MIZ…ZOU

Today I enjoyed a road trip north to the beautiful city of Columbia, Missouri and the campus of the University of Missouri. It has been two weeks since I saw my grandson Dayan. I traveled to MU with Greg and our daughter Elissa to visit Dayan for the first time since he moved into the dorm, and I captured our trip in photos.

Photo by Elissa Adam

Crossing the Missouri River as we passed the state’s capital, Jefferson City. Columbia, which is 236 miles from Joplin, is not far from Jefferson City. It was a beautiful day for a drive and I enjoyed catching up with my daughter as we all chatted.

Dayan’s residence hall on the gorgeous campus of the University of Missouri. Mizzou is the affectionate nickname for this university. It is a form of clipping, or shortening, a longer name into a shorter one. In this case, Missouri to Mizzou. The first reference to the nickname was in a 1905 college publication. At games and events, it is customary for the fans on one side to shout MIZ…and the other side to answer ZOU! The university mascot is the tiger and the colors are gold and black.

And this is the young man we came to see! It was so good to hug him and talk to him and hang out for a few hours. We met Dayan’s roommate, Carlisle, who was kind and personable. I was impressed with the dorm room and with the hall’s casual meeting areas and laundry facilities.

On the way to lunch, Dayan guided us around campus. I loved the stone and brick buildings, the newer structures and the mature trees and many gardens. The campus is actually considered a botanical garden. I’ll be exploring the grounds on foot during my next visit.

Holding to a long established tradition between Dayan and me, we enjoyed Chinese food for lunch at a nearby Panda Express. I was able to select brown rice topped with mixed veggies, while Dayan had his usual orange chicken. Elissa and Greg both tried the kung pao chicken. We read our fortunes to each other. Mine said Important events are in your future. True!

After a trip to Walmart to get a few things Dayan needed, we wandered through downtown Columbia, on the way back to campus. I’ve been to Columbia several times, but this was my first time to the charming downtown. The city, which is about twice the size of Joplin, had a lively energy and the definite feel of a college town. Small shops and cafés lined the streets and this time of year, bistro tables and chairs provided outdoor dining.

Dayan’s favorite Starbucks.

I enjoyed getting to know Mizzou’s campus. I’m impressed with the extensive grounds and the halls. I look forward to attending future events and activities here.

It did my heart good today, to see my grandson. I have missed him. And it brought me great joy to see that he is thriving. He is happy and having fun. His classes are interesting and challenging. Dayan has learned his way around campus and around the city and he is making new friends.

College life agrees with Dayan and it shows. He was confident and relaxed and excited to show us around and share about his classes and activities. I could drive away after our visit, knowing he’s not so very far away and that he is doing well and thoroughly enjoying this new adventure. And that brought peace to the hearts and smiles to the faces of his Papa, Yaya and Mom. The boy has become a man.

Becoming Elissa…

Today my older daughter celebrated a birthday. This is my fourth year of blogging and although I wished Elissa a Happy Birthday through text, Facebook and in person, I wasn't going to do a birthday blog post this year, since I've done several in the years past.

So this is not a birthday post. This is a post about Elissa, that happens to be on her birthday.

As I left the house this morning to go show property, my thoughts were on my daughter, my firstborn. Memories flipped through my consciousness, like a movie of her life. She's always had a will and mind of her own, even as an infant. She hated to sleep, preferring instead to look around and study everything. Her petite size led people to believe she was younger than her actual age. They were shocked when she piped up in her high voice and spoke of things way beyond her years. She was, and still is, an old soul.

I have learned so much from Elissa. She taught me about being a mother and loving unconditionally. Because her personality is very different from mine, she expanded my perspectives, shattered old beliefs, and challenged me to grow. Elissa loves horses. Watching her as a teen, as she worked with yearlings, helped me to see that raising children was less about control and discipline and more about seeing the gifts a child is born with and creating an encouraging and supportive environment to develop in.

As my daughter entered adulthood, life presented both blessings and challenges, as it does for all of us. My bright, artistic, strong, empathic daughter feels the pains and griefs of the world keenly. She is a very real person in a very false society, to paraphrase a treasured children's story. My regret, as her mom, is that years ago, I didn't know how to listen deeply enough to the story Elissa was trying to tell me, through her words and her silences, her actions and her own pain.

She continued to grow and strive and seek. I learned to hear with different ears and a bigger perspective. I learned it was okay to struggle to find your place in the world. Elissa's survival skills turned into thriving and then peace and an acceptance of her own courageous heart. She is still learning how to offer out of that heart. I am proud to be a witness to her life.

