Journey 303: Happy Birthday Aubrey…a Day Early

Sometimes, there are so many good things going on in my life that it’s a challenge to decide which journey to write about. That’s a great problem, right? Tomorrow is my granddaughter’s 7th birthday. Her mom and family celebrated with Aubrey last weekend. Her dad, stepmom and this side of the family will be celebrating with a big joint birthday party for Aubrey and Oliver in November. Tomorrow the whole family is gathering in Oklahoma for a huge Halloween party, that will include a cake for Aubrey. I will be taking lots of pics and will blog about that event. 


I was debating between writing about Aubrey’s birthday a day early…or a day late. Life worked it out for me. I got to spend the afternoon with this young lady, on the eve of her birthday. Greg helped me out today by picking Aubrey up from school while I was finishing up a closing. Her school had a Harvest Party so she got to wear a pink and black cheetah costume all day, which seems very appropriate for a girl born on Halloween. 

Greg brought Aubrey to me and she accompanied me to the Keller Williams Realty office, to hang out while I completed my work. My office is SO cool. When we arrived, kids were trick or treating through the building! Realtors had bowls of candy on their desks or beside their doors, if they were out of the office. Aubrey enjoyed winding through the hallways, saying “Trick or Treat” and filling her bag with candy. There was a great photo op display set up. 

  Aubrey’s cheetah face. She’s a natural at posing. 


While I finished up for the day, Aubrey played office, with Waddles the Penguin as her client. I watched her, marveling that she will be seven years old tomorrow. It’s been a big year for Aubrey. She completed her first year of school and did wonderfully well. She’s a first grader this year. As I worked on the computer, she practiced writing words and practiced reading words on the charts in the room. 

With her daddy’s marriage to Megan this year, she expanded her family. And family is very important to Aubrey. She loves her mama and little brother AJ. She loves her daddy, stepmom and brothers Joey and Oliver. She loves her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Like so many of her generation, Aubrey has a large, expanded family…blended here, divided here. Because her mom and dad and stepmom parent her and love her well, she handles her big, beautiful family with grace, acceptance and compassion. I love that about Aubrey. 

With all the boys in her family, Aubrey loves that she has a girl cousin who is close to her in age. London is technically a second cousin, the granddaughter of my sister, Linda. The girls enjoy their time together, treating each other as best friends. Their relationship has shifted this past year as they’ve both finished a year of school. I can see them becoming young ladies. They have amazing conversations together. Play with wild abandon. Sing and dance and create videos. I love when we have a girls’ day and Aubrey and London get to spend time together. 

I love each of my grandsons, and appreciate their boyish energy, their creativity, their strength. And I’m grateful to have a granddaughter as well, someone to do girly things with. This past year, Aubrey and I have had tea together, enjoyed our love of movies together,  walked the neighborhood and talked about life, and most recently, discovered the joy of coloring with colored pencils in lovely books together. I see so much of my younger self in Aubrey, but she is open and without fear. I learn from her. And the young girl that still inhabits my heart feels so much braver, because of Aubrey. 

Tomorrow, my family parties together. The kids will go trick or treating. There will be food and costumes, chatting and laughter. And in the midst of all the fun, we will pause to sing happy birthday to the girl born seven years ago on a holiday that she has fully claimed as hers. Tonight, I wish her a joyous and healthy year ahead, full of love and growth and happy adventures. Continue to shine bright, sweet Aubrey, and be you. Have courage…and be kind. Happy birthday. I love you!

Journey 302: National Cat Day

I shared about my dog Payton, now deceased, back a couple of months ago on National Dog Day. At that time I promised to celebrate National Cat Day when it rolled around. Today is that day! I love dogs and cats. After my old dog and even older cat passed away a few years ago, I refrained from adopting more pets. I’m busy, I told myself and they require a lot of care.  I hate losing them. It seemed better not to have a pet. But life intervened, bringing me a little family of cats that needed me. I’m a cat owner, or as my family likes to tease, a crazy cat lady. Although I don’t think owning four cats qualifies me for that title!

