Connecting the Dots

I wasn’t sure yet, at 7:00 pm, what I was going to write about this evening, when I received an excellent suggestion. Greg and I were taking three of our grandchildren back to their house, after my sister and I had spent a fun afternoon with four of the grands. All of my grandkids are very aware that I write a couple of blogs. They show interest in what I do and ask questions.

As we neared their home, the kids asked me how many Instagram followers I had and what I would be writing about tonight. I’m not sure yet, was my honest reply.

“I know what you can write about,” Oliver offered, “spending the day with your grandchildren.” I smiled. I liked his idea.

Connecting the Dots

Linda and I made plans a week ago, to get two of her granddaughters and three of my grandkids together today, selecting Soar Trampoline Park as our meeting place. We had to work to make that actually happen today. Linda had a couple of conflicts that came up last minute, with home appliances and scheduled repairmen, and a granddaughter who ended up unable to join us. And on the way to pick up my three grandkids, a back tire on my car went flat!

There is a truth about grandmothers…they are not easily deterred!

Connecting the Dots

Linda’s afternoon worked itself out in a timely manner. And I was fortunate that Greg decided to go with me to pick up our group. He rarely gets to accompany me. On this afternoon, I didn’t know it, but I would need his help. Greg put the spare tire on, dropped me off at the trampoline park, and sacrificed his afternoon, getting new tires on the car. Megan took time out of her busy day to drive the kids to Soar.

All worked out. Linda and I watched the kids bounce, tumble and play, while chatting and catching up.

Connecting the Dots Aubrey and London are technically second cousins. They have always considered each other to be best friends and enjoy any opportunity to see each other.

Connecting the Dots I love this pic of Oliver and Joey. They were busy jumping and playing dodgeball. I asked for a photo op before we left the park and they rewarded me with this great shot.

Soar Trampoline Park is the perfect place for kids to hang out, connect, play and burn up some energy. The staff is wonderful and watchful, quick to respond to an adult’s questions or intercept an unruly child and re-establish order. Our grandkids had a fun afternoon.

Greg rejoined us just as our allotted jumping time was up. We all enjoyed dinner together, before Linda took London to her dad and we drove our three home.

Connecting the Dots

I accepted Oliver’s suggestion to write about our fun afternoon together. I love and appreciate these kids. They teach me much, by sharing their unique perspectives of the world. Their hearts are open. Their minds are curious about the world and the way things work. We had lively conversations over dinner and I enjoyed their abilities to communicate well.

I saw a great quote recently, that came to mind once I accepted the invitation to write this story.

Grandchildren are the dots that connect the lines from generation to generation. Lois Wyse

I get a powerful mental image when I read that quote. I see my grandchildren, all five of them, and my sisters’ grandchildren, six of them, as our futures. Our lives are connected, through unbreakable, unshakable cords of love…from my generation, and even our parents and grandparents before us…to our children…and now their children.

This generation that is beginning to reach their young adult years is strong, and culturally diverse, and open to change. Over dinner our four grandchildren that were present spoke of making differences in the world through health care, teaching children, technology and animal care. They are so confident in their abilities to help others…so sincere in their desires to impact others.

I’m thrilled to be a Yaya. I’m honored to journey alongside each of my grandchildren and the other grands in my family.

Connecting the Dots

National Creativity Day

As I moved through my day, I stayed open to what I would be writing about this evening. I had a couple of ideas. And I wanted to create a new vignette on the little entryway table, so that was a possibility too. I realized my ideas all centered around creativity, actually. As I settled in at home, late in the afternoon, I starting getting the nudge to check online to see what unique holidays were being celebrated today. There are more than 1,500 unusual holidays throughout the year. I occasionally find a fun one to celebrate and write about.

After being repeatedly drawn to look, I finally gave in and and checked to see what special holidays were on this date. And there it was, my story inspiration for the day.

National Creativity Day

Hal Croasmun and ScreenwritingU founded National Creativity Day in 2018 to celebrate imaginative spirits everywhere and to encourage them to keep creating. The Registrar at National Day Calendar declared that National Creativity Day will be observed annually on May 30.

This is the first National Creativity Day, ever, and I was drawn to participate in the inaugural celebration. Creativity is my thing. I focused on it last year as a theme. The creative urges I experienced throughout the day were guiding me to a fun way to unleash my artistic side.

