Journey 141: Third Thursday Fun


Tonight was my first time downtown this year, for the event called Third Thursday. Main Street closes to traffic, from A Street to 7th, and people take to the streets instead, visiting booths, participating in a variety of fun activities, sampling an assortment of foods. It’s a great time of strolling and connecting with people. 

This evening Greg, Linda and I joined the throngs of people, enjoying the sunshine and seizing the opportunity to be outdoors on such a gorgeous day. This is the perfect time to catch up with friends, as we meet on the street, and chat with total strangers. We three did both! When an older man joined Linda and me on a bench she engaged him in conversation and found out he was a photographer, who snapped pictures for the enjoyment of it. 


I got to experience a first downtown. We stopped by a small but popular hamburger restaurant, called Whistler’s, offering old fashion burgers, a bag of chips and a drink for $3.50. I’ve not eaten here before. 

Tonight  they were set up on the sidewalk, taking orders and calling out your name when your burger was ready. People stood in groups, chatting and laughing together, waiting for their food. The burgers were great! And what a great deal, price wise. 


There is always much to see during Third Thursday! The stores and restaurants on Main Street stay open late and often have product displayed or offer food and seating outdoors. There are blocks of activities for kids, dancing and acrobatics in the street, and a whole section set up with stages for various singers, musicians and performers.

We saw medieval knights engaging in sword fights, ladies with outrageous hair dos promoting a show, a Star Wars storm trooper, and masked men handing out fliers for short films being judged tonight. This is a family friendly event, as evidenced by parents pushing strollers and the number of children in line for balloon animals. It’s pet friendly too, with many walkers accompanied by a dog on a leash. 

I love Third Thursdays! What a great way to get in a walk, see new sights, connect with friends, invest in Joplin.  The best part is, we have five more such opportunities this year. I’ll see you downtown! 


Journey 140: Cindy 500

Cindy 500

I’ve been in a playful mood, thinking about my blog post for today. It’s been a week with a couple of milestones so far: the completion of Aubrey’s first year of school, Dayan’s 16th birthday. I decided to write about a milestone that I’ve reached as well, while making a play on words for the blog title, this weekend being the Indy 500 race.

I’ve reached 500 posts on my Going Beyond Blog…507 posts, actually, over 505 consecutive days. 505 days of writing…every day.

The amazing part about this accomplishment is that two years ago this summer, I was challenged to do one thing, every day, for 66 days. The idea was that by doing something every day for 66 days, a new habit would be formed. I thought for only a moment before jotting down this word: WRITE. I wanted to write every day for the next 66 days, creating the habit of writing.

Cindy 500 if you wish to write, write

I’ve long had a interest in creating in this way. One of my gifts as a young child was a typewriter. I’ve had story-telling modeled for me my whole life, my mother being an amazing creator of stories. She told them to my sisters and me, as  children, and later wrote stories for our children, eventually publishing stories in books such as The Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She’s also had three children’s chapter books published. I started on that tiny typewriter, and wrote for years, into early adulthood….stories and poems primarily…later writing with a pencil in notebooks.

And then life got busy, with a husband and children. I thought, When the kids go off to school, I’ll write again. And I did, for a short time. Then I made the decision to bring my children home and educate them myself. We became homeschoolers and life shifted in huge ways. I set the writing aside, with no regrets. I raised my kids, taught my kids, was taught life lessons, by my kids. And when they entered college or married and left home, rather than return to writing, I entered real estate.

Cindy 500 youve got to write

No excuses. I could have made the time, structuring my day so that I had plenty of time for writing.  I did keep my desire to write alive. I created a monthly homeschool newsletter, with a feature article about what adventures the kids and I were involved in, and included samples of their work or cartoons and drawings they had done. In real estate, I created a monthly email as well, for several years, writing in an informational way. I even started a real estate blog years ago. Strangely enough, I found myself writing not about real estate in that blog…but life. Seeing the dichotomy, I posted in it infrequently, confused, I think, about what I wanted to share.

Life kept offering invitations, though, kept reminding me of my desire to write. That desire grew, fed by speaking and teaching opportunities. It is so beautiful, so amazing, that the challenge that was issued to me, to pick one thing to do, and do it for 66 days, came at a workshop led by Gary Keller, the owner of Keller Williams. That reminder came through real estate. I shouldn’t be surprised. It was where I was, and life meets us exactly where we are and invites.

Cindy 500 writing quote

I’d like to say that I nailed it two years ago…writing for 66 days. I wrote every day…for four days. And then I quit. It was difficult. I dawdled. I floundered. I let other things get in the way. I failed at that attempt at writing daily, however, the intention went out, the desire went out. I want to write…every day. And life, or the Divine….to me, life IS part of the Divine…brought me the perfect way to accomplish my intention.

