My journey this evening was inspired by the desire to create. I enjoy posting quotes with accompanying pictures on Facebook and often use my own photos. I’ve seen interesting or funny memes, which by definition are concepts or catchphrases that are spread through social media, person to person. And I’ve seen the photos of others with text inserted into the pictures. I’ve played around with Paint on my computer, attempting to create a good design, with moderate success.
However, thanks to a recommendation in a Facebook post last week, I was introduced to a very fun app called Word Swag. This app, which was created by Ben Wong in 2013, allows the user to create beautiful photo text designs, simply. Creating fresh font and layout combinations each time it is used, Word Swag makes it easy for quotes and pictures look good. As their tag line says, “It’s like having a graphic designer in your pocket.”
I downloaded the app yesterday, spending $3.99 for the upgraded version. An opportunity to try it out presented itself this evening. I intended to create one custom layout. I had so much fun, that I created four! I am already a fan, and even wrote a very brief review online. There are many options to choose from, in creating just the right look, and changes are accomplished with the tap of the screen. I like this app! And I look forward to creating my own designs, using favorite quotes, and perhaps some of my own bits of wisdom, combined with photos I have taken.
My first creation is pictured above, and the rest are below. I love it when an app works as promised. In my opinion, this one goes beyond expectations, and that’s even better!
Today’s journey took me to Pittsburg, KS and the elementary school of my grandson, Jonathan. I have so enjoyed these school lunch breaks with my younger grandchildren, and today it was Jonathan’s turn.
He requested a chicken nugget meal from Wendy’s and a root beer. Standing near the cafeteria door, with lunch in hand, I watched for his third grade class to appear. Jonathan was all smiles when he spotted me and he escorted me to a booth in the lunch room. I thought that was cool, having booths in the cafeteria, along with the more traditional picnic table style seating.
Jonathan politely introduced me to his friends and the lunch helpers by saying, “This is my Yaya. She knows EVERYTHING about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings!” That made me smile! As Jonathan ate we chatted about his school, his favorite part of school (recess) and his favorite activities. This intelligent, handsome young man, with bright blue eyes, enjoys Boy Scouts and has a developing interest in theater and acting. He has the gift of speaking well in front of others and without a hint of shyness. I’m excited to see where he goes with that ability!
Jonathan, like all my grandchildren, is a gifted communicator too. When they were young, I taught my kids that carrying on a conversation is like playing ball. When someone speaks to you, it’s like being tossed a ball. You throw it back, figuratively, by speaking back or asking a question. If you give a short answer or no answer, it’s like dropping the ball. My kids and their spouses have taught their children well. They are all excellent communicators, whether with other children or with adults.
It wasn’t long before Jonathan introduced Tolkien’s stories into our conversation. We had a lively talk about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, sharing who our favorite characters are (Jonathan likes Frodo and Gandalf) and tossing out quotes and favorite scenes. This thoughtful boy asked me why I like the Middle Earth stories and movies so much and listened attentively as I shared that I like stories about transformation. And the Middle Earth characters all grow and become who they are destined to be, as they journey. Jonathan gets that. He’s on a journey as well, and growing into the person he is born to be.
All too soon it was time for Jonathan to go back to class. We hugged and discussed getting together again soon. As I started up the stairs, I heard Jonathan calling out “Yaya…Yaya!” I turned to see him bringing his teacher to meet me. He introduced me with the line about knowing EVERYTHING about The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, which made his teacher laugh. We had a pleasant chat. She remarked that I was a new grandmother for Jonathan and that he was fortunate to have so many grandparents who care about him. That’s so true! One can’t have too many loving grandparents. And I am blessed by having five beautiful grandchildren and fortunate to have Jonathan as one of them. This boy will travel far. I’m happy to accompany him on this part of his journey.
Because of sleet and snow overnight, Joplin and the surrounding area had its first snow day of the season. That meant I stayed home, cozy in my “comfy” clothes and warm fuzzy socks.
With blinds on the windows open, I sipped hot Scottish tea and enjoyed watching huge snowflakes float by, spun by blasts of cold air as they drifted toward the ground. So beautiful, nature’s show, especially when I can watch from the comfort of my chair, snuggled beneath a thick blanket. It presented the perfect opportunity to read. I spent time in Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver and The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life by Thomas Moore. Both books speak deeply to my soul.
