Day 74: Dinner at Cici’s Pizza

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Today’s first was a fun family outing to the newly opened Cici’s Pizza for dinner! Eleven of us took advantage of the Opening Special of $5 for the buffet. We weren’t the only ones excited about welcoming Cici’s back to Joplin….the line was out the door when we arrived.

Cici’s Pizza was always a popular Joplin restaurant. They served up pasta, salad, soup and a variety of pizzas, buffet style, for a very reasonable price. You could find all your favorite pizzas there plus a few specialties like Buffalo Wing Pizza and several dessert pizzas. The cinnamon rolls not only looked and smelled good, they tasted delicious!

Our Cici’s Pizza was one of the restaurants that was destroyed the day of the May 2011 tornado. And with the reopening taking place almost three years later, it has been a very long wait for them to come back! In fact, there was some concern that Cici’s would not return. Rumors alternated between saying the pizza place was not going to be in Joplin again to talk about its impending opening. It was only a couple of months ago, when I spotted the “Now Hiring” signs fluttering in front of its new location that I finally believed Cici’s was on the way back!

We enjoyed our dinner, in spite of the crowd. The line moved quickly and the manager met each group as they paid and found tables to dine at. That was no small task for our large group, but he made it happen. Being on my detox diet, I chose to eat salad and a chicken soup with a clear broth. I didn’t feel deprived at all! I did walk down the buffet though, to see what was being offered. It was a great selection, although with the number of diners present, those pizzas didn’t last long! I saw a pizza I had never seen before….a macaroni & cheese pizza! My niece’s husband, Jon, declared it good. He said it tasted like macaroni & cheese on flatbread!

I’m thrilled Cici’s has returned to Joplin. Each business, or restaurant, that reopens is a testament to the determination that has defined Joplin’s recovery. We can be knocked down, we can lose what is dear to us, but we cannot be kept down. What was lost can be rebuilt, when it is brick and mortar. We forever remember those dear souls who left us too soon. As we rise again, build again, move forward, their Spirit is interwoven with the Spirit of Hope that is Joplin.

Day 73: Celebrate Pi Day with a New Recipe

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Today, 3.14.14, is National Pi Day! March 14 is celebrated around the world in honor of the Greek letter pi, representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The mathematical constant begins 3.14159 or, more commonly, 3.14, and as an irrational number, extends to an infinite number of decimal places. Congress made this date a national holiday in March of 2009, to show support for the National Science Foundation and to give teachers a reason to encourage students to have fun with pi.

My grandson brought the holiday to my attention a couple of years ago. And of course, one of the best ways to celebrate pi day, is with pi(e)! Normally, I’d partake of a coconut cream pie, or some other decadent pie from Big R’s. However, this year, as I am continuing on a detox diet plan that eliminates sugar, flour, gluten and dairy, pie was not an option!

I debated doing something else today, as a first. And then, as I was browsing through the new cookbook of Dr. Hyman’s that I just purchased, I found my solution! Using a recipe in The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, I created my own mini “pie”….a Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Cup. Okay, it’s not a pie! But it’s round, and that stays with the pi theme.

Best of all, although it looks like it’s full of all the wrong things, it adheres to the plan I’m on. This little taste of heaven has NO sugar, flour, gluten or dairy. Using organic ingredients makes it even better for me. The cups were quick and easy to make and set up in the freezer. Sometimes, food that looks good and is good for you, tastes terrible! But I just sampled a peanut butter chocolate cup and they are wonderful! Creamy, not very sweet, yet very satisfying as a treat.

Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. Pi day seems like the perfect birth date for this mathematical and scientific genius. I love his quirky sense of humor too and enjoy his quotes, which are full of wisdom. Perhaps I’ll have another double peanut butter chocolate cup as I wish him a Happy Birthday!

Day 72: Geocaching

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Who doesn’t love treasure hunting? As a kid, I dreamed of finding that hidden treasure worth a fortune, and I loved scavenger hunts! Deciphering clues and the thrill of the hunt were as fun as actually finding the hidden objects. So when I heard about geocaching, I was excited to try this as one of my new experiences. Today, for the first time, my grandson Dayan and I went geocaching.

Geocaching is a treasure hunting game played outdoors, using a GPS to hide and seek containers. Once a container is hidden and the coordinates recorded, you can search for the cache. I downloaded the geocaching app on my iPhone. The Joplin area has dozens of caches hidden. Dayan and I selected one that was close to my house and off we went!

The first cache we searched for was hidden in a public park. We used the compass on the app to find the general location. We knew we were in the correct area, but being our first time to hunt, we weren’t quite sure what we were looking for! We searched the pavilion, looking beneath picnic tables and around the perimeter of the concrete base.  A group of moms and kids were watching us as we searched. One asked if we had lost something. We explained the game we were playing and that we were new to geocaching and they joined us in the hunt!

