I’m offering a departure tonight from the Fall Hygge Challenge, because today I got to experience a first. I’ve heard of escape rooms but I’ve never participated in one before. Ten family members met at Escape Zombie City, located downtown at 106 S Joplin Avenue.
An escape room, also known as an escape game, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete objectives. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secrets hidden within the rooms. Games are set in a variety of fictional locations, such as prison cells, dungeons, and space stations, and usually the various puzzles and riddles follow the theme of the room.
Tonight’s fun escape scenario involved zombies invading the city. The building we were in is a warehouse repurposed into a mock police station. So rather than escaping a single room, our task was to work our way through a 10,000 square foot building, divided into multiple rooms.
This is the story, as posted on the group’s Facebook page:
First room in the challenge. Photo from event Facebook page.
I don’t want to reveal any of the clues or the supplies that need to be found to escape the zombies. I will just say that we had so much fun as we worked out an escape. The storyline was well thought out and developed as we played, the props were wonderfully realistic and the clues challenging. We thoroughly enjoyed the edgy experience.
We screamed and ran in circles in the darkened rooms. Zombies were shot. Ultimately our group of ten came together, working well to solve clues and locate supplies. Laughter rang out as often as shrieks.
We didn’t escape. Time ran out. But we had such a great experience. Hours later we are still talking about how much fun Escape Zombie City was. The event runs weekends through the first week of November. It’s recommended for ages 12 and above.
In spite of warm muggy weather today that belies the fact that fall begins this weekend, I excitedly drew my first hygge activity to welcome in the new season.
For this game that I play, I randomly select a folded slip of paper from the container, and follow the directions. This morning I picked this action from the little ceramic nut dish.
Create a new fall vignette.
After retrieving my box of fall decorations, I selected the vintage wooden sieve on my dining room table as the focus of my reset. This old sieve is not a family heirloom. I purchased it five years ago at an antique store. However, I love this unique piece. It makes a great container to create vignettes within.
I cleared away the summer items from the table and the sieve, and opened to possibilities. My rules for creating fresh displays are simple: use what I already have on hand, try new combinations of items, and have fun.
Creating a Fall Vignette
Color sets the mood for each vignette. Gone were the blues and greens of summer. I brought in a richly hued table runner, and swapped out green plates for yellow ones. A gold cloth provides a backdrop within the sieve. Pumpkins surrounded by miniature wreaths rest beneath the wire cloches.
I knew I wanted to include the nut dish that belonged to my grandparents. This is the fun part, then. I try out various items as I create the vignette, studying combinations and effects. Digging through my fall storage box, I gathered several pieces and set them on the table.
I keep the display simple, using the “rule of three” to prevent overcrowding the space. As I shifted pieces in and out of the sieve, the vignette came together quickly.
The mercury glass vase, which when twisted around, has a Christmas motif on the front, does fall duty here. Sprigs of autumn berries decorated with tiny rusty metal stars fill the vase. A footed enameled metal dish holds a small spice scented candle, encircled by wooden acorns.
A garland of red, orange and clear beads completes the interior of the sieve. Resting nearby is a rust colored votive holder, adorned with a wooden cut out leaf, and two more acorns. Light is a very important element in my vignettes. I always include at least one candle.
I’m happy with this vignette, the first acknowledgement of fall in my house, and the first hygge activity of the season. The cozy display makes me smile, and it reminds me that cooler weather is coming!
After a day spent on the phone or staring at a screen, I knew by tea time that I needed a creative activity this evening. I felt that drawing and/or coloring was just what my mind, body and soul needed to unwind, and recharge.
And, I knew what image I wanted to capture.
Every time I walked into my studio today, I paused to look at my white board and read the words I’ve written there.
Queen of my own Kingdom…or pawn in someone else’s?
I spent some time this afternoon working on the foundation of the Kingdom I am building, and the desire I felt, every time I stood before the board, confirms to me that this is my destiny. I am willing to do the work. I am willing to learn and grow, to see my dreams become reality.
It is good to have reminders of who I am and where I am heading. I am so excited about next year’s word and symbol, that I chose to create an art piece that captures this part of my journey, this space I inhabit between the dreaming and the coming true.
I sketched out the pawn chess piece standing before an enchanted mirror that holds within it the reflection of the queen chess piece. In the game of chess, if a pawn traverses the board and reaches the other side, it can be promoted to any of the other pieces of the same color, except the king. The queen, with her ability to move in all directions, is a powerful choice.
I like the symbolism in that, considering my journey. As I move across the chess board of life, I am becoming queen, transitioning symbolically, to this next role.
I used Prismacolor pencils to color in my sketch and popped the completed art piece into a frame I had on hand. This work of art tells a story, my story. And it reminds me, like the words on my board, that the choice is mine. The invitation is to become. Doing the inner and outer work necessary is my way of accepting, of saying yes.
