Christmas is not that we can make peace. Or that we can make love, make light, make gifts or make the world save itself. The message of Christmas is that the world's a mess and we can never save ourselves from ourselves and we need a Messiah. For unto us a child is born." (The Greatest Gift, p. 139)

Boom. Truth. And the message my heart was longing for. Right there.

So, I've imagined this year that Christmas is a little like an onion, with all these complex layers. 

On the outer layers, we have the truly surface-y things like parties, presents, and Santa. These are good things. Nothing bad about them, but they are only good. Then, as we begin to peel back the layers and delve deeper into the heart of the matter, we come to the better things - the generosity that is in people's hearts this time of year, spending time with loved ones, etc. The past few years, Matt and I have been moving more to this layer. We're doing fewer gifts and focusing more on planning time with family and friends. And it's been fun. We have been less stressed about running out and buying a bunch of stuff for the sake of buying. However, there is a deeper, fuller, richer, more meaningful layer, which is the best reason to celebrate this season - God is with us! Knowing what shape we were in, God, the Creator of the universe and all of us, CAME TO US TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES. In my heart today, I've seen this as a reason to celebrate, something to really get excited about, and a way to rid me of the 'blah' feeling I'd been fighting these weeks. 

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope this blog fills your heart with hope and joy this season. There's so much to celebrate - so many good gifts, so many better gifts, and the greatest gift - God With Us.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Advent and Babies

Advent, the four Sundays immediately preceding Christmas, has and forever will be one of my very favorite liturgical seasons. It is a time of excitement and expectancy, anticipation and waiting, joyful waiting. All of this buildup is okay because we know that at the end of that season of waiting, there is the best gift: arrival of Christ - the Creator coming to Earth, Emmanuel, God With Us!

I feel like I am in a season of waiting right now. Baby Brick is due tomorrow! However, all signs are pointing to the baby coming late, and likely me being induced in a week or so. Here I am at the end of what has been an 'easy' pregnancy, waiting not-so-patiently to meet this little one. I find myself researching wives' tales and other labor-inducing tricks. As everyone asks me how I'm feeling, I have begun to sigh and feign misery. The truth is, I feel fine. I'm slightly uncomfortable and there are some mornings where I don't feel wonderful, but overall I have nothing to complain about.

The issue, then, is more with my heart than my body. For the past 33 weeks and 6 days, I have been mentally preparing myself for November 5, the due date assigned to Baby Brick by the doctor. In my head, I set that date as the end point, the Christmas to my Advent season, if you will. So when I went to the doctor late last week and was told yet again that my body was not yet showing signs of labor, I was utterly disappointed. I spent the weekend moping and fretting and looking up tips and tricks to start the process naturally.

Yesterday as I was struggling and seeking solace and trying to find peace, I was graciously reminded by my Father that all of this will happen in His time - no matter how far I walk, or how much spicy food I eat or whatever other techniques I employ. I am having to let go of any sense of control over the situation, to learn to wait joyfully and not begrudgingly, to live in the truth that the gift at the end of this waiting is so worth the wait, no matter if it is a few days longer than I was expecting. My prayer for the next hours and days as I wait to meet my little one, to find out of I am a momma to a son or a daughter, is that my waiting would be full of joy, not tinged with bitterness because I am not in control (as if I ever am!). That my heart would be content just a little longer, until the timing is right for all this to happen. That I would live with expectancy and have an Advent mindset, not growing impatient.

Baby Brick, your dad and I are so ready to meet you! But we're willing to wait patiently, joyfully until the fullness of time for your arrival.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


This weekend we walked through our empty apartment for the final time, sat on Ramsey's couch and ate chocolate and drove away from the place no longer tenants. There are lots of exciting things about this: we are homeowners, we have a bedroom for Baby Brick, and we have lots more room to entertain. However, after a ride to our new home, I found my eyes filled with tears. I'm really going to miss that old apartment. Sure, it wasn't the fanciest apartment, and it had its quirks, including but not limited to: uneven floors that showed the ground below in some places, kitchen cabinet doors that were almost off the hinges, an unfortunate number. of nail holes in the walls from previous tenants, and windows that allowed vines to grow into our bathroom. In spite of all this, I find myself filled with gratitude for the nearly three years this apartment on Upperline served as the Brick House. Here are a few things we learned:

1. We learned how to be a family
We spent three of our first four years of marriage in this place. I remember being so excited when we moved in to have a place to set up our bedroom and a real kitchen table. We moved from a 300-square-foot apartment into this spacious one-bedroom shotgun double. Looking back I can't help but thank God for the kitchen I really learned to cook in. For the dinners we had at that table, recounting our days and learning so much about each other. For the late night talks in that bedroom, the ones we spent in desperation trying to solve some problem or resolve some conflict. For the early mornings when we learned one another's routines. What a blessing to have had a sense of consistency of place for our family during a season full of so much change!

