Queen of Katwe

Although I watched Queen of Katwe last week, I saved the review until after the Hygge Challenge, for a reason. I needed time to unpack the truths. This film, based on a true story, found its way to me in an unusual fashion. Not only did the story inspire me, it underscored that something magical is occurring in my life.

This trek down the rabbit hole began when my daughter Elissa sent me a quote:

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place where you belong.” From the film Queen of Katwe

She had not heard of the movie, nor did she look it up. Elissa loved the quote and thought I would appreciate it. Plus, there was the intriguing word queen listed in the source of the quote. The queen chess piece is my symbol for 2019 and the word and image continue to show up daily in my life.

I loved the quote too. And being unfamiliar with the film, I looked it up. This is what I read, as a summary of the storyline:

A Ugandan girl sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess.

Amazed, once again, I had to watch the movie.

Move Review Queen of Katwe

Queen of a Film

Queen of Katwe stars Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong’o, Martin Kabanza and Hope Katende. This biographical drama, directed by Mira Nair, is based on the book by the same title written by Tim Crothers. The movie carries a PG rating, for adult themes, and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

A young Ugandan girl, Phiona Mutesi (Nalwanga), lives in the slum town of Katwe with her mother and siblings. After the death of her husband, Phiona’s mother Harriet (Nyong’o) struggles to feed and provide for her four children. She moves them from house to dilapidated house, barely able to survive.

The children are removed from school and help their mother by selling maize on the litter strewn streets.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Changing Her Life

Life is difficult and the future bleak, until Phiona follows her younger brother Brian (Kabanza) one day to a neighborhood mission. There she meets Coach Robert Katende and watches as children from Katwe play chess. The boards are hand painted and the chess pieces rough, however Phiona and several of the other children discover that they have a knack for the game of strategy.

In fact, Coach Katende quickly realizes that Phiona is a chess prodigy, able to visualize eight moves ahead. He and his wife Hope (played in the film by the real life Hope Katende) alter their plans and make choices that allow them to help Phiona and the children of Katwe have a chance at a better life.

From the poorest of the poor families struggling in the slums, Phiona learns to read, studies books about chess and yearns to become a master of the game. This brilliant and amazing girl moves step by step, from a mission house to competitions to international tournaments, her life shifting to parallel the game she is mastering.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

From Pawn to Queen

I was so deeply moved by this film, which is available on DVD and Netflix. What an incredible impact chess had on Phiona and the other children of Katwe. And how life changing was the love of Coach Katende and his wife Hope, for families whose lives appeared hopeless. Coach showed great respect for Phiona’s mother, honoring her as he recognized the difficult sacrifices she made for her children.

This feel good movie is cheer worthy. I was in tears by the end and literally applauding. As I usually do after watching a film based on a true story, I fact checked and found the events and portrayals in Queen of Katwe to be accurate. To my delight, an added bonus during the end credits brings together the actors and the people that they played.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

I don’t yet fully understand what is going on in my own life, however it revolves around this idea of moving, step by step, from being a pawn to becoming a queen. It’s more than an idea. It’s a Divine invitation to learn, to grow, to leave some things behind and enter into new territory. Queen of Katwe inspired me and challenged me to step up my game, so to speak.

The rest of the quote that Elissa sent me is this:

“Sometimes the place you are used to is not the place where you belong. You belong where you believe you belong.” Queen of Katwe

Yes.

Movie Review Queen of Katwe

Day 7: Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

The last day of the 7 Day Fall Hygge Challenge brought me full circle, activity wise. This morning I drew this slip of paper:

Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

The challenge began last week with creating my first fall vignette, and ended late this evening with a reset on the covered porch. I was grateful for the illumination from the porch light!

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Summer to Fall on the Porch

I cleared away summer décor with the realization that 2018 was quickly “clearing out” as well. The slightly cooler weather this week is welcomed however and brings with it the promise of leaves changing colors, mild temps and crisp evenings.