I had no purpose connected to writing every day, when I made the first attempt. I had nowhere to go with it. For me, it wasn’t enough just to say I was going to write every day. I had to have a reason to write. So one arrived. As 2013 was drawing to a close, my new word, Beyond, came to me. I heard of Lu Ann Cahn and her amazing year of first things…doing something new every day. I embraced her idea, knowing that doing something new, daily, would definitely push me beyond my comfort zone. And to be accountable, to capture what I was doing each day, so I wouldn’t forget, I began the Going Beyond Blog…and wrote in it EVERY DAY….for 365 days. What I couldn’t do before, I was able to do with the blog, because I had a reason for writing. I linked creating with purpose.

Cindy 500 alchemist

The amazing gift of writing every day for a year was that I learned the discipline of writing. Full days, being busy, not feeling like writing…none of those excuses deterred me. I just did it. And I loved it. I reconnected with that creative energy that I had as a child and teenager….and I wrote. A laptop, and sometimes my cell phone, replaced my little blue and white typewriter. The sheer joy of writing became the force behind my daily posts…so much so that as 2014 was winding down, I knew I wanted to keep going, keep writing.

505 days of writing, and counting…that’s 501 days longer than what I was able to do before. I am so grateful that as my intention went out….life answered, and the Divine presented my word, my symbol, what I would do, as a way of offering me the opportunity to live my desire. There’s no stopping me now. I don’t know where this path is going to take me. I don’t need to know. I just need to write. And the Divine, and Life, will arrange the rest.

Cindy 500 box of crayons

Journey 139: Dayan Turns 16

Dayans 16 at Red Hot and Blue

What a special evening, as family members gathered to celebrate Dayan, my eldest grandson, who turned 16 today! Dayan chose the restaurant Red, Hot & Blue for a tradition in our family…The Birthday Dinner Out. His mom Elissa, step-dad Josh, step-brother Jonathan, Aunt Adriel, Nate Pugh, Great-Aunt Linda, Mimi Pat, Papa Greg and me all joined him in the feasting and festivities. We missed Great-Papa Walter and Nate, Megan and their three kids, who couldn’t join us this evening.

Dayans 16 dinner party

We chatted as we ate, telling stories and sharing accomplishments of the day and the week. Jonathan, who is fascinated by the current moustache trend, and can’t wait to grow one, entertained us with a new card game that I found for him today. Called the Best ‘Staches Ever, the object of the game is to look at a moustache silhouette and guess the owner. There are clues printed on the backs of the cards. It was fun and we laughed every time Jonathan held the ‘stache up to his own upper lip.

Dayans 16 Jonathan

This was a milestone birthday for Dayan. I would have loved to surprise him with a new car. Gratefully, Josh is providing one for Dayan to drive. Instead, Dayan was surprised by the gift his mom and step-dad gave him…an Alienware System…which is a computer console hybrid. Yeah, I didn’t know what that was either! Dayan did though. Elissa cleverly hid a folded up piece of paper in a small box containing a Mine Craft figurine. As he unfolded the paper and realized what was printed on it, his face lit up. We all laughed as he hugged his mom, and kissed her cheek…over and over. Dayan’s home computer crashed recently, and although he has a laptop for school, he has missed playing his computer games. He was so thrilled with this amazing gift. It will arrive at his house Thursday.

Dayans 16 with Elissa

After consulting with Elissa, Greg and I gave him an external hard drive with a DVD component so he can connect it to his new system, and continue to play his older disc games. And we supplied him with a Steam gift card, for downloading, or maybe it is accessing, games directly. This Yaya is working to keep up with all this new technology! I just know Dayan was happy with these gifts. He also received a nice amount of cash from Mimi, Adriel, and his Nana Debi and Papa Mike, Josh’s sweet parents.

Dayans 16 with Jonathan

This has been an amazing year of growth for Dayan. He literally grew taller. He has also been practicing driving, and will get his driver’s license soon. He tried out for and secured the only tuba spot in the Wind Ensemble, made it into the District Honor’s Band, received an award for his short story, Numbers on a Wall. He excelled academically, receiving top grades in his classes, and earned a place on the Varsity Academic Bowl Team. He took early college entrance exams and his email has been flooded with offers from colleges across the US. He welcomed a step-father and step-brother into his home, escorting his beautiful mother down the aisle last November and standing at her side during the wedding ceremony.