And both books inspired me for my afternoon activity, cleaning out my old desk that’s been in my office for years. I am transforming my home office into a writing/reading/meditation room. Stuff has accumulated in there over the years. I am very sensitive to energy and its flow, and yet I’ve let my office get choked with clutter and items I no longer use. There’s even a litter box for the cats in there. What not so subtle message is THAT sending out? I barely even use this space right now. That’s about to change.
As my life is shifting, I desire to create a fresh space that inspires and invigorates me. I started today by clearing the surface and emptying three drawers in my big desk. A trash bag filled as I threw away scraps of paper, broken calculators and useless ink pens. I found 27 keys in a drawer and hundreds of paper clips! I saved files with genealogy papers, drawings from my kids and mementos from a family vacation. I’ll replace the desk with a beautiful writing table that I purchased. The table feels more open and sparks my creativity.
From the desk I’ll move clockwise around the room, sorting items into three piles: DISCARD (junk, broken items, old files, things too worn to benefit another) DONATE (items that no longer inspire me, draw me, or serve me) and KEEP (anything that still inspires me or brings me joy…or that I need for real estate or writing). I’m going to be ruthless here. If I haven’t opened a book in years, it’s getting donated. If I’m not sure what lurks in a drawer, it all gets pulled out and sorted into the above mentioned piles. I know from experience that once my space is decluttered and cleared of old energy, new energy flows through the room, and my creativity flows with it. It is vital to me that my environment supports me and becomes an extension of me. I’m excited to clear away the cobwebs, both literally and energetically, and enjoy the beautiful new space I am creating.
Thomas Moore writes, “Home is an emotional state, a place in the imagination where feelings of security, belonging, placement, family, protection, memory and personal history abide.” This room, and indeed, my whole house, is shifting to reflect my state of being. And by letting go of what I don’t need or use, I’m creating space to welcome in new things, allowing what I do need to arrive. In the last chapter that I read this morning, in Outrageous Openness, Tosha Silver wrote about this very thing…cleaning out the home, cars, even purses and wallets so that spiritual work can deeply penetrate once the clutter is gone. She says, “You don’t have to release anything you use, love or need. Just the rest of it. Your intuition will show you.”
I am letting the Divine and my intuition nudge me and guide me. The last file I pulled out of the bottom drawer of the desk contained stories I had written, back in 1992. Rather than toss them, I read through one, slowly and thoughtfully, with an eye toward criticism. And you know what? It is well written. Very well written. I placed the file into the KEEP box, feeling encouraged. I am returning to an earlier love. It is time. And my space is shifting to support me.
This morning my family gathered to celebrate the birthday of my great niece, London Kate Miller. London, who turns five later in the month, is the oldest grandchild of my sister, Linda. What a happy bunch of us showed up at the Joplin Chuck E Cheese restaurant, which is always a favorite hang out for the kids in my family. Today, the adults joined in as well, making a boisterous group of 28 there to laugh and sing and watch over the kids as they played together. One of the things I love about my family is how my sisters and I get our grandchildren together as often as we can, so that those kids, who are all second cousins, spend as much time together and enjoy each other as much as our children did, growing up. I was thrilled today that most of the family was present, with the exception of my eldest grandson, Dayan, and one of Linda’s granddaughters, Aralyn. Unfortunately, both of Linda’s sons had to work today and couldn’t join us either.
London had a princess party at Chuck E Cheese. This specialty pizza place provides a safe environment for kids to run and play and plug tokens into machines, earning tickets. Those tickets are redeemed later for prizes. The boys in the family know how to turn those tokens into a large pile of tickets. However, London and Aubrey have always been more of the opinion that playing and running around is preferred, and if they happen to win a few tickets, that’s good enough for them. The grown up “kids” had just as much fun, adding an element of competition to their playing. The basketball hoops and the skee ball lanes allowed challenges to be thrown out and provided much fun for the rest of us, watching. Young Weston wasn’t quite sure about all the noise, and that giant mouse that occasionally roamed around, but he enjoyed the pizza and played. Baby Lola got passed around for all to admire and coo over. She is adorable and will be joining in on the fun before we know it.
