I’ll See You at the Movies

This is a short story with a sweet little twist to it. I just posted last night about the upcoming Academy Awards and how each year, I watch all of the Best Picture nominated films. I typically watch those movies after the award show airs.

I expressed this hope in yesterday’s post: “My desire this year was to view all of the films before the award show, which airs March 4. Although my local theater brought in the majority of the nominated films, for one or two weeks, it was unfortunately during icy weather. I made it to see The Shape of Water.”

This morning I realized I wasn’t ready to give up on seeing all nine movies before March 4. Doing so would not only be fun for me, it would be a first. I’ve never accomplished such a feat before. I began to search nearby cities, to see which movies were playing where and map out a plan.

A theater in Bella Vista, Arkansas was looking promising, when suddenly the word “Joplin” caught my eye. With a little thrill of excitement I saw that the film Darkest Hour was scheduled to play at my local theater Saturday afternoon. This film had a brief run in Joplin and then disappeared before I could see it. If it was returning…were the others as well?

I pulled up my theater on the Fandango app on my phone and began searching ahead, day by day. All of the Best Picture nominated movies are playing next week, on a rotating schedule. All. Of. Them. Even Dunkirk, that I rented via Amazon last night, is back in the theater.

I know, I know. This is not big news to most people. To me, it is incredible. I don’t recall that my local theater has done this before…re-released all of the Oscar potentials right before the ceremony. And truthfully, I’ve never attempted to see all of them ahead of the show before. This year, my desire aligned with the theater’s intention.

And that…that makes my heart and soul expand. These kinds of seemingly insignificant occurrences show me that nothing is unimportant or impossible. It all matters. Even our smallest desires can be met with fulfillment, often with a little flourish that comes with a “ta da!” These gifts are a delight to me, and reveal the love and playfulness of the Divine. “Oh…you want to see all of the films before the Oscars? You really thought you missed your chance? Well….here you go. Enjoy yourself.”

See, the Divine knows me. The Divine not only gets the strong connection that I have with films, and understands how I receive deeper messages from within the story, El-le designed me this way. I am simply being me. And I didn’t give up. This desire to catch the films on the big screen before March 4 came from somewhere. I don’t understand all the significances of that desire, yet. But when it appeared the opportunity had passed me by, I looked to other options, without getting hung up by it. Open to everything, attached to nothing. I think that’s when the Divine likes to surprise me the most, when I’m in that fluid space of being open, without making demands.

Beginning Sunday, I will be watching a film a day, for the next seven days. I will be not a movie critic, but a movie reviewer, looking for and sharing the messages and ahas in the films. In another amazing synchronicity, I recently joined Movie Pass and just received my card. I can watch up to 30 movies a month at the theater, for a monthly fee of $9.95. Without a hint of guilt, I can go to the theater every day next week, without it costing me extra. You can find out about Movie Pass HERE. They currently have a special running.

I am ridiculously excited about watching these movies, in the theater, as they were intended to be viewed. I may even watch Dunkirk again, on the big screen this time. I am humbled once more to know that no sincere desire of mine is too large…or too small.

I’ll see you at the movies!

Movie Review: Dunkirk

It’s that time of year again. The Academy Awards is fast approaching. And with its arrival, I enjoy a tradition that I have observed for five years. I watch each of the Best Picture nominated films. My desire this year was to view all of the films before the award show, which airs March 4. Although my local theater brought in the majority of the nominated films, for one or two weeks, it was unfortunately during icy weather. I made it to see The Shape of Water. Dunkirk is so far the only film currently available to rent. I watched it tonight via Amazon Prime.

Dunkirk stars Kenneth Branagh, Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Barry Keoghan, Tom Hardy, Tom Glenn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Cillian Murphy and James D’Arcy. This historical drama, written and directed by Christopher Nolan, is rated PG-13 for war scenes and mild language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 46 minutes. Dunkirk is nominated for 8 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Original Musical Score.

This film depicts the true story of the evacuation of allied forces trapped on Dunkirk Beach in France, during WWII. Approximately 400,000 French and British men have been driven to the sea where they await rescue by Destroyers. The situation is exceedingly grim, as German aircraft pelt the beach with gunfire and bomb the few big vessels that make it to the beach. Many of the injured who are evacuated first end up perishing in the sea after their rescuers are hit.

