Dayan’s Milestone Day

A year ago, when my daughter Elissa found out Dayan’s graduation day would be on May 19, which is his birthday, I had two thoughts: That will be an easy date to remember. And the next year will go by so fast. I was correct on both counts. I never once wondered what day graduation would be. And the year flew by. 

Dayan's Milestone Day

My grandson, my oldest grandchild, the boy who made me a grandmother and christened me with the name Yaya, reached this momentous day exactly on time actually. To his family, and especially his mother, it marked the completion of a year that was full of “lasts”. The last marching band performance, the last parade, the last competition and ceremony and award, the last time to walk to school, the last time to walk out of the Carl Junction High School, the last time to play the tuba that he has played for years. 

Dayan's Milestone DayOne year old Dayan, experiencing bubbles for the first time. Meme by Elissa. 

I thought about Dayan throughout this day, as he celebrated a birthday and prepared to graduate tonight, and the word “milestones” came to mind. A milestone is an event or action marking a significant change or stage in development. Dayan has had many of those mile markers in the last 18 years, signifiers of growth, times of deeper awareness, ahas that profoundly shaped his future. 

It has been my pleasure to walk alongside him as he has journeyed, and witness those times when a “stone” was placed at a significant juncture. I’ve watched him as an intelligent, kind, compassionate boy who always knew the right encouraging words to share with people. I saw him as a young teenager stepping up to fully occupy his unique Dayan shaped space, gaining confidence in who he was and what his gifts and abilities were. 

Dayan's Milestone Day                 Photo by Elissa

These past two years, the milestones became defining ones as Dayan could say “This is me…this is not me. This is what I want to do…this is what I don’t want to do. This is the path I am choosing for my life…this is not the path for me…” with a surety that so inspired me. Along with common milestones like getting his driver’s license and a job, he had major shifts as he decided on a future career in politics and selected University of Missouri as the college he would attend this fall. 

It is not a coincidence that Dayan experienced two momentous milestones on the same day. He turned 18 years old today and graduated from high school. Both signify leaving childhood behind and entering adulthood, dual doors closing and opening at the same time as a new adventure beckons. 

Dayan's Milestone Day
Dayan's Milestone DayDayan, Elissa and Josh

This evening it was with great joy, and a host of other emotions, that I watched my grandson walk across the stage to receive his diploma. Family members surrounded me. We beamed and cheered and perhaps shed a few tears that this milestone had been reached. This boy has become a man. This child has reached the point of spreading his wings to see just how high and how far he can fly. 

I am proud of this incredible young man. I am proud of my daughter, who has been an extraordinary momma to her son, fierce in her love and devotion to him, never failing to seek the best for her child and encouraging him to be all that he could be. And I am proud of my son-in-law, who came into Dayan’s life as a stepdad, but who has parented him with an open and generous heart. 

Dayan's Milestone Day
Dayan's Milestone Day
When he was a toddler, Dayan and I began an ongoing series of stories that we affectionately called “The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya”. Those were fun and imaginative stories that we created. However, we have had many, many real life adventures, this boy and I. Spending time together, Dayan has helped me to see the world differently. He has helped me to see myself differently. He allows me to be fully myself. We laugh. We learn new things. We go places. 

We have a big adventure coming up, a trip to Italy that Elissa is joining us on. And then soon, Dayan will set off on adventures of his own, going places I will not go, seeing things I will not see. Milestones stretch behind us, a map of times we’ve celebrated and events we’ve shared. The road stretches onward, full of possibilities and opportunities. There are exciting times ahead for him that he will memorialize, saying “Here…this time, this place, is important in my life.” 

No matter where he is, no matter where I am…I’ll pause to celebrate those future achievements and milestones with him, whether in person or in my heart. 

Happy birthday Dayan. Happy graduation day. Happy first day of the rest of your amazing life. Go forth. Be you. Be Light in the world. I love you!

