Day 100: Circles


I am amazed to be blogging about my 100th new experience since January 1 of this year. I know I’m not quite one third of the way through the year yet, however, doing the 100th first today marks a milestone. It has been an exciting and rewarding 100 days. And it seems very fitting that for my first today, I attended a meeting about an amazing organization that is new to Joplin.

My good friend, Garen, posted an invite on his facebook page this past week about tonight’s informative event. My sister Linda saw it and told me about it and Garen emailed me to invite me as well. It seemed a perfect first for today. I had heard only a little bit about this organization and was eager to learn more.

Circles is a national initiative in which people from different social-economic groups cross barriers in the fight to end poverty in their communities. I loved that poverty was defined as not being about lack of money, but about lack of relationships and education. It’s not about people fixing other people, but rather about walking with another during a particular time in their lives. It’s about the journey and building relationships. Circles is not a hand out, or a hand up, but a hand reaching across to another person.

Ryan Melton, Joplin’s Circles Director, shared with us tonight about the launching of Circles in Joplin. Our community has learned much about coming together and helping each other to rebuild Joplin after the tornado of May 2011. This is a natural continuation of community growth and outreach that will equip families to resolve poverty and thrive. According to their website, Circles has the following objectives:

·   Mobilizing families to achieve economic stability through the long-term and consistent support of peers and volunteers from the community

·   Developing the leadership of people moving out of poverty to inform community-wide solutions to addressing poverty

·   Addressing the community and program barriers faced by families trying to move out of poverty

Local classes meet weekly for 20 weeks. Participants get in touch with their dreams and set goals to reach those dreams. Allies are a crucial part of the program. These volunteers are available to meet weekly with Circles Leaders (those who are participating in the group) to help them meet their goals. They continue as allies after the classes end. There are also Teams that assist with everything from setting up the meeting room and providing meals to discussing ways to work through barriers that keep people stuck where they are. 

I was very moved by the quality of this initiative and thrilled that it is here in Joplin. There was an excellent video with local people sharing how they have been encouraged and helped by Circles.  I signed up to receive information about becoming an Ally. I’m all about journeying alongside others, for a long time, for a short time, and offering our best to each other. On our placemats at dinner tonight was the quote, “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” As a community, we will grow and become stronger as we reach out to those in need, and journey with them as allies. We will all be warmed by the light of our efforts.


Learn more about Circles here:



Day 99: Walk the Frisco Greenway Trail


Today was a gorgeous spring day. I didn’t have a scheduled first, but I knew I wanted to be outside! I had an idea in mind and was mulling it over. Then Greg invited me for a walk on the Frisco Greenway Trail in Joplin. Walking the trail AND riding my bike on it are both on my list of new experiences and today was perfect for a walk.

The Frisco Greenway Trail, called The Frisco by most people, is a “rails to trails” project in the Joplin – Webb City area.  This trail runs along a portion of the former St. Louis/San Francisco railway (the Frisco) which played an important role in the development of Joplin and Webb City. The railway was abandoned in 1990 and the rails and ties removed. What’s left is a solid raised  bed, topped with gravel, that is perfect for walking, running or biking. I drive by one of the trail heads frequently and I’ve always wanted to walk or bike the trail. This year, I will do both!

From northern Joplin, to southern Webb City, the trail winds through scenic woodlands, stretching 4 miles from start to finish. There are trail heads at either end and one midway, located off of Zora and St. Louis Avenues. It is from this trail head that we began our trek, back toward Joplin.

What a beautiful walk. Other people were out enjoying a stroll, run or bike ride today. Everyone was courteous and intent on what they were doing. I love being in nature. And I was surprised that we quickly moved away from residential areas. Only trees and creeks stretched out on either side as we walked. The sun was warm, the breeze refreshing and the trees just beginning to show hints of  green. Birds sang and called out from the tree tops. I couldn’t tell we were any where near a city.