The story is told through four perspectives. We follow young Tommy (Whitehead), a soldier trapped on the beach who forms alliances with other groups as they all seek a way off the beach, two RAF fighter pilots, Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden), Commander Bolton (Branagh) and his right hand man Colonel Winnant (D’Arcy), and a group of civilians on a small vessel, Mr. Dawson (Rylance), his son Peter (Glenn-Carney) and Peter’s friend George (Keoghan).

Hope appears to be lost, as the men stand in long lines peering toward the horizon. The large Destroyers are being picked off before they arrive or bombed as they depart, spilling men and oil into the choppy sea. Commander Bolton knows with a sinking heart that his troops are too exposed on the beach, and that they must get as many men home as possible to protect England. He fears that if they fall at Dunkirk, England will fall next.

Newly elected Winston Churchill puts out a plea for small vessels to cross the channel and bring the stranded men home. More than 800 fishing boats, yachts, leisure craft and small boats set out on the rescue mission. Mr. Dawson, having already lost a son in the war, captains his small boat, Moonstone, himself, with the assistance of his younger son Peter and seventeen year old George, who fears he will never do anything important with his life. Their bravery and compassion compels them to rescue a soldier on the hull of a boat who is suffering from trauma (Murphy) and fighter pilot Collins when his plane crashes into the sea.

The other pilot, Farrier, becomes pivotal to defending men caught on the beach and protecting those fleeing by boat. Tommy struggles to get off the beach. His first two attempts to leave, aboard a Destroyer and then a small Scottish vessel, are both thwarted by enemy fire. He is at last picked up by the Moonstone, just as a downed German plane sets the oil covered sea aflame.

Dunkirk’s movie subtitle is so appropriate. 400,000 men couldn’t get home, so home came for them. Ultimately, 338,226 men were successfully evacuated.

War movies are not high on my list of favorite genres. And yet, invariably, each year there is a film depicting war on the list of Best Picture nominated films. I typically watch them first, to get them out of the way. I am grateful that I made a pact with myself to watch every movie on the list, in spite of my perceptions or personal preferences. Because…I would have missed some excellent films otherwise.

Dunkirk is no exception. I found it to be a compelling watch, full of hope and courage. As war films go, this one is not overly violent. It is instead, tense and dramatic. The musical score is wonderful and helps to keep the storyline taut.

My heart clenched over the despair in the situation. The trapped men were portrayed as being so young. My eldest grandson is 18, the age of many these soldiers, and I can’t imagine the agony of having him in battle. How truly incredible that help came from home. What astounding bravery and determination those civilians had. Without them the war might have gone differently.

I noted with interest the reactions of the rescued troops as they arrived home by boat and then train. This morning I spent time writing on the subject of shame. The young men were so grateful to get home. And yet, they expected to be jeered and spit upon when they returned. They felt like they had failed their country in having to be rescued. They felt shame. “Wars are not won by evacuation”, Tommy laments.

But the crowds welcome the men home, with expressions of gratitude. And Churchill himself praises the evacuation. I like that the story ends on a high note. Dunkirk is a cheer worthy movie, made all the more poignant in knowing it actually happened and was a turning point, historically. As a result, I made a promise to myself tonight that I will never complain again about watching a war movie, especially one nominated for an Oscar.

Fun for One

After reading the introduction in my new book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again by Julia Cameron, I completed the only task assigned in those first pages. I made a list of ideas for the weekly Artist Dates.

One of the foundational tools used during this twelve week creative course is the Artist Date. These once a week solo outings are assigned play. The purpose is to engage the inner artist, the inner child, and do something that feels fun and exciting.

I quickly began to anticipate these dates, when I worked through Julia’s first two books. I set aside Sunday afternoons as my time to do things I enjoyed, explore new places, or spend time outdoors in contemplative silence.

A strange synergy developed between me and the book, week after week. I deliberately avoided looking ahead at the next chapter as I completed one. And yet, somehow the activities I engaged in on my artist dates on Sundays connected strongly to the next chapter. I can’t explain how this foreshadowing happened. I only knew something magical was occurring.

It was with a sense of child like delight that I created a list of possibilities for upcoming dates with my inner artist. At the top of my list is a visit to the Philbrook Art Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As an elementary grade school student I got to visit the museum at least once a year, on field trips with my classmates. Philbrook is housed in a three story mansion that was the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. I loved wandering through that massive structure, admiring the renaissance style villa as much as the pieces of art.

And as gorgeous as the house was, the grounds were even more impressive. The developing gardener in me was drawn outdoors to the formal and informal gardens on the property’s 25 acres. I have not visited Philbrook since my childhood, and yet I think of it often. Although there will be driving time to factor in, I look forward to returning to the museum on an artist date, and seeing this place with fresh eyes.

