Trick or Treat

Celebrating Halloween changes when your kids grow up. And it shifts again as the grandchildren grow older too. This is perfect, as it is the way of things and signifies growth. I was mindful of the day, as I took care of business and ran errands, celebrating in small and joyful ways.

I also had a decision to make. As one who no longer eats sugar, I felt conflicted about handing out sugary treats to trick or treaters.

From that place of desiring to offer more, the Trick or Treat Experiment was born.

My own nod to Halloween was simple. Tropical Smoothie Cafe hosted a Hogwarts Day event. As a fan of the Harry Potter books and films, I stopped by to have a pic taken with the Headmaster, Dumbledore, and pick up a fruit smoothie.

No need to try on the Sorting Hat. I already know I am in the House of Slytherin.

On this day only, Tropical Smoothie Cafe offers a Butterbeer Smoothie, in honor of Hogwarts Day. Because of its high sugar content, I opted instead for a refreshingly tart cranberry strawberry smoothie, with no sugar. It was just what I needed for an afternoon pick me up.

At the grocery store, I made a decision about what to offer trick or treaters. We can’t hand out fresh fruit, for safety reasons. Unfortunately, fruit can be tampered with. But happily, I found fruit snacks in little sealed give away bags, and mini fruit roll ups. These aren’t as healthy as a banana or apple would be, but at 45 calories and 6 grams of sugar, they are a better alternative to candy bars.

I purchased a bag of mini Kit Kat bars as well. I don’t want to be that crazy health lady who forces a different lifestyle on others. But what if I offered a choice? Given the option of a Kit Kat bar, with 210 calories and 21 grams of sugar, or a packaged fruit snack, which would kids choose?

I was about to find out.

I offered the bowl of treats to each trick or treater, without influencing the child’s decision. I let them choose, and kept a running tally in my head.

Given the opportunity to choose, the majority of the kids asked, politely, if they could have more than one treat. Of course, I replied. Help yourself. And they did, with grins and words of thanks.

At the end of the evening, here were the results. More fruit snacks were chosen than candy bars. The mini fruit roll ups were the night’s winner. Among kids that selected two snacks, if they picked up a candy bar, they also grabbed a fruit snack as well. And often, those who chose two treats selected two fruit snacks.

With the group of kids that came to my door, it appears that given a choice, most of them preferred a fruit snack. I felt ridiculously pleased with the trick or treat experiment! This gives me hope that a generation is rising that will be more health conscious.

Trick or treat? Treat…especially when it is a low sugar one. I have a year to see what other options are out there, for even healthier treats. Perhaps next year my choices will be fruit snacks…or cashews!

My Halloween costume…a Slytherin pin.

Holmes Asylum for the Criminally Insane Part II

Last night’s blog post shared photos of the themed decor at the annual family Halloween party. Debbie, Ashley and Jon created the Holmes Asylum for the Criminally Insane, transforming their home from sprawling suburban to spooky institution. As always, they delighted us with their ingenuity and creativity.

Guests are encouraged to attend this special event in costume. Each year’s theme is announced 12 months ahead of time, during the current celebration. We’ve all had time to pick a character or historical figure to dress up as. Most of us researched our chosen person, to bring authenticity to our roles, which added to the fun.

Tonight, meet the inhabitants of the asylum, as the party attendees show off their costumes!

Jon as Sheldon Cooper…yeah his Mom’s had him tested, but…and Ashley as Sherlock Holmes’ sister Eurus.

Debbie as Abby Brewster and me as Martha Brewster, from Arsenic & Old Lace.

Greg as the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. He nailed the role! When we left Kaleb made sure he took his parcel with him.

Roy as the Unabomber’s informant brother.

Pat (my mon) as a rather gleeful Lizzie Borden.

Linda as Sister Jude, in American Horror Story, and Nicole as Sweet Pea in Sucker Punch. The kids can dress up without following the theme. Kaleb is Groot, from Guardians of the Galaxy, Weston is Hamster Boy, and Lola is Princess Minnie.

The rest of Linda’s crew: London as Batgirl, Aralyn is Princess Ariel and Eric and Tosh are Asylum visitors!

Nate as Ed Gein, Adriel as the Zodiak Killer, there I am again, and Elissa is former nurse Annie Wilkes from the movie Misery.

Ethan is the 11th Doctor, from Doctor Who, just after he regenerated from Ten.

Lisa as Bellatrix, from the Harry Potter films, and Josh is a Juggalo.