Dayan's Milestone Day   Photo and composition by Elissa

34th Annual Four State Honor Band Concert

What an amazing and special concert this evening, to finish out the school year, and to complete my grandson Dayan’s seven years in band. The 34th Annual Four State Honor Band Concert was held in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, in Pittsburg, Kansas. Two hundred high school musicians, selected from across the four state region of Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, met today for the first time to prepare for tonight’s concert.

34th Annual Four State Honor Band

This event, coordinated by Dr. Craig Fuchs, Professor of Music and Director of the Honors College at Pittsburg State University, showcases the talents of young, promising musicians. This evening the PSU Wind Ensemble began the evening with Dr. Fuchs conducting. Their final number, Finale from Symphony No. 1, brought the audience to their feet in appreciation. Dayan told me after the concert that this was Dr. Fuchs’ final performance at Pitt State, which explained his tearful thank you’s and the emotion rich performance that included alumni joining in, playing above us in the balcony.

The high school performers were divided into two bands. The first group played brilliantly, under the direction of Dr. Curran Prendergast. I was impressed to find out that the concerts tonight featured guest  conductors who are also composers.

34th Annual Four State Honor Band

Dayan performed with the final group. Their band was directed by Randall Standridge, who is a full time composer and marching band editor for Grand Mesa Music Publishers. Of the five musical pieces performed by this band, three of them were composed by Standridge.

And while all three bands gave outstanding performances, of course this one, with my grandson playing the tuba, wowed me the most. From the opening notes of their first number, Galop, these young musicians were bold, confident and beautifully competent. It is astonishing to me, that these teens give such incredible performances after a few hours of rehearsing together. It speaks of their musical abilities and the guidance of their band teachers that they can each offer their unique gift so absolutely and create such soulful and robust music together.

These performances never fail to move me to tears. Tonight, I was especially moved, watching my grandson on the back row, his dark head bent over his tuba as he skillfully played, and knowing this was his last concert as a high schooler.

As he entered 6th grade, this boy who had never played a musical instrument tried out for band, on five different instruments. He was asked to play the tuba, because he could move air through it well, and he had the strength to carry it. This was so characteristic of my grandson, who has always been courageous and never cared to dwell within a comfort zone, to go after something new that interested him.

He has carried that attitude of going after things throughout his high school years. As a musician, Dayan has auditioned for numerous honor bands and ensembles and competed across the state. It has been my great pleasure to attend his many marching band performances and concerts over the years, watching as he has been recognized for his hard work and determination.

34th Annual Four State Honor Band

Tonight’s beautiful concert was a shining achievement after years of dedication, practicing his music. As he goes to University of Missouri in Columbia this fall, he leaves prepared by his time in band to offer his music to the world, both literally and figuratively. Dayan has learned to focus on what he has to offer, and to allow others to give their best as well. The lessons he has learned playing a musical instrument will carry him well into adulthood, where he will continue to live beyond his comfort zone, and continue to present his gifts to the world.

I am so proud of this young man. This fall Dayan auditions for a position in MU’s concert band. Columbia isn’t so far away. I look forward to attending more concerts.

Listen to Ruckus, composed and conducted by Randall Standridge….and what about those tubas!! Loved this lively piece. 

Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU

A brief post tonight, to share a stirring video from my grandson Dayan’s wind ensemble concert at Pittsburg State University. Dayan has been playing the tuba in marching band and in concert band for six years. As a senior in high school, he is nearing the end of a long and highly successful season of performing with these bands.

Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU
I am so proud of these high school teens who have dedicated themselves to their art. Their music never fails to move me and inspire me as I listen to them play with skill and passion.

Tonight I sat in the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts, in Pittsburg, Kansas with my daughter, son-in-law, grandson Jonathan, and Dayan’s Nana Deb and great-grandmother, tears in my eyes as I watched the ensemble perform. As graduation approaches, we have two performances remaining with this group of musicians. There is a sense of sadness mixed in with pride, and disbelief that the time has flown by so quickly mixed in with joy as new adventures beckon to these young adults.