Other ideas that made my list include movie matinees at the local theater, sketching, reading or journaling outdoors, attending plays, musicals, concerts or classes, and having a picnic lunch for one in a park. I’m not limited to the suggestions on this list. It is a springboard for other creative ideas.

Julia writes, “The point of the Artist Date is for us to capture the wonder and excitement that we had when we were young.” I am experiencing wonder and excitement already. It’s going to be an amazing twelve week course.

Finding Julia

As I listed people in my last blog post, who have had an impact on my life, I almost included Julia Cameron, bestselling author of The Artist’s Way. That book, about accessing and developing higher creativity, was influential to me in 2016. I had been aware of The Artist’s Way and the author for years, but I had not purchased the book. Elizabeth Gilbert shared, during the speaking event I attended, that she worked through this twelve week creativity course before she began each new project. I consider Liz a mentor. I bought the book immediately.

Today I happened to be in a Barnes & Noble Bookstore, with some time to kill. The book I hoped to purchase wasn’t available. Julia Cameron came to mind. I have benefitted tremendously from working through her first two books. I knew she had a third one in the series. I wandered into the self help section.

Finding Water was not on the shelf. However, high above me I spied a book that had the characteristic look of a Julia Cameron workbook. Pulling it down, I was thrilled to discover a fourth book in The Artist’s Way series, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again.

The subtitle for this book is Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. This books arrives in my life at the perfect time. I am not a retiree, but at age 60, I am most definitely at the “midlife and beyond” point of my life. Intrigued, and feeling guided to this book today, I purchased it.

My intention was to start into this new twelve week course on creativity on March 1, or perhaps next Monday. Because don’t we tend to begin new programs on Mondays? I dropped the book onto my writing table in my studio and left it there. But it kept calling to me. I realized I had used my other two Julia Cameron books in my Creativity Vignette. Before preparing a healthy dinner, I read through the introduction of It’s Never Too Late.

Julia writes, “It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again is a twelve week course for anyone who wishes to expand his or her creativity. It is not meant only for ‘declared’ artists. It is aimed at those transitioning into the second act of life – leaving one life behind and heading into one yet to be created.” Those words so resonated with me.

Each week I will work through a chapter and complete the tasks within. In addition, there are four basic tools.

Morning Pages – three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. These pages are for “my eyes only”.

Artist Dates – a once weekly solo expedition to explore something fun.

Walking – a twenty minute solo walk, twice weekly, without a pet, friend, family member or cell phone.

Memoir – a weekly, guided process of triggering memories and revisiting my life in five year increments.

I am so excited to begin this twelve week journey that I am beginning right away. Not March 1. Not next Monday. Tomorrow morning. I am familiar with the Morning Pages. I love the free-style flow of words onto paper. The purpose is to energetically clear the mind and heart so that there is room for new experiences in the day ahead. The Artist Dates are incredibly fun for me, as I do things that my inner artist, my inner child, enjoys.

I have felt ready to get back into a walking routine. This course presents the perfect opportunity. And I had no idea there was a Memoir writing task included weekly as part of the course. With my word for 2018 being Story, this book seems absolutely right for this time in my life. I was moved by these words in the introduction, under the Memoir section: “Everyone’s memoir will be different. You may choose simply to answer the questions and list the memories they evoke in standard prose form. Alternately, you may sometimes find your answers coming out as poems, drawings or songs.” Way before discovering this book today, I have felt drawn to sketching out portions of my life story.

I am grateful for all the seemingly random events that led me to finding Julia today. I know that truly there weren’t any coincidences. I was led. I followed a trail of bread crumbs, moving forward step by step until the trail ended and I looked up to find my prize. I am ready to let this journey unfold.

You can order It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again or The Artist’s Way by clicking on the links below.

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Touched by Kindness

As Random Acts of Kindness week concludes, I want to finish the week with a post about some of the people who have most impacted my life. I’ve shared already about my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Cathy, about Anthony William whose teachings radically shifted my health and about Byron Katie whose practice of self inquiry known as The Work freed my mind from the chaos of my thoughts and beliefs.

I could go on for another week, thanking people who have walked alongside, for a short time or a long time, or who currently journey with me. I decided to do a combined post instead, and briefly touch on several.

There is a quote that says small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can change the world. The same is true for individuals. Small acts, multiplied by a dozen people, twenty people, a hundred people, can impact and transform a life. The RAK Foundation based their theme this year on the question, Who is your one? Who, they asked, influenced your life? It starts with one.