Sheldon and the Doctor having fun!

Upstairs there was a “padded cell”, perfect for photo ops!

This happy group includes Aiden and Shane, first time visitors, in the back next to Debbie. Kathy is a Mad Doctor, Allison is Alex Forrest, from Fatal Attraction and her mom, Kelly, is Baby Jane, from Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Jerri and Steve are Nudists on Strike!

Christel as Angela from Sleepaway Camp and Bryan as John Doe from the thriller Se7en.

Lindsay as a Cult Follower and Cade as David Koresh, the Cult Leader.

Our yearly sibling photo! This is always a must have.

What an incredible evening. We missed family members who ended up having to work or couldn’t make it for other reasons. I enjoyed chatting and laughing with those who were there. Our family is unique in that we don’t mind taking our creativity, humor and fun beyond the edges and outside the lines. We aren’t morbid or dark. Think Addams Family! We are quirky and happy to be so, and when we get together, we have a great time.

Again I have deep appreciation and gratitude for Debbie, Ashley, and Jon and also Christel and Bryan, for all their hard work in creating a highly successful Halloween party. The work continues for them as the undecorating begins.

They are dreaming up new ideas as they enter the planning stage for next year’s party….Carnevil. I’ve already decided on a costume…

Holmes Asylum for the Criminally Insane Part I

Before you wonder where in the world I was this evening, let me add the qualifying words “family Halloween party”! This was the big night, the annual get together hosted by my sister Debbie, my niece Ashley and her husband Jon, in their lovely house in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Each year this creative and hard working trio transforms their home into a work of art that rivals any professionally done spook house.

The theme changes each year and the guests arrive, dressed accordingly. This event is so huge that I now divide the accompanying blog post into two. One focuses on the decorations and staged rooms. The second one captures the party goers in their fun costumes.

This year’s theme was an Asylum for the Criminally Insane, with the house becoming that dreadful institution. Attendees were encouraged to dress as fictional, or historical, people who would be at home in such a bleak and stark place. You will meet all of them tomorrow night.

Tonight…enter Holmes Asylum for the Criminally Insane…if you dare…

So much effort goes into this party. Debbie, Ashley and Jon spend a good portion of the year making their decor. Most of what you are about to see is hand crafted.

The mood is set from the outside of the house, inward.

Looks like things went awry in the office!

There are amazing decorations and interesting vignettes, and a quotes game to challenge the brain. The items on the Lost & Found table hint at who they belonged to. So clever!

You never know what’s going to be lurking down this hallway…

…just don’t let her out!

Sure, the “morgue” can double as a dining room! I took the photo too soon. There were lots of yummy snacks, including treats the plant based eaters could enjoy. My family is so cool and gracious.

This “nurse” was incredibly creepy!

What a fun idea…candies in pill dispensers.

A patient’s room. Crayons were provided so that we could write messages on the walls.

Surprises everywhere!

The prop in the pic below represents a scene from the movie Arsenic & Old Lace.

There are so many details throughout the house that I could wander around for hours, examining everything and connecting vignettes and props to movies, stories and history. As usual, Debbie, Ashley and Jon created a rich atmosphere, full of fun and spookiness, for all of us to play in. Every year I think they could make money with their off the charts Halloween parties.

And yet, they spend time, money and energy doing this for their family and friends. Why? Because they enjoy expressing their creativity in this way. I am grateful and I look forward to this party every year.

Stop back by the blog tomorrow…and see which criminally insane people were admitted to the Holmes Asylum!

I Love a Parade

Family fun continued today, kicking off early this morning with an event that has been held annually for 51 years. The Maple Leaf Festival in Carthage Missouri hosts a variety of activities each year, the highlight being the Maple Leaf Parade.

My son Nate was in the parade this morning, commanding the Color Guard as they led the parade. And three of my grandchildren, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, rode on floats, along with their Tiger football teams and cheerleading squads.

I enjoy parades…the festive atmosphere, the camaraderie of the people gathered along the streets, the smiling participants waving from the colorful floats. And although Christmas parades have a beauty all their own, I am particularly fond of this parade that celebrates autumn. I marched in this parade during my years in high school band. I’ve watched my children and grandchild as they in turn have walked, ridden or marched by. I have a long history with this event.

Here are highlights of the Maple Leaf Parade:

This has become a yearly tradition, capturing a pic of my son with his wife Megan. Nate serves his community as a police sergeant. As a member of the Color Guard, it is their task to lead off the parade with a presentation of the American and state flags.

