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!

Being Adriel

I started something new last month, when my daughter Elissa had a birthday. Although my son’s birthday occurs earliest in the year, Elissa is my oldest, my firstborn. I seem to reset on her birthday and then continue the new tradition as my other children’s birthdays come up.

Today is my youngest child’s birthday. And as I did last month, this is not a birthday post as much as it is a reflection on my younger daughter, Adriel, and the lessons I’ve learned from her.

I have enjoyed this rainy Sunday, and a day of rest and self care. Last night I had the opportunity to see my daughter and share a meal with her. During this peace filled day, I’ve reflected on Adriel’s life and smiled over the joy she has brought to me…and teared up multiple times as I’ve sorted through family photos and pondered the lessons this beautiful soul has taught me.

Adriel has always surprised me. Discovering I was pregnant with baby number three was a big surprise…more of a shock really. With two toddlers already, a girl and a boy, our little family felt complete. However, it obviously was not! My pregnancy with Adriel was challenging, for two reasons. A minor heart condition that I have became a major problem during this pregnancy. And I felt very alone during those nine months of weekly doctors’ visits. Greg was busy with work and a new hobby…golf. His parents and mine all lived in other towns and/or states. I struggled to care for two active kids and a house.

Before she was even born, Adriel taught me to keep going, no matter what, and to find the joy in every situation. The day I heard her tiny heart beating for the first time, was the day I fully embraced this new life growing within me and opened my heart to her. I went home and sat quietly on the bed, holding infant clothes in my hands, imagining who she would be…and who she would become. I loved her fiercely.

And fierce she turned out to be! Adriel was the game changer in our family. The girls now outnumbered the boys. She was the youngest, but that never stopped her from doing her best to keep up with her older sister and brother. She was ornery…expressive…vocal…and tender hearted. She could love on her sister and then turn around and pinch her. She laughed when her daddy teased her brother, but cried when the teasing included her. She liked to tattle on me to her dad, if a male stranger smiled or winked at me while we were out shopping.

Adriel has always been her own person, and a force to reckon with, then and now.

One of the things that Adriel taught me, that had a great impact on me, was the beauty of tears. She cried easily as a child…because she was angry, because she was sad, because her feelings were hurt. Adriel felt no shame in crying. She would grab a handful of tissues and dab at her beautiful little eyes as the tears rolled out of them.

I envied her ability to cry like that. I struggled with showing emotion, and yet this precious child simply allowed the tears to flow. How her tears always melted my heart. I never shushed her. Adriel’s tears tried to open my own heart to the beauty of releasing pent up energy by crying. I wish now I had held her close and joined her by allowing my tears to flow with hers. I still think of young Adriel with her wadded up tissues, wiping her tears away. She is, unknowingly, still teaching me about crying.

The greatest lesson my youngest child has taught me is perseverance. Adriel has a “can do” attitude that has guided her through life. She decided at an early age that she wanted to be a nurse, and she has relentlessly followed that path. This was my child who gagged if someone said the word “snot” or sneezed in her presence. I never dreamed that she would enter the medical field.

But as I said, she surprises me. She started down her chosen path by volunteering at the hospital as a young teen. She allowed her fascination with the intricacies of the human body to overcome her tendency to react to certain unsavory things that the body is capable of. She taught me, by her example, to never give up…to follow your passion and your heart…and to get up every morning and keep going.

It was a long journey for this fiery girl, becoming a nurse. There were challenges as she worked full time and semester by semester completed her studies. Nursing school is difficult, even in the best possible circumstances. She didn’t have ideal conditions, as a tornado destroyed her home and a marriage came apart. Her life was upended. And yet…she persevered. She kept going. She didn’t stop trying. And she did it. My girl became a nurse.

Adriel bought another house. She married her sweetheart, Nate, last October. She has a career she enjoys, working as a RN for a neurologist. And still she keeps learning and growing and persevering, in pursuit of the life she desires.

As I did for Elissa last month on her birthday, I considered what symbol best represents my daughter Adriel. If I was going to get a tattoo for Adriel, in honor of her, her birthday, and her life, what would it look like? I asked for guidance, and I love how I was led.

