Day 49: Angels for Joplin Exhibit


For today’s first, I visited the Joplin Public Library’s Post Memorial Art Library, where the Angels for Joplin Exhibit is displayed. Perhaps because it was in the library, or perhaps because of the nature of the exhibit, there seemed, to me, to be a quiet reverence in the room.

Artist Tricia Courtney created these angels, known as assemblage sculptures, from debris after the May 22, 2011 tornado struck Joplin. Tricia has made hundreds of such angels, selling them and then donating the proceeds to help with tornado relief. Many people who lost their homes brought items they had salvaged to Tricia and asked her to create an angel for them.

Almost three years after the tornado and I’m still deeply moved when I see items made from debris, when I hear of stories like this. The emotion of that day is forever seared into my heart and soul. The sights and sounds will never leave my brain. Some of that emotion rose in me today as I looked at Tricia’s angels of hope. Memory stirred and then settled down, leaving a slightly increased heart rate and moisture in my eyes. These sculptures were made with debris that came from my neighborhood. It seemed so significant, that I’d been drawn to view the exhibit and then discovered that fact.  The broken scrap of wood and that rusty vent cover might have come from my neighbor’s house, my daughter’s house. It was sobering.

And yet I felt hope and a sense of the miraculous, looking at the sculptures. The real stories associated with these angels came immediately after the storm. Many, many tales surfaced about how angels protected survivors.  Stories were told of tall muscular men in spotless white clothing who appeared in the midst of the chaos to help and then, impossibly, disappeared. Children spoke of giant butterflies that covered them and their loved ones. I believe those stories. They are an integral part of Joplin’s history now.

I appreciated each unique angel and the creative and compassionate heart of Tricia Courtney. And I appreciated the reminder that life and hope win out, no matter how severe the storm. Albert Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” I choose the latter. Thank you, Tricia, for helping me to remember that today.

Day 48: Message in a Bottle


I’ve always wanted to do today’s first, sending a message away, tucked inside a bottle. If memory serves me, and sometimes it abandons me, my children did this on our visit to the Atlantic Ocean, 25 years ago. I’m sure I helped them. I don’t think I tossed a bottle of my own into the waves though, choosing instead to make sure they had that experience.

Living in land locked Missouri means I sent my message out on a local river. I have to admit, I hesitated for a good long time before I sent the bottle arcing through the air. It felt a bit too much like littering! I finally convinced myself it was for a good reason. It was very windy today and although I threw the bottle as hard as I could, it didn’t fly out very far. It is likely the bottle will be found later today, bobbing gently near the shore, a short distance from where I tossed it!

There is something mystery and romantic about a message in a bottle. I googled to read stories of messages found.  My favorite was of a WWI soldier who in 1914 tossed a beer bottle, containing a letter to his wife, into the English Channel. He was killed two days later in France. The bottle was dredged up by a fisherman in 1999 in the River Thames. The wife had died in 1979. The letter was delivered to the man’s 89 year old daughter. What a treasure for her.

My message was simple, handwritten on a square of parchment type paper. I explained briefly that this was a first for today and asked the one who discovers the bottle to email me and let me know where the bottle was found and the date. I ended the message with a few encouraging words. It was fun to imagine where it might go, if only the bottle can reach the river’s strong current. I enjoyed thinking about who might receive the message and if a heart would be lifted by the words and lips curl into a smile. It made me think, isn’t that like life? We send out messages, with our actions, with words, and have no idea how far they go and how many people they touch, for good or for bad. What we send out eventually returns to us, bearing the same type of message we sent out. I hope my bottle is found, and an email comes back to me. And I intend to be mindful of all the messages I set adrift.



Day 47: Guest Blog for Lu Ann Cahn


What an honor for my first today, doing a guest blog for Lu Ann Cahn. Late last year, as all the components for going beyond in 2014 were coming together, I came across an article about Lu Ann Cahn.  She is a veteran journalist and a reporter for Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV and covers breaking news and investigative stories for NBC10 News. I read her book, “I Dare Me” with fascination. Feeling stuck and wanting to make a change, she experienced a year of doing something new each day in 2010. New purpose, joy and enthusiasm flowed into her life as a result. She inspired me.  I desired to move beyond my comfort zone and stretch myself. I knew I’d found the perfect way to accomplish such a journey. My own year of firsts launched January 1.

