Journey 355: Being Light

The Winter Solstice occurred today, marking the end of autumn with the year’s shortest day and longest night. As I moved through the first winter day, I thought about what it means to be Light, and bring Light to the world. 


For me, I am being Light when I am being fully myself, the shining person I am created to be. As I completely occupy my own Cindy-shaped space, with a heart full of love and joy, I cannot help but allow the Light within me, the Light of the Divine, to spill forth. 

I don’t have to manufacture light. I don’t create it by focusing on being light. I allow Light to shine simply by enjoying who I am, quirks, gifts, scars and all. And by recognizing my connection to God, who also enjoys who I am. I focus on keeping my heart clear of negative, stagnant or low energy. I do the work necessary to free myself from fear, envy, hurt and anger. Everything else takes care of itself. An open heart allows Light and Love to flow, unimpeded. 

And then amazing things happen on my journey, as I am being. Because Light illuminates. It dispels darkness. Light attracts. It warms. Light brings clarity into my life and ignites my intuition, which raises my awareness. My path is Lighted as I journey. 
Today, as I was thinking of what it means to be Light, I emailed a client, who is also a friend, to tell him about a possible offer coming in on his property. I concluded the email with this sentence, “Perhaps a Christmas miracle is at work.” I was honestly baffled why I wrote that. It seemed a bit over the top, when sharing about an offer. Yet I felt strongly those were the right words to send. 

He immediately responded with “Well yes, I’ll take any Christmas miracle!” And proceeded to write that doctors had just discovered that his daughter has a brain tumor. Surgery is scheduled for Christmas Eve day in another city. He asked for prayers. I understood why I typed the words that I had and I’m grateful that I left them in the email. It opened communication between us, offered hope, and allows me to surround my client, his family and his daughter with prayers and Light. 

I am being Light. Or perhaps more correctly, I am allowing Light to flow through me. As I journey, I gaze inward often to keep my heart clear, and then get out of the way. I’m grateful, on this short day, that my thoughts, my attention, my heart, were drawn to the Light as well. Let there be Light…in me. 


Journey 354: Christmas Tea & Candlelight

It’s been a busy week and a full weekend. I shifted the journey I had planned for today to tomorrow. Instead, I spent the morning and early afternoon with my younger sister, Debbie, enjoying a time of chatting and shopping. Debbie and her daughter Ashley are master shoppers, uncovering discounts and taking advantage of sales and special programs such as Target’s Cartwheel app. 

Their experiences are so amazing that I’m convinced my sister and niece are accompanied by Shopping Angels. These two ladies walk into a store and prices drop on items and unexpected sales commence! I witnessed Debbie in action today, observing as she received better than a 50% discount on her total purchases. 


While we shopped at Target, I found these fun Christmas themed shortbread cookies from the Scottish company, Walkers. And later in the afternoon, after Debbie left for her home in Oklahoma, I discovered her Angels must have stayed behind to show off for me a bit. As I entered a store a clerk hurried by, setting up a display near the door. “Look!” he exclaimed to me, “I found these in the back room after we thought we had sold out. I’m marking them 60% off.” It was the very item I was walking into the store to buy! 

With my shortbread cookies and my weary state, an evening tea sounded perfect, in place of dinner. I used a vintage footed teacup and saucer, made in England by Rosina Fine Bone China. The design is called, appropriately, Yuletide. The set belonged to Greg’s mother and I used it for the first time this evening. 


While a pot of Scottish thistle tea brewed, I lit candles throughout the house. This is a practice that I love during the Christmas season. What peace and joy surrounds me as I sit looking at the flickering lights of dozens of candles. Warmth surrounds me too! I turn the thermostat down a few degrees, as I light so many candles that it brings the indoor temperature up. 


I made the decision this week to pause on working through The Artist’s Way until after Christmas. I was engaged every evening during the week and spent time with family over the weekend. I have not had time to properly do the assignments for Week Seven. Rather than rush through, I made the choice to stay in this chapter until my schedule slows down after the holiday. I’ll return to this wonderful course then. My artist date this afternoon consisted of leisurely shopping to complete my Christmas gift buying, apparently with Deb’s Angels in tow! 



Actually, surrounded by beauty, sipping tea, fully content, I am in the perfect space for writing and thinking. I’ll pull out my notebook and The Artist’s Way and start on those assignments after all. 