Creativity can be expressed in many ways…through music, gardening, drawing, sewing, photography, film, poetry, writing, painting, decorating, coloring, fashion design, storytelling…the possibilities are as varied as the people who create.

I chose to celebrate National Creativity Day in these ways:

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Creating vignettes – I reset this little chippy table by the front door with items that make me think of summer. The rustic wooden box, made by Greg, holds a watercolor painting by Ray Moore, who passed away in 2002, a blue ceramic cup with a beach theme, and an assortment of seashells.

The bottom shelf features a butterfly painting, green glass bottle and a large shell. All of these items came from Greg’s mother, Leta. I added a couple of tea lights and moved on to the next creative project.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Plant Based Cooking – I am loving my plant based journey, and the rewards of cooking nutritious and delicious meals and snacks at home. Several years ago I expressed a desire to be more creative in the kitchen, and this shift in my diet has provided that opportunity.

I have at last perfected a non-dairy, gluten free, no refined sugar blueberry scone! I found a recipe on Pinterest that I adapted with great success. I’ll share the recipe soon. I don’t indulge in this treat often, however I made a batch of scones this afternoon, in honor of the day.

For a simple but colorful and healthy dinner, I added fresh organic cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini and yellow squash to my pressure pot and steamed everything together for 4 minutes. This is my favorite way to prepare a quick, wholesome meal. I seasoned the veggies with a few sprinkles of sea salt, black pepper and garlic powder before steaming. Yum! I purchased tomatoes at the Webb City Farmer’s Market yesterday, and sliced the first one today.

National Creativity Day

National Creativity Day

• Sketching/Coloring – My favorite creative project tonight was working in my book that I’ve repurposed into an art journal. When I saw the page that included a scene from Lord of the Rings, my heart beat faster. I knew Arwen…the brave, compassionate Elven Princess who rode swiftly and battled the evil wraiths so that Frodo could be saved….would be the perfect illustration for this page. But could I capture her likeness? I decided to be brave myself, and go for it.

And you know what? I did it. I am very happy with my Arwen sketch. I thoroughly enjoyed drawing her and then using my colored pencils to lift her from the page. My manga lessons helped me tremendously. I started with Arwen’s head and face…and the three quarters view!

How grateful I am, that I followed Divine promptings and discovered National Creativity Day. What fun I had, expressing myself in these artistic ways. I even did a little playing in the garden, after washing up after dinner. My heart is centered and full and overflowing with joy, which is the perfect way to end a day of celebration.

National Creativity Day

The Power of Community

When I began my plant based journey almost two years ago, I entered into unfamiliar territory, alone. I had the books of Anthony William to guide me as I made changes. And soon Greg and my mom joined me by shifting their diets as well. We were a tiny band of plant based eaters.

The Power of Community

Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.”

I’ve learned these past 23 months just how crucial it is to be surrounded by a group of like minded people, who are headed in the same general direction. I’ve found an amazing online health-minded community, on Instagram. We encourage each other every day, posting photos of our glasses of celery juice and the latest healthy recipe we’ve tried. We ask each other questions and reach out for help if the day is rough. I greatly value the input of each person and make sure I communicate frequently with as many people as I can. Although we are scattered around the world, we have figuratively locked arms and we are walking each other home.

The Power of Community

I thought that online health community might be the only one I could find. How beautiful it has been to be led to others in the Joplin area who are on a similar journey.

I met Robin Jeep several months ago, when she invited me to join a group of people and watch the documentary Eating You Alive at the local movie theater. I was excited about the invitation. I wanted to see the film, but I was even more excited to connect with others in my area who have embraced a plant based lifestyle. It turned out I knew several people who attended the documentary that night.

Robin, who is a plant based chef and founder of the Vibrant Living Society, has been great to offer classes, educating people on the difference a change in diet can make in improving health. This evening she hosted a plant based potluck dinner. Everyone contributed to the meal. I cut up a watermelon, one of my favorite summertime meals, and shared it. Robin demonstrated making a plant based lasagna that we sampled. It was delicious!

We had planned to watch the film Forks Over Knives together. That didn’t happen tonight. Instead, we got to know each other. Some in the room have been plant based for several years or more. Some switched two months ago. Two have completed three weeks so far, eating more fruits and veggies. And some have not yet made the full commitment, but they are curious and open.