On February 9, Day 40, I looked back with amazement and a sense of accomplishment. Yes, there was still a lot of the year ahead! But I was thrilled with how my life was shifting and opening up. I loved that my real estate business was tracking along with my personal growth. I expressed my deep gratitude to Lu Ann, by way of her Facebook page, and posted a link to my blog. She so graciously responded. And then the following day, invited me to do a guest blog for her. It is so amazing, that the one who has inspired me, is allowing me to share my adventure.

Thank you, Lu Ann Cahn, for making today’s experience a first! And for the continuing inspiration and encouragement! Following your example, I Am Daring Me as well!

You can find my guest blog post here on Lu Ann’s blog:


Day 46: Walk the Crystal Bridges Trails


Today was gorgeous. The sun shone, the afternoon temperature reached 60 degrees, and there was a hint of spring in the air. It was a perfect day for being outdoors. Today’s first allowed me to do that, as I walked the trails at the Crystal Bridges Museum Complex in Bentonville, AR.

I visited the museum once before and it is an impressive place. I was there shortly after Crystal Bridges opened. The grounds were not completed yet so it has been my intention to go back and explore the trails that wind through the woods surrounding the beautiful buildings. Today that intention was realized.

Greg accompanied me and we enjoyed our leisurely hike. The trees were bare of leaves and the earth slumbered still in winter’s embrace but there was beauty in such starkness. Nothing centers me and brings me into the present moment more simply than walking in the woods. Nature called to me and there were so many interesting rocks, plants and trees to look at. One of my favorite spots was the site of the Crystal Spring. It is fascinating to watch water bubble up out of nowhere, seemingly, and see the trickle of water become a small stream as it courses along, pooling into larger bodies of water. I could sit for hours and lose myself in the gurgling sound of moving water.

Another wonderful spot was on a hillside high above the museum complex, aptly called The Overlook. Stone benches provided seating and we rested and drank bottled water and shared a piece of fruit. As we gazed down upon the scene below, there was a crashing sound behind us. Glancing around we watched with delight as 6 deer ran past, following a barely discernible trail through the woods. They were such beautiful animals, there for an instant, and then gone.

I was very inspired, walking the trails at Crystal Bridges. I intend to own land one day soon. I want to create trails that allow the hiker to appreciate nature, reflect as they walk, and occasionally be surprised by whimsical statues or amazing views that appear just around the next curve in the path. I saw today that it is possible to transform a piece of wooded land into an enchanting outdoor sanctuary. My heart and soul responded with a resounding “Yes” to all I saw this afternoon, and to the adventure that beckons to me.

Day 45: Hand Out Roses on Valentine’s Day


Valentine’s Day, the day of celebrating love, is not a happy day for everyone. For some it is a painful or lonely holiday. This is also Random Acts of Kindness Week. My desire for today’s first was to combine the two events by handing out roses to people. What happened was that the first became much more intentional, rather than random! It was a sweet experience.

A busy day kept me from doing my first until this evening. By the time I headed out to buy flowers and give them away, the sun was setting and a beautiful full moon was rising. It seemed appropriate, somehow. And it influenced my choice of roses. I had envisioned buying yellow roses, for friendship. What I selected were gorgeous roses as white as the moon that was shining brightly in the velvet sky.

I asked to be guided to people who could use a smile and a reminder that someone cares about them. And the fun began. The first recipient was the cashier at the store where I made my purchase. She admired the roses as I dug in my purse for money. The look on her face as I handed her one, and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day, was priceless. My focus became people who were working this evening, while others were out on special dates. The girl who handed me my tea at Sonic got a rose as did the young lady behind the counter in McDonalds.