At the center of this whirl of activity was the birthday girl. London is a beautiful child, full of bright energy, with big, sparkling blue eyes that can get quite the mischievous glint in them. She is smart, affectionate, playful, and loves to dance, sing and create. And she knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to ask about it or go after it. She enjoys her family and passes out hugs and kisses generously. My granddaughter Aubrey and London have been close since babyhood. These girls think of each other as sisters and best friends. I’m so glad they got to party together today! At Chuck E Cheese the birthday child gets a trip into a wind tunnel, where tickets fly about and can be caught. London invited Aubrey to join her. With their clear goggles on they stood ready. They had fun grabbing at the swirling tickets. This was Aubrey’s second time to be in the tunnel. She learned from past experience to grab and hold the caught tickets close to her chest. She scored a big haul for her cousin!
What a fun morning. Although I took time to grab a salad, I forgot to eat any pizza. I enjoyed walking around, taking photos, talking to little kids and big kids, and chatting with my mom, sisters, and nieces. I picked out a special gift for London Kate. It is from a line of dolls called Journey Girls. And this particular Journey Girl is blue eyed with light brown hair, just like the birthday girl. She is wearing a frilly purple dress, and her name is London. I hope London Kate enjoys playing with her. I will enjoy watching this bright child as she continues to grow, marveling at her quick wit and her giftedness, her affectionate nature and her soulful eyes. Look out world, this is London Kate! Happy birthday, dear girl.
What a fun Valentine’s Day, spent in the pleasant company of various family members. Tomorrow, as we gather to celebrate a child’s birthday, I’ll get to see the rest of my family.
The highlight of the afternoon was attending my first ever pinewood derby race. Grandson Jonathan qualified in the preliminary in his Boy Scout pack, earning him a place at the finals today. SE Kansas area troops gathered at the mall in Pittsburg for a jamboree. There were booths with fun activities set up everywhere. As the boys moved from booth to booth, their cards were stamped. A completed card was presented for prizes.
At the center of the mall, the track was set up for the derby. Each participant registered his pinewood car that he had made for the race. Jonathan’s green car looked so sharp! The boys lined up along the race track while older scouts set up three cars at a time to race. The cars competed in three sets, changing the cars to a different lane each time, with the run times averaged out after the third race.
Jonathan’s car did well. He didn’t take a trophy home, this year, however, he had a great showing, and he was a good sport. There will be other years to try again, if he continues to enjoy the challenge. I’m proud of him for all his work and his willingness to experience something new. It takes courage, at any age, to put yourself out there, and be willing to fail. Jonathan is courageous.
After the race I had a fun lunch with Jonathan, Josh, Elissa and Greg. We chatted while we enjoyed Mexican food at Del Rio. Jonathan at last could play with the car he had so carefully crafted without being concerned about messing the car up before the race.
Jonathan has benefitted from his scouting experiences. I’m looking forward to seeing what catches his interest next as he continues in the Boy Scout organization.
I was aware this morning that today was Friday the 13th. Being one who does not believe in luck, good or bad, nor one ruled by superstition, knowing the date and day of the week didn’t bring fear, but instead a heightened determination to make my own amazing day even more beautiful, more joyful.
Curiosity about why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky did lead me on a search of discovery. I found three possible explanations for the uneasiness around this day:
* The number 12 is considered to be the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock day, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, or the twelve signs of the Zodiac. In contrast the number thirteen is considered irregular, transgressing this completeness.
* Friday has been considered an unlucky day to undertake a journey or begin a new project, at least since the 14th century, as recorded by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.
* On Friday, October 13, 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France by King Philip IV, possibly giving rise to the fear of a curse on that day.
Whatever it’s origin, Friday the 13th continues to at the least be a day to remark on, and at the most, a day to be fearful on, staying home, staying safe.
I celebrated the day by engaging others and connecting, giving hugs and teaching a class on meditation, laughing with daughter Adriel and receiving a precious Valentine from Aubrey. As I thought my day was winding down Greg suggested a trip to Springfield. We browsed at Barnes & Noble Bookstore and enjoyed an excellent dinner at Longhorn Steak House. The Flo’s Filet steak melted in my mouth. The grilled asparagus was tender and flavorful and we tried a new appetizer, recommended by our charming waiter, Matthew…the crab and artichoke dip with flat bread. Delicious.