Journey 353: Chase the Chill – Joplin

What a great opportunity today to take part in a first in Joplin. Chase the Chill is an event hosted in many cities throughout the US and Canada in which donated scarves are hung in trees or tied to lampposts in public locations throughout town. Each warm wrap is tagged with a label that lets the recipient know that the scarf is free for the taking. The Joplin scarves had these tags:


My friend Ann Leach created the Joplin event. The idea is to provide warmth for our fellow citizens. There is no income requirement or other criteria to receive a scarf. Anyone who wants a scarf is free to take one. Drop off locations included Spiva Center for the Arts, The Joplin Public Library, Homewood Suites and Unity Church of Joplin. More than 300 warm and colorful scarves were collected. 

Twenty one volunteers met at Homewood Suites on 32nd Street, to distribute scarves. I attended, along with my sister Debbie. We grabbed a bag of 10 scarves and headed to our assigned destination, Rex Street behind Walmart. It was a beautiful afternoon to contribute to the well being of others. 

We found a row of young trees growing along Rex Street. Working together, we moved from tree to tree, tying the long scarves to branches or trunks. 

There was a strong breeze that fluttered the scarves of many colors, creating a festive look. Traffic was heavy along the street, as holiday shoppers drove to their next stops, and we saw curious passers by peering out their car windows. Although the temps were warm today, cold weather is coming. I trust that the scarves will all go to the right recipients and will bring warmth and joy and hope. 


As we tied the last scarf to a branch, we looked back to check out our work. What a cheerful sight, those long scarves decorating  that row of trees. I appreciated my sister Debbie taking the time to accompany me and help out. And I’m grateful to Ann for bringing the Chase the Chill event to Joplin. 


May each person who selects a scarf be blessed, feeling the warmth that it offers, and the loving embrace of the kind souls who purchased it, tagged it, bagged it and lastly, tied it to a tree or post. Our high energies and good wishes go forth in Joplin and will return to us in like kind, blessing us as well. I look forward to Chasing the Chill again next year. 


Journey 352: The Fancy Farmer

I had the pleasure this afternoon of visiting The Fancy Farmer, an antique and boutique shop in Baxter Springs, KS. Although chilly, the sun was shining, and it was the perfect day to make the short drive from Joplin to Baxter Springs to check out this fun store for the first time. 


Located at 1144 Military Avenue in downtown Baxter Springs, The Fancy Farmer carries an eclectic mix of vintage and repurposed merchandise, furniture, collectibles and hand made crafts. Upstairs is the Spirit Shack with school and college related clothing and accessories. 


What a wonderful half hour I spent wandering through the well merchandised shop. The owner, Jen Smith, has an excellent eye for detail and possesses a gift for staging product and creating pleasing vignettes. After greeting Jen, whom I’ve known for years, I returned to the front door and slowly worked my way through the store. 

I found so many great items. In honor of the season, there are Christmas decorations on display. And everywhere, artfully arranged here, tucked in there, are fascinating items such as cheery fabric pillows, metal pieces, old wood crafted into signs and shelves, screen doors and wooden shutters, glassware and candle holders of all kinds. 

Furniture ranged from oak antiques to painted dressers, end tables and cabinets. There are full dining table sets to choose from and unique, individual chairs. The Fancy Farmer carries a selection of chalk paint for Do it Yourself projects. And at the back of the shop is a counter where floral arrangements can be custom ordered. 

I so enjoyed looking at everything within this charming shop. And I’m thrilled for Jen. We were realtors together in Joplin. I know Jen to be a classy woman who doesn’t hesitate to roll up her sleeves and get things done. Baxter Springs is blessed to have her here and the community benefits from her entrepreneurial spirit and sheer determination. If life hands my friend Jen lemons, she does more than make lemonade. She creates a scrumptious lemon meringue pie and serves it up on spotless fine china, using impeccable etiquette. I am so proud of her and I know she will excel at this, her latest adventure. 

There are so many amazing pieces I’d like to purchase at The Fancy Farmer. Today, I bought these items. 


I have the oval mesh candle holders on my little turquoise table in the dining room, perfectly accenting my silver metal Christmas tree. And the row of rusty, punched metal trees now adorns my buffet table in my studio.  The little green stoneware pitcher, which I absolutely love, holds a Christmas pick and dried eucalyptus from my herb garden. I smile every time I look at it. 


I look forward to my next visit. If you are looking for the perfect gift or for the right piece to grace your own home or you want to show school spirit, check out what The Fancy Farmer has to offer. You will be delighted. And be sure to say hello to Jen! 



Journey 351: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Jonathan 

Tonight was the final Grandchild & Yaya excursion as grandson Jonathan and I headed out to shop for Christmas gifts and have dinner together. This bright and entertaining boy was ready when I arrived at his house this afternoon to pick him up, and he knew where he wanted to go. 