I watched my son, standing confidently, tall and straight backed, and remembered when he was a boy, standing with rapt attention as we watched various parades begin. He was there to watch the police officers and the police cars with their flashing red and blue lights. He dreamed of being an officer someday. Did he know that when that someday came, that he would be the one leading the parades?

This adorable dog, sitting calmly in the back seat as he sports a hat, seemed to love being in the parade.

Grandson Joey, with the sixth grade Tiger football team, stood up and waved so we could see him!

Grandson Oliver, with the fourth grade team, gave us a smile and a wave.

Granddaughter Aubrey and her sweet friend Karleigh, who is like another grandchild to me, with the Tiger cheerleading squads.

A crowd favorite the last few years, this float features characters from the Star Wars movies. The band marching in front of them played Darth Vader’s theme song.

My grandson Dayan marched with the Carl Junction band the last four years. I missed seeing him today, and felt compelled to snap a pic of the tuba section any way. There were many marching bands performing during the parade. I heard this band enter the square and I knew it was the CJ band without seeing the banner carried. I know this band. I recorded them as they played, so I can share with Dayan, who happened to be in a parade after all today. He rode on a float, representing resident hall government, in Mizzou’s homecoming parade.

A sweet moment between Nate and Megan, after my son completed the parade and returned to the square to find us before starting other duties.

Horses always signal the end of the parade, and today, there was a unicorn in their midst!

What a fun morning. The weather was the warmest we have had, that I recall. Usually I am dressed in layers and bundled up in winter gloves, scarf and hat in an attempt to stay warm. Not so today. Temps were in the 70s and many people took advantage of mild weather and lined the streets.

I combined the parade with today’s walking. Greg parked the car a distance from the square and we walked to our viewing destination. After the parade we walked around the square, looking at booths, and running into Nate again, who was chatting with friends of ours. The trek back to the car then completed a good walk for Day 23.

It was a gorgeous fall day, that began with an event that is fun to watch, and never fails to tap into warm memories. Yes, I certainly do love a parade.

Mom’s Big Year

I haven’t shared many birthday posts this year. Last year I did celebratory posts for every member of my family, both immediate and extended, on their actual birthdays. I’ve given the tradition a bit of a rest this year.

Today is my mom’s birthday. And rather than sharing what her name means or how she has influenced my life, as I have done in the past, I want to express how proud I am of my mom, for making some big changes in her life.

Mom has had some health challenges the last few years. Nothing was life threatening, however a host of ailments has greatly affected how she felt and necessitated several surgeries. Some might simply accept that as we get older, our health naturally declines. While this can appear to be true, my mom decided to shift that belief and take responsibility for her health.

Exactly a year ago, I accompanied my mom on all of her doctors’ appointments. I had recently switched to a plant based diet, taking charge of my own health and desiring to heal from chronic pain. Seeing my improvements, Mom was interested in embracing a plant based lifestyle as well. During that week of doctor visits, I got their hearty approvals for her to eliminate meat, eggs, dairy and gluten from her diet and consume instead fruits, vegetables, brown rice, gluten free oats, nuts and legumes.

Because here was the incentive…we were planning a trip. In twelve months my sisters, niece, mom and I intended to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Mom and I both wanted to enjoy that trip in good health.

Six months later, when she returned for check ups, Mom was excited to learn that her health was indeed shifting. Inflammation was greatly reduced. Other health conditions had improved. Her doctors were impressed and encouraged her to continue with a plant based lifestyle. Even though she ended up having to have a knee replacement at that time, due to breaking a bone in that joint, she recovered remarkably well.

Her surgeon approved travel…and our dream trip became a reality.

I am so incredibly proud of my mom. We spent 12 days traveling. During that time we walked, a lot. We climbed stairs, toured landmarks and castles, and spent hours in planes, trains, automobiles and buses. We hopped on and off the London Tube. Did we slow our pace a bit? Yes. But only because she had knee surgery, just six months ago. Did we ever leave her behind at a hotel? Not once.

Mom and I are continuing in our plant based lifestyle. It is too important to my health, and to hers, to ever go back to the way we used to eat. I am thrilled. Mom inspires me every day, and now she is showing me how to live life to the fullest, as a “senior”.

Mom and Walter at dinner tonight.

During our recent trip, I often thought how precious it was to see Ireland, Scotland and England with my family, and especially with my mom. Travel has been an important part of her life, and her desire to explore the world has been passed on to me.