It is bittersweet. And beautiful. And exactly as it should be.

Here is the Carl Junction High School Wind Ensemble, performing Into the Joy of Spring, by James Swearingen, in three parts:

  1. Winter’s Fury
  2. Spring’s Awakening
  3. A Celebration of Joy

Scott Schneider, conductor

What a fitting final number tonight! Enjoy.



Carl Junction HS Wind Ensemble Concert at PSU

Dayan playing the tuba.

Photography Fun

Sometimes inspiration jumps out at me with a little “ta da”! It is unexpected and the invitation is spur of the moment and fleeting. Take it…or let  it go and something else will come along. Such was the case today. I drove my grandson Dayan to a job interview. When he was finished, we grabbed an early dinner at the mall food court. As I nibbled on a chopped salad and he tucked away a subway sandwich, we discussed the recent changes to the popular social media site, Facebook. 

I’ve already read complaints about the update. I’m not sure why people seem to resist change so much. Personally, I like the new features. As I showed Dayan what was different, he opened up the new photo options. There in the food court the invitation to play showed up. We accepted…and the fun began! 

Photography Fun
Dayan and I took turns trying out different filters, laughing at some of the resulting photos. We both really liked the painting-style filter, with blue snd yellow overtones. Having the mall food court as our backdrop created really cool modernistic pictures. 

Photography Fun
Photography Fun
I also liked the pencil sketch filter, capturing a great photo of my handsome grandson. 

Photography Fun

I played with Facebook more once I got home, trying out different effects. 

Photography FunShy Boy in blue. The stormy weather had him wearing his grumpy face. 

Photography FunWhich led me to try out the storm cloud effect! 

Here is a quick tutorial so you can have your own fun. To access the photo options, after opening Facebook, click the Direct button in the upper left corner. The Your Story button opens the features as well. You can take still photos or shoot a video. 

Photography Fun

Tap bar at bottom of the page. 

Photography Fun

Click the icon in lower left corner to open options. Clicking the camera icon shifts the view to you. Click camera icon again for forward view. 

Photography Fun

Have fun clicking on the different filters, to see what they do! 

Photography Fun

Click the mask icon for more interesting effects. You must point your camera toward a face for these to work. Dayan and I laughed the loudest over some of these. I didn’t save any of those hilarious pics. 

Photography Fun

To save a photo, after taking the pic click the icon in the lower right corner. Photos are saved to your phone. You can also immediately send pics to Facebook friends, directly from the app. 

Photography Fun
Have fun playing with Facebook’s new features. I know Dayan and I did! And I learned something new, which is always a plus. How can I not appreciate an opportunity like that? 

Photography Fun

Ensemble Competition 

This afternoon I experienced the perfect break. My grandson Dayan, a senior at Carl Junction High School, competed at Missouri Southern State University with a brass quartet. I love listening to these talented teens play music together. I picked up my daughter Elissa from work and we slipped into the music room where the musicians would perform. 

Ensemble Competition
Elissa and I arrived early enough to watch the group compete ahead of Dayan’s quartet. Although they were from the same high school, I didn’t recognize any of the musicians. However, I enjoyed their lively performance. 

After smiles and sighs of relief, the group quietly exited the room and moments later, Dayan and three other musicians took their places. I have been present during many of my grandson’s concerts and marching band performances and various competitions, and I never tire of watching him play his tuba. 

Ensemble Competition
Ensemble Competition

I am always deeply moved by these young musicians. They devote time and energy to practicing their music. And each teen focuses on learning his or her part well, so that when they play together, whether as a band of hundreds or a small group of four, they harmonize wonderfully. 

In Dayan’s quartet there was a trumpet, French horn, trombone and tuba. For the competition they play Bayou Bagatelle, and played it beautifully, each contributing their part to create something bigger than they could individually. 

