Surrender 21: Playing in the Moment

Nothing keeps me in the moment and surrendered to the flow of life like being with my grandchildren. I enjoyed an afternoon with Dayan yesterday. Today, I had the pleasure of spending time with Joey and Oliver. 

It was much too cold to be outdoors this wintry afternoon. No problem…we moved the fun inside. After snacks and a bit of down time watching a cartoon, the boys decided to play an in-the-house version of a basketball game, PIG. 

I surprised the boys by telling them I knew this game and used to play it too. Using a clothes hamper as the hoop, and a rainbow colored ball, we began. 


One person picks a spot to stand and makes a shot. If the ball goes through the hoop, or in this case, into the hamper, the other players must attempt the same shot from the same place. If someone misses, he or she takes the letter P. And the next player sets up the next shot. A second miss earns an I…and the third a G…and then you are out. 

We had fun and we were pretty evenly matched! I was glad to discover that I can still sink a shot. 

The boys moved to a checkers tournament. I confess I lost in the first round. That was okay. I got to sit and watch them play and figure out moves. Again, these two were very evenly matched in skills. Their game ended in a draw, and then became a fun, spirited wrestling match on the floor! Carl the dog literally piled on here. 

With their mom on her way home from work, the boys picked up toys and while Ollie finished up, Joey and I began a shared drawing. This was truly a surrendered moment that flowed into a new game. I started by quickly sketching a dragon. Joey added a dog. And the story began. I drew the tree and added to the story, and Joey sketched in baby dragons hatching from eggs. Every picture added to the drawing and the story. 

What a creative way to share an adventure. When my oldest grandson was a small boy, we began telling back and forth stories, adding a couple of sentences at a time. We called these The Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. This method of shared drawing created a fresh way of story-telling, The Adventures of Joey and Yaya. I look forward to doing more of these with Joey and also Oliver, Aubrey and Jonathan. 


I so appreciate the perspectives of children. How refreshing, as I reconnect with my inner child, my creative artist, to spend time with kids as they freely express their creativity. They inhabit the moment, and the next and the next, as easily as playing. 

Teal Swan says “What sets youth apart from adults, is their ability to recognize and surrender themselves to happiness.” I surrender as well! 


Surrender 20: Somos en el Flujo

Wednesday afternoons. My work day ends early and I pick up my grandson Dayan from school. For the last year and a half we have grabbed Chinese food and watched a couple of episodes of Doctor Who together, discussing the show, and life, afterward. However, we are caught up on Doctor Who. And we haven’t selected another series yet to watch. I picked Dayan up from school, as usual, and our routine unraveled from there. 

We ate Chinese food at the restaurant rather than eating our take out dinners in front of the tv. And because Dayan ultimately needed to be in Joplin this evening, we decided to go to my house and hang out for a while. That’s when Dayan came up with the brilliant idea of coloring together. My whole family is artistic. I gifted each adult and child with a coloring book and colored pencils for Christmas. We stopped by Dayan’s house so he could pick up his pencils and select a page from his Van Gogh coloring book, and off to Joplin we went. 


We were definitely out of our usual Wednesday afternoon habit. Coloring together would be a fun first though. And I love that this grandson of mine, who knows me so well and follows my journeys, often participating in my adventures, quipped, “We are in the flow, aren’t we Yaya?” We were! We were surrendered to doing something different today. 

As Dayan drove, we chatted and our conversation turned to the recent death of film and theater star, Alan Rickman. I have found myself missing the bright presence of a man I only “met” by way of his wonderful movie characterizations. Dayan, who at 16 years old is mature beyond his years, shared an observation from his high school Spanish class. Both ser and estar are verbs meaning “to be”. Ser is used to describe a more permanent state, such as nationality, dates and time, and physical characteristics. Estar is used in describing temporary states of being, such as moods or location. 

Dayan pointed out that in the Spanish culture, death is estar, a temporary state of being, while relationships are ser, permanent. We discussed those amazing concepts and I found great wisdom and comfort in Dayan’s words. Life and death are temporary states, that flow into each other. Relationships, connections, are eternal and not limited by temporary changes, not even death. 

 Dayan’s work in progress, from the Van Gogh coloring book by  The Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

 My work in progress, from The Time Chamber by Daria Song. 

