The Brightest Star

What’s the perfect topic for a Sunday Short post? A Star Trek Short Trek! The Brightest Star, the third of four Short Treks, premiered Thursday evening. I grabbed an opportunity to watch it this evening.

The Brightest Star

The Brightest Star Cast

This sci-fi short stars Doug Jones, Hannah Spear, Robert Verlaque and Michelle Yeoh. The episode was directed by Douglas Aarniokoski and written by Bo Yeon Kim, Alex Kurtzman and Erika Lippoldt. It has a run time of 15 minutes.

Star Trek Short Trek: The Brightest Star is available on CBS All Access.

The Brightest Star

Saru’s Backstory

Saru (Jones) is the first Kelpien to enter Starfleet. The Brightest Star offers a glimpse into this character’s intriguing past.

A young Saru lives in a village with his father Aradar (Verlaque) and sister Siranna (Spear). Life is simple on the planet of Kaminar, governed by traditions and meaningful tasks.

The Kelpiens are a pre-warp drive race that has developed a heightened sense of danger. Ganglia on the backs of their necks alert them to impending danger. They live in fear…and resignation, knowing that in accordance with their beliefs, they may be called upon to offer themselves up as sacrifices, to preserve “The Balance” in their way of life.

When Kelpiens look to the sky, they feel fear. But not Saru. He feels curiosity about what lies beyond his world. And in contrast to his upbringing and his father’s teachings, he feels hope. There must be something more out there beyond the stars.

The Brightest Star

Saru Goes Beyond

The intensity of Saru’s desires provides an opportunity to reach out. Advanced technology literally falls from the sky, from an unseen race that the Kelpiens fear and seek to appease. Rather than destroy the beacon, as commanded by his father, Saru sends a simple message into space that’s part greeting and part invitation.

After several days, his greeting is returned. And the invitation is accepted. TODAY the return message says. After a sweet goodbye to his sister, Saru waits in the dark, watching the stars. A shuttlecraft appears, with familiar markings. Out steps a young Philippa Georgiou (Yeoh), a lieutenant at this stage in her Starfleet career.

Saru makes a choice that opens the universe for him and alters his life.

The Brightest Star

My Thoughts on The Brightest Star

This was a lovely episode, about one of my favorite characters in the new Star Trek: Discovery series. During the first season I got to watch Saru grow tremendously, as a being whose race lives in perpetual fear. The short provides more pieces of information about the Kelpiens and Saru in particular. His curiosity and hopefulness set him apart from the others in his family and community. It becomes understandable why Saru is the only Kelpien to take to the stars.

The Brightest Star creates questions as well, which in my opinion is one of the signs of a good story. It’s a “page turner”, creating in me the desire to know more about the early development and customs of the Kelpiens. And I’m always open to learning more about Saru.

Doug Jones shines in this role. He is a talented actor who appears to be a genuine, good-hearted, kind man who brings those same qualities to Saru. I’m excited to see how the character develops in Season Two.

The end of The Brightest Star brought a lump to my throat. I identifiy with Saru. His yearning to go beyond is mine as well and has been a driving force in my life these last five years. I want to know what’s out there…beyond the stars AND beyond my fears.

Saru’s voiceover as the shuttle flies away is perfection:

“I saw hope in the stars. It was stronger than fear and I went toward it.”

I get teary eyed just typing his words. Hope is always stronger than fear. I keep moving toward it too.

The Brightest Star

Movie Review: Robin Hood

I enjoy the story of Robin Hood, the nobility born man who becomes a thief. The outlaw robs from the rich and gives to the poor, transforming into a hero for the common people of Nottingham.

I’ve seen many versions of this story in my lifetime. So you can bet when trailers presented a new telling of this old tale, I intended to see it. This afternoon I slipped into the movie theater…and back to Medieval England.

Movie Review Robin Hood

Robin Hood Cast

This action adventure film stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, Eve Hewson, Jamie Dornan, Tim Minchin, J. Murray Abraham and Paul Anderson. Directed by Otto Bathurst, Robin Hood carries a PG-13 rating, for adult themes and violence, and has a run time of 1 hour and 56 minutes.