This one is Shy Boy, one of the litter of three that I adopted when their mother brought them to me. (Momba has since moved on, after being spayed. Having her offspring around didn’t appeal to her.) Shy and his sisters will be three years old next June. He is affectionate, and loves to curl up on an empty lap. He’s very vocal, “talking” back when spoken to. 

Shy Boy’s tail is so long and heavy that it curls over his back. He can’t hold it upright. I joke that he has lemur DNA, as his tail is almost prehensile. Shy is still timid around strangers, but he allows the neighbor to pet him and doesn’t run and hide as much when family visits. Shy continues to have a wide eyed look that is very endearing. If I’m sitting in the garden, he’s most likely to be on my lap. 


Angel is a beautiful gray cat with very dense fur. She has a thick undercoat that causes her to be sensitive to hot weather. Although she loves being outside, and prefers to lounge on the front porch during the day, I bring her indoors during the hottest summer days. Angel is the quietest of the cats, very rarely making any sound at all. If she meows it’s because she wants something or her feeling are hurt. 

She’s a cuddler too and she’s snoozing on my lap now as I work on my blog. She is also the most social of the cats and just wants everyone to get along. She and Marco will snuggle together for a nap. While Shy seems to be part lemur, Angel acts like she has dog DNA. She’s the only cat among my four that begs for people food. She will eat anything. And like a dog, she will lick my hand. When she sleeps, she tends to lay on her back or end up in strange contortions. 



Rilynn is very petite, and very much her own girl. Although the smallest, she’s the scrappiest and the most likely to go off on her own for the day. She doesn’t like to snuggle with the other cats although occasionally I’ll find her lying near big brother Shy. She very rarely sits on my lap but she will follow me around, mewing for attention, and enjoys having her ears scratched. 

This little girl has the dreamiest eyes, that always seem to be slightly unfocused. I wonder sometimes if she sees well. As I approach her, her head bobbles about as if she’s trying to get a visual fix. Or she’s just odd. Either way, I adore her. Rilynn likes to find strange places to sleep…on a shelf, beneath a blanket or in a box. Her current fave napping spot is curled within the wreath I just removed from the front door. I’ve postponed packing it away because of her!



Last is the youngest cat, Marco, born to Momba in a second litter. He will be two years old in March. Although the baby of the family, he’s the heaviest, because he never hesitates to eat again with a brother or sister, even if he just ate. His life motto seems to be, “Never do anything alone.” He likes to be with the other cats or with people. Marco prefers to be touching someone, anyone else. He is the cat most likely to sleep with me at night, with one paw resting on my hand, or touching my side. 

As big as he is, he still thinks he’s the baby brother. His meows sound like the cries of a six week old kitten. He’s fooled me more than once into thinking there was a kitten under the porch, crying. Then out he jumps. Marco is very bright. When he was younger, I most often said his name LOUDLY, followed by…”stop that” as he teased his siblings. If I snapped my fingers and pointed to the ottoman in the living room, he would jump up and sit there, in time out. I don’t have to scold him any more, as he’s settled down considerably. But he still puts himself in time out occasionally. 


These are my fur babies. I didn’t want pets but that didn’t matter. Into my life they have come and I love and appreciate each of them. They bring me joy and make me laugh, keep me company as I work in the garden and love me unconditionally. 

Kristin Cast observed, “Cats choose us; we don’t own them.” I have to agree. Cats are too independent to be owned, and I like that about them. I’m grateful that Shy Boy, Angel, Rilynn and Marco have chosen me. And that their mama chose me initially, to care for them. I am honored. 


Journey 301: Treats & Tricks

October has been one gorgeous fall day after another. Even the rainy days were welcome, and beautiful in their own way. This week concludes the month, and my journeys have reached the 300’s. The year is winding down. On this perfect autumn day, had not one, but two highlights. 

I had the pleasure of having lunch with my cousin William in Neosho. We were overdue for a chat and a shared meal. William suggested one of his favorite local restaurants, Cafe Angelica, on the Neosho Square. I was delighted, as I’ve not eaten here before. 


