Journey 171: Norwex

Today’s adventure was in the category of first things. I had not heard of this Norwegian company until my sister Linda invited me to a Norwex Party at her house this evening. When she told me Norwex promotes cleaning without the use of chemicals, I was intrigued.

norwex

The party was fun and informational. Distributor Rachel Mayfield from Chetopa KS showed product and demonstrated how Norwex Microfiber cleans using only water, and without the addition of chemical laden cleansers. The backbone of the company, the EnviroCloth, cleans everything. Used dry, the cloth, loaded with microfibers 1/200th the size of a strand of human hair, picks up and holds the smallest particles, creating a clean surface with no chemical residue. Adding water to the cloth enables the microfibers to loosen and lift dirt and debris and hold it in the cloth.

The cloths are available for general cleaning and personal care for face and body, and all without adding cleansers or soap. The material is infused with micro-silver, which has self-purification properties that prevent mold, fungi, bacteria and odors. The EnviroCloths and body and face cloths can be washed every two or three weeks and allowed to air dry. Care is that simple.

I was impressed with the products. I have the desire to live more green and chemical free. I researched the company after the party and discovered that Norwex began in 1994 in Eidsvoll, Norway, with a little red microfiber cloth. The cloth’s ability to clean bugs from a windshield sparked a vision in founder Bjorn Nicolaisen and Norwex was born.

norwex plus water

In the past 20 years, millions of customers have embraced cleaning using only Norwex Microfiber and water. It is less expensive and safer than using chemically based cleansers. Norwex promotes healthier living and a healthier, sustainable environment. Their global mission statement is: Improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.

The company’s intentions for the future are:

* To create millions of safe havens at home and around the globe

* To raise awareness and educate about chemicals and our environmental challenges

* To ask everyone to make small conscious choices to improve our planet

I’m excited about what I learned tonight about this company. And to back my excitement and show my support for lessening chemicals in my home, I purchased basic Norwex supplies to give them a try. In the spirit of adventure, and for the good of my health and home and the environment, I’ll test these products and give a report later. Thanks Linda and Rachel for the introduction to a new way of cleaning. I’m all about shifting and learning and change.

norwex Rachel

Journey 170: Happy Birthday Cate

What a joyous event tonight, as my friend Cate celebrated a milestone birthday. Hosting a large gathering in her home, Cate shone brightly this evening, surrounded by family and friends. I met this amazing woman last year, during my year of firsts. We have been great friends since, sharing a variety of firsts and journeys, the occasional meal, and meeting every three weeks in our book club group.

Cates birthday Daniel and Cate

I was honored to celebrate Cate. Her best friend of many years, Daniel, laid out a perfect celebratory feast that included a sumptuous dessert bar. A few friends showed up early to help chop veggies and slice cheeses while Daniel decorated. As friends arrived we shifted and moved, forming and reforming groups, introducing ourselves and chatting. In the midst of this large gathering, I could always locate Cate by her joyous laughter. She has a wonderful, very distinctive laugh, and it is infectious, rippling through the room in her wake.

Cates birthday food table

Cates birthday dessert table

Because Cate is the type to encourage others, cheering them on and celebrating their lives, she gave gifts away this evening as door prizes! We each drew a number out of a container and Daniel called out the numbers as he drew them, allowing the winners to select a gift from a wide assortment of goodies. That is so like Cate, to focus on giving. And rather than request gifts for herself, she asked each party attendee to bring a poem or a quote that we felt was fitting for her.

Cates birthday guests 2

Several read poems in her honor, and we raised our paper cups or bottles in a toast after each was read. The rest of us, myself included, tucked quotes or poems into her birthday cards, keepsakes for Cate, demonstrations of how much we love and admire and appreciate this woman. I know my journey has been enhanced and my life enriched because she travels at my side, a constant friend, a listening ear, offering words of compassion and wisdom. I am so very grateful to know her and have the privilege of walking alongside as we explore this life, this world.

Cates birthday guests 4

Cates birthday guests 5

I considered carefully what quote to share with Cate. I settled on this one, which I purchased on a large cardboard tag and inserted it into her birthday card. It captures Cate and her journey so well.

“We are all wanderers on this Earth, our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.”  Gypsy Proverb

May you wander far and wide in this life, sweet friend, your heart full of wonder, your soul deep with dreams! Thank you for so beautifully being who you are! Happy, happy birthday Cate!

Cates birthday

Journey 169: Doctor Who Marathon with Dayan

What a perfect afternoon for a Doctor Who marathon! As tropical depression Bill spirals slowly over the Midwest, spawning thunderstorms and dumping torrential rain, I couldn’t think of a better place to be than indoors, watching this campy BBC series with my grandson Dayan.