Movie Review Robin Hood

Robin Hood’s Early Story

Robin of Loxley (Egerton) leaves his home in Nottingham, pressed into service to fight in the Crusades. He leaves as well Marian (Hewson) the woman he loves, promising to return. She vows to wait for him.

Four years later Robin is disillusioned with the war. His differing perspectives on how to treat captured Moors clashes with his commander, Guy of Gisborne (Anderson). The growing conflict between the two men comes to a head when Robin attempts to save the son of a Moor (Foxx), who initially tried to kill him. The youth is executed, however Robin frees the father.

Robin is shot with an arrow during the escape, and subsequently shipped back to England. There he finds his estate in ruins and Marian gone. Friar Tuck (Minchin) informs Robin that the Sheriff of Nottingham (Mendelson) seized his property two years ago, when Robin was declared dead. Marian now lives in a mining town with a man named Will (Dornan).

His old life destroyed, Robin intends to leave Nottingham. Instead he encounters the Moor he saved during the Crusade. The man stowed away on Robin’s ship bound for England. He wants to help Robin take back what’s his…his property, his title, and eventually the woman he loves. Robin of Loxley can’t pronounce his new friend’s name. The Moor tells him the English equivalent is John.

Movie Review Robin Hood

A Nobleman Becomes a Thief

John comes up with a two fold plan: Robin is to assume the role of nobleman to get close to the Sheriff of Nottingham and discover all he can about the heavy taxation that burdens the people. And in secret the young man becomes a thief, stealing from the Sheriff and giving back to the poor, which includes Marian and her man Will Scarlet.

Training begins. Robin is good with a bow, however John teaches him new techniques that enables arrows to be shot much more quickly.

John shortens Robin’s long coat, creating a jacket with a hood that covers the head. A scarf that belonged to John’s murdered son conceals Robin’s face.

As Robin of Loxley works his way into the Sheriff’s favor, he robs him in secret, setting up ambushes and pilfering coins. The people begin to call the thief The Hood, and remain unaware of his real identity. The Cardinal (Abraham) arrives, furious about the thefts and the elusiveness of The Hood.

At last Robin discovers the real intentions of the Sheriff and the purpose for the money collected by way of taxation. And the Cardinal backs the nefarious plan.

Robin must decide if he is a nobleman who has become a thief and an outlaw…or if he is stepping into the heroic role he was always intended to fulfill.

Movie Review Robin Hood

My Thoughts on Robin Hood

I enjoyed this latest adaptation of a favorite story. All the characters were present in the film, with fresh voices and slightly different relationships in a few instances. I liked the angle this story took, of Robin getting close to the Sheriff to better discover the man’s true intentions.

The cinematography was gorgeous and the action scenes well done. Visually this Robin Hood is a very appealing movie with much for the eyes to feast on and appreciate.

I’ve read criticism for the costuming, as the characters’ clothes were a unique blend of historical, contemporary and futuristic. This was intentional! The film’s set and costume designers were instructed very specifically about the desired look and they succeeded in accomplishing their directives. Rather than be critical that the clothes weren’t 100% historically accurate, I loved the overall look. The artist in me appreciated the marvelous creativity unleashed in the movie.

The use of the bows and the rapid firing of the arrows actually is an ancient technique. Lars Andersen of Denmark is an archery master. He was hired to teach the rapid fire and double arrow techniques to the cast. Take a look at one of his impressive YouTube Videos.

Movie Review Robin Hood

Fresh Robin Hood

I found a lot to like about this newest take on a familiar story. The fresh elements added to the retelling rather than detracting from it, for me. If I wanted to see Robin Hood told in the same way every time, I’d simply rewatch an older version.

But look what I would have missed! Alan Rickman’s darkly humorous Sheriff. Cary Ewles’ sarcasm. Russell Crowe’s gritty portrayal of the hero. Kevin Costner’s appearing and disappearing English accent. All the variations of the story combined create a much bigger and richer picture. I gain a nugget of truth, an aha, or words of inspiration from each one.

And that’s why I attend movies in the first place…to learn more about the way the world works and to discover in deeper ways who I am.

