Thursday, February 27, 2014

Saddling Up Anyway - On the other side of an interview...

I've had better days. I've had better interviews. I've had interviews that I left feeling fully confident that I'd be getting a call. Today, I sucked at the interview. You think of way better answers to questions like, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", when you're leaving the interview than you do in the moment that actually matters. I count today as my poorest interview performance in the history of interviews I've attended. Being the one interviewed is new to me again. I suck at that role. Being on the other side of the awkward process is way better. I like sizing up candidates, asking the questions, and judging whether or not they're bullshitting me in attempts of improving their candidacy. Today, I wasn't on that side of the desk. I answered the questions. I don't expect a phone call from the interviewers, though they were nice and seemed interested in a few things I said during my nervous ramblings of stupid that kept coming out of my mouth. I'm normally better than that. WHAT HAPPENED?

I ask myself rhetorically, of course. I think it's because I really don't need the job. It's also because I was uncertain exactly of what the job was. So were they. These may have been contributing factors to my overall sucky performance this morning, but I give myself kudos for going. I debated whether or not to cancel the interview. Would the new job be worth the drive? Would they pay me more than the meager salary I'd seen posted on their website? Questions like these prompted an all-too-early debate in my head this morning. Then, I made a decision. I would go to the interview. I had tried to hard to get one there in the first place. So what if I didn't get the job. I'd always wonder if I never went. Conversations like this happen to other job seekers, but since I'm not used to playing that role- I'd been inclined to decline, altogether.

I went.
I interviewed.
I left...

not before I disappointed the better part of myself that would never allow her interview performance to be anything less than confident. I was nervous. For some reason, I was so nervous. I think it's because the resume and cover letter I'd submitted were more personal than the typical professional jargons I normally jam together in any attempt of a career application process. Since I lacked a college degree and clear understanding of the job- I put a little of this, dash of that and sprinkle of random into the resume I sent to those who would interview me today.

This resume put me out there. Full of weblinks to personal and professional sites, this resume was constructed in attempts to set myself apart from others who may have applied. Others have degrees. Although I consistently run into that wall, I wanted to even the odds a bit with the way I developed my resume.

I have no idea if it worked.
It got me an invite to the interview.
I screwed it all up from there, I guess.

Maybe I'm over-thinking all this. There's just something about being interviewed that makes you feel so... vulnerable. Really, that's stupid. I knew and know I could do any job I half-way wanted to do so why did I make myself the victim of this interview?

Some interviewers dominate conversation.
As a recent interviewee, I conclude that this was a good thing today.
I was too nervous to actually direct the polite chatter about my interests and professional background, anyway.

When I learned that the job post to which I'd responded was outdated and not immediately available, I think my brain froze up.

When asked, "What is it that you think we do?", I should've sounded better informed.

When asked, "What got you interested in social services?", I should've explained more than just career advancement.

When asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?", ...

I should've said, "I have no idea."

Because that would have been the most honest answer to this particular question.

I shouldn't feel bad about that.
Not knowing what I want to be when I grow up makes sense if one knows HOW they want to be when they "grow up"...

What do you want to be?

Not a damn clue, friend.

I didn't say that in the interview, Mom. Sorry I blogged a bad word, okay... I love you....

I don't really remember what I said after that question, to tell you the truth. I just have the overall feeling that I didn't give the best impression I could have or am capable of...

That's okay.

Maybe I'm all wrong about this. Maybe those interviewers were just really blown away by the all-over-the-place answers I gave them. Maybe they like that or think that its....


That's a reply I heard a few times this morning. "That's interesting..."


if I had it all to do over again,

that's what I would have said to the "What do you want to be when you grow up?",  question.

I'd say...

I want to be interesting, just like I am right now. :)

I'd probably need to add some more professional stuff to that, though. Hindsight's always 20/20. Today, I could've done a better job during the interview.

There's a quote I'm sure you've heard...
"Courage is feeling afraid and saddling up anyway"...

I want to do that when I grow up, too.

Be interesting and saddle up anyway.