Dayans 16 with his mom

I looked back through my blog posts, and realized how many adventures he accompanied me on since his birthday last year. We saw plays, musicals and movies together. Dayan introduced me to Dr. Who and taught me tech tips. We played the GPS scavenger hunt game called Geocaching, created Mail Art, made fudge at Christmas, created a fun geography related game, walked together during the Memorial Walk of Silence and sat in the audience during the dedication of the Butterfly Memorial Park. I watched Dayan march in football games and parades with the band, perform during concerts and competitions, receive awards, dress up as Steve at Jonathan’s birthday party, and Dr. Who at the huge family Halloween party, drive my car. He taught me to play Mine Craft, or at least, he tried to! He’s gracious with my failures.

I am beyond grateful that I get to be Dayan’s Yaya. This young man has one of the most amazing hearts I have ever encountered. He loves his family and his friends. He’s intelligent, talented, determined, open to new opportunities and trying new things, unafraid of the unknown future. He travels through life with easy grace and his warm, beautiful smile, his old soul shining out through his wise brown eyes. This past year I’ve seen Dayan become clear on what he wants to do in life, what gifts to offer to the world. His keen mind and love of geography and politics will serve him well as a political analyst for the government, possibly the CIA. He’s researched schools and knows exactly what it will take to reach his goal. And his creativity will have outlets in his music, his drawing and his writing. I was honored to have him as a guest blogger last week.

Dayans 16

I know it is natural for a grandmother to be proud of her grandchild, and I most certainly am. And I would want to know Dayan even if I wasn’t his Yaya. He accepts me as I am. I can be my best self, which is sometimes my goofiest self, with Dayan. We laugh and share and dream and put actions behind our intentions, bringing them into reality. He teaches me about seeing the best in others, about going after what I want, about living from my heart. He offers his love without condition, his thoughts without fear, his trust without expectations. I am so excited to see where his path leads him, and I have no doubt he will follow it with determination…and joy. I am honored to walk beside him, literally now, and from a distance later, as he reaches adulthood and moves onward and upward in his education and his life. Happy, HAPPY number 16 Dayan. I love you with all my heart.

Dayans 16 with Yaya

Journey 138: Little Eagle

Little Eagle smile

It is hard to believe, but this is Aubrey’s last week in kindergarten. It seems like only yesterday that she skipped off to her first day of school, eyes shining, ready to make new friends. She’s got this school thing down, now, nine months later, and already considers herself a first grader.

Today was the last SOAR assembly in her school. Aubrey picked up a SOAR certificate in February, for demonstrating the R in SOAR….Resolve conflict. This morning, she received her second SOAR award, representing the A…Accept responsibility. The other letters stand for Show respect and Observe safety. Four children are selected from each kindergarten through second grade class at Aubrey’s school, the recipients chosen by the teachers.

Little Eagle tall

What a difference the second time makes. Aubrey wasn’t watching shyly from the door to the auditorium today. She looked relaxed and flashed her cheering section – her mom, little brother, dad, step-mom, Nana Beth, Papa Greg and me…big smiles frequently. When she wasn’t throwing glances our way, she was chatting quietly with her classmates and fellow kindergarteners.

Watching her at the front of the large room, her tall, slender form striking a natural pose, I thought about how much she has grown this year, academically, physically, emotionally, spiritually. I’m proud of how well she did in school, learning so many new things. However, I am even more thrilled with her social and communicative skills, her deepening intuition and her ability to see beyond, and with the kindness and love she shows toward family, friends…and people she’s just met at Chick-Fil-A. She is Aubrey….and I love how she inhabits her Aubrey space so fully.

Little Eagle SOAR

During the assembly, after each child in a class has received his or her SOAR award, the teacher of that class announces the winner of the Talon Award. This is a medal on a ribbon, given to the child. The winner is selected by the rest of the children in the class, by way of a vote. It is an honor to be noticed exhibiting great life skills by the teacher. It is a thrill to be selected for the Talon Award by friends and peers. This morning, I held my breath as my granddaughter’s teacher announced this month’s recipient from her class: Aubrey Moore.

I clapped and whooped. The look of sheer delight on Aubrey’s face as the medal was slipped over her head was so beautiful. This friendly, helpful little girl will cherish her medal. I cherish her. Way to go Little Eagle.

Little Eagle Talon Medal


Journey 137: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers poster

I was thrilled to see this movie this evening with my sister Linda. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in a darkened theater and lost myself in a larger than life story, full of heroes and villains, adventure and angst. Marvel movies always deliver. I’ve been a Marvel and DC comic fan all my life. For this amazing series of movies, I’ve faithfully followed each of the individual character stories…Iron Man, Captain America, Thor…and thoroughly enjoyed the first Avengers film.

