Journey 365: 2015 Review

How incredible, to type in Journey 365 this evening. Another year is coming to a close. As I did at the end of my Year of Firsts, I’m concluding my Year of Journeys with a review. 

On January 1, 2015 I began a journey that consisted of 365 daily journeys. I discovered that my word for the year came from the Old French word journee, which literally means the distance one can travel in a day. I was excited to see where my companions of curiosity, enchantment and soulfulness would lead me, and I was not disappointed. It was an extraordinary year. 

One of my mentors, Lu Ann Cahn, who inspired my Year of Firsts, was an important part of the year. We met for the first time in January, when Lu Ann visited Joplin during her 30 Dares in 30 Cities Tour. We did a first together, preparing lunch for the homeless at a Joplin shelter. In June I flew to Philadelphia, my first time in that beautiful city, to stay with Lu Ann while attending the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. What an amazing experience, to associate with and learn from other writers. In September I had the privilege of spending the day with Lu Ann in Springfield, MO where she was the guest speaker at a conference there. I appreciated the friendship and advice that this lively woman offered. 


I also had the opportunity this year to journey to Wichita, KS to hear another of my mentors speak. Elizabeth Gilbert has greatly influenced my life, through her online community and the book Eat, Pray, Love, and her newest release Big Magic. At her event, Liz recommended the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Campbell. This 12 week course, coupled with Big Magic, a book on living the creative life, has ignited my creative side. 



My awakened creativity has been one of the most fun journeys this year. I’ve drawn more, discovered the joys of coloring as an adult, created vignettes in all kinds of interesting containers, gardened throughout the growing season, and of course, I’ve expressed my journeys and my growth through my writing. I am grateful for 730 days in a row of writing, an accomplishment I would have not believed possible three years ago. 


I had adventures with family members, attending celebrations and events that ranged from talent contests to football games to concerts. I wandered around in my first corn field maze with Aubrey, London, Linda and Mom. With a group that included my sisters, nieces and grandson, I watched my favorite musical, The Phantom of the Opera, from the front row. Dayan made a Whovian of me and I have a deep appreciation for the Doctor Who series. I shopped and dined with each grandchild during the Christmas season. Throughout this year, they have touched my heart and expanded my thinking just by being who they are. 


When I was given the symbol of the open door for 2015, I wondered. It came to represent adventure and opportunity, much as it did for Bilbo in the movie The Hobbit. For me, however, an open door has always been a symbol for passing through to the other side. I wondered if loss would be part of my journey this year, and it was. Six beautiful souls close to me departed this world during 2015, and journeyed onward without me for now. I said “see you again someday” to my cousin Mindy, to Aunt Annie and Aunt Jeannie, to Uncle Dale and long time family friend, Loretta. And I walked with Greg’s dad, my second father, through the valley of the shadow of death until he slipped away and I could walk with him no more. 

I miss each of these kind and loving people. And I know I’ll be reunited with them at the right time. I have grieved, but I’m not without hope. I’ve created reminders in my home and garden of these lives. I treasure items that once belonged to them and I’ve repurposed some of those to function in new, creative ways. My garden has containers that were once theirs and there are flowers planted in their memories. 


The most incredible journey this year was centered around my expanded awareness and consciousness. My perceptions about the way life and the Divine work opened my heart and developed my intuition. I adopted the mantra of staying open to everything and attached to nothing. This attitude freed me to travel through the year with deep peace and joy. I was led by curiosity to explore new places in my world and new places in my heart. I embraced my inner creative child and revisited my childhood with fresh understanding. She was a plucky girl, that little Cindy. She has much still to teach me. I value her. 



I have seen this year that my journeys are guided by the Divine, through signs, synchronicities and life itself. As I stayed open, opportunities came, doors swung open, people appeared at the perfect time. I was led, invited, joined in the journey. Life kept presenting opportunities as well, to grow, expand, shift, love, offer and release. I began the process of decluttering, my house and my soul, so that I could journey lighter, less encumbered. I settled deeply into who I am. 