I also thought that this trip might be Mom’s last overseas adventure. And if it is, we have absolutely no regrets. However, my sisters and I are already talking about taking another girls’ trip together in 2019. And guess who wants to go with us?

Happy birthday Mom. I love you. I am so grateful for you and your desire to be the best version of yourself, at every age. Long may you have new adventures. And yes, you are always welcome to travel with us!

Super Jonathan

Tomorrow my grandson Jonathan has a birthday. He will be 12 years old. Tonight, following the tradition I began several years ago of taking each grandchild out for a birthday dinner and giving him or her money to spend, I picked Jonathan up after school and we celebrated who he is by spending the evening together.

Jonathan is my techie grandchild. He not only understands technology, he uses it deftly and with confidence. He enjoys gaming and hosts his own YouTube channel. We had lively and interesting conversations in the car about the future of technology and the feasibility of holodecks and hover cars.

I appreciate Jonathan’s outside the box thinking and his big ideas. He converses easily about a broad range of topics and asks great questions. Jonathan is also musical, singing and playing the clarinet, and shines when he performs in plays and musicals.

Shopping was simple tonight. Jonathan knew exactly what he wanted. His dad, my son-in-law Josh, contributed to the money I had allotted for Jonathan so that this bright young man could purchase a new hand held gaming system that he has been wanting. How happy and excited Jonathan was, leaving the gaming store with his early birthday gift.

In fact, my grandson was so eager to try out his new 3DS Gaming System that he opted for going through the Wendy’s drive through rather than dining out for his birthday meal. The kids get to choose the restaurant and meal for their birthday dinners. Wendy’s drive through it was!

Jonathan and I spent a fun evening together at his house. I watched him play a new version of Super Mario on his hand held gaming device. He chatted about what he was doing as he maneuvered Mario through various worlds. When he created a level for me to play through, I was willing to try. Although I am not a great gamer, I used to play Super Mario with my kids when they were young. The music is the same. The graphics are much improved.

I surprised Jonathan and myself by making it through the level he devised for me. Talk about saving face with my gamer grandson! I especially loved that Jonathan did a quick video for me this evening, to share in my blog post. He is quite comfortable being filmed and does an excellent job of narrating in a fun and instructive way as he plays.

Check out Jonathan’s video HERE

I am grateful for Jonathan. He has a beautiful heart and soul and a creative and inquisitive nature. I look forward to journeying along side him. With all the technology that awaits us in the near future, Ill need this sharp young man to help me play on through. Happy birthday, Super Jonathan. I love you!

National Eat a Peach Day

When I saw today was National Eat a Peach Day, I knew exactly how to celebrate. I love these quirky little known holidays. I may someday have a Year of Celebration, if I am led to do so. It would be an easy year to blog through! In the meantime, what fun to occasionally pick a unique holiday and find a creative way to honor it.

I finished work too late to stop by the Farmer’s Market in Webb City for peaches from Pate’s Orchard. Instead, I visited the produce section at my neighborhood grocery store and selected several ripe peaches there.

My idea was to make a batch of Banana Nice Dream and top it with sliced peaches. It was a very good idea!

I’ve posted it several times, however, here is the oh so simple recipe for this one ingredient healthy alternative to ice cream.

Banana Nice Dream

Four bananas, sliced and frozen ahead of time. Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Process frozen sliced bananas at high speed in a food processor, stopping as needed to scrape sides and push mixture down. Add vanilla if desired. Continue processing until bananas become smooth and creamy, with a texture similar to soft serve ice cream. Serve immediately or store in freezer.

Before making the nice dream, I peeled and thinly sliced a couple of peaches. In the past, I would have then added sugar and mashed the peaches slightly. I can’t imagine adding sugar now. The thought isn’t appealing at all.

To my bowl of banana nice dream, I added the sliced peaches, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a few walnut pieces. Voila! A peach dessert, to celebrate National Eat a Peach Day.

This easy dessert provided a wonderful way to recognize the day while also honoring my intention to eat in a healthy way. Peaches are an excellent source of vitamins A, B, C and K, and potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them a beneficial part of a healthy diet. Plus, they are delicious.

Peaches are picked locally between June and the end of August, which is why this holiday is celebrated on the 22nd of this month each year. Pick some peaches, or purchase them at the grocery store or farmer’s market, and create your own luscious dessert or simply eat a peach. Celebrate!

It is, after all, National Eat a Peach Day!