Avengers: Age of Ultron has a huge all star cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and the distinctive voice of James Spader. Directed by Joss Whedon, this action/adventure/sci-fi is rated PG-13, for action, violence and destruction, and some suggestive comments. The film has a run time of 2 hours and 21 minutes.

Taking place after Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron finds the heroes together in the Eastern Europe country of Sokovia, raiding a Hydra Outpost. Experiments on humans have been carried out there, using the scepter previously wielded by Loki, Thor’s (Hemsworth) brother. The Avengers encounter a set of twins with special gifts. Pietro (Taylor-Johnson) has superhuman speed and his sister, Wanda (Olsen), can manipulate minds and matter.

Escaping with the scepter, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr.) and Dr. Banner/Hulk (Ruffalo) discover an artificial intelligence within it, encapsulated within a gem stone. With the desire to see peace around the world, the pair seeks to complete Stark’s creation, the Ultron Global Defense Program. It appears their efforts are unsuccessful and they leave to gather with friends and colleagues for a party. The artificial intelligence becomes sentient, twisting the directive to bring peace to the planet. Ultron (voiced by Spader) sees his mission as one of bringing peace by eradicating human life from earth. His first objective: eliminate the Avengers.

Fleeing with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources at the Sokovia lab to upgrade his metal body and build an army of robots. He enlists the help of the twins, who blame Stark for their parents’ deaths. The Avengers pursue Ultron but Wanda confuses their minds by implanting deams, and Hulk goes on a rampage. Forced to retreat to recover, the group hides out at the remote house of Hawkeye (Renner). Each member of the team seems focused inwardly, still sorting through the visions that they had, with the exception of Natasha/Black Widow (Johansson) and Dr. Banner, who suddenly seem to have noticed each other. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans) and Stark bicker about what needs to be done and whose fault it is that Ultron exists.

Avengers Ultron

Nick Fury (Jackson), from SHEILD shows up, urging the Avengers to unite and stop Ultron. In Seoul, Ultron is creating a new body for himself, using the scepter’s gem and synthesized tissue. Before the download of his mind is completed, Wanda senses Ultron’s intentions for destroying humanity and she and her brother turn on Ultron. The Avengers capture the synthetic body and Stark downloads JARVIS into the body, creating an entity called Vision (Bettany, who also voices JARVIS). Thor helps to activate Vision, explaining that the gem on the being’s brow is an Infinity Stone, one of the most powerful objects in the universe.

The battle for humanity ensues, the Avengers joined by Pietro and Wanda and Vision, while Ultron fights with his army of drones. The battlefield is Sokovia. The outcome determines the fate of the earth.

This was, as I anticipated, a very fun, high energy, action packed movie. The heroes were, indeed, all larger than life, with special abilities, big personalities and sometimes, big egos to match. There was intrigue and human drama, interspersed with humor, thwarted desire and overall, the intention to serve and protect mankind.  I think what I love most about the Avengers films is that these individuals, with their own sets of quirks and gifts, struggle most of the time to work together as a team, getting in each other’s way and in their own way. And yet, when they put aside their egos and their differences, and come together as a powerful, smoothly functioning team, they are astounding.

I know it may sound silly, but when these heroes formed a circle, backs together, facing outward, ready to slay the enemy, as a team, it brought tears to my eyes. Each brought his or her gift to the group, and didn’t worry about what the others were doing. They trusted each other, trusted themselves, to work as one. And of course, in that space of unity, they were unstoppable. What a great life lesson, to bring my gifts and abilities, unique to me, to stand with others, trusting them to bring their bests as well, all of us offering to the world.

This was an exciting, fun to watch, cheer worthy movie. The stage is set for another Avengers film and at least another Thor adventure. I’m glad. I’ll be there, ready for those larger than life heroes again, when the next villain threatens the world!

Avengers hero shot

Journey 136: National Police Week

National police week

Today marks the end of National Police Week. Created in 1962, by President Kennedy, May 15 is specifically set aside each year as National Peace Officers Memorial Day. Established by a joint resolution of Congress, National Police Week recognizes the courage and sacrifice made by law enforcement officers and honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, while protecting and serving others.

Earlier this month was National Nurses Week. This past week, National Police Week. I have a child in both professions. My daughter is a nurse. My son, Nate, serves and protects his community as a police officer and I have a nephew, Eric, who serves as well. These fine young men take their jobs seriously as protectors of the pubic and keepers of peace. My son has wanted to be a police officer since he was a small boy, practicing, learning, studying for years before he ever donned a uniform and fastened on a badge.