I enjoyed my stroll through this fast food restaurant. McDonald’s isn’t a common destination for Valentine’s dinner. There were four men present, each sitting alone, engrossed in their computers or cell phones. I walked by each one and dropped a rose on their tables, wishing them a happy day. The three older men gave me startled looks, smiled and thanked me. As I walked toward the last guy, a considerably younger man who had been listening to music, he removed his earbuds and looked at me with a hopeful expression. I laughed as I gave him his rose. He beamed.

My last stop was to one of my favorite places in Joplin, Cupcakes by Liz, on Main Street. I knew Liz, Jim and their staff had put in a very long and busy day. I gave my last roses to the ladies working so diligently in the kitchen, baking and boxing up beautiful edible creations. I left feeling really good about making a dozen people smile tonight, and hopefully, feel appreciated. I didn’t leave Cupcakes by Liz empty handed though. Happy Valentine’s Day to me!

Day 44: Lunch at Flavors International Cuisine


For today’s first, I visited Flavors International Cuisine, located at 32nd & Maiden Lane in Joplin. This Indian and Pakastani restaurant opened recently and I’ve been anticipating a meal here!  Greg, who has never had Indian food, accompanied me.

I love Indian food. Until now, I’ve had to travel to Springfield or Tulsa to enjoy this cuisine. I had high hopes for Flavors and I was not disappointed. The food is served buffet style. The restaurant is attractive and clean with plenty of seating. Before I even opened the doors, the tantalizing aromas welcomed me in.

We enjoyed our lunch very much. The buffet had many of my favorites, including vegetable fritters, lentils, vegetable kabab, chicken curry, zeera rice and naan.  I tried chicken biryani and meatball curry for the first time and loved both.  The spinach and cheese dish was excellent also.

Our server, Debbie, was attentive and friendly. And we got to meet the owner of Flavors, Mohammed. He came to our table to say hello and chat with us about his restaurant. I loved his outlook on being successful. His job is to do his best in preparing and offering wonderfully authentic foods to his patrons. Greg and I agreed, the food was delicious!

I’m so glad Joplin has a restaurant offering a different selection of foods. I love variety. It truly is the spice of life, and when curry is one of those spices….yum! I’ll be visiting Flavors often.

Day 43: Inspirational Quote Email


Today’s first came to me via my email. I don’t like chain emails, especially the ones that promise big things if you respond quickly, and dire consequences if you fail to play along! This email was a type I had never seen before and had a request that I was happy to respond to.

The idea was simple and beautiful. Send your favorite inspirational quote, poem, meditation, or prayer to the person at the top of the list. Then remove the first person, move the second person to the top and add your name in the #2 spot. The letter is then forwarded on to 20 friends. Some of my friends received one of these emails from me this afternoon, unknowingly contributing to my first!

I had to decide which inspirational quote I wanted to send to the person at the top of the list. I have inspiring words posted all over my house. Daily I choose, at random, a card with a quote on it to affix to my bathroom mirror. My home office has my vision board, inspirational sayings and quotes I’ve scribbled out posted on the walls and my bulletin board.

This is the one that resonated with me today that I emailed on:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”    Marianne Williamson

These beautifully phrased words have been meaningful to me these past few years. I know what it’s like to attempt to shrink and play small. In fact, at times I’ve tried to be invisible. As I’ve discovered who I am, and allowed my light to shine, I’ve realized there is no fear as great as fearing who I really am and what I can do. And no risk greater than embracing all of my gifts, abilities and quirks, and offering out of a whole and full heart to the world. My life, well lived, liberated from those fears, is one of the greatest gifts I can offer.

Day 42: Contact Other Cindy Moores


Today’s first was interesting! I came up with the idea a few days ago to contact other women named Cindy Moore.  My name is fairly common. With the ability to search the internet via google and the search feature on Facebook, I knew I wouldn’t have any difficulties locating other Cindys. 