We had fun coloring together this afternoon, chatting as we worked. And while I always enjoy our tv watching sessions, this was a great change of pace. I appreciate Dayan’s flexibility and his willingness to try something different. And his profound insights. Somos en el flujo…we are in the flow. Impermanence again, temporary, ever changing…the journey, the flow, the river of life. And our lives as well, ever changing, shifting, growing. Thank you, Dayan, for the amazing life lesson today. 


Surrender 19: Celebration at El Vaquero

I had a birthday ten days ago, a quiet one spent mostly at home, doing things that I enjoy. The weather was cold and snowy and my family scattered so it was the perfect way to spend the day. Greg and the kids made arrangements for all of us to get together this evening, for a late celebration, at one of my favorite restaurants, El Vaquero. Greg, Elissa, Josh, Dayan, Jonathan, Nathanael, Megan, Adriel and Nate were present.  We missed the three younger grandkids, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey.  


It wasn’t a difficult choice at all to surrender to a family celebration. Nothing brings me greater joy than spending time with my family. What I had to let go of was my concern over the wintry weather that moved into the area late this afternoon. Freezing drizzle was creating slick roads. I gave my adult children the option of rescheduling, especially since two of them live in towns outside of Joplin. But they insisted. The Mother in me cautioned, “Please drive carefully!” The surrendered woman and fun Mom/Yaya in me said “Let’s do it!” 
 Left side of the table: Josh, Nate, Adriel, Elissa

 Right side of the table: Nathanael, Megan, Greg, Dayan, Jonathan

I’m so grateful that the kids remained determined to get together. Apparently other diners stayed home this evening because of the weather. The restaurant was almost empty. Which meant no one minded a large group of chatting, laughing people. Because when we are together, we laugh, a great deal. There are stories to share, pictures on phones to pass around, news to catch up on. I enjoyed sitting back and watching them, my children and their sweethearts, my grandchildren, as they interacted easily with one another with affection and humor. 

I couldn’t be more proud of each of them, or more blessed. And the Mother in me was thankful for each “made it safely home” text. Happy birthday, again, to me! 


Surrender 18: Adventure and Tea

Today presented an opportunity that was easy to surrender to. I met my friend Cate at Panera to discuss life, writing and surrender! On this bright, chilly day cups of hot tea were perfect accompaniments to our shared time. 


I tried the Mango Ceylon, an exotic blend of full leaf black tea, mango and blossoms. It is described as a metabolic frolic tea, which made me smile!  This was my one lovely indulgence today, shared with a friend. Steaming mugs of tea in hand, Cate and I found a booth to slide into and the chatting began. 

I so love and appreciate my friend. Cate and I met during my Year of Firsts and she has been a dear friend since, accompanying me on many of my journeys. I thought of the Peter Pan quote, “Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” That’s us! We can have an adventure or a cup of tea, or both, and it’s all good!


We spent a very pleasant couple of hours sipping tea, and discussing writing, life and surrender. It is wonderful to have traveling companions who not only understand my journey but are on similar paths themselves. Cate is one of these. She shared lessons from her own life experiences, as she has learned, she added, to surrender to the inevitable. Cate gave me another quote, from Anthony de Mello, that fits well with her adage: “Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.”

Tea consumed and hugs exchanged, we parted company, full of the joys of life, and of friendship. Next time we meet, Cate and I must have an adventure! 


Surrender 17: One Lovely Thing

Today is Artist Date day, and with the cold temperatures, I chose to remain snug at home.  Further, I was inspired by an assignment from week ten in The Artist’s Way. The task I am charged with is to do ONE lovely thing for myself, every day this next week. I created a little chart with Sunday through Saturday written on it, and left room to record my daily lovelies.  

I knew exactly how to pamper myself this afternoon, and satisfy my creative inner artist at the same time. Recently I purchased a blueberry scone mix from my great nephew Kaleb during his school fundraiser. Today presented the perfect opportunity to make scones for afternoon tea. 


I just added oil and water to the mix and popped the scones into the oven. I chose to bake them in a round dish and cut them into wedges.  I thought of four year old Kaleb as I worked in the kitchen and sent him love and good thoughts. 


In fifteen minutes I had freshly baked scones. I brewed a cup of Scottish thistle tea and I was ready for the rest of the date with myself that was part of my one lovely thing today. 


I settled into my studio to watch several episodes of my newly discovered favorite series, Mozart in the Jungle. I love this clever show about how Maestro Rodrigo brings renewed passion and purpose to the languishing New York Symphony Orchestra. Rodrigo lives life full on, follows his heart, inspires or infuriates others, but he never leaves people where he finds them. If they are open to change, his companions grow. If they are not, they move on. I appreciate how the character thinks outside the box and leads those who dare to follow him to new experiences. I feel creatively inspired watching this show. 