Nate honor guard 2e2

I have ridden along with my son while he was on duty, and I am so proud of his dedication in serving his community, protecting others and backing up the other officers on duty. I’ve watched as he showed compassion, kindness and concern toward those he has stopped, and offered help to the needy and destitute. He operates out of his heart, rather than his head, but he doesn’t hesitate to step into the role of firm authoritarian if that is what is needed, for the safety and well being of all concerned. Nate is often the first on the scene of a crisis, and I can’t imagine a man better able to handle those difficult situations with efficiency, knowledge and care than he does.

Nate in car e


On behalf of my son and nephew and the many police officers that I know, I found these helpful tips on keeping officers and the public safe. We can assist these keepers of the peace, who have families at home, depending on them, or hinder them in doing their jobs, which are challenging enough at the best of times.

1. Focus on driving. Don’t text or talk on your cell phone, hunt for items in your purse or allow yourself to become distracted.

2. Give officers room on the roadway. Pull to the right or stop for emergency vehicles.

3. Move over for stopped police cars. When you see a stopped police car, slow down, and move one lane away from the stop, if possible.

4. Watch officers’ hands as they are directing traffic, obeying their signals.

5. Only drive when sober. Drinking and driving causes fatalities, to other drivers and to police officers.

6. Drive within the speed limit. Speeding puts others at risk.

7. Keep volume on radio and phones at a reasonable level, so that you can hear approaching emergency vehicles.

8. Don’t wear headphones while you drive. See above.

9. Report drunk drivers or drivers behaving erratically. You might prevent a tragedy.

10. If you are pulled over by a police officer, stay in the car, roll your window down, keep your hands where they can be seen, such as on the steering wheel. Place your vehicle in park, turn radio off and if it is at night, turn on the interior car light. Be prepared to show your driver’s license and proof of insurance. Be respectful.

National police week badge

I am honored to have a son who serves and protects, and a nephew as well. I am glad there is a week set aside to honor the courage and commitment of police officers across the nation, and to remember those who have fallen while protecting their communities. These men and women make a difference in our cities and towns, and in our lives. We can make a difference in theirs. The next time you encounter an officer, because of a car stop or accident, or you see them eating lunch or stopping to help someone in need, smile and thank him or her for their dedication and their willingness to serve. It might be my son smiling back at you.

National police week heroes

Journey 135: Four Funerals…and a Wedding. 

One of my favorite Hugh Grant movies is “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, from 1994. It’s the story of a group of friends, their lives revealed through the experiences captured at five important events: a wedding, a wedding, a wedding, a funeral…and a wedding.

This year I have experienced the exact opposite of that intriguing film. I’ve had four funerals, and a wedding. And in the same order, flipped: a funeral, a funeral, a funeral, a wedding…and today, another funeral.

This morning I said “See you later” to one of the sweetest women I have ever met. I have known her son, Wayne, most of my life. Greg and Wayne served in the military together. Remarkably, they stayed in touch after they were discharged even though they lived many miles apart. Throughout the years, Wayne and his sons have been frequent visitors to Joplin, and my family and I have spent many happy days in Texas.

I met Wayne’s mother, Loretta, at Wayne’s wedding, 34 years ago. She welcomed Greg and me, and our young children, as part of her own family. Her soft, southern draw and warm hospitality were reminiscent of a gentle woman of the Deep South. I was enchanted then. And have ever remained so, with Loretta Rue Alley Hopper.

She was born and raised near Desert Creek, in Texas. And although she traveled the United States with her young sons, as an army wife, and even spent time in Germany and France, Texas has always been home for her. She brought her sons into adulthood there. Welcomed a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Buried two husbands and one son in the Texas soil.

Loretta  loved her Creator, and she exemplified what it looks like to love your neighbor as yourself. She loved without limits and cared for everyone, regardless of race, color, gender, age or financial standing. She shared with Wayne recently that the thing she most wanted others to remember about her was that she accepted people exactly as they were, allowing them the freedom and grace to be who they are. What a gift she offered. I am blessed to have known her.

              Loretta and her siblings. 

Driving home from Texas today, I reflected on the four funerals and the wedding, recognizing that they too have captured stories from the lives of these dear family members and family friend. Gathered together at each funeral, we remembered and shared about Mindy, Annie, Dale and Loretta, recounting the brief years of their lives, telling their tales. We, the family and friends of those who have stepped into eternity, are their legacies, and the continuation of their stories. We will not forget. And we are not without hope. We will see them again.

I am grateful in the midst of these gatherings, these “see you laters”, to have had Nate and Megan’s wedding. Theirs is the beginning of a new life, a new adventure together. They are creating their legacy, now, to hand down later to their children and grandchildren. I’m so glad for this celebration of love.