Maybe that's a better answer. Maybe it's worse. I just like being on the other side of an interview. :)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Rebuilding - A Fortress Re-Found in The Forest

During my recent visit to Mamaw Rose's home, my cousins and I decided to venture into the forest. 

We spent countless hours in these woods when we were young- hiking, playing, and pretending all sorts of wonderful things with our crazy childhood imaginations.

During our recent conversation, we recalled memories we had all shared during our days of wandering through the woods of East Tennessee.

My cousins and I learned to appreciate the great outdoors when we were very young. Papa taught us that. We had loved playing outside when we visited our grandparents. 

Recalling the days of "olly, olly, oxen-free" and playing "WAR",  a certain subject was mentioned that required our immediate attention...

following up on that topic was our inevitable next step...


To those outside our little group of explorers, 'the fort' doesn't likely hold any sentimental attachment. For us, it represents all things glorious, wild, and free...

Papa Jim had built a fortress for us when we were children. It was a thing of beauty, we recalled together as we cousins talked about our memories together. 

"Remember the fort?"

"OH MY GOSH! YES. YES! It was so awesome!"

"Wonder if it's still there..."

That's how our latest hike began...

with curiosity, much like the sort we'd experienced during our childhood wilderness exploration days...

"Let's find out."

We walked through the woods together, as we had done so many times as kids. My coordination, I discovered, has declined with age. Stomping on leaves, branches, and small trees that got in my way, I navigated a path that used to be a well-trodden trail which had lead to our fortress. To our surprise and delight, we found this sacred little spot where we'd played together so many years ago. Side walls of stacked rocks still lined the fort's exterior, though the roof had long left the shelter. Papa built this fort for us. Now, standing in the space between two carefully constructed rock walls, I marveled at the effort my late grandfather had made to build a special little playhouse for his grandchildren. 

"I can't believe it's still here!"

"How many trips down the trail do you think Papa made just to carry all these huge rocks?"

"A lot."

Peaceful silence and shared feelings of what we all wanted to say but couldn't, fell over us. Papa made that fort. He made it so well that the walls, even 20 years later, were still in tact. 

Until that moment, I had not fully appreciated 'the fort'. 
After all, as a child, I had thought this spot was awesome- 
I just didn't take note of all the work one man had put into 
making it. 

I wondered how Papa moved all those rocks. How much mud had he used to plaster them together into such tightly compacted walls? 

It could only be explained by the labors of love. 

A dugout still rests between two solidly-grounded trees, rooted in the banks of an old dirt road, where the fort's interior had made a perfect hiding spot.

 Some repairing of the roof would make it just as good as it had ever been. We talked about how we should repair the fort for Papa's great-grandchildren. Because of how much time and effort Papa put into this shelter, repairs we'd need to make are few to restore the place to it's original condition. 

Sometimes, things happen that are difficult to explain by mere chance or coincidence. Jessica, finding a piece of the original camouflage netting material, is one of those things...

At first, I wasn't sure Jessica's excited squeal was founded when she shouted to us from a spot not too far from our re-found fortress. Upon closer examination of the shredded and faded scrap, I was amazed that this little bit of our old fort roof had resurfaced two decades after it's placement in the forest. Jessica and I held the muddied swatch to feel the texture of what had once protected our heads from rain. When sudden storms or showers had threatened our childhood playtime, our fortress- and this little scrap of leftover fort-roof, had kept us safe and dry. 

"I want to keep this."

I don't know why I said that then to my older cousin. It just... came out. I had no concrete plans as to what I'd do with the little shred of fort she now held with me. 

"I think it should stay here," Jessica replied. 

She looked at me and her eyes conveyed understanding. She felt the bittersweet pain of loss with me right then, though she didn't need use of words to confirm that. We both loved the fort. We loved it as children and now we loved it for a deeper reason. Papa had made it. Papa is gone now. The fort is not. 

Jessica and I stood quiet for a moment before she broke the brief silence with, 

"I just mean that, you know- it belongs here, don't you think? It's been here for 20 years, at least...
Maybe we should keep it here, where it always has been."