I am grateful for my year of journeys, 365 of them! And I am excited about 2016. I compared my journey at the beginning of this year to Bilbo’s, as he headed out through his front door on the greatest adventure of his life. Unlike Bilbo, I am not making the return trip, not  just yet.  I am about to embark on a new adventure. Join me! 


Journey 364: Arkansas Goodies

I spent the day in the lovely and water soaked state of Arkansas. After checking on the house in Decatur and taking care of some things there, Greg and I meandered over to Rogers late in the afternoon. 


We stopped for a meal at a favorite pizza restaurant there. The name always gives me the giggles, however, they make great pizzas! Today we tried a vegetarian pizza. I’ve perhaps just forgotten, but I believe this is the first all veggie pizza that I’ve had. It was delicious and filling without leaving me feeling stuffed. 


The skies cleared today and for the first time since Christmas Day, I could see the sun. What a welcome sight as sunlight filtered in through the blinds on the restaurant windows. 

I can’t drive through Rogers without a stop at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I had a short list of desired items in mind and scored on all but one of them. One of the things on my list was a 2016 Scotland calendar. Not only did I find one, I found a Secret Garden coloring calendar by Johanna Basford! The calendars were 50% off, so I purchased both. I’m excited to color each month’s page and display the calendar with my creative work in my studio. 

It was a good day. Greg and I enjoyed reviewing aspects of our journeys from this past year and both of us shared our hopes for the upcoming year. I reminded myself all day, with both wonderment and excitement, that tomorrow this year concludes. What a remarkable journey it has been and I’ll review 2015 in Thursday’s blog post. 

Tonight I am reading and writing, working on an assignment and doing more research. Oh yes, and I am coloring in my 2016 calendar. What a great way for me to welcome in a new year. 


Journey 363: Finding My True North

What perfect timing it has been, to begin again in The Artist’s Way this week. Chapter 8: Recovering a Sense of Strength explores making practical and immediate changes in my current life. I have been encouraged to examine ways in which I have settled for less than I desire in my creative life. 

The perfection is that I traditionally use this final week in December to reflect on and release the past year, as I prepare to embrace the upcoming new year. One of the assignments in Chapter 8 was to put a name to my dream and write it down. 

I did. I wrote, “I am a writer, an author.”

Next Julia instructed me to name one accomplishment that would signal the realization of that dream. On my emotional compass, this would signify true north. 

I wrote, “I want to know that I have created the best writing that I can, and have it published. My true north is to create my best writing for publication.” 


As I am preparing to surrender to next year’s journey, I appreciated this opportunity to become clear on the direction in which I’m heading. 

So what does it mean to find my true north? 

In Bill George’s book, True North, he says, “It’s the internal compass that guides you successfully through life. It is your orienting point – your fixed point in a spinning world – that helps you stay on track. It’s based on what is most important to you, your most cherished values, your passions and motivations and the sources of satisfaction in your life.”

Knowing my true north lets me start exactly where I am, get oriented, and head out, moving in the right direction, using my internal compass as a guide. I can align myself with the Divine, make my desires known, and trust the guidance I receive. 

I continued with the assignment, writing out long and short term accomplishment markers to guide me, now that I had my true north. These actions included sending out a query letter and book proposal and researching submission requirements for several magazines I’d like to submit articles to. 

I recently finished Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, in which she shares her own true north. Toward the end of the book, Liz shares about having fierce trust and doing what you love to do, creatively, because success or failure, it is what you must do. She says do it for you. Not to help or inspire other people. Do this because it helps or inspires you, and then it cannot help but inspire others. 

I am a writer. My creativity has roared back to life as a result of my year of firsts and my year of journeys. My desire to write was at the heart of both adventures. I write because I must. I write for me. I trust that what helps me, in turn helps others. 