What fun! Dayan and I and a group of strangers who quickly became allies, searching for a small container hidden in the pavilion. I looked up the hint and found a single word: rafters. We all began looking up and Dayan and one of our new friends found the cache, a small key holder type box held in place by magnets. Success! I opened the box and inside were folded up sheets of paper for the purpose of recording our names and the date we found the cache. Then Dayan returned the container to its hiding place for future participants.

We were elated! We had a limited amount of time, but we hurried on to our second hidden cache. We quickly found the right location, a bean tree in another public park. We searched and searched, knowing we were in the right spot, but time ran out before we found the container. We had family to meet for dinner, so we planned to return to this location another time.

Dayan and I agreed, geocaching is fun and will most likely become addictive! As he nears the end of this school year, we foresee happy summer days spent looking for a variety of hidden caches and ultimately, creating and hiding our own cache! This is a great group or family activity, incorporating thinking skills, exercise (we walked a ways to locate our second hiding spot) and cooperation. As we discovered today, you can also make new friends along the way! And as one of the moms commented, after we explained how we use a phone to help locate the treasure, “At last, a great use for a cell phone!”

Day 71: Create a Welcome Spring Porch for Linda

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I redo the décor on my front porch several times a year, changing it with the seasons and holidays. No firsts possible there. So for today’s first, I created a Welcome Spring front porch for my sister, Linda!

My sister bought a home in Joplin last year, graciously allowing me to act as her realtor. She purchased a cute bungalow style house that is just right for her. Among the favorite features of the house is a cute front porch, the perfect spot to relax, enjoy the outdoors and watch the world amble by.

That front porch was like a blank canvas to me. I love pulling ideas together to create a homey and attractive space. My sister’s birthday was last week, and for her gift, I offered to fix up her porch for spring. Truly, we both benefit! I enjoy the creative process and watching how it all comes together. That is part of the fun, finding a focal piece, in this case a rug, and then finding, in various stores, the rest of the pieces that complement each other. As in other areas of my life, the intention went out and delightful manifestations flowed back.

Creating welcoming spaces, where people can be themselves, is part of who I am, and my purpose in life. I am offering in smaller ways now as I journey toward offering in bigger, more expansive ways. The joy is the same though, whether I am creating a retreat center called Rivendell, or fresh porch décor for my sister. Happy birthday, Linda!

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Day 70: Buy an Irish Shamrock Plant

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Every March, area stores create displays of the Irish Shamrock Plant. I admire the plants and plan to buy one later, only to find when I return to the store that they have sold out. This year, I debated about whether to wait until St. Patrick’s Day to purchase one, as my first, and then realized I was about to do it again! I’m almost certain that by St. Paddy’s Day there won’t be any Shamrock Plants left. There is a saying, “Do what you’ve always done, get what you’ve always gotten.” Time to do something different, and new! For my first today, I purchased a Shamrock Plant.

I discovered that the Shamrock Plant, also known as Oxalis, is reactive to light. It folds up its shamrock shaped leaves when it’s overcast or nighttime, and opens them again when it’s sunny. The plant has tiny red or white flowers and the leaves can be bright green, dark red or purple. I purchased a traditional Irish Shamrock with bright green leaves and white flowers.

The shamrock is known as the symbol of Ireland. St. Patrick is said to have used the plant as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity. The tradition of wearing a shamrock dates back to the 1700’s and it is now known worldwide as a symbol for good luck.

I’ve mentioned my Scottish heritage, which comes to me through my dad’s line, the Lauderdales. I’m of Irish descent also, on my mother’s side of the family, through the McCools and Gregorys.  I intend to visit Scotland first, because that country has haunted me my entire life, but beautiful Ireland calls to me as well. The Celtic culture is found in both countries. It will be interesting and fun to see the similarities and the differences between the two. With Irish and Scottish blood coursing through my veins, I’d love to find or create a piece of jewelry with the symbols of the shamrock and thistle entwined. Or I can tuck a shamrock behind one ear and a thistle behind the other and call it good!

Day 69: Watch Gravity

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As I watched the Academy Awards recently, I realized I had not seen any of the nine movies nominated for Best Picture. Not one! I believe that might have been a first! I decided to remedy that. My first, therefore, is twofold: watch all nine of the nominated movies and do a review of each film after I’ve seen it. For today’s first, I began this adventure with Gravity.

I was surprised at the number of nominations that Gravity received, including Best Picture. I’d seen a couple of previews and my first impression was that this movie was a space thriller. A couple of big name actors starred in the film, true, but I didn’t see enough to make me head to the theater and I definitely didn’t expect it to receive all the nominations that it did, 10 total. On Oscar night, as I filled in my ballot, I began to just select Gravity in each category it was a contender in. It won seven Oscars, including Best Visual Effects and the big category of Best Director. I was curious now and I had new respect for the film. As the idea formed to view all of the Best Picture nominated movies, I knew Gravity would be the first one I watched.