My attention was first pulled to a pair of framed prints in my bedroom, vintage drawings of flowers. So, a flower for Adriel. The word that I associate with my daughter is “perseverance “. I googled to see which flower symbolizes that character quality. And I knew…before I saw the flower, I knew where I was being led.

Adriel’s middle name is Lauren. It’s a derivative of my own middle name, Lorene, and it is associated with laurel leaves which symbolize victory. That’s appropriate. However, I looked up the name Lauren. It literally means “from the place of the laurel leaves.” Is there a laurel flower? There is. And guess what the laurel flower symbolizes? Perseverance…steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

I drew laurel flowers for Adriel. There are laurel leaves in the sketch too, representing victory. But the flowers are significant. They are beautiful, these clusters of delicate blossoms, and the plant thrives, in less than ideal conditions. Poor soil and deep shade (darkness), do not prevent this flower from blooming and offering its fragrance to the world.

And that’s Adriel. Less than ideal conditions in her life have not stopped her from blooming, from offering her gifts, her beauty and her heart to the world. I am so grateful for the many surprises and great joys that have flowed into my life, since the day I discovered I was expecting another child. I continue to learn from her.

Adriel, my youngest child, the one who perseveres and doesn’t give up, I am excited to see where your journey takes you. I’ll be watching, and cheering for you, and surrounding you with love.

Lunch with Joey

I had the opportunity today, between morning and afternoon appointments and work, to have lunch with grandson Joey. I set the intention of having lunch with each grandchild within a week, and I successfully did that. I was even able to include my eldest grandchild, by driving to Columbia to visit him on the University of Missouri campus and take him to lunch.

Joey is in 6th grade this year. His school is new, with last year being its first year in operation. I love the openness of the cafeteria and the windows that let ample light in. I arrived a few minutes early and chatted with one of the teachers on lunch duty today while I waited for Joey. Two of my grandsons are 6th graders this year, although they attend different schools. I am grateful that even though they are approaching their teens, they still enjoy having lunch together at their schools.

The kids filed into the room and Joey joined me at a front table, a smile on his face. He requested a roast beef and cheddar sandwich meal from Arby’s. Joey’s friend Connor joined us, sitting across the table from us. Having friends with us is always okay! I love meeting my grandchildren’s friends, classmates and teachers. I just make sure that my focus is on my grandchild, although we include others in our conversations.

Connor, Joey and Yaya

Joey and I chatted about the new school year, his classes, football and my upcoming trip. He would love to have a ball cap from one of the countries I will be visiting, as a souvenir. I am happy to oblige. A counselor and two teachers stopped by our table to introduce themselves and my grandson informed one that I am plant based. I chatted for a few moments about health with the interested counselor, answering his questions. I appreciate that my grandkids understand that I eat differently so that I can be my healthiest self. They encourage me and ask questions as well.

I love the way this week of lunches worked out. It is very important to me to invest time and energy in the lives of my grandkids. They amaze me, inspire me, make me laugh and move me to tears. We are creating precious memories as we talk and play and learn together.

In the last seven days, I’ve had lunch with a Dragon, a Tiger, a Tiger, a Tiger…and a Tiger! Lunches don’t get any more interesting or fun than that!

Tiger…Tiger

My intention in the last six days, has been to have lunch with each grandchild at his or her school. I have two reasons. This is the start of a new academic year and I enjoy visiting the kids at their schools and bringing them the lunches of their choice. And, I leave this Thursday on my trip to Ireland, Scotland and England. I wanted to see each of the grandkids before I go.

Last year, the four younger grands were in four different schools, requiring four separate lunch dates. This year, the younger two, Oliver and Aubrey, are in the same school. Today I met them in their cafeteria.

I am a frequent visitor to this school. They know me here. The school principal is the most interactive elementary school principal I have ever met. As I waited for Aubrey, who had the earlier lunch time, I watched with appreciation as he led second graders in songs and games. Wearing a mic, he wandered among the kids as they ate, calling them by name, asking questions, instigating fun. This school is quite a contrast to most that I’ve visited. Kids are allowed to chat and laugh as long as the noise level is kept tolerable.