And we shared stories. They ranged from wanting to heal to in the process of healing to full healing. I appreciated the earnestness and sincerity of everyone there. I held those who are just beginning their healing journeys, or who stand on the edge of taking that leap, with great compassion. And I applauded, literally, those who have turned their lives around.

I look forward to being part of this growing, healing, questing community, in my own hometown. We are strengthening each other.

The Power of Community

Series Review: Genius

I love and appreciate stories of all kinds, presented in many different formats. Historical fiction, whether in a book or a film, is one of my favorites, as I feel like I learn more about a real person or actual event. This is why I am enjoying the National Geographic series Genius so much.

Series Review Genius

Genius is an anthology series focusing on the untold stories of the world’s most brilliant innovators. The first season featured Albert Einstein, portrayed as a young man by Johnny Flynn, and as an older adult by Geoffrey Rush. This season, with 10 episodes, is complete and can be watched on demand or through Amazon Prime.

Series Review Genius

Season two focuses on Pablo Picasso, played by Alex Rich in the artist’s youth and Antonio Banderas as the aging man. This most reason season is on Tuesdays at 9:00 pm, central time. Episode seven airs tomorrow night.

Series Review Genius

Portraying such incredibly talented and complex men as Einstein and Picasso was a huge undertaking for National Geographic. They have created an excellent series that explores the scientific and artistic geniuses of both men, while giving the viewer a peek into their personal lives. Their brilliance is revealed, along with their quirks, flaws and challenges in life.

Accuracy is extremely important to National Geographic. The creators of the show gather historical information from documents, letters, photographs and biographies, and mix those facts with creative drama to provide an entertaining and inspiring series.

I am actually watching both seasons simultaneously, having started with Picasso and then realizing there was a season one featuring Einstein.

Albert Einstein has intrigued me since childhood. I often refer to his quotes and appreciate his imagination and creativity. It has been heart touching, and almost painful, to watch his struggles as a young man. So few understood him. His father, his professors, his friends tried to categorize him, when he was very much a round genius in a square world.

Einstein’s immense curiosity often gets him into trouble as he questions those who attempt to teach him. And it’s interesting watching his somewhat childlike sense of wonder and enthusiasm about the universe fuel his passion for making major scientific discoveries.

Series Review GeniusGeoffrey Rush on the left and Johnny Flynn on the right, as Einstein.

Pablo Picasso demonstrates a different kind of genius. Introduced to painting at an early age, by his father, Picasso spends most of his life recreating himself, and his art, over and over. I am most familiar with Picasso’s cubism phase, so it has been fascinating to watch how he moved through a variety of movements and styles, from realism to surrealism.

Picasso was always searching for that which gave meaning to his life, and how best to express his unique perspectives of the world. Like Einstein, Picasso often struggled with relationships, especially the romantic ones.

Series Review Genius

Alex Rich on the left and Antonio Banderas on the right, as Picasso.

Both seasons tell the stories of these geniuses by moving back and forth between their early and later years. Einstein does so in a more linear fashion, while Picasso sometimes flips back and forth so frequently that it can get a bit confusing.

However, this series has fleshed out these two personalities so much for me. Yes, it’s dramatized, and yet what is portrayed actually happened. I fact check. I love the way the show humanizes both men. Einstein was more than a scientist with a larger than average brain. Picasso more than an artist who saw and painted the world differently. They journeyed through joys and sorrows, felt frustrations over being misunderstood, made mistakes, and changed the world through their gifts.

Genius shines because it focuses on the intimate lives, rather than the accomplishments, of two extraordinary men. I appreciate Einstein and Picasso even more than I did before. I see them differently. I see their hearts and souls.

Series Review Genius

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

The meme that grabbed my attention this last week at first made me smile. The wise words weren’t from Einstein or a great leader or a well known author. In fact, they weren’t uttered by a real person at all, but rather by a fictional character that is decidedly non-human. The words have stayed with me though, and burrowed deep within my heart, generating ripples of thought.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

The quote is “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

And the being offering that sage advice is the ancient, green tinged Yoda, from the Star Wars universe. In the scene in which Yoda speaks these words, he is counseling young Anakin about the dangers of the Dark Side.

The conversation includes the warning, “Fear is the path to the dark side…”

Those words bring extra clarity, for me, about what Yoda is talking about.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

My thoughts about Yoda’s wisdom are these:

I notice he says train yourself to let go, implying the act of letting go isn’t necessarily a natural, or easy, response. The verb train comes from the Latin “trahere”, meaning pull or draw. The early verb sense was ‘cause (a plant) to grow in a desired shape’ and it was the basis of ‘educate, instruct, teach.’ Yoda is telling his student to educate himself, grow himself, into one who can let go.