The day is what I make it to be. If I’m fearful, I’ll find things to be afraid of…angry, things that will boil my blood…and if I’m joyful, I’ll find more things to bring me joy. It sounds simplistic and yet I’ve been walking this path long enough to find that it’s true. What I expect to get out of the day, I get. Today, I opened to greater joy and connectedness, and that’s exactly what I encountered. Happy Friday the 13th to me!
Tonight I am blogging from a restaurant parking lot, due to problems with the AT&T tower near my home. No internet on phone or computer means I’m in the ridiculous position of driving around, checking my phone for a signal so that I can post.
Of course I could have used the lack of internet as an excuse not to post today and made up for it tomorrow. However, I have written and posted a blog 406 days in a row. I’ve blogged from Scotland, while at the homes of friends and family, late at night and while ill, tired or grieving. No faulty cell phone tower is going to trifle with me! It’s all part of my journey.
The journey earlier today was soulful, and taken while in the company of one of my dearest friends. Garen and I have known each other for 7 years, and met via a business organization. When we sat down together for the first time to get better acquainted, it was if we had always known each other. The connection was immediate and an easy friendship developed that has truly been a blessing to me.
We met for lunch, and our conversation was at times light and fun. Garen has a wicked sense of humor. He also possesses one of the keenest business minds that I’ve encountered and his ability to think creatively and expansively always inspires me.
I chatted about my journey, and my hopes, dreams and intentions for the immediate future, expressing two of my truths: “I am open to everything and attached to nothing.” and “Everything that shows up in my life is an ongoing conversation with the Divine.” I so appreciate Garen’s thoughtful responses and suggestions.
We talked about my desire to write, to teach through my writings, and to travel. He made a profound statement and asked a question, and both will shape my future journey. Garen suggested I look at where those three desires intersect, the writing, the teaching, and the traveling, and at that intersection I will find my purpose and my way of offering to the world. He then shared this powerful question with me, from the book, “Zero to One”, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters: “What important truth do you know that very few people would agree with you on?”. The answer to that questions reveals my area of teaching, my gift to the world.
I have thought all day about what Garen shared with me. And I have expressed gratitude multiple times for this dear friend. We each make our own way in the world, seeking our own paths, learning from our own experiences on the journey. How beautiful it is when another appears on the path, walking alongside and saying, “I’m headed that way too. Mind if I walk with you for a while?” There’s increased joy and greater energy in a journey that’s shared, and a helping hand when it’s needed, a shoulder to cry on when grief appears, and encouragement through the challenging twists and turns on the path. I am very thankful for this fellow traveler and my sincerest desire is to offer back to him during his journey as well.
As John Lennon sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I do more than that. I am enriched, encouraged and inspired with a little help from my friends. Thank you Garen, my friend.
I had quite a journey today, to Neosho and then Arkansas, back to Joplin to complete work and then a wonderful hour spent with friends. However, it was an invitation from my grandson Dayan that took me on the farthest journey of all today…into the galaxy and the far reaches of space! I joined daughter Elissa and Dayan at the movie theater to watch Jupiter Ascending.
This action/sci-fi/adventure stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis, Sean Bean, Eddie Redmayne, Douglas Booth and Tuppence Middleton. It was directed, and written by, The Wachowskis. Jupiter Ascending is rated PG-13 for intense scenes, violence, and brief partial nudity and has a run time of 2 hours and 7 minutes.
Jupiter Jones (Kunis), was supposed to have a great life. Her father, who died before his daughter was born, said so. He loved the stars and he believed his daughter, who was named after his favorite planet, had an amazing destiny before her. However, after Jupiter and her mother move to Chicago to live with family, she finds herself cleaning toilets in expensive mansions, and hating her life. It isn’t just the low paying cleaning job and the crowded family home. Her dislike of her life is driven by her boredom and her lack of desire, except for the deep desire for a telescope, like her dad owned.