I’ve had more than one influencer.

These four have several things in common. They are all authors, speakers, and teachers. And, they have all been game changers in my life.

I heard John Eldredge speak at a book seller’s convention in Colorado Springs in 1997. He stood on a stage, in a room of 350 people, dressed casually in jeans and a light blue denim shirt, and spoke about a relationship with God as a Sacred Romance. John used movie clips to illustrate his points. I literally sat on the edge of my seat, transfixed by his words. Here was someone who understood the power of film, partly because he had an acting background, and he understood that God could speak to us through those movies. John gave me permission that day to embrace the kind of relationship I had with God…a very personal one that began in my childhood, and included an ongoing, daily conversation. John and I became friends that week, while I was in Colorado, and I have been greatly impacted by his books and teachings.

I recently became acquainted with Glennon Doyle, after Elizabeth Gilbert mentioned her in a Facebook post. Glennon has a blog called Momastery and has authored two books thus far. Her gut wrenchingly honest, authentic and humorous writing helped me to work deeper into my own authenticity. She continues to be an influencer in my life.

Dear Elizabeth Gilbert first came into my awareness through the movie Eat Pray Love, based on her book by the same title. Reading about Liz’s year long journey to discover who she was gave me permission to undertake a similar journey of self discovery. As my fears disappeared and my long pent up creativities emerged, Liz published a book, Big Magic, that inspired me in the pursuit of expressing my artistic side. I heard her speak in a Wichita a couple of years ago, which furthered my creative journey.

And Michael A. Singer freed my heart and soul.Greg introduced me to Michael’s book, The Untethered Soul. In it he writes about energy, and how we protect ourselves from hurt by barricading our hearts. When we don’t allow experiences to pass on through us, and trap the emotions instead behind those walls we erect, the energy can’t move as it was intended to. Similar circumstances can then trigger that old wound, and we experience pain again, and suffering. Michael helped me to release old, pent up energy and truly experience great freedom and lightness of being.

I know there are other authors and teachers who have shaped my journey. These four, however, have had tremendous life changing impacts.

Friends have shaped my life as well. My best friend Laurie showed me that women don’t have to compete, but can encourage and support each other. Her untimely death at age 36, in 1990, had as great an impact on me as her life did, and took me years to work through. My friend Andy’s suicide solidified my desire to banish fear from my life, after witnessing how his past crippled his present reality and ultimately snuffed out his life. Mark, whom I’ve known for 11 years but met for the first time in 2014, challenged me 10 years ago to “step up and occupy the Mithril shaped space you are meant to occupy.” Mithril is my soul name, and I accepted that challenge. Garen has walked beside me for 9 years, as one of my closest friends, acting often as a sounding board for my creative ideas. He has been there through some of my darkest moments as well. Cate and Marva and Georgia have been women who make a difference in the lives of others, and have certainly touched my life as well. LuAnn inspired my blog, through the example of her life, giving me a purpose to connect to my writing.

All of these people are connected, in intriguing ways. All have helped to weave the tapestry that is my life and without each one, my life today would look very different. Thinking about the impact people have had on my life creates in me a deep sense of wonder and gratitude. It creates as well the desire to offer into the lives of others, and to do so by being my authentic self, by being me.

I am so grateful for all who have been an influencer in my life. I am grateful for my family…parents, siblings and their families…and Greg, my children and grandchildren. Each has offered into my life. Each has shared my journey and altered my path.

May I walk alongside others with an awareness that life is precious and beautiful and fragile and messy and glorious. And may I offer richly into their lives. My daughter Elissa sent me the following meme last week, sharing that it made her think of me. I am honored that she sees me in this way. May it be so! May I be a game changer in another’s life.

You can learn more about the four authors by clicking on their names below:

John Eldredge

Glennon Doyle

Elizabeth Gilbert

Michael A Singer

Play Review: Steel Magnolias

The highlight of last night’s girls’ night out was the viewing of the play Steel Magnolias at Joplin Little Theater. Seven of us…my mom, my two sisters, and my daughters and daughter-in-law…sat in the darkened theater for the sold out performance. The play presents the timeless story of “six characters as delicate as magnolias but as tough as steel.”

The Joplin production of Steel Magnolias stars Shanti Navarre, Abbi Epperson, Ann Grace Lile, Ashley Trotnic, Diane Martinous and Lisa Olliges Green. Tegan Whited directed. The play was written by Robert Harling and was originally produced by the WPA Theatre, New York City, in 1987.