Jessica says this and my heart feels better as I find myself agreeing completely with what should become of the material she found. 

It should stay there. I should not keep it. It is a memory that all of us shared and still share. It is just a piece of worn netting, but it represents so much more and removing it now seemed silly to me. I would have been embarrassed by my selfish suggestion, were it not for knowing that my cousins completely understood. 

"You're right, Jess. It should stay here...
It does belong here...

...But, where should we put it?"

We selected one of the many broken twigs that covered the earth beneath us. We tied the old fort roof piece to the branch and founded it's new position within the hard ground Papa had packed together as fortress walls. 

The picture above is one of my favorites. It is not beautiful, nor taken with high-resolution... It is my favorite because of what it means to me. It's a favorite because it's a small little miracle that we found it in the first place. The photo above captures the moment that my cousins and I re-found 'The Fort', and the original roof's material just happened to be floating around nearby that day. 

Some people would claim that it's all chance. Life, this moment, and other little 'coincidences' that happen to them. It's odd, don't you think? 

I mean, this whole story is just 'chance', right? It's okay if you believe that. 

I don't.

What I believe is that there was a lesson waiting for our discovery on the day we set out to find our old fortress. For me, it's a lesson of appreciation and gratitude... of love.

 All of those things were to be re-found, in addition to the fortress, on the day we shared Papa's love, in childlike wonder and thankful remembrance for all he gave to us...

Picking up the pieces after loss is difficult. 
(understatement of the year, perhaps..) 
Knowing that I am not alone and having others share with me in moments like these...
That's what has made all the difference in my world without Papa Jim. 

Remembering him is easy.
 It comes naturally. 
It hurts to remember, sometimes.
 The pain is not easy to bear. 
I am fortunate that I don't have to carry it alone.

Each of us were given beautiful and joyous memories 
that push us onward. 

We pick up the pieces. 

We rebuild...

Just like Papa 
did for us. 

He would've laughed at his now-adult grandkids, I think. We aren't quite the trail navigators we used to be, but we re-found the fort in a graceless fashion as we tromped through the woods together that day. 

Katie and James, Jessica's children, had also accompanied us. Both of my little cousins (more like niece and nephew, really..) 

Papa would think that's funny. 
Though he did not walk with us on the way to the fortress, 
part of him was still there.

I'm glad we found it together. 

"The Fort"
(February, 2014)

(All Photos Copyright 2014.ReginaHodge.) 

Friday, February 21, 2014

I Draw. I'm okay at illustrations, I suppose... sketch o' the day by Regina Hodge...

Yep. I draw. I draw every single day, now. Here's a sketch I did some time ago. It's based upon an old photo of my Papa Jim. I've tried to sketch this one several times, but none seem to satisfy me. This one, I do like. For those who wonder how I am with actual pencils, instead of an app... here ya go. :)

Still prefer the no-mess iPad sometimes, but there's nothing quite like the charcoals and feeling of blending lead until it makes something phenomenal! :)

Sketch by yours truly. A sentimental favorite from my personal collecion... :)

MAKE IT PINK! :) My VIsit with Mamaw Rose & Life Lessons Learned

No posts since V-Day. Weeeellllp..., here goes...

I've been finding myself?

No excuses for the slacking on blog posts.

But, really...

I don't really know what to post, at times.

I've started other blogs.

Lifelooklens has been neglected. After I closed my Etsy Lifelooklens shop, I guess I just felt weird about blogging here.

No idea why, really...

Especially since I never seem to have a problem saying (or typing) what I think.

Life has changed a lot for me.

To catch up on the PHOTO PER DAY goal, it would take me several hours in order to update this random jump-around-to-this-n-that-blog.

Maybe choosing a specific blogging topic would've been a better idea than to write about the million different ideas and ambitions I have going on inside this weird lil' head...

My Mamaw called me 'weird' the other day.

Doesn't surprise me and, in fact- I'm always thankful for her candor.

