Living a Full Life

I’ve been saving quotes and memes all week, as I waited to see which words inspired me the most, for today’s Sunday Short post. Interestingly, it was a meme that I saw this morning that resonated with me and provided fodder for thought.

Living a Full Life

Here’s the meme:

Living a Full Life

The first thing that I love about this, is that the word “rules” is crossed out and replaced with the word “tips”. None of us, me included, want or need more rules to govern our lives. Tips implies suggestions. I can decide whether these are good suggestions for me. And, they are. They inspire me.

1. Be who you want to be. Living a full, extraordinary, rewarding life starts here. We all have to make that crucial decision. Who am I? Not who am I supposed to be or who am I expected to be. Who I am? And how can I best live as me? This is, in reality, a life long process, moving fully into being the person I am created to be. Conversations with the Divine, meditation, and journaling have all helped me get clear about who I am, and allowed me to release who I am not.

Living a Full Life

2. Do the things you love…the things YOU love. This was easier to figure out, once I fully embraced who I am. Things I love include spending time with family, traveling, gardening, writing, engaging in creative play, helping people, watching movies, cooking and taking care of my health and wellbeing. I am capable and willing to do the things I love on my own.

3. Gather around people who uplift and support your vision. It’s helpful to find your tribe…like minded and like hearted people who get you, appreciate you and enjoy you. I’ve learned the importance of community. And, there is value as well in learning from people who are different from me. I think this tip is encouraging me to limit contact with negative, destructive or hurtful people who want to tear me and my ideas down rather than encourage and support me.

4. Carve out time for solitude. This tip is so vital to me that it gets a high priority in my life. I need times of solitude to function well. I like being alone to think, be creative, dream and recharge.

A selfie from my last getaway weekend, where I spent four days in solitude.

5. Respect the pace in which you are growing. It’s not a race or a competition. The only person I am comparing myself to is the person I was yesterday. Challenges can launch us into periods of rapid growth. I can look back and see the tremendous growth that occurred in my life, during some of my most difficult times. But we need quiet, smoother seasons as well, to allow those new growth experiences to sink in deeply, much as a young plant has times of rapid growth and times of putting down deep roots. I’m grateful for all of the challenges and joys in my life. They have contributed to me being exactly where I am, on my journey.

Those are my thoughts around the five great tips. Find a quiet place, take a few minutes, and think your own thoughts about what a full life looks like, to you. Journal about your thoughts, write a poem, paint a picture or create a dance that expresses what you uncover.

Amazingly I found another meme, immediately after finding the Tips for Living a Full Life, that provides the perfect follow up. You know what that means. Next Sunday’s inspiration is in the bag!

Living a Full Life

People Make Glasgow

In the morning we catch a train to London. We are concluding the Scotland portion of our girls’ trip with an overnight stay in Glasgow. Most of the day was spent in the car, traveling south from Isle of Skye through the Highlands, arriving in the busy city mid afternoon. By the time we had lunch and headed out into the rain to sightsee, the day was fading.

No worries. We made the most of our time in Glasgow.

There was no time for the hop on/hop off bus. Instead we took a cab to the one site we all wanted to see…the Glasgow Cathedral and its gothic looking cemetery known as the Necropolis…the City of the Dead.

We barely made it in time for a quick tour of the cathedral. It is a beautiful Scottish gothic style structure, dedicated in 1136. There are catacombs beneath the upper cathedral that we walked through quietly. The kirk survived the medieval period intact and services are still held here.

Glasgow Cathedral.

The cathedral interior.

The catacombs in the lower chapel.

The Necropolis, established in 1832, rises up on a hill behind the cathedral. More than fifty thousand of Glasgow’s nobility and wealthy are buried in this Victorian cemetery, although there are only about 3500 monuments.

It was an amazing experience, walking through the Necropolis. The ancient structures, ranging in size from small headstones to huge majestic buildings and pillars, create a landscape that could be a scene from Phantom of the Opera or the Addams’ Family. The steady rain did not slow our exploration of this fascinating historical place, and we chose it as our group photo location.

We called another cab to take us to Buchanan Street, off of George Square, where we had a fun dinner and a drink to end our day and our stay in this beautiful country. And finally, we took a cab back to our hotel.

There was not time for more sightseeing or shopping. But what struck me today was how friendly the people of Glasgow are, and indeed, the people in all of Scotland. We asked our cab drivers what they liked about living in Glasgow…and they agreed that it is the people that make this bustling city what it is.

