Every week I write a column called BE YOU for one of the local papers (The Times of Acadiana) – Each week someone different answers the questionnaire – the paper often has to edit them,  so here are all the answers, unedited (the whole truth.) This week – Jill Johnson Meaux

Jill is the Executive Director of the Outreach Center for Women and Children, well at least that’s what it says on her business card. Jill is far more than that, she is someone who changes lives and refuses to take any credit for it. She is passionate and driven and has used some of the worst times in her life to create some of the best outcomes for others. This is one special lady.

(Added by Me and not in the print version – The Outreach Center is an amazing place that changes lives, and they need our help. What they need most are the unglamorous supplies – bleach, lysol, toilet rolls and stuff like that. If you can help please do – call them at 289-9141 and let’s help them make a difference)

What was your first job?
I was a waitress at Ryan’s Steakhouse

Describe a typical day in your life.
Up at 5:00, coffee, work, more work, then home, work, sleep and do it all again.  Having no kids and loving what I do leaves a lot of extra time for……work.

What event in your life most shaped who you are now?
It’s not a secret I lived in a domestic violence situation.  My first husband was a bad alcoholic and a physical abuser.  However, having not lived that part of my life, I don’t think my current job would mean so much to me.  I run The Outreach Center for Women and Children.  We have a shelter called the Lighthouse and I think having been through what many of our ladies have, I can understand where they are coming and shape our program to offer classes and skills to teach women how to be self-sufficient and sober.

What values do you live by?
Can’t think of a really good cliché’ to go here but I just try to be nice and hope others are nice back

What do you most appreciate?
I appreciate that my husband cleans the kitchen and makes me coffee every. Single, night…..no matter what.

What is your favorite journey?
My favorite journey was a trip I took with Mark in 2006.  He’s a musician and has a band called the Mercy Brothers.  At the time his other band, The Bluerunners, was on tour and we spent 2 weeks visiting the Pacific Northwest – a first for me.  We went to Portland Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver….all places I’d love to revisit someday

Where is your favorite place to be alone?
Definitely in my car…..with the radio off.   The best ideas come to me when I’m driving in complete quiet

What living figure most inspires you?
I feel like I should put Ghandi here or someone huge, but I think my mentors and the various professional women I know.  I take a bit of inspiration from each and try to incorporate that into my life.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
“Is that it?”
I thought I really screwed up at work one day and was scared to death to tell my boss….she quietly listened to me tell the story of my mistake and shook her head a little and said “is that it?  I thought you were going to tell me something awful.  Let’s chalk this up to a learning experience”.  And I did.  My mentor told me that 20 years ago, and now I find myself saying it often to clients and employees.

What is the best thing about where you live?
I love Lafayette – came here for school and never left.  Love the vibe of the city….this place has heart and culture…..

How do you “let the good times roll” ?
Getting my Holy Ghost Power on at a Mercy Brothers show!

What did u want to be when you grew up?
Weirdly, as a child I used to say a “Doctor, dancer, or dentist”.  Don’t know why I was hung up with alliteration, but that’s what I said.  Until I got to college….then I picked Marketing because it had the most electives.

What is your motto?
But for the grace of God

How would you like to be remembered?
I want people to say that I was a good person that did her best to change things and help people.….let’s say a good person with a big, compassionate heart.
What do you say to yourself when you doubt yourself?
“Accept the things you cannot change”
But that prayer is tricky….it doesn’t let you off the hook quite so fast – it reminds you also you have to have the “courage to change the things you can….’.  So unfortunately I can’t leave it at ‘accept the things I cannot change’ and move on….  

What three things are vital to BEing YOU?
I’m a pretty simple person – reality TV shows, Diet Coke, and something creative – I love art, music, photography….

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Awesome!  Cool.  Tnx.  And smilies…..I love smilies 🙂 🙂 🙂

What food could you live on for a month?
French bread pizza….OR  cucumber rolls from Tsunami.

What would you change about yourself?
I would make myself taller

What literary, movie or cartoon character do you most identify with?
In 1991 Julia Roberts did a movie called “Sleeping with the Enemy” …..I don’t even think it was one of her big movies and probably just a step above a Lifetime movie by today’s standards, but I really identified with that character…especially at that time in my life….she broke free from a bad situation, and found her own happiness independently and on her own..

Describe yourself in five words.
Loyal, hard-working, compassionate, silly, creative

What is your idea of happiness?
Working from a laptop from some beach somewhere….for more than a week.

What is your favorite movie?
Hard to say – I’m more of an HBO series kind of gal….so if that was the question – without a doubt I’d say The Wire.