The summer palette of blues, greens, yellows and pinks disappeared, making room for the earthy hues of autumn.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch Clean slate.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch Summer begonias are still doing well. Annie’s red box stays the same.

I love the fall colors of red, rust, orange and yellow with hints of green and black. A multicolored rug across the bright yellow entry table sets the tone for ceramic pumpkins, bird cages, scented candles and the perfect word for the season…thanks. The flower wreath above the table echoes the colors of the cotton rug.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Cozy Front Porch

Beneath the table I grouped together a vintage metal gas can and a small bucket filled with berry sprigs at one end. On the other side a green plant remains, partnered with a spice scented jar candle.

Because of my late start on the porch, my reset ended with the entry table. Tomorrow I’ll finish this task by converting the rest of the space. Tonight however, I lit candles and basked for a moment in the cozy glow of flickering flames.

I typically begin my fall decorating with the front porch and then move indoors. The Fall Hygge Challenge reversed that process. I began with a vignette in the dining room, the center of my house, and moved outward.

How very hygge-like, to begin with the interior, the heart, and move outward to the exterior. Coziness is more than a comfortable feeling. It is an expression, a way of life, that does indeed radiate outward from the world I envision to the world I create.

I’m grateful for the Fall Hygge Challenge that helped me to welcome a new season, in my home, on my front porch, and in my life.

Day 7 Create a Fall Themed Front Porch

Day 6: No Electronics Evening

I’m racing the clock as I create this post this afternoon ahead of the Day 6 hygge activity. After a full week, I drew this much needed action:

No electronics for the evening.

I define evening as 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, and by saying “no” to electronics, I’m saying “no” to my cell phone, iPod, TV, and computer.

That makes this evening’s post interesting to write, as I am sharing what my intentions are, and the activity I will carry out, rather than capturing my actions after the fact, through words and photos.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

Putting the Electronics Away

It is amazing, in today’s culture, how dependent we are on electronics. My cell phone is never far from me. And it is so much more than a phone. It is a mini computer that I use to take photos, play music, movies and games, save recipes, keep important notes and info, correspond with family, friends and clients, look up property and perform other real estate tasks, stay in touch through social media, check the weather and shop online. And what would I do without Google and the ability to quickly look up info?

I’ve already laughed at myself as I contemplated an evening without electronics and considered working on my family tree (nope that’s online), listening to a podcast (on my phone, so no), trying out a recipe…which was on my phone (can’t)…and watching a movie (leave the TV off). I did write out the recipe by hand, gasp, so I can putter in the kitchen, but I’ll postpone the other activities.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

What to Do Apart from Using Electronics

So how do I intend to spend my time this evening? I have delightful and cozy hygge options.

• Cook or bake a treat, without listening to music or scrolling through online recipes.

• Get into cozy clothes and really unwind after this very busy week: walk in the garden, meditate, stretch.

• Brew a cup of hot tea and savor the flavor as I inhale the scent and cradle the cup.

• Light candles in my bedroom and burn dried herbs to clear energy in my room and fill it with a delicate, earthy scent.

• Write in my journal.

• And…read. I picked out a book, Children of Earth and Sky, by an author that is new to me.

Day 6 No Electronics Evening Hot hibiscus tea

Electronics Free

As I am finishing this post, a couple of hours earlier than I typically do, the evening stretches before me, full of promise. I’m going to turn off the TV and power down other electronics and then tuck my phone away, out of sight.

I know that I’ll instinctively reach for a phone that isn’t there. But that’s okay. This break from electronics allows me to experience the simple pleasures of good, healthy food, a hot beverage and intentional activities, free from distractions.

Electronics aren’t bad. I’m grateful for technology that allows me to easily access information and take care of many details of my life. I’m equally grateful that I control how these gadgets impact my life.

And now…I have an intriguing book waiting for me!

Day 6 No Electronics Evening

Event Review: Escape Zombie City

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.