Movie Review Robin Hood

Cherish Your Visions

I’m inspired by a Napoleon Hill Quote today:

Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul and the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.

Presented here are a few quick thoughts about Hill’s words.

Cherish Your Visions

Cherish Your Visions and Dreams

Cherish suggests that we hold dear and valuable our visions for the future and our dreams. Visions are pictures we see with more than our eyes. They are created by our hearts and souls, a big picture painted in broad strokes that captures the essence of who we are and what we are here to do.

Cherish also means to protect and care for. That’s how important visions and dreams are, for they are fragile things when they are first created. They must be nourished and tended to, played with and carried. Doted on in this way, they will grow.

Cherish Your Visions

They Are Children of the Soul

In fact, it is so crucial to nurture visions and dreams that Hill calls them the “children of the soul”. As a mother I understand and connect with that comparison.

Children are birthed into the world, precious and new. And yet, even while tiny, they are full of the potential they will grow into. Cherishing and protecting those children enables them to grow until they flourish on their own.

Visions and dreams are the same. We birth them from our deepest desires. They begin as a small spark of creativity or imagination and with attention and care they grow, expand and take on life of their own.

Is there anything more exciting than a dream that begins to take on shape and depth and looks you squarely in the eyes?

Cherish Your Visions

Blueprints of Achievements

A blueprint is a plan, a map, that helps to bring creativity into reality and imagination into matter. It’s a form of guidance and yet it is adaptable and evolves or shifts as details come together.

My “blueprints” consists of journal pages full of writing, vision boards, sticky notes on a white board, and mile markers that note when I’ve reached an important destination on the journey toward my dreams.

As 2018 makes way for 2019, I’ll spend time nurturing my dreams, broadening my visions and examining my blueprints in all their various forms. I’ll be sharing more about the process and about the dreams as well.

Cast a vision and cherish it. Birth a dream and feed it so that it grows. Join me in making next year a time for manifesting those visions and dreams!

Cherish Your Visions

What Area of Your Life Causes Discomfort?

I receive Notes from the Universe daily. Created by Mike Dooley, these brief emails remind me that I’m not journeying through life alone. I’m surrounded by companions, here and in Spirit. And I have Divine guidance that appears in many forms.

The Note this morning caused reflection.

Think of the one area of life that brings you the most discomfort, Cindy, and know that’s where you are ripe for growth.

What Area in Your Life Causes Discomfort

What Area of Life Causes Discomfort?

I had to think about this note throughout the day. My journey the last ten years has focused on moving Beyond…past fears, comfort zones and limiting beliefs. Parts that were not me have been pruned away so that my true self can flourish and shine.

The area of my life that can still cause me discomfort, albeit relatively minor discomfort now, is speaking up, speaking out, using my voice and being authoritative when I need to be. I’ve practiced avoidance most of my life, due to a strong dislike of confrontation. While it seemed easier to remain silent, the lack of voice created problems.

What Area of Your Life Causes Discomfort

Use My Voice

In August of this year I explored this area of my life. Unblocking my throat chakra has strengthened my voice tremendously and helped me to speak up rather than remain silent. Read that post Ahem, I Speak My Truth.

My reflections today allowed me to see that my next steps in totally eliminating discomfort are about owning my voice, my ideas, and my authority.

It seems the Divine is ahead of me here, calling me onward. What symbol have I been given for 2019? The Queen chess piece. The queen, whether she is a chess piece or a flesh and blood woman, is powerful. She has great freedom to go where she will and do good or defend or protect. And living breathing queens use their voices.

I’m excited about next year’s journey, as the Queen of Enchantment. I am ripe for growth indeed, in all areas of my life, especially where it concerns speaking up and using my voice. Even the word “enchant” has to do with speaking or singing. It’s all coming together!

I ask you. What area of your life causes you discomfort? Are you ready to grow?

What Area of Your Life Causes Discomfort

Connect With People Who Remind You Who You Are

This morning a quote I saved five years ago popped up in my memories on Facebook.

Connect with those who remind you who you are. Ralph Smart

The words felt like an important reminder, on several interconnected levels. I saved the quote by taking a photo of it.

What I didn’t realize is that the quote was a nudge in a particular direction, a path that began to unfold. They might even be classified as a command.