Elissa has a good man who journeys with her and each of them brought a son into their blended family. My child has raised a child. And in watching my daughter be a parent, I have seen grace and deep love and openness and sacrifice. Next week my daughter will escort her son to a university several hours away, and drive home without him. Her tender tears and strong determination to launch him successfully onto his own path touches my own heart deeply.

Recently my 18 year grandson made public that he is bisexual. I am so proud of him for his openness and his desire to live authentically as the person he is. Elissa has raised her son to speak his mind and offer his heart. He is fearless. He is the future. As the time draws near for Dayan to leave for college, Elissa got a couple of tattoos, one on each of her forearms. One is the Italian phrase cogli l'attimo…pick up this moment…hold this moment. The other is a series of dots, rainbow dots, in honor of her son. She said if Dayan could be brave enough to live his story transparently, she could be courageous enough to wear the rainbow on her arm, for him. What love.

As I neared my destination this morning, I considered what tattoo I would get, in honor of my daughter and her story. I am not going to get an actual tattoo, not at this time, but I asked aloud, in the empty car, What symbol would be perfect for Elissa? Immediately the Velveteen Rabbit came to mind. Elissa loves this story of the stuffed rabbit who becomes real through the love of his boy. The rabbit becomes a bit tattered with the joys and pains of life and love. But he becomes Real. Authentic. He Becomes. He is. And he learns once you become Real, you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.

Elissa has become Real. My love, her dad's love, her sister's and her brother's, her whole family's love, her husband's and stepson's love…all have contributed to her becoming. Like the Rabbit's boy and his fierce love, her boy's love, that full of trust, unconditional, straight from a child's heart kind of love, opened a space around her and within her, so that she could become Real…so she could become fully Elissa.

I drew the Velveteen Rabbit for Elissa, with his scruffy fur and his soulful eyes and his hint of a smile, on his way to becoming Real. I inked him in and colored him with my pencils. He reminds me of Elissa's courage and her great mind and greater heart. He reminds me of her love for her sons and her husband and her family. And the Velveteen Rabbit reminds me of Elissa's love for me.

"When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with but REALLY loves you, you become Real." The Velveteen Rabbit

Elissa, my child, my firstborn, the one whose birth on this date years ago made me a mom, has helped me to become Real too. My love overflows.

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food

From the title, you might surmise that I have had a really good Monday! However, the reality is that I felt drawn back to the travel journal I am creating, after the recent trip to Italy. As I wrote about previously, I didn’t have time to journal the way I thought I would, during the trip. Instead, I decided to journal about the experience after the fact. 

I am appreciating how the acts of sketching and writing are allowing memories to surface. Like bubbles, they rise up and pop, surprising me and making me smile. 


On day two of our tour, we left Rome, and entered Tuscany. We stopped at the little medieval village of Lucca for lunch, and later enjoyed a wonderful tour and five course meal at a vineyard. As I flipped through photos on my phone today, I felt inspired to capture Dayan’s first Italian pizza in a sketch. I also drew the bell tower of Lucca, with the trees growing at the top, creating the illusion of hair. 

Although I would not learn about the significance of Italy’s bell towers until later in the trip, Lucca’s towers were the first to catch our attention and our interest. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
We capped off our day at Fattoria Il Poggio, a Tuscan farm featuring vineyards and olive groves. What a magical evening. Our group dined al fresco, at long beautifully set tables under twinkling white lights. The wine and the food flowed freely. I learned that night that I would be fine, eating plant based in Italy. The food was marvelous. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
As I wrote in my journal, I realized the true magic that wove itself through the evening involved relationships. That night, over a long and delightful dinner, strangers became family. Perhaps because of the wine, or the music, or the incredible beauty that surrounded us, 43 people bypassed the acquaintance and friendship stages and connected on deeper levels. 

We laughed, we sang, we danced, we dined on amazing local foods and drank wines created right there at the vineyard. We fell in love with Italy and ourselves and each other. 

The memories from that night warmed my heart and made me smile as I wrote in my journal. 

And then they jostled another memory, that sent me searching for a piece of paper. 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food
My family! My Globus family! Judy and Chelsea and Hilda, Norm and Rohini… We all wrote our names and email addresses on a piece of paper labeled “Traveling Companions”. Let’s all stay in touch, we said. I’ll email you, I promised. 