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Zombie Apocalypse

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:

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Event Review Escape Zombie City

First room in the challenge. Photo from event Facebook page.

Zombie Escape

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.

Can you escape the zombies?

Event Review Escape Zombie City

Check out the event’s Facebook page

Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Today I came so close to skipping the hygge challenge activity. After an extremely long and full day, I stood staring at the covered dish that holds the slips of papers. I had not even drawn one out yet and my phone showed a time of 6:30 PM. I hesitated, feeling how weary I was.

My hesitation was warranted. I know what activities are within that dish. Some require more preparation and time to complete than others. This game teaches me trust, however. I stirred the folded papers, and drew out this activity:

Make a new soup recipe.

Day 5: Make a New Soup Recipe

Finding a Soup Recipe

I was happy with the “random” selection. Although I felt it was too late to make up a pot of soup, finding a new recipe was very doable. Saturday is already full however by Sunday I could make time to cook.

I gathered several plant based cookbooks and thumbed through them while eating a simple veggie roll for dinner.

Soups are among my favorite meals and fall is the perfect season for creating big pots of soups, stews and chilis. Suddenly a recipe caught my attention. Chunky Red Lentil Stew had a relatively short list of ingredients and two wonderful spices: garam masala and curry.

I had found my soup recipe. And remarkably, the cookbook happened to be Vegan Pressure Cooking. Prep time – 10 minutes. Cook time – 6 minutes. I could do that. With a cup of hot lemongrass tea to fortify me, I made soup.

Chunky Red Lentil Soup

Here is the easy recipe:

2 cups + 2 tablespoons vegetable broth, divided

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 carrots, chopped

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon curry

1 tomato, cut into large chunks

1 cup dried red lentils

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Sea salt to taste

In uncovered pressure cooker, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable broth on high. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes, until onion is soft. Stir in carrots, garam masala and curry and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add tomato, lentils and remaining 2 cups of vegetable broth. Stir to combine.

Cover and bring to pressure. Cook for 6 minutes. Use quick release.

Remove lid and stir in lemon juice. Taste and add sea salt as needed.

Soup, it Does a Body Good

As the soup cooked in the pressure pot, I cleaned up the kitchen. The incredible aroma of garam masala and curry teased my nose and energized me. I am grateful that I did not let weariness keep me from today’s hygge activity.

Preparing and eating simple, nutritious food is foundational to the hygge lifestyle. And soup is such a warm, comforting and healing meal. Today fall appeared in the form of cool rainy weather, and I can’t think of a better way to practice coziness than preparing a pot of flavorful soup.

I only had a spoonful of the Red Lentil Stew, since it was quite late, however it tasted as wonderful as it smelled. A beautiful soup sits in the fridge, ready to reheat this weekend. Day 5 of the Fall Hygge Challenge turned out to be a rich blessing.

Day 5: Make a New Soup

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

After a full, fun day, I was grateful for the hygge activity I selected this morning. I drew this slip of paper:

Spend an hour coloring.

Coloring, especially for adults, was a hot trend a couple of years ago. I don’t hear as much about it currently, however, it is a meditative art form that I still enjoy. I brewed a cup of hibiscus tea, sliced up an apple and gathered supplies.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

A Coloring Book and Page Chooses Me

In keeping with the game I am playing, I picked up the first coloring book that I saw as I walked into my studio. Enchanted Forest, by Johanna Bradford, snagged my attention. Perfect. My word for 2019 is Enchanted.

Holding the book in both hands I opened to a page, randomly, and laughed. A variety of feathers filled the space. The feather quill is my symbol for this year.

What an accurate portrayal of where I am at this very moment…poised between two worlds. I inhabit that shifting space of overlapping energy as this year ticks down and the next year invites me in.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Spend an Hour Coloring

Tonight I took my task very literally. With my hot tea, apples and Crayola colored pencils arranged nearby, I glanced at the clock and began a countdown. I didn’t feel hurried. I knew I would not complete the coloring page in 60 minutes. That wasn’t the point of the activity.

