Dear faithful readers and friends,

I’ve decided to take some time away.

I know this is not a good time in the news cycle; after all, there’s a runoff election a month from today, which will determine the governorship of Louisiana for the next four years. However, I don’t believe I presently have anything relevant to add to the discussions or your decision-making. The past several years – and the past six months in particular – have thoroughly drained my mental, emotional, and spiritual batteries.

Beginning in 2016 and for two years in a row, there were a trio of contentious legislative sessions, followed by a third year of four more of the same. At that point, I’d not had what could be deemed a “real vacation” for seven or eight years, but plans were in the works to remedy that once the cycle of sessions ended. Yet in August 2018, my husband’s health – which had been slowly deteriorating for four years – took a sharp downward trajectory. Care-giving became my full time job, and my writing for y’all was one of the few ways I could mentally escape the omnipresent worry about him.

As you all know, it didn’t end well. Don contracted MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, also known as the “super-bug”) while hospitalized to eliminate the fluid build up in his tissues stemming from another bout with congestive heart failure. In early May of this year, the infection killed him.

Since then I’ve genuinely struggled to write to you and for you. How can I persuade you that something is important to you, to your future, when right now I don’t give a flying…duck? And it seems I’m not the only one with a fore-shortened outlook. Heck, candidates themselves have been decidedly averse to iterating any vision for Louisiana’s future past election day, with their only desire being you casting your vote for them.

Past candidates – first Bobby Jindal and then David Vitter – promised you could read all about their detailed plans for Louisiana if you simply went to their campaign websites (where you’d have to get past layers of popup ads begging for campaign donations). And four years ago, while Vitter avoided giving actual answers to questions about his policy prognostications by saying, “It’s all on my website,” John Bel Edwards did speak about his agenda, complete with supporting arguments showcasing the foundations of those proposals.

This time, the campaigns of both Eddie Rispone and John Bel Edwards have been run primarily on litanies of personal beliefs coupled with resumes of past accomplishments. That’s fine at first, but now we’re being asked to select one man or the other as chief executive officer of this state for the next four years. Before I step away from this fray for the next couple of weeks at a minimum, let me make one last plea to Eddie and to John Bel.

Gentlemen, please tell us what you plan or hope to do about diversifying Louisiana’s economy. About making higher education affordable for the entire Louisiana populace. About paying all workers what their efforts are worth.

How do either of you propose to improve the quality of life for Louisiana residents over the next four years? We know all the lists say we fail those quality of life measurements. Now give us suggestions on real ways to turn that around. I’ve actually got some ideas I’d share with you. Just ask.

In the meantime, please stop with “the answer is jobs” song and dance. We’ve heard that tune ad infinitum, ad nauseum, adsumptivus. Let me ask you guys a solid question: The largest generation is leaving the workforce, as baby boomers are retiring (and even dying). Who is going to fill all the jobs they have been doing?

What about your vision of possibilities for Louisiana’s next generation?

Please don’t just keep paying lip service to “making Louisiana better for our children and grandchildren.” Instead, give us some concrete examples of what that could look like, and let’s all start talking about how we get there.

Give us reasons to hope in the future for Louisiana, because you have already imagined it. Invite us to share your vision as something good to aim toward.

In the meantime, I’m going to snuggle into my armchair and immerse myself in the stack of books that’s been calling me to lose myself in their pages. I’ll also be loading up my tent and other camping gear and heading off to live in the woods for awhile. There I will hug trees and get grounded again, as I sleep lying directly on the bosom of Mother Earth. My family will gather around the campfire with me, and we’ll hoist many glasses in toast to Don.

I’ll do most of this recharging unplugged from the internet and most particularly from social media. I do, however, intend to check in now and again, and eventually, I’ll return. And if by chance Gov. Edwards and/or Mr. Rispone should take my plea to heart and start articulating visions for the future, why then I’ll have something to come back for more quickly, something to write about, and something for which we can all start planting seeds and nurturing growth – together.