2. We learned how to build community
Matt found our apartment when he got involved in a community service project, helping coordinate the volunteer effort to build a playground at our neighborhood park. We got to know Ramsey, our landlord, during the process of organizing the event and moved in shortly after. Little did we know at the time what an impact this man or this block would have on our lives. Ramsey is this unique kind of guy who knows a little about everything! He can relate to nearly anyone in any situation and we began to watch the way he interacted with so many neighbors. He always made each person he was talking to feel like they were the most interesting person he'd encountered. Some might call this being a good schmoozer or a politician, but those people don't know Ramsey. As we watched and learned from Ramsey's example and began to porch sit regularly and attend barbecues, we got to know interesting neighbors as Caitlin and Karen and Haché and Ed and Dave and Marie and Myrt and Lana and Alex and Marjorie. Then, in August of last year, we had the chance to put into practice some of what we'd been learning. Hurricane Isaac knocked us out of power for several days and we got to be part of a community weathering a storm together (eating red beans heated over our gas stove by candlelight) and picking up the pieces after (like the gutter and shingles and tree limbs we cleared from our little yard). My prayer is now for our new neighborhood, that we'd meet fun new neighbors and continue to put into practice what we learned from our little block of Upperline. 

3. We learned how to live in a city
We dealt with street parking and Mardi Gras traffic. We threw Spring crawfish boils and deep fried Thanksgiving Turkeys and watch movies on a blow-up big screen with neighbors in our park. We walked to our favorite restaurants and coffee shops. When we were feeling really brave we walked to Rouse's or Whole Foods. Matt fell in love with public transportation and I enjoyed the excitement of taking the streetcar to work on summer mornings. We learned how to utilize small spaces and get rid of unnecessary 'stuff' (disclaimer: I'm still learning). For two kids who grew up outside of an urban context, we have pretty quickly learn to adapt and absolutely love the noise and proximity of city living. 

4. We learned how to love a space
This might seem like a strange idea, loving a space, but what I mean is this: we learned to appreciate the beauty of our home, even if the aesthetics were less than perfect. I'll miss that piece of tile in the kitchen that was loose. I will miss the dented wood floors in the bedroom that I despised at first. I will miss my tiny navy blue kitchen and that annoying cabinet door that would almost fall off whenever it was opened. Why? Because for a very meaningful season of our lives, that was our home, our place. That was the place we danced to Jazz music and laughed a lot and cried and grilled out and slept together. That was the place we hosted friends and neighbors and anyone who would come in. We learned so much in those four rooms, and I will never drive by that little yellow house without smiling. 

So, thanks Upperline, for the memories. We Bricks love you and are so thankful for what time in your walls taught us. We're praying now for your next tenants, that they would love and appreciate you for what you are: a home, a really great one. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Thanks in All Things

A few weeks ago Matt indulged my inner bookworm and ordered me two books by Shauna Neiquist, an author, blogger and woman I've admired for years. The books were titled Bittersweet and Bread and Wine. Bittersweet is a collection of her essays and thoughts on life's challenges and hard times and Bread and Wine includes stories and recipes and encouragement to be hospitable. I might focus on Bread and Wine in another post, but I've had some initial reflections from Bittersweet rolling around in my head for too long now, so I've got to share.

One of the memorable lines that has provoked much pondering in my own life pretty much sums up the book:"...a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity" 

I  think one of the reasons Bittersweet touched me so deeply is that for the past several months I have been feeling a season of bitterness. I say 'feeling' because the actual depth of the difficulty or bitterness of the season may not appear to be especially great to a bystander - mostly safe and happy family, sweet friends, an encouraging husband, a Baby Brick growing inside me. However, I've felt more angst and struggle in these past months than any other season in my life (blessed my life has been!) Anyone who works in public accounting knows that busy season is brutal. It is a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining season. This year was my first year in the role of 'in charge'. It was the first time I was asked to lead a team, teach and train staff, manage a budget, meet client deadlines and also balance executive expectations. The work is challenging and the hours are demanding. At the end of each day, I felt keenly aware of the reality that someone's expectations of me had not been met. On same days, it was my friends or family or husband because I wasn't available to them. On other days, it was my bosses, because I didn't deliver excellent work. And often times, it was me, because I felt frazzled and stretched far beyond my abilities. 