The setting for Steel Magnolias is Chinquapin, Louisiana, 1986 – 1987, with all scenes taking place in the salon of Truvy Jones (Navarre). Truvy has just hired young Annelle (Epperson), a new girl in town whose husband has abandoned her.

Annelle (Abbi Epperson) in Steel Magnolias. Photo from Joplin Little Theater Facebook page.

Truvy’s beauty shop is the gathering place every Saturday morning for a group of long time friends. Clairee (Lile), Ouiser (Olliges Green), M’Lynn (Martinous) and M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby (Trotnic) drift in and out of the salon, getting their hair and nails done by Truvy or Annelle as they share life experiences.

Shelby is currently the center of the group’s attention. The play opens on the day of her wedding and as the mother and daughter are getting their hair put up and nails painted, we learn that there is tension between them. Shelby has diabetes. M’Lynn is very protective of her daughter’s health, encouraging Shelby to drink orange juice when her blood sugar drops and sharing with the group of friends that the doctors have advised Shelby that pregnancy poses a grave risk.

During Scene 1 we are also given some backstory on each of the other characters. Truvy runs a successful business, providing excellent salon services to the ladies of Chinquapin. Annelle is starting her life over after a failed marriage. Clairee has recently become a widow and she is learning to live alone while rediscovering who she is and what she wants to do. M’Lynn has an emotionally charged marriage and two sons younger than Shelby. And Ouiser is the most outspoken member of the circle of friends, claiming she has been in a bad mood for decades.

Scene 2 begins just before Christmas, 1986. Shelby, who has been married since the spring, surprises her mother with a trip home, and big news. Against all odds, and the doctors’ advice, she is pregnant. M’Lynn is less than thrilled. Her concern is for Shelby’s health and well being. Shelby, however, remains optimistic about delivering a healthy baby.

During Scene 3, which takes place in June of 1987, Shelby and her mother reveal to the group of friends that her fragile health is failing. Although Shelby gave birth three months prematurely, her baby boy is healthy and thriving. Shelby is experiencing kidney failure and has begun dialysis. Her only hope for continued good health is a kidney transplant. M’Lynn is the closest match available for her daughter. The surgery is scheduled for the next day, much to the shock of the friends. M’Lynn explains that she feels honored to have given life to her daughter twice.

The final scene opens in November of 1987. The black clothing of the friends, the somber mood and the absence of Shelby hint at what’s about to unfold. Annelle has remarried, deepened her faith, and she is nearing the time for the birth of her first child. Clairee has just returned from a dream trip to France. And Ouiser has reconnected with a former male classmate.

From M’Lynn the audience learns of Shelby’s fate. The transplant ultimately failed. After falling into a coma, Shelby passed away at the hospital. The funeral is planned for that afternoon. Through her grief, M’Lynn shares that she was there when Shelby was born and there holding her hand when she slipped away. When M’Lynn expresses anger over her daughter’s untimely death, her friends rally around her, each offering to the heartbroken mother out of their strengths and different perspectives. We see how incredibly precious the gift of friendship is.

This was a very big deal for me, to go see this play. I have purposely avoided the movie, based on the play, since its release in 1989. Without knowing the story, I only knew that the movie was sad. That’s all I needed to know. Due to my difficulties in shedding tears and allowing myself to feel sad emotions, I have successfully stayed away from the film.

When I learned that Joplin Little Theater was presenting Steel Magnolias, I felt it was time to experience this story and not shy away from my emotions. What better companions could I have than my own circle of strong women? I cherish the relationships that I have with each woman and I am grateful that they chose to accompany me to the play.

I was impressed with the creativity of the production. All four scenes took place in the beauty shop, which meant we learned the story through the conversations and interactions of the characters. I adore that kind of cleverness. And the cast of women was amazing. Each actress brought her very best to her role, making the audience laugh in delight or weep in sympathy. These fine performers deserved the standing ovation that they received at the end of the play.

I thought that watching the story unfold as a live performance would lessen the emotional impact on me. After all, there wasn’t a soundtrack of dramatic music to cue my emotions or a long, drawn out hospital scene that depicted Shelby’s death. I was wrong. The sincere and deeply moving portrayals by the cast as the recounted the end of Shelby’s life bypassed my logical brain and zinged right into my heart. My eyes welled up, as M’Lynn spoke passionately about her daughter, and a single tear trickled down my cheek.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see Steel Magnolias in the format it was originally created in. I am even more grateful to have family members seated with me. More than friends, we understand the joys and challenges that life can present. We are daughters, and mothers. We know the fierce desire to live life on our own terms and the equally fierce love that a mother has always for her children. We left united in our appreciation for each other and in our determination to walk alongside each other on this journey we call Life.