Because, the more natural tendency we have, when we fear losing something or someone, is to cling, and hold tightly. Clenching tenses up the body, clogs up energy, and directs attention negatively to fear.

And that is the key word here…fear. Yoda reiterates that it is fear that leads to the dark side. Fear that causes us to cling. Fear that closes down our world and obliterates the light, casting us into darkness.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

Fear of loss can involve more than losing a loved one, or our own life. We can fear losing status, or a job, or income, or perceived love, or something we strongly identify with. Fear of loss can involve change, which is another level of fear in itself, and the belief that we will lose pieces of ourselves if we lose traditions, habits, beliefs, perceptions, fond memories, comfort or safety.

For me, fear of loss comes down to outcomes. I was afraid I would end up with an outcome I didn’t want, so I did my best to hold onto the way things were or to control what the outcome would be. Both only plunged me deeper into fear.

Training myself to let go of everything I feared to lose meant letting go of outcomes…letting go and opening up to curiosity and faith and trust. I learned to quit clinging. I learned to open my heart and quit protecting it. I learned to be okay with not knowing what was just around the river bend, as I entered the flow of life.

Letting go doesn’t mean I push people away or shun them. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy what I have and relationships and my grandchildren and digging in my garden. It means, I hold everything with open hands and an unafraid heart. It means the joy of loving is greater than the fear of losing. It means I don’t attempt to control people or events. It means, ultimately, that I can relax and appreciate all that is, in this precise moment.

Training…growing…is an ongoing journey. Learning to let go is a lesson that continues to pop up for me occasionally, and rather than react to it, I can lean into it and see where in my life I need to let something, or someone, go…where I am clinging instead of flowing.

Because, to the dark side I will not go. I am open to everything…and attached to nothing.

Letting Go of What I Fear to Lose

Creating a Fairy Garden

This is the fifth season for my backyard garden. Because the in-the-ground plants are all perennials, the garden returns, year after year. This means that although I weed and water and divide plants, as needed, and plant annuals in containers, the garden takes care of itself. It shifts each year, as plants fill in an area or pop up across the yard, however the garden no longer requires my creative input like it once did.

Therefore, my creativity turned this year to creating a different type of garden, one I’ve been thinking about for years. This afternoon I at last turned my vintage metal wheelbarrow into a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

The old wheelbarrow has been in my garden for a couple of years. I’ve used it previously as a large container, holding neon colored portulaca. Last fall, as I cleaned up the garden and prepped it for winter, I eyed that wheelbarrow and knew it was destined to become a fairy garden.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I received my first miniature for the fairy garden as a Christmas gift. I purchased several other items in early spring at Michael’s Craft Store when cold weather kept my garden slumbering. I picked up a Dwarf Alberta Spruce recently during one of Sutherland’s half price sales, and the rest of the miniature plants this afternoon.

Today, I finally got to bring everything together…and have fun creating! And as with everything else in my life, the fairy garden is full of symbolism for me.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Because it was the largest piece, I planted the Dwarf Alberta Spruce first. The beautiful craggy rock next to it was in my herb garden, and originally came from Leta Moore’s garden in Arkansas. It caught my eye a few days ago as I watered. It’s interesting shape appealed to me so into the wheelbarrow it went.

Creating a Fairy Garden

After figuring out where the miniatures would go, I removed them and planted an assortment of sedum called the “carpet collection”. These plants will fill in, horizontally, but remain close to the soil. I used 12 of these plants in the wheelbarrow, plus I transplanted a hen and chicks plant set from another location in my garden. All of the plants thrive in full sun.

Next to the larger rock I planted a Danica Arborvitae, another miniaturized plant that is perfect for a fairy garden. The photo above shows the area behind the tree and rock.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I used a small terra cotta saucer as a shallow pond. The saucer is stamped with the words Made in Italy. I have never noticed that until today. How perfect! The saucer represents my love of traveling. And exactly one year ago today, I was in fact, in Italy, exploring the Tuscany region with my daughter and grandson.