As I journey next year, I have my true north and the Divine to guide me. I have fierce trust, and people like Julia Campbell and Liz Gilbert who are shining examples to learn from. I am about to launch out, my heart open, knowing that the flow of life will take me exactly where I need to go, bring me exactly what I require, as I travel with clarity and purpose. It’s going to be another extraordinary year of adventures. 


Journey 362: Big Magic Chai

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic, offered this homey recipe this morning on her Facebook page. She called it Big Magic Chai, a homemade concoction she created that will cure everything!

I was intrigued! I love teas…Scottish tea, English tea, green tea, and I make my own blends of herbal teas. Nothing says comfort to me like a steaming cup of hot tea. I enjoy chai, however, I’ve never made it myself so I was excited to try the recipe.

Crushing cardamom pods for the chai. 

This evening presented the perfect opportunity. The rain transitioned to snow and freezing rain today. The storm system finally moved on through, leaving cold temps behind. A cup of hot chai sounded wonderful.

Here’s the recipe:


Bring 3 cups of water to boil.


3 Cinnamon sticks
1 to 2 inches of ginger, diced (1/4 teaspoon dried if fresh isn’t used)

1 teaspoon of cloves

1 teaspoon of whole black pepper

About 8 – 10 pods of cardamom, crushed.

Bring it all to a boil, let it simmer, covered, for about 10 minutes.

Add 2 black tea bags. (If you like, you can throw a vanilla pod in there at this time, as well. If you want to go really nuts, throw a star anise in there, too. *But be careful. Star anise is the beets of spices — it takes over EVERYTHING.) *Liz’s funny remark! I went a little nuts and threw in half a star anise.

Simmer again for about 5 minutes.

In the bottom of the biggest mug you’ve got, put a tablespoon of honey, a teaspoon of turmeric powder, and a tablespoon of coconut oil.

Take a bit of the chai liquid, put in the mug, and whisk it until the honey, turmeric powder, and coconut oil are all blended. (Alternatively, you can blend it all in a blender, but it works with a whisk nicely.)

Now fill your giant mug 3/4 of the way with hot strained chai liquid.

Heat up (or froth up) some milk or milk-like substance of your choice. Top off the mug with the hot milk, and stir.

Sprinkle with cinnamon.

The kitchen smelled wonderful as the tea was boiling. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, except fresh ginger, so I substituted ground ginger. I buy cardamom pods and star anise at the health food store. Half a star anise was perfect and didn’t “take over” the other flavors.

This chai was so flavorful. I think I’ve found my new nighttime drink. The recipe makes enough for one giant mug or two regular mugs. Not only does it taste great, but it’s good for you. Liz’s playful claim that it cures everything may be exaggerated, but not by much! The ingredients make this an anti-inflammatory drink that’s good for easing colds & the flu, digestive troubles, and aches and pains in general. My stuffy head immediately cleared up, and I was warmed from the inside.

Liz Gilbert suggests drinking the chai down while reading a good novel, which is a brilliant idea.  I enjoyed sipping on it while working on the assignments in The Artist’s Way and writing out thoughts about the upcoming year. However it is enjoyed, Big Magic Chai is love in a cup, meant to be savored.

Journey 361: I Am a Precious Treasure

The rains continued today, after heavy downpours yesterday and overnight. With the excessive precipitation, area rivers and streams quickly over ran their banks, creating widespread flooding. It was a good day to remain indoors, and not just to avoid getting soaked. The Joplin Police Department asked citizens to remain at home and off of streets, to limit accidents and the risk of cars being swept off road by torrents of rushing waters. 

I chose to stay at home today, effectively creating Pajama Day 2! During the busy days preceding Christmas, I temporarily stopped working through The Artist’s Way book. Today I began the Morning Pages again, three pages of free writing, looked through past assignments, and read the next chapter. 

I had a wonderful afternoon catching up and completing all unfinished tasks. Using Google, I found more images to save that will go onto my vision board for 2016. As I am growing and shifting, my vision board is shifting too. I look forward to bringing this source of inspiration together for the new year. 