Smaller side trails disappeared into the woods and looked inviting to explore. On another day I’ll do that. Benches were conveniently placed along the trail. I shared one for a few  minutes with a young man. Other than a polite hello, there was no need to speak. We were quietly companionable, him enjoying a book, me enjoying the surrounding trees and the cooling breeze.

We didn’t walk more than a mile or a mile and a half out and then the same distance back to the car, however it was so good to be outside, so good to feel the sun on my face. I was very content with that distance and my legs will thank me later. Each time I walk the trail, I’ll go further! And very soon, I’ll dust off the bicycle that’s been in the garage for years and bike the trail and journey down some of the side trails. It’s time to dust off the explorer in me too.


Day 98: Create a Spring Vignette


I often relax, and have precious “me” time, by being creative. I love bringing an idea into reality by assembling items and grouping them together in a way that is pleasing to me. For today’s first, I created a new spring vignette for my dining room table.

Spring is here in Joplin, MO. The days are longer, and warmer, and signs of new life are appearing everywhere. I am itching to begin planting flowers, shrubs and grasses in the backyard. Transformation is underway as a courtyard is being installed and pathways laid out. Yet it’s a bit too cool still at night to plant.

So today I brought spring indoors. This was a fun project. All the items in this grouping are flea market, thrift store or vintage shop finds, with the exception of the white birds, speckled eggs and the plants. There serving as a basket to hold it all is the vintage sifter that I bought over the weekend at Country Pickins Antique Mall. I love how this piece is the foundation for the vignette. I’ll be using the sifter again and again, throughout the year.

The white teacups and the white footed bowl came from Goodwill. As soon as I saw the footed bowl, I envisioned speckled eggs nestled within it. I found the eggs on sale at Hobby Lobby today. I was hunting for pretty white teacups Sunday, while we were junkin’, because I already had the idea of planting tiny pansies and impatiens in them. I loved these cups because they are nice and wide and have a lovely shape. The willow ball topiary also came from Goodwill. It was adorned with red berries when I bought it. I liked the green pot it was in and the general shape. It was easy to remove the worn berries and freshen the topiary with green ivy.

I bought the rectangular glass vase at Goodwill. For the spring vignette, I wanted fresh tulips. Walmart had a great selection today at a great price. I was hoping for a peachy pink color but I’m happy with the deep pink and white. The white birds were picked up at Michael’s for 50% off. Birds, freed from their cages, are my symbol this year. It seemed appropriate to include a pair.

I am very happy with the way the grouping turned out! It makes me smile every time I look at it. As spring wanes and summer arrives, I’ll change it all again. For me, that will be another therapeutic and happy hour well spent!

Day 97: American Hustle


After a busy evening showing property, I got a late start on my first for today, watching the 4th of nine movies nominated for Best Picture. Since Nebraska was again unavailable, I moved on to American Hustle.  After a quick dinner, I brewed a pot of tea, getting to sample one of my new teas from Teavana. The Blueberry Bliss was delicious to sip on while watching this film.

American Hustle stars Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence. It was directed by David O. Russell. This movie was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Actor for Christian Bale, Best Actress for Amy Adams, Best Supporting Actor, Bradley Cooper, Best Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence, Best Director for David O. Russell, and Best Picture. It did not win an Oscar in any category, however this movie was nominated for 96 awards by various organizations and institutes, and won 50 awards. American Hustle is rated R and has a run time of 2 hours and 18 minutes.

Most of the actors in the movie, called a comedy drama, are favorites of mine. So whatever the story was about, I was prepared to like it. Cradling my cup of hot tea, I was ready to be entertained. And entertained I was! From the opening scenes with Christian Bale’s character creating an elaborate comb over, to the closing scenes with Jennifer Lawrence’s  portrayal of sassy Rosalyn, I watched with a smile on my face. This wasn’t a slap-your-sides-funny type of movie. It was a cleverly humorous film with nuggets of truth tucked among the one liners.