I have not contacted my traveling companions, my new family, since I have been home. I found my paper with their names and email addresses. Perhaps this is why I was drawn to journal today. Perhaps this memory needed to surface. Regardless, I am grateful for the reminder that this day of the trip was full of so many good things, including gaining 41 new family members. 

I will begin emailing them tonight. It is time to catch up with my family! 

Love, Laughter, Wine & Good Food

Creating a Travel Journal

I had a great idea, before I left on the Italy trip with my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. I bought each of us a journal, with unlined blank pages, to use as travel journals. I had a romanticized vision of sitting on a hotel balcony each evening, while in Italy, capturing the day’s memories in delightful sketches and meaningful words and quotes. 

It wasn’t a bad idea. But it didn’t happen. I’ve never traveled before with a tour group. We were busy from early in the morning until late at night, experiencing all that we could of the country we were visiting. I never once sat on a balcony. And although Elissa used her journal to write down thoughts and collect mementos, I never opened mine. At all. 

Creating a Travel Journal
After I returned home, I tucked my unused journal into a drawer…and left it there, until today. This morning, as I asked the Divine, How shall we play today?, the journal came to mind. The answer to my question seemed to be, Create a travel journal…

My response was something along the lines of, I think that horse has already bolted out of the barn… which was a cheeky way of saying, I think it is too late for that. I felt a wee sense of sadness about that fact that I had not used my journal. 

Time has no meaning to the Divine. Was it really too late? My thoughts returned to the journal throughout the day. Create a travel journal…Create A Travel JOURNAL. There is no barn. There is no horse. Create. 

This evening, I pulled the journal from the drawer, grabbed a drawing pencil and began a travel journal. Although I didn’t capture the memories each day while we were in Italy by sketching them, I did capture them. I took photos with my phone. And I wrote a daily blog post. 

Creating a Travel Journal
Creating a Travel Journal
I started with a two page spread of Rome, where our adventures began. I included a quote that I love, We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” Using photos as inspiration, I sketched some of the highlights of that first day of our tour. I reread that day’s blog post and wrote out the phrase that so caught my attention as we wandered through the Vatican, Conquer your own space. 

I sketched quickly, so as not to overthink what I was doing or doubt my ability. I had fun. The images I drew are symbols that remind me of special memories: Dayan’s first morning in Rome, looking out on the city from the hotel window, flowers growing atop a building, the Colosseum, which represents all the historical monuments we viewed, and a statue overlooking the Tiber River. It too is symbolic of the many amazing sculptures we saw while in Rome. 

Creating a Travel Journal
I enjoyed creating a travel journal entry, even if it is after the fact. I know it touched a deep place within my heart, because emotions were evoked. My eyes filled with grateful tears. I’ll include a quote about Rome in the bottom left corner and call these first pages good. As I sketch future pages, capturing the Italy journey day by day, I will be kind to myself and forego criticism. I will have fun, creating a visual representation of a wonderful shared adventure. 

Perhaps a I’ll sketch next time while sitting in the backyard garden. It is the closest thing I have to a balcony. 

Creating a Travel Journal

The Real Deal

A month or so ago, I tried out several packing techniques, to see if I could get 11 days of clothes and toiletries into a carry on bag. I was successful, however I discovered that the carry on luggage I owned was 1/2″ too tall to meet the guidelines for international flights. 

I ordered a new, slightly smaller carry on. When it arrived, I was a bit concerned! The bag looked so small. When I compared the two pieces of luggage, side by side, I could only see a slight difference. Perhaps it would be okay. 

With less than 48 hours before Elissa, Dayan and I board a plane bound for Rome, I decided to do another practice pack tonight, using exactly what will go with me. 

The Real Deal

In the last month, people have questioned me about the feasibility of packing for 11 days in a carry on. I felt determined to try. And I am not the only one. My daughter and grandson are attempting to do the same. And this fall, four other family members will see if it is possible as five of us travel to Ireland, Scotland and England.

I like the idea of  traveling light, with a suitcase I can easily manage. The Italian tour we are joining in Rome only allows one piece of luggage per person. And there is less chance of losing my luggage with a carry on, plus I can by pass waiting for my suitcase to appear at the airport pick up area. 

But could I do it, for real? I was about to find out. 

The Real Deal
The Real Deal
My new plum colored carry on has a collapsible handle that tucks into a zippered pouch, making the suitcase an inch shorter than my previous bag. With soft sides, rather than rigid ones, and a more streamlined shape, this carry on looked smaller than the older bag. Doubt was trying to crowd in. 

The Real Deal
The Real Deal
All of those clothes needed to fit in a 21″x14″x9″ carry on. I also had travel sized toiletries, makeup and miscellaneous items such as electrical adapters and supplements. 

