community, inspiration, motivation

Elise’s Ted Talk

workingElise is a high school American Literature and Theater teacher. She also sponsors Rayne, Alive!, a student produced news program. She is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Teaching at McNeese State University.

In honor of the upcoming TedXVermilionStreet Talk on September 12, 2015, in Lafayette, Louisiana, I decided to share a talk I had to create for one of my summer courses: Motivating the Reluctant Learner. If you’ve never seen a TedTalk, do yourself a favor and enlighten your mind by clicking here (only after you have read the rest of this essay, of course). There is discussion among leaders in virtually every field to share motivating discoveries and inspirational experiences, hence the slogan, “Ideas worth spreading.”

TedX is an independently organized program that uses the same discussion platform, but features local leaders. If you haven’t recognized the progressive potential in Acadiana, please start to look around. There are invigorating ideas that will take our Cajun culture and lifestyle to an even greater level.

Now, I wasn’t one of the hundreds of applicants who vied for one of the speaking spots at TedX, however I will use this line to commend Butch Roussel, one of my best friend’s younger brothers who constantly fascinates me with his endeavors. He is the founder of, which helps to raise funds for projects around the area. Mr. Roussel is just one of the impressive list of speakers you can hear in just a few more days.

My “talk” is short. We had to discuss Dr. Carol Dweck’s concept of a fixed vs. growth mindset. Dweck is a psychologist who advocates for our ability to constantly improve. I was inspired after studying a few of her concepts. I hope you walk away feeling just that way after you finish this piece.

The Talk:     According to a USA Today article on October 9, 2014, Americans are living an average life expectancy of 78.8 years, the highest in history. Let’s use an old cliche that someone “peaked” in high school or college. Their highest moments of achievement, fulfillment, satisfaction, occurred when they were under 20 years old. That means if they live the average life span, nothing of value happens for 58.8 years. How boring and tragic.

I would offer that many Americans live within a fixed mindset. They believe they possess certain talents and abilities and don’t venture away from what they know. Especially in South Louisiana. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “But that’s the way it’s always been done.” There is not much change or growth in a land that I feel is abundant and rich in culture and possibility.

How do we shift people to a growth mindset? One where we can focus on the process of learning, of life, of chances. I live around some of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, but their effort only goes into limited domains. If the adults are being examples of a fixed mindset, how can we transition students to growth?

One of the tools I am using right at this moment can be part of the way. Many of these wise elders do not utilize technology. As educators, we can find important Ted Talks and incorporate it into our classrooms for our students to be exposed to these thought processes. We can also send out these messages to parents to encourage them to learn something new or to simply not give up on one of their dreams. We can have students create media to share. We can have older students give pep talks at younger feeder schools to give those students practice and motivation.

The possibilities are endless. We just have be to open to finding what will work in our area and our own lives.

I am not even half way to the average life expectancy and I do not feel like I peaked yet. If it’s a constant uphill climb until the end, I feel that may be just as satisfying.

Don’t close yourself off and become one of those boring adults who stick with what they know or peaked when they were still in their youth.

Be one of those adults who aren’t afraid to say they may not have mastered something yet because they know their best is still yet to come.

Cajun, communications, concepts, food, Uncategorized

Class-action Cajun

I didn’t claim to be Cajun until I went to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. I didn’t realize the fascinating tale of my heritage. I also didn’t gather there was a distinction between Cajun or Creole or that there was actually a vast difference between all parts of my state: New Orleans is completely different from Baton Rouge; Lafayette/Acadiana is distinguished from the current and former state capitals; there are actually Prairie Cajuns and Bayou Cajuns; and north Louisiana is almost a different state completely.

Once I had this cultural epiphany, I realized  the equation that perpetuates the problem: media + advertising + corrupt politics = misinformed perception.

Louisiana has always had a colorful history with a flare for fun. After all, we are the toe-tapping boot and the mouth of the Mississippi. We literally are the shit – the excess of the entire right half of the country flows from tributaries through us to the Gulf of Mexico.

With the surge of technology over the past 10 years, the Cajun image has been contorted to a nearly unrecognizable spin-off of a New Orleans step-brother. People from across the nation assume we are one in the same, but that could not be farther from the truth. But how would they know? They see commercials for multiple chain restaurants that say, “Try our Cajun style ________, straight from New Orleans.” Or they watch new popular shows like “Swamp People” and think that we all say, “Choot ’em.”

Should we embrace the fact that people know who we are even though they don’t understand that we do not cook like New Orleans or possess the same colloquial vernacular?