Connect With People Who Remind You Who You Are

Remember Who You Are

In most of my favorite stories, a key part of the main character’s journey is remembering who he or she is. Often there are struggles, challenges and disappointments that serve to awaken the hero or heroine of the story.

As he or she awakens, another vital character steps forward and asks, “Who are you?” Or a statement may be uttered instead. “Remember who you are.”

I love those transformational stories, where people become who they are created to be. I love even more that our journeys evolve in the same way. Something alarming or achingly beautiful awakens us. As we become fully awake, fully aware, we begin the ongoing journey of remembering who we are.

I’m awake. I’ve remembered who I am. My journey now is about living fully as me. I keep my little mascot Absolem on my writing table. He’s the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, who asks me daily, “Who are you?” Absolem and the framed art piece next to his mushroom are wonderful visuals that remind me, daily, of who I am.

Connect With People Who Remind You Who You Are

Thomas Moore

I’ve been re-reading The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. His charming book is providing a foundation for next year.

Greg is reading another Thomas Moore book, Ageless Soul. As we ate lunch Greg asked if he could read a portion of the book aloud to me. He added that the words reminded him of me.

I often travel to Ireland by myself now, and I know I’m looking for and experiencing something important and quite deep for me. When I’m there, I often just walk the streets of Dublin, taking in all the sights that by now are very familiar to me. I seem to be looking for lost parts of myself, and I wish I had even closer ties to Ireland. I wish my grandparents, instead of my great grandparents, had been born there so I could now be an Irish citizen. What is that wish, except some desire to be more closely connected to that important part of my identity? I’m looking for a past, perhaps a lost sense of myself, which seems essential. Thomas Moore

I so identify with Thomas’ words. The way he feels about Ireland and the city of Dublin is how I feel about Scotland, and Edinburgh. I too just want to walk the streets of my favorite city. I want to know Edinburgh at a deep and intimate level. Which is a way of saying I want to know myself in a deep and intimate way. Something essential about myself waits for me in Scotland. I’ll be back there next summer, to discover more about what it is.

Connect With People Who Remind You Who You Are

Connecting With Thomas Moore

I realized that the words Greg read and the quote I saved this morning are both pieces of a larger picture. Thomas Moore, through his books, reminds me who I am. He’s one of my “people”, that I want to stay connected to.

My thoughts from there took a big leap.

Every person…author, actor, speaker…that I’ve felt strongly about meeting, I’ve met. I put the intention out there, and in beautiful and often mysterious ways, the universe rearranges itself and the opportunity is offered. We meet. There are a few dear souls who are already gone from this world that I would love to chat with. I have to content myself with a soul connection that is known on a different plane.

However, Thomas Moore is alive and well and he is a kindred spirit. The nudges and soul taps today have raised my awareness about possibly connecting with this inspiring author, this man who reminds me who I am. The intention to connect…and it does not have to be a face to face meeting…is released now into the world and the universe. I let go of the outcome. Dream Giver…I give this desire to you.

Thomas Moore…let’s connect and talk about enchantment, Ireland and Scotland.

Connect With People Who Remind You Who You Are

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Grandpa Bill’s Shaving Mug

Grandpa Bill’s shaving mug came to me 30 plus years ago, when my mom and stepdad downsized and moved to Arizona for a time. The vintage piece belonged to her father and I felt honored to become its keeper.

Although I displayed the shaving mug for a few years, fear of it getting broken caused me to pack it away, out of sight. And out of sight eventually does become out of mind. I forgot about my grandfather’s mug and lather brush until a few days ago.

In recent years I’ve brought keepsakes and treasures out of storage, incorporating them into my décor. It’s time again to display this vintage item.

Grandpa Bills Shaving Mug

Shaving Mug History

It was common for men to have shaving mugs and lather brushes, between 1880 and the 1920s. They either kept a mug and brush at home, or the barber they frequented kept a personalized set on hand for them.

Those purchased for home use were usually bought through local stores or the Sears catalog. The home mugs had more variety in shape and size but typically went un-personalized.