Ensemble Competition
I watched these two groups perform today with a heightened awareness of the unique gifts each musician offers to one another and to the world. Yesterday my community lost two Joplin high school seniors, in two separate freak accidents. Two 18 year olds, set to graduate in May. My heart breaks for their families. The community’s collective heart breaks. 

There are no easy answers to the many questions that are circulating through a shocked and saddened city. Watching the earnest faces of the musicians today, watching Dayan as he masterfully played the tuba, listening to the music that they created, I know those young lives, while seemingly cut short, left vital legacies behind. I was made aware today that our lives matter at every age, and an 18 year old, as much as a 58 year old, can change the world, or change another life, simply because he offers his gifts, and himself, to others. Like today’s musicians, those young men played their unique parts well, contributing to a larger story that we only occasionally catch glimpses of, and rarely understand. 

Thank you to Dayan and the other musicians that I listened to today, for reaching a tender ache in my heart, and reminding me that each of us, no matter our age, color, gender, orientation or financial status, is significant and crucial. Each of us impacts this world and beyond, the ripples created by our lives flowing outward, like fine musical notes that echo into eternity, beautifully harmonious forever. 

Sneaky Cards

I love when my family and friends let me know about a wonderful product or event that they feel is a great fit for me and my journey. When my grandson Dayan sent me a text, telling me about a card game he saw at Target that he thought I would love, I checked it out. Dayan has accompanied me on many of my adventures over the years. He knows my yearly themes and my missions, and most of all, Dayan knows my heart. 

Sneaky Cards Play it Forward

The object of this game is to get rid of all of the cards. Each card contains a mission. 

BLUE – ENGAGE Test your audacity and chutzpah 

RED – CONNECT Find things, and not just objects

YELLOW – SURPRISE Use your sneakiness and espionage skills

GREEN – CARE Do good and give to others

PURPLE – GROW Challenge yourself in new & interesting ways

PINK – CREATE Make art with a purpose

Once the mission on the card is completed, the card  is passed on to someone else…that’s the play it forward part. 

Dayan was right. I was so intrigued, and purchased the game. 

Sneaky Cards Play it ForwardExamples of missions

This afternoon, my grandson and I opened the game and looked over the cards. I shuffled the deck and Dayan selected two cards randomly, one for him and one for me. 

These are our first missions:

Sneaky Cards Play it Forward
Dayan’s mission, from an ENGAGE card, is to play the world’s largest game of tag. He will tap someone on the shoulder, say You’re it, and hand him or her the card. No tag backs! He attended a Young Democrats meeting this evening. What a fun way to pass on his card. 

My mission, from a CREATE card, is to create a card for an obscure holiday. The sneaky card is enclosed within the homemade greeting, to be passed on to the recipient. I chose Groundhog Day, which is tomorrow. Although it is not all that obscure, Groundhog Day is not normally a holiday in which cards are given, making it perfect for my mission. I crafted a card, using cutouts from an old Book of Knowledge set. 

Sneaky Cards Play it Forward
This is a fun, and creative game! Sneaky Cards, with categories for connecting, engaging, surprising, creating, caring for others and growing, couldn’t be any more perfect for this Year of Inspiration, and making life a little more tender and art a little more robust. 

I spend every Wednesday afternoon with Dayan. We agreed that every week, we will draw cards individually or as a team, and carry out the missions. I registered my deck so we can track where the cards go, as other people play and pass them on. 

When the cards are all gone, whether it takes weeks or months or years, the game will be over. Want to play? You bet we do! We are playing it forward.  

Sneaky Cards Play it Forward

Christmas Gift Making with Dayan

I finished up the Yaya and grandchild Christmas tradition today with my oldest grandson, Dayan. However, we broke the new tradition of sharing a meal and shopping for family, reverting back to a tradition that Dayan and I practiced for years when he was younger…making Christmas gifts. 