In the past two weeks I have joked that we should create a class action lawsuit as Cajuns against restaurants who misuse our name for their recipes. Shouldn’t it be Cajun approved before it goes national? Anyone who has eaten food in both New Orleans and Lafayette knows that the food is vastly different. Not even all Louisianians understand this concept, so how can anyone who has never visited our homestead?

I’m sure that many denizens from other states have similar issues with how their lives are portrayed on television. For example, the first time I flew to New York City to visit a friend, I was terribly nervous to hale a taxi cab and travel solo at night. My friend commented that life in NYC is not like NYPD Blue and he assured me that I would be fine – and he was right.

This morning I saw a status on Facebook that announced a casting call for a new show, “Party Down South.” The concept is similar to that of Jersey Shore. My qualm with the announcement was this line: “The search is on for the next big television personalities who are ragin’ Cajuns and appreciate all that the Southern Gulf cities have to offer.” This may not seem like a big deal, but a sentence later it listed that casting calls will be in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama (NOT JUST REAL CAJUNS).

I feel like yelling, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!”. All Americans should be outraged. We are allowing pop-culture society to ruin our roots. It doesn’t matter if you are Cajun or not. We should not sit by and let D-listed entertainment further cripple the minds of today’s ignorance and tomorrow’s youth. How long will we let rich culture deteriorate – everywhere?

A lawsuit may seem extreme. But sometimes an extreme measure is the only thing that makes it into the sensational mainstream media.

Here’s the full Casting Call invitation. Think for yourself:

Media Alert: Party Down South Casting

Submitted by doron on June 27, 2011 – 3:09pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Doron Ofir Casting June 27, 2011


LOS ANGELES, CA (June 27, 2011) – Doron Ofir Casting in conjunction with 495 Productions is proud to announce the summer 2011 casting tour in search of the hottest, proudest Gulf Southerners, Bayou residents and Cajuns to star in PARTY DOWN SOUTH (working title) by the legendary Casting Company and Production Company of MTV’s smash hit series, JERSEY SHORE . . . the search is on for the next big television personalities who are ragin’ Cajuns and appreciate all that the Southern Gulf cities have to offer.

“American is the greatest melting pot of cultures, dialects, lifestyles and hometown pride! I am excited at the prospect of presenting a cast that’s rich with personalities, that capture the world’s attention by showcasing the unique flavor of this slice of the South” – Doron Ofir Executive Casting Director.

In an effort to find the most outrageous and best characters in the South, casting events and interviews will be held throughout the month of July in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Doron Ofir Casting is seeking Gulf-Coast Southerners who are at least 21 years old and looking to prove that the party down South will rise again. If you call ‘gators your neighbors, reckon Mardi Gras should be a national holiday, your daisy dukes fit just right and are ready to make your Maw Maw and Paw Paw proud, we are looking for you!

The official casting and digital application to be considered and invited to audition can be found

Cajun, concepts, connections, ideas, learning, personal, relationships, sharing, stories, writing

Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine

the logo

After much deliberation, I have decided to share a draft with you, my readers. I figured if you are loyal enough to read my daily thoughts, than you qualify as the perfect critics for one of my upcoming endeavors. As many of you may know, I am dabbilng with composing a few children’s stories. This can be quite a daunting challenge, but alas it is well worth a try.

I have been working on this story for the likes of three years. Please feel free to give me some feedback. If you like it, feel free to share it. Just please don’t steal it…that would surely be a way to break my heart and my trust. Hope you enjoy this LeeCeeLand Production:)

“Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine”

By Elise H. Peltier

“Malorie has a secret. It’s one she wants to tell
about a special family and a hidden magical spell.
The tale starts at the cradle, with a grandmother’s loving care.
Malorie was the oldest grandchild and Mom Mary had so much to share!
As Malorie grew, so did their bond; through kisses and milkshakes and magic baton wands.
But accidents happened and Malorie grew sure
When she was sick or hurt, there really was only one cure.
Mom Mary had a medicine you won’t find from the doc or the store
It’s a gesture from the heart, but oh so much more.
There’s a twinkle in her eye that dances through her hand
It echos in her giggle, it’s music to the band.
At first Malorie thought, it was just in her head
But every time she was sick, she never had to stay in bed.
A kiss on the cheek, a day on the couch
Would fix any ache and soften any ouch.
As soon as there was pain or sickness would begin
Malorie would ask her Mama for Mom Mary’s Magic Medicine.
It didn’t take very long before Malorie’s curiosity
Conjured up the her courage to find the magic recipe.
She watched and she waited for any type of clue.
But laughing and praying for others was all Mom Mary would really do.
She tried to find a potion or a hidden book of tricks
But nothing showed a sign of a medicine that’s magic.
Time flew by and Malorie was no longer a girl.
She grew to be a woman in this new-age type of world.
Things were not as simple now that she was 25
But through the bonds of her family, she was grateful to be alive.
As she explored her life, meeting people from afar
She wished she had found the potion to keep hidden in a jar.
To share with those who hurt or those who need a giggle
Those who need a friend, even those who want to wiggle!
Then news came one day, it changed things pretty quick.
Her sweet loving Mom Mary was so very terribly sick.
Malorie felt helpless, she didn’t know what to do
Neither did the family or doctors. No one had a clue.
Mom Mary could not use her magic on herself.
It seemed like the medicine had to come from someone else.
As Malorie realized this curse, she also grasped the spell
In order to help Mom Mary she had to tell the tale
About the magic medicine that proves of powers from above
It’s invisible yet solid, It’s a simple act of love.
So the more you share the gesture, you’ll learn the trick again
Prayer, laughter and love is the magic medicine!
So remember Mom Mary’s gift, it’s important and it’s pure
Because you just may never know when you’re giving someone their cure.”