Prior to my grandmother's loving adjective-weird-type disclosure/discription for her grand-daughter, the following conversation occurred:

" Sometimes, I just think about painting the house bright pink and purple. You know, purple shutters. The rest of the house, bright pink." - Mamaw.

Me: " YOU SHOULD DO THAT! WHY NOT? I mean, you've always loved those colors so it would look like a dollhouse. A gorgeous dollhouse with a LAKE VIEW? Oh, I think it's wonderful!"

Mamaw: "What would people think?"

(MUCH LAUGHTER ENSUES, shared by Mamaw and me, as we watch HTGV at her (blue-painted) house near the lake...)

Me: "WHO CARES?!!... I mean, I love that idea... OOOOhhhhh, you know what would be even cooler? What if you painted the house with that glow-in-the-dark paint they've got out these days, Mamaw? Then, your house would just GLOW!!! Miles away, people would wonder whose awesome house was up on that hill in the distance, you know. And... it WOULD BE YOUR HOUSE. It would be YOUR Glow-in-the-dark HOUSE!!"

Mamaw: "Of course you'd think that, Regina, but... you're weird."

And, that was when my grandmother called me 'weird', though I was not offended and my weirdness was, perhaps, encouraged by her statement...

Me: "You think I'm weird, Mamaw?"

Mamaw: "Well, it's just that you're always up for those crazy ideas. I've got to think about what's practical, though- you know that, right? I can't very well paint the house bright pink and purple or- "

Me: "WHY NOT!!?"

Mamaw: "No one would want to ever buy the house. I won't be here forever and I've got to think about appraisal and property value factors..." (insert more practical-no-fun-thinkings here...)

Me: "Mamaw, I know. I know. It's just... It WOULD be pretty cool. Like, REALLY AWESOME... I get what you're saying, though. I just don't think there's anything you could do to depreciate the value of this house. I mean, that lake view ALONE is worth more than any pink paint could hurt!"

Mamaw: "Of course you kids think that but you've all got memories here. You grew up here, so you're all a bit biased about this place."

Me: "The tow guy commented about 'what a nice place you've got here', when he came today to get the old car, you know. He's not biased. He'd never been here. To tell you the truth, Mamaw..., it was kinda creepy. He was the weird-o. I'm normal."

This past weekend, Mamaw and I built a soccer goal together... made from 'trash' that my little cousin Katie and I dragged up into Mamaw's yard from the woods. Yep. We did that. It was all my 10-year-old Katie's idea. I was supposed to be the grown-up. Mamaw told me that as we hammered nails into a tree to hold up our (my) make-shift soccer net.

I laughed more with Mamaw during my three-day visit with her this past week. I miss her already, but Tiny II (the puppy I gave her) now has a car seat. (don't judge us.) AND... Katie might still have a soccer net- not sure how it held up after I left, but Mamaw helped make my 'brilliant' idea happen!'. James can climb trees now. I can help him get down when he gets stuck.

One last thing...

Mamaw should paint that house glow-in-the-dark PINK AND PURPLE.

With a view like this, WHO WOULD CARE. :)


Glow-in-the-dark PINK, Mamaw. Think about it. :) I love you to pieces.


Your weird little granddaughter,
who is ALWAYS full of fantastic ideas. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Vday Shmeeday.

It's Valentine's Day. I am blogging. I'm good with that, though. To me, V-Day is just another day...
At least, that's what I told my husband before it became today.
Girls are sillyheads.
I'm one of them.

Not complaining about the hubster, but he didn't seem to realize why I got upset this evening.

You see...

Men have this thing about making equivalent the efforts they put into something like...
 (say, Valentine's Day- for example and hypothetically, of course...)
spending four hours cooking a four-course meal and spending another four hours trying to make
something really thoughtful...

Yes. My Mickey Mouse and kitty-cat card are lovely, darling.
They are.

They just do not... quite...
you know,
demonstrate the hours of effort one person may have put into another person's Valentine's shindigs.


Not almost, Mr. Hodge.

Anyway, not bad-mouthing the husband here. After all, I needed a Mickey to go with my Minnie.
I also loved the card.