        Photo by Sheena Photography 

 Four weddings and a funeral. Four funerals and a wedding. It’s all about life and sharing the journey, the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the hellos and goodbyes. What an amazing group that I get to journey with. What a beloved cloud of witnesses we are surrounded by.

Journey 134: Guest Blogger Dayan Reynolds


I am traveling today, to the great state of Texas. My grandson, Dayan, who is almost 16, graciously accepted my invitation to be my first guest blogger. And what a treat! Dayan is sharing his award winning short story, which received recognition last week. 

The Crowder Quill Contest is held annually, and is open to area high school students and Crowder College students. Winning entires are published in the Crowder Quill Literary Art Magazine. Entries are judged in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art and photography.

And now, my guest blogger, Dayan Reynolds, sharing his winning short story.

I wrote this piece to explain my view on humanity’s blindness in technology. We cover our eyes and rely on the future to guide us along, but sometimes the future can pull us down to destruction.

Numbers on a Wall
6:57 am Four and a half hours from the disaster

It’s a Tuesday. The sun rises in the east, its golden rays creeping across the still sleeping city of Ozarka, home to almost 180,000 people. Waves slap lazily against the boardwalk in the harbor. In the distance the searchlights along the top of the distant sea wall glide across the turquoise sea.
The wall is relatively new, only two years ago it was nothing but slabs of steel and concrete lying in wait at the shipyard. It is the brainchild of the infamous Dr. Dioti von Maaigen, an oceanographer and engineer who has built several others for cities across the world. The wall has large, metal towers connected by steel walls, which could be raised or lowered to allow for ships to pass in times of calm.
The public had voiced their support of it loudly, almost no one opposing the construction of a wall that would practically empty city coffers. Yet, for the past two years, there was a “drought” of seismic activity in the ocean basin, leaving it untested. 

7:08 am Four hours and 11 minutes from the disaster

Dr. Dioti von Maaigen holds an urgent conference with the Mayor of Ozarka, the President of Hevia and a few leading scientists such as himself. 
Although the professor is the host, the conference soon turns into a heated debate between the Mayor and the President over a proposed interstate  bypassing Ozarka. Of the scientists invited to the conference, only two arrive, and both are distracted by experiments they are currently running back at the laboratory in Hevic. 
The meeting will last for a little over two hours, and throughout it the professor is ignored, his face white out of fear, though he never can share the news he’s discovered. In his trembling hands he holds data and blueprints to the Ozarka seawall.
7:34 am Three hours and 45 minutes from the disaster

As Ozarka awakens from its slumber, streets fill with school buses containing a total of 24,000 kids. Many people are heading to work, either by roads or using the city’s  elevated rail system, which lines downtown. A whistle blows at the Grand City Station, announcing the arrival of a passenger train carrying 215 commuters from nearby Hevic. Younger couples line the boardwalk, while fishing boats glide across the gentle bay. A cruise ship is entering through the seawall gate, creeping across towards the harbor.
Crowds develop along the beaches, as today is the third day of the annual Aquatica Festival. Tourists flock to Ozarka to celebrate protection of the sea life across the world. Estimates suggest as many as 20,000 could appear at some point today.
8:00 am Three hours and 19 minutes from the disaster

Life in the city is humming merrily on track. School bells in Bayview High toll, announcing the start of first hour. Businesses open up, the streets develop a slow stir of people, and the boardwalk roars to life. The bell tower at Hevia State University chimes 8 in a rhythmic tune. 
Abruptly, the ground shakes. A distant tremor is rumbling, yet despite its intense ferocity – an 8.2 magnitude – the city is practically untouched, as the epicenter lies in the far off ocean. A few windows shatter, and one apartment in a historic part of town collapses, but no other evidence of damage exists. 
The people and tourists in Ozarka stumble, as the city seems to stutter, then everything goes back to mainstream. The only notable difference in the city is that the sea walls are raised, sealing off the ocean, and any tsunamis with it.
There is no fear of a wave of epic proportion, as they have the sea wall, and thus the boardwalks continue to host crowds of people, boats remain buzzing in the harbor, and the school which lies on the south side of the bay, remains open. Nothing abnormal happens for the next two hours. 
9:13 am One hour and 6 minutes from the disaster 