The process of looking for images that are in alignment with my desires brings clarity. I realized the board quit being a collection of goals for the year and has evolved into being a representation of who I am, at this moment in my journey. It is a yearly snapshot that captures me as adequately, or perhaps more so, than a photograph. 

After I had collected images for my board, that I will print out later, I had one more task left undone. The assignment was to create a piece, by way of calligraphy, drawing or printing, that contained the sentence, “I am treating myself like a precious treasure.” 

I understand the significance of seeing myself as a treasure, and treating myself that way. As I display one of my vintage pieces, and I could certainly be called vintage, I handle it carefully, but without fear, appreciating its beauty, creating interesting vignettes, finding new ways to work with the piece while honoring still the purpose for which it was created. 

The same truths apply to me. I want to care for myself…physically, spiritually, emotionally…without fear, without envisioning a negative outcome for myself as I continue to journey. I am appreciating who I am, who I am becoming, honoring my past journey, for every moment has led to this one, while being open to growth and new ways of looking at the world and at life. I see the beauty of my heart and soul. 

I created a design with the words written on a piece of paper. A single rose bud that I drew and then colored adorns the corner. I like the simplicity of it. I may color in the background, or leave it as it is. After I frame it, I’ll hang the saying in my studio as a reminder of my willingness to recognize my value. And accepting and seeing my own value allows me to more readily see and accept the value of others.  I see me, and treasure what I see. I am able to see you, and treasure what I see as well. 


Journey 360: Pajama Day

My intended journey today was to a galaxy far, far away. For the second time in three days I had planned to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Thursday my day became full and I made the decision to forgo the movie, so as not to create stress later as I scrambled to get everything done before Christmas. Today, the decision was made for me. All afternoon showings of the movie, on all screens, sold out. 


One thing I’ve learned as I’ve journeyed these past two years is to go with the flow. If a first didn’t work out last year, another always showed up to take its place. This year if the journey takes me down another path, I follow it, and I’m always grateful that I did. I’ll see the new Star Wars movie another time. With thunderstorm after thunderstorm moving through the area, accompanied by heavy rainfall, I declared today pajama day. 

That meant I had no where I had to be, other than within my cozy home. The Christmas tree and decorations are still up for me to enjoy. I have plenty of left overs, hot tea, snacks. From my favorite chair, swaddled in warm flannel and fleecy socks, I can watch the lightning through the window and hear the steady patter of rain and the rumbling boom of thunder. 

I enjoyed reading in my new leather bound Tolkien dictionary, a Christmas gift from my grandson Dayan. I love the feel of the book in my hands and the detailed sketches on the pages. I looked up various characters, such as Aragorn, Arwen and Thorin Oakenshield and read about them. Then I opened the book at random and learned about the Noldor, the mightiest elves in Middle-earth from ancient times. The name Noldor means “knowledge”, and these elves, above all others, desired to possess it. 

One of the Noldor

  A very lovely map of Middle-earth that includes the Undying Lands. 

And I colored today, in The Time Chamber coloring book by Daria Song. My free time has been very limited the past two weeks and I have not been able to color. What a treat this afternoon, to open this beautiful book and try out another Christmas gift, from Greg…a new box of Staedtler colored pencils. 


I’ve done fine with my inexpensive Crayola colored pencils. And, I’ve also wanted to try some of the other, more expensive brands of pencils available. I am loving these and the smooth way they lay color onto the page. 

I had started this two page spread with my Crayola pencils and completed the girl in the basket with my new Staedtlers. I like the way the picture is turning out. I’ll finish this project and start in Johanna Basford’s newest book, Lost Ocean. 


Taking a break from coloring, I re-read the first three chapters in The Surrender Experiment. My word for 2016 is “surrender” and Michael Singer’s book inspires me to let go of attempting to control life and trust the life that is unfolding for me. I’m excited to enter into 2016 and I’ll have more to share about the Year of Surrender in January. 