David Tennant Dr Who tardis

As it turned out, today is the 10th anniversary of David Tennant’s appearance as the tenth Doctor…which strung together a triplet of 10’s since I’ve realized David’s last name has a ten contained within it. I’m relatively new to the Doctor Who universe, so I’m playing catch up. Dayan and I are currently on season three, of the New Doctor Who series, which has Tennant as The Doctor, so what a happy convergence for today!

I’ve become a huge fan, a Whovian, and I look forward to these afternoons of watching the adventures of The Doctor and his companions as he saves the universe yet again. I’m particularly fond of David Tennant, a Scottish actor whose charisma and exuberance brings a roguish charm to the character of the Time Lord. He is my favorite Doctor so far, although I have two more regenerations to go! My very favorite part of watching Doctor Who is spending time with my grandson, laughing, swapping Doctor Who trivia, talking about life and the journey. As much as I love the Doctor, I love Dayan infinitely more, and these times are precious to me.

Here are the FIVE episodes that we watched this afternoon, during our Doctor Who marathon:

GRIDLOCK  Season 3 Episode 3

The TARDIS takes The Doctor and Martha to New New York, in the year 5 Billion and 53. There they discover passengers trapped for years in their vehicles on the Road Way and The Face of Boe reveals a secret to The Doctor.

Dr Who Gridlock

DALEKS IN MANHATTAN  Season 3 Episode 4

The Doctor and Martha return to 1930’s New York, where instead of Depression era living, the pair discover that the Daleks are attempting a Human/Dalek hybrid.

Dr Who Daleks in Manhattan

EVOLUTION OF THE DALEKS  Season 3 Episode 5

In this continuation of Daleks in Manhattan, The Doctor and Martha, with their New York friends, fight to save Earth from the Daleks and their hybrid creations.

Dr Who Evolution of the Daleks

THE LAZARUS EXPERIMENT  Season 3 Episode 6

A 76 year old scientist has created a machine that restores youth. His experiment goes awry and Doctor Who and Martha must stop him as he morphs into a creature that feeds on the energy of others.

Dr Who The Lazarus Experiment

42  Season 3 Episode 7

After answering a distress call, Martha and The Doctor find themselves on board a cargo space ship that will crash into a sun in 42 minutes. As the pair works with the crew to reboot the ship, a virus that appears to be connected to the sun attacks crew members, impeding progress.

Dr Who 42

Dayan leaves for college in two years. His well thought out plan is to get me caught up to the current Doctor Who season before that happens. We are on season 3 and season 9 will begin soon. I am committed to this project and I look forward to afternoons of crossing off more episodes! I hope Doctor Who continues for many, many years, through various future regenerations of Doctors. While Dayan is off continuing his education and journeying far and wide in life, we will have this bond, this Doctor Who connection, that will bridge time and space for us. “Allons-y”, as the 10th Doctor is fond of saying, “Let’s go!”

David Tennant Dr Who

Journey 168: Game Night

My family likes to have fun! Tonight we celebrated this fact by gathering for a game night at the house of my sister Linda. Elissa ordered pizza, I brought snacks, Josh and Nate grabbed sodas. It was game night with a party atmosphere!

  
We played a family favorite, Apples to Apples. I happened to win that fun game, while my mom and young great-niece London played Candy Land and Labrynth. When London moved to the playroom, we played a rowdy and fast-paced game of Heads Up, which was new to me. Using an app on the phone, the game is played by dividing into teams and taking turns  getting a team member to guess the word or phrase on the phone, which is held in front of his or her forehead. We laughed. A lot! 

I’ll let the pics tell the story of the evening. Shared food, shared fun, family time at its best. We will gather again soon, and hope son Nate and his family can join us, and grandson Jonathan too!

 Adriel’s boyfriend Nate deciding whose descriptive card wins in Apples to Apples. 

  Mom and London play Candy Land. 

   Josh takes Apples to Apples seriously!

 Nate goes first in the hilarious game, Heads Up

 Josh giving clues so Dayan can guess the word.  

