This evening my dear friend, Cate, and I had a girls’ night out. In the spirit of true friendship, she is always willing to share a first experience. She selected The Eagle Drive In, as our place to meet for dinner. Great idea! I have eaten at this wonderful little restaurant once, late last year. I looked forward to another meal there and trying something new off of their interesting menu.
The Eagle Drive In, located at 4224 S Main Street, Joplin, has the look of an old fashioned drive in type diner. But their menu is anything but traditional. Yes, they offer gourmet hamburgers, the good old thick burgers with all the fixings. However, you can also try a bison burger topped with BBQ blueberry sauce or a black bean burger topped with mixed greens and curried mayo. The diner also offers steaks and seafood and a great selection of salads.
Tonight, opting for lighter fare, Cate and I both ordered the ahi tuna salad and split an order of The Eagle Drive In’s famous seasoned fries with Eagle dipping sauce. The salad was amazing! The ahi tuna was fresh and delicious, and plentiful, the slices piled on mixed greens. I savored each bite. And the fries were great too, crispy and seasoned perfectly.
If the meal was fantastic, and it was, the conversation was even more so. Over dinner Cate and I chatted….about the day, about friendship, about life. It is so good to have such an awesome traveling companion. Our journeys are very similar and yet we bring to the friendship our own perspectives and ideas. Joy shared is multiplied, and that is always the case when I get to hang out with Cate. I look forward to our continuing friendship and I appreciate all that I learn from this beautiful soul.
Today’s first was a delight for me. I returned to the Springfield Botanical Gardens to stroll through parts of the garden that I had not seen yet. I visited the Gardens in early spring, for the first time. Most of the plants were just beginning to push up through the earth. I enjoyed the trails and sitting near the lake, but knew I’d return at some point to see the gardens in full bloom.
In late spring I visited the Japanese Garden that is part of the Botanical Gardens, but I did not visit the rest of the gardens, saving that for a future visit. I realized today that if I didn’t get back to the Botanical Gardens soon, I’d miss them entirely if I wanted to see the matured plants. Today, I took advantage of the gorgeous weather to make a spontaneous trip to Springfield. Also, for my first today, I am going to show what I saw as I meandered through the beautiful gardens, rather than tell about my adventure. This is my first pictorial blog post!
One of my discoveries, during this year of firsts, has been the website, holidayinsights.com. At this site I can click on the tab labeled Bizarre and Unique Days, which pulls up a list of the months. By clicking on each month, I can see the dates and see what unique holidays are celebrated on that day. I have found that there is a holiday for every day, ranging from the silly…yesterday was not only Grandparents’ Day but also Neither Rain nor Snow Day… to the amazing…September 13 is Positive Thinking Day. This has been a valuable resource for me and I check the dates often.
Today was a great day to celebrate. September 8 is International Literacy Day. I have not been aware of all these unique holidays, and therefore, have not celebrated them properly. For my first today, I focused on and celebrated literacy.
International Literacy Day promotes literacy all over the world. It was created by the United Nations and first celebrated on September 8, 1965. The aim was to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), about 714 million adults lack basic literacy skills. One in five adults are still not literate and 2/3 of those are women. UNESCO hopes to raise awareness of the importance of literacy through this global observance and also celebrate the fact that while many are still illiterate, more than 4 billion people are literate.
Turning locally, I researched Joplin’s NALA (Neighborhood Adult Literacy Action) Read program. They serve under educated adults through a tuition free adult literacy program that pairs adult learners with volunteer tutors in a one-on-one setting. Sessions cover reading and writing, as well as basic mathematics, and are guided by the adult learner’s goals in four areas: life long learner, worker, family member, citizen. Joplin NALA Read also has an English as Second Language program that is set up as a one-on-one tutoring program.
Literacy is defined, simply, as the ability to read and write. Many of us, including me, take this skill for granted. I have been reading since I was pre-kindergarten, learning to read snuggled up on my mom’s lap long before I went to school. Books have been my friends, my gateways to far away places, in the past, the present and the future. They have taught me what I need to know about a huge variety of subjects. All my life, if I have wanted to know more about something, I read a book about the topic. I love books that enrich me, stretch me, open new doors for me. I have a fondness for historical fiction, epic novels, such as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga, and books that assist me on my spiritual journey. I would be bereft without my books, my companions in life.