Today’s experience was the perfect reminder that the Divine gives me exactly what I need. I would have enjoyed the Star Wars movie, and I still will. But sitting in a crowded theater this afternoon wasn’t what was best for me. How do I know? That’s not what happened. What was perfect for me, after weeks of being busy, was a quiet, peaceful afternoon of down time, doing activities that I love, listening to the storms outside. I’m content and happy, and oh so comfy, as I enjoy Pajama Day. 


Journey 359: The Best Christmas Gift

What a beautiful Christmas Day! Sixty degree weather and ample sunshine didn’t create traditional postcard-like Christmas scenes but I didn’t mind the bright, breezy day. My daughter Adriel hosted the family for Christmas. 

My tree last night after I completed gift wrapping. 

As we gathered, gifts surrounded Adriel’s tree. Extra tables and chairs were set up, Christmas dinner prepared, pies popped into the oven. Conversations, punctuated with laughter, shifted from kitchen to living room and back again, a continuous joyful murmur that flowed  as people grouped here, then regrouped over there. 

We had a great meal…sliced brisket, smoked chicken and an assortment of sides and salads. The younger kids grouped around a table in the kitchen while Dayan and the adults sat at tables in the dining area and living room. 


After our meal, the children wasted no time in opening presents. That was a wild and fun commotion accompanied by the sound of paper ripping and the laughter of kids as they sorted out which packages were theirs. I was handing off presents to eager hands and didn’t capture many of those moments with my phone camera. 

Everyone received gifts. My mom, who stopped by later in the afternoon, gave gold coins to the kids and grandkids. And there was a wonderful assortment of toys, video and board games, art supplies, gift cards, books, specially crafted photos and items for the cooks in the family. It was fun to give…and to receive. 

The best gift of all today was that all of my children, with their spouses and fiancé, and all five of my grandchildren were present! Because of busy schedules, it is rare for all of us to be able to gather together. Last Christmas, Adriel and her fiancé were out of town, and three of the grandchildren were not able to join us. I totally understand how complicated scheduling can be. Which makes it incredibly exciting when everyone can be present. 


The make a silly face photo. 

I finished Christmas Day with a special treat. Dayan and I watched the Doctor Who Christmas special tonight. I’m caught up in this series. The special was my first real time Doctor Who episode. “The Husbands of River Song” brought back a favorite reoccurring character from previous episodes, River Song, and Dayan and I enjoyed the show immensely. We loved the many references to past stories and the chemistry between the 12th Doctor and River. 

We exchanged many happy looks and laughed, a lot, during the hour long special. And then as often happens during Doctor Who, the energy shifted and zapped my heart and tears filled my eyes.  It was a beautifully done episode and I’m grateful for the opportunity to watch it on this special day, with Dayan. 

Yes, what a beautiful day of celebrating and laughing, hugging and loving on each other. My heart is full tonight with gratitude and appreciation for these most precious gifts, my family members. I am blessed. I am honored to journey alongside each one, into the new year. 

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”   Burton Hillis



Journey 358: Christmas Eve Cookie Bars

I tried a new recipe this evening, in between finishing up the grocery shopping for tomorrow’s Christmas dinner and wrapping the last of the gifts. With candles lit inside, and outside on the front deck, music playing on my iPhone, and food prepped for tomorrow, I was in a festive mood. 


This dessert was so easy. Here’s the recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

3 pkgs of cream cheese

3 eggs

3/4 cup of sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 rolls of refrigerator chocolate chip cookie dough 
Combine cream cheese, eggs, sugar & vanilla. Set aside. 

Slice cookie dough from one roll into 1/4″ slices and arrange on bottom of greased 9×13 glass pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture evenly over dough. Top with slices of cookie dough from remaining roll. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes. Cool. Refrigerate. Cut into bars before serving. 


The tantalizing aroma of chocolate chip cookies baking filled the air as I tidied up the kitchen and put away baking supplies. I’ll let the dessert cool and refrigerate overnight. We will try the bars tomorrow after Christmas dinner and I’ll report back! 