  Josh, Greg’s knees, Elissa, me, Linda

 London got to pick an activity. Playdoh!  Dayan, London, Nate, Adriel

 Dayan, Greg, Elissa, me, Linda 

Journey 167: Ahas from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference

I’ve had a couple of days to mull over my amazing experience at PWC. I’ve carried those ahas with me and unpacked them several times to look them over. Today I’ve had the opportunity to share with people about what I learned. This evening it felt like the perfect time to post some of those vital lessons.

philly trip writers conference

Take aways from the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference:

  • First lesson, bring business cards. I was asked many times for a card. We remember who we connected with by exchanging biz cards. I didn’t even have any real estate cards with me. Next conference I attend I will take a stack of business cards with me. Positive note…I brought business cards home from people I met, and I wrote out my number and email address for those who asked for the info.
  • Query, proposal, book. As a non-fiction writer I learned, STOP WRITING THE BOOK. Instead, write a great query letter, a powerful proposal, and only after receiving a book contract, write the book.
  • Move past my comfort zone. I had no intention of meeting with a literary agent because I didn’t feel ready to pitch a book idea. Thanks to my friend Lu Ann, I made that appointment and pitched an idea. No matter what the outcome, I decided this was going to be a great experience for me and to just go with it and have fun. It was a great experience and the outcome was amazing.
  • Write consistently and often. Dreaming of writing, thinking about writing, intending to write…won’t get a book written. To become a writer, one must write.
  • Blogs are important. I confess I was nervous about being a blogger, as I thought bloggers might be considered the obnoxious stepchildren of writers. I attended a social media class that blew that idea away and I jotted down so many great tips for improving my blog’s visibility. First change….Google search doesn’t like cutesy titles! Clarity is better than cleverness when it comes to blog titles.
  • Help is okay. I brought home a great book called “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published”. Packed with helpful content, this easy to use book is my new best friend.
  • Talk to everyone. I met poets and sci-fi writers, authors penning memoirs and other bloggers, essay writers and writers of children’s books, published authors and those who want to be. Everyone was encouraging, helpful, and sincere.
  • Do the class assignments and be willing to share. I appreciated the immediate response and feedback to my sample proposal.

I have had much to think about since PWC. That open door that I walked through became a pivotal experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to be surrounded by the creative energy of so many writers. The instruction I received continues to shine a bright light on the path I am treading, guiding me along the unfamiliar terrain. What an amazing journey. Stay tuned.

pwc take aways

Journey 166: Journey Home…But First, Temple University

Today marked the end of my Philadelphia trip. The effects will continue to ripple onward and outward, but the plane took off at 3:45 arcing toward Dallas. Soon I’ll fly north to Joplin. 

  
On my last morning in Philly, I had the pleasure of accompanying Lu Ann to Temple University, where she assists students in the Communication School. What a gorgeous campus, sprawling over 115 acres. In between calls and tasks we walked a tiny portion of the campus, virtually a ghost town during the summer months, when 37,000+ students are on holiday.

  
As in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, a wide range of architectural buildings form the campus. We walked through lanes that offered faculty and students a wide choice of food and drink, and green spaces and beautifully manicured parks. 

  
Before taking me to the airport, Lu Ann and I shared one more meal together, trying something new. What a great way to conclude our visit!

  
There are meal wagons that line the streets around the university. We selected The Creperie at Temple, which offers fresh ingredients folded within a warm crepe right off the griddle. We both had the Enzo, stuffed with chicken, avocado and grilled veggies. Oh my goodness this lunch was bliss served in a triangular box. 

  
What an amazing trip, with a friendship deepened,  new connections made, and a heartfelt call to leap forward in my growth and life. I know it will all unfold perfectly! As I was boarding the plane in Philadelphia, an advertisement flashed on a screen on the wall, “The best thing about a trip to Philly? The return visit!” Sounds great to me. 

  

Journey 165: The Neighborhoods of Philadelphia

The writers conference concluded today. It was an amazing experience and I’ll be sharing insights from this trip and the impact of the conference in the next few days. Today, my last full day in Philadelphia, Lu Ann and I explored the grand old city further. 

  
We started with brunch in a neighborhood of Philly called North Liberties. The restaurant, North 3rd, is classified as “creative North American fare served in a dimly lit space with mismatched decor”. That pretty much sums this place up! The dining experience was interesting and the food, superb. I had Jersey frittata. Scrumptious! 

  
As we walked back toward the conference, watching for a cab to hail, we noted the mix of architecture in the area. New, contemporary apartment buildings reside next to 200+ year old brick Georgian townhouses. Lu Ann explained that Philly is comprised of many diverse neighborhoods that together form this sprawling city with its mix of architecture and variety of cozy restaurants. 

  
After the last class this afternoon we set off on foot, walking through some of those neighborhoods. We visited The Book Trader which holds a vast collection of gently used books. The old building is the perfect location for this shop with its tall bookshelves crowded with books on every subject. I could have spent hours browsing for treasures. 