What I did not love about this Valentine's Day are matters about which
Mr. Hodge has been enlightened.

Here's what I love/hate about stupid/lovely Valentine's Day...
when you are married,

Allow me to explain the love stuff about it...
It's nice to have a whole day set aside to really show the person you love just how much you love them.

What I hate about it...
I did that already.

Getting married puts Valentine's Day to shame.
It's even got a dress that goes with it.
The whole public display of affection is best done with a wedding.
Since I did that already,
I see little need to burden ourselves with Valentine's Day obligatory celebrations that we must
observe annually.

I am a girl.

So, none of this really makes sense.

What DOES make sense is Mr. Hodge realizing he may not have shown quite the appreciation he should have. It made sense for Mr. Hodge to apologize for his perceived insensitivity.
It also made sense for Mrs. Hodge (that's me...), to say her 'i'm sorry's', too.

You know, just in case-
I wasn't that sensitive, either.

Valentine's Day is whatever you want it to be.
Some years,
I want the works... Flowers, smoochies, and all that jazz.
Other years, I just want to chow down on the take-out awesomeness of this Fat Moe's burger,
watch the movies Mr. Hodge's magical self can enable...

not worry about Valentine's Day, while I enjoy the taste of spousal redemption.... :):)

I love all of you.
Not really.
chances are that if you're reading this now,
you can relate. :)

Happy Valentine's/Anti-Valentine's Day, Sweethearts. :)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Meet Tackk. It's like, er.. Pinterest, but with MORE POTENTIAL for awesome. is awesome. More posts to come as I navigate through the self-starter site that will take over Pinterest one day if other people actually pay attention to the versatile use of 

Can't blog now. Must tackk. 

You should probably try it now so you can say you knew about it before it blew up like Pinterest. Seriously, give it a shot. 

I'm still learning, but I swear- the founders had a million awesome ideas when they launched this beta. :) 



You're welcome and I'm sorry about the Pinterest break you'll be taking after you click the above link. :) 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My Sister is ENGAGED.

Today is SO weird.

Weird, but AWESOME.

You know how in my earlier post... (of course you don't, read below later)

... that I said I wouldn't let any responsibilities ruin my day?

Well, I stick by that.

Except, along with having my first story featured today- I got a call from my lil' sister.

She's engaged.

That changes the responsibility thing... starting tomorrow.

I am a 'matron of honor?'... that's for old married girls, but it still sounds so cool.


like master...
you know...

Tracie (my little sister) and her police officer boyfriend (Jesse)...
they've been dating for the past seven years.

Jesse popped the question tonight.

Tracie said yes.

Now, I'm just up at 11:30... you know, doing important stuff...
like matrons do.
it's a matron thing.
I think...

My little sister is getting married.

You probably don't care, unless you're my family.
That's okay, though.

People post all sorts of statuses and updates, lately.
Now, I get to be one of those obnoxious people.

Whatever. It's my turn and my little sister is getting married (which I will state repeatedly until you click away from this post, onto an unknown land of who-knows-whats-you-browses...)

I have been up late tonight (because 11:30 is late for matrons, I hear...) BECAUSE....
I have to come up with the PERFECT PRESENT FOR MY SISTER.

I googled 'perfect gift ideas for sister wedding' earlier.
You know what results came up?
No you don't.
Unless, you are a fellow googler of the same information...

allow me to dispute the top results.
My sister does not want a custom-made mug with Mrs. Holt on it...
does she?

no way.
She's too cool for that, even in all her English teacher-y dorkiness.

regardless of whether Tracie wants a mug or not,
I'm not getting one for her.
I've come up with something WAY WAY WAAAAAAAAY


(s0rry, but ...


It takes a lot of dedication, though.
Probably only the greatest sisters of all time would even attempt such a present...

Like I'm telling you...
she reads this blog on the reg.

Yes, I say 'on the reg'... way too often.
It's fun.
I have no other explanation and I will not grasp for any other excuses.