My first HUGE concern was discovering that all liquids and gels must fit within a quart sized (6″x9″) clear ziplock bag. I was thinking I’d have a gallon sized bag to use, but no. I thought I had  accomplished that near impossible feat until I remembered contact lens solution. I hope the Italian hotels have shower soap! I had to swap out my Bath & Body soap. 

The Real Deal
I created my own travel hack. All of my socks, that I’ll wear with my walking shoes, tucked into my sandals, making use of wasted space. Looks dorky but it works! 

The Real Deal
First layer, which includes capris, sock stuffed sandals, pjs, a lightweight wrap and eight tops. Rolling each piece of clothing tightly makes an amazing difference. 

The Real Deal
The next layer added four more tops, a lightweight sweater, two bras and 11 pairs of undies. I rolled those tightly too. I’ve found they tuck in easily among the rolled clothes. I also packed my nose and several wrist bands for Red Nose Day, which is Thursday, May 25. 

Hey, it is looking doable!

The Real Deal
Lastly, I added travel documents, the tiny baggie with liquids, a clear make up bag with non liquid toiletries and the four supplements I’ve chosen to take along. 

And you know what?

It all fit! I’ll carry a journal, a phone charger and earbuds in my purse, but there was room to spare in my suitcase. I zipped it closed without a problem and popped the whole thing on the scales. 14.8 pounds. 

I’m packed. In a carry on. For an 11 day trip. I am so glad I tried it this evening instead of waiting until tomorrow night. It is one less thing to think about.

I have a full day tomorrow. And then Wednesday, a dream literally takes flight. My year of inspiration blog will become a travel blog while I explore Italy with my daughter and grandson. And yet, I know inspiration will find me, invite me, tap me on the shoulder, no matter where I am. 

I am open and ready to receive. 

The Real Deal

You can order a carry on bag below:

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Happy Birthday Elissa

Thirty seven years ago today, I became a mother. When the nurse tucked my infant daughter into my arms, I thought my heart couldn’t possibly contain the wonder I felt for this little miracle or the love that swelled in my chest. Elissa Dawn. She was perfect. She still is! 


I helped my grandson Dayan in the kitchen yesterday, as he prepared a special birthday treat for his mom. Although I didn’t sample an Oreo Cheesecake Bite, I had the joy of being present as Dayan surprised his mom. Because he is an amazing son, he even topped one of the bites with a candle. After making a wish and blowing out the candle, it was time to try the snacks. Elissa declared the mini cheesecakes a success. 


Today her dad and I stopped by her office, bearing birthday cards from us and her Mimi Pat. I love the group of people that my daughter works with. They are a fun and innovative bunch who encourage and celebrate each other. I’m so grateful that Elissa has found a place that is perfect for her and allows her to offer her talents. 

Elissa has had a busy year. She remains a steady and loving presence in the lives of her guys…Josh, Dayan and Jonathan…cheering them on as they journey. She was there for Dayan’s band concerts and award ceremonies, Jonathan’s talent show performance and poetry reading, Josh’s new business venture. And she continues to learn about who she is as she pursues the best version of herself, attending a ladies conference last fall and diligently training in the rigorous Cross Fit program. 



I looked up Elissa’s name:

“Elissa, you do well when you are in harmony with yourself and others. When you live in discord, many of your best qualities are then reversed. Because you are interested in many things, you find it difficult to settle on just one area of interest. Your versatility results in changes, and could bring travel. You have a fine intellect and you are capable of great achievement if you apply yourself. You can be restless, changeable, and very sexy. You will live an eventful, exciting life. You are versatile and learn new things easily. 

You understand the law of harmony and desire to balance your life with those around you. You may feel incomplete without someone to share your journey with…your love, ideas, wealth and work. You have developed intuition, patience and the ability to nurture others. You can achieve lasting happiness living in complementary relationships. Go and create a great life. 



Those words describe my daughter well. They are powerful, strong words that portray a strong personality. She does have a fine intellect…and also a delightful sense of humor and many creative gifts that she can offer to the world. 

The truth that I was most struck with, as I read about Elissa, is how she desires to live in relationship and how important those relationships are. Whether it is as a sister to her younger siblings or as a daughter, as a horse whisperer or a team member at work, as a wife or a mom, Elissa values and honors the relationships that she’s in. And I’ve watched this past year as she more deeply realized the importance of a good relationship with herself. She is offering her best to all those she lives in partnership with, including herself. I am so very proud of her. 