Irving Rosenfeld, played by Bale, and Sydney Prosser, played by Adams, are con artist partners who are also romantically involved. Caught in a sting operation, they are promised they will be released without jail time if they will assist the Feds with four additional arrests.  The Fed team is led by ambitious and unpredictable Richard DiMaso, played by Cooper, whose main desire in life is to make a name for himself. He goes after the mayor of Camden, NJ, Carmine Polito, played by Renner, who wants to revitalize gambling in Atlantic City but has struggled to raise money for his project. The cast is completed by Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Irving’s zany wife, Rosalyn.

The story twists and turns around a ploy to catch Mayor Polito taking bribe money to help his city, and becomes a much bigger operation than anyone imagined. Amid the conning and the striving and the humor is a memorable story about what is real…in life, in relationships, and within ourselves. Each character is struggling to discover who they truly are and how to live, really live, as that person.  Irving says, “We are all conning ourselves, one way or another. It’s how we survive.” Learning to move beyond survival and into life is at the heart of this  film.

American Hustle claims, at the beginning of the movie, to be based on real events. I researched that claim to find that it is loosely based on the FBI ABSCAM operation of the late 1970’s and early 80’s. The characters are all portrayals of real people. I heartily enjoyed the performances of this amazing cast of actors and the freshness of the movie. I adore cleverness. American Hustle is certainly that and at the same time, it’s a candid look into the human desire to be seen and appreciated for who we are.

Day 96: Go Junkin’


Great sign at Tartan Traders


Today’s first was fun! I’m looking for primitive pieces or items that can be repurposed for my backyard garden and for the house. This afternoon, I went junkin’. My mom, sister Linda and I went to several stores that I’ve visited before, but had not purchased from yet. The trip was part scavenger hunt, part girls’ shopping trip and totally fun.

After picking up my junkin’ partners, we headed first to Tartan Traders, located at 300 Hodgdon Road in Joplin. This delightful shop is just west of Range Line Road, near the Northpark Mall in Joplin.  I was drawn to this place initially because of the obviously Scottish name. And for good reason. Patrick Mcglashan is from Scotland. He and his lovely wife Debs own and operate Tartan Traders where one can find antiques, primitives, collectibles and lots of other great items. I met Debs the last time I visited the store. Today, I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick. It is always awesome to meet a facebook friend in person!

We enjoyed browsing and listening to Celtic music as we shopped. I found a large old metal bucket to use as a planter in the backyard and a book I’ve wanted for quite a while. There are several other items there calling my name that I’ll have to go back for soon!

Our next stop was Country Pickins Antique Mall, located at 5836 N. Main Street in Joplin. I loved the large assortment of primitive and industrial items here, tucked among treasures . The store is arranged well and metal buckets just seemed to materialize everywhere! I could have purchased 20 of these and may eventually do so! I want metal containers of all sorts in the backyard to use as planters. I settled on three great buckets, including a tall one that will add interesting height to a group of metal planters. I also found a shallow red ceramic bowl and an amazing large antique sifter. I will use that sifter as a tray that will hold a spring vignette. So excited about that find!

After a drink break via Sonic’s drive through, we made our last stop of the day at the new Goodwill store, located at 2102 S. Range Line Road in Joplin. Sadly, the old Goodwill store was destroyed in the May 2011 tornado. The new store is great….large, brightly lit and wonderfully organized. Here I found a white decorative bowl and three white teacups that will soon serve as tiny planters for spring pansies. I also purchased a couple of men’s long sleeve shirts at a great price. I love wearing those lounging around the house. They make great sleep shirts too! Mom and Linda found bargains as well.

We enjoyed our afternoon of looking and buying. Since new items are added daily at all three of the stores we visited today, I’ll be a frequent customer. I know what I’m looking for. Part of the fun is the hunt and the thrill of discovery. And then there is the surprise find that I didn’t even know I needed, until I come across it! Isn’t life like that too? We make plans, set goals, go after what we want, enjoying the journey as much as the destination, open to being surprised and delighted along the way. I love how even something as fun and simple as an afternoon of junkin’ reminds me of what’s true in my life and hints at the larger story that’s unfolding!


