A few people have asked me about my selection of blog design. Most of the people who ask already know about the origins of the Fleur-de-lis symbol and are curious about why I chose it. It was a very conscious decision and here is why:

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I’m not conventional.. I’m a very authentic person. There has been the critique that it’s not very business looking or is too simple and doesn’t jump out but I figure it is going to attract some like minded people and I like green and I chose the design for what it means to me.

Many already know that the Fleur-de-lis design is incorporated into lots of stuff… it’s been very popular for jewelry lately and that it’s origins are generally connected to French royalty. Lots of Americans or people of the North American Continent know that the city of New Orleans has it plastered everywhere. It’s very much the symbol of the cit.

So.. what does New Orleans have to do with me? I have never lived in New Orleans and although I lived in the South much of my life I never even visited until August of 2006. If New Orleans and August jump out at you then I’m sure you can never forget 29 August 2005.

29 August 2005 is the day hurricane Katrina hit and devastated New Orleans. At that time we had just moved into a new house and I had gotten my kids settled into their new school and had celebrated all their birthdays. I was at home, about to start a new position but watching a lot of TV. I watched the whole thing happen on CNN. It broke my heart that all those people were trapped there, so many drowned, so many with out food, shelter and wearing their one set of wet clothes.

It became obvious over the following days that these people were beginning to lose hope. Our government and it’s red tape were letting these people down. I was enraged and deeply sadden.. grieving.. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I ached and wept for 2 weeks. My husband came home and turned off the TV and said “you can’t do this anymore” and he was right. It was time to start my new position but I couldn’t get my mind off what was happening.

Over the months I kept thinking of ways to get there, things I could do to help. Sending money just wasn’t enough … I should be doing more. The thoughts wouldn’t go away, nor did I want them to. With that focus, an opportunity came to me. I saw in the missions session of my church bulletin that there was an opportunity to go to New Orleans and help out.

I made that trip non-negotiable. I WAS GOING TO GO! Nothing was going to get in my way..not scheduling..not school.. not work… not money..nothing. I also wanted my husband to go along for moral support. He knew it was important to me. What’s important to me is important to him.

In June of that year was his brothers wedding and we road tripped from Arizona to Florida, via Georgia for a visit with my family. On the way back we drove through New Orleans. The devastation was unbelievable. It was way worse in person than it was to see on TV. It was hard to take in the immense damage that was still showing  nearly a year later. The car was silent as we drove through..the kids started asking questions. We gave the them truth about the situation.

When we got back we got some unexpected money to put toward our trip. He and I planned to go back and help out. so in August of 2006 a group of us went out. I got  a better tour of  the damage than just driving I-10 through. One year later not a whole lot had been done.

n1350511119_30011701_3502n1350511119_30011711_3523n1350511119_30011702_3794 There was an incredible amount of damage that had not even been addressed. Imagine this truck still sitting underneath a house that was washed off it’s slab a year later. People were so devastated that they couldn’t come back and face the possessions that were ruined, they couldn’t bear the emotion that comes with the site of everything that happened that day. There will still levees un-repaired  and boats in yards, children’s toys washed down the neighborhood streets. Moldy homes were all over the place in between some of the people who managed to get some insurance money and do the repairs on their homes.

Part of the mission of the local team was to mow yards. So many people coudn’t even mow their lawns because their mowers were wrecked. Word got around they they were mowing yard after yard.They also met home owner after homeowner to help out, there was a system in place for teams of volunteers to gut out the homes.

My team was assigned to help get a school ready to open in time for school to start. There was so much water damage done to the school. Luckily they were able to open the school for what few kids had returned because at that time, there was only about 20% of the population that had returned.

There were so few people there, that businesses were challenged with finding enough staff to keep places open past 8PM. We went to 3 coffee shops to find one open…. we needed some relax time.

The trip was unforgettable and I share my story with many. I hope to inspire them to invest themselves in repairing the city, to find what they can do to build this history and culture rich city back up for the common person. Even tourism dollars help. Bourbon Street is still a fun place to visit, so many restaurants and more.

So now you know what’s with the Fleur-de-lis. It reminds me of the things in my life that I aim to make a non-negotiable. It reminds me to do I AM statements, it reminds me of the fiery passions I wish to pursue… and do.