>More Grads, Lloyd Mardis Art Show, Skinny Bitch, Yoknapatawpha Writers Workshop, & Neil White Reading at Burke’s!

>Okay, call it multiple senior moments, but I left out two VIGs (Very Important Grads) on my last post, one of whom is another Goddaughter! (And of course I got some of the info wrong in that post, saying that Julie got her Masters of Music, rather than Art Education (at Memphis College of Art–duh!) and writing that Jay is going to U of M, when he’s going to Harding, but I did go back and fix those! My excuse? I didn’t get the memo! Yes, I knew both of these wonderful women were going for higher ed degrees, and I even had some measure of awareness that they were finishing up, but got nothing in the mail, as I did with the grads I featured on Wednesday. That said, I love these women and want to send out kudos to them, so here goes!

Another Goddaughter, Sarah Hodges, got her second advanced degree in May. Sarah has been teaching at Colonial Middle School for the past couple of years, while working on her Masters of Art in Education, which she was recently awarded. All this while still raising four children, ages 12-18, one home-schooled! This is a “second career” for Sarah, (at least!) who managed the retirement fund for Shelby County employees before she “retired” to stay home with kids for almost two decades. So, kudos to Sarah!


And my dear friend, Lori O’Brien, got her MBA from the University of Memphis. Lori did this while working full time at St. Jude’s and raising two girls. Way to go, Lori! (I’ll be over for a wine and whine soon!)

On a sadder note, I’d like to honor Lloyd Mardis, who passed away on April 21, from cancer. Lloyd’s wife, Nancy, is a dear friend I actually met at Starbucks a few years ago. We discovered we were both artists, loved to read, and had adopted (grown) children from South Korea. We’ve been friends ever since. Nancy married Lloyd in 2004, but lost him to cancer just over a month ago. A former minister and a writer, Lloyd took up painting with Nancy’s encouragement. His work will be featured at The Caratis Village, 2509 Harvard, just through Sunday, May 31. He was featured in Go Memphis Magazine on May 15, “Lifelong Creator, Explorer.” He and Nancy traveled to Italy, Mexico and other places, and some of their travels are reflected in his art, which is done in watercolor, acrylics, and mixed media. (He even put spices into pen and ink drawings, and ground up bits of bricks he brought back from Tuscany to use in his work!) He is greatly missed by family and friends.

This blog post doesn’t really have a theme (did you notice?)so I’ll close with a few words about the last book I just finished reading, Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. I read it the way I read most self-help books, using the advice I learned at a 12-steps meeting: “Take what works for you and leave the rest.” So, I’ll leave the extreme advice behind (NO meat, dairy, coffee, sugar, flour, white rice, EVER!) and just focus on the things that I can reasonably embrace for myself, which is mainly to do the things they say to never do, but in MODERATION. I really like their advice about eating mainly fruit for breakfast and raw veggies for lunch. But it’s their words about why we eat the way we do that I was most interested in. At one point in the book the authors talked about how food stimulates dopamine so we’ll remember to eat. And then they said this:

You see, we can be “physiologically” addicted to food. Any food can trigger the brain’s pleasure center…. But the types of food and the degree of pleasure they bring will differ from one person to the next. The trick is resetting our memory traces to feel pleasure from healthy food, and no pleasure from junk food. Easier said than done. Especially for people who are addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs, or are overweight. Studies have shown that these people have fewer receptors for dopamine than other people. For them, the pleasure-giving chemical has fewer places to attach to brain cells, making it difficult for them to experience pleasurable feelings. So, because they aren’t getting that “pleasure rush,” they tend to smoke, drink, use drugs, gamble, or overeat.

I was sort of comforted by this, since I’ve often experienced times when, like the Stones, I just “can’t get no satisfaction.” I’ve literally eaten one thing after another, waiting for the dopamine to kick in, and it never did. Sometimes those episodes end in depression or bullimia. Just reading that there might be a “reason” this happens to me is actually encouraging. I’m not sure why, but it is. Makes me want to challenge it a bit and try to heal my dopamine receptors! Anyway, let me know if you’ve read the book and what you think. (I already heard from one of my readers when I mentioned the book in an earlier post, here.)

I’ll close with a reminder that it’s not to late to register for the 2009 Yoknapatawpha Writers Workshop in Oxford, Mississippi, June 5-7. Read my post about the 2008 workshop and you’ll want to be there! I just sent in my writing sample today.

And MARK YOUR CALENDARS for Neil White’s reading and signing of his book, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts, next Thursday night, during Cooper Young Night Out at Burke’s Books in Memphis, 5:30-6:30 p.m. I’ve got an advance copy, and I’ll be posting a review and interview with Neil on June 2, so stay tuned! Watch a video of Neil here!

I’m off to Nashville Saturday and Sunday with hubby for a wedding. Hope everyone has a great weekend!

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