It was a beautiful afternoon…a lovely afternoon, nourishing myself while also appreciating a well done show that appeals to me on so many different levels. 

I happily surrender to this challenge, and I’m excited to see what unfolds this week as I am intentional about doing something that nourishes my soul every day. I wonder what one lovely thing I will be guided to tomorrow?


Surrender 16: The Challenge

I’ve shared before how much I enjoy coloring. The current coloring craze that has swept around the globe has been so much fun to participate in. I have a growing collection of coloring books for adults and colored pencils, which is my preferred medium. 

I’m a member of several coloring groups on Facebook. These are supportive and inspirational as we post our completed pics and share ideas, techniques and trouble areas. Two of these groups have weekly or monthly challenges, in which instructions are given on what must be colored or how a picture is to be colored. 

  The four color challenge. Only four colors could be used to complete the picture. 

These challenges have been fun. I’ve completed the froggy challenge, the four color and six color challenges. And I just submitted my picture where I could only use shades of blue. I like pushing myself creatively and seeing what I’m capable of. That is, until one of the groups issued a challenge  for January that prohibited the use of colored pencils. Any other media could be used, but not pencils. 

 The shades of blue challenge.  

I immediately decided not to do that challenge. I don’t like coloring with gel pens or markers. I like coloring with pencils. The first week in January went by and that challenge kept nudging me. I’d push it away. Besides, I told myself, I don’t have markers or colored pens and I didn’t want to purchase them just for this one challenge. 

And then I remembered. I did own a set of Bic fine line colored markers, if I could find them. I searched through my house for another week, without success. Surely, I wasn’t supposed to do the challenge if I couldn’t find my markers. Right? There was that drag on my boat, as I flowed down the river. I recognized that feeling. Resistance. 


Once I realize I’m resisting something, which alerts me that I’m moving out of the flow of life, I have a choice to make. Continue resisting…drag, drag, draaaaggg.  Or release the resistance. The choice was not difficult. I would do the challenge.  I used my intuition, and asked, “Where are the Bic markers?” I returned again and again to the place I felt drawn to and searched through the interior of the cabinet multiple times. Finally, standing there once again, I looked in the closet to my left, and there they were. 

I am using markers to complete a challenge. I have until the end of January to finish the picture, a Johanna Basford Christmas print that I didn’t get around to during the holidays. And you know what? It’s fun. I’m enjoying using the markers and coloring with them is just as relaxing. 

I’m grateful for the challenge. It was a simple matter, but apparently a big one to me because it became a point of resistance. I’m learning. It continues to be good for my soul and my growth to move beyond my comfort zone AND my personal preferences, which tend to limit me. My awareness is revealing to me where I am not as open as I want to be. Open to everything…even using markers to color with. Attached to nothing…not even my favorite colored pencils. I believe I’ll be coloring with these markers again. 



Surrender 15: New Vignettes – 3D Collages

This week, post holiday decor, I’ve gradually been creating fresh vignettes in my vintage pieces. And I had fun with a new piece that I received as a Christmas gift. 

What occurred to me today, as I’ve also been working on my 2016 vision board this week, is the similarity between the two processes. I cut out images and words and arrange them on my board, capturing where I am currently in my journey. All of my dreams, big and small, are represented there as well. 

With the vignettes, I’m taking actual objects and arranging them in an eye pleasing way. These items are fun purchases, cherished heirlooms, repurposed treasures or family mementos that I love. They are pieces of my past, or my family’s past, arranged to tell new stories. 


The vintage suitcase got a new look. From Christmas I reused the old green pitcher with dried eucalyptus and red berries. The small dark red JOY pillow shifted to the suitcase as well. Returning to the suitcase from previous vignettes is the 116 year old china doll, the vintage tea cup and saucer, the trio of porcelain birds and the ruby red and dark green bud vases. A white candle and newspaper bird garland completed this freshened up look. 

I received this awesome wooden chest as a Christmas gift from my son Nate and daughter-in-law Megan. It is perfect for holding my growing collection of colored pencils and a couple of Daria Song coloring books. To complete the grouping I added an old photo of my Lauderdale grandparents, on their wedding day I believe. And an amber glass bud vase and candle holder that belonged to Greg’s mother. 