This framed art is resting on my bedside table, and it will remain there as this year ticks by. There are still stories to tell…and work to be done…before 2019 arrives. I’m not trying to rush through this year, but oh how my heart is expanding with the joy that I feel as I contemplate what is to come.
To create a life you love, the first step is imaging what’s possible.
The last thing I will look at before turning off my lamp, and the first thing I will look at when I awake each morning, is this visual reminder of the next part of my journey. I am imaging what is possible.
Tonight’s story, a true tale, was triggered by an item that I found in a storage trunk upstairs last night, as I searched for something else. The tiny red coat and cap, designed to fit a small child, was worn briefly by a member in my family that I know very little about. In fact, the coat survived decades longer than this wee girl.
Her name was Margaret.
Margaret Ann Lauderdale was born in 1941, the youngest of six children. Her parents, Dennis and Grace Lauderdale, were my grandparents. They welcomed this child into a family that already contained two sons and three daughters. My daddy, Curtis, was the child closest in age to Margaret. He was approximately two and a half years older than his baby sister.
Tragically, Margaret died in 1943, after eating grapes that had been sprayed for pests. My dad, who was with Margaret at the time, ate the grapes too, and although he became very ill, his body was bigger and stronger. He survived, something my dad felt guilty about for the rest of his life.
Dennis and Grace Lauderdale
The five Lauderdale children. My father became the youngest, after Margaret’s death.
And that’s all I know about Margaret Ann. Her siblings could not talk about her, without great sorrow. My grandmother could not speak of her at all, even after many years had passed. I’ve never seen a photo of Margaret as a baby, or a toddler.
As I held the small red coat in my hands last night, feeling sad, I recalled that I had seen Margaret. At least, I believe that’s who I saw.
This is Margaret’s ghost story.
One Saturday, about eight or nine years ago, my family was gathered at my sister Debbie’s house, in Oklahoma. There was much laughter as we dined together, and swims in the backyard pool, and people constantly moving indoors and outdoors.
I wanted to use my sister’s computer and was waiting for an opportunity to grab her and ask her permission. As I stood in the living room, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye, and saw my sister cross the foyer at the front of the house and enter the dining room. I thought the woman was my sister. She resembled Debbie and had long dark hair.
I hurried to catch up with her and followed her into the dining room, which was where the computer was conveniently located, my question already escaping my lips. I was startled to enter the dimly lit room and discover it was empty. No one was in the silent dining room. Nevertheless, I looked around, searching the shadows. “Debbie?” I said, even though I could see she wasn’t present. I stepped back through the dining room door and glanced around the crowded living room. Debbie was sitting in a corner chair, in the living room, chatting away. She said she had been there for a while.
While I puzzled out who I had just followed into an empty room, Margaret…my long deceased aunt who did not survive her toddler years…came strongly to mind, the name like an echo of a whisper I could almost hear. I don’t have proof that’s who the spirit was. But since that day, other family members have seen her, in different houses, during different times. Margaret prefers to be near my sister, and others have noted the resemblance between the two.
In my family, ghosts are not a rarity. In fact, we have encountered more than one ghost named Margaret. I accept that the soul lives on, after the body dies, and sometimes, oftentimes, our departed loved ones are near us, sending us love, cheering us on, offering unseen but real support. I’ve experienced their presences too many times, to believe otherwise, and I am comforted knowing my grandparents or my dad or an aunt I’ve never met on this side of the veil visits me.
I brought Margaret’s little red coat and hat downstairs and gently hung them up. They are going to my sister Debbie on my next visit. It seems right for the coat to be with her…to be with them.
Beautiful Margaret, may your soul continue to explore and find the peace and joy that you barely had opportunity to experience in life. We, your family, love you.
I so appreciate that this fun opportunity appeared for me late this afternoon, just as I was considering what to write about this evening. Checking in on Facebook, I discovered I had been tagged by my friend Sara, and invited to participate in a new-to-me challenge.
Called the 7 Day Book Cover Challenge, the rules are simple. For seven days, post a photo of a book cover on Facebook or Instagram, without including an explanation or a review. Then tag a friend to play along.
I love to read, and books have played a crucial role in my life from an early age on. If I want to know how to do something, I read a book. If I want to deepen my knowledge, I find a book to take me on that journey. And if I want to be entertained, or transported to a place I’ve never been, or experience a different time period, culture or realm, I lose myself in the pages of a book.
Books like Eat, Pray Love, the cover photo Sara posted and tagged me on, have shifted my perspective, and my life. I will enjoy mentally and physically sorting through books, and choosing seven that have impacted me.
Beginning tomorrow I will post a book cover photo daily, on both Facebook and Instagram, and tag friends on those social media sites. At the end of the seven days, I’ll share a follow up post and present the seven book covers that I chose.
Thanks Sara, for the invitation and the inspiration. Challenge accepted!
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.
Here’s the meme:
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.
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!
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
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!