My sister is engaged.
I came up with the best present ever,
and nobody knows what it is.
except for me.
and josh.
because he reads my blog.
and you know, the whole marriage thing we've got goin'.

He thinks it's a good idea, too, though.
means it is a GREAT idea.

I do this to taunt you.

I love you and if today gets any better before midnight, I'll probably pass out from happiness. :)

your big mean sister...
Gina. :)

Shadow Art D.I.Y. & Crafty Paper Cut-outs for Fun With LIGHTS. :)

Maybe I have a little too much time on my hands. Maybe I just like making weird stuff. Maybe my latest artsy kick is to play with shadows. It's totally normal. I mean, every girl does that stuff... right? :)

Don't care. I like trying new things and shadow art is a new little interest I discovered I'm into, lately. The picture above is one I took of a poster-board cut-out I made. The actual cut-out design stops at the woman's fingertips. The shadow that the cutout makes is way cooler than the design, itself.
Pretty cool, right?
The hand makes the shadow to the right of the picture. Then, shazaaam! Shadow art.
D.I.Y. is easy. Trace the girl and her arm on the left of the pic. Stop where it appears as though the hands (fingertips) are touching. By stop, I mean with the scissors.
Adjust lamp lighting by moving back and forth around your living room like a crazy person. It drives my dogs insane when I try out one of my new little experiments! Anyway, taking the lamp shade off usually works best. Snap a pic. Art. It's that easy.
I can't remember where I saw the video that made me want to try shadow art stuff... Now, that's going to bother me. If and when I find it, I'll upload it here. The video and the artists in it will put my little DIY project to shame. Still, it's awesome what those people can do! Making art out of shadows... you should try it sometime. :)

Today is Awesome & Other Breaking Headlines of Equal Awesom-y-ness

Today I woke up to find that the story I'd written for the 'WeSaidGoTravel' Inspiration Writing Contest had been published online. I've been kind of proud of myself today. Okay... I've been really, REALLY proud. Still, I really hate to come off as though I am completely self-absorbed. Today, I kind of... AM.
I think it's okay to give yourself some credit when something awesome and unexpectedly good happens, though. After all, it's been a rough year. Last year, I mean.

This year...
This year is starting off rather... WELL.

I'm not sure whether or not my grandmother has read the story I wrote yet or not. When I called her this morning, she was heading off to file her taxes. This will be the first time she's done that without Papa. I could hear the nervousness and determination in her voice when I called her early this morning. Little things that we all take for granted seem more important to me now. For example, filing taxes. I HATE filing taxes... but, I've filed mine each year that followed the day I got married.

Couples split up responsibilities differently. For Josh and I, the paperwork and financial responsibilities of dreaded tax season fall on this lady right here. I, however, refuse to wash dishes. I hate washing dishes more than I hate taxes. It's one of those weird things, I guess. I'd rather file your taxes than wash your crummy, yuck-yuck dishes.

Today, I have given myself no responsibilities. No dishes. No taxes. Today, I've enjoyed the success of having something I've written... noticed.

I don't expect to win the Inspiration Writing Contest. Just having my story be one that was chosen for sharing feels spectacular. That little 'about the author, Regina Hodge', part at the end... Well, THAT- in and of itself, is worth celebrating. Having my grandmother tell me how proud she is of me...
That's winning.
Somehow raising enough money to take Mamaw Rose to Venice?
I'll think about that tomorrow... :)

Thanks to all friends and family who took time to read what I wrote! You guys are freakin' awesome.

For the be-boppers, be-boppin' around online who end up on this completely random blog...
Go read this and say something nice, will ya? :)

Papa was awesome.
Maybe I inherited a little part of that...

Stay tuned, lil' readers. I've been busy writing my first children's book. It's done. The illustrations... well, they're coming along. The publishers and the money to publish the book? You know, some things just have to work themselves out. Today, I dominated life. Tomorrow, I will be humble Regina again. Thanks for reading, fellow comrades of awesome-ness. :)

We Said Go Travel Inspiration Writing Contest 2014

Click below to read my story...