Day 26: A Day Without Looking in the Mirror

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I don’t consider myself to be vain. And while I don’t go out of the house without makeup and my hair brushed, I also don’t spend a lot of time in front of the mirror, primping. So I thought this day’s first, going the whole day without looking in the mirror, would be a snap.

Brushing my teeth, applying a minimal amount of makeup, fixing my hair this morning, I very deliberately avoided the mirror. This daily regime is such a habit that I found I didn’t really need the mirror.  I could feel my way around my face and run a finger down the side part in my hair and be assured it was relatively straight. No one looked at me oddly once I left the house or raised an eyebrow, so I felt confident that all was well with my appearance.

Every time I got in the car, though, I found myself leaning over to look into the rear view mirror, and not for the purpose of checking for cars behind me. I didn’t know I habitually did this! I didn’t catch myself trying to peek just once, I had to stop myself from looking every time I slid into the driver’s seat. I also realized today how prominent mirrors are. They lurk in every room, in expected and unexpected places. I kept my eyes averted.

I was surprised to find that I wanted to glance into a mirror or reflective surface often. And there is nothing wrong with that. However, there was liberation that came with avoiding the mirror and joy in being okay with moving through the day, just as I was, without checking my hair or looking to see if my nose was shiny. The world around me became my mirror, reflecting back to me my state of being. If I smiled, a smile came back. If I waved, a wave was returned. Peace, silence, weariness, laughter, delight, all were reflected back, showing me who I was, in that moment. This was the best possible mirror to gaze into.

Day 25: Andy’s Frozen Custard Concrete of the Month

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Today’s first was about getting out of my rut. When I eat at a restaurant, I tend to get the same meal or treat every time. I know I like it. I don’t have to think about it. Even when I say I’m going to try something new, I end up ordering my favorite.

Andy’s Frozen Custard offers a special concrete flavor each month. When I allow myself a concrete from Andy’s, I always get the Butter Pecan Concrete. Every time. Today, I broke away from my usual. I had the January special, the Bootdaddy Concrete. It was a delicious mix of frozen vanilla yogurt, oreo cookies, hot fudge topping and caramel.

I had a couple of yummy bites and saved the rest in the freezer. It was good. Did I miss my Butter Pecan?  A little bit! Did I get out of my rut? A little bit! It is in braving the small things that I will move on to conquer the big things, one experience at a time. Bring it on!

Day 24: Country Pickin’s Antique Mall

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Yesterday’s “Yes Day” appeared to spill over into today. And being in a great space of giving and receiving, I let it continue, which made for a very busy day! So for today’s first I picked something fun and yet simple to do. I visited the delightful Country Pickin’s Antique Mall at 5836 N Main Street in Joplin.

I enjoyed browsing through this amazing place. Primitives shared space with antiques, artistic creations and interesting objects.  Although it is bitterly cold outside, I am already shifting into gardening mode. I spied several items that would look great in my backyard as it is being transformed this year.  My daughter, Elissa, who was with me, nabbed a couple of wire baskets that captured her attention.

I am newly in love with repurposing. There is something simple and yet deeply satisfying in taking a piece that has been worn by time and usage and extending its life by finding another purpose for it.  I’m excited to incorporate this look into my gardens. Rusty metals, chippy furniture, cracked statuary, and wooden objects with worn surfaces will all have a place there. It will be a peaceful, inviting, eclectic space.

I was surprised to learn that Country Pickin’s Antique Mall has been in its current location for 9 years, and was on Range Line for 3 years before that. One of the joys of doing a year of firsts is discovering businesses and restaurants in my own hometown that I have somehow missed. This was my first visit to this wonderful store. It most certainly won’t be my last!

Day 23: Yes Day

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In the movie, “Yes Man”, starring Jim Carrey, a man whose life is at a standstill discovers the magical power of “yes” by embracing one simple idea: say yes to everything! For my first today, I decided to be the “yes woman”. I’ve seen the above mentioned movie so it was with a bit of hesitancy that I came to this decision. As I said my first yes out loud, to the universe in general, my phone buzzed. I have sentences that pop up at random on my phone to remind me of important truths. The phrase on the screen read “I am a magnet for all kinds of deeper wonderment.” It seemed an auspicious start!