  
Across the street is Christ’s Church. Founded in 1695 as a parish of the Church of England, this brick building was the home church of city fathers such as George Washington, who sat in pew 58, and Ben Franklin, who occupied pew 70. Such a beautiful, sacred place surrounded by well groomed grounds that have more the look of a garden rather than a cemetery. 

  
I am so fascinated with the historical nature of Philadelphia. Everywhere we walked in the Old City there were reminders of the antiquity of this area. It did not require a stretch of the imagination to see Franklin and Washington strolling down a  cobblestone street or rounding the corner of the church. 

  
There’s so much more to Philly than history though. Lu Ann drove me by one of the city’s most iconic spots…the stairs Rocky climbs in the movie by the same name. Considered a symbol of determination and perseverance, the steps lead to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Nearby is a larger than life bronze statue of Rocky. Both attractions are a must see for tourists and there was a line of people near the statue waiting to have their pictures snapped with Rocky. 

  
As we drove to Lu Ann’s house, cruising along the river road, she pointed out the boathouse where a scene from the movie The Sixth Sense was filmed. And she told me of Grace Kelly’s childhood home located nearby. Actor Kevin Bacon is from Philly as well, along with many other notable performers, writers, artists and musicians. 

  
As with the architecture in the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, there is a diverse culture here too…a mix of the historical and contemporary, past and present heroes, people from all over the globe. I am so glad I visited this city and so grateful to Lu Ann and Phil for their hospitality. Even after long, full days at the conference, Lu Ann always took the time to explore the city further and show me one more thing. I look forward to a return visit to Philadelphia. 

  

Journey 164: Philadelphia Writers Conference

The oldest writers’ conference in the US, Philadelphia Writers’ Conference, PWC henceforth, was established in 1949 and continues to serve as a place for writers to learn and connect, be encouraged and inspired. Day two of PWC was very full and rich and it was my focus today, with a brief time out for a lovely excursion into Old Town.  

  
Lu Ann’s class on non-fiction writing was up first. She began her teaching time by having each of us blow bubbles! What a brilliant way to tap into our creativity. Lu Ann reminded us that we must approach writing with passion and play with it, enjoying the process. Having fun, loving what we are doing, opens doors and connects us with others. I KNOW this to be true. 

  
Lu Ann is skillfully teaching us to write powerful proposals and query letters. Knowing what I am compelled to write, doing my research to define my market and my competition, and sharing why I am uniquely qualified to write my book are all essential components. 

  
Tom McAllister continued in the memoir class, instructing us on essay and memoir writing. I’ve realized from his class that I am drawn to writing essays, which are short non-fiction pieces that both dramatize and create reflection. We learned about being specific in what we are writing about and when to narrow in on a subject and when to broaden the view. Tom has an engaging teaching style and speaks rapidly, which is essential since he has so much to share. 

  
The social media class has been a surprise! Don Lafferty  is extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of online marketing via websites and social networks like Facebook. While his class doesn’t teach about writing, it DOES instruct writers about reaching their intended audience, which is crucial for all authors no matter their chosen genre. 

I have learned so much about how Google works and what  I can change in my WordPress blog to increase my chances of appearing higher on the first page of a Google search. Don is sharing invaluable info, and he does so with skill and humor. 

  
After my last class, and with a couple of hours before the banquet this evening, Lu Ann and I headed out into the city to explore. To my delight, we took a horse drawn carriage ride through Old City and Society Hill. Pat the driver and Spot the horse made quite a team. What a beautiful ride through charming neighborhoods steeped in history. 

  
I saw the home of James & Dolly Madison, Washington Square, Ben Franklin’s Printing Shop and wonderfully restored Georgian townhouses built in the 1700’s. Pat told us stories, accompanied by the steady clip clop of Spot’s hooves. 

  
Back at the conference center, we had time for a cold drink before  dinner and the keynote speaker. Joining us was poet and instructor Anna M. Evans. I’ve loved meeting so many writers. Anna, originally from England, has published a couple of books of poetry, so far. Her most recent book, “Sisters & Courtesans”, is a delightful and scandalous collection of poems that highlights different women throughout history. When Anna recited one of her poems spontaneously for us, in her lovely accent, we laughed and whooped with approval. I promptly bought her book. Check out her blog here and enjoy!

  
The day concluded with a formal sit down dinner, shared with wonderfully open, creative souls. Everyone is so sincere, so encouraging. Keynote speaker Stephen Fried shared from his life journey as an investigative journalist, non-fiction author and adjunct professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York. 