Our friendly and attentive waiter, Scott, slid into the booth with us for a few minutes, and shared his passion about his country and its people. We appreciated his remarks and his obvious love for Scotland, a love we share. The people here are good hearted and hard working, with cheerful dispositions. Some have a dry wit and some cracked us up with their amusing antics.

It was a wonderful way to end our stay in Scotland, being reminded that as gorgeous as the landscapes are in this country, it is the people who make this country such a joy to visit, play in and explore. Walking along Buchanan Street, I noticed the flags hanging on either side. I smiled in agreement. The people do make Glasgow. The people make Scotland.

The Voyage Home

The Italy Trip officially concluded today, when our second attempt at flying home was successful! It has been a very long day of travel. And yet I marvel that I showered and ate breakfast in Rome this morning…and tonight, I am in Joplin, Missouri. 

The Voyage Home
To my body, it feels like 4:30 am. Since I awoke at 5:15 this morning in Italy, I am at almost 24 hours without much sleep. I never can rest on airplanes. I watched four movies during the 11 hour flight from Rome to Dallas, Texas. And chatted with Dayan, who was seated next to me. 

As we neared our destination, we talked about the trip, and how much we enjoyed it. Italy 2017 truly was a dream come true for us.  I asked my grandson how this experience changed him. 

The Voyage Home
I loved the insights he shared with me. To state them briefly, Dayan mentioned that he learned more about not resisting what was going on. Our tour unfolded without a hitch. Our travel to and from Italy was fraught with disruptions and delays and cancellations. Dayan realized that fighting against what is happening is a waste of time. However, he also learned that taking action helps him move energy. 

When our flight cancelled yesterday, after we sat on the tarmac for five hours, Dayan took charge of calling American Airlines to find put what flight we had been booked on today. That action helped him to release frustration he felt about the cancellation and find something productive to do. 

The Voyage Home
Dayan’s second area of growth centered around our tour group. These 40 other travelers came from around the world. There were older couples and young adults, families and single people, quiet journeyers and boisterous ones. My wise grandson shared that he looked beyond outer appearances and personalities, getting to know people as they were, rather than forming judgments or quick opinions of them. He was more than sociable. He showed everyone that he genuinely cared about who they were. 

I appreciated Dayan’s remarks. And I agreed with him. I feel like travel changes me too. It enlarges my borders, literally and figuratively. Travel expands my perspectives and views, opens my heart and mind, and deepens my trust. I choose to stay in the flow when I travel, trusting that all is going as it should. 

There is a quote that reads: “Of all the books in the world the best stories are those found between the pages of a passport.” (Source unknown)

I so agree. In the upcoming days, I’ll be sharing some of those amazing stories from our Italy trip. However, now my body is crying out for rest. It’s going to feel wonderful to sleep in my own bed tonight! 

The Voyage Home

2016 Year End Review

As 2016 is slipping away, it is with deep gratitude that I bid the year farewell. This Year of Surrender has been an amazing journey for me, full of delights and unexpected surprises, lessons and celebrations, connections and fresh opportunities. 

Here is my year in review. 

Using the symbol of the River, to represent the flow of Life, this year was about immersing myself in that flow, and seeing where Life took me. Resistance was my signal that I was attempting to take back control, and moving out of flow. I became very aware of what triggered resistance, and how to release those things that quite literally created drag as I journeyed. My mantra was Open to everything, attached to nothing, which kept me in a space of receiving and free from expectations. 

I celebrated the people in my life, for the first time this year writing a birthday blog post for every member of my family, immediate and extended. Being open to such an undertaking led me to looking up each person’s name, so I could share it in the post. I thought about that beautiful soul all day, surrounding him or her with love and gratitude, and honored their lives and accomplishments. It was, admittedly, a big commitment. And yet I am so glad I followed that prompting. 

There were other joyous occasions in 2016. My daughter Adriel married her sweetheart, Nate. Two of my three children purchased homes. I was present for my grandchildren and great nieces and great nephews during football games, award assemblies, concerts, parades and half time shows. 


Dayan and I attended our first Comic Con, in St Louis. There we met the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors and one of the companions, Rose. The way that opportunity came together strongly reinforced my belief that the Divine cares for every aspect of our lives. 

Two major life shifters both occurred mid summer, and have had a lasting impact on me. 