I am appreciative of this International day that raises awareness world-wide, and raised my awareness as well. Today, to celebrate, I did the research. I read, enjoying a cup of hot tea and a chapter in Dragonfly in Amber, book two in the fascinating Outlander series, which is set in Scotland 200 years ago. And I am making a donation to the Joplin NALA Read Program, where funds can help wipe out illiteracy locally. There is a link to their website, below.
Malcolm X says, “People don’t realize how a man’s whole life can be changed by one book.” I know mine has been. I want that same opportunity for everyone.
Tonight was movie night at the theater. Linda and I have not had many opportunities, between my trip and a cruise that she took, to indulge in this favorite pastime. We had a couple of films we were interested in, and for my first today, we settled on the recent release, If I Stay.
If I Stay stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, and Stacy Keach. It was directed by RJ Cutler and is based on the novel by the same name, penned by Gayle Forman. This drama is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.
Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz), a 17 year old girl, finds herself at a crossroad. Her biggest decision seems to be whether to pursue a musical education at Julliard or remain in her hometown of Portland with her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley), while he launches his career as a rock musician. And then, in an instant, riding in the car with her family on an icy road, life shifts. There is a horrific head on crash. Mia wakes up to find she is having an out of body experience. She observes the paramedics working intently over her still body, near the demolished car. Confused, not knowing where the rest of her family members are, she follows her battered body into the ambulance and to the hospital.
Alternating between flashbacks that tell Mia’s back story and present day scenes in the hospital, the movie tells of the relationships between Mia and her amazing family, Mia and her musical genius with the cello, and Mia and Adam. Raised by loving and supportive parents, played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard, Mia has been exposed to music since her birth. Although her parents tend toward punk rock, her father being part of a band until the birth of Mia’s brother, Mia fell in love with the cello when she was eight. The love of her life is the cello, until she meets Adam.
Adam appears to have his life completely figured out. Already part of a very successful band, before he’s even graduated from high school, Adam is drawn to Mia and the passion she has for classical music. Music brings the two together, and threatens to tear them apart as each desires to pursue their dreams, Adam with his rock band and Mia by attending Julliard, in New York City. Mia’s parents support her decision, no matter where that choice takes her. But Adam and Mia find the strain of wanting to travel down different paths threatening their future together.
In the hospital, staying near her comatose body, Mia finds she must make a far more difficult choice….leave to be with her family, who have all died as a result of the accident, or stay….and live a much different life than the one she had envisioned. Friends and other family members keep a vigil from the waiting room. Her grandfather (Stacy Keach) bids her a tearful goodbye and tells her to go, if it is too difficult to stay. He also tells Mia that her father left the band because of her, not because of the birth of her baby brother. He sacrificed his musical career because he recognized the gift that Mia had and sold his drum set to pay for her cello.
Adam stays near Mia’s bedside as well, singing a song to her that he wrote, and at last, reading to her the letter from Julliard that she had been anticipating. From a place of deep grief and love, he begs her to stay, and tells her that he will let her go, to pursue her dream, if she will only live.
Linda and I realized quickly that we were the oldest females in the movie theater! We were surrounded by younger ladies. We enjoyed the movie, as did the rest of the audience, as indicated by their responses. The character of Mia, although only 17, was an old soul, and I could identify with her. The film was beautiful to watch as it explored Mia’s relationships. There was much to admire about her parents and their unconventional parenting style. And I enjoyed watching the developing romance between Adam and Mia. They had different backgrounds, different musical abilities and styles and yet their passion for music brought them together and bound them. It is common, among those who have fallen in love, to question the journey ahead when two people seem to moving along paths that will take them far from each other. Does one sacrifice for the other? Do both sacrifice love for the sake of promising individual futures? One of the most beautiful scenes in If I Stay centered around an inspiring duet between Mia and Adam, and impossibly, between the cello and a guitar. That magical scene blended the two young lovers and two seemingly incompatible musical instruments and created something new, something beyond.