Now on to finishing up the last few tasks before gratefully crawling into bed. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and spending time with my family! 

Journey 357: All is Bright

Today was one of those days that just flowed, and I flowed with it. It was a long day, with twists and turns and little delightful surprises that make me so appreciate my life and all the goodness in it. 


My day began with a closing in another town, the final one for me in 2015. It’s been a good year in real estate and I’m grateful for amazing clients and transactions. What a great way to close out the year, with a transaction between gracious buyers and sellers who worked well with me and each other. I appreciate the agent who sent these buyers to me as a referral. What an honor to take care of clients entrusted to me by a fellow realtor that I respect. 

The rest of the day was filled with glimpses of beauty, such as Blanket Flowers still in bloom in my garden during this mild December. And moments of joy and fun. 

Grandsons Dayan and Jonathan helped me make fudge this afternoon while we chatted about what’s going on most recently in their lives. They made peanut butter and chocolate varieties while I supervised. Jonathan was the official taster of the finished product. 
Granddaughter Aubrey got a play date this evening with her BFF/cousin London. The girls shared gifts, laughter, pizza and dances, while I had an opportunity to visit with my sister, mom and nephew. London’s little sister Aralyn joined the older girls for playtime, and she busied herself between the big girls in the playroom and the adults visiting in the living room. Aralyn called me Yaya for the first time tonight, and liking that new sound, called out to me repeatedly with a smile on her sweet face. 


When I took Aubrey home late in the evening, I saw Oliver and Joey, making the count 5/5 for grandchildren today. The boys were ready for bed, sweet and sleepy, and although they are eight and nine years old, I couldn’t resist hugs and cuddles. We talked about Christmas and whispered I love you’s before I headed home. 

While making a pizza run earlier, for the little group gathered at my sister’s house, I was stopped on a dark side street, waiting for traffic to clear. My eyes were drawn upwards, to a beautiful sight. The nearly full moon was emerging from a bank of puffy clouds illuminated by the reflected lunar glow. It stirred my heart. How magical, that sight. How mystical, and deeply meaningful, is this time of year. 

I forgot about the cars whizzing by, completely captivated by the Christmas moon. I rolled my window down to take a picture, the fresh breeze stirring around me, lifting my hair, caressing my face. What a magnificent day, full of treasured connections. In that hushed night, the busy street now deserted, I felt the Divine present in that full and poignant moment, and I felt gratitude, peace and wonder. 

Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.”


Journey 356: Wrapped in Love

My journey today took me to another state, and involved time spent with a dear person in the hospital. Walking with him through a challenging time is my honor and privilege. The story is his though, and not mine to share. I was present. And he is on a healing journey now. 

Home after a long day that began at 3:30 am, I popped a Christmas movie into the tv/dvd player and gathered wrapping supplies. Before retiring, I wanted to get a few more gifts wrapped for Christmas. 


Gift wrapping is common this time of year. However, for me it’s more than sliding gifts into festive bags or covering a box with merry paper. It’s a meditative act that I’ve practiced since my children were small.   

As I wrap each gift, or tuck colorful tissue paper around it, I think about the person who will be receiving the present. I picture them, with their beautiful faces, their bright, shining souls, their eyes full of mirth. I surround that person with blessings, prayers, Love and Light. I imagine an amazing upcoming year for them. 

As I write that person’s name on the gift tag and affix it to the present, it is an “amen” a “may it be so” to all that I’ve been thinking for and about that loved one. And then I select a different person’s gift and start the meditation again. It’s a beautiful experience, one that I cherish. And I much prefer what this practice has evolved into, over feeling rushed and stressed about getting the gifts wrapped, as I once did. 

Tonight I realized that as I create these Christmas packages, I am doing more than wrapping them in paper. I am wrapping them, and the recipients, in love. Further, I saw that being present with another today, sharing his journey, holding his hand, giving reassuring hugs and words, was actually another form of the same act. It was a full circle kind of day, wrapped in love from start to finish.