Dialect, shmialect

I wrote an email to a friend earlier this week to let her know I would pass by when I got off of work. Her response included a jab at the term pass by; she said I have been in Rayne too long.

Ooohhh how I love terminology.

By no means was her intent mean. It just made me giggle at how I didn’t think twice when I wrote it. Our everyday terms here are uncommon even in New Orleans. My best friend of 10 years is from the Hammond area. We were roommates in college and our first trip to the grocery store sparked the first questionable term. I asked her if she was going to get down. She looked at me with a blank face. I thought she didn’t hear me, so I repeated the question.

“What does that mean?” she asked.

“Uumm. Are you coming into the store?”

“Yeah. I’ve just never heard that phrase before.”

The same thing happened the first time we used our dishwasher. I asked who should save the dishes first. From that moment on, any time she gave me the puzzled look, I knew there was a phrase we needed to discuss. I mean she had never heard of “cher bebe”!

Jon and I have these conversations frequently, although he had more exposure as a child when he would visit his family so he wasn’t completely shocked when he moved here.

I find it originally endearing. For as many large vocabulary words I throw around, at heart sometimes I still “talk like dat.”

I know there are tons of other unique slang words and phrases we use here. SO feel free to share them here. Maybe we can come include them in a Cajun Slang Dictionary. lol.

For you say tomato, I say tomato. It’s all the same!

connections, dinner, drinks, experience, food, friends, Giggles, memories, Music, Party, Path Unknown, Travel

Memorial Day at Hooters

Actually, the day began with a run followed by us curling on the couch to watch Bedtime Stories. Then we went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens for a picnic in downtown OKC. I found the softest grass on earth here. If the ground wouldn’t have been damp, we would have laid directly on it. The place was serene and even had little bunnies hopping about. We sat for hours and just relaxed and talked about Lost and other important life events.

Ryan, my old managing editor for the Vermilion, was passing through OKC with his pal Allen that evening. They had watched the Rangers (unfortunately) lose to the Yankees in Arlington. Allen is in the Navy and is re-stationing in Washington state, so the two are taking a very similar track as us. We decided we were going to meet up for a beer that evening.

Nick cooked dinner for everyone while Kayla and I tried to buy some wine. Evidently there are more Oklahoma laws we were unaware of: they don’t sell alcohol on holidays.


We went to three different liquor stores and they were ALL closed. Yet again, I sound like a lush. But damn. It’s a holiday. That’s the time you normally want to stay home and have a drink or something.

Kayla was telling me just how conservative this state is: tattoos just became legal a year ago. It’s not like you would get arrested for having a tattoo, but there weren’t any tattoo parlors in the state. You couldn’t give or get ’em.

By the time Ryan and Allen got in, the only place to go was Hooter’s. Yay. Nick and I went join them and we watched a UFC fight and The Nuggets destroy The Lakers. I had a Blue Moon while the guys ate and talked sports. We thought it was pretty funny that they had “Cajun” shrimp on the menu. Ryan ordered it so we could decipher its authenticity. On a scale of 1 to 10, Ryan issued a 5.

I thought it was interesting because Nick had cooked pasta that evening and we had used bottled Alfredo, which turned out to be pretty good. But he’s Sicilian and made the comment that it would be like a Cajun person buying boxed Zattarin’s jambalaya. So not long after that, we had poser-shrimp. It was appropriate.


Anyways, after we ate, we went back to the Hampton Inn and played music for a few hours. It was the most random thing to have had happen yet on the trip and it excites me for what is to come. Especially since we changed route.