As the season ended, I expected to feel a sense of relief and joy. Surprisingly, I found myself feeling bitter, angry that it had been so hard, frustrated that I didn't manage it better, and really just kind of ticked that I felt like I was navigating these emotions alone, without feeling the presence of the Lord guiding me through. I sometimes wonder if other people go through these same emotions, or if I'm a lone crazy wolf refusing to accept grace and goodness in front of me. Anyway, in the midst of my post-busy season blues, I read this book,and was able to pinpoint part of the reason for my dissatisfaction. Shauna shared the following insight into her own life: "If I'm honest, I prayed the way you order breakfast from the short order cook: this is what I want. Period...I didn't pray for God's will to be done in my life, or, at any rate, I didn't mean it. I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed. I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience our anything else for that matter."

Praying for what I want? Guilty. Praying to be rescued? Yep. Praying for it to get easier? to be over sooner? Check and check.

No wonder my attitude at the end of the journey I'd been on was so off! I had been missing the point the whole time, so consumed with myself and my personal satisfaction and comfort in the situation that I couldn't see all the opportunities for grace and peace and growth before me. Just like this author who shared her heart and journey through the most difficult season in her life, I was beginning to see how my own actions and attitudes had caused more pain and frustration in the end. 

I went to the book of the Bible I start with when I haven't opened it in a while, when I'm not sure where to go - the book of James. I think it has become habit since I started reading James more regularly a few years ago when my Maymee told me it was her favorite book. (If you knew my Maymee, you loved her and you'd read James regularly, too, just so you could learn to be an example like her.) Anyway, innocently enough, I turned to James and came to James 1:2-4, which says "Count it all joy, my  brothers, when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." The tears of my heart flowed as I realized that in my bitterness and frustration, I'd nearly missed out on the gift - the character and growth that come as a result of going through a trial. I won't say that I am not looking forward to a season of calm and work in life that are currently upon me, but I can say today that I am thankful for opportunities to grow in faith and steadfastness, even if the journey itself isn't pretty. I'm praying that the next difficult season I am met with will see a different response from me.

So friends, I'll leave you with this: if you are going through a hard time, a dark season, a period of bitterness in your life, don't do what I did. Don't lose sight of the point. Don't become overwhelmed. I'm thankful tonight for a loving Lord who showed me grace and the gift of my season, even if it was a few months after the fact. 

In closing, I'll let Shauna's words speak to you as they did to me Be encouraged, friends: 

"...when life is sweet say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow."

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good News

I woke up this morning feeling excited for the first morning in a while. After some incoherent mumbling about how early it was I rolled over and greeted Matt with a hearty "He is risen!" Growing up in the Methodist church, one of my favorite things about Easter Sunday was the greeting. "Christ is risen" the pastor would say. The people then respond joyfully "He is risen indeed!" As I've gotten older and no longer have that liturgy to look forward to, I have made my own tradition of sharing the greeting with friends and family who know the call and response. As we drove to Tulane's campus to set up for our Easter gathering, I sent a few texts sharing the good news with some old friends and eagerly awaited the reply.

I was reminded of the account of the sharing of the Gospel, the Good News, the Resurrection from Matthew. (I've always liked that one in particular). "1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you."8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples." (Matt 28:1-8).

I share all this because this past Lenten season has been one of the driest seasons of my life. Work has been more difficult and consuming of my time and energy than I even imagined. I attempted to give up complaining for Lent, in an attempt to reign in my bitter and ungrateful heart. All I will say is that was a big fail and Busy Season is not the time to attempt such a feat. So between feeling like a failure at work and in my spiritual life, I honestly had not spent more than 5 minutes thing about Easter. That's why it surprised me that I woke up with a joyful heart this morning excited to share the Good News. I have been praising Jesus all morning for a joy that truly only comes from Him. Because my heart and mind had no room for any such joy but He pushed His way in and I am so glad! Our God works miracles big and small and igniting my heart this morning would qualify as a big victory.

This afternoon as I pause from Easter festivities and take time to write a blog I don't have time to write, my prayer is that this joy and excitement to share the Good News would be more than an Easter Sunday feeling, that it would've a daily excitement to share the Truth of Jesus' resurrection and love and victory with those that I encounter. That this Truth and His victory would reign in your heart and mine on the good days and bad days. During Busy Season, during trials, during seasons of dryness, during seasons of Promise.

I close simply with this: Christ is risen, friends! And that is some good news!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Why New Orleans Matters (to me)

This post has been on my heart for's hoping my words today can be clear.

Part of my reason for writing now is that twice in one week I have had conversations with people about the city and why I love it here. One of the conversations was with coworkers (most of whom were born and raised in the area and lived through Katrina). The other was with a group of girlfriends, as one was sharing about her struggles with adjusting to life in this city and how she just can't call this place home.So I think now is the time to write.

