Orange You Glad

A simple blog post tonight, reflecting a simple pleasure today and a simple kindness that inspired me. My friend Garen took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday, which was Monday. This is a yearly tradition that I enjoy, as Garen and I catch up on each others’ journeys and lives.

Orange You Glad, Simple Kindness of Others

We went to the M&M Bistro, a Mediterranean cafe in downtown Joplin. The bistro is a beautiful little place, with a friendly staff and a great selection on their menu, including vegetarian fare. Garen and I chatted as we dined. I savored the Vegetable Platter, with grilled squash, mushrooms and eggplant, over a bed of greens, tomatoes and olives. Hummus was included, and so was pita bread, which I did not eat. It was a lovely meal and a lovely lunch. I so appreciate my friend. We have known each other for almost a decade, and we have walked together through many joys and life challenges. I always appreciate Garen’s ability to listen well and respond with valuable insights. His kindness, his way of making life more tender for others, inspires me and encourages me.

MandM Bistro Making Life a Little More Tender

As we concluded our meal, Garen mentioned to our waiter, who is also the gracious owner of M&M Bistro, that we were celebrating my birthday. Our host offered a dessert, and made several delicious suggestions. I thanked him, and explained that I don’t eat sweets, just fruits and vegetables. He asked me what fruits I enjoy.

A few minutes later, he placed a small plate before us, containing a perfect blood orange. With delight, I scored it, peeled it, and Garen and I shared it, going halfsies. It was a wonderful finish to a fun meal.

I thought about that kind gesture the rest of the afternoon. The owner, who so attentively waited on us, keeping our water glasses filled, asking often if we needed anything, didn’t need to go beyond the offer of a sweet dessert. When I declined, he could have said, “Very good.” and brought the tab. Instead, he brought an orange, something he knew I would enjoy. Garen and I suspected the orange might have come from his own lunch or dinner, which made the gesture even more beautiful.

I looked up oranges in my Life Changing Foods book, by Anthony William, when I got home this evening. It is full of benefits, healing the body from a host of viruses and alleviating symptoms such as aches and pains, acid reflux, mood swings and allergies. What caught my attention was that oranges are considered a ray of sunshine, helping to chase away sadness and weariness. They shine a light into our lives, warming us and reminding us of what is important in life…things like kindness, tenderness and friendship.

As I was thinking about the day, and oranges, preparing to write my blog post, I remembered a knock knock joke from my childhood. “Knock knock.” ” Who’s there?” “Banana.” “Banana who?” This is repeated several times, until at last… “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Orange.” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” It still makes me smile! Orange you glad?

Yes, yes I am glad. I am glad and grateful for a friend who takes the time for a leisurely lunch and fun conversations. I am glad and grateful for the M&M Bistro and a truly kind and gracious host, who embodied making life a little more tender today. I am glad and grateful for the simple and delicious orange, a very satisfying and healthy dessert.

I am glad. Orange you glad?

Orange You Glad, Life a Little More Tender

Surrender 33: Old Chicago Pizza

Today I got to try out, for the first time, a restaurant that opened recently in Joplin. Old Chicago Pizza is located at 3320 S. Range Line Road. I met my good friend Garen there, who is always great to suggest new places to experience. 


I arrived a few minutes ahead of Garen and looked up info about this restaurant. Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom started in 1976 in Boulder, Colorado. It is now part of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, which operates 60 restaurants in 22 states.

Old Chicago features delectable pizzas in deep dish, thin crust or stuffed crust versions. They also serve more traditional dishes, such as pastas, sandwiches, salads, burgers and calzones as well as appetizers. The cheesecake is highly recommended. And each restaurant carries a wide assortment of beer. 

The Joplin restaurant is clean and brightly lit, with ample seating space, and a bar at one end. Garen joined me at a booth and the task began of deciding what to order for lunch. Everything in the menu looked appealing. We passed on an appetizer, although they offered great choices. Although we were in a place that specializes in pizza, both of us opted for a sandwich. I’ll try the pizza another time. 

I sampled the California Chicken Sandwich, primarily because it is served with slices of avocado, accompanied by a side of fresh veggies with ranch and bleu cheese dressing for dipping. Garen had a Spicy Thai Chicken Sandwich with the fresh veggies as well.
Both sandwiches looked amazing! I can only vouch for mine…it was amazing. I believe Garen enjoyed his also. We quickly gave up trying to pick the sandwiches up to eat them. They were so loaded, it was impossible not to make a mess. A knife and fork worked well. 

What a great meal, at Old Chicago, and a wonderful time of catching up and sharing with my friend. I deeply value Garen’s perspectives on life and his input. We’ve been friends for seven years and it’s been a privilege to journey with him, learning, growing, discussing ahas and oh nos along the way. He’s been present with me through times of great joy and great sorrow. 

Today he told the waitress it was my birthday. It was…last month! She wished me happy birthday several times, and even left a note on the bill, writing “Happy 21st birthday!!” 😃  To celebrate the day, we of course had to try Old Chicago’s famous cheesecake. Covered with strawberries and blueberries, we found it worthy of its reputation! 