I wondered aloud about placing small stones in the saucer, just as Greg came outside to inspect my work. He said he had a jar of polished stones. He let me use them and they look great in the saucer. I added a couple of small rocks to the wheelbarrow, to create balance. And then it was time for the fun pieces…the miniatures.

Creating a Fairy Garden

Daughter Elissa gave me the dwarf in a canoe for Christmas. It represents two things to me. The river and the canoe were my symbols for 2016, symbolizing the Flow of Life. The dwarf is a nod to The Hobbit story and ties in with other items in my fairy garden. I added water to the saucer and placed the canoe with its adventurous passenger in the “pond”.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I selected each miniature because of the story it tells. The castle tower connects me to my beloved Scotland, and also to the Lord of the Rings, and JRR Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth. When Greg brought me the jar of polished rocks, I found a tiny ceramic butterfly mixed in with the stones. With Greg’s permission, I hot-glued the butterfly to the tower. The butterfly was a symbol for me, in 2011, representing Transformation. It is also a nod to a scene from Lord of the Rings, when a moth visits Gandalf as he is held captive atop a tower. Moth…butterfly…close enough for me!

Creating a Fairy Garden

And speaking of Gandalf…my fairy garden has a little wizard, complete with a hat and a cloak and a long beard. I used three flat rocks to create a path for my wizard to stand on. The owl perched on his staff reminds me of another series of stories that I love…in the world of Harry Potter. And look at that little house behind the wizard! The words Once Upon a Time connect to my theme this year, of Story. The wizard also fits perfectly atop the tower, if I want to play and move him around.

Creating a Fairy Garden

I am extremely pleased with my fairy garden. It looks and feels complete to me. And yet, if I find something else that draws me and connects to me, I have room to add more items.

I enjoyed this form of creative play this afternoon. And I love that each piece tells a part of my story, representing things that I identify with and appreciate.

Fairy gardens are a trend that began in the US with fairy doors. There are now many miniature items that can be purchased to create customized gardens. Here are three easy steps to create a fairy garden of your own:

1. Decide on a container for the garden. Possibilities include a large clay flower pot, a metal bucket or container, a wooden half barrow or a corner of an existing garden.

2. Decide on a location and note how much sun the garden will receive. A shady spot will require shade loving plants, whereas a sunny location needs plants that tolerate full sun. Purchase miniature plants accordingly. Lowe’s Garden Center has a great selection of plants that are ideal for fairy gardens. Be sure to read the care instructions for the plants and water them frequently so the fairy garden lasts all summer.

3. Pick a theme and purchase miniatures to support that, or go with an eclectic mix. This is your time to play and create. Have fun with the process. Miniatures can be purchased online through Amazon or at craft and garden shops.

My fairy garden is located in the backyard, near my back door. I’ve popped outside several times this evening, just for the delight of catching sight of that miniature garden. I look forward to seeing how it thrives this summer!

Creating a Fairy Garden

Remembrance Stories

I had the pleasure of driving my mom to a couple of cemeteries today, to carry out the Memorial Weekend tradition of placing flowers on loved ones’ graves. It’s been a while since I’ve visited the final resting places of my maternal grandparents and my stepfather. Pop and my stepdad Max were both veterans. It was very fitting to honor them and my grandmother, who rests alongside Pop.

My favorite part of the trip though was having my sweet mother to myself. I got to ask her questions about grandparents and great grandparents and a vintage piece that belonged to great great great great grandparents, and hear her stories.

Remembrance Stories

Our first stop was in the tiny town of Lanagan, about 40 miles south of Joplin. My grandparents are buried there. Mom and I climbed the hill to Grandma and Pop’s graves. It was a much steeper hill than we remembered! We giggled and held onto each other as we made the ascent.

Pop served with honor in the US Army, during WW II, receiving the Bronze Star Medal. He and my grandmother were married for almost 50 years. Pop was not my biological grandfather. After he came home from the war, he met my grandmother, who was a widow with three children. Mom laughs when she says he must have been shell-shocked, to take on a ready made family! He was a good hearted, faithful man, and raised my mom and her brother and sister as his own. And grandma was a fun, loving woman who made life an adventure. My grandparents were quite a pair.

Remembrance Stories

Remembrance Stories

As we left the cemetery, my mom offered to show me where she lived in Lanagan, when her biological dad was killed. I had never seen anything in Lanagan beyond the cemetery or the strip of houses and the post office on the main highway. I wanted to see where my mom lived when she was four.