Aubrey arrived and joined me at the lunch table. She requested a Jr Cheeseburger meal from Wendy’s. I noted her pink cheeks. She started cheerleading this year and spent Saturday cheering at Oliver and Joey’s football games. This bright eyed girl chatted about her school year and her schedule, cheerleading, making new friends and her family. She asked me about my upcoming trip and made me laugh when she asked if Scottish people wear clothes! She thought perhaps I might be wearing just my “birthday suit”.

The lunch schedule changed this year to an overlapping one for the grades, and I like it! That meant I had 15 minutes with Aubrey alone, and then Oliver’s 4th grade class arrived. For 10 minutes I got to be with both kids, one on each side of me. And then I had 15 minutes alone with Oliver. How perfect!

It was fun to be sitting between two spirited Tigers, which is the school’s mascot. Their colors are blue and white. The kids not only chatted with me, they enjoyed chatting with each other. The conversation turned to Halloween and costumes. In my family, it is never too early to discuss Halloween…and that day is Aubrey’s birthday as well! The theme for the family Halloween party is Criminal Insane Asylum, which promises to be spooktacular! Aubrey, Oliver and I were whispering about costume ideas and got the giggles as kids turned to listen in on our conversation. The school cafeteria is probably not the best place to be talking about insane historical figures!

Aubrey left with her class, after multiple hugs. I am thrilled she is having a great start to third grade.

As Oliver ate a Taco Bell lunch, he asked me lots of questions about real estate: What houses have I shown this past week? Which was my favorite? What is the biggest house I’ve been in? What house was the scariest? Oliver is the businessman/idea creator among my grandkids. He likes to think about new adventures and creative ideas. We were looking at houses together on the MLS, seriously, when it was time for him to go. He gave me a big hug and then politely tidied up our eating space before joining his classmates.

I am equally thrilled that Oliver is having a great school year and enjoying his second season of Tiger football.

I have one more lunch with one more grandchild. Tomorrow I join Joey at his school. I am grateful for these opportunities to visit with the kids, hear about their big little lives and get to know their teachers and friends. I am honored to be a witness to their journeys and to walk alongside them.

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 caf├ęs 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.

Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright

The focus of today, and indeed, of much of the last couple of months, has been real estate. Summer is a busy time for realtors. Families move while kids are out of school. Out of town buyers come in to look at properties while they are on vacation. Continued low interest rates make it a great time to buy. And low inventory, creating competition for housing, makes it a great seller’s market as well.

Into every realtor’s life comes challenges that pop up during a transaction. It’s my job to handle each issue as it arises, in a manner that is satisfactory to all parties concerned, which typically includes my clients, another realtor, their clients, and various affiliates.

Such was the case with a transaction that was scheduled to close today. There were a few bumps as my clients and I journeyed toward closing. Those were dealt with and we kept moving forward. However, late yesterday, on the eve of closing, one of those bumps quickly grew to become a wall that appeared to be immovable. It was the kind of grave situation that left the other realtor and I standing together saying, initially, “I’m not sure…I’m not sure how to handle this.”

This is not the story of what went wrong. This is the story of what went right.

What I am incredibly proud to say is, that after a time of shock and understandable reactions, everyone came together and talked…and talked…and brainstormed about how to proceed. My clients were open and gracious. The other clients were open and gracious. Both compromised to reach an agreement.

The agent on the other side of the transaction stepped up and waded in, putting in long hours and going above and beyond without a word of complaint. I did the same.

And this is where my attitudes and thoughts about being a realtor have shifted dramatically these last few years…I do all I can to take care of my clients in a conscientious way, and stay open and in communication with the other realtor and all parties involved. And then I open to the Divine and ask for guidance. I ask for grace and compassion and love and kindness to surround each person involved and all situations. I ask for angels to surround us all. I listen for and look for inspirational nudges and Divine messages. I express gratitude each step of the way as I act on what I am given. What I have stopped doing is worrying, fretting, struggling, resisting and coercing.