I should start by stating it simply. I love New Orleans.

When Matt and I first starting discussing my potential move and our potential future here, I was not thrilled, to say the least. However, my reservations had very little to do with the city itself and much more to do with its location 10 hours away from my family and hometown. But the fact of the matter is that I did not want to move. However, over a period of several months of praying and talking, I really felt like the Lord was asking me to step out of my comfort zone, and to move to this foreign land of heat, humidity, mosquitoes, old houses, raucous parties, and crazies. (Yes, sadly, this was my expectation for the place I would be calling home.) Anyway, I agreed.

As soon as I arrived, though, I was enchanted. There is something so inviting and mysterious about the city. It's as if you just want to keep walking or driving around the next corner, because you just don't know what you might see. There is always a new restaurant to try, a new festival to attend, new people to meet (and the people always have such interesting stories!). It didn't take me long to be smitten.  Before I really fell in love, I appreciated the same things other "outsiders" enjoy: the food, the music, Mardi Gras, the atmosphere. However, since I've been here for more than three years now, my love has grown deeper. Now, I appreciate some better things: I truly love the people, the history, the culture that is the fabric of life here. One of my favorite activities porch sitting and chatting with my neighbors. My favorite date night is at Dick & Jenny's, a neighborhood restaurant within a five minute walk from our house. Nothing beats the feeling of running on St. Charles at daybreak.

All of these conversations and ponderings got me to thinking about a book I read last year. It is called Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza and it is beautiful and true. I even bought I copy for my Mom, and I'm hoping it will help her see why a girl like me could love a place like this. (I'd buy each of you reading this one, too, if you'd like....the book is that good!)

The books shares some funny anecdotes, and some sad truths. But this particular line stuck out to me:
"New Orleans is a city of elegance, beauty refinement, and grace. It is also a city of violence, poor education and extreme poverty" (76).

It is one of the deepest truths about New Orleans that it is a place of great juxtaposition. It is old and new. It is rich and poor. It is beautiful and broken. Aren't we all? I think that's part of what I love so much about this place. It is kind of like all of us. Sometimes I find myself focusing so much on one aspect that I forget the other exists. For example, during Mardi Gras time, when the city has put on her best dress, when beads are thrown and music is played, and people are just happy to stand on the sidewalk and just BE, on those days, I see beauty. On an evening stroll through the Quarter on our way to Irene's for dinner, with jazz notes hanging in the thick night air, I see beauty. I don't notice the trash or the debauchery or the darkness that undoubtedly resides around the corner. Other times, though, like when I am driving up Washington towards Claiborne, all I can see is poverty. When I am stopped at a red light by the interstate and see a man with a sign asking for money, all I can see is despair. When I watch the news in the morning and hear of the latest murders, my heart breaks and I'm not sure when or how it will ever stop. But no matter how distracted I can be by beauty at times and brokenness at others, I must remember that I live in a city that is both, simultaneously. I think we all live in places like that, no matter what city or country we're in. We live in a beautiful and broken world.

Matt recently shared with our church family about how as Christians we're called to live in the city with a purpose, taking the ministry and message of reconciliation that we've been given to those who need it the most - those who are poor (whether physically, emotionally, relationally or spiritually). And that is just what we Bricks are trying to do. Last fall, we spent a Saturday morning serving the city as part of Mayor Landrieu's NOLA for Life campaign. We helped clean up a park in Central City. We got to meet some of the kids who play in that park and help them make their community safer. We are looking forward to getting behind this or other similar causes in the months and years to come.

But this mission that Matt and I are involved with is more than community service - for us, its a way of life. It means engaging and loving our neighbors and sharing life with them; and I mean really sharing life, not just waving hello as we run from our cars into our front doors but instead actually getting to know them and what they do and where they're from and who they are. It is much easier to do this in a city, especially in a shotgun-style house like we live in where we share a front porch with our neighbors. It means living in a smaller house than we might if we lived elsewhere. It means street parking and long waits for the streetcar or bus at times because nothing in NOLA is ever on time. It means having to plan weekend plans during Mardi Gras around whether you'll be able to make it back home before they close streets down. But it also means having true community with aforementioned neighbors; getting to walk to dinner or the grocery or the bus stop. It means the dry cleaner knows our name as soon as Matt walks in the door and Cesar his barber gives him a special deal because he's been a client for five years now. I could go on and on. The point is, living with a purpose in this city (or any city) is tough at times, but when you love a place it is so worth it.

So, NOLA friends, I'd be interested to hear from you. Why does New Orleans matter to you?
And everyone else, come on down and see what all the fuss is about. But be careful, you might just have to stay!