I love the last line: Go and create a great life. I see my girl doing that, as she continues to learn and grow and open her heart. You shine, beautiful one. Happy birthday Elissa. I love you! 



2 Friends & Junk Show Joplin 

I was very excited today to kick off the weekend by attending the 2 Friends & Junk Show in Joplin. This is always a fun event, with booths full of repurposed items, crafts, vintage finds and junk. It’s been 18 months since I last attended a Joplin show. When 2 Friends & Junk was here last spring, I couldn’t even get in the door, the line was so long. My daughters and I purchased VIP passes this time, which allowed us to enter early this morning, ahead of the crowds. 



The tickets were worth the purchase price. It is extremely inspiring to me, to wander through the booths. The vendors do a great job merchandising product and I get fresh ideas just looking around. My creativity fires up. 

Adriel and I had specific items we were looking for, while Elissa wanted something to grab her attention with the “wow” factor. One of the pieces I was searching for was an old fashioned edison bulb type light fixture. My next year is already coming together, with a theme and symbols. This light bulb is part of the unfolding. One of the ways confirmation is given to me, concerning my new journey, is by way of repetition. I wanted to find a light bulb fixture, and I expressed the desire to do so. 



The first booth that caught my eye provided an immediate response. There were the light bulb fixtures! Pheona’s Vintage Market was my favorite vendor today. I returned to it over and over. All of my purchases came from this attractively set up booth. And Adriel made her purchases from there as well. 

It was a well set up floor. The girls and I enjoyed wandering around, exclaiming over items or discussing what one could do with an interesting piece. The wrist bands gain admittance to the show tomorrow too. We will go back, to see what new items have appeared, as vendors restock tonight. I saw several other pieces that I would like to purchase. I’ll see where inspiration leads on Saturday. 



Tonight I am thrilled with my finds. The light fixture will go in my studio. The two wire cloches are going to become part of my fall decor. I’ll share more about that idea later. My favorite piece from today is a small framed quote, that I had not seen or heard before. 

It perfectly captures where I am on my journey. And foreshadows what’s to come in 2017. What a beautiful and encouraging confirmation that I am on the right path. 

Journey 290: Maple Leaf Parade

What a fun morning, jump started by a big parade! The air was crisp with a definite fall chill to it and the sun not quite up when I headed east to Carthage, MO. This is the 49th Maple Leaf Festival, held annually in this beautiful Ozark town. The highlight of the festival is the Maple Leaf Parade, touted as the largest in southwest Missouri. 

I marched in this parade while in high school, with the Mustang Marching Band, and more recently walked the route as a realtor. Now I enjoy watching from the sidelines. And today was a special event. Four of my five grandchildren were in the parade. And my son Nate, a police officer with Carthage PD, led off the parade with the Honor Guard. Daughter Elissa, son-in-law Josh, grandson Jonathan and daughter-in-law Megan sat with me on the west side of the square. Greg joined us just as the parade was starting. 

Here are highlights of the parade, captured in photos:

 

Elissa and Jonathan

 Jonathan sporting his Link costume. 

 

Josh

 Megan and Nate

 

Megan and me

 Nate was in charge of the Honor Guard, which led off the parade

 

 One of the winners in the float category

  

This dog, wearing a hat, cracked me up. He seemed to enjoy all the attention. 

 Grandsons Joey and Oliver, with Tiger Football

 

Lots of scary floats, advertising local haunted houses for Halloween

   The Flip Shop with their trampoline on wheels

  

Grandson Dayan with the Carl Junction Marching Band, which sounded great! There were lots of bands in the parade, as there is a band competition in the afternoon. Carl Junction was awarded first place in the parade! Latest update is that they are in the finals for the afternoon marching band competition. 

 

 

 Granddaughter Aubrey, and her mom Brittany, Nana Shelby and brother AJ, with the Donate Life float. Aubrey’s Nana is a liver transplant recipient, celebrating her 6th anniversary! 

 

One never knows where a kilted man will show up!

 Or Darth Vader 😃

 

This guy was cool!

 The crowd pleasing Dancing Cobras from Springfield MO

 

Horses and mules signal the end of the parade, with the city street sweepers behind, for obvious reasons! 139 units passed by…bands, floats, businesses and organizations. 

I enjoyed the morning immensely, sitting with family, watching for grandkids in the parade, smiling as I watched my son carry out his responsibilities with dignity and ease. On the way home I found myself humming the song “I Love a Parade”, so I looked the words up. The lyrics are a fitting conclusion to this blog post. 