And now, at last, I have the Steel Magnolias movie queued up on my Amazon Prime watchlist. I am ready to watch it. I am ready to experience whatever emotions this story draws from me.

Girls’ Night Out

A quick pictorial post tonight, celebrating a fun evening spent with the women in my family. It is rare for me to get to enjoy an evening with my mom and sisters AND my daughters and daughter-in-law.

The seven of us met for dinner at Hunan Gardens on South Main Street. We connected over shared stories and laughter. And then we sat together in the audience at Joplin Little Theater for a viewing of the play, Steel Magnolias. I’ll write a review later of this exceptional play, performed brilliantly by a local cast.

What a special evening, watching a play that featured a group of strong women who walk with each other through the joys and challenges of life, while sitting with my own group of strong women who have committed to walk with each other through the joys and challenges of life.

I am so grateful for my mom, for my sisters Linda and Debbie, and for my girls, Elissa, Adriel and Megan. I look forward to more times together, sharing experiences and special events.

Thank You Byron Katie

Seven years ago, I found myself in a maelstrom of emotions. My father had died of pancreatic cancer the year before. A long term relationship was being reshaped. A close friend committed suicide. An EF5 tornado destroyed a third of my town, affecting me, family members and friends, and more than 30 clients. I was fiercely determined to go within and face the fears that had haunted me my entire life. I was equally determined to tear down the strongholds that I had built to protect my heart.

I had never felt so alone, or vulnerable, in my life. And yet, that was exactly where I needed to be. Into that time of upheaval and change came author and speaker, Byron Katie.

Byron Katie, known as Katie, was born in 1942 and grew up in Texas. She later moved to Barstow, California, married at age 19, had three children, and entered a career in real estate. Her life seemed typical, blessed even. But Katie began a downward spiral that took her into severe depression, rage, overeating, and addictions to codeine and alcohol.

In 1986, at age 43, unhappy and desperate for help, she entered a half way house for women with eating disorders, the only place her insurance company would pay for. She was housed alone in the attic because the other residents were afraid of her. After two weeks, lying on the floor because she didn’t feel worthy to sleep on the bed, Katie awoke one morning with an epiphany.

She writes, in her first book Loving What Is, “All my rage, all the thoughts that had been troubling me, my whole world, was gone. At the same time, laughter welled up from the depths and just poured out.”

When Katie returned home, she was a different person. Her family and friends soon realized the old Katie was not returning. She shared with others about the freedom she lived in and how through asking herself four questions, she had realized that all of her old thoughts and beliefs were untrue.

Katie’s epiphany was this: “I discovered that when I believed my thoughts, I suffered and that when I didn’t believe them, I didn’t, and that this is true for every human being. Freedom is as simple as that. I found that suffering is optional. I found a joy within me that has never disappeared, not for a moment.”

From her freeing experiences, Katie developed questions for self inquiry, a process that has become known as The Work. She shares that our suffering comes from believing our own stressful thoughts. The Work is a way of identifying and questioning those stressful thoughts.

It consists of four questions and a turn around:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?

3. How do you react when you think that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

And…turn it around, then find three genuine examples of how the turn around is true in your life.

Using the thought, My friend should listen to me. Is that true? Can I truthfully say someone has to listen to me? Therefore, can I absolutely know that my friend should listen to me? No, I can’t know that. How do I react when I think, or believe, that thought? I feel lonely, unheard, unappreciated, invisible. Who would I be without that thought? I would be happy, content, unconcerned. Turn it around. My friend doesn’t listen to me, becomes I don’t listen to my friend. My friend does listen to me. I don’t listen to myself. It is typically in the turn arounds that the truth is uncovered.

Greg introduced me to the books of Byron Katie. I saw how her wisdom freed him up in areas of his life. Her words shifted my thinking, caused me to question my beliefs about everything, began to tear down the defenses I had constructed to protect my heart from hurt.

I read all three of her books. Over and over. I watched her YouTube videos. I did her Judge Your Neighbor Worksheets, which helped me to get really petty about people and circumstances and then follow The Work through my thoughts, which always brought me back to myself. I listened repeatedly to her books on Audible as I drove my car, replaying certain sections until the words unknotted so many of my old beliefs.

