Lagniappe: A Little Extra

I took a hiatus from this blog back in April, but after a busy, productive summer and with the start of a new school year, I realized just how much I missed writing and how much I have to say, and blogging seems to be a way to accomplish both of these goals. The blog needed a new name since the last name was specific to the my 90 day project before turning 40, which I have to say was lots of fun. So, I’ve named the blog Lagniappe, and I assume at least some of my readers may not be familiar with the word. It’s a fun word, and once you know the meaning and start using it, you can’t go back. defines it as follows:

1. Chiefly Southern Louisiana and Southeast Texas . a small gift given with a purchase to a customer, by way of compliment or for good measure; bonus.
2. a gratuity or tip.
3. an unexpected or indirect benefit

I usually define if for people as a little something extra.

Lagniappe: a little something specialMark Twain used it in his book, Life on the Mississippi (1883). He writes,

We picked up one excellent word — a word worth travelling to New Orleans to get; a nice limber, expressive, handy word — “lagniappe.” They pronounce it lanny-yap. It is Spanish — so they said. We discovered it at the head of a column of odds and ends in the Picayune, the first day; heard twenty people use it the second; inquired what it meant the third; adopted it and got facility in swinging it the fourth. It has a restricted meaning, but I think the people spread it out a little when they choose. It is the equivalent of the thirteenth roll in a “baker’s dozen.” It is something thrown in, gratis, for good measure. The custom originated in the Spanish quarter of the city. When a child or a servant buys something in a shop — or even the mayor or the governor, for aught I know — he finishes the operation by saying — “Give me something for lagniappe.”

The shopman always responds; gives the child a bit of licorice-root, gives the servant a cheap cigar or a spool of thread, gives the governor — I don’t know what he gives the governor; support, likely.

When you are invited to drink, and this does occur now and then in New Orleans — and you say, “What, again? — no, I’ve had enough;” the other party says, “But just this one time more — this is for lagniappe.” When the beau perceives that he is stacking his compliments a trifle too high, and sees by the young lady’s countenance that the edifice would have been better with the top compliment left off, he puts his “I beg pardon — no harm intended,” into the briefer form of “Oh, that’s for lagniappe.” If the waiter in the restaurant stumbles and spills a gill of coffee down the back of your neck, he says “For lagniappe, sah,” and gets you another cup without extra charge.

I particularly love the “When you are invited to drink, and this DOES occur now and then in New Orleans…”

So I’ve introduced the word to my group of friends and colleagues here in eastern North Carolina, and we use it regularly. What I’ve come to realize is how perfect the word is to describe everyday occurrences that can be extraordinary or meaningful and also unexpected or unplanned. And there’s a sorta gratification is finding some lagniappe in an what may feel like an ordinary day.

In some cases, it is not until I’ve told the story or discussed the experience that I then define it as lagniappe. It’s as if in the recognition of the extra that we’re able to name it. So those cancelled meetings and unplanned phone calls or text conversations that brighten your day: lagniappe. That additional favor or little gift for a friend for no reason: lagniappe. The unexpected email from an editor: lagniappe Any unplanned or unexpected enjoyable experience: could be lagniappe.

Below is how to pronounce the word, and as I reread some of the my posts from earlier this year, I was reminded that it’s THE perfect name for this blog. It’s about documenting and recognizing the extras. I hope you’ll share the lagniappe from your own life.


Obesity News

I can’t believe it’s been a full week since I blogged. I had intended to move it to another sub-domain and just haven’t had made the time for it. And a today, I read the following 3 articles that I wanted to come back to…obesity articulated as a disease seems to raise some interesting issues, and the first 2 articles discusses a recent study regarding some of the consequences of defining obesity as disease.

Saying Obesity Is A Disease Compels People To Eat Unhealthy, Consume More Calories

Psychological Consequences Of Calling Obesity A Disease : NPR

And then there’s this about fitbit profiting from users’ health data. hmmm….

Fitbit Is Now Officially Profiting From Users’ Health Data | Betabeat

I promise to get back to regularly scheduled blogging soon!