I love a parade, the tramping of feet,

I love every beat I hear of a drum.

I love a parade, when I hear a band

I just want to stand and cheer as they come.

Yes! 

 
   
  

Journey 221: Happy Birthday Elissa

Today is my older daughter’s birthday. The extended family will gather later in the week for a birthday dinner, when everyone can be present. However, I enjoyed spending time with Elissa this evening as she shared a quiet night at home with her family. I love that she set aside time for herself late this afternoon and had a birthday nap, and that she allowed me to bring her a special treat. When I asked this morning what I could bring her this evening, she replied that she wouldn’t say no to a chocolate chip double doozie, from Great American Cookie Company!

Elissas birthday double doozie

Greg and I arrived with FOUR chocolate chip double doozies, one for Elissa, one for Josh and one for each of the boys, and a gallon of cold milk. One cannot eat a double doozie without a tall glass of milk to wash it down with! Sitting and visiting with her, it was hard to believe another year has flown by. It has been a busy year for my girl!

Elissas birthday wedding with Josh

Elissa and Josh got married last November, joining their hearts, their families and their lives. It was such a special time, as Dayan and Jonathan stood with their parents while they expressed their love and devotion to each other. They have combined households and I am so thrilled for them, so proud of them, watching them juggle careers and the boys’ busy schedules with competence and love. They carve out time to do things together, take family trips, hang out together at home.

Elissas birthday Dayan

Elissas birthday Jonathan

Elissa is a wonderful mother to Dayan and to Jonathan, encouraging them to follow their hearts and do what they enjoy. She cheers Dayan on in the many school and extracurricular activities that he participates in, always present in the audience as a witness to his life. When Jonathan performed in the school talent show, she was there clapping wildly, nervous for him, and proud of him, at the same time. And present as well when he had a lead part in a play, after a week of drama camp this summer. I love how connected she is to those boys.

Elissas birthday Adriel and Nathanael

She is connected to her brother and sister as well. Although they are all adults with families of their own, these siblings stay in touch and have fun together when they can. Elissa, being the eldest, challenges her younger brother and sister, in everything from board games and ping pong, to dressing fashionably and winning at life. As a child, she was the bossy one, sure that she knew what was best for Nathanael and Adriel, and not afraid to tell them so! She is not so bossy now, but she does not hesitate to step in and offer help and encouragement and advice when it is needed. There is mutual love and respect among those three, and their significant others. The six have a great time when they are together, and I love watching them interact.

Elissas birthday having fun

Elissas birthday group pic

I am so proud of Elissa. As her mom, it brings joy to my heart to watch her journey, to see the growth that is evident in her life, and watch her engage others. She has such an amazing sense of humor. She doesn’t use it to wound, or to deflect, but rather allows her wit to brighten the lives of those around her. She especially enjoys teasing her dad, who wouldn’t know what to do if his eldest child didn’t kid him whenever they are together. Elissa is settling into who she is, discovering what she has to offer to the world, learning to seek within rather than without. She shines brilliantly. Elissa is not only my daughter, but one of my favorite people to hang out with. Happy birthday, beautiful girl. May the next year be full of love and light, adventures and joys. I love you so much!

Elissas birthday Josh

Journey 194: Italian Dinner

What to do when the restaurant I intended to try, and write about in my blog, happens to be closed? Daughter Elissa and her husband Josh, and Greg and I arranged to meet at a new restaurant in town, Joe’s Italian Grill. We discovered when we pulled into the parking lot that Monday is the only day Joe’s is closed.

  
What to do? We took the party to Olive Garden, since our appetites were whetted for chicken parmigiana and fresh, crusty bread. Last year I learned to go with the flow. If a planned first failed to come together, another first always appeared and it was always the perfect activity.  

My journeys this year have been the same. I don’t sweat it. I just open to other possibilities. In the spirit of adventure, I tried something new at Olive Garden, rather than dining on my usual Seafood Alfredo. 

  
I’ve never created my own Tour of Italy platter before. I chose eggplant parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo and cheese ravioli for my “tour”. Josh and Elissa created a Tour of Italy also that  they shared, leaving room, as Elissa mused, for dessert! Greg had chicken parmigiana. We shared a big bowl of salad and a basket of fresh breadsticks. 

We will all gather at Joe’s another time for a meal. Tonight we dined well. Primarily , we talked and listened and laughed. It was good to catch up on news and tell stories. That’s the real joy in sharing a meal. And the dessert did turn out to be pretty awesome!