Garen’s birthday was last month also, just three days after mine. It’s my turn to treat him to lunch. I’m thinking about what new place to try next!


Journey 244: Jimmy’s Egg

I’ve always thought it would be fun to eat at different restaurants and do reviews on the food and service. While the experiences of trying new foods and new eating establishments would be wonderful, I don’t think I am objective enough to be critical. I look for what’s good, what’s unique, what works in each restaurant, rather than any negatives. Yesterday, I got to try an established restaurant in Arkansas that was new to me. Today, thanks to a spontaneous lunch invite from my friend, Garen, I had the opportunity to try a restaurant that is new to Joplin and unfamiliar to me.

jimmys egg

Jimmy’s Egg, located at 1611 S Range Line in Joplin, recently opened. What a fun name! I figured out the chain restaurant offers an assortment of egg dishes, for breakfast and lunch. I knew nothing else about the franchise. Launched from Oklahoma City, OK, in 1980, Jimmy’s Egg, named after the original founder Jim Newman, specializes in cracked-to-order three egg omelets and scrambled skillets, cups of coffee and freshly baked breads and biscuits. Also on the menu are pancakes, French Toast and Belgian waffles. And for lunches, freshly made salads, hamburgers and sandwiches. The restaurant is open daily from 6:00 am to 2:00 pm.

Loc Le, who was a Vietnamese refugee seeking asylum in the US, purchased the single restaurant from Jim. Loc and his wife grew the business to 14 restaurants in the Oklahoma City metro area. In 2008, Loc joined with Garfield’s owner Jim Burke, launching the franchise, which now has 23 locations in Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska and Kansas.

I was expecting more of a fast food type establishment, but Jimmy’s Egg is a sit down restaurant, with friendly staff and a great menu. Garen and I both elected to have breakfast for lunch. I zeroed in on the Farmers Scrambled Skillet, a delicious combination of scrambled eggs, ham, bacon, onions, peppers, cheese and homestyle potatoes, and a side of homemade cinnamon raisin bread. Garen opted for a Mexican omelet. with sides of the cinnamon raisin bread and biscuits and gravy. I might add, that neither of us had eaten anything yet when we had lunch!

It was a great meal, with a very cheerful, attentive server who kept our water and tea glasses filled. We had an assortment of salsas and sauces to try with our eggs. The restaurant was clean, with that still-new look, and busy, with plenty of booths and tables for seating.

I appreciated Garen’s invitation. And as always, I appreciated Garen! We chatted and caught up with each other’s journeys, which is valuable enough. However, Garen offers insights, suggestions and stories out of his heart and his experiences, which I find priceless. He is an amazing companion to journey through life with. And adventurous to look for new restaurants to try, new foods to savor. Great qualities in a fellow traveler, and great choice in a restaurant today!

jimmys egg scrambled skillet

Journey 43: Friendship Strengthens the Journey


Tonight I am blogging from a restaurant parking lot, due to problems with the AT&T tower near my home. No internet on phone or computer means I’m in the ridiculous position of driving around, checking my phone for a signal so that I can post.

Of course I could have used the lack of internet as an excuse not to post today and made up for it tomorrow. However, I have written and posted a blog 406 days in a row. I’ve blogged from Scotland, while at the homes of friends and family, late at night and while ill, tired or grieving. No faulty cell phone tower is going to trifle with me! It’s all part of my journey.

The journey earlier today was soulful, and taken while in the company of one of my dearest friends. Garen and I have known each other for 7 years, and met via a business organization. When we sat down together for the first time to get better acquainted, it was if we had always known each other. The connection was immediate and an easy friendship developed that has truly been a blessing to me.

We met for lunch, and our conversation was at times light and fun. Garen has a wicked sense of humor. He also possesses one of the keenest business minds that I’ve encountered and his ability to think creatively and expansively always inspires me.

I chatted about my journey, and my hopes, dreams and intentions for the immediate future, expressing two of my truths: “I am open to everything and attached to nothing.” and “Everything that shows up in my life is an ongoing conversation with the Divine.” I so appreciate Garen’s thoughtful responses and suggestions.

We talked about my desire to write, to teach through my writings, and to travel. He made a profound statement and asked a question, and both will shape my future journey. Garen suggested I look at where those three desires intersect, the writing, the teaching, and the traveling, and at that intersection I will find my purpose and my way of offering to the world. He then shared this powerful question with me, from the book, “Zero to One”, by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters: “What important truth do you know that very few people would agree with you on?”. The answer to that questions reveals my area of teaching, my gift to the world.

I have thought all day about what Garen shared with me. And I have expressed gratitude multiple times for this dear friend. We each make our own way in the world, seeking our own paths, learning from our own experiences on the journey. How beautiful it is when another appears on the path, walking alongside and saying, “I’m headed that way too. Mind if I walk with you for a while?” There’s increased joy and greater energy in a journey that’s shared, and a helping hand when it’s needed, a shoulder to cry on when grief appears, and encouragement through the challenging twists and turns on the path. I am very thankful for this fellow traveler and my sincerest desire is to offer back to him during his journey as well.