What a great place! I loved finding a cafe with a cute name that had a charming interior to match. Even before we ordered lunch, I was captivated. The French country decor was so inviting. And the food was marvelous. We each had the lunch special which included half a sandwich, a salad and a bowl of soup. William loves the chicken curry salad sandwich and I had one as well. The potato soup was delicious and perfectly complemented the chicken curry. 

I enjoyed my first meal at Cafe Angelica and look forward to sampling other entrees. Most of all, I enjoyed seeing William and catching up. By anyone’s reckoning, he has had a challenging year. His mom’s birthday Monday was a bittersweet reminder of his loss. He and his uncle celebrated the day by preparing some of Mindy’s favorite foods. I find that very touching. He reminded me in his quiet, sincere way today that he’s here, he’s journeying, he’s figuring out the path that’s been laid before him. I continue to be so proud of this young man. 

After my return to Joplin, I totally switched gears, into high energy mode. For the first time, I picked up Aubrey, Joey and Oliver from school. Not such a big deal, except that not only do they attend different schools, the schools are in different towns! Fortunately Aubrey gets out 25 minutes ahead of the boys. We had plans for the afternoon and the kids were ready for an adventure. 
With all three kids in tow, we visited the Halloween Store, at the Northpark Mall. We have a big family Halloween party Saturday and I offered to take this trio shopping for costumes. That might sound overly ambitious, taking three active children into a store full of props and costumes and accessories. It was a blast! The kids were golden. None of them knew what they wanted to dress up as, so we looked and discussed and tried on options. 

I am very grateful for the help of a friendly woman in the store, who cheerfully fetched costumes in different sizes, made suggestions, and answered questions. There were lots of questions. The kids were great to sort through a variety of options and make decisions fairly quickly. I was very proud of all three. My only regret was that I completely forgot to snap pics of the process, which had comedic elements. It was a busy 45 minutes and I apparently needed an assistant whose only job was to take pics. Ah well. We have memories. 

We carried our purchases to the mall food court and had snacks before reversing our trip and returning home. I love watching these beautiful children as they chat and laugh and observe their world. I learn so much from them. We listened to songs on the ride home, everyone singing along. 

The kids humored me, once we arrived at their home, and donned their costumes so I could get a photo. Aubrey’s outfit is on over her clothes and Joey has other pieces of his costume to pull together. Oliver’s is complete. He cracked us up by saying he was smiling behind his mask, since I couldn’t tell. Saturday will see everyone fully costumed. It promises to be a fun day. 

Today was a fun day too. From Cafe Angelica to the food court, from Neosho to Joplin to Carthage, it was a memorable journey. 


Journey 300: You Are Here

A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation about perspective that has stayed with me. Perspective has to do with view point, and literally means “through looking closely”. Each of us has our own perspective and that’s what I have been pondering…how perspectives differ and what that means to my journey. 


I’ve come to realize that none of us can share the exact same perspective. My view, from where I am standing on my journey, is going to be different from yours. Perhaps vastly different. That doesn’t make my perspective the only one or the right one, nor does that mean yours are such. It just means we are each seeing what we can see, and talking about that, responding to it, learning from it. 


We may both be traveling up a mountain. From where I am standing, I see a beautiful bay with a turquoise sea. From your vantage point on the other side of the mountain, as far as you can see are rolling sand dunes in a dry desert, beautiful in its own way. As I communicate my perspective, you just can’t see it. Try as you might, there are only waves of shimmering heat appearing before you. As you share your perspective, I can’t see it either. Water stretches out before me and I can’t even imagine what you are describing. 


Which of us has the correct perspective? Neither of us. We are simply describing what we see. We can argue about who is right. We can disbelieve the other’s account, since we can’t see it, ridiculing each other. Or we can make up stories about who is right and call it truth. 