I love that my 17 year old grandson, a senior in high school, asked if instead of shopping we could be creative. Of course, I said yes! Dayan was my only grandchild for years. When he was four, he made the connection between other people having birthdays and celebrating holidays, and giving them gifts. He embraced this idea with the whole of his big little heart, discovering it was as fun to give as to receive, and I began taking him shopping to buy gifts for his family. As our family grew, it became more economical to make gifts together, rather than purchase them. 

Dayan and I have been very creative over the years, and the time spent together making gifts was precious to me. Returning to this practice, after shopping for gifts last year, felt nostalgic and right and brought joy to my heart. 

Today we took a simple idea and duplicated it to create cookie wreaths for his family members. The results were wonderful, and we were quite pleased. We played Christmas songs by Pentatonix as we worked, as we both love this a cappella group. And we had fun as we made batches of cookies, laughing and chatting. 

Our conversations today were quite different from those we had when Dayan was a little boy. This intelligent young man discussed world events with knowledge and competence, sharing with me about recent occurrences around the globe. I appreciated that I could ask him about the refugee crises in Syria and get an in depth answer that helped me to better understand what’s happening in another country. Dayan’s compassion for others and his desire to make a difference in the world were very evident as he spoke. 

I am well aware that Dayan will be headed to college next fall. Knowing he will be venturing out and embarking on his own journey soon creates deep love and pride for my grandson, and a sense that such times together, making things, is coming to an end. 

Or are they?

As if reading my mind, Dayan said he would come home from the university next Christmas, and we would make gifts together to give to family. Yes, I agreed…yes we will. My heart sang! 

Carl Junction Bulldogs Senior Night 2016

Tonight was a milestone event in the life of my grandson Dayan, the first of many that will occur during this, his senior year in high school. And because it was important to Dayan, it was important to us, his family. For my daughter Elissa, Dayan’s mom, this was a milestone moment in her life as well. 

Tonight was the final home game for the Carl Junction Bulldogs football team. Which meant it was also the last time this year that the Bulldogs Marching Band took the field during halftime. The evening was designated as Senior Night. Twelfth graders who participated in football, band, dance team, cheerleading, cross country, girls’ golf, dynamics and tennis were honored. 

Before the game began, the seniors and their parents lined up on the football field. Each teen stepped forward with his or her parents, as the senior’s name was called, and accomplishments were read over the loudspeaker. The student’s selected college was announced as well, along with future plans, and a list of people the senior wished to thank. It was a very honoring ceremony, full of gratitude, pride and emotion. 

I was so proud of Dayan, standing there tall and smiling between his beaming parents. He was recently accepted into Missouri University in Columbia, where he will pursue a degree in political science. 

After an exciting first half, that ended with Carl Junction and Pittsburg tied 14 – 14, the marching band took the field for the last time in 2016. It was such a poignant moment. The seniors in the band have played together for years, many of them since fifth grade. 

It was a moving, and spectacular performance. The band performed a medley of military tunes as fireworks exploded overhead. For the last tune, the 7th and 8th grade band joined the high schoolers. What a grand way to end the year, and for the seniors,  to exit during a high, emotionally charged moment. 

The halftime show always ends with the crowd jumping to their feet as the band plays the school’s fight song. Tonight there was a significant difference. As the Bulldogs fight song began, the seniors lowered their musical instruments and marched one by one off of the field, signaling an end to their time in marching band. 

What a moment that was, for Dayan, and for his family. 

I remember when it was Dayan, as a 7th grader, who first marched with the high school band, onto the field. I remember being incredulous when he marched onto the field the next year as an 8th grader. I marveled that he would soon be entering high school. And when he took the field the following year, he entered as a freshman.  

Tonight, he marched onto this football field for the final time. How have these years gone by so quickly? How is it possible that this bright, charming, adorable boy has already become an intelligent, gifted, and dashingly handsome young man, with college in his near future? 

Great final halftime performance, Dayan and the Bulldogs Marching Band. Thank you for your commitment and dedication, and for sharing your gifts of music with us. I have loved every minute. 