The point was to lose myself in the gentle art of coloring. I enjoy selecting color combos and laying the color down on the page. Shading is something I’ve always done, even when I was a child with a box of waxy crayons. I build color up, and smooth it out, highlighting a section here, shading a bit there.

As I color, my heart rate slows, as does my breathing. My soul expands, my mind quiets and then ponders deeper mysteries.

Da 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Exchanging Time

My mind focused in on my choice of words, written on the slip of paper. Spend an hour coloring. Spend… Why did I choose that particular word, spend? Why not Color for an Hour? I almost changed the title of the post to the simplified version.

But my mind kept turning over the word spend. The word comes from the Latin expendere, which literally means pay out. I paid out an hour of my time this evening, an hour out of the 24 I was allotted today, in exchange for the simple and satisfying pleasure of coloring.

That realization gave me a fresh perspective. I’ll exchange more of my time, to explore and develop this line of thought. Tonight as I closed my coloring book, and took a deep breath, I declared this:

May I wisely spend the hours and days and months that I have, creating the life I most want to experience. My currency is precious. And it is limited in this life although my soul is boundless. Coloring was worth an hour of my time, in part because of the truths uncovered. May all that I pursue be counted as worthy.

Day 4: Spend an Hour Coloring

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

I confess that when I drew out a hygge activity this morning, I was hoping for a particular one. I already knew what I would do to carry out that action. And of course, I could have simply fished around in the dish and found the activity I was thinking of. But that’s not the way this game works.

I closed my eyes and drew this action;

Switch bedroom to fall décor.

That’s not the paper I had hoped for, however it was the perfect fall hygge activity for me today.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Clean Sweep

This afternoon, I began the task of removing the summery bedding and décor from my room. With my iPhone playlist on shuffle, I hummed along as I said goodbye to summer and a hearty welcome to fall.

In moments, I was thoroughly into the seasonal switch. With items cleared from surfaces, I could easily dust so the activity became about cleaning and tossing and gathering stuff for donation as much as redecorating.

I love how the energy in a room rises in connection with removing clutter and tidying up. Even though the fall colors in my bedroom are darker, the space felt lighter and brighter.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Fall Décor

I swapped out blues, greens, pinks and light yellows for reds, golds, rust and orange, with black accents. Beginning with the vintage suitcase, I reset vignettes and arranged fresh displays as I moved around the room.

Fall colors are my favorite. The rich vivid hues create warmth and a strong sense of coziness, which is what hygge is all about.

It’s too warm still for flannel sheets and blankets on the bed. However, I traded the lightweight summer quilt for a vintage coverlet that Greg’s grandmother made many years ago, and topped it with a quilt my younger daughter Adriel gifted to me 17 years ago. She made the quilt and matching pillow shams herself, with a little help from my mom. As I smoothed the quilt onto the bed I smiled as I thought about Adriel.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Next Change, Holiday Décor

Candles lit, I surveyed my finished work. It might be 93 degrees outside however in my bedroom it is fall. The temperatures outside will agree with this inner declaration soon enough.

The soft glow of candlelight revealed gleaming surfaces and favorite seasonal items. I recognized the overwhelming feeling of gratitude that welled up within as a sure signal that this activity was the right one for today.

My room is warm and inviting, peaceful and joyful, and it provides the ideal backdrop for restful slumber and lofty daydreams.

I realized too that the next reset that I do will involve holiday décor. How quickly this year has flown by. And how eagerly I anticipate the new year. Great things are in motion. The Dream Giver is calling to me, just around the river bend.

Day 3: Switch Bedroom to Fall Décor

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

An important aspect of hygge is being outdoors and enjoying nature. For every hygge challenge that I do, I make sure to include outdoor activities.

This morning I randomly selected this folded slip of paper:

Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Walking in Nature

I selected the river path, in Wildcat Park south of Joplin, as my destination late this afternoon. A stroll along the river, on this warm day, was inviting even if it wasn’t any cooler by the water. Hearing the gurgle of the river as I walked was soothing and grounding.