The journey I took was deep, and inward, and ultimately freeing. Late one night, out walking in my storm battered neighborhood, I paused to stretch out, in the dark, on the front porch of a house that was being rebuilt. For the first time, in a very long time, the whirling emotions and thoughts were quiet. And suddenly, lying there in the dark, on that vacant house’s porch, that laughter that Byron Katie speaks about welled up inside me and burst forth. I sat up and laughed and laughed, and long pent up energy that had been trapped around my heart loosened and left my body on waves of laughter. I’m surprised someone didn’t call the police.

Peace descended on me that night. My troubling thoughts went the way of the fear I had already stared down. I was filled with joy and a freedom I had never experienced before. Open to everything, attached to nothing, was born in me at that moment. My life shifted and has not been the same since.

Thank you Byron Katie, for instigating that shift. Thank you for sharing so openly and deeply about your own journey. Thank you for inviting me to fall madly in love, with myself, and for telling me to create a knee shaking, deep as it can go relationship with myself. I have learned so much about who I am, about releasing stressful thoughts and worry, and about living in freedom and joy. You are one who has had a great impact on my life.

Because of Byron Katie, because of The Work, I am free…to be myself and to live in the present moment. I am able to allow others the same freedom. Loving what is? Yes, I am.

Visit Byron Katie’s website HERE.

And order Loving What Is below:

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Thank You Anthony William

I could not let this week of kindness pass without sharing about one whose impact on my life the last 20 months has been enormous. Thanks to Anthony William, also known as the Medical Medium, I not only have my health back, I regained my life.

Anthony has a tremendous gift that he shares with the world. At age four, he began to hear a literal voice in his right ear. Spirit told young Anthony that his grandmother had lung cancer, a condition she was as yet unaware of. A visit to the doctor confirmed the info that Anthony received and shared.

He has been sharing medical information since, earning him the name of Medical Medium. Anthony has a website, where he offers a wealth of information for free. There is a wonderful audio series on the site, The Healing Path, that was so encouraging to me as I set off on my own journey of recovery. Anthony also has a strong presence on social media. You can join his Medical Medium Facebook page or follow him on Instagram, and not only receive help for healing, but connect with an ever expanding community of people who have taken back their health.

Anthony has authored three books, so far, and these volumes became my roadmap back to health and vitality. Medical Medium sheds light on the cause of mystery illnesses and autoimmune disorders. His 28 Day Cleanse at the end of the book changed my life, ending 22 years of chronic, debilitating pain. The cleanse also changed my relationship with food. I embraced a plant based lifestyle as a result. Life Changing Foods assists me daily as I continue my journey. This book features more info and 50 powerful foods that support the body as it heals. Each food has an accompanying recipe to try, and they are all delicious! I rely on the index in the back of the book as a source for matching symptoms to foods that aid healing. If I have a sore knee, I can look up which foods will best help in my recovery.

The latest book, Thyroid Healing, is astounding. It details the damage that the Epstein-Barr virus creates in the body. As it progresses through its stages, it eventually settles in the thyroid, causing health problems throughout the body. It is more than a book about thyroid health. It is a tool that aids in getting rid of Epstein-Barr and the viruses that often accompany it, shingles and strep. Thyroid Healing concludes with a 90 day thyroid rehab plan that focuses on eliminating the Epstein-Barr virus. I am about to begin this three month protocol, taking my health to the highest possible level.

I have learned from Anthony that it is possible to heal, even from long term chronic disorders. I now understand my body in ways I have never understood it before. Through my personal experience I discovered that my body wasn’t just falling apart or attacking itself. I was under attack, by viruses that were triggered by a traumatic incident years ago…a car accident. The stress hormones flooding my body fed those viruses. And the poor quality foods that consumed continued to help the viruses thrive and reproduce and release damaging toxins.

I have such respect and appreciation for my body. It fought to heal for so long, in spite of unhealthy, unhelpful foods. I am in awe of the wondrous way the body can heal and support good health, when I nourish it and nurture it. I am grateful for Anthony’s wisdom and guidance. His gift is exactly that, an offering to the world with the sole purpose of helping people take charge of their health and well being. He has dedicated his life to helping others heal, and I am, and will always be, full of deepest gratitude. At my lowest point, health wise, when I could no longer walk without a cane and a wheelchair seemed inevitable, I asked the Divine for help. And the Divine pointed me to Anthony the next day. In my place of pain and deepening despair, Anthony threw me a lifeline, he offered a way through. And he has done so with grace and joy, and without judgment or condemnation.