Birthday Gratitude

People have asked if I will keep the blog after today, and the answer is yes! It will get a new name, and I won’t likely post everyday, but more on that transition later this week. I plan to use it much as I have these last 3 months in reflecting on and learning from my experiences; chronicling my health, fitness, and wellness; reporting on some of my research pertaining to gender and medical rhetorics, teaching technical comm and mentoring; and articulating the many blessings in my life.

What I know today is that on most days, I am comfortable in my own skin and recognize that joy, contentment, and happiness are states of being that takes practice. But most things do, really. We never really arrive or are done learning; even when we achieve goals, we always have more, and when chapters end, we’re faced with new chapters or maybe even new books. Embracing the process and the journey, that’s the key.

We get to write our own story, and what we believe and perceive is just as important as what others believe and perceive, but we owe it to all the people in our lives to try to understand perspective different than our own if we want to understand others and have them understand us. Gratitude breeds compassion.

Brene-Brown-Connection-e1349656966362I believe that cultivating connections with other important people in our lives takes courage and vulnerability, which is not always easy. It can mean uncomfortable situations, but what I know is that fear of being open and vulnerable with people is much worse emotionally and mentally than the act of vulnerability. I am especially grateful for some incredibly awesome, compassionate, and courageous people in my life who support me and love me for all of my strengths and weaknesses. Connections with people are important because these relationships can act as mirrors and help us see things we can’t all by ourselves. These reciprocal, mutually beneficial relationships are key, and they take nurturing and self-care just as we must nurture and care for ourselves. This work take practice and time and it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens slowly and steadily as you make a conscious commitment to yourself and to the people in your life. It also takes reflection and deliberateness.


Wholehearted Living


I find the following Guideposts for Wholehearted Living  to be incredibly helpful in living an inspiring, meaningful life. What I know is that we’re all in this together. Interesting that in order to cultivate things in our own lives, we must be willing to let go of certain things. No wonder the song “Let It Go” from Frozen resonates so much with me.

Slowly and surely with commitment and practice, we look up one day and realize we’re doing things differently, more deliberately, and more consistently. And then you just turn around and do it all again the next day being flexible and adaptable. There is no real end or destination, there’s the journey and the commitment to practice.

I’m incredibly grateful and blessed to have so many people in my life that help me be my best. My birthday wish is to continue to cultivate and nurture connections with people that help bring out the best in me. I’m hoping to have plenty along for the journey.

Day by Day=90 days!

A dear friend posted this over the weekend, and it reminded me how important the day to day choices and decisions we make can add up to produce amazing results in life. Day in and day out, we go through our routines, and then something happens or you have an experience where you’re reminded that things are different in an amazing, awesome way. Like you when you set out to write a blog for 90 days and day by day you enter entries, and then you look back and realize just how much a part of your life sharing has become.

Yea, that!


Isn't it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different.


I addressed the graduate students on Saturday at their one-day conference, and I used this quote as a way to inspire them to transgress, take risks, and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

“The academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom with all its limitations remains a location of possibility. In that field of possibility we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.” (hooks 1994: 207)

Extroverts & Introverts

In case you were wondering, I’m an extrovert, and every time I look around, there’s an article about how to care for introverts or extroverts or signs you’re one or the other. The following are just two examples.

An Open Letter from Introverts.

7 Things Extroverts Want You To Know

The following care guides have been shared across the interwebz for the last several years. Like any binary, we have to be careful since moods and stress affect how and when we want to interact with people, our work, our routines, etc. All of my friends and family  and their unique personalities complement my life in numerous ways, but lately, I’ve recognized and owned my need to talk things out and write thing out, and I’m especially lucky to have friends/colleagues who will listen, read, and offer feedback.

Caring for Extroverts and Introverts

Feelings & Emotions

I find it easier to deal with things going on in my life if I can identify how I am feeling about that. I think this represents living rather than going through the motions. I have had very specific reactions to certain feelings, but I’ve learned that if I stop to think and reflect in the moment what I am actually feeling, I can sometimes purposely act (rather than react) which usually makes any situation or encounter better for all involved.  I believe this may be the definition of coping.