Many shaving soap manufacturers gave free, inexpensive mugs to customers as a sales promotion, hoping the customer would continue to purchase their shaving soap. Probably the most famous example of this is the Old Spice “sailing ship” mug.

The soap was dropped into the mug and a wet brush used to create a rich lather for shaving. Lather was applied to the face with the same brush. A razor blade whisked off lather and whiskers.

Barbers used personalized mugs for clients, believing the practice prevented shaving rash. In reality the rash wasn’t caused by sharing soap. It was caused by unsterilized razors.

Read more about the history of shaving.

Grandpa Bills Shaving MugStock photo of vintage razors

Grandpa Bill’s Shaving Mug

My mother remembers watching her father use his mug and brush. As a wee girl, she found the process of shaving fascinating. Grandpa Bill used a long bladed razor to carefully remove the shaving lather and his whiskers.

My grandfather was killed in an accident when my mother was only four years old. Memories of him are few, and all the more precious because of their rarity.

Since he passed away in 1944, the mug and brush now in my possession are at least 74 years old, and possibly older. Mom knows nothing about where her dad acquired his shaving set or how long he had it. Perhaps because of her fond memories, the mug and brush passed to her as a young adult.

Grandpa Bills Shaving MugA clean shaven Bill Gregory with his wife Mildred and baby daughter, Patty…who is my mother.

A Keepsake Uncovered

I’m grateful that Mom passed the shaving mug on to me. Although I never had the privilege of meeting my maternal grandfather, I have felt a close connection to him all of my life. He has been my guardian angel, a presence in Spirit who has watched over me and comforted me. I call him Papaw Bill.

I’m even more thankful that when I suddenly remembered the mug and brush, I knew exactly where I had stored them for safekeeping. Holding the simple mug and the brush with the chipped paint, I can imagine Papaw Bill holding them as well. The mug hums with the long ago energy of a kind and thoughtful man who loved his family and cared for them. Closing my eyes, I can almost catch a whiff of the clean, soapy scent of shaving lather.

The shaving mug and brush are on display in my bedroom tonight. They seem right at home on a bedside table, resting among vintage Christmas pieces. I’ll light a candle before going to bed, next to the mug, in honor of my grandfather. I’m thinking of William Gregory…Billy to his wife and friends, Daddy to three children, Papaw Bill to me.

Grandpa Bills Shaving Mug

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows Up

On February 1, 2017, my grandson Dayan and I opened a deck of Sneaky Cards. These interactive, play it forward cards contain fun missions that involve creativity, social interaction or stealth.

After the mission is completed, the cards are passed on to someone else, and he or she continues the game by completing the mission, and passing the card on. Each deck of Sneaky Cards has a unique number so that the cards can be tracked. I’m glad I registered by deck. I received notification recently that one of my cards had surfaced. Where it showed up surprised me!

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows Up

Challenge Yourself to an Adventure

Dayan and I each chose a card from the Sneaky Cards deck. Read about that experience HERE. I completed my mission, which was to create a handmade greeting card for an obscure holiday. After tucking the Groundhog’s Day card into an envelope, with the Sneaky Card inside, I stuck it into a realtor friend’s mailbox at the office, on February 2, 2017.

I chose Kyle as the recipient because I felt like he would “play it forward”, being the cool guy that he is. Once I let a card go, however, I truly do release it and move on.

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows Up

Update on a Sneaky Card

I’ve received a couple of notifications, on Sneaky Cards I’ve passed on. Most though I never hear about. I didn’t think about the greeting card mission again.

I didn’t, that is, until I got a notification via email that there was activity on the card. Since I’ve registered my deck, when someone finds a card he or she can type in the card’s ID number on the Sneaky Cards website and see where the card originated from and enter new info about where the card is now.

Excited to see where the “create a greeting card” mission card had ended up, clicked the link. What a surprise! After journeying to Australia, shortly after I stuck the card in Kyle’s mailbox, the card now appeared to be on a ship, near Antarctica!

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows Up

The Adventure Continues

The card may be en route to South Africa. Or perhaps the ship it is on will round the tip of Africa and head north up the coast. I may never know.

Or the next person to receive the card may post an update online as well. I hope so. Almost two years after I passed the card on, it is half a world away and on the move. How fun, to be part of this mission.