Gravity stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and is directed by Alfonso Cuaron. It’s rated PG-13 and has a run time of 91 minutes.

I enjoyed the movie! It is a fast paced, short film, that had me clasping my hands tightly together as Sandra Bullock’s character, Dr. Ryan Stone, finds herself facing the unimaginable in space.  On a routine spacewalk, disaster strikes, leaving Stone and veteran astronaut Kowalsky,  played by George Clooney, stranded outside the destroyed space shuttle. I don’t want to include spoilers in these reviews. I will say that the rest of the movie follows Dr. Stone as she fights to survive. It’s not just space that has attempted to defeat her, nor is this the first unimaginable event Ryan has faced in her life.

Gravity is more than a movie about space. It is about what connects us to life, what grounds us to the earth. Tears filled my eyes watching Ryan struggle with the decision to engage or disengage with life. She knew, as did I, that it was not a matter of surviving or not, it was about living, really living. Don’t we all have the same decision to make? Whether we are facing a catastrophic event, or a dullness that has seeped into our souls, we choose whether we will slowly die or truly begin to live. Will we find that which connects us to life and engage, bringing joy and passion and purpose into our lives?  I choose to engage! I choose to reach.

You’ll have to watch Gravity to see what Dr. Ryan Stone chooses.

Day 68: Gala of the Royal Horses Show

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Today’s first was a beautiful event in Springfield, MO. The Gala of the Royal Horses Show is an international horse show that is touring the US for the first time. I was really the invited guest on this first. Greg discovered the show and thought of Elissa, our daughter. She is the horse lover in the family. When she expressed interest in going, it became an opportunity to experience something I hadn’t before. Greg, Elissa, my grandson Dayan and I made the trip to Springfield, and what a fun day and evening we had, watching the horse show, eating dinner together and browsing at Barnes and Noble!

The Gala featured four magnificent breeds of horses: the Andalusian, Friesian, Lipizzaner and Arabian. What a gorgeous display of horses and horsemanship. The show is called an “Equestrian Royalty presented at the highest level in a culturally rich and stunningly beautiful tribute to The Royal Horses, complete with Flamenco music & dancers.” We were enchanted. The power and grace of the horses was amazing to watch. The riders wore beautiful costumes and together with their mounts, performed a variety of maneuvers . There is bond of trust and affection that must exist between man and animal and that was evident this afternoon. Force would never have produced such results. Rene Gasser, the trainer and producer of the show, demonstrated how the young horses are trained, much to the delight of the audience, and showed off his skill at handling horses. I admired his use of love and reward in training his equine performers.

The show was educational and a joy to watch. Having Dayan there for his first horse show was fun too. He went with us good naturedly,  with low expectations and it was great to see interest light up his face and to hear that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He was glad he attended and we were glad he chose to accompany us.

Watching Elissa during the performance was heartwarming. She began riding horses when she was 13 year old and quickly moved to showing in local and national horse shows. Elissa is a natural rider and trainer and has a bond with horses that is magical to watch. Her deep love for these big animals endears her to them and I’ve seen a huge American Saddebred gently take her ponytail between his lips and follow her around the arena like an overgrown puppy. Her father and I have spent many hours in arenas watching her ride and compete. She sold her horses and stopped riding when she was pregnant with Dayan, who is now 14. She has only recently begun to ride again. Being in the arena today in Springfield felt like a homecoming…the sights, the sounds, the smell even, all reminiscent of her years of working with and riding horses. Seeing the sparkle in her eyes I’m guessing that she will be picking this passion back up!

Helen Thomson says, simply, “In riding a horse we borrow freedom. “ This afternoon as I watched the horses and riders move as one around the arena, I thought, how beautiful, graceful, soulful, and free. It stirred my heart. I think Elissa would agree.

Day 67: Ride Along With Son Nate

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Although I’ve experienced a night time ride along with my son, Nate, who is a police officer in Carthage, I’ve never done a day time ride along. Today’s first was to spend the day in a patrol car with my son.

Nathanael wanted to be an astronaut when he was four. Then, tragically, the space shuttle Challenger exploded and for days he watched the sad news coverage. He decided he didn’t want to be an astronaut any more. He wanted to be a police officer. By the time he was eight years old, he had a police scanner and had made his own uniform. He planned his future and never wavered in his intention.

Many children want to be police officers or firefighters or professional athletes when they are young and they grow out of that dream and move on to another. Nate only committed himself deeper to his chosen profession by learning everything he could about being an officer. He learned codes and how to respond to calls by listening to his scanner and repeating what he heard. Soon he was responding, correctly, ahead of the officer on the call.