The large round sifter that I bought at Country Pickins Antique Mall


Day 95: Linda’s First 5K Run


Today’s first was special. I got to be present for my sister Linda’s first ever 5K run. She has been in training with a group called Run for God, that then participated in Joplin’s Amazing Grace event. I passed on running a 5K until my knees are better. But I was glad for the opportunity to cheer Linda on and be there as she crossed the finish line.

This is the first year for the Amazing Grace run, and organizer Tom Rogers hopes to hold the event yearly.  5K and 10K races were offered. Originally the race was intended as a “graduation” for the 120 people who completed the Run for God training. But ultimately 510 participants showed up from the Joplin area, Kansas City, St. Louis and Tulsa.

Awards were given to the top male and female racers in each age group. Every participant received a Finisher’s Medal. Proceeds from the race went to Crossline Churches of the Joplin Area, Watered Gardens Gospel Rescue Mission, the LovinGrace Home and God’s Resort.

I’m really proud of my sister. She decided to do something she’s never done before and once she committed to this race, she never wavered. Linda completed 12 weeks of training with the Run for God group, which met every Monday night. She met new people. And being in training has made her more aware of her health and eating habits, causing her to make changes in her diet.

Energy was high this morning among the group of runners gathered at Forest Park Baptist Church, in spite of the chilly weather. Linda found one of the women from her training group to run with. How wonderful to partner up to encourage each other to keep going. Linda was hoping she wouldn’t finish last. And she certainly didn’t! In an amazingly short time, she was coming down the final stretch toward the finish line. I can’t think of a better first than watching someone I love and care about experience an exciting first of her own. Way to go, Linda!


Day 94: Keller Williams Wellness Day


One of the things I love about the real estate company that I work for is that from founder Gary Keller to my Team Leader, Vicki, Keller Williams cares about agents as people. They give us tools and training to be great agents, but more than that, they want us to be the best people we can be. Their values are: God, Family, then Business.  Everything they teach is built on that foundation.

Today, Keller Williams had its first Wellness Day, to promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle among its agents. Recognizing that being realtors and caring for clients, families and the community can be the priority, rather than caring for ourselves, Keller Williams set aside this day to focus on our health and wellness. My first today was to participate in this day of awareness about my health and to teach a session this morning as part of the Wellness Day.

Our local office did an awesome job with this event. Sandy Thomas coordinated the classes and activities. The day began with a run to a nearby park and back to the office. Then Shelby Allen from Freeman Hospital taught us about nutrition and clean eating. Listening to her share about the lack of nutrition in most American diets, I was glad I made a decision a month ago to change my eating habits! There are so many chemicals and preservatives in our foods. She warned us especially about products containing High Fructose Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrogenated Oil. She didn’t just share the negatives though, but ended by encouraging us to eat whole foods and gave us resources to prepare those foods in a healthy way.

I had the privilege of teaching a class on meditation next. A great group of people attended the class and after I shared about the health benefits of meditating I led them through a 20 minute relaxation meditation. This practice has been so important in my life and it is a joy to share it with others. After we de-stressed and released tension, Yvonne came in to guide us through stretches that emphasized opening the chest area and easing strain in the muscles of the neck and shoulders. We all felt so good after those two sessions!

Also included on the agenda today was a tour of a fitness facility that shares the building with us, 15 minute chair massages and a wonderfully healthy lunch. Israel did an excellent job grilling chicken, shrimp and veggies. The Wellness Day concluded with Zumba by personal trainer Jennifer Jameson, owner of Temple Fitness, and personal trainer Travis Renfro. That was fun as we learned new moves to upbeat music and got a workout in at the same time.

I love my company. Even more importantly, my company loves me and cares about my well being as a whole person. Thank you to Keller Williams Realty for desiring its agents to have a life worth living, and beyond making that a nice sentiment, for giving us ways to attain such a life.