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows UpA photo of the card’s current location.

Another Sneaky Card

It’s been months since I last selected a card from the Sneaky Cards deck. Inspired by the recent surfacing of a past mission card, I decided it was time to play again.

Shuffling through the deck, I selected three cards randomly. All three choices appealed to me. One card drew my eyes again and again.

I chose this mission:

Leave this card in a different state or region. Write where you are leaving it below.

I live in an area where four states converge. I’ll tuck this mission card into my purse, and when the time feels right, leave it in another state. Before I walk away from the card, I will hold it near my heart and energetically surround it with love, joy and a sense of adventure.

May another of my Sneaky Cards travel far!

One of the Sneaky Cards Shows Up

Order your own Sneaky Cards by clicking the link below, and join the adventure!

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Do More of What Makes You Happy

Inspiration for today’s post came by way of a meme with these words:

“Do more of what makes you happy.”

It sounds like such a simple command. However I know from experience that adding to my happiness by doing more of the things that I enjoy is not as easy as it sounds.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What is Happiness?

Being happy is more than having a positive mindset or a Pollyanna attitude. The word origin, from Middle English hap and y, literally means lucky implying good fortune contributes to being happy.

Happiness is a state of well being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction. Being happy can include strong, high frequency emotions such as joy, love, amusement, gratification and hope.

Psychology Today wrote:

“Research suggests that happiness can improve physical health. Feelings of positivity and contentment seem to benefit cardiovascular health, the immune system, inflammation levels, and blood pressure, among other things. Happiness has even been linked to a longer lifespan—providing more years to continue striving for fulfillment.

Those are powerful reasons to cultivate happiness. So why does being happy seem to be such an elusive state for many people? To do more of what makes us happy, we have to know our own particular brand of happy.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

In Pursuit of Happiness

We have a tendency to put the happiness of others ahead of our own, because we fear doing otherwise is selfish. Ignoring our own state of well being not only harms us, it ultimately doesn’t make others happy either. Not really.

There are times when it’s important to put the needs of another ahead of our own. Parents often make sacrifices for their kids to ensure their wellbeing. However, to ignore our own happiness, thinking we are benefitting someone else, skews perspective and creates bitterness.

In reality, I can’t “make” someone else happy nor can another create happiness in me. We are each responsible for our own state of joy and wellbeing. In fact, one of the best things I can do, to encourage another, is to live, really live, in happiness. Being happy gives other people permission and freedom to be happy too.

Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, points out another important truth. If we pretend to be other than who we really are, in an attempt to make others happy, then our choices will lead us away from our happiness.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What Makes Me Happy

Once we understand that happiness is an inside job and we are responsible for creating that state, we can focus on doing more of the things we enjoy. Regularly indulging in small pleasures, trying new experiences, going on adventures and being with people we love increase our joy.

I’ve learned, during my life’s journey, to accept responsibility for my own happiness. Cultivating my joy becomes a matter of doing more of what makes me happy.

Currently my list of happy-inducing activities includes:

• being creative – writing, drawing, creating vignettes, repurposing items, coloring

• gardening and being in nature

• spending time with family and friends

• spending time in solitude and reflection

• learning new things, trying new experiences

• traveling

• watching movies and listening to music

• daily ongoing conversations with the divine

• living in optimal health and wellbeing

• afternoon tea time

This is my unique list. I make sure that I practice some of these activities everyday. As I shift and grow, my list shifts as well. I become aware of what I need to do more of…and do it…not because I have to but because I want to.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

What Makes You Happy

Your list of what makes you happy will look different from mine. And it should. What makes you happy will differ from what makes me or your best friend or your spouse or anyone else happy.

What brings you joy? Which activities make you smile, brighten your day or create anticipation? Do more of those things. Everyday.

And if you don’t know what brings you joy and contributes to your happiness, start there. Fear can block the path to happiness. Do you fear that pursuing your happiness lessens someone else’s? Have you been shamed or ridiculed for doing things that are meaningful to you?

Work through the blocks, clear old energy, focus on who you are right now and make a list of what you would love to do. And begin to do more of what makes you happy.

