Day 21: Celebrate National Hug Day


I enjoy hugging people, although this wasn’t always true. There was a time when I’d back up a step if someone moved toward me, arms outstretched. As a young adult, I learned to allow hugs, and then to appreciate them, and then to initiate them.

Hugging is not only pleasurable, but has health benefits too! A 10 second hug releases the “feel good” hormone oxytocin which lowers stress and reduces fatigue. Other benefits include a lowered risk of heart disease and infections, improved immune system, and a reduction of blood pressure and depression.

Today, January 21, is National Hug Day. When I discovered this holiday, early in the year, I added it to my list of firsts, with the intention of hugging as many people as possible on that date. I love how intentions open possibilities and events arrange themselves beyond what I can imagine. When I looked up the date, I was delighted to see that if fell on a Tuesday, which is the day we have sales meetings at the Keller Williams office. Wonderful! I knew I could hug people at the office, after the meeting. Then I realized that the annual Joplin Business Expo was also on that date. Now the possibility existed of hugging hundreds of people. Even better!

What an amazing day at the Business Expo. I loved greeting people in the business community, seeing colleagues, and hugging friends and new acquaintances. I lost count of how many hugs I gave and received. As Bil Keane, creator of Family Circus, says, “A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” I am grateful to everyone who shared in this experience today. Happy Hug Day!

Day 20: Lunch at the New El Vaquero


When the May 22, 2011 tornado churned through Joplin, thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. El Vaquero, then located at 21st and S. Main Street, was one of the restaurants obliterated. It has taken time for my community to recover and we are not finished yet. Slowly, steadily, homes and businesses have been rebuilt. New companies and restaurants have appeared in the tornado zone along with the return of old favorites.

This past week, 32 months after that horrific storm closed its doors, El Vaquero opened in a new building, a few blocks south of the original location. I looked forward to having lunch there today, as my first. Not just because the food was always great, prices low, and service friendly.  I wanted to welcome El Vaquero back to the neighborhood, back to Joplin. Every comeback by a fallen business or restaurant is a triumph over the destruction that threatened to define what Joplin would become. Every “Now Open” sign is an opportunity to celebrate rising from the ashes and overcoming obstacles and LIFE itself.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who was glad to see this popular Mexican food establishment open again. The parking lot was so full the first time I swung by that I ran a few errands and came back a little later. The interior was bright, spacious and beautifully done. The food was excellent and the servers friendly. It was a delightful lunch.

Driving away, I noticed a sign on a nearby business that read, “Welcome back El Vaquero. Smells great.” What a happy sentiment! Welcome back, indeed.

Day 19: Pay for the Starbucks Order in the Car Behind Me


This was a simple and yet fun first to do. And it was a great way to finish the Pay It Forward Weekend. After showing property this afternoon, I swung through the drive through of a local Starbucks. The time of day was not exactly peak coffee drinking time but several cars were in line. I trusted that another car would pull in behind me.

I was watching in my rear view mirror as the people in the car ahead of me received their purchase, wondering if I was going to have to go elsewhere to complete this first.  Then a car turned the corner and pulled up behind. A young driver sat at the wheel, bobbing her head to music only she could hear. Perfect!

The guy in the window smiled, in a conspiratorial way, and commented that he loved it when people paid for the purchase of the customer next in line. I smiled in return and exited the parking lot quickly, hoping to be away before the girl behind me cleared the building. Success!

I hope she enjoyed her coffee. And that she will pay it forward when the time feels right for her to do so. I intend to repeat this first, often!

Day 18: An Evening With Theresa Caputo


Today’s first was exciting for me. I attended an event in Tulsa, Ok featuring Theresa Caputo, otherwise known as The Long Island Medium. Theresa is engaging. She’s petite and wears extremely high heels with lots of bling. Her sense of humor and laughter are infectious. She is high energy, compassionate, confident, and she makes a living talking to the dead.

Sitting in the audience, listening to her deliver messages to people from their departed loved ones, I was touched by the comfort and peace that she imparted. Her accuracy was undeniable. I believe she has a God given gift and after years of denying her abilities, she has obtained peace for herself by embracing fully who she is.

