Today started the 20th week into my new Charlotte project!

(Switch camera…)

In other news, the cardinals named a new pope!

Coincidence? I think not.

So, congratulations are in order both for me and Jorge Mario Bergoglio–Pope Francis as he shall be called.  I’m not even Catholic and I was excited, checking my phone every few minutes wondering, Is the smoke black? Is the smoke white? Is the Vatican on fire? Is my cousin Cardinal McLennan in there sending out mixed signals again cooking catfish and collards in the Vatican kitchen?

Nope, there was definitely a new pope. Meanwhile, I’m steadily working on a new me.

Out with the old and in with the new! And for me that means new thoughts, new habits, new ideas. It means new beginnings. New places and spaces. The me who is really me, who I’ve always really been–renewed!

I can’t speak for Pope Francis, but I think trying to take on a new place in the world is a little scary. Trying to shed all the old heavy stuff, the debris you don’t need, the back monkeys and baggage, the phlegmy flubber holding you down, and getting rid of all that junk you’ve come to believe is actually the stuff that makes you you–why, that can be daunting! But–and I say this with a shrug–what are you gonna do when the cardinals of your life start papal conclaving all over your world and electing some change? That’s what happened to me about 20 weeks ago. I sorta looked up one day and saw my personal white smoke.

Granted, I was chain sucking for all I was worth on a pack of Newport 100s. Smoke is smoke. I went with it. Charlotte cardinals were voting for a new ME! And I accepted the challenge.

So, here we are–20 weeks in. If you care, here’s what new Charlotte is looking like these days: She’s wearing a long white cassock, a triple crown, a multi-embroidered sash-like drapery thing over her shoulders and she’s sporting this huge shiny gold ring that people keep kissing…oh wait…no, no, no, no that’s Francis–I can hardly tell us apart right now. New Charlotte looks the same, but she’s being a little different. She’s eating a little healthier–less whiskey and Stouffer’s, more avocados and spinach. She’s spending more time doing the things she likes to do, like writing and reading. She’s living in Boulder now, so while she’s missing her daughter she’s also really grooving on becoming the more self-assured and empowered mother she’s always wanted to be. New Charlotte is looking for new work, having a bit of a struggle in the job search, but she’s not giving up or looking back. New Charlotte is smiling as she takes risks: Skiing, meet-and-greeting, QUINOA! New Charlotte is making plans to go on an around-the-world trip with a man she loves to look at, who makes her laugh and treats her like the queen she never knew herself to be. New Charlotte knows life won’t always be perfect, but she is truly blown away by what she’s learning–how perfect life can be.

A lot has happened in these mere 20 weeks. I’m raring to create what’s to come. And like the papal rockstar I’d like to think I am for the moment, I’m stepping out onto my balcony before my throng of supporters in my St. Peter’s Square, I’m spreading my arms wide, addressing my crowd in the language of my East Austin youth (uh…English,) asking you to bolster me as I journey into these next 20 weeks. The smoke has cleared and each day I’m seeing my world a little more clearly.

Til next time!