New Blog Name

I don’t really feel like Conservatism is in Exile anymore. People are getting angry and Conservatives are gaining ground in the hearts and minds of Americans. Because of this, I have decided to rename the blog- but I want your help with a new name. Please comment with your suggestions!

To Infinity And Beyond…

This morning 13 year old Will Matthews, a student at Calvary Baptist Academy, passed away.

As usual, when faced with news of a young person dying- my mind drifts back 9 years to the death of Caleb Smith. Obviously, you don’t know who this is- he was my cousin, and he died when he was 2 years old.

I was 11, and a 6th grader at Caddo Middle Magnet at the time. I remember the day like it was yesterday… I was swimming at a neighborhood friend’s house, worrying about going underwater and having to re-curl my hair for church that night. My sister pulled up on her bike and yelled at me to come home, that something was wrong with Caleb. I hopped on my bike, and went home. We got there and were getting off our bikes when my Mom came flying out the door. She said the worst words I’ve ever heard in my life- “Caleb’s dead.” The one hour drive to Natchitoches was the longest drive I’ve ever been on.

As an 11 year old, my only experience with death was old people- a baby wasn’t supposed to die. It was definitely a changing point in my life.

9 years later and I cannot say that I am over Caleb’s death. I went through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and to some degree, acceptance. But do we ever really “get over” losing a loved one? Would we ever actually want to?

Caleb’s death taught me a lot about life, the most important being that timeless cliche’: live like you were dying. I know it sounds simple, but sometimes its hard not to follow this simple piece of advice. we get weighted down with the everyday concerns, annoyances, stresses, and work. But living, truly living, is the best way to honor the memory of those we have lost.

Because its so easy to forget, I decided to get a permanent reminder to myself. Last year I got my first (and probably only) tattoo- the mathematical infinity symbol, with a little twist.

The infinity sign is broken, to represent “To Infinity, and Beyond.” Usually when I say this to people, they kind of laugh and say “Toy Story?” But they are right- it is a Toy Story reference. That was Caleb’s favorite movie, and he was always jumping off of coffee tables, chairs, and couches, with a Walmart sack “cape”, yelling that phrase as loud as he could. Thats what I wanted to remember- that at 2 years old, you think you can fly. I never want to lose that belief that I can do anything, if I only try. Every time I get discouraged, I look down at my wrist and I remember- I can do whatever I put my mind to, I just have to believe and try.

So, to the friends and family of Will Matthews, I urge you to remember Will in this way: by living your life to the fullest. Honor his memory by making the most of your time here on earth. We have seen how suddenly and unexpectedly life can end, and we must live out our lives knowing that any breath could be our last. We will grieve, and we should, but we must never loose sight of the fact that our loved ones are in a better place.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Will’s family and friends, I know all too well the pain they are going through… but the best advice I have seen was on Facebook this morning, it said:

Instead of mourning your death I’m gonna celebrate your life!

My Bucket List From High School

I found this today while looking through some old files on my computer, and thought it was interesting. Some are serious and some are goofy, but it is neat to look back at my goals from high school and see how many of them I have actually accomplished. I had to update some of the ones I have done, still a lot to go though! The *stars* are ones I have done!

  1. Swim with sharks
  2. Swim with dolphins
  3. Compete in a pageant*
  4. Sky dive
  5. Bungee jump
  6. Write a book
  7. Publish a book
  8. Have a baby
  9. Be in a history book
  10. Win an election*
  11. Go to law school
  12. Lead some one to Christ
  13. Visit the White House
  14. Go to the Tower of London
  15. Visit Versailles
  16. Fly in a helicopter
  17. Adopt a child
  18. Give a speech that moves people
  19. Go to the Super Bowl
  20. Go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans
  21. Save a life
  22. Speak on the Floor of the House or Senate
  23. Climb a mountain
  24. Go sailing
  25. Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef
  26. Visit the Australia Zoo
  27. Hold a crocodile*
  28. Hold a snake*
  29. Kiss a stingray*
  30. Pet a lion*
  31. Pet a tiger*
  32. Meet the President
  33. Go to a Presidential  Inauguration
  34. Go to DC for the 4th of July
  35. See the Declaration of Independence*
  36. See the Constitution*
  37. Touch a piece of the Berlin wall*
  38. Touch a piece of the Twin Towers*
  39. Visit the US Capitol*
  40. Work for a Senator or Congressman (double-check!)*
  41. See Times Square
  42. Travel to a different country*
  43. Go to a Broadway Musical
  44. See the Statue of Liberty
  45. See the Hollywood sign
  46. Meet a celebrity *
  47. Be in a movie*
  48. Be on the news*
  49. Go to the top of the Empire State Building
  50. Get married to the love of my life*
  51. Graduate college
  52. Go on a mission trip to another country
  53. Try escargot*
  54. Eat an oyster*
  55. Try squid*
  56. Try sushi*

Here’s to getting them ALL!

A Vision For Shreveport, Revisited

This is a post I wrote in April 2009. This was around the time I became serious about my desire to run for City Council… I hope you like it:

I’ve been thinking lately about what Shreveport needs to make it a better place. As I get ready to graduate college, I can’t help but notice that most of my friends and classmates are planning on leaving Shreveport as soon as they can. I don’t want to leave, although I realize Shreveport has less to offer than other places. Just last night my fiancee mentioned the idea of moving to Dallas one day… I was shocked. For me, making Shreveport a place people want to stay and raise a family is important, so I began to wonder what that would take…

Obviously, Shreveport is not geared towards families- the majority of our entertainment options are bars and casinos. We need to get back to family values and promote companies that provide family atmospheres. More places for teens to go on the weekends and not get into trouble are also important. All through high school my friends and I complained that there was nothing for us to do other than go to the movies. The Boardwalk helped… but that isn’t even IN Shreveport!

We need better shopping, why should we drive 3 hours to Dallas to go to Macy’s? Can’t we just get a decent mall? And the riverfront is an adults only area on our side, we need family friendly businesses- shops, restaurants, museums, etc… Economic development is very important, for too long Shreveport has relied on casinos and bars to drive our economy.

I would also like to see Shreveport take advantage of the Stimulus Plan in a more effective way that proposed by Cedric Glover, to revitalize downtown and return it to glory. We should also use the green building incentives to reduce our carbon footprint.

With the economy the way it is, now is the perfect time to recreate Shreveport into a Family Paradise instead of (as a coffee cup at a local gas station so eloquently put it) a Gambler’s Paradise….