Jupiter’s life changes when she meets Caine Wise (Tatum), a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, who is not of earth. He is a Splice, a human with wolf DNA spliced in. He has come to Earth to protect Jupiter from the treacherous Abrasax family, who rules this corner of the universe. The three Abrasax siblings. Balem (Redmayne), Kalique (Middleton) and Titus (Booth), are jostling for control of planet Earth. In fact, Jupiter’s world and her awareness expands as she discovers that there are many species populating the galaxy and earth is actually a farm. Once the population grows to the point of non-sustainability on Earth, the inhabitants will be harvested to create a youth serum that keeps the Abrasax family regenerated and able to live for tens of thousands of years. Their wealth has been accumulated through the sale of this much sought after elixir.
As if this new perspective is not shocking enough, Jupiter also discovers that the Abrasax family believes she is a genetic incarnation of their mother, who was murdered. According to the law, because of her genetic coding, Jupiter is the rightful owner of Earth. Each sibling tries to manipulate Jupiter, so as to gain control of Earth and its future harvest, and when manipulation fails, they attempt to take her life. She is rescued again, and again, by the warrior like Caine and his colleague Stinger (Bean), who is a Splice between a human and a bee and is also an ex-military man. At the heart of all the struggles over who not only controls Earth but is the rightful heir, is the planet itself and her inhabitants, who are at risk of being destroyed for profit.
This was a fun, fast paced, visually compelling film. I like sci-fi. I like having my imagination stretched by the possibility of worlds and species beyond what I can see here. Part of the appeal of the movie for me is that there is a whole universe that exists that the inhabitants of Earth are totally unaware of. It is like the Hobbits of the Shire, blind to what goes on in the larger world, or Alice in Wonderland who falls down a rabbit hole to discover a place and creatures she could not have imagined.
Jupiter herself is a Cinderella type character, who is more than she sees herself to be. It was time for her to raise her head and her awareness out of the toilet and see the stars and beyond. She discovers who she is, as she journeys through this larger than she could have believed space. While everyone else calls Jupiter “your majesty”, I like that this gutsy girl doesn’t just buy into what other people think of her. She emphatically states, as she comes into her own, “I am not your mother.” When she returns to Earth and the role she played there before, life is sweeter, more vibrant. She is truly alive and grateful to be.
I always enjoy actors Channing Tatum and Sean Bean. Both have fun in their roles. And the Abrasax siblings are chillingly beautiful and although long lived, dead inside. The eldest can barely speak above a whisper, unless rage seizes him. Their world has narrowed down to how they look, who they control and what profits can be made from harvesting planets. For all their beauty on the outside, frailty and a stench of decay surrounds them.
At one point, Dayan leaned over, after a particularly intense brawl through Chicago and whispered with a grin, “Epic chase scene!” I agreed. That scene contained the longest sequence in the film and had the most difficult stunts. It left me a bit breathless! This was a big, busy film, with several deeper messages to ponder. I appreciate Dayan and Elissa inviting me to see Jupiter Ascending.
Today is my son’s birthday. Nathanael (Nate) is a fine young man…smart, handsome, creative, musical, dedicated to his family, a loving husband and father. He excels at his chosen profession, being a top rate police officer who helps to keep his community safe and trains other officers. He is continually learning so that he can teach others. It has been wonderful to see him achieve what he’s wanted to do ever since he was a young boy. I am very proud of him.
Today, although it was one of his scheduled days off, Nate taught a class for other officers. Which meant, I got to pick up his little daughter from school. Because it was her daddy’s birthday, she quickly had an afterschool snack and then wanted to shop for a card and gifts for her father. Since the boys weren’t with us, Aubrey became the “designated shopper” for the kids, a role she took quite seriously.
Aubrey and I dashed into Target to make her purchases so we could get her home before her daddy arrived. I love shopping with young children. They are so earnest, so heart-centric, in their desire to gift a loved one. I give them free reign on making purchases and rarely have to offer guidance.
Aubrey looked at a couple of cards and then asked where the cards were that played music when you opened them. I pointed her in the right direction and she immediately found the perfect card. It had Spongebob Squarepants on the front, and when the card is opened, the quirky sponge sings Happy Birthday. Aubrey was delighted with her choice, and opened the card often while we continued birthday shopping, giggling every time Spongebob broke into song. It was even more humorous when I remembered that a week ago, I embarrassed this sweet child by singing that very same song for a free meal at McDonald’s!