Day 93: Buffalo River National Park


In spite of rain and the threat of stormy weather, my first for today was to go on a daytrip and visit the Buffalo River National Park. The park is located east of Springdale, AR, in a deep narrow valley. The Buffalo River snakes through this valley, along high sheer bluffs and tree covered hills. I have heard of this beautiful place for years. Today, I finally saw it for myself.

Greg has camped there multiple times and floated the Buffalo River in a canoe. It’s been years since I canoed down any river. During this year of new experiences, it is time for me to float down the Buffalo and enjoy a few days in the campground. Today’s trip, with Greg as my guide, was to check out the area and collect information about the upcoming adventure.

Along the way, we stopped in Rogers, AR to visit the Lewis & Clark store.  Another first! This store is for the outdoor enthusiast, selling bicycles, sports clothing, kayaks and a variety of hiking, backpacking and camping gear. The staff was friendly and helpful and we enjoyed walking around and checking out all the cool gadgets and gear available.

After an early lunch in Springdale, our journey continued east to the Buffalo River area. I love the beauty of Northwest Arkansas. The hills rise higher and higher until they mimic mountains. Forests cover these hills, which drop steeply down into long valleys. There is an abundance of water in NW Arkansas as well. The countryside is dotted with ponds and crisscrossed with creeks and rivers. Beaver Lake sprawls to the north of this region.

Cell phone coverage is spotty here. So I disconnected from my phone for a while and drank in nature. The trees were just beginning to show a hint of green but I could appreciate the browns and grays of tall trees and the pale olive of lichen covered rock. Without the leaves, I could see farther, marveling at how deep those ancient ravines go. The Buffalo River was running swiftly. It appeared the area had received quite a bit of rain last night. Greg showed me where the canoes are launched. Watching the water roil and rush over submerged rock, I hoped I’d not tip the canoe immediately after getting into the river! Apparently, it is a common occurrence.

The campground, located alongside the Buffalo, was abandoned today, except for a lone camper from Tennessee. He was hurrying to set up camp before the storms hit. He shared that he and his friends have been camping at the same site for 35 years, ever since his fraternity days. His friends are arriving tomorrow. Greg and I walked along the river, checking out campsites and discussing when would be a good time to return, camping gear in tow. I’m thinking sometime this month.

We traveled on to Eureka Springs, AR, one of my favorite towns. While eating dinner, we noticed the weather changing. The Joplin area had already experienced a strong thunderstorm. It now looked like NW Arkansas was about to be hit by the trailing end of the same system. Greg has a very cool weather radar app on his phone that tracks storms, showing severity, direction and how fast the storm is moving. He used that app well today. We had just driven away from Eureka Springs when radar indicated a strong storm approaching rapidly. We calculated we did not have enough time to reach the Missouri state line before being hit with a storm that contained high winds, hail and rain. We returned to Eureka Springs to wait out the storm and then proceeded home, safely.

I am looking forward to at least two firsts when I return to the Buffalo River National Park later this month: camping there for the first time, and canoeing down the river. I discovered today that they also have mountain top cabins for rent and a canopy zip line excursion. Looks like I’ll be visiting several times this year!






Day 92: Teavana


I love tea, especially hot tea. I have English ancestry, which must be why I enjoy it so.  During the past five years, I’ve begun to use loose leaf tea over tea bags. I like blending my own, using a mix of herbs, dried flowers, dried berries and green tea leaves. I use a metal tea ball to contain the mixture while it steeps in my white porcelain teapot. When my friend, and Keller Williams colleague, Janet, told me about Teavana, I looked forward to visiting for a first. This afternoon, I got that chance.

Teavana is an inviting little shop located in the Battlefield Mall in Springfield, MO. The aroma of freshly brewed tea wafted out as Greg and I approached the entrance. We were greeted by a friendly sales associate who offered us several samples of hot and cold tea. All were delicious! The front part of the store was filled with an assortment of teapots, cups, kettles, teamakers and infusers. Someday I’d love to own a Japanese cast iron tea service. But today, my focus was on Teavana’s high quality loose leaf tea.