I carried a canvas bag, brought home from Edinburgh, Scotland, to collect treasures in. I was open to finding seeds, nuts, leaves, twigs, rocks and feathers.

Instead of bagging them, I collected treasures through my iPhone camera.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Collecting Treasures

In spite of the heat, there were hints of fall evident. Leaves littered the path, grasses waved their tassels, and acorn pieces were scattered in the grass. The squirrels were busy feasting and gathering.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures The river was one of my companions as I walked. Greg was the other.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Beauty abounded.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures Wildflowers are still in bloom.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures These Canadian geese have not headed south yet.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures A golden afternoon.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe sunbathing turtle proved skittish, but this water snake continued to bask in the sun. He’s non poisonous.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThe trees along the path were festooned with delicate webs. Fat brown spiders patiently waited.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresThis huge old sycamore tree stood as a sentinel at the head of the path.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect TreasuresMetal treasure.

Leaving Nature Where It Is

By the end of my nature walk I had placed two treasures in my canvas bag…a nut and a small odd piece of metal that was half buried in the ground. Greg pried it loose for me. I fancied the rectangle of metal and I convinced myself that I likely prevented someone from tripping over it.

Instead of carting items home, I chose to leave nature where it was, outdoors, so that others could appreciate its beauty. I have my photos.

Day 2 of the 7 day fall hygge challenge is finished. I am enriched by the stroll through nature and by the treasures I collected in my heart.

Day 2: Go on a Nature Walk and Collect Treasures

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

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.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Starting Afresh

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.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

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.

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Vignette Pieces

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!

Day 1: Create a New Fall Vignette

Oklahoma Scotfest 2018

My Scottish blood got to sing today, and rejoice in the soulful sound of bagpipes, in neighboring Oklahoma. Greg and I joined my sisters, nieces, nephews and their children at the Oklahoma Scotfest 2018, in Broken Arrow.

OK Scotfest 2018

OK Scotfest

This annual event, which draws more than 25,000 participants, is a celebration of Celtic heritage, music and history. The festival features Scottish clans, set up in booths, athletic competitions, drum and pipe bands, Scottish and American food, and vendors selling a variety of Scottish wares. Traditional folk music as well as Scotrock is performed throughout the three days of the event, in stages set up in tents.

For the first time my Scottish clan, the Maitland Clan, set up a booth. My family and I had the pleasure of meeting another clan member, Annette. We enjoyed chatting and getting to know her.

OK Scotfest 2018

Photos from Scotfest

Here are highlights from the fun day:

OK Scotfest 2018The clan tartans on display.

OK Scotfest 2018Doing genealogy research, Greg has discovered a Scottish connection to the Buchanan Clan.

OK Scotfest 2018We enjoyed watching border collies compete to herd sheep. The dogs respond to whistled commands from their owners.

OK Scotfest 2018Look at these cuties! Weston and Lola arrived in kilts.

OK Scotfest 2018These handsome boys purchased their kilts at the event. Later Ethan and Kaleb wore their kilts to a Cub Scouts meeting and used the experience as a teaching opportunity to explain what a kilt is.

OK Scotfest 2018Athletes from around the world competed in Highland games.

OK Scotfest 2018Pipers and drummers preparing to perform. I absolutely love the sound of bagpipes.

OK Scotfest 2018The band Wicked Tinkers performs in the main tent.

Scotfest Opportunities

The festival provided wonderful opportunities to step into Scottish culture, in the middle of the US, and learn more about my heritage. It was especially fun to share the day with family and make new friends.

I loved the busy and rowdy atmosphere, the many colorful tartans on display, and the ever present wail of bagpipes. That sound stirs a deep response in my soul and calls to me. It is an invitation to return home, to Scotland.

Soon, I whisper. Soon.

OK Scotfest 2018