The truth is…we are all on our own individual journeys. We are all in different places on the great journey called Life. And we can only perceive what’s around us. Some of us may be climbing to exhilarating heights, surrounded by beauty. Some of us may be crouched among huge rocks in the dirt, looking for a way out. Some are experiencing a challenging walk through a dark forest, feeling their way. It may be sunshine where you are. It may be pouring rain where I am.  If at any time we pause and describe our view, it will differ from the rest of the travelers. No one is better than any other journeyer. We are seeing what we can see. We have different perspectives because we are in different places. 
Even when we have companions walking alongside, sharing in the journey, our perspectives will differ. Because what catches my attention and my interest won’t necessarily catch yours. I may notice the flowers in bloom and the tall trees while you are captivated by the mountains in the distance and the interesting clouds in the sky. If we relate our experiences to each other, we may wonder if the other person was really even there. 


Here is what pondering on perspective has opened up for me. We are all traveling through life…or camped out beside the path for a little rest when we grow weary. Your perspective may vary from mine, because you are in a different place than I am…further up the trail or on a different path entirely. I can only see what’s around me and you can only see what’s around you. I’m not right or wrong in what I’m describing, I’m just in a different location. Like the maps at the mall that have an arrow saying, “You are here”, if we could rise high enough to see the Big Map, there would be billions of arrows indicating each person’s location. No one is in the same place or the wrong place. They are exactly where they are supposed to be. 

Knowing this frees me from judging another’s journey, another’s perspective. Knowing this keeps me from seeing myself as right and you as wrong. We are all doing the best that we can, in this moment, as we figure out how best to make our way in life. I can be gracious to others. I can accept others. I can focus on my journey. We can offer guidance to one another…”I’ll tell you how I made it through that deep valley”. We can allow others to forge a new path, and let them accomplish something that hasn’t been done before. 

We can reach out with a helping hand as we near a peak, and stand together in appreciation for making the climb. We can empathize with others who are standing amid the boulders because we too have stood there. Most of all, we can encourage each other to keep going, because the views change and we grow stronger as we journey, creating fresh perspectives. 

Tonight, the ladies of the book club offered encouragement to me. I wasn’t sure I was going to do this blog post. As I drove to the meeting I put the question out there, asking for clear direction. Our chapters had nothing to do with perspective and yet the flow of conversation this evening centered around that very topic.  I sat quietly, listening, already hearing confirmation as the word perspective continued to come up. These beautiful women, on their own amazing journeys, were unknowingly giving me a Yes. Then Margit said while sharing “You are here…”, which was the title I had already selected for this blog post. That made me smile. And I knew. How I love this journey. And how I love and appreciate yours. You are here. I am here. And it’s the perfect place for us at this moment. 

Journey 299: A Tree for Mindy

Today is the birthday of my cousin Mindy. Instead of getting together for a birthday lunch or dinner, I’m thinking of her and missing her. Mindy passed away January 8th, near the beginning of my year of journeys. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or something reminds me of her. 


Last week Greg came across a website that he shared with me. Called Trees for Life, this organization’s core purpose and vision is to restore the Caledonian Forest, and all its constituent species of flora and fauna, to the Scottish Highlands. 

I was intrigued. Scotland is very dear to me, as it was to Mindy as well. Last year we had an amazing adventure in that green country. Mindy’s son William accompanied us and we spent ten magical days touring Scotland. We explored Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the Borders where we toured Thirlestane Castle, home of our ancestors. We stayed in the Lauderdale Hotel in the village of Lauder. 


And we spent a day in the Highlands, surely one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The deep mysterious lochs, the mountains with water trickling down them, the forests so dense that sunlight couldn’t reach the fern and moss covered ground, all enchanted us and made our hearts ache and our eyes fill with tears. This was a land we had not visited before, that felt like home. 

Trees for Life is working to restore the forests that once covered most of northern Scotland, preserving the ecosystem and the forests for wildlife and for future generations. Every year, hundreds of people volunteer with Trees for Life to plant trees, remove non-native species and grow young trees in the nursery at Dundreggan. They have planted over a million trees and are now working to expand the forests with another million by 2018.