A simple exercise in the book  Walking in This World, by Julia Cameron, took on a life of its own and inspired me to practice 30 days of creativity. I wrote 30 activities on slips of paper and drew one each day. What began as a month of fun quickly became an exercise in deep faith and trust. I recognized that I was asking a question of the Divine. What surprised me was that I, in return, was asked the same question. That beautiful time of surrendering to something so much bigger and more extraordinary that I could ever have imagined has influenced the direction my journey is taking for 2017. 


And another question that I posed to the Divine, involving my health and the severe nerve pain in my legs, was answered as well. I was led to Anthony William, and his books, Medical Medium and Life Changing Foods. My life has shifted dramatically after connecting with Anthony. I switched to a plant based diet, and avoid a short list of foods. I now feel better than I have in many years, and I am experiencing great health and well being, while diminishing my pain. The results have been staggering, and life changing, so much so that I will be launching a second blog in January, created around my healing journey. 

What a tremendous year 2016 has been. The things I have learned from living in surrender and openness. I said good bye to a dear friend this year as well, and many entertainers and celebrities that I appreciated passed on too. However, their legacies live on, and I still feel their impact on my life. One of those, who transitioned early in 2016, has had a profound influence on my continuing journey. 

That’s a story for next year. For while the Year of Surrender is concluding, the lessons I learned and the changes I embraced during those 12 months will continue on the journey with me. 

And continue I will. Join me for an exciting new adventure!

The J Peterman Company

Today I got to scratch an item off of my bucket list. For years I’ve enjoyed browsing through pages of gorgeous clothing, both online and in an actual catalog, from The J Peterman Company. I was drawn to this clothing company the first time I read their tag line:

“People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but a factual romance, about them.” 

I was captivated. 


So captivated, in fact, that I regularly added cutouts from the charming catalogs, called Owner’s Manuals, to my yearly vision boards. Someday, I vowed, I would make a purchase from J Peterman’s. In the meantime, I enjoyed dreaming, and reading the long copy that accompanies the illustrations for the classic and vintage style clothes. 

Because, that is the real charm of this unique catalog. The copy writing is as distinctive as the clothing, with clever and creative stories explaining how the product was discovered, or how the wearer of the clothes might feel in that long duster or silk dress. Reading through a J Peterman Owner’s Manual stirs my imagination and makes me smile. 

Recently I discovered The J Peterman Company on Facebook. To my delight, the company regularly offers promotions and give aways, presenting the opportunity to at last purchase, or even win, a J Peterman original. When their half off sale appeared in my newsfeed yesterday and was extended until midnight tonight, I knew it was time to cross this long desired wish off of my bucket list. The clothes are high end items, and rightly so. One is paying for art, after all. Half off was a siren call that I could not ignore. 

After careful perusal, I felt most drawn to the Artist’s Sweater in electric blue, whose story is  presented above. 


I made my purchase and I am so excited to receive my sweater. It is more than an article of clothing. It is a dream made manifest…a fantasy that has become reality…and an invitation to create my own story.  

It might begin like this…

“She slipped into the sweater, the classic style as much at home in her studio as it was in the corporate office. Playful. Sensual. And oh so imaginative. She felt inspired, as did all who saw it…”

What fun it will be to see how that story unfolds!

Check out The J Peterman Company HERE  

Saying Goodbye to James

I lost a dear friend this past week, someone I have known for most of my life. If his sudden illness and death saddened me, and it did, deeply so, I know his sweet wife and two sons are experiencing his loss at a heartbreaking level. 

My thoughts have not strayed far from James and his precious family. Memories have surfaced. I met him when I was a young teen in Noel, MO. He was married to Patti, the older sister of Shelley, one of my best friends. James and Greg grew up together. After Greg and I married, we would hang out with James and Patti. These familiar people became more than just Shelley’s relatives…they became my friends too. 


While we lived in Noel, our lives were interconnected, as so often happens in small towns. James captured my family in portraits and he was the photographer at my wedding. He owned and operated the Ozark Theater in Noel, one of my favorite hangouts. I took care of Anthony, James and Patti’s first son, for a short time when he was two, before my own firstborn arrived. 

James and I enjoyed discussing movies and literature and writing. We shared an appreciation for sci-fi and fantasy fiction. “I’ll write a book someday,” James always added. 



Even after Greg and I moved to Joplin, we stayed in touch with the Carrolls. James and Patti’s family grew, with the arrival of their second son, Ryan. They trekked to Joplin or we stopped by to see them in Noel, not as often as we would have liked, but enough to keep the bonds of friendship strong. 

James became a mail carrier and later mayor of Noel. Always one to give of himself to his community, he continually sought ways to improve his town and help people live better lives. 