Behind the back counter were huge tins with a variety of green, white, Oolong, black, maté, and Rooibos teas and herbal infusions. Ahhhh…..the delicate scents filled the air as the associate removed the tin’s lids and stirred the air. I had a difficult time choosing, so I bought several kinds including Blueberry Bliss, a fragrant blend of blueberries, grapes, black currants, hibiscus flowers and green rooibos tea. Perfection. I also purchased a pineapple blend, a raspberry-lemon maté, and high grade black, green and Oolong teas. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.

After I arrived back home, I did research on the company. Founded in 1997, Teavana believes in the importance of a life well lived. Centered on the philosophy that balance, meaningful experience and everyday luxuries are essential elements of such a life, Teavana desired to create a place where people could step back from the frantic pace of the world and enjoy fresh, high quality tea. They take tea seriously and they are passionate about the entire sensory experience found in a good cup of tea.

Teavana’s philosophy and mission are so in line with what I desire to offer, through my dream called Rivendell. I understand why I was drawn to this company, and even why I am drawn to tea as well. It goes beyond being a refreshing beverage. Preparing an aromatic cup of tea, sharing that tea with a friend or loved one, involves heart, simplicity and ritual, all of which are important to me. I am looking forward to my backyard garden renovation being completed, which will signal the launch of the Rivendell experience. I am, literally, creating Rivendell in my own backyard, initially. I envision sharing this space in myriad ways with guests. As part of the experience, there will be freshly brewed tea offered. I believe I have found my source for the tea. Teavana and Rivendell….what a beautiful partnership!



Day 91: Comedian Juggler Nick Pike






As one who is always on the lookout for firsts to do, I have really come to appreciate the many opportunities that are available in Joplin. I realize how unaware I have been of the events, performances and exhibits offered in my city, most of them for free. I have discovered that Missouri Southern State University, via their Campus Activities Board, brings in quality entertainers every couple of weeks. These shows are open to the public and admission is free. This is perfect for me! I saw hypnotist Michael C Anthony there in February. For today’s first, I had the pleasure of watching comedian juggler Nick Pike.

When I scanned through the program during Michael’s show in February, I saw a list of upcoming events. I was intrigued. The magician looked good as did the mind reader coming at the end of April. A comedian juggler though? I wasn’t sure if I would catch that act. With 365 firsts to do, however, I decided I would attend and invited my mom and sister to accompany me.

I am so glad I decided to go! Nick Pike was extremely entertaining, combining juggling, humor and danger into an amazing show. Hailing from England, Nick has been juggling since the age of 11. His one man variety show has been performed thousands of times at festivals and events around the globe, from London, England to Sydney, Australia. He has been a headline act on all the major cruise lines of the world. In 2010 Nick was a quarterfinalist on America’s Got Talent, making it into the top 48. In recent years he has appeared on the college scene, touring the country and entertaining at as many colleges and universities as possible. He was just crowned the APCA Juggler of the Year for 2014.

What I know about Nick is he can juggle anything! My son, Nate, can juggle. I’ve tried. It’s not one of my talents. Nick opened tonight’s show juggling oranges and progressed through batons and then meat cleavers! He kept up a running commentary, in a delightful British accent, that was hilarious. He’s quick witted, incorporating remarks and people from the audience into his performance. If he dropped an item, he did a little soft shoe dance routine, which became endearing. As if juggling from the floor wasn’t difficult enough, Nick proceeded to amaze us by juggling atop a 6 foot tall unicycle. His coordination was astounding.

For his final act, Nick spread pieces of broken glass on the floor and removed his socks and shoes. Donning a black hood, he picked up the meat cleavers and pulled the hood down over his eyes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to watch either! Nick walked barefoot over the shards of glass, eyes covered, hands tossing sharp objects into the air. His routine was flawless and at the end of his daring walk, his feet uncut. What a relief. We stood to applaud and cheer.

This was a very fun show. I am grateful to MSSU’s Campus Activities Board for bringing such talent to Joplin. I will be back in two weeks, for the magician!