We made our first stop at an electronics store. I’m grateful Jonathan is a whiz at all things related to gaming. He politely asked a sales clerk for assistance and then rattled off what he was looking for. She knew that the item he sought had just arrived on a truck and a few minutes later, placed it in his hands. I was impressed! 

Before we stopped at the next store, Jonathan decided it was time for dinner. He chose Cici’s Pizza where he could eat all the pizza that he wanted. We chatted about school and family, video games and YouTube. Jonathan is an intelligent young man who customarily thinks outside the box. He has big ideas and the confidence to pursue an extraordinary life. 


The perfect way, for this kid, to spend a few minutes after dinner. 


I really like this next pic, where his face is reflected in the mirror at the back of the game. 


We finished our shopping at the next store. I enjoyed watching the kids go through the process of gift selection. They think through what they want to buy, keeping in mind what the intended recipient likes. Jonathan touched my heart tonight. He asked if he could pick out a gift for his friend, Eli. Eli’s father passed away this year and this is the boy’s first Christmas without his dad. Jonathan wanted to do something special for his friend. Of course, I said yes…and gave Jonathan a hug. 


What a wonderful experience this has been, taking each of my five grandchildren out for an evening of undivided attention. It was fun to spend time together, and see what they picked out for their families. What I loved most were the conversations, the glimpses into their incredible hearts and minds, the stories they shared about how they view the world and what they hope to do. I look forward to journeying alongside each child as they continue learning and growing. 

My younger daughter Adriel does not have children yet. She does have fur babies. I considered tonight the completion of the shopping trips, but perhaps my granddog Frances might want to go with me to select gifts for her mom and dad!

Jonathan wrapped his gifts and I snapped one more pic before it was time to take him home. As we walked to the car, tiny snowflakes were falling from a dark wintry sky. We turned our faces upward and felt the cold fragments of ice on our cheeks. What a perfect way to end our evening together. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, I am so blessed to be your Yaya.   


Journey 350: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Dayan

This evening it was Dayan’s turn to shop for Christmas gifts for his family, and go to dinner with me. I picked him up from school, and as we usually do on Wednesday afternoons, we watched Doctor Who. As of today, I am officially caught on and current on this show, which features the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I will be able to watch the Christmas special with Dayan. 


Immediately after the conclusion of the final episode of the season, we headed into Joplin to shop. One difference in taking a 16 year old shopping is that Dayan did all the driving this evening, which was a nice treat for me! As he expertly handled the car, we chatted about Doctor Who, school and where our first stop would be.  

Dayan is my first grandchild, and the oldest of the grandkids. In fact, he was my only grandchild for a while. When he was young, I would take him shopping at Christmas time for his family. He’s always amazed me with his ability to select meaningful, thoughtful gifts, even when he was a wee lad. As he got older, we switched for a time to making gifts for the family. That was fun as well. 

I felt quite nostalgic, taking this grandson, now a young man, out shopping again. As I suspected, he was the fastest shopper so far. He had ideas and those came together rapidly. For the gifts that he was undecided about, plans fell into place with ease, and he was happy with his purchases.

Dayan selected Cici’s Pizza for dinner, a great buffet style restaurant. As we walked in, the manager instructed an employee to lock the door behind us. Cici’s was preparing for a company Christmas party. We were told we could stay and eat. What perfect timing!  

We enjoyed our dinner, and more interesting conversation, in a party atmosphere! There was a Santa handing out gifts to children of the employees, and a steady stream of people carrying in treats and food prepared at home. Dayan and I decided that if one worked at a pizza restaurant, one would want anything but pizza at the company Christmas party. 

I watched Dayan interact with people…servers who were clearing tables and wiping down surfaces, and other staff sweeping floors and cleaning up. He’s always so gracious with others, going beyond politeness to show genuine interest in people. Although we were not pressured at all to eat quickly and leave, we didn’t linger over our meal so that the party could begin in earnest. 

What a great evening with Dayan. Because he is allergic to cats, we did not stop at my house to wrap gifts. Instead, Dayan drove us back to his house and had the pleasure of telling his family to close their eyes while we carried bags of surprises into his room. He will wrap his presents on his own and slip them under the tree. One more child tomorrow night, grandson Jonathan, and that will conclude the Yaya and Grandchild shopping adventures for this year. This has been so fun! 


Journey 349: Dinner & Christmas Shopping with Joey

I had the pleasure of spending the evening with my grandson Joey, as the Yaya and Grandchild shopping sprees continue. I picked this bright boy up from school and off we went on our shared adventure. 