Next were gifts. Aubrey very thoughtfully chose a gift card to a restaurant for her dad to use while he’s patrolling and needs a lunch break. And then she headed to the T-Shirt section. Aubrey found the perfect shirt. On the front were Minions, from the Despicable Me movies, with the phrase Ba Ba Ba Ba Banana on it. She loved it. I’m sure her dad did too.
Aubrey signed her name to the singing card and Joey and Oliver added their names as well when we arrived at the house. I know Nate and his family had a very fun evening, celebrating his birthday. And I know Nate celebrated his family, because that’s the type of man that he is. In fact, as I drove home after dropping Aubrey off, I was reminded of a tremendous gift that Nate has given his little girl. It is a story that Aubrey has asked to hear many, many times, and now shares with others. She loves to tell how her daddy hoped for and wished for a daughter, and then she was born and his wish came true. I am so proud of my son for giving this true and enchanting story to his daughter. It is so vital to the heart of a young girl to know that she was wanted and then that she is seen and appreciated for who she is. It is so important to know that being a girl is perfect, in her father’s eyes. That tender story brings such a look of fierce pride to Aubrey’s face that it brings tears to my eyes. Nate’s gift will carry his girl into adulthood, and she will always know that her dad wanted a daughter, and was proud of the girl that she was. I have no doubt that he will be proud of the woman she becomes.
Nate is also an awesome stepdad to his two boys and his quiet strength and authentic love bolsters their confidence in who they are and will accompany them on their journey to manhood. It is equally as important that boys have someone to look up to, to mirror, and to learn from. They need to be seen as well, and applauded for their accomplishments and taught how to use their awakening strength.
Well done, Son. I am honored to be your mom. You teach me by your example. I love you. Many, many more happy birthdays for you!
On Journey 26, I posted about receiving a wonderful surprise from a friend, a leather journal with the Lonely Mountain on the front and Dwarvish runes on the back. When I googled the translation for the runes, I discovered a fun website, which translates English into Dwarvish runes. Playing with different words, I entered “Journey” into the translator and got the Dwarvish equivalent, in runes.
I was inspired. I remembered how one of the Dwarves, Kili, young nephew to Thorin Oakenshield, carried a runestone with him, engraved with a promise. He carried the stone to remember, and in seeing and holding the stone, to connect with the one he made a promise to. I have had a stone for a number of years, given to me by a friend. It is a river rock, smoothed by the passage of water, a lovely shade of gray with flecks of darker and lighter hues. The stone fits perfectly in my palm. I’ve kept the stone in my office and look at it often.
When I saw the word Journey written in Dwarvish, I knew what I had been saving the stone for. It is the ideal size and shape to become a runestone for me. Tonight I carefully wrote my word, my promise, on my stone….Journey….using a black Sharpie. It doesn’t have quite the character that an engraved stone would, but my runestone is perfect for me.
Every time I see it now, and hold it in my hand, I will remember this year of journeys, and all the delightful experiences I had. I will also recall that the word means “the distance one can travel in a day” and that the joy is in the journey, not in the destination. I even like that it is a river stone, because the river also symbolizes the journey for me. As I stay in the flow of that river of life, I will be carried along, exactly as I need to be, precisely where I need to go, at the absolutely perfect time. This stone with its word reminds me to relax and trust the journey, trust even when I can’t see what’s around the next bend, or what awaits me there. I trust all is unfolding exactly as it should, and I am free to enjoy the journey.
Kili’s runestone had this Dwarvish phrase engraved on it: Return to Me. It was to remind him of a promise he made to his mother, to return to her, no matter where his journey took him. In a way, my runestone reminds me of a similar promise, in answer to a call to return home, to my Source. As surely as Kili heard his mother’s voice encouraging him toward home, I hear the voice of God, calling to me, onward down the river, further on the journey, deeper into my own heart and soul and then outward, in ever expansive ways into the world. Ultimately, I will arrive home. Journey….and Return to Me.