The real power of this first isn’t that I attended the event. It is that I am writing about it and will publically post that I did. I have lived most of my life abiding by other people’s rules and adapting myself to please others. I don’t like to displease others or be controversial. And yet, in the adapting and shifting and suppressing myself, I lost, for a very long time, who I really am and what’s true and important for me to embrace. This year of firsts is about moving beyond my comfort zone and into freedom in all areas of my life.

Tonight, posting about an event that I enjoyed, I am uncomfortable, knowing that not everyone will accept who Theresa is and what she does to bless others. And not everyone will understand why I would go watch her and even appreciate her gift. Coming up to the edge of this discomfort, it would have been easy to back away and choose another first to write about. But backing down is not what I am doing this year. I am pushing through. I’m growing into the person I am meant to be. I am allowing myself to be Divinely guided on how to best challenge my limitations and break through. And so, I share, from a full and joy filled heart, that tonight, I attended a Theresa Caputo event, and I am grateful for the opportunity to hear her speak and grateful for the opportunity to go BEYOND my fear of what other people think.

Day 17: Random Notes of Encouragement


This weekend, beginning today at noon, is the 2nd Annual Pay it Forward Weekend, as promoted by a Facebook group on that social media site. This event fits wonderfully with my desire to experience a first every day, and I have three days to come up with ways to anonymously show kindness to others.

For today’s first, I came up with the idea of writing encouraging notes to post on random cars in a retail parking lot. I enlisted the help of my grandson, Dayan. We parked my car in a sea of other vehicles and discussed what encouraging words to write. We each wrote several notes and then something magical happened. Dayan began to draw on each note, beautifully illustrating our words with inspiring designs. I was so moved, I had him do the artwork on all the notes.

Then came the fun part.  I explained to my grandson that we would select cars randomly and carefully tuck the notes under the windshield wipers. I also gave Dayan the option of observing this part if it made him feel uncomfortable. He thought it over briefly and then decided he wanted to move beyond his comfort zone also. Yes! We divided the notes and off we went.

We moved quickly among the cars, letting our hearts guide us to the car whose owners most needed the encouraging words. When we met again a few minutes later, we were laughing, our hands empty and our hearts full. We have no idea how the notes were received. We don’t need to know. We moved as we were inspired to move. Whatever unfolds next, is BEYOND us!

Day 16: Sun Asanas


I am not a get up before sunrise person. I am more of an awaken slowly and gently enter the day woman. Once my eyes are open and my feet are firmly on the floor, I have a ritual that I perform every morning. I move through the house, room to room, and open the wooden blinds covering each window, welcoming the morning sunlight. Even on overcast or rainy days, I invite the gray, feeble light to enter in and I express gratitude for another day.

Today’s first added a new ritual to my morning.  The Sun Asanas are a series of 8 yoga poses that are traditionally performed in the morning to greet the new day. These poses caught my attention a couple of months ago, showing up on pages I’ve liked on Facebook. While I am no expert in yoga, I was intrigued.

This morning, I got up early, before the sun, and opened all the blinds.  Lying back down, I stretched and watched for the first beams of sunlight to appear. As the bright golden rays streamed in through the windows and struck my bedroom door frame, I felt a stirring of joy within and a call to arise and greet this beautiful new day.

Standing on the rug in my living room, surrounded by a brilliance that was both fresh and ancient at the same time, I moved through the asanas, stretching and awakening my body and opening my heart. My body hummed with energy. I couldn’t help but smile. Good morning, sunbeams.  Good morning, world!

Day 15: Give Sincere Compliments Day


My grandson, Dayan, is amazing at seeing the best in others and giving them sincere compliments. I’ve been watching him make people smile and melt hearts since he was old enough to talk. Today’s first, giving sincere compliments to as many people as possible, was inspired by him.

This was a fun experience, and also challenging. Being intentional about giving genuine compliments required a great deal of awareness. Sometimes, it is quite easy for me to move through my day and speak to people without really looking at them. To sincerely compliment others, you must look at them, and as Dayan has shown by example, find the best in them and be unafraid to speak up.  I also didn’t want to be “cheesy” or creepy about it, so I attempted to work the compliments into conversations as much as possible instead of tossing them out there.

I had a great time today, watching people, smiling at them, and then offering a simple compliment from my heart. The effect was enchanting. People smiled back. Said thank you. Laughed.  Offered a compliment in return. I felt lighthearted, grateful and expansive.