There are more milestone moments to come this year, for Dayan. I’ll be there. His mom will be there. His family will be cheering him on, storing up memories as treasures. I’m so honored to be your Yaya, Dayan. 

Watch as the seniors leave the field HERE

A Day of Peace and Gratitude

I loved the conjunction today of two globally recognized holidays. September 21 is International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day. I stayed mindful of both as I moved through a full day. 

International Day of Peace is a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples. The day was first celebrated in 1982. 

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters in New York City. The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”. The inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. 

World Gratitude Day allows both individuals and organizations to celebrate gratitude in a variety of ways. This unique holiday began in 1965 in Hawaii when an international gathering decided that it would be a good idea to have one day per year to formally express gratitude and appreciation for the many wonderful things to be found in the world. 

The benefits of having time in one’s life for gratitude, appreciation and positive reflection have become increasingly apparent. The hope of the founders of World Gratitude Day is that by taking time, one day a year, to reflect on the many amazing things we have in our lives, it would positively impact our well-being and make us happier, more contented people.

I had the opportunity to ask two of my grandsons to share their thoughts with me about peace. Jonathan, age 11, thought that those who create problems, rather than promote peace, should be isolated from others. Being very tech savvy, he suggested that such individuals could only communicate with others via technology. They would, essentially, remain in a large scale “time out” until they learned to live in harmony with others. 

And Dayan, who is 17 years old, answered with great wisdom and deep insight beyond his years. I’d like for him to develop his ideas in an essay. However his basic principle was that countries learn to govern themselves and their regions, without relying on the world’s superpowers. 

Dayan touched my heart. He told me that he sees what I am doing this year…living in surrender, going with the flow and remaining open to what the Divine and Life brings to me…as the foundation for peace. We discussed how resistance takes us out of the flow and ultimately creates defensiveness. Peace, we agreed, must begin within us and then flow outward. 

I observed today how gratitude and peace support each other and together, contribute to my joy and wellbeing, which then impacts others around me. Peace and gratitude within me creates peace and more to be grateful for, outwardly. 

I enjoyed conversations around the topic of peace with both boys, which took place with them individually. Dayan and I spent time together after school. And tonight I had dinner with Jonathan and took him shopping for his birthday. I loved both of their out of the box, big ideas. These young men are the future. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we will keep getting what we’ve always gotten. I appreciated their fresh and honest perspectives. 

They give me hope for world peace in the future. And for that, I am grateful. 

Marching in the Rain

Tonight was Friday night football, and for the Carl Junction Bulldogs, it was homecoming. It has poured rain all day, cancelling the town’s homecoming parade. But the weather didn’t delay the game or dampen the enthusiasm of the fans. We just accepted that it was raining. 

Greg and I met our daughter Elissa and son-in-law Josh at the stadium. I had three folding seats to protect us from the wet bleachers. Josh graciously stood, gallantly holding an umbrella over his sweet wife. 

The band stayed dry inside the school until two minutes before halftime. But they weren’t going to let a little rain stop them from performing. 

The Marching Bulldogs presented an excellent halftime show, playing a patriotic medley in four parts. I admire this hardworking group. I know from conversations with my grandson Dayan that the band members put in many hours of practice, meeting early before school. 

The band will soon be marching in fall and holiday parades and competing in area competitions. These halftime performances allow the band to hone their skills while entertaining the crowds. 

I was so proud of Dayan and the Marching Bulldogs. Their dedication is showing. And their commitment as well. It requires more effort and concentration to play well in cool, rainy weather. In spite of droplets pelting their faces and challenging conditions that can affect the musical instruments, the band gave a powerful performance that drew whoops and applause. 

I am very aware that Dayan only has a few more halftime performances left as a Marching Bulldog. His senior year is well under way. I will be there for all his performances, throughout the year, rain or shine. Go Bulldogs! Go Dayan!

            Rain can’t dampen my enthusiasm either. 

Catch the Marching Bulldogs’ performance HERE