This morning I met my clients at the title company at 6:15 am, thanks to an extremely accommodating closer. We closed our sides of two separate transactions. The sun was just coming up as the final documents were signed. They went on to work and I went to my office. As I drove to Keller Williams, during the dawning of a new day, I expressed deep thanks to the Divine, whom I call El-le. El-Hebrew word for God, elle-French word for she…both pronounced “ell” and together reminding me that the Divine is neither male nor female and yet encompasses both male and female.

I was grateful that we had made it this far, grateful that people came together to find a solution. Was it perfect? No…everyone involved sacrificed something. And yes…because nothing happens by accident. For myself, there were lessons to learn and opportunities for growth. Trust has been a big lesson for me the last few years. This experience was the next exercise in trusting that all is unfolding exactly as it should, even if I can’t see what’s around the corner or explain all the whys about what is happening.

I was very aware that even though my clients had closed their sides, things could still go wrong. However, I chose not to focus on that. I chose to trust. I chose to let everyone else do their jobs. I chose to express gratitude, aloud in an empty car.

As I walked into the office a little after 7:00, I felt settled and centered and at peace. We have background music that plays in the office during the day. Perhaps it plays all night too. As I walked down the hall, the song playing literally overhead suddenly caught my attention. Bob Marley was singing out, at that precise moment…

Don’t worry about a thing, ‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright. Rise up this mornin’, Smiled with the risin’ sun, Three little birds, Pitch by my doorstep, Singin’ sweet songs, Of melodies pure and true, Sayin’, (this is my message to you),

Singin’ Don’t worry ’bout a thing, ’cause every little thing gonna be alright.

I stopped to listen, amazed. I laughed. I teared up. Oh sure, it was Bob Marley’s voice but it was El-le speaking…Don’t worry. Every little thing gonna be alright.

The Divine didn’t say it was going to be easy or simple or without challenges. It is big stuff, to all of us working through it, yet in the end, three sets of clients will have ended up with what they ultimately wanted…new homes, fresh starts, stories to tell. I can only speak for myself, but for me this time also includes lessons about trust, growth, gratitude, higher awareness, intuition and deeper faith.

I’ve been singing the words all day. Every little thing gonna be alright. And so it has been and so it is and so it shall be.

Lunch with a Dragon

The new school year has started for all of my grandchildren. The eldest, Dayan, is enjoying his first week at University of Missouri, living away from home for the first time. The four younger grandkids each began in a new grade and two started in new schools.

One of the things that I enjoy doing as a Yaya, is having lunch with each child at his or her school, several times during the school year. Today I kicked off the tradition by having lunch with grandson Jonathan.

The kids get to choose their lunches and Jonathan requested a sandwich from Subway. This was my first visit to his new school, home of the Purple Dragons. I had the honor of having lunch with a Dragon today, who happened to be dressed in orange, rather than purple.

I love these one on one times with the kids. Surrounded by the chatter and laughter of a hundred other children, the world closes in and that lunch becomes a time to give my attention solely to my grandchild. We talk. We laugh. I ask questions…and get asked questions in return. I don’t eat with the kids. I visit with them while they eat.

What clever, and colorful, lockers at Jonathan’s school, made to look like the spines of books.

Jonathan was happy to escort me to the cafeteria today. We talked about his new school and how he moves from classroom to classroom this year. His favorite class so far is science. We discussed the musical he just performed in and I got to hear his perspective as a performer while I shared mine as an audience member. Drama and music are areas this young man shines in.

We chatted about Dayan being away at the university and how he left behind some cool Doctor Who stuff. Jonathan’s face lit up when I told him I’m leaving next week to visit Ireland, Scotland and England. Ireland calls to Jonathan like Scotland has called to me my whole life. I’ll bring him back a souvenir from that Emerald Isle. And after he graduates from high school, I’ll take him there if he desires to go.

I’m looking forward to spending time with Jonathan in the months ahead, picking him up from school often and grabbing a snack, watching Doctor Who, or watching him play games or create YouTube videos. It was a tradition I began with Dayan, these after school hangouts, and I intend to continue with the other grandkids. As I have already experienced, they grow up so quickly.