Mom’s daddy, my grandpa Bill, died tragically when he was just 33 years old, leaving behind his wife and three young children. I’ve heard the story many times, about how he died trying to get home in a snow storm. He never arrived. His truck slid off the road and into a pole. He worked at Fort Crowder, to the north, and was about to join the war in Europe, when he had the accident. Although I never met this grandfather, I have a strong spiritual connection to him.

Remembrance Stories

Remembrance Stories

We found the corner where the house used to be. Mom said it was a cute, log cabin style house. It’s gone now. Across the street on the other corner is the church where Bill Gregory’s funeral was held. So close to the house it was, a constant reminder for my grandmother of the tragedy that altered her life. Grandpa Bill is buried in Pea Ridge Arkansas, with the rest of the Gregorys. We will visit his grave soon.

Our last stop was at a cemetery in Joplin, where my stepfather is buried. Like Pop, Max took on a ready made family! He was a hard working, creative man who only had to give his attention to something to make it flourish. He served honorably in the US Navy during WW II.

Remembrance Stories

Remembrance Stories

Although Max had his pilot’s license, he did not like flying over water. So he and Mom never traveled abroad, but they visited all of the continental states in their RV. He was good to my sisters and me, and a wonderful papa to our children. It is strange to see my mom’s name already etched on the stone, but it doesn’t bother her a bit. I want to keep her healthy and with us for a long, long time!

I enjoyed hearing my mom’s stories and seeing the corner where she lived for a time. I asked to hear the stories behind a couple of vintage items that she has given me, and I’m glad I asked! I had two of the stories mingled together.

It is special to me to hear family stories, and imagine those people as they lived their lives, with joys and with sorrows. I want to be the keeper of their stories, while honoring them.

It’s even more important to me to enjoy the living. In asking questions and listening to my mom’s stories, I honor her now, and hear her great heart.

Remembrance Stories

Business Review: Soar Trampoline Park

This was the last day of school for three of my grandkids, with an early out day to kick off the summer break. I picked Joey, Oliver and Aubrey up from school and heard about their last day as sixth, fourth and third graders.

After dropping off backpacks at home, we launched into fun mode with a trip to Soar Trampoline Park, located at 1502 S Madison in Webb City Missouri. The kids have been to this unique park several times, however it was a first visit for me. I was excited to check this place out.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

We arrived at Soar just after they opened for the afternoon. A steady stream of enthusiastic kids filed into the lobby area. Happy to be out of school, happy for an hour or two of unbridled free jumping, the throng of kids brought a lively, contagious energy into the building.

As we waited in line for wrist bands, I looked around. The large warehouse style interior was brilliantly lit and decorated in purple, lime green and dark blue. The area was divided into sections. There was a large foam pit and a scaled down version for small children, a dodge ball arena, basketball hoops, a room with a swinging air filled plank to jump over and a huge free form area with platforms, all equipped with trampolines in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

My grandkids bounded away as soon as they had their wrist bands on. I declined to jump, but I strolled through the facility, snapping pics, watching the kids, and laughing as they flipped and somersaulted and bounced high into the air.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Joey spent most of his time in the dodge ball arena. Two staff members watched over the games, helping to divide the players into teams and calling out when a player was hit by a ball and eliminated. Joey was an excellent team member. Watch him for a few seconds HERE.

Oliver divided his time among several areas. He enjoyed playing dodge ball with Joey, spent time jumping with Aubrey and struck out on his own, leaping into the foam block pit. Catch him HERE. He’s the second child who shows up in the video, and Aubrey is in the background at the end.

And Aubrey stayed in the free form area. She instantly made friends, as she often does. The girls practiced backflips, cartwheels and somersaults. Aubrey was in cheerleader mode, prepping for football season this fall. Watch her moves HERE.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Business Review Soar Trampoline ParkIt gets intense in the dodgeball court but it’s all good fun.

We had a fun afternoon. I enjoyed watching the kids as they celebrated the beginning of summer. I was extremely impressed with Soar Trampoline Park. The staff members were all friendly and helpful and very safety minded. The facility was bright, clean and in great condition. And it looks like they will be expanding soon, adding a ninja obstacle course.

Soar will begin their summer hours, opening earlier in the day, on June 5. They have weekly specials and host birthday parties. Visit their Facebook page for more details, or their website HERE.