Sometimes I have to externalize my feelings to someone. Other times, I can acknowledge them myself and come up with ways to act and cope with them. In thinking about feelings, I remembered this wheel I had come across, and it helps me identify the core feeling being tapped, which then helps me identify the most appropriate action to it. But to catch a reaction before it happens, I have to be deliberate and slow down enough.

The chain reaction from thoughts, to feelings, to actions can be fast. But the one thing I know for sure is that talking about how we feel with each other is the greatest gift we can give each other. Sharing our feelings with one another is often frowned upon and seen as a weakness. This is wrong

What I know, based on some pretty significant experiences in my own life is that sharing how we feel and being vulnerable with others illustrates strength, and it’s contagious. I’m not saying that  all feelings need to be shared all the time, but when we risk it with trusted people, it sure does let us know we’re ALL in this together. Sharing feelings with each other makes them less scarier and gets them out of our mind and bodies where they can wreak havoc.

We’re really good at celebrating joy and happiness, but perhaps we can be better at recognizing the celebrations and strength it takes for us to share our feelings and emotions with each other. Because I have the best friends in the whole world, we try to do this from time to time. 🙂

secondary emotions_full

Digging Deep

I’ve been dealing with a bit of frustration and disappointment over the last week or so, and as a result, my work-out routine as well as my blog writing has been inconsistent and out-of-sorts. I actually convinced myself that I didn’t actually need to work-out, which hasn’t really happened in months. Lucikly, it only lasted a couple of days, and I came around, and this past weekend, I dug deep and got the hell out the door and wogged 3 miles (the cross between a walk and a jog–speedwise), but I did it, and it reminded me that stamina and endurance is just as important as speed. I was slow at times and faster at times, but I was out there doing it. It felt good, too, not painful or deeply out of breath. I could feel my body relax and the stress leave my body, and I was reminded why a walk isn’t always enough–that I have to dig deeper and push through resistance for increasing results in speed, stamina, and endurance. It’s a metaphor that sometimes slow, deliberate, and the long view has benefits.

Some days just suck and some weeks are better than others, but to remember this is just a day or a week is sometimes hard to hold on to when through no fault of your own or maybe because of something you did do or didn’t do or perhaps because it’s April, and students are panicked, and faculty are tired, and I just happen to be in a position to help others solve their problems. This results in serious frustration, which is a difficult emotion to deal. I notice then that my own work is not getting done, the emails are piling up, and everyone of them is urgent to the person sending them, and I think to myself, enough already. Yesterday, I came home, answered a couple of emails and decided it could all wait until today. And you know what, I woke up this morning and went for another wog!

And yesterday and today has presented with numerous frustrating situations.  My go to for feeling frustration is to solve the problem or formulate a solution; however, there are times especially when others are involved in the situation where this doesn’t work and you just have to let it go, do the best you can, and ask for help.

Meanwhile, my car is in the shop and had to be towed, and I’m arranging rides to and from walk and from being stranded. All I can think is how blessed I am that I live so close to ECU I could walk if I had to, and I have friends I can ask for rides, and they are more than welcome to schlep me around. As a result, I was able to go in early and get some work done and come home earlier than usual and get some more work done.

It’s my birthday week, and I could be resentful of all the frustration (and some disappointment) but instead all I can do is remember a great part in Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (I highly recommend this book. It is brilliant!) where she discusses the Dig Deep button we all have.

The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing though when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there’s too much to do and too little time for self-care (19).

And there’s something to be said for pushing through even when we’re soooo tired and exhausted, but she proposed that “there was something better than sucking it up” (20). She describes how to DIG deep when you’re so tired, exhausted, frustrated, etc to do one more thing and get:

  • Deliberate in your thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or by simply setting your intentions;
  • Inspired to make new and different choices;
  • Going. Take action

Dig Deep, Get Deliberate, Get Inspired, and Get Going

What I wasn’t able to process last week and I know today after a restorative, relaxing weekend where I engaged in self-care by reading, watching netflix, walking, and just hanging out with my partner and friends, is that when we are most frustrated or disappointed or even sad, we must DIG deep!