Comfortable in My Own Skin 

It was a busy day today, in my real estate world…a full day in what has been a full week. As I was heading home this evening, my first thought was an early bedtime. My second thought was what to write about tonight. 

I checked the national holiday list. Nothing inspired me or was doable, until I saw this one:

                           National Nude Day 

I was amused by that one! And then I couldn’t get that national day out of my mind. This past spring I participated in Naked Gardening Day for the first time. Who knew there were multiple holidays that celebrate the natural human form? I had found my inspiration for the day. 

Comfortable in My Own Skin

It is interesting, the swirl of emotions around nudity. The exploitation of of women, men and children in the porn industry has skewed our views toward the human body in its natural state, which is a shame. And most definitely, people do need to be protected and cherished, rather than abused. 

I am thinking that self image and feelings of shame have more to do though with our discomfort in being naked. When we avert our eyes from our own image in the mirror after a shower, that isn’t modesty…that’s shame or self judgment. 

That’s the purpose behind this unusual holiday…to shed restrictions and beliefs along with clothes and appreciate the body au natural. 

Comfortable in My Own Skin
Comfortable in My Own Skin

While traveling in Italy, I noticed a vast difference in attitudes toward nudity. We were, quite literally, surrounded by nakedness there. Most of the sculptures and paintings that we viewed featured nude subjects so the artists’ work could be more easily seen and appreciated in the fine details of muscles and bone structures. It was an emotional experience to stand before the statue of David and see Michelangelo’s genius. Yes, David was naked…and also incredibly beautiful. The sculpture would not have the same impact if David stood before us in shepherd’s robes. At the beach in Monterosso, there were topless and nude sunbathers. Rather than being embarrassed, I loved the freedom expressed. 

I researched the health benefits of spending time sans clothing. They include:

• A better night’s sleep by reducing body temperature and restrictions caused by tight fitting pjs. 

• Smoother, healthier skin

• Increased body awareness 

• Absorption of vitamin D when nude sunbathing is practiced

• Lowering of shame and increased self image

Comfortable in My Own Skin
With all those benefits in mind, I was ready to celebrate National Nude Day. I chose to do so in my own home, in my room, with the blinds drawn. I lit candles and added Young Living Thieves Oil to the diffuser. I love that oil’s spicy scent. 

With my improved health and vitality this year, I have a renewed appreciation for my body. Is it perfect? No. Does it do the very best that it can? Yes! Even when I was not nourishing it with health giving, nutritious food, my body did its best. Now that I am caring for myself in the best possible way, it is responding beautifully with glowing skin and a more fit physique. 

I enjoyed relaxing in my bedroom tonight, au natural, reading and preparing for this blog post. And, I set up my camera for a little impromptu photo shoot. No worries. This post is entirely suitable for anyone to view. I had fun, though, reveling in my healthy body with some playful pics. 

And that, I think, was the best way to celebrate this holiday. Thoughtful research, a playful attitude and a spontaneous photo shoot were combined with sincere gratitude for my body. Happy National Nude Day!

Comfortable in My Own Skin

National Strawberry Sundae Day? No Problem!

I doubt that I would have remembered this holiday, had a Facebook memory not popped up. Today is National Strawberry Sundae Day. In the past, if I was aware of this day at all, I drove through Andy’s Frozen Custard and picked up a strawberry sundae to celebrate. That’s what my Facebook memory was about. I wrote up a blog post about that sweet treat. 

I haven’t been to Andy’s in a year. Although I thought I would miss frozen custard, after switching to a plant based lifestyle, I have not. I used to routinely reward myself with this sugar laden treat, which was more an indicator of my unhealthy relationship with food than a desire for joyful celebration. 

National Strawberry Sundae Day? No Problem!
Being reminded that this was one of those quirky holidays prompted me to think about how much healthier I am this year, in my body and in my relationship with food. Having frozen bananas on hand, I felt inspired to make an easy, healthy version of a strawberry sundae. I felt I truly do have something to celebrate, and this wholesome treat provided a great contrast to the kinds of foods I used to consume. 

The recipe couldn’t be more simple. Slice up very ripe bananas, and freeze in a single layer in the freezer. Store there in gallon sized bags until ready to use. 

I have made banana “ice dream” using a blender and a food processor. The process is much easier and the nice dream much smoother, using the food processor. Add frozen banana slices, from 2-4 bananas, to the processor, and blend on high. Stop as necessary to stir, pushing unprocessed banana slices away from the sides. 