The most amazing relationship to watch during the film was the one Mia had with her cello, and ultimately, herself. I love the haunting sound of the cello. It speaks to me, very much like the bagpipes do. The soundtrack for this movie was amazing, because of the cello pieces. Mia loves Adam. And she loves the cello. Much of her indecision on whether to stay and engage life, or leave, rests with what she believes about herself and her future as a musician. During a flashback, Mia’s father tells her, “Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes, the choices make you.” The truth of that phrase resonated with me, and in the end, the choice makes Mia.
This was a very powerful movie, beautifully done. My emotions tumbled from smiles and laughter, to tears and a tightening of the chest. Love is a journey teeming with joy and sorrow, lessons and spontaneity, and yes, choices. Sometimes the best choice is to keep journeying, and see what unfolds.
It is certainly the time of year for a fall favorite in the US. After last night’s thunderstorms the air felt crisp and cool. It was the perfect day for jeans and a lightweight jacket and football! For my first today I watched my 8 year old grandson, Joey, play in his first home football game.
My grandchildren all live nearby. They go to school in four different cities: Joplin, Carl Junction, Pittsburg, and Carthage. All are involved in different school and after school activities. As a Yaya, it is important to me to attend as many of their school functions as possible. I know someday they will be grown and won’t look for their Yaya in the audience, cheering them on. Time is precious and these children, even more so. We are making memories.
Today I had the privilege of watching Joey suit up and hit the field for the Third Grade Carthage Tigers. Joey and his team, garbed in bright blue and white uniforms, played wonderfully. This dedicated team practices almost nightly, and it showed this afternoon. The boys worked as a team, paying attention, keeping their heads in the game, giving their best efforts to each other and the coaches.
I was so proud of Joey, who ran with the ball several times, made a great tackle and kicked the ball twice to the opposing team. It was evident that he enjoyed playing. Watching him as a third grader, I could mentally fast forward a few years and see him on the field again, as a high schooler, with years of experience behind him. He will be unstoppable.
From the bleachers, Joey’s family cheered him on. I appreciate Nate and Megan because they champion their children so much, making time for their activities and practices and showing up as witnesses to their kids’ lives. They are creating memories too, that the children will hold on to as they grow up. Their love and acceptance forms an invisible, powerful net of support and encouragement around their children that not only protects and guides them but ultimately gives them a place to launch out into the community as their own unique selves. What a gift to the kids. What marvelous gifts to the world.
I planned out today’s first early in the week. Tonight was Carl Junction High School’s first home football game. It was also the marching band’s first halftime performance of the new school year and therefore, my grandson Dayan’s first time to take the field with the band this year also. And today was Cheese Pizza Day. My evening plan was to attend the Carl Junction football game with Elissa, Josh and Greg, cheer on the Bulldogs, watch Dayan and the marching band give a stellar performance during halftime and then finish out the evening with a cheese pizza! It seemed like a good plan.
One thing that is absolutely true, in Missouri, is that the weather can change in a heartbeat. As Greg and I drove toward Carl Junction, which is a few miles northwest of Joplin, the sky looked ominous. Dark clouds were massing to the west. Dayan was already at the high school. This young man and the rest of the marching band, have been meeting early, EARLY, in the morning, for weeks, to practice the songs and marching pattern for tonight’s home game. Dayan has been rising at 4:30 am and walking the short distance to school in the dark, to take the field. I so admire the determination and commitment of the band teacher, the band, and Dayan. His mom, who is my daughter Elissa, and her charming beau, Josh, were also at the stadium, saving seats for Greg and me.
Elissa and I had a continuing text conversation going on about the threatening weather. From Elissa’s seat on the CJHS bleachers, the sky looked like it was clearing up a bit. She was facing east. I was driving into the west, and as Greg and I arrived at the high school football field, lightning was flickering in the black clouds. Thunder rumbled as we parked and made our way into the stadium. The band was standing on the far side of the field, facing west also, and they too, were watching the sky. Unfortunately, just as we all settled into our seats and prepared to watch the Bulldogs take the field, the storm moved into Carl Junction. A delay of game was called because of lightning. The band members scurried off the field. I got to watch Dayan actually run. He was, after all, carrying a large metal tuba! A moment later, it was announced that we must leave the metal bleachers. As we filed toward the front gate, the black sky loomed overhead. A severe thunderstorm warning was issued and the four of us darted for the car as Dayan and the band gathered in the high school.