And finally, the vintage wooden sieve was redone. This is where the flow of life guided me. I added a white glass pitcher with rusty jingle bells and red berry picks that I repurposed from Christmas. A pair of plump white  birds are nestled on a vintage lace doily. I envisioned paperwhites growing from a pot, for the final piece. 

I often purchase these bulbs before the holidays and by Christmas the delicate, fragrant white flowers are in bloom. But I didn’t buy any this year, and suddenly, I wished I had. I could see, in my mind, that paperwhites would be the perfect accent for my sieve. 

I had to pick up a few groceries at the market and while there, I noticed a display of Christmas amaryllis kits marked down considerably. Interested I wheeled my cart over, and discovered ONE paperwhites kit, which included a pot, soil, moss and six bulbs. Those were surely my paperwhites! The bulbs were already sprouting, and in just a few days, they have grown tall and have blooms appearing. 

I love when a thought so quickly manifests into reality. And I was right! The paperwhites look perfect in the vignette. 



Surrender 14: Chinese Food & Crystal Bridges Museum

While in Arkansas today, Greg and I went with the flow, opening to the possibilities that the journey offered. We took care of a couple of items that needed doing and then surrendered to the day. 

One scheduled event was to meet Greg’s cousin for lunch in Bella Vista, in between her morning and afternoon work appointments. Pam suggested Chen’s Garden, a Chinese buffet style restaurant. 


We had an enjoyable meal, dining and chatting and laughing. I tried items from the buffet that I’ve not sampled before, such as a dumpling, vegetable egg fu-yang, crisp green beans and peppered chicken. It was all delicious and fun to catch up with Pam. 

After lunch and necessities were completed, Greg suggested a drive to the beautiful Crystal Bridges Musuem of American Art, located in Bentonville, AR. It has been almost two years since I last visited the museum complex, walking the trails through the woods for a first. The museum recently acquired a Frank Lloyd Wright house, that was meticulously disassembled in New Jersey and carefully relocated to Arkansas. I longed for a peek at this unique home. 


We discovered upon arrival at the museum that there were no tickets available until late in the afternoon, to tour the inside of the house. The day was gorgeous, with sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s. This gift of a beautiful January day had brought an abundance of visitors to the museum. No worries though. We were told we could walk around the house. 

Known as the Bachman-Wilson House, this structure, built in 1954 along the Millstone River in New Jersey, is one of Wright’s Usonian homes. Designed to be affordable for the average middle class family, the name for these houses is derived from “United States of North America”. There were approximately 120 Usonian houses built. 


During his career, Frank Lloyd Wright sought to create a new style of architecture that expressed uniquely American character. Referred to as “organic architecture “, Wright’s structures were integrated with their environment. Each has strong horizontal elements, emphasizing the building’s connection to the ground, and large windows to allow for natural light and open views to the outdoors. 

I loved walking through the museum, which is an experience in itself, and along the trail outdoors to the house. The home has been beautifully restored and it is now preserved for future generations to enjoy and appreciate. I especially liked the liberal use of wood and the many windows. We sat for a time on a nearby park bench, savoring the spring-like day and the beauty around us. 

Next time, I will plan ahead and secure a ticket, which is free, and wander through the interior of the Bachman-Wilson home. However, I was perfectly content with the way the afternoon unfolded today, and the leisurely stroll in the sunshine. It was, indeed, a gift. 


Surrender 13: Sherlock Holmes The Abominable Bride

Spoiler free post. 

Not only do Dayan and I enjoy watching BBC’s Doctor Who together, we love another of their series, Sherlock Holmes. This incredibly popular incarnation of one of literature’s greatest detectives is the creation of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Moffat is currently the show runner for Doctor Who as well. 

Which perhaps explains, at least partially, why there have only been nine 90 minute episodes of Sherlock Holmes in the past six years. Moffat has been the primary story writer for Doctor Who, which produces 13 episodes a season. Moffat is a busy man! And the primary actors for Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, are just as busy, being in demand for movies such as The Hobbit Trilogy and Dr. Strange. 

Fans of Sherlock Holmes appreciate the quirky show’s brilliance enough that they’ve resigned themselves to the long wait between seasons, but just barely. One can appreciate repeat viewings of the existing feature length episodes, however anticipation and excitement has been high since the announcement of a holiday special, titled The Abominable Bride. Moffat promised something familiar yet different. Dayan and I, along with other family members who love Sherlock, couldn’t wait! 