He used his artistic abilities to create, from cardboard, hot glue and paint, the front half of a police car and sat for hours behind the steering wheel, his imagination creating situations for him to respond to. He practiced “making arrests” although his sisters weren’t always cooperative with being handcuffed! He did his first ride along with a police officer when he was barely tall enough to see out the windshield. When he was 14 he joined the Police Explorer Program and all that he had been practicing began to be used in reality. He graduated from MSSU with degrees in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement and has been a police officer now for almost 9 years.

Today, I watched the man, living out his dream with expertise and confidence. Nate is an excellent officer, serving his department as a field training officer and he’s certified and qualified in so many areas. He knows how to handle himself well and I saw the respect he receives from his fellow officers. He’s more than a good officer though, he’s a good man. I watched how he deals with people who are having problems or have been pulled over because of a traffic or vehicle violation. He treated everyone with respect, dignity and compassion. I was struck by how polite and yet firm he was, how gracious to those who needed help.

I discovered something new about my son today. He is an old soul, in a young man’s body. He has wisdom and a set of beliefs often found in an older generation. He sees the value in each person he deals with and has hope for humanity. He cares about what happens to others. His young daughter proudly tells everyone that her daddy is a hero, her hero. I proudly say the same thing….he’s my hero too.

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Day 66: Watch Mr. Peabody & Sherman Movie

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As I have shared previously, I love movies. I am blessed to have a granddaughter who shares my passion and enjoyment of films. At the age of five, she has an impressive collection of DVDs that rivals mine.

Today’s first was to go see Mr. Peabody & Sherman, on opening night no less, with Aubrey and my sister Linda. We made it a girls’ night out with dinner at Chick-Fil-A ( where I enjoyed grilled chicken bites and a fruit cup), the movie, and funny pics in the photo booth to commemorate the evening.

Aubrey has been waiting to see this animated feature. When she realized it opened today, she made a request, via her dad, to go to the movie theater. I was happy to oblige. We invited my sister, who is Gigi to all the kids in the family, because she is always a fun companion. I felt a tug of nostalgia watching the dog-father, human-son duo. These characters were first introduced in the 1960’s as regulars on The Rocky and Bullwinkle show. They had a segment called “Peabody’s Improbable History” where they time travelled and met famous figures and witnessed historical events.

The movie keeps the premise and freshens the story with fast paced action, a bit of school age romance, and more back story on Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their adoptive relationship. The movie contains an abundance of humor for the kids and for the adults, puns that cracked us up and caused Aubrey to turn to me several times and ask, “Why is that funny?”

Overall, it was a fun movie. As always, I enjoyed watching Aubrey watch the movie as much as I enjoyed seeing it myself. Like me, she absorbs a film, repeating dialogue to herself and often acting out scenes for days after the final credits. I love discussing the story and characters with her afterward and hearing her keen insights. The world is fresh and new when seen through the eyes of a child and her perspective on a movie we’ve just seen delights and impresses me.

During the previews, my granddaughter picked out several upcoming movies that she wants to see. I look forward to each one. I look forward to being Aubrey’s movie companion!

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Day 65: Teach an Energy Class

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Today’s first, teaching a class about energy, was an item that went on my list of possible firsts very recently. The opportunity to present such a class showed up last week! I am grateful to Lisa at Keller Williams for asking me, and my amazing office for allowing me to teach what I am passionate about. Keller Williams Realty believes in creating an atmosphere that nurtures personal and professional growth for their agents. I thrive in such an environment.

Energy work is a topic I’ve been studying for a while. Everything is energy, or Spirit, everything. My thoughts, my emotions, this chair I’m sitting in, are all forms of energy, vibrating at different frequencies. It has been a fascinating study, and in many ways, confirmation of what I’ve instinctively known since childhood, to see the correlation between what I think, and the way the world appears around me. My beliefs are evident in the thoughts I have, the words I speak, and the actions I take. The world reflects back to me what I believe to be true.

Our bodies are greatly impacted by the energy swirling within and without. Stress takes a toll on our energy level, depleting it. Hurtful experiences in the past can become clogged energy around our hearts that affects how we live now. Resisting what has already happened in the past, or worrying about a future that hasn’t happened yet, uses up huge amounts of energy, leaving us with little vitality for living in this moment.

Our bodies respond to daily stress by becoming agitated and then sluggish. In today’s class, it was a joy to share about the importance of watching our thoughts, beliefs and words. And about releasing the energy that can get stuck, and keep us stuck as well. I also shared some simple tips for releasing stress and increasing personal energy. We breathed together. We thumped our spleen points. We stretched and moved. We did some things that the casual passerby might have thought looked strange! But there was purpose in each technique and movement of energy.

I appreciated the willingness of the agents taking the class to participate, ask questions and share. What a fun and gracious group they were. At the end of our time together, I believe they felt energized. I know I did!