I would have loved a trampoline park such as this one, as a child. I was always climbing and jumping and trying flips and stunts. Soar provides a fun and safe environment for kids, or an adult’s inner child, to move energy and jump, jump, JUMP! We will be back.

Business Review Soar Trampoline Park

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Tonight’s post is another in my Vintage Stories series. The featured item rests on one of my bedside tables, a unique lamp that did not begin its life as an illuminator. Its original purpose was to magically connect people, allowing them to communicate even though they were miles apart.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

Greg’s dad, Bob, gave me this unusual piece shortly after Leta Moore passed away. My children used to play with the lamp that was a telephone, when they visited their grandparents, talking into the mouthpiece to imaginary friends.

My grandchildren, in turn, played with the lamp. Although to them a phone was a device small enough to fit into their hands, and had fun games downloaded on it, they instinctively knew to place the receiver to their ear and lean forward to speak into the mouthpiece.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

I knew a little bit of history about the lamp. Bob acquired the phone from the Noel Telephone Exchange, in the tiny town of Noel, Missouri, and repurposed it into a lamp, in the late 50s or early 60s. When the receiver is lifted, the lamp lights up. When the receiver is hung up, the light goes off. Clever, huh?

Tonight I removed the lampshade and studied the heavy phone. I was excited to find a company name engraved around the top of the receiver: Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company. I had something I could research! And, engraved on the back of the mouthpiece were these dates: November 26, 1901 March 19, 1907 April 14, 1908 with the additional words, Patent Pending. I’ve never noticed this vital information before. It was time to Google.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The Stromberg Carlson Telephone Company was founded in 1894, in the US, by Swedish inventors Alfred Stromberg, on the left above, and Androv Carlson, on the right. The company was one of five that controlled the national supply of telephone equipment, until after World War II.

Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone patent expired in 1894. These enterprising men, employees of American Bell Telephone Company in Chicago, seized an opportunity. Stromberg and Carlson each invested $500 to establish a firm with the purpose of manufacturing telephone equipment to sell to independent telephone companies.

The model I have is a Stromberg Carlson Kellogg Candlestick Telephone, made in 1908. This 110 year old telephone is vintage, indeed!

Hello Can You Hear Me?Stromberg and Carlson are credited with bringing communication to rural America. This advertisement is for one of their wall models.

So how did Bob Moore acquire this old phone? Greg remembered that the Noel Telephone Exchange, which no longer exists, was owned by Fred Cartwright. Back to Google we went, with a Greg now caught up in the hunt for info.

He discovered that the Cartwrights purchased the Noel Exchange in 1947. On May 27, 1955 the Cartwrights installed a dial telephone system in Noel…the first in the county…after losing their contract with Stromberg Carlson in late 1954. The old phones, with ear and mouth pieces, were no longer needed.

The Moores moved to Noel in 1956, after the dial system was installed. Bob and his dad, Bill, opened a drive in, south of Noel, that featured hamburgers and barbecue sandwiches. They drew hungry customers from McDonald County and the neighboring Arkansas county of Benton. The Cartwrights were patrons of Moore’s Drive-In. At some point, Fred gave, or sold, one of the old Stromberg Carlson phones to Bob.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

The part of the story that I don’t know is how Bob came up with the repurposing idea. Greg, who was just a toddler when his family moved to Noel, can’t remember the transformation from phone to lamp. He and I both believe Bob did the work.

We had Dad Moore with us for a good long time. He passed away three years ago, at the grand age of 94. I talked with him for hours, in his twilight years, as we sat together in his porch swing. I tried to ask him the questions that I knew I’d want answers to later. However, I did not at that time know what I was leaving unanswered. Why didn’t I ask him to tell me again the story of the telephone lamp?

The lamp sends a soft glow into my room at night, chasing away darkness. I think of Bob and Leta Moore when I look at the lamp, and I think of my kids and grandkids who have playfully enjoyed the lamp as well. It sparked their imagination, as it has mine. And apparently, long ago, the telephone inspired Bob as well.

In its former life, the lamp was a communication device, allowing people to talk…and ask questions…across great distances. Perhaps as I lean in close to the mouthpiece, I can ask Bob about creating the lamp. Hello, can you hear me? I will listen for a reply.

Hello Can You Hear Me?

New Insights Seven Years Beyond the Tornado

This day has a great emotional impact on Joplin residents who lived here in 2011. Seven years ago a massive EF5 tornado destroyed a third of my city, killing 161 people and injuring many more. Homes, businesses, schools, parks, cars, animals and trees were gone in moments. I can’t forget what happened, nor do I want to.