I was thrilled to learn that I could purchase a tree, in Mindy’s name, and that the tree would be planted in the Highlands. That tree will live and grow, along with other young trees, ensuring the continuation of the Caledonian Forests. The timing of Greg’s discovery was perfect, as Mindy’s birthday was approaching. It doesn’t surprise me when these synchronicities happen. Instead I am so grateful. The Divine brings exactly what’s needed. I can’t think of a better way to honor Mindy and celebrate her life than by planting a tree for her in Scotland. 

I’ll receive a packet in the mail with information about the tree that was planted and a certificate that says “In Memory of Mindy Davidson”. I added the words, from Gandalf’s quote about death: “The journey does not end here.” Beautiful soul, my dear Mindy, I’m so glad the journey continues on. Watch over this little tree, planted in your name. Someday soon I’ll return to the Scottish Highlands and stand in silence, soaking in the beauty, and thinking of you. Happy birthday. I love you. 



Journey 298: The Path of Creativity

This has been a delightful Sunday, spent doing the things that I love to do. I went shopping with my sister and we chatted and had fun. I stopped by my granddaughter’s birthday party that her mom had for her at the park today. I appreciated Brittany’s gracious invitation and enjoyed the festive atmosphere and watching that gorgeous little girl. Most of the day I practiced one form or another of creativity, which caused me to reflect. 


My favorite place for reflection. 

Sometimes it’s helpful to look back, even though I’m not traveling in that direction, and see how my path has wound through the landscape of my life. Although I can’t see ahead, I can see where I’ve been and see how everything connects together, how directed my journey is. 

From the precipice of Now, I can distinctly see where my path shifted recently. I stepped onto a fresh new trail almost two years ago, in January 2014, when I began my year of firsts, and started blogging. Oh, I didn’t know at the beginning of that year how my life would open up and change. I just knew I was ready to break out of my comfort zone, ready to create the discipline of writing daily. I had tried writing every day during the summer of 2013. I wrote for four days and quit, unfocused and unsure what to write about. 

The blog provided the necessary focus and, connected to experiencing daily firsts, I had fresh topics to write about. As of today, I’ve written for 663 consecutive days, without missing a single day. That’s a major accomplishment for one who quit after only  four days before. 

However, here’s the truly amazing thing that has occurred. That daily habit of writing, coupled with the desire to open to more opportunities and possibilities, has awakened creativity within me. My symbol for this year is an open door and that has been very appropriate. It’s as if the door to my creative side has been thrown wide open. 

I began to combine planting and tending flowers and herbs with creative expressions such as using metal containers, wooden chairs and even a vintage screen door in my garden. Indoors I found I loved creating vignettes, dragging out family heirlooms and treasures and finding new ways to use them and display them. Recently I’ve begun to color again, discovering colored pencils and coloring books for adults. 

That seemingly simple activity has changed the way I view the world. I notice the way light and shadows fall across the field as I drive by, the many shades of green in a forest, the browns and oranges and yellows in the grasses waving beside the road. My artist’s eye is open again and observing, considering, figuring out how to duplicate what I am seeing. 


Today I did free sketching with my colored pencils, experimenting with techniques and coloring outside the lines, literally. My first attempts weren’t astounding but it’s a beginning and something I will pursue because I enjoy laying color onto paper. 

And then there’s Liz Gilbert. I placed her on my vision board in January of this year and sat in an enthralled audience two weeks ago, in Wichita, listening as she spoke about her new book. And what did she write about, speak about? Creativity. Big Magic. Creative living beyond fear. I was meant to be there. I’m reading her book now, and enjoyed the section titled Enchantment today. These events are much more than coincidences. They are the paving stones of the path that has been laid at my feet…and I am invited to journey, to explore. 

When Liz spoke, she recommended a book called The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I’ve held this book in my hands several times in the past few years and always returned it to the shelf. The time was not right. Apparently Now is the time. I bought the book and I’m working through it. Author Julia Cameron offers a twelve week journey to discover the link between the spiritual and creative selves. Considered a revolutionary program for artistic renewal, The Artist’s Way helps to overcome limiting beliefs and fears. I’m excited about this book. 