Sherlock Holmes: The Abominable Bride stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs, Rupert Graves, Mark Gatiss, Andrew Scott, Natosha O’Keefe and Amanda Abbington. It was directed by Douglas McKinnon and written by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based upon the works of Arthur Conan Doyle. The crime/drama/mystery has a run time of 90 minutes and carries a TV-14 rating, for mild violence and adult themes. The show premiered in the US on January 1.

The episode begins with a brief recap of the previous three seasons, and then flashes the word Alternatively…before launching into the new story, set in 1890’s London. Garbed in Victorian clothing, all the familiar characters are present: Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch), Dr. John Watson (Freeman), Mary Watson (Abbington), Mycroft Holmes (Gatiss), Mrs. Hudson (Stubbs), Inspector Lestrade (Graves) and Moriarty (Scott).  Holmes and Watson take the mysterious case of a deceased bride (O’Keefe), who after shooting herself, appears later to shoot and kill her husband. Other men in London meet the same fate, apparent victims of a ghost bride. 

Holmes, who scoffs at the possibility of a ghost killer, and Watson, who is much more open to that possibility, seek to solve the mystery and prevent more murders. We are taken on a wild journey through Victorian London. As the episode continues, we realize there is a much deeper, and much more mysterious, journey unfolding at the same time. 

Dayan and I loved this Sherlock romp. And we had to wait to watch it, allowing the flow of life to work out the right time for us. We both missed the January 1 showing on PBS Masterpiece Theater. Fathom Events released the show as a feature at movie theaters a few days later, however, confident we would catch it on television, we didn’t make the drive to the nearest sponsoring theater in Tulsa. Dayan intended to record Sherlock when it was rebroadcast Sunday evening, which left me free to watch the Golden Globe Awards that night. We planned to get together today and watch the episode, but Dayan didn’t get the show recorded. Not to worry! We both surrendered on this one. And yesterday, in my Facebook newsfeed, was a notice from PBS that the full episode could be watched for free via their website. Dayan used his technology skills to pull that site up on their large screen tv, and we were set to go. 

It was wonderful to see the cast together again. As always, the acting was superb and the cinematography gorgeous with the perfect musical score accompaniment. And the story, well that was pure Moffat genius. As Whovians, we are very familiar with Moffat’s writing style and this story, with its many twists, turns and connections, was Steven at his finest. Sprinkled throughout the episode were humorous moments, ahas and key references to past episodes, which created a fun viewing experience. 


As we watched, we kept up a running banter of speculations about where the story was headed, and we were basically spot on. Dayan made a couple of excellent observations, based on his knowledge of Moffat, Sherlock and Doctor Who, that proved to be true. 

After the delightful conclusion, my grandson and I spent time discussing the intricacies of the  episode and how it will tie in to the fourth season, due to begin filming this spring. Alas, we will have to wait until 2017 for the next episodes to air, but it will be worth the wait. The Abominable Bride helped to satisfy our Sherlock craving slightly, while at the same time, creating even greater anticipation. That, to me, is the hallmark of a great show. 


Surrender 12: Cinzetti’s

I drove back to Kansas City today, to pick up Greg, who spent six days there house painting for his cousin Tim. To celebrate my birthday, Greg and I, and Tim and his wife Lisa, ate dinner at Cinzetti’s, a buffet style Italian restaurant in Overland Park. I was happy to surrender to this idea. Greg has enjoyed eating at Cinzetti’s before and I was excited to try a new-to-me restaurant. Plus, I’ve never experienced a buffet that is exclusively Italian. 

I was not disappointed. Cinzetti’s buffet includes 80 made fresh daily dishes. There was a salad bar, pizza bar, a pasta buffet and specialties such as eggplant parmigiana and breaded zucchini. And lastly, there was a scrumptious dessert bar featuring a variety of crepes prepared as you watched. 

 Although I didn’t sample all 80 dishes, I had a difficult time choosing among so many delectable offerings. So I tried a spoonful of this pasta dish, and another of that one. I tried the vegetable lasagna, which was excellent, and of all things, glazed carrots, which were incredibly good. 


Although the crepes looked wonderful, I was too full to do them justice. I had a small bowl of bread pudding with vanilla cream sauce. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful meal. I appreciate the Moores…Greg, Tim and Lisa…for selecting such a delightful restaurant. 

This is how good it was…as Greg and I left Kansas City, heading back toward Joplin, we decided 2 1/2 hours wasn’t such a bad drive. We just might pop up soon for lunch, a long leisurely lunch, at Cinzetti’s.