At his memorial service this morning, I heard words such as “wonderful”, “thoughtful” and “courteous” used to describe James. And those words were certainly true about this kind hearted man. I never saw James without a smile brightening his face. He had a great sense of humor. He was gracious with a gentle soul. And, he had this spark that lit up his eyes. 

I just this week realized what that ever present spark signified. It was the fire of creativity shining out through his eyes. That word was strongly connected to James this morning and I wholeheartedly agree. James lived a wonderfully creative life. 



From his photography days to drawing and painting to performing plays to building forts for his sons, James expressed his artistic side through a variety of mediums. This talented man fearlessly explored his creativity and had fun playing with it. 

And that book he intended to write? He did it. Several years ago I was both honored and excited when he presented me with a copy of SARREN. Full of magic and adventures, love and battles, SARREN is an epic fantasy novel with a strong heroine as the central character. 


I’ve been slowly re-reading James’ book this week and I am enchanted by the story once again. And beyond that, I am connecting with my friend and knowing him at a deeper level as I discover more about James through his beautiful writing. 

I hold in my hands James’ creativity, birthed into reality through his writing. I am inspired by him to make manifest my own creative ideas. I see, too, that the Alan Rickman quote I so love, “If only life could be a little more tender, and art a little more robust” was lived out in James’ life. He cared for people and put actions with his desire to create a better world. And he offered his creative gifts to the world as well. His contributions are timeless, and far reaching. His life will continue to impact and touch others, in ever expanding ripples. 

He has impacted me. His book SARREN will rest on my writing desk, in my studio, a visual reminder of what is possible, of what a creative life can bring forth. As I move into a new year, with a focus on making life a little more tender and art a little more robust, I will draw inspiration from my friend James. 

Saying thank you seems so inadequate. However, I am so very grateful, James, for your life…and your art. 

Movie Review: Rogue One

This afternoon I at last had the opportunity to see the latest installment in the Star Wars saga…Rogue One. Family members Linda and Roy, long time Star Wars fans like me, accompanied me. And while Rogue One is the newest movie in this long running franchise, the story takes place chronologically after Episode III The Revenge of the Sith and prior to the events in Episode IV A New Hope


Rogue One stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Donnie Yen, Wen Jiang, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Mendelsohn,  Spencer Wilding and Riz Ahmed, and features the voice of James Earl Jones. The sci-fi/adventure was directed by Gareth Edwards. The film is rated PG-13, for extended scenes of violence and intense action, and has a run time of 2 hours and 13 minutes. 

Jyn Erso (Jones) is the daughter of Galen Erso (Mikkelsen), the reluctant designer of the Death Star for the Imperial Galactic Empire. Separated from her father when she was very young, Jyn grows up to become the unlikely leader of a group of resistance fighters in the Rebel Alliance. 

Galen has built a flaw into the weapon of planetary destruction, and he reaches out to his daughter in hopes of providing a way for the Rebels to in turn destroy the Death Star. Jyn teams up with Rebel pilot Cassian Andor (Luna), who has his own agenda, and his droid with attitude, K-2SO (voiced by Tudyk). 

As the trio moves from base to base, they assemble an eclectic team comprised of a blind warrior familiar with the Force, Chirrut Imwe (Yen), his faithful friend Baze (Jiang), and Bodhi (Ahmed), a former Empire pilot who has defected to the Rebels. 

The Empire, led by Darth Vader (played by Wilding and voiced by Jones) and Orson Krennic (Mendelsohn), continues in its ruthless plan to launch the latest weapon against the Alliance. The future of the galaxy rests with Jyn and her small but fierce group of Rebel fighters. 

Rogue One was a great addition to the Star Wars saga. While this first stand alone story introduced a host of new and unfamiliar chatacters, there were plenty of Star Wars devices and several familiar faces to connect this movie with the others, and with the audience. The movie, which was darker, grittier and more war-like than previous films, developed the new characters well, making me appreciate the contributions each one made. 

I especially enjoyed the snarky droid, K-2SO, whose droll comments provides most of the film’s comedic moments, and the blind warrior, Chirrut, who continually reminds his comrades of the Force. “I am one with the Force, and the Force is with me.” 

And as a Star Wars fan, I was thrilled to see once again the ultimate cinematic bad guy, Darth Vader. I am glad James Earl Jones’ distinctive voice is still the voice of Vader. 

Rogue One employs the classic good verses evil plot that is at the core of Star Wars, and yet this is definitely an edgier story. 