It was, indeed, a day full of wonder and it became a very full day. I said yes to requests and none required me to do anything I didn’t want to do or go anywhere I didn’t want to go. It was the attitude of being open, to receiving and to granting requests, that created the greatest shift. Magical things showed up. Offers, acceptances, and contracts appeared.  I received a delightful surprise phone call, was given a special price for lunch, found a lucky penny in an unusual place, laughed when a friend, who didn’t know it was a yes day for me, answered each question I asked him with “Yes!”, and my granddaughter Aubrey stopped by and gave me a drawing. Yes, yes, yes….

What I learned from today is that saying yes is as easy as saying no. And while there are certainly times to say no, there are great benefits to affirming what comes my way. Saying yes is more than agreeing to a request, it about opening up and saying yes to life…saying yes, and then getting out of my own way, and enjoying the deeper wonderment that appears.

Day 22: The Road Not Taken

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Today’s first was about exploring the road not taken. I’ve been a full time realtor for 11 years, so I’ve driven on most of the streets and roads in the Joplin area, showing property to prospective buyers. As I’ve driven, with a destination in mind, I’ve noticed roads that I’ve never wandered down. Today, I decided to take the time to see where those roads went.

I had two roads in mind when I set out this morning. Both were south of Joplin in the Saginaw area. This is beautiful country, with hills and trees and streams. I love driving the winding roads there, even when the earth is gray and brown and the trees are bare. After mentally flipping a coin, I decided to explore the road that headed east off of Gateway Drive. Following the curves, enjoying the view of fields on one side of the road and woods on the other, I suddenly had a feeling about where this journey was going to end.  A few minutes later I was laughing. This road joined with Saginaw Road, and looking back west, this was the second road I had wanted to explore! The two roads I had been drawn to, were actually the same road.

That was a fun, and short, trip! Since I was on Saginaw Road, I passed through the tunnel on the aptly named Arch Road and continued east. I’d shown houses on parts of this road but I’d never driven on to see what was at the end. As I passed a house I’d shown several times, I remembered Samwise Gangee, in the Lord of the Rings, saying if he took another step, he’d be the farthest he had ever been from home. That wasn’t exactly true for me, but it would be the farthest I’d ever been down this lane.

The road wound through a narrow valley. Houses appeared in neat yards. One property caught my eye especially; a log house in the middle of a complex of red barns and buildings. In the summer, I could imagine horses galloping through the fields. I expected to reach a dead end. But as often happens in life, my journey took me through unknown lands and then came again into the familiar. I was back in a place I knew well.  And I found my way home.

Day 21: Celebrate National Hug Day

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I enjoy hugging people, although this wasn’t always true. There was a time when I’d back up a step if someone moved toward me, arms outstretched. As a young adult, I learned to allow hugs, and then to appreciate them, and then to initiate them.

Hugging is not only pleasurable, but has health benefits too! A 10 second hug releases the “feel good” hormone oxytocin which lowers stress and reduces fatigue. Other benefits include a lowered risk of heart disease and infections, improved immune system, and a reduction of blood pressure and depression.

Today, January 21, is National Hug Day. When I discovered this holiday, early in the year, I added it to my list of firsts, with the intention of hugging as many people as possible on that date. I love how intentions open possibilities and events arrange themselves beyond what I can imagine. When I looked up the date, I was delighted to see that if fell on a Tuesday, which is the day we have sales meetings at the Keller Williams office. Wonderful! I knew I could hug people at the office, after the meeting. Then I realized that the annual Joplin Business Expo was also on that date. Now the possibility existed of hugging hundreds of people. Even better!

What an amazing day at the Business Expo. I loved greeting people in the business community, seeing colleagues, and hugging friends and new acquaintances. I lost count of how many hugs I gave and received. As Bil Keane, creator of Family Circus, says, “A hug is like a boomerang – you get it back right away.” I am grateful to everyone who shared in this experience today. Happy Hug Day!

Day 20: Lunch at the New El Vaquero

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When the May 22, 2011 tornado churned through Joplin, thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed. El Vaquero, then located at 21st and S. Main Street, was one of the restaurants obliterated. It has taken time for my community to recover and we are not finished yet. Slowly, steadily, homes and businesses have been rebuilt. New companies and restaurants have appeared in the tornado zone along with the return of old favorites.