I quickly discovered that Joey is a master shopper. At Toys R Us, he smoothly navigated the crowded aisles, knowing exactly what he wanted to purchase for Aubrey. He was open to what grabbed his attention for Oliver, but wasted no time in looking at anything for himself. He made great choices and out the door we went, on to the next stop.  

Our destination was Hobby Lobby, which was a wonderful idea, as virtually everything was on sale. Most items were marked 50% off, which meant Joey could make his money go much further. I give each of the kids a budget and they are so good at sticking to it. Joey was very money conscious, weighing options carefully before committing to a purchase. 

Our time in this super store was precious. I love how creative Joey is and as we walked around, we discussed art, creativity and how inspiration finds us. We had a magical moment when THE perfect gift appeared before us, at the right price. Magical was Joey’s word and I am so proud that he recognizes synchronicity and the Divine at work. We spent a few extra moments looking at art supplies and drawing books together, discussing projects.  

Shopping completed, Joey chose Cracker Barrel for dinner. Another great choice! As we waited for our meals to arrive, we played with the puzzle at the table. 

And Joey challenged me to a game of checkers. I was not much of a challenge at all, as he beat me soundly!

I enjoyed watching him figure out his next move. 

We had a fun evening together. Joey is a great conversationalist, and we discussed a broad range of topics. He was gracious to others, thanking sales clerks and the server at the restaurant, and polite as he opened doors for others and carried packages for me. 

Presents wrapped, we headed to his house, our evening drawing to a close. Joey made a request, on the way home, that we do more of these Yaya and Grandchild evenings, where he has my undivided attention. I think that’s a great idea. I love having all my grandkids together. And yet Joey’s right, the energy is different when it’s me and a grandchild, having one on one time. I get to hear each child’s conversations at a deeper level, and learn what lights up their bright and earnest faces. I think this Christmas tradition has just become a year long tradition. We can replace shopping with an event that each child would enjoy and then have dinner. To quote Joey, it will be magical!


Journey 348: Coloring & Eggnog

The perfect end to today, snug inside against the chilly night air, was to sample the season’s first eggnog, while enjoying one of my favorite activities for relaxing. Coloring. Dressed in comfy pjs, the Christmas tree lit up with white twinkling lights, I felt warmed and joyful, a great precursor to sleep. 


I tried the adult version of eggnog last year, for the first time. My mom used to fix the nonalcoholic kind when I was a child, but I had not had any type of eggnog for years. For this drink, I buy nonalcoholic eggnog and add a splash of spiced rum, and a sprinkle each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Delicious, and perfect for a wintry evening. 

I researched the drink and found that it originated in Europe in the 14th century. It was first called posset and was a hot drink made from curdled milk and ale or wine. Eggs were introduced to the drink some time later. After America was colonized, the drink morphed into one that contained the original recipe plus grogg, which is a mixture of beer and water or rum and water. Served in a small wooden mug called a noggin, the drink was called “egg and grogg in a noggin”. Thankfully, this was shortened to eggnog. 


As I sipped my eggnog, I colored on a Christmas print created by artist Johanna Basford. Johanna’s coloring book, Secret Garden, launched the coloring craze about a year and a half ago. She has since released two more books, Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean. I have all three books and love her detailed pictures. 

I’m in a coloring book group on Facebook that Johanna is also a member of, and part of her Facebook group. During #GivingTuesday I learned of Mary’s Meals through her page and contributed to this worthy organization with the mission of feeding hungry children around the world. Later, Johanna offered four beautifully done Christmas prints to color, to those who made a donation. That was very kind of her! 

After a time of coloring, and a cup of eggnog, it’s going to be an early turn in for me tonight. But it won’t be my last evening for enjoying either. I found a recipe online for making eggnog from scratch, supposedly George Washington’s concoction. December 24 is National Eggnog Day. I think I’ll give it a try! 


Journey 347: Clearing Space, Creating Flow

A rainy day with periods of heavy downpours kept me house bound today. I cajoled my inner artist, my creative child, into a “date” at home. Happily, she not only agreed, but brought her creativity to the activity I decided upon today…clearing the rest of my studio and decorating it for Christmas.


Months ago I began clearing this small room, with its six windows, converting it from being a home real estate office, to more of a creative studio space. The big clunky desk was replaced with a writing table, boxes of accumulated stuff removed, and attractive storage containers purchased. And then I stopped, half done. Maybe a bit more than half. 

As happens when forward momentum is halted, there is often a reversal in direction, otherwise known as backsliding. This room tends to be a catch all space. So things began to accumulate again…coloring supplies, junk mail, old photos, and most recently, unwrapped Christmas gifts. I’m sensitive to energy, and the flow of it. When stuff clutters a room, I feel it as clogged, choked energy. Not what I want in my creative studio!