As John Lennon sang, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” I do more than that. I am enriched, encouraged and inspired with a little help from my friends. Thank you Garen, my friend.


Day 246: Ameri-Light Pizza


What an awesome first for today. My good friend Garen and I met for lunch at a new pizza restaurant in Joplin. We looked forward to catching up on each other’s journeys. And we were curious about this new place. It promised to be an interesting meeting!

Located at 1651 W 7th, Suite 8, near the Maiden Lane and 7th Street intersection, Ameri-Light Pizza is so much more than a place to grab lunch or dinner. Opened by Juliet Hardy, director of Guiding Light Ministries, Ameri-Light Pizza was created to provide a place of employment for women whose lives are being transformed by the ministry.

Juliet, who has directed GLM for the past seven years, first created a residential treatment program for women recovering from addictions. Women moving into a care home can make a 6-12 month commitment to bring about tangible change in their lives. They learn to love themselves and in the process become responsible and productive members of the community.

Juliet then opened a thrift store to help with the needs of the ministry and 8 weeks ago launched Ameri-Light Pizza to further support the women who are part of the program and help defray the costs of the ministry. All the employees are women who are going through the treatment program. The idea was to provide a source of income that these women would not otherwise have.

Garen and I were impressed, with the concept and with the food and service. We shared a Chicken Alfredo Pizza that was delicious. Also available is a pizza buffet and salad bar.

We were also impressed with Juliet, who stopped by our table to make sure our meal was all that we hoped it would be. And when we asked her to, she shared her remarkable story. It was immediately apparent that Juliet is passionate about life and serving others.

With her permission I can share that Juliet knows about the miraculous because she herself is a miracle. Born into addiction, she survived for a time as a prostitute. She was beaten, robbed and left on the street for dead. And then, as she says, things got bad! She is now a trophy of grace. And she shares that grace with others as the director of Guiding Light Ministries.

She cares about others and isn’t afraid to put actions behind her words, creating transformation and a renewed life for others, with God’s divine help. And she makes a fine pizza! I’ll be a regular at Ameri-Light Pizza.

Day 181: Six Month Celebration & Reflection


January 1, when I began this journey of experiencing something new each day, I wasn’t sure if I could find enough firsts to make it through the year. I made lists. I hunted for ideas. And there was nothing wrong with planning ahead! I still check the newspaper for upcoming events and I always have my “antenna” out, picking up suggestions. As June draws to a close, I have made it half way through the year! Today marks six months gone in 2014. If I go by number of days, noon Wednesday, July 2, marks the halfway point. Today seemed like the day to celebrate one of the greatest years of my life!

It has been an exciting year thus far. These new experiences have taught me much about life and stepping out there and being okay with being uncomfortable. Firsts like handing out flowers to strangers on Valentine’s Day and using power tools pushed me to go beyond the fear of being misunderstood and the fear of hurting myself! Many of my firsts have involved family members such as my sisters, mom, children and grandchildren. Aubrey and I sang our hearts out at the Disney Frozen Sing a long, while Joey and Oliver got to have their first outing with me at the Jasper County Sheriff’s Day. My grandson Dayan moved beyond his own comfort zone when he helped me put encouraging notes on random cars in a large parking lot. We laughed as we darted from car to car.

I’ve appreciated how supportive my family and friends have been as they journey along side me while I experience this amazing year. They’ve not only been willing participants, they’ve come up with suggestions and ideas for firsts and they’ve been open to experiencing and sharing firsts of their own.

The new friends I’ve made and the people I’ve had the privilege of connecting with have so enriched my year. I love that the act of moving beyond has brought opportunities to meet people I never would have met otherwise. It has been a pleasure to email with Lu Ann Cahn, and do a guest blog for her. Lu Ann’s book, “I Dare Me” inspired my own journey. I’ve also met another blogger who is having a year of firsts as well. Betty has been fun to correspond with and I often check out her blog to see what she’s doing that day for a first. Although we’ve had a few similar experiences, for the most part, we are doing very different firsts. A link to her blog is provided at the end of this post.

The most amazing lesson I’ve learned so far this year is not to over think or over plan what each day’s first will be. Many times the planned first has shifted or been postponed, for a variety of reasons. And yet, when that happens, another first always appears, and it is always the perfect first for that day! I’m seeing how life flows, and how being in that flow not only makes life easier and more joyful, but more opportunities show up for me as I stay in that open space. It has been exciting, also, to experience so much synchronicity and see the connections that are everywhere.

This afternoon, I had a delightful time catching up with two of my dear friends, Garen and Cate, at Blackthorn Pizza & Pub. We shared about what was going on in our lives and encouraged each other in our journeys. We each had a drink. I normally have a hard cider, Angry Orchard being my favorite. Today, however, they were out of cider. Jason, the bartender, disappeared and came back with a deliciously tart, fruity drink he made just for me. He called it The Cindy. How appropriate, as I celebrated the halfway mark in my year of firsts, to have a drink I had never had before, named after me. And how fun! Here’s to an incredible rest of the year!

Check out Betty’s blog