Continually feeding happiness feeds the heart and soul as well. You…and me…being happy are beautiful gifts to offer to the world.

Do More of What Makes You Happy

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

I observe afternoon tea most days, a practice I adopted after visiting Scotland in 2014. What a special treat today to enjoy an elegant afternoon tea, with my mom, at the historic Phelps House in Carthage, Missouri.

Part of that town’s annual Christmas Home Tour, the fancy tea is offered at four different times, with tables set up on three floors in the house. Mom and I selected a 1:00 PM time slot, and seating on the main floor.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

The Phelps House

This gorgeous restored home, owned now by Carthage Historic Preservation, was built in 1895 by Colonel William Phelps. The house is constructed from Carthage gray marble, in a mix of architectural styles including Classical Revival and Romanesque.

Phelps House features ten fireplaces, original hand-carved woodwork, painted wallpaper, a hand operated dumbwaiter, a heated coat closet, a third floor ballroom and a roof of Ludowici clay tile. Several of the rooms contain original furnishings. The rest of the house is furnished in donated pieces, appropriate to the late 1800s.

William Phelps arrived in Carthage in 1867, after graduating from Albany Law School in New York. He became one of the wealthiest and most respected men in southwest Missouri, prominent in state politics, and actively involved in Carthage industry.

After Colonel Phelps died in 1916, his daughter Bridget continued to live in the house until 1959, when she sold the house to St. Ann’s Catholic Church Parish. The house was used as a home for the nuns who taught at St. Ann’s School.

In 1982, the Phelps House was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988, Carthage Historic Preservation purchased the Phelps House from St. Ann’s and began the process of restoring the home to its former grandeur.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Fancy Afternoon Tea

Mom and I joined a merry crowd as we made our way indoors. Although both of us have toured Phelps House before and attended other events here, this was our first formal tea in the home. We were excited.

Large and small tables offered cozy seating throughout the main floor. More seating awaited upstairs. We sat in a corner, at Table 6, with place settings for two people. As others found their seats, a large tea pot on our table, full of hot water, allowing us to steep our first cups of tea!

A clear sugar bowl on the table contained assorted Harney & Sons teas in silk teabags. I chose a holiday blend for my first cup of tea. Mom sipped on cinnamon spice. The décor in the house reflected the season, and as we waited for our food, we enjoyed visiting and listening to Christmas melodies played beautifully on a piano.

The tiered serving tray delivered to our table featured a selection of savory and sweet morsels, for two. We particularly enjoyed a tiny smoked salmon tart and fresh scones served with strawberry and herbed butters. Mom and I both embrace a plant based lifestyle. However, for this afternoon tea, we chose to accept the fare offered, especially since the potions were tiny.

During our pleasant time together, we sipped on multiple cups of delicately spiced tea.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Touring the House

After we completed our afternoon tea, Mom and I ascended the stairs for a quick look at floors two and three. We counted five spacious bedrooms and a large bathroom on the second floor. Tables and chairs provided seating in several of those bedrooms.

On the third floor we peeked into several additional bedrooms, a sitting room and another full bathroom. A unique ballroom occupies most of this floor however. The ceiling is painted to resemble a starry night sky. How magical it would be, to dance in such a room! Today tables and chairs filled the dance floor, rather than couples twirling around the room.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Until the Next Time

We enjoyed our afternoon tea at Phelps House. The historic home provides a beautiful setting for a practice steeped in tradition. I feel like the Phelps family, known for generosity while they lived, approve this fine use of their home. And the money raised today as a result of the elegant tea go toward preserving this treasure.

I’d so love to see Joplin or Carthage open a charming little tea house. Vegan options on the menu would be a plus. How fun to regularly take tea with other enthusiasts.

I’ll look forward to afternoon tea next year at Phelps House. Hopefully more family members can join us. In the meantime, I’ll continue my own daily observance of this precious little ritual, with my herbal tea blends.

Afternoon Tea at Historic Phelps House

Growing in Gratitude

Today is the final day of a month of expressing gratitude. It’s been my practice the last few years to be intentional about expressing thankfulness during Thanksgiving Week. This is the first time I’ve done 30 days of gratitude, and not only that but found at least five things a day to be grateful for. Growing in gratitude has been my reality during November.