My creative child and I set the music on my iPhone to shuffle, cranked the volume up, and rolled up our sleeves. Starting at the writing table, I worked clockwise around the room, clearing, cleaning, and decorating, in that order. I was ruthless with old files and papers. I’m so very grateful that Keller Williams is now a paperless company. All records and docs are stored online, from active transactions to deals closed years ago. I carted out bags and boxes of old records and blank forms that I no longer need to keep on hand. 

I tossed duplicate class binders, extra play bills, quotes on scraps of paper that I no longer require. As I worked, singing along with whatever song popped up, the room felt lighter and brighter, even as darkness gathered outside the windows. I uncovered momentos that once held significance and a dream book that I created years ago, a forerunner of my vision boards. Here’s where things got interesting. I saved some items. Then reconsidered. Did I want that energy in my creative space? I pulled the dream book from the shelf I’d stashed it on. Flipping through it, I recognized that the dreams were old ones. Some, like a trip to Scotland, have been fulfilled. Others, including many business goals, no longer appeal to me. And some have lost the sparkle or promise they once held for me. I don’t need this old dream book, this old energy, in my fresh space. I threw it away, and instantly, a heaviness I hadn’t  noticed until then, lifted. 


I was very pleased with the room, after I finished. I made space. On shelves and in cubby holes, in drawers and the buffet top, yes. But I created additional space as well. For energy to flow. For ideas to flow. For my creativity to expand and grow, without feeling confined by clutter and pools of negative resistance. The room feels open and supportive of who I am and what I desire to do. I can breathe in this space. I can create. 


I read the next chapter in The Artist’s Way, Week Seven: Recovering a Sense of Connection. Well, I thought, I didn’t connect with anyone on my date today except my inner artist. I wondered if my date was in sync with the upcoming chapter, as it has been the last six weeks. I discovered as I read that the author isn’t writing about connecting with others in this chapter. She writes about connecting with our creativity and our personal dreams. Personal dreams. I thought again of the book I tossed full of old dreams I’ve outgrown. Ahhh…yes. I’m journeying with new dreams now. 
Further, the chapter for this week connected with my symbol for next year, the river, a symbol that had just been confirmed. Julia says, “Art is an act of tuning in and dropping down the well. It is as though all the stories, paintings, music, performances in the world live just under the surface of our normal consciousness. Like an underground river, they flow through us as a stream of ideas we can tap down into. As artists, we drop down the well into the stream. We hear what’s down there and we act on it – more like taking dictation than anything fancy having to do with art.” 


I love that quote. I understand what she’s talking about. I’m ready to immerse myself in that flow of ideas, even as I immerse myself in the flow, the river, of life. This creative studio has flow now as well. I’ve created a space where I can listen to that stream of ideas and “take dictation”. 

I’m looking forward to opening the blinds in the morning and welcoming the sunshine into my fresh space, and welcoming in creativity. I’ll be poised, pen in hand, ready to write. 


Journey 346: A Symbol for 2016

As this year is winding down, I’ve confirmed that my new word for 2016 is “surrender”. I’ll share more about the significance of that word later. I’ve been considering what symbol to use to accompany the word and represent 2016. Two images have come to mind…a river and a flower unfurling from its bud.  As a result, I’ve been asking for confirmation on which symbol to choose. 


As I was straightening up my stash of coloring books, I picked up the first one I had purchased. Although I’ve colored several pages in it, I haven’t opened the book in a while. I flipped to a page randomly and looked at it. And smiled. There was a drawing of a river, flowing alongside a road, through grasses and trees. 


If the river is my symbol for next year, what fun it would be to color this page and use it in social media and on my blog. Or frame the finished picture and hang it in my studio. Looking at the drawing, I felt I was being nudged toward the river as my symbol. I see so many apt comparisons between the flowing river and the flow of life. So many truths and analogies leap to mind. 

In this mindfulness coloring book, each picture has an accompanying quote on the facing page. Curious, I checked to see what words the artist chose for this drawing. Here is the quote:

And there was my word, surrender. Of all the quotes that could have accompanied the picture of the river, the artist chose one about surrender. I love the quote and the connection between the river and my chosen word. It’s perfect. And, just as perfectly, the symbol for 2016 was brought to me. The river. 

I’m so excited to have these two key elements for next year in place. What an extraordinary adventure it promises to be. But first, I will finish out 2015 with great joy. I’ll journey to the end of December, before surrendering to 2016. As I complete my year of journeys, I’ll slowly color in the river picture. It can be my work in progress. What a beautiful meditation, as I color, thinking about all that Life, and the river, mean to me.