  

Using personal experiences and humor Stephen presented his perspectives on what a writer’s life looks like and the nature of writing today. He has published many articles, essays and books on a wide range of topics. With droll realism he warned that the writing life isn’t what one expects it to be, yet he spoke with great passion regarding  writing about the things that capture your interest and heart. 

“Ride the waves,” he told us, “don’t resist them.” Which echoes my sentiments about life, and my current journey. It’s a mighty big wave I’ve caught, and with shaky but determined legs, I’m prepared to do just that. It’s going to be an amazingly spectacular ride!

  
  

Journey 163: A Taste of Philadelphia

 

What a full and delightful day, in Philadelphia, PA! Day one of the writers conference brought opportunities to learn from and meet with amazing writers and literary agents. Opening speaker Sara Shepard, author of the young adult series Pretty Little Liars, started us off with high energy and a peek inside her prolific writing career. 

 

Classes followed, which I selected from the non-fiction path: Writing Your Non-Fiction Book with my mentor/friend and hostess for the weekend Lu Ann Cahn, Memoir Writing with Tom McAllister, Social Media with Don Lafferty and Improv Writing with Dan Stabb. I gained knowledge from each instructor and enjoyed the interactions within the classes. More on PWC 2015 as the conference progresses. 
  
During the lunch break Lu Ann took me to the Reading Terminal Market, housed within the old train terminal. On my flight into Philly, the passenger next to me suggested I visit here for a snapshot of what Philadelphia is all about. What an amazing place!

 

The moment we walked through the door, tantalizing aromas from a variety of food vendors drew us deeper into the massive building. Booth after booth offered all kinds of wares. Bakeries, restaurants and confectioners vied with meat and fish markets, fresh produce, bulk herbs, flowers and gift items. The place had the bustle and noise of a thriving market and throngs of people crowded the aisles. 
  
Lu Ann suggested an authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich for lunch. We tried the Ben Franklin Cheesesteak, which includes cream cheese, and it was so delicious! We splurged on dessert and sampled freshly prepared, hand rolled donuts from Beiler’s. Incredible! The BEST donuts I’ve ever eaten. The salted caramel was melt-in-your-mouth goodness

  
After the conference concluded for the day, Lu Ann and I met her sweet husband, Phil, and we walked downtown Philly. Such gorgeous old buildings, imbued with history. I gawked like the tourist that I am. I saw the liberty bell, and Independence Hall where our nation’s forefathers debated the constitution. 

  
The narrow cobblestone streets, the old brick buildings, the statues, all lend antiquity and charm to this bustling city. Ben Franklin is buried in a cemetery nearby. And the Delaware River flows under a beautiful suspension bridge. Forty miles up that river, General Washington crossed. I’m enjoying viewing these places where our country’s history was forged. 

  
For dinner I enjoyed another first. Phil and Lu Ann took me to their favorite Vietnamese restaurant in China Town. I had the house special, a delectable bowl of meats, vegetables and a spring roll over noodles. 

  
What an incredible day of learning and experiencing new things! I’m working on writing assignments this evening and anticipating an eventful day two of PWC.  And I believe we are returning to Reading Market for lunch. Tomorrow we are sampling authentic Italian cuisine!

  

Journey 162: Joplin to Philadelphia 

 

Today’s journey has been a long one as I made my way from Joplin MO to Philadelphia, via Dallas/Fort Worth. It’s the first time I’ve flown out of Joplin’s new airport. 

I was glad to learn business is doing well there, with two flights out a day to the Dallas airport, on American Airlines. DFW Airport is HUGE. I had to take the Skylink to move from one terminal to another. I had the opportunity to help a young woman from Joplin locate the correct terminal and gate. It was her second time to fly and first time through the massive Dallas airport. 

 

I was excited as the plane climbed into the air and Texas dropped away. I’ve only flown out east one other time. I read to pass the time, with frequent bouts of gazing out the window. It was beautiful, soaring above the clouds, and we only encountered mild turbulence as the plane skirted a thunderstorm. The towering clouds were gorgeous. 

The sun slipped over the horizon and darkness fell. I put my book away and watched as lights flickered on far, far below. What a magical time. The lights captured my attention and my imagination. They spoke of life below, and became to me little beacons of hope. 

Philadelphia sparkled and glittered like scattered jewels as we approached the city. It was a smooth landing and ta da…here I am. I’m grateful to Lu Ann and her husband Phil for picking me up. And anticipating the new day. Welcome, me, to the City of Brotherly Love!