I had hoped to have a slice of cheese pizza while at the game, thereby celebrating Cheese Pizza Day. With rain pelting the car and lightning splitting the sky, we changed course and drove to Randy’s Drive In, located at 1201 Pennell in Carl Junction. My first shifted from pizza to trying out this well loved hamburger hang out. Greg and I sampled the special of the day, the cheeseburger basket, while we waited to see if the weather would clear enough for the game to be played and the band to perform. The cheeseburger was an excellent old fashioned type burger. I enjoyed chatting with Greg, Elissa and Josh while savoring the burger. We laughed and shared stories while getting text updates from Dayan. Greg has a great weather app on his Galaxy phone and he kept us apprised of the weather. As one storm front moved through the area, another was forming behind it. And yet another appeared further west. Just as we finished our meal and moved to the car, intending to drive back to the football stadium, Dayan texted that they were releasing the band members to go home. Whether or not the rain cleared and the football team took to the field, the halftime show was cancelled.
I did at least get to see Dayan and give him a hug. He was one tired young man. His attitude was great, as always, knowing that the hard work the band has put in these last three weeks will yield wonderful results when they do get to perform. There will be other home games. Elissa and Dayan pointed out that this was the first time in years that a halftime band performance has been cancelled due to the weather.
My firsts shifted around this evening. No high school football game, no marching band performance, no cheese pizza. However, as they always do, the firsts did appear, exactly as they were supposed to. First cancelled half time performance, first time to eat at Randy’s Drive In. I am one to make the most of what is happening NOW. I enjoyed the cozy impromptu dinner at Randy’s with Greg, Elissa and Josh. And I am so proud of Dayan, who is learning at a young age to also make the most of the present moment. He accepted the gift of the unexpected early end to the evening. He was going to get some rest! We will all be there at the next Carl Junction High School football game, ready to cheer on the team and clap wildly for the Bulldogs Marching Band.
What a joy, for my first this evening, to attend this class, taught by my dear friend, Cate Hart. It was an honor to be present for the launch of her newest adventure. And I greatly benefitted from attending the class. In our society, where busyness and overachieving are applauded and rewarded, how refreshing to gather with a group of amazing souls and learn techniques for releasing stress and entering deeply into relaxation.
I met Cate earlier this year and we became immediate friends. I have loved getting to know this beautiful, kind woman. We have shared our stories and aspects of our journeys these past months, often during a great meal that Cate has prepared. Cate has learned much during her journey, about living green and sustainability, about helping a community recover from a major disaster such as an EF5 tornado, about the flow of life itself and shedding resistance, stress and illness. She has such a heart and passion for enriching the lives of others. Just engaging in conversation with this dear soul has been encouraging to me and my journey.
When Cate shared that she was branching out to offer a new line of services, designed to teach others in a rich variety of topics, I was excited for her and thrilled to be in the audience for tonight’s class. Chill was a casual evening geared toward the introduction of easy to learn techniques to enhance overall well being. Cate offered several approaches to relaxation and raised awareness, practices that we immediately put to use during class. She encouraged audience interaction and her approachable teaching style made it easy to ask questions and be engaged.
I enjoyed the class and the techniques. We met in a classroom at the Wildcat Glades Audubon Center, which was the perfect location for a class on releasing stress. As I practiced walking mindfully, along the bank of windows overlooking one of the nature paths, a family of rabbits frolicked nearby while a brilliant red cardinal perched on a bush. The serenity seeped into my body as I slowly walked the length of the room, aware of my surroundings, aware of others, aware of my body. I deeply appreciated a thought that Cate shared, called If Love Could Speak. She helped us to see that in speaking to ourselves, we should speak as we would to a beloved only child. Rather than criticizing ourselves or beating ourselves up, we can be reminded, what would love say in this moment? Beautiful.