Liz also shared that creativity must trust us in order to offer us her ideas. When we open to creativity and begin to practice it, in whatever way brings us joy, then we are sending out the message, “Entrust me with your gifts. I will accept them. I will develop them. I am open to receive ideas and I will DO something with them. ”  After hearing her words, I realized this is what is occurring in my life. As I opened to creativity, by writing, by embracing new things, more creativity came. And then more. 

My life is continuing to shift as creativity is finding me trustworthy. I am drawn to deeper writing, and drawing, and open to new endeavors that beckon. I truly don’t know what’s around the bend. I don’t need to know. I’ll just keep journeying…with creativity as my companion. 



Journey 297: First Coloring Book Club Meeting

I’ve shared recently about my renewed interest in coloring. The market is flooded with coloring books for adults as this craze sweeps around the world. I’m delighted! I love coloring and the new coloring books provide beautifully  detailed drawings that allow my creative side free reign. This event in Joplin was perfect today for all us coloring enthusiasts…the inaugural meeting of the Coloring Book Club.

Sponsored jointly by Spiva Center for the Arts, Post Art Library, Connect2Culture and Cottage Small Coffee Roasters, the first coloring meet up was held at the Post Art Library, within the Joplin Public Library. Refreshments were provided along with coloring pages and markers, crayons and pencils. Approximately 60 people attended today.

I was excited to be one of the attendees! My daughters Elissa and Adriel joined me, along with Elissa’s friends Aimee, Susan, and Lacey. They are my friends now too! Lacey’s little daughter Vivian attended with her mom. We had such fun, at our end of the table, chatting as we colored.

Elissa, Aimee and I all brought our own sets of colored pencils and I packed a pencil sharpener too, which proved to be a good thing. We sharpened our pencils into a plastic baggie to keep the library tidy. We looked through coloring pages that were provided and all of us selected owl pictures, each of us ending up with a different page.

Elissa said today’s experience reminded her of when she was a child and her brother and sister would join her at the dining room table, drawing or coloring. I often joined in as well. It was a calming activity that forged bonds between us and allowed creativity to develop. Those are precious memories. I have a huge box upstairs, full of my children’s drawings and art work. It’s time to bring that box out and look through it again.

Coloring together is still a companionable and creative way to spend time together. An hour and a half was not enough time to complete a picture, at least not the way we all color, but it was a great start. And it was fun! Laughter and conversations flowed around the packed out room and that was magical, being in the presence of so much creativity and joy.

The next meeting of the Coloring Book Club is in December, and every other month thereafter. Spiva Center for the Arts will be the next host. If you are in the Joplin area, like Coloring Book Club on Facebook for updates about the dates and times. And join us…for fun, coloring, companionship and coffee. I’ll be there!

Journey 296: Open to Everything, Attached to Nothing Meets Real Estate

My journey the past few years has been amazing. It has been characterized by growth, releasing regrets and old stuck energy from my past, and releasing as well anxiety about my future. I have no control over  the past or the future, and I realized how much precious energy was being wasted by dwelling needlessly on either. A great deal of freedom, joy and peace has accompanied me as I travel, and new opportunities have opened up, and my creative side has reappeared. 

As my life has shifted, I’ve wondered whether being a realtor was going to be compatible with my journey. Having been in real estate for 13 years, I can attest that this can be a very stress filled occupation. I can spend a lot of time helping clients and have it all fall apart literally at the closing table. Realtors only get paid when they successfully complete a transaction. No fully completed closing, no paycheck. 

Realtors would agree that the most difficult part of the transaction begins when the negotiating is done, the contract is signed and we are moving toward that closing table. Inspections, appraisals, lender requirements, buyer’s remorse and seller’s change of mind all have the potential for derailing a transaction and creating stress for all involved. I don’t want to live in stress. I choose not to. And thus my attitude toward real estate has shifted as well. Things can and do go awry. I have no control over most of those things. I do have control over how I respond and how I help my clients respond. 