This past week, 32 months after that horrific storm closed its doors, El Vaquero opened in a new building, a few blocks south of the original location. I looked forward to having lunch there today, as my first. Not just because the food was always great, prices low, and service friendly.  I wanted to welcome El Vaquero back to the neighborhood, back to Joplin. Every comeback by a fallen business or restaurant is a triumph over the destruction that threatened to define what Joplin would become. Every “Now Open” sign is an opportunity to celebrate rising from the ashes and overcoming obstacles and LIFE itself.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who was glad to see this popular Mexican food establishment open again. The parking lot was so full the first time I swung by that I ran a few errands and came back a little later. The interior was bright, spacious and beautifully done. The food was excellent and the servers friendly. It was a delightful lunch.

Driving away, I noticed a sign on a nearby business that read, “Welcome back El Vaquero. Smells great.” What a happy sentiment! Welcome back, indeed.

Day 19: Pay for the Starbucks Order in the Car Behind Me

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This was a simple and yet fun first to do. And it was a great way to finish the Pay It Forward Weekend. After showing property this afternoon, I swung through the drive through of a local Starbucks. The time of day was not exactly peak coffee drinking time but several cars were in line. I trusted that another car would pull in behind me.

I was watching in my rear view mirror as the people in the car ahead of me received their purchase, wondering if I was going to have to go elsewhere to complete this first.  Then a car turned the corner and pulled up behind. A young driver sat at the wheel, bobbing her head to music only she could hear. Perfect!

The guy in the window smiled, in a conspiratorial way, and commented that he loved it when people paid for the purchase of the customer next in line. I smiled in return and exited the parking lot quickly, hoping to be away before the girl behind me cleared the building. Success!

I hope she enjoyed her coffee. And that she will pay it forward when the time feels right for her to do so. I intend to repeat this first, often!

Day 18: An Evening With Theresa Caputo

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Today’s first was exciting for me. I attended an event in Tulsa, Ok featuring Theresa Caputo, otherwise known as The Long Island Medium. Theresa is engaging. She’s petite and wears extremely high heels with lots of bling. Her sense of humor and laughter are infectious. She is high energy, compassionate, confident, and she makes a living talking to the dead.

Sitting in the audience, listening to her deliver messages to people from their departed loved ones, I was touched by the comfort and peace that she imparted. Her accuracy was undeniable. I believe she has a God given gift and after years of denying her abilities, she has obtained peace for herself by embracing fully who she is.

The real power of this first isn’t that I attended the event. It is that I am writing about it and will publically post that I did. I have lived most of my life abiding by other people’s rules and adapting myself to please others. I don’t like to displease others or be controversial. And yet, in the adapting and shifting and suppressing myself, I lost, for a very long time, who I really am and what’s true and important for me to embrace. This year of firsts is about moving beyond my comfort zone and into freedom in all areas of my life.

Tonight, posting about an event that I enjoyed, I am uncomfortable, knowing that not everyone will accept who Theresa is and what she does to bless others. And not everyone will understand why I would go watch her and even appreciate her gift. Coming up to the edge of this discomfort, it would have been easy to back away and choose another first to write about. But backing down is not what I am doing this year. I am pushing through. I’m growing into the person I am meant to be. I am allowing myself to be Divinely guided on how to best challenge my limitations and break through. And so, I share, from a full and joy filled heart, that tonight, I attended a Theresa Caputo event, and I am grateful for the opportunity to hear her speak and grateful for the opportunity to go BEYOND my fear of what other people think.

Day 17: Random Notes of Encouragement

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This weekend, beginning today at noon, is the 2nd Annual Pay it Forward Weekend, as promoted by a Facebook group on that social media site. This event fits wonderfully with my desire to experience a first every day, and I have three days to come up with ways to anonymously show kindness to others.

For today’s first, I came up with the idea of writing encouraging notes to post on random cars in a retail parking lot. I enlisted the help of my grandson, Dayan. We parked my car in a sea of other vehicles and discussed what encouraging words to write. We each wrote several notes and then something magical happened. Dayan began to draw on each note, beautifully illustrating our words with inspiring designs. I was so moved, I had him do the artwork on all the notes.

Then came the fun part.  I explained to my grandson that we would select cars randomly and carefully tuck the notes under the windshield wipers. I also gave Dayan the option of observing this part if it made him feel uncomfortable. He thought it over briefly and then decided he wanted to move beyond his comfort zone also. Yes! We divided the notes and off we went.

We moved quickly among the cars, letting our hearts guide us to the car whose owners most needed the encouraging words. When we met again a few minutes later, we were laughing, our hands empty and our hearts full. We have no idea how the notes were received. We don’t need to know. We moved as we were inspired to move. Whatever unfolds next, is BEYOND us!