I woke up this morning feeling the heaviness that accompanies this day. There’s a pall that hangs over the city as people remember, grieve and feel the strong swirl of emotions. There is gratitude as well, thankfulness for survival, for the rebuilding that has been accomplished, and for the indomitable spirit of this community.

I didn’t intend to share anything today, about life post 5.22.11, however, I’ve had some fresh insights in the last few months, about some some health trends I’ve observed in survivors of that horrific event. It seems this is the story I’m to share.

New Insights Seven Years Beyond the Tornado

Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as an emotional condition that can develop after a traumatic event, particularly an event that involves actual or threatened death, serious bodily injury to oneself or to others, and creates intense feelings of fear, helplessness or horror.

Many lived with PTSD after the tornado. Fears of storms, dying, losing a loved one or a pet, losing a home, or loud noises were natural responses to the devastation that occurred. I experienced the disorder myself and still get uneasy during bad weather. My daughter Adriel lost her home and vehicles and most of her possessions that day and still deals with storm related anxieties. Even my grandchildren, who were not directly in the path of the storm but rode it out in the fringes, experienced PTSD in the aftermath. They witnessed the effects of the tornado and understood the emotional toll on survivors.

New Insights Seven Years Beyond the Tornado

In the past two years, as I changed my eating habits and moved into greater health and well-being, I’ve understood the serious and often overlooked effects of PTSD. Beyond causing anxiety and fear, this disorder is contributing to poor health and an increase in autoimmune disorders and mystery illnesses in survivors.

Physically, stress creates a flight or fight response. Adrenaline floods the body as a result, to aid in running from danger or fighting an enemy. When we continue to live under stress we also live with too much adrenaline in our system. So anxiety sticks around and becomes chronic. Those continual bursts of fear-based adrenaline feed the viruses that inhabit our bodies…Epstein Barr, shingles and strep. The viruses in turn release an abundance of neurotoxins that keep the anxiety going. It’s a vicious cycle…and it’s making people sick.

I realized recently that my chronic sciatica pain, which began after the trauma of a car accident in 1995, increased after the second trauma of the tornado. My health began a downward spiral after 5.22.11 that ultimately caused me to begin walking with a cane in 2015. I am grateful for the turn around that came for me after learning how to feed my body while starving the viruses.

New Insights Seven Years Beyond the Tornado

What about those who haven’t found the connection between a healthy diet and healing? I’ve watched as a close friend, who survived the tornado but lost her husband that day, has greatly deteriorated, health wise. She had injuries as a result of the storm. Those healed. But in the years since the tornado she has partially lost her sight and her ability to balance or to drive. She has aged beyond her years, and currently uses a walker due to extreme weakness in her legs. Doctors are puzzled by her symptoms and have ruled out Parkinson’s and several other diseases. They use the words autoimmune, mystery illness and worse. She has been told she is crazy, seeking attention or making up her illness.

I’ve offered her compassion and also suggestions for changing her diet to improve her health. To heal from PTSD, the brain needs to build up its glucose reserves. Good glucose is needed, found in fruits and vegetables, not the sugar found in sweets, which leads to a crash later. And it helps to create new experiences to replace negative ones and to serve as positive reference points in life. Journaling about favorable experiences, gratitudes and even small adventures changes perceptions and calms an overactive brain.

I talked to my friend on the phone this evening, letting her know I was thinking of her today. I was pleased to hear that she is gaining strength in her legs and eating less meat, dairy, and eggs. Her voice was more clear and best of all, she felt a sense of closure today, seven years after having her world, literally, torn apart.

New Joplin Library at 20th & Connecticut

I share tonight in case there are those reading this who experienced the 2011 tornado and are confused today about their worsening health or who are hearing diagnoses of mystery illnesses or autoimmune disorders. Or perhaps you know someone who continues to suffer when others feel they should be “over it”. Post traumatic stress syndrome is real. It has a powerfully negative effect on the body, feeding viruses most of us are playing host to, and contributing to poor health.

Know that there is hope. Joplin has risen from the rubble and been reborn. The city is growing…stronger, healthier, more beautiful. Her people can do the same. Reach out to me, if you want to know more. We can heal, together.

New Insights Seven Years Beyond the Tornado