Today brought the perfect awareness of how much I’ve shifted. We are one week away from closing and a surprise popped up. The kind of surprise that can upset buyers, sellers and agents. The kind of surprise that can hijack a transaction. The other agent was not at fault and did her job well, communicating the issue to me and helping her clients to understand what was happening. I talked to my clients, and back into negotiations we all went. Back and forth phone calls and discussions ensued. 

These situations, this close to meeting at the closing table, used to set me on edge and create anxiety. I wouldn’t  communicate that to my clients but internally, the battle would begin…and the desperate questions: How do I hold this deal together? What should I do, promise, manipulate or try to control, to make this happen? And then my mind would go crazy, sorting through possible solutions, creating stress. 

This has happened less and less the last two years. And today, not at all. I handled what was before me to handle, to the best of my ability, without resorting to the past (this is bad when this happens) or projecting anxiously into the future (the what ifs). When I had done what needed doing, I let it rest with the other agent. The day wasn’t ruined. I wasn’t fretting. My mind wasn’t churning. When silence stretched out between phone calls with the other agent, I brought my attention to the present moment and enjoyed what was going on right then, without allowing my mind to create stories about what that silence meant. 

How amazing was the peace that surrounded me. One of my sentences to live by this year has been, “I am open to everything, and attached to nothing.” I did what I could, as well as I could, and let go of the outcome, believing that whatever happened at this point, was supposed to happen. Whatever happened, even if the deal came apart, I’d handle it as it appeared and help my clients to do the same. I chose to stay open, stay unattached to the outcome, and let things unfold. 

I had a delightful late lunch with my granddaughter and was on my way to see one of my grandsons, when a call came in. It was the other realtor. She was laughing. “I have good news for you!” And she did. There was a third party error. A simple mistake. All was well. No further negotiations were necessary. I had the joy of passing that news on to my clients. And then it was on with my day. I acknowledged the way my life has shifted and opened up. And expressed gratitude. And smiled. 

I no longer wonder if real estate is incompatible with the journey I am taking. There is joy in what I am doing. There is trust that all is unfolding exactly as it should. I’ll practice real estate until the moment that I no longer do. I’ll know when that is. 


Journey 295: Operation Jammies

I came across this story a couple of days ago, on Facebook. Easton Murdock, 11 years old, has launched a campaign called Operation Jammies. His desire is to collect new pajamas and send them to kids who are patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. 


I’m familiar with this amazing boy’s story. Easton’s dad is a realtor at Keller Williams Realty in Joplin. In 2009 Easton was diagnosed with a brain stem and cervical spine tumor. His family was told it was inoperable. When the tumor continued to grow, after standard treatments of chemotherapy and radiation, doctors revised their treatment plans. Surgery was performed and about half of the tumor was removed. 

Easton knows what it’s like to spend time in the hospital. And he likes to be comfortable. His mom always packs him extra pajamas and clothes. But he noticed that other children sometimes didn’t have these comforts from home or even many visitors. Three years ago, this thoughtful boy shopped with his mom for pajamas for a little girl in the hospital, who had nothing from home and no visitors either. They gave her the pjs and Operation Jammies was born. 

In their first campaign Easton and his family donated 400 sets of pajamas to the St. Louis hospital. This time, they are inviting the community to join in. Various schools and organizations in the Joplin  area are contributing, and individuals may as well. Donations of new pajamas in all sizes can be dropped off at LaFerla Ortho, 2805 E. 29th St. in Joplin, during regular business hours through next Friday, Oct. 30.

I am so impressed with Easton. In the midst of his own medical challenges, he’s thinking of others, and wanting to offer comfort. I joined Operation Jammies. Today Aubrey and I shopped for pajamas, one set for a girl and one for a boy. 