I left the class feeling refreshed and with tools and resources to help me in creating more space in my life for relaxation, beauty and peace. As a bonus, Cate offered a month of follow up, via email, with gentle encouragement and helpful suggestions. What a lovely evening, and what a delightful teacher is Cate. I look forward to her next class!
What an awesome first for today. My good friend Garen and I met for lunch at a new pizza restaurant in Joplin. We looked forward to catching up on each other’s journeys. And we were curious about this new place. It promised to be an interesting meeting!
Located at 1651 W 7th, Suite 8, near the Maiden Lane and 7th Street intersection, Ameri-Light Pizza is so much more than a place to grab lunch or dinner. Opened by Juliet Hardy, director of Guiding Light Ministries, Ameri-Light Pizza was created to provide a place of employment for women whose lives are being transformed by the ministry.
Juliet, who has directed GLM for the past seven years, first created a residential treatment program for women recovering from addictions. Women moving into a care home can make a 6-12 month commitment to bring about tangible change in their lives. They learn to love themselves and in the process become responsible and productive members of the community.
Juliet then opened a thrift store to help with the needs of the ministry and 8 weeks ago launched Ameri-Light Pizza to further support the women who are part of the program and help defray the costs of the ministry. All the employees are women who are going through the treatment program. The idea was to provide a source of income that these women would not otherwise have.
Garen and I were impressed, with the concept and with the food and service. We shared a Chicken Alfredo Pizza that was delicious. Also available is a pizza buffet and salad bar.
We were also impressed with Juliet, who stopped by our table to make sure our meal was all that we hoped it would be. And when we asked her to, she shared her remarkable story. It was immediately apparent that Juliet is passionate about life and serving others.
With her permission I can share that Juliet knows about the miraculous because she herself is a miracle. Born into addiction, she survived for a time as a prostitute. She was beaten, robbed and left on the street for dead. And then, as she says, things got bad! She is now a trophy of grace. And she shares that grace with others as the director of Guiding Light Ministries.
She cares about others and isn’t afraid to put actions behind her words, creating transformation and a renewed life for others, with God’s divine help. And she makes a fine pizza! I’ll be a regular at Ameri-Light Pizza.
I am a fan of the works of JRR Tolkien. It had been years since I had read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, when Peter Jackson brought the stories to life on the big screen. I fell in love again with Middle Earth as I watched the first movie in the Lord of the Rings series. I read the books again, all of Tolkien’s books on Middle Earth. I watched each movie over and over as I waited, patiently, for the next installment to arrive in the theater. I found huge pieces of myself, my identity, within those films and books. I grew, with the characters, as they journeyed and I journeyed as well.
When I heard rumors that The Hobbit was being considered for a trilogy of films, I didn’t think Peter Jackson could do it again. I was not as big a fan of The Hobbit, since some of my favorite characters didn’t appear in this book and presumably wouldn’t in the film, but I welcomed a chance to return to Middle Earth. I was wrong about Peter Jackson. He so beautifully captured the story. The special effects were stunning. I fell in love with the warrior race of dwarves, which until The Hobbit movie, had been my least favorite characters in the LOTR films.
This December, the final movie in The Hobbit trilogy will be released. A part of me can’t wait. However, being familiar with the book, another part of me has been very content with the year long wait to the finale. I know it will be a deeply moving, gripping film. I will be the viewer in the back of the theater, sitting stoically by myself, watching the inevitable unfold on the large screen.
Peter Jackson is brilliant. He is gifted. He has created excitement for the upcoming release and found a way to give back at the same time. He has launched The Hobbit Fan Fellowship Contest, which I entered for my first. This isn’t just a share or like a page and get your name entered for a chance to win contest. This is done Middle Earth style, where characters and entrants discover who they are and what they are made of as they journey. This contest offers a challenge, four of them, actually, with one given out each week. Each part of the challenge must be met, for a chance to win. And the prize? It is very worthy of the challenges. The winner gets the opportunity to journey to New Zealand, the cinematic Middle Earth, to experience the epic conclusion to The Hobbit trilogy in the first official screening of the movie with director, Peter Jackson.