I found dozens of ladies with my name. And while we all have the same name as a bond between us, it was the diversity among us that fascinated me. I found Cindy Moores all across the US and in Canada. There were several realtors, a pastor, an actress, artists, entertainers, insurance agents, teachers, psychologists and homemakers. One called herself, simply, a “dreamer and lover of life”.  I thought we’d all be about the same age, since my first name’s popularity peaked in the 50’s and 60’s, but I discovered a variety of ages too.

What fun it was to browse through their webpages or Facebook profiles and learn a tiny bit about them. Not everyone had a published email address. However, I found at least a dozen to contact via email or Facebook messaging. I’ve heard back already from a few. Perhaps we will create a group page for Cindy Moores so we can encourage each other in our journeys, one Cindy Moore to another.

Looking at the faces of all these lovely women, and reading their stories, I realized that none of us are just our names. Those are labels that identify us easily. But we are so much more than a name. We are shining souls. We have hopes and dreams that inspire us, fears and hurts we’ve overcome, and gifts to offer to the world. Call out our names and we will answer. Call to our hearts, and we will share with you all that we have to give.

Day 41: Nate’s Birthday Celebration at Longhorn Steakhouse


Today’s first was all about celebrating! My son, Nathanael, turned 33 today. My family is all about honoring the one who is having a birthday, so 13 of us gathered to eat a leisurely dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse. This was another first for me. Longhorn Steakhouse has been in Joplin more than a year and I’ve been overdue for a visit. What a happy reason for combining two firsts.

People say that kids grow up so fast. It is true. How can it be that this handsome young man, who is a parent now himself, is the little boy who used to climb everything, preferred to hop and run rather than walk, and once headed outside wearing only a loin cloth he had made himself? Imaginative and creative, this boy could make anything out of cardboard, hot glue and paint, sketch a picture of anything he saw, and play the piano and guitar. I turned around a couple of times, it seems, and the boy had become the man.

Nate’s desire, from the age of eight, was to be a police officer. That can put fear in a mother’s heart. And yet his father and I encouraged him to pursue his dream, and he did. He has been a police officer for 9 years, and a fine, outstanding officer he is. I’m proud of his accomplishments and at peace with his chosen profession. I look forward to joining him on patrol soon, and sharing about that in a future blog post.

We had a wonderful dinner this evening at Longhorn Steakhouse. The food was great, the conversations flowed easily around the long table, and laughter rang out often. Celebration is one of the highest forms of gratitude. We had much to be grateful for tonight. Happy birthday, Son! Long life, joy and happiness be yours.

Day 40: Visit Daughter Adriel at Work


We’ve heard about take your daughter to work days. My first for today was to join my daughter at work! And since my youngest child works the night shift, I visited her after 12:30 am.

Adriel is a nurse tech at Freeman Hospital. It was such a joy to visit her and surprise her with a cupcake from Liz. We chatted while she took a “lunch” break at 1:00am and then I got to tour her floor and her wing, meeting some of her co-workers, nurses and other techs that she enjoys working with. It was obvious how fond they are of her.

I’m very proud of my girl. This has been a long journey for her, beginning when she was 14 years old and she started as a volunteer at Freeman.  Once she knew she wanted to be a nurse, she took off down that path and has not looked back. She has persevered through years of going to college part time to get her prerequisites out of the way. This year, she is in her second year of nursing school and will graduate in December.

Adriel is a beautiful, slender young woman with a sparkle in her eyes. She may be slight in size, but she knows how to handle patients, whether through charm or with a no nonsense approach, whichever method works the best. She’s told me stories of middle of the night situations she’s dealt with that brings tears to my eyes. And some of her stories make me laugh. All of them amaze me because this child, when she was a little girl, would literally gag if you even said the word “snot”. And if someone sneezed in her presence or a baby had a dirty diaper, she did more than gag! I am astounded that this same girl now does even the most difficult tasks, that I could never have imagined her doing, with expertise, confidence and kindness.

Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, said, “Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the temple of God’s spirit?  It is one of the Fine Arts:  I had almost said, the finest of Fine Arts.” Adriel’s ‘exclusive devotion and hard preparation’ are evident in what she does. Way to go, sweetheart!