It’s been a wonderful experience. Tonight it seems fitting to conclude my month of thanks and welcome December by lighting all of my Christmas candles for the first time. Darkness surrounds the house. Unseasonal thunderstorms are rolling through the area. However, inside the house, 80 plus candles create warmth and peace.

Growing in Gratitude

Finding My Heart

I successfully located a heart ornament for the tree, at Cracker Barrell’s Country Store. The small heart is adorned with silver beads that reflect the Christmas tree lights. As a bonus, the ornament was on sale. I paid a whopping 59¢ for it!

I had a harder time finding a representation of this years’s symbol…the quill pen or feather. Bird ornaments with real feathers attached for the tail seemed plentiful. And angel ornaments with wings caught my eye, but nothing that looked like an ordinary feather appeared. What to do? Go with a real feather. I got the idea this morning as I worked in my studio. I’ve been collecting feathers all year. They look very homey stuck into the branches of a small artificial tree resting on my writing table.

I found a cream colored ostrich feather that’s about a foot long. My fresh Christmas tree is not topped with a star. Rather, it is crowned with a feather. I’m grateful that I found what I was looking for.

Growing in Gratitude

Ornaments to Represent the Grandkids

Last night, as I decorated the tree, I decided to look for ornaments today to represent my grandchildren. Oliver’s nickname is Bear. A bear ornament, I thought, would be perfect for him.

As I looked for a feather in Hobby Lobby, I suddenly came across a sturdy bear ornament, a reminder of my intention. I selected the bear for Oliver, a fox for Joey and a bird for Aubrey. All of their ornaments are white.

For Jonathan I chose a graceful silver reindeer. And for Dayan a TARDIS from Doctor Who, as he is the one who introduced me to this amazing series.

Part of growing in gratitude is believing as fact, a future hope. I hung a silver baby stocking on the tree, to represent the child my daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate hope to have in the near future. I’ve sent that sweet intention out into the universe, as an answered prayer, and I look forward to welcoming another grandchild someday. I can tell him or her…you were hoped for and loved even before you came into this world.

I’m grateful for the blessings in my life, called grandchildren.

Growing in Gratitude

The Lighting of the Candles

With the house and front porch decorated, I celebrated by lighting candles throughout my home. Each room is aglow with soft candlelight and tiny twinkling Christmas lights.

My heart is aglow too. I love switching off all the lamps and overhead lights and appreciating the beauty of each intimately lit room. It takes me half an hour to drop tea lights into every holder and container and then light them all. It is so worth the effort.

The lightning flickering outside is unexpected this time of year. We have the possibility of severe weather tonight. I lit candles on the front porch nonetheless, and inside it is cozy and snug. I am grateful. All is well.

Growing in Gratitude

From the Inner to the Outer

Normally when I decorate for Christmas, I begin with the front porch and then move into the house. I’ve always started with the outside because that’s the area people see first. Typically I finish up in my creative studio.

This year, I reversed the process. I began in the most personal area of my home…the bedroom. This is my inner sanctuary, the place I rest and dream in. Then I decorated my studio before moving into the more public living areas. Finally, I completed the decorating on the front porch.

The reversal is significant I believe. It reveals how I have shifted. My life is lived from my inner self, my sacred sanctuary, to my outer self, the part of me that is “public”. What happens in my inner life is manifested then in my outer life. I like the parallels and the symbolism that decorating my home offers to my life journey. It is all connected and I am grateful.

Growing in Gratitude

Growing in Gratitude

This has been an amazing 30 days, as I practice gratitude and wrote about the Daily 5. That’s 150 intentional gratitudes expressed. The experience did more than raise my awareness, showing me how blessed I am. It shifted my thinking, expanded my soul and deepened my faith.

Watching for things to be thankful for caused more blessings to flow into my life. My prayer all day long was “Thank you..”, expressed with a full heart to the Divine.

Meister Eckhart wrote:

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, that will be enough.”

It is enough. Gratitude transforms everything.

Thank you. I am grateful. Thank you.

Growing in Gratitude