The change happens suddenly. Those frozen chunks of banana become a smooth, creamy mixture with a texture similar to soft serve frozen custard. You can add 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract, if desired. No sweetener is necessary. Mixture can be stored in the freezer for an hour, for a firmer texture or eaten immediately. 

National Strawberry Sundae Day? No Problem!
In honor of the national holiday, I added fresh sliced strawberries, with nothing else added. This treat is simple, tasty, creamy, healthy and guilt free. This banana nice dream is the basic recipe. Other frozen fruit can be blended with the bananas to create an endless variety of cold, frosty treats perfect for warm summer evenings. Top with fresh fruit, nuts, organic coconut or blend together dates with a little water for a delicious sauce. 

I savored my strawberry sundae this evening, after a veggie and rice dinner. Such a treat allows me to remain focused on celebration, rather than falling prey to the feelings of regret that I used to experience after eating something that I knew was detrimental to my health. 

And what did I celebrate? Banana nice dream and strawberries, healthy choices, and feelings of joy accompanied by deep gratitude for this journey that is never dull or mundane or bland. Happy Strawberry Sundae Day. Happy Day. 

Appreciating Freedoms

Today, July 4, is our nation’s birthday. For those intending to celebrate outside with cookouts, pool parties, and fireworks, the weather has been an issue. We’ve had thunderstorms and a steady rain for most of the day, casting a quieting effect over the day. 

I don’t mind the rain. It has been ideal for relaxing at home with a stack of books and perfect for catching up on a webinar I missed yesterday. Instead of barbecue and homemade ice cream, I’ve enjoyed simple plant based meals at home. When the downpour slowed to a light rain, Greg suggested a walk at Mercy Park, to appreciate the day, just as it was. 

Appreciating Freedoms
Normally the city’s parks would be full of people on July 4. But the rain kept people home or drove them to shelters. Only one other walker was braving Mercy park when we arrived, and she carried an umbrella. I opted for a light weight hoodie over a long sleeved shirt and black leggings…definitely not a typical summer outfit but perfect for a brisk walk on this cool day. 

As we circled the small lake at the heart of the park, I thought about the freedoms that I am so grateful for. 

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms

I love my country. Everyone, from the highest elected government official to the kids using technology to create their own You Tube channels, has the freedom to share their thoughts, views and perspectives. I am mindful on this day that celebrates independence that our freedom has been hard won and it is precious. 

I love my community as well. Walking in this  space where St John’s Hospital once stood reminds me that after the 2011 tornado, people were free to leave Joplin…or stay and rebuild. I am so grateful for those who chose to roll up their sleeves and stay, and for those who recognized the spirit of this city and came to help or chose to become one of us.  

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms
As I walked I felt deep appreciation and gratitude for my health. Freedom of movement is not something I take for granted. Freedom from pain, and freedom from illness and dis-ease are important freedoms to me as well today. My heart goes out to those who are suffering, as a result of accidents, injuries or illness. My desire is to walk alongside others and offer fresh hope for increased health and wellbeing. 

I appreciated the freedom to not only walk physically, but also the freedom to walk as my genuine authentic self. While I hesitate to take the comparison too far, my freedom has been hard won as well. It has taken years of increasing awareness and deep inner work to live in the freedom, peace and joy that I currently do. I am thankful for all who have walked beside me, offering into my life with love, or with their criticisms, mirroring to me aspects of myself that I needed to explore.  

Appreciating Freedoms
Appreciating Freedoms
As we completed our walk, we paused near the butterfly mural at the eastern edge of the park. The butterfly reminds me that freedom often requires great change. Transformation isn’t easy. And yet I am grateful for every challenge and time of rest that occured, resulting in the strength to face my fears and come out the other side, free to fully be myself, free to embrace my whole heart. 

And freed as well was my creative nature. The little painted rock that we found at the base of the mural is symbolic of the new freedom I have to create and write and explore the areas of art that interest me. Painted rocks are a nationwide activity right now. Joplin has a club. People paint rocks  and hide them in public places. This is the first painted rock I have found! I hid it in another location at Mercy Park. 

As we drove away from the park, the rain began again in earnest. The timing of our “freedom” walk was perfect. 

Franklin D Roosevelt said, “In the truest sense freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.”

I get that, on all levels. Freedom is achieved, through our thoughts and ideas, our actions and our unity, and through our willingness to learn and grow. 

I am grateful for all of my freedoms. 

Appreciating Freedoms