As the old song says, I am a life that was changed. I am so glad you gave. Anthony, thank you.

If you are looking for healing, for pain, from chronic illness, from a mystery illness or an autoimmune disorder, order Anthony’s books below:

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Thank You Mrs. Cathy

In observing this year’s theme for Random Acts of Kindness Week, I will be sharing stories about people who have had an impact on my life. The RAK Foundation encourages us to think about who has shown kindness, walked alongside or offered a helping hand by asking the question, Who’s your one?

Having excluded family members, I asked myself…who has shown up in my life that was a game changer? I made a list this morning and as I practice acts of kindness this week, I will be aware of the impact these beautiful souls have had on me, and sharing each day about one of them.

The first name on my list belongs to my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Cathy. I have always been a good student. I’m a first born, and a January girl. Overachieving and pushing myself to excel are traits that are definitely in my nature. The truth is, I didn’t enjoy my first few years in school.

Early on, my teachers just didn’t get me. I was an enigma to them. I already knew how to read when I began kindergarten and that seemed to throw off my teachers. I remember being taken to the big kids’ library as a five year old and being handed books to test my reading abilities. Two teachers and the principal huddled in the corner, watching me. In loud whispers they wondered aloud if I had somehow memorized the stories, hence the random pulling of books off of shelves. I was relieved when they finally believed that I could read. Thereafter I was allowed special library privileges…but I felt like a freak for being singled out and quizzed. I learned in kindergarten to hide what I could do.

My first grade experiences bored me endlessly. The Dick and Jane books were frustrating to me. “See Spot run. Run, Spot, run. Oh, Dick. Oh, Jane. Oh, oh, oh. See Spot run.” Oh brother, I thought. I sat at my desk a lot, drawing and working on other projects. My teacher looked at me often with suspicion, I thought! Another teacher asked me if I was really that smart, or was I cheating somehow. I just stared at her.

I don’t even remember much about the next two grades. The turning point, thankfully, came in fourth grade. My teacher was Mrs. Cathy and thanks to her, I came to appreciate school and look forward to it. Mrs. Cathy had a pleasantly plump figure and short dark hair. She favored cardigans over her dresses and blouses, and sensible shoes. I loved her.

This energetic woman was always smiling or laughing and never shushed her students for laughing out loud either. She made learning interesting and fun, creating games that increased our retention. She allowed kids to learn at the pace that was right for them. Thinking about her this morning, I realized my penchant for creating fun games for myself, something I still practice, was most likely inspired by the brilliant Mrs. Cathy.

The most important thing about Mrs. Cathy was this. She loved everyone. She treated all of her students with warmth and humor and made each boy or girl feel important. I was at a really awkward stage by fourth grade. My hair was growing out, from the last short hairstyle I would ever have. I was in my chubby phase. I was a bookworm, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. And, I was already adept at hiding huge parts of who I was and very cautious about how much I shared.

Mrs. Cathy made me feel like she saw who I really was and she liked me, as I was. She made everyone feel that way. At Christmas time Mrs. Cathy’s desk was covered with small packages from her appreciative and adoring students. I had asked my teacher what she wanted, if she could have anything in the world. With a laugh she replied, “A new car…a blue one!” I bought her a tiny blue car and gave it to her as a Christmas gift. I’m sure I must have bought her something else as well. I’ve forgotten what that gift was. But I will remember forever her peals of delighted laughter when she opened my gift. She wiped tears from her eyes and gave me a tight hug.

I searched the internet this morning, trying to locate my teacher. Sadly, I don’t know what her first name was, and whether she was really Mrs. Cathy or a Miss. She has most likely passed on, as she was in her 40s back in 1967. I could not find any information about her at all. I did locate an alumni group for William McKinley Elementary School in Tulsa Oklahoma, on Facebook. I made a request to join that group. Perhaps I will link up with a former classmate there who can tell me more.

I don’t have a photo of Mrs. Cathy. I don’t need one. I can see her clearly today in my mind, more than 50 years later. She is forever captured in my memories, wearing a dark skirt, white blouse and blue cardigan, head tipped back and eyes squeezed tight as she laughs and gathers a child close in an encouraging embrace.

Alexandra K. Trenfor wrote, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” Thank you Mrs. Cathy, for being one of my influencers, for changing the way I felt about school, and even how I felt about myself, and for showing me where to look. I’m sending you waves of love and gratitude. I hope you know what a difference you made in my life.