Fans will enjoy this latest film. And non fans? Well, this might be a great introduction to the Star Wars universe, and the beginning of a long and loving relationship. 

Let It Go

I love how Facebook shares memories from my past. The pics and posts are snapshots of where I was a year…or two or three…ago. This meme popped up this morning:


This snapshot perfectly describes what I am doing this last week in December as well…letting go of what no longer feeds my soul or serves me. 

The past two days I have tackled a BIG project…cleaning out a closet in my bedroom. It is amazing the amount of stuff that can be crammed into a small space. It was to the point where I feared opening the door! 

I had two goals in mind: get rid of the accumulated clutter…the stuff that no longer feeds my soul…and make the small space function again as a clothes closet. 

Yikes!!

It was out with the old today. I hate to admit that I hauled three large bags of trash out of that tiny closet. Gone are years of left over Christmas paper and crumbled bows, lumpy pillows, old cans of paint and an assortment of odd items I never knew what to do with. 

The closet and then the whole room grew lighter in energy as clutter was cleared away. As I worked, one of my favorite movies, Love Actually, played on the TV/DVD player in the bedroom, an interesting and somehow heart touching counterpoint to the clearing activity I was engaged in. The movie highlights the connectedness of the many characters in the story, while I was busy breaking connections with items that no longer suit me. 


I created great space tonight, room in the closet for fresh new things. In preparation for hanging a closet rod and moving my clothes in from another room, I sorted through a pile of clothing, desiring to release, literally, all that no longer fits me. I was thrilled to discover that due to my recent change to a plant based diet, most of my clothes were too big. After sorting and trying on, the majority of my wardrobe went into bags, ready to be donated to a local organization. 

I am creating physical space for new clothes that fit better, and creative space to determine what I enjoy wearing and what best serves my needs. It will be fun to take my time and only purchase clothes that “ring my bell”, as Aubrey would say, and bring me joy. 

Tomorrow I have games and a stack of old coloring books to sort through, empty picture frames to relocate or donate, and Lord of the   Rings collectibles to make decisions about. The many vintage quilts that I hauled out tonight will be cleaned and I’ll determine how best to display them elsewhere in the house. 

Then the fun begins, as the cleared out closet is put back together and the clothes that I have remaining will be carefully hung in their fresh new space. 

This closet is where Greg and I took shelter when the 2011 EF-5 tornado struck Joplin. That small space sheltered us and protected us  from raging wind and debris. It was the calm in the midst of the storm. That space has since become a catch all, which is hardly appropriate for such a sacred place. 

It feels very good to free it from clutter, while freeing my heart and soul from the pile of objects I no longer want…or need. New space, in my closet and in my life, ushering in fresh possibilities for a new year. Welcome. 

The Purest Form of Friendship

I couldn’t locate the source, however I love this quote:

“Writing letters is the purest form of friendship we humans can possibly express. We capture ourselves in a moment, and then we give that moment away to someone else.” 

I totally understood that sentiment today, as I completed the 12 Days of Letter Writing, a project created by the group More Love Letters. The goal was to write encouraging, uplifting letters to 14 strangers who are currently struggling in their journeys. 


I appreciated this opportunity to participate in such a soulful project. I wasn’t sure how the experience would be, writing to people I don’t know who are facing life challenges. Of the 14 letter recipients, three are children, two have serious medical issues and the rest have all recently lost a loved one. 

I did not need to be concerned about how the letter writing would go. 

As I read each person’s story, shared by the friend or family member who nominated them to receive love letters, my heart was stirred. The words flowed easily onto the note cards I purchased, along with compassion. I didn’t know these people, but I am familiar with their journeys. I’ve walked the same paths. With each person, I found a strong point of connection, and from that place of empathy, I could express sincere love and encouragement. 


In that moment, as I focused on the person I was writing to, I reached out to touch them with my words, my heart, my spirit. There was no expectation about how the recipients would respond or react to the letters…just a flow of loving energy going out. There was, indeed, a purity captured within that moment of writing, a sense of transcending relationships and challenges, time and distance. 

There was love, formed into words, flowing with the ink onto the card. As I sealed each envelope, I sealed the emotion of that moment within the card as well. And I prayed blessings, peace and hope over each missive before sending them on this afternoon. 

There won’t be any replies. Yet my heart is full and I have been blessed already in return. I’m cheering these beautiful souls onward and upward. From Joplin, Missouri to these dear ones across the US and Canada, I have sent them a part of my heart. And I have so fallen in love with each one.