The first reports of a tsunami are arriving. Several rural islands off the coast, which can’t afford protection, have been hit, many going entirely underwater. Additionally, reports are coming in from other nations of a truly massive wave, over 70 feet in height. Predictions suggest that by the time the wave reaches the sea wall, which stands at a mighty high of 64 feet, it should have dropped to 50 feet.
Despite the giant death toll, so far numbering over 1000 already, the people of Ozarka are not afraid, for the sea wall stands like a vigilant guard over them.
Most in the city are continuing on with their lives. The supermarkets remain full, restaurants open, and even doomsday stores for the Latter Day Saints, the dominant religion here, remain well stocked.
An old crippled woman has just left her house in the poor suburb of Northport, heading for a local market to buy fresh produce. She walks in a confident manner down the street, giving friendly hellos and how are yous  to the neighbors and passers by. The woman is very happy today, as today is the first day in a year that her grandson will be home from the 101st Airborne Division.
A new mother strolls down an avenue in downtown with her child in a stroller. She is taking him along for a shopping spree, though her mind is venturing off to earlier this morning, when she stormed out of her house after she and her husband fought. It ended brutally, and the woman’s last stop will be a law office. She ponders to herself where things went wrong.
Across the street a man stands in a jewelry store for the opposite reason. He is hoping to propose to his girlfriend tonight in a luxurious restaurant that, when combined with the ring he has just decided to buy, would empty his wallet. He continues to tell himself that it’s all for her, and his voice cracks with excitement and anticipation every time he opens his mouth to the jeweler. 
An old professor huddles against a wall, papers latched tightly in one hand and shivering, despite the summer heat. He has just left a conference which went horribly wrong, and despite his warnings, no one who passes by gives him a second thought. So he huddles, awaiting death. 
10:19 am Zero hours and zero minutes from the disaster 
The populace is unaware as a 53 foot high wave slams into the sea wall. The populace is unaware as first one bolt flies off, and then another, then another. The populace is unaware as the sea wall, great and mighty, shatters like glass as the great gates collapse back into the ocean, the towers crumbling beneath the tsunami’s weight. 
The wave speeds inward toward the city. People in boats and on the boardwalk attempt to escape its wrath, but it is to no avail. A cruise ship filled with tourists is tipped over, falling on the beaches, while boat after boat slams into the boardwalk stores. 
In mere seconds the High School is obliterated, crumbling and becoming shrapnel to use against more victims. 
The great downtown skyscrapers attempt to stand in defiance, commanding it to halt, but the wave is deaf, and plows over them. The old clock at the college is instantly submerged, and in the moments before death, some people see the vague outline of elevated rail trains being carried inside the tsunami like cannons. In five minutes the city is underwater, the result of a disaster two years in the making. 
10:30 am 11 minutes after the disaster 
As quickly as it came, it went. The wave recedes, leaving a world of devastation. Over 200,000 people are dead, including 24,000 students, 215 commuters, and 18,000 tourists. 
As the waters recede, a bag of produce flows by, purchased by an old woman who will never carry them home. Divorce papers and an empty stroller follow suit, belonging to a poor soul who died filled with grief from earlier this morning. A ring box floats past, never arriving to a landmark date this evening. The last thing to come along in this chain of sorrow is a group of blueprints and notes, detailing a fatal error in the Ozarka sea wall. 
Dayan Reynolds is a sophomore at Carl Junction High School. He describes himself as having a vivid imagination and being a tad eccentric. He enjoys being able to put unique and intriguing thoughts on paper through writing novels. He intends to become a political analyst, working for the government, and to continue writing fiction and nonfiction. 

Journey 133: Into the Woods

Into the Woods poster

This is a movie that I missed while it was playing in the theater. I heard mixed reviews and thought perhaps I wouldn’t have enjoyed it anyway. However, realizing it had released on DVD, I decided to give it a watch, and form my own opinion, which is what I always do anyway!

Into the Woods has a large cast which includes Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine, Mackenzie Mauzy, Billy Magnussen, Lilla Crawford, Johnny Depp, Tracy Ullman, Daniel Huttlestone, Christine Baranski, Tammy Blanchard and Lucy Punch. This fantasy/musical was directed by Rob Marshall and is based on the musical by the same name, written by James Lapine, who also wrote the screenplay. The film has a PG rating for action, peril, and some suggestive material, and runs for 2 hours and 5 minutes.

This modern twist on classic fairy tales intertwines the stories of characters we thought we knew, such as Cinderella (Kendrick) and her charming Prince (Pine), Rapunzel (Mauzy) and her Prince (Magnussen)…did you know the two were brothers?…Little Red Riding Hood (Crawford) and the hungry, somewhat lecherous Wolf (Depp), Jack (Huttlestone) and his poor mother (Ullman), and the Witch (Streep) who being cursed herself, has in turn cursed the Baker (Corden) and his wife (Blunt), so that they could not have a child.