Yes, I am a fan. Ask anyone who knows me moderately well. But a year ago, before this amazing year of firsts, I never would have entered such a contest. I would have convinced myself that I had no chance. I would have balked at the challenges, which push me out of my comfort zone. Challenge One was easy enough: write a virtual postcard and send it to Peter Jackson, sharing what I would do on my prize winning trip to Middle Earth. Challenge Two, which I completed tonight, was to take a quiz about the locations used in New Zealand for the filming of The Hobbit movies. This one would normally give me pause. I am very familiar with the scenes in the movie, yet not so familiar with New Zealand. I don’t like to take a quiz if I know I am going to fail. I am grateful for Google and the opportunity to learn, via computer, about the breathtaking landscapes in that gorgeous country. I answered 9 out of 10 questions correctly.
Challenge Three scares me. I must create a two minute video to send to the judges, sharing my musings and recollections of my experiences of The Hobbit movies. Reading that would have caused me to pass on this contest, before this year. I am very self conscious in front of a camera, especially when it is video taping. I am learning to move beyond that, this year. I love that this challenge is a true challenge for me, pushing me. I will share from my heart and not over think this part of the contest. Challenge Four involves sharing exclusive art, mine or someone else’s, it doesn’t specify. I perhaps should be wondering more about this one!
I am grateful for the opportunity to enter this contest, and show my deep appreciation and love for these life shifting stories and films. And I am grateful for the challenges that move me beyond my comfort zone and further along in my journey. As Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit hero of these films, says later to Frodo, “It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” Perhaps, on a powerful journey, with no promise of safety, but the guarantee of adventure and growth and the discovery of who I am created to be.
My grandson Dayan is a huge Dr Who fan. He’s been talking to me about this BBC series, with enthusiasm, for a long time. While in Scotland, I had my picture taken in front of a blue police box, because it is an important prop in the Dr Who series. I knew Dayan would love the pic.
I have been intending to start on the series, so my grandson and I can discuss the story and share in that adventure. Tonight, for my first, I did indeed jump on the Dr Who bandwagon with Season One, Episode One, called “Rose”.
Dr Who Season One stars Christopher Eccleston as the famous Time Lord and Billie Piper as his traveling companion, Rose Tyler. This British sci-fi series began on March 26, 2005 and ran for 13 episodes. This program was a return to television. The first Dr Who series ran from 1963 – 1989. Which means, the Dr Who in season one of the most recent version is the Ninth Dr Who. This iconic series depicts the adventures of the Time Lord who is a time traveling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his ship called the TARDIS, with the exterior appearing as a blue police box, which was a common sight in 1960’s Britain. Accompanied by a succession of companions, Dr Who encounters a variety of foes while working to save civilizations, including Earth’s.
Twelve actors, so far, have appeared over the years as Dr Who. The transition from actor to actor is a part of the storyline, a regeneration into a new incarnation, explained as a part of the life process of Time Lords. The Doctor takes on a new body and a somewhat different personality after incurring an injury that would be fatal. The actors’ portrayals are all considered to be showcasing different aspects of the same personality.
I perhaps should have begun with the original series that premiered in 1963. However, I decided to jump in with the newer series that began in 2005. Episode one begins with an introduction of Rose, who meets the mysterious Dr in the basement of the clothing store where she is an employee. Rose is being chased, impossibly, by store mannequins. I found this to be very creepy….who hasn’t cast a quick second glance toward a mannequin, making sure it didn’t just move….and reminded myself this was a SCI-FI series, after all! Little by little, throughout the first episode, information about Dr Who is revealed. Very little, though. For those who were familiar with Dr Who and welcomed the show’s return, it was a recap. For those new to the storyline, it was enough to peak interest and bring viewers back for more. At the end of this monumental first foray back into the franchise, Rose joins Dr Who as his traveling companion and cohort, and off they go.
I enjoyed the episode and look forward to watching all of Season One this week. I love sci-fi, having grown up on Star Trek. I loyally followed that series through all of its voyages of the Starship Enterprise, up to and including the new movies that have started the storyline over. I will follow this series as well, catching up to the current season, and my grandson’s knowledge. Then, at last, Dayan and I can have great conversations about Dr Who, because I will know what I am talking about!