I explained to Aubrey what we were doing. She listened intently, her little expressive face showing concern for kids in the hospital. Her blue eyes lit up as she agreed to our journey today. She selected Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pjs for a boy and a set of blue jammies with foxes on them for a girl. We drove by Dr. LaFerla’s office to drop them off. Aubrey placed the pjs in the bin after showing them to the kind receptionists behind the desk. Aubrey’s dad, my son Nate, and my daughter Adriel were patients of Dr. LaFerla’s and now my grandson Joey is. I appreciate their willingness to help Easton in his campaign. For every pair of pjs dropped off, LaFerla Ortho will match the donation with another set of jammies or a financial donation to purchase pjs. 

Way to go, Easton. Your generosity and compassionate have united a whole community and will bring joy and comfort to hundreds of children who are experiencing health challenges. You are an incredible young man. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute, and more importantly, that Aubrey not only got to take part, but saw that a boy who is still himself a child can help  others in amazing ways. What a wonderful role model and person you are. 


Photos of Easton from Joplin Globe   

Journey 294: Back to the Future Day

I would have had to avoid social media and TV totally today, to miss the fact that this is Back to the Future Day. October 21, 2015 is the future date that Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to, to save Marty’s children…that haven’t been born yet in his time. Back to the Future Part II released in 1989 and offered a glimpse into the not so distant future. I’ve had fun today reading up on how well the movie predicted 2015….and scrolling through interesting trivia.

What are some things that Back to the Future II got right about this year, and what did they  miss?


Big screen televisions and video conferencing

In 1989 most tvs were square blocky sets, and many were still encased in cabinets. And the ability to see each other on a screen and talk to each other was thought about but not in use yet. 

News Drones

Drones exist and are currently used for a multitude of purposes. Major media companies like CNN are looking at ways to use drones for news coverage. 

Hands Free Video Games

These are very common. 

Video Glasses

Such glasses exits. Google Glass, Occulus Rift and Samsung VR are current brands. 

Familiar Consumer Products

Pepsi still exists, and has released a limited edition Pepsi Perfect, like Marty orders. Pizza Hut does as well. In reality, the Jaws movie franchise only made it to #4, but Universal released a fun parody trailer of Jaws 19. 

                        Jaws 19 Parody Trailer

Hover boards

There are several hover-type skateboards available, but none yet that operate like Marty’s hover board. Those currently in use require a special surface to work or operate off of helicopter rotors. We will have to wait a bit longer for this fun device. 


This one is mixed. Most of the clothing worn is a miss, but they did get right commonly wearing athletic apparel. 


World Champion Chicago Cubs

This one is unknowable yet. Cubs did make it into the play-offs however they are trailing 0-4 at this time. 

And here’s some fun trivia you might not know about Back to the Future:

Michael J Fox almost wasn’t Marty McFly

Because of conflicts with his television series, Family Ties, Michael originally turned down the role. Johny Depp, John Cusack and Ralph Macchio all tried out for the part. The studio selected Eric Stoltz and filmed for 6 weeks before deciding they had miscast the role. Michael eventually was able to make his overbooked schedule work and assumed the role. 

Because of Michael’s busy schedule, most of his scenes were filmed at night.

Many scenes that included other cast members in daylight hours were filmed with a Marty stand in. 

Budget constraints ultimately created a better movie

Because the production was running over budget, the ending of the film, which was supposed to take place in Nevada at a test nuclear site was rewritten to remain in Hill Valley and the clock on the courthouse was added. 

The time machine was not originally a DeLorean

The time machine was intended to be a time chamber, made out of a refrigerator. Zemeckis and Gale became concerned that children would crawl inside of refrigerators, after seeing the film. And they liked the strange and futuristic look of the DeLorean. They decided to go with that. 

The iconic title of the film could have been different

Universal Studio executive Sid Sheinberg tried to have the title of the movie changed to “Spaceman from Pluto”. I’m really glad he was unsuccessful! 

What an interesting day, and how amazing to think that 26 years has passed since Back to the Future II released, giving us a peek at what was ahead. I was 31 years old. At the time, I couldn’t see much further ahead than raising my kids. I’ve accomplished that and have grandchildren to enjoy now. Although the Back to the Future movies were fun, I don’t want to know what the future holds. I’m content to discover it, one day at a time!