The twists and turns of every connecting story takes place in the Woods, where paths known and unknown beckon, confuse and reveal. The Witch sends the Baker and his wife off on a mission to find four items: a red cape, hair yellow as corn, a milk-white cow, and a golden shoe. She gives them three days to accomplish this task. If they succeed, the Witch’s curse will be broken, and she will remove the curse upon the Baker’s family, so that they may have a child. The Baker’s father long ago stole magic beans from the Witch’s garden, bringing ruin and mayhem on them all. Their obedience to the Witch and her demands will undo the harm he unleashed.

As each character declares his or her wish, they head into the Woods, symbolic for the journey all must make. Cinderella, teased and ridiculed by her Step-Mother (Baranski) and Step-Sisters (Blanchard, Punch) longs for a rich home and a Prince to love her, Little Red Riding Hood wishes for safety and the assurance of home and food, Jack to be reunited with his only friend, a white cow that he trades to the Baker for, you guessed it, five magic beans. The Baker and his wife just want a child and the Witch to be her beautiful self again. Rapunzel, who turns out to be the Baker’s sister, stolen away by the Witch as an infant and raised alone in the Woods, longs to see the world and her Prince, the younger son and not the heir to the Kingdom, just wants to be with her.

At the heart of the overlapping and inter-connecting stories is the question: Do you really want what you wish for? Or does the tale you are telling become the curse? Good question! When a giant invades the Kingdom, and the villages and lives of the citizens are threatened, clarity comes to each person as wishes are granted….and the deeper longings, beneath the wishes, are revealed.

This is a musical. I typically love musicals and some of my favorite movies are in this genre. However, I was at first put off by the singing in this film. I initially found myself wishing they would talk more…and sing less…although the actors and actresses all had fine voices. Gradually, I settled into the film and the singing grew on me. The deeper truths became evident but not in stark black and white nor did I feel forced to accept them. Each character, who received the wishes they asked for at the beginning of the movie, had the opportunity to decide if that is what they really wanted. For most of them, the answer was somewhere in between what they had already….and what they thought they wanted, as Cinderella so beautifully expressed. It turned out her Prince charming was certainly that…and not much more.

Overall, this was an enjoyable film that was humorous at times, in a deliberately over the top kind of way. When the two Princes were singing about their agony over finding their desired, and elusive, Princesses, as they frolicked about in a tumbling brook, tearing open their shirts to expose manly, muscular chests, I laughed….and rolled my eyes. Depp was a wicked and somewhat creepy Wolf while Meryl Streep, well she shines, as she always does. I moved from uncertainty about the musical format, to smiling and humming along. The film gets a thumbs up from me. Into the Woods…be careful what you wish for!

Into the Woods quote

Journey 132: A New Way to Tie Shoes

Tie Shoes

I have been tying my shoes since I was five years old, having learned this basic skill in kindergarten. However, when a video making its rounds on Facebook came to my attention twice within 24 hours, I decided it was time to investigate a new way of performing an old task.

Greg came across the video yesterday and I listened as he played it. I was intrigued and then promptly forgot about it. However, this morning, as I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook, I came across the video again. When something comes into my awareness repeatedly, in a short amount of time, I pay attention.

So as I was putting on my shoes this morning, I chose to try this new and supposedly better way of tying my shoes, using the extra openings that are at the top of most running or walking shoes. O I never knew what those additional openings were for. The idea suggested on the video was that using these holes would snug up the shoe, holding the foot securing in place so that no slippage or sliding occurred. Keeping the foot snugly in place prevents blisters and discomfort, according to the video.

Tie Shoes 2

Last year I injured the heel on my right foot twice, straining the Achilles tendon where it attaches to the top of the heel. The first time I injured my foot, it healed within a month. However, when I strained the tendon again a short time later, it took months for the pain to go away. I tend to “baby” that foot now, being mindful not to push off too suddenly with that foot and being careful during some Zumba dances. Normally, by the end of the day, no matter how careful I am, my right heel hurts. I wondered if tying my shoes differently could make a difference in the way my foot felt.

Having learned that new experiences can be a good thing, I was willing to try. Using the simple instructions on the video, which is included below, for the first time since age five, I tied my shoes in a different way. I immediately liked the way my shoes felt, holding my feet more snugly and securely, without feeling too tight or restricting movement or circulation in any way.

I have to say, my feet, and especially my right foot, felt great as I moved through my day. No pain, no discomfort, no having to retie my shoes. I am a convert and will tie my shoes in this way every day. I love that I am never too old to try something new. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes. I feel I definitely benefitted today!