This beautiful quote sums up the day well:

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”  Steve Maraboli

Day 14: Buy a Chia Pet


Today’s first was all about fun! I bought a Hello Kitty Chia Pet. Chia pets were first produced in 1977.  At that time, at age 19, I considered myself too old to purchase one, although the child in me surely wanted to.

I discovered, when I went to buy a chia pet, that they are only sold during the holiday season.  I had seen many on display over Christmas, but today, I had a difficult time locating one.  At my neighborhood Walgreens, I asked if they had any left. Several enthusiastic employees immediately sprang into action.  Obviously, they weren’t very busy with more important requests at the time! The hunt for a chia pet turned into a fun game, with all of us searching up and down the aisles for the elusive chia. One very young sales associate confessed she had no idea what a chia pet was so she was uncertain what she was looking for! At last, an excited voice called out from several aisles over, “I found one!” She triumphantly held up a Hello Kitty chia pet.  She apologized that the store had no other styles available, but Hello Kitty was fine with me! And being a seasonal product, the price was 50% off.

The gardener in me loves all growing things and it will be interesting to watch the chia seeds sprout.  The youngster in me wants to see Hello Kitty grow “fur”. Sometimes we need to listen to and nurture our inner child. Today, I did.

Day 13: Rev Up Class with Marc King


Today’s first was a Keller Williams sponsored business class, led by Marc King, from Branson MO. Marc is an operating principal of the Branson and Fayetteville AR market centers and a coach with Keller Williams International.  I’ve attended classes with Marc but this was my first opportunity to be in a class taught by Marc. He is a personable instructor with a great sense of humor and keen insight.

One of my aha’s  this afternoon centered around the Big Why, defined as that which motivates us, inspires us and gives us great joy . Marc illustrated how most businesses market by sharing their “whats” and their “hows” but rarely, if ever, communicate their “whys”. Why are they doing what they do? What passion fuels their desire to create success? He encouraged us to be clear on our Big Whys and to do business with those who have Big Whys that are similar to ours.

My Big Why is to create peaceful, beautiful environments in relationships, homes and outdoor spaces, where people can be free to be themselves and connect with their purposes and desires. I can offer that as a realtor, as a mentor, as an instructor, as the person that I am becoming. Thinking big, I intend to create a retreat center, patterned after Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings stories, where people can step away from the busyness in their lives, find their true hearts and selves, and then return to the world with renewed passion and purpose. For now, I offer from a full heart.

If you view life as a precious journey, and believe that the growth of your soul is paramount, then we share similar Big Whys!  I’d love to hear from you, whether you want to become more fully who you are, have a story to share, or need to buy or sell a house.  I want to journey with you.  We are, after all, walking each other home and keeping each other company as we go.

Day 12: Back to Back Movies at the Theater


Movies have been such an important part of my life. They speak to me, deeply, of life and the journeys we all must take. Some captivate me and I watch them over and over…and over, until I’ve taken in all that they have to offer to me.

Today’s first was watching two movies at the theater, back to back. This was a special treat because playing at my local theater was The Legend of Hercules and Saving Mr. Banks, two movies that connect me to favorites from my childhood. As a child, I loved the epic, hero type stories such as Hercules and Jason and the Argonauts. These movies invited me into a larger story of adventure and destiny. Watching them, something would stir in my heart and I believed there was greatness in me, too. Mary Poppins fired up my imagination and helped me to see how magical the world was. Umbrella in hand, I leapt from the top of my swing set, willing myself to fly.

Watching this current version of Hercules was pure fun. It made me think of my childhood and those Saturday afternoons at the neighborhood theater, where legends came to life and good always prevailed over evil. The cinematography and special effects were much better than in those old movies. Thankfully, good still prevailed!

I got a lump in my throat as soon as the opening score started for Saving Mr. Banks. What a wonderful telling of the story behind the Disney classic. It was nostalgic, hearing the familiar tunes created, and seeing the storyline for Mary Poppins come together. And the depiction of PL Travers and Walt Disney was excellent. Saving Mr. Banks is a film about knowing when to let go of the past and engage in life again.  I was deeply moved.

Once again, I was delighted with the way this day arranged itself. The movies were literally back to back with just enough time between them to move from one theater to another. I couldn’t have asked for two movies that more captured my childhood and to have them playing at the same theater at the perfect times was, well, magical!