Jonathan recently quipped to my daughter that he could be Dayan 2.0. He is a funny and clever boy, who knew Elissa was feeling the swirl of emotions that accompany having a child leave the nest.

I love this boy and his tender heart and his creative spirit. I just want him to be Jonathan, the beautiful, original version of himself. Because that is what the world…and his Yaya and family…needs. Jonathan being Jonathan is absolutely perfect.

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!

The Dance of Sun and Moon

Like many other people today, I paused during my work day to experience the nature event of the year, the Solar Eclipse. I didn’t purchase solar shades, so I had to get creative to witness the moon’s trek across the face of the sun.

Primarily, I wanted to sit in my backyard garden during the eclipse and experience the energy along with the event. I am grateful for a job that allows me such flexibility.

Since we didn’t have proper viewing glasses, Greg made viewing cards by punching a pin sized hole in an index card. By aligning with the sun overhead, and holding a second white card below the one with the tiny hole in it, we could safely watch the shadow of the moon encroach on the sun. We did such an activity with our kids when they were young.

Although I could not accurately capture the way the light shifted in the garden, as my phone’s camera seemed to adjust for the lighting, I could see it and feel it.

The overhead sun changed from bright, glaring brightness to a softer light, similar to sunset. The temperature dropped about 8 degrees, bringing a welcomed coolness that was very noticeable. The birds stopped singing and crickets began tuning up in the garden.

I marveled that all over the US, people were looking up. Perspectives changed, opinions quieted down, debates ceased for a time, as people gathered in parks and yards and open fields to gaze upward in wonder at nature’s show. I loved the feeling of unity and shared camaraderie, witnesses all of us, of this beautiful display in the sky.

And I could feel the energy, radiating from the sun and the moon as they passed each other. I am sensitive to energy and drawn especially to moon energy. For me, sitting in the garden, there was an increase in energy leading up to the eclipse and during the dance of Sun and Moon. As the moon slipped by, there was a gentle ebbing of energy, like a big sigh, slowly exhaled.

I turned my phone camera upward, and caught amazing photos of the sun’s brilliance and a sky full of streaks and swirls of energy. I practiced sun gazing, which is simply closing my eyes and lifting my face to the sun. I loved the wash of sun and moon energy over my face and body.

It was a magical couple of hours in the garden. The eclipse reminded me of the deep mysteries that surround me, if I have the eyes to see and my senses on alert. It reminded me of the importance of pausing to experience such wonders. And it reminded me that humanity needs to keep looking up.

This last photo is my favorite from the day. I took a selfie with Sun and Moon as they danced. I am bathed in radiant energy and interesting colors and shapes fill the sky behind me. The eclipse was a spiritual experience for me, a very moving one.

I entered a house cast deeply in shadows as the event concluded outside, and enjoyed a short nap before returning to work. What a glorious solar eclipse.

The Continuing Adventures of Dayan

My grandson Dayan leaves tomorrow, headed to his new home for the next few years, a dorm room at the University of Missouri in Columbia. A few of us gathered for an impromptu dinner, to send him off with smiles and gratitude and promises to visit.

It is a big step, for him and his family. My children all attended local universities. Dayan is the first to venture farther out, which is so typical of this world minded young man. He thinks big. He lives big. I am so incredibly proud of him.

Dayan and I have had a strong connection since before he was born. When my daughter was pregnant with him, I had a dream in which an angel appeared, carrying a baby boy. He stretched his arms out toward me. The angel placed the dark haired, dark eyed child in my arms and we studied each other's faces. I knew this was my grandson. My heart overflowed with love for him.

Dayan began calling me Yaya when he was 8 months old. I discovered that Yaya is the Greek word for grandmother. How did this baby boy know that? I'm not sure. I only know he has an old soul, and he was a wise baby, meaning he seemed to know things beyond his years.

We have shared many adventures, this boy and I. We used to invent stories when we were together. We called them The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. As he grew older we stopped telling made up stories and lived the adventures instead.


A little foreshadowing, from 10 years ago.

I have learned so much from my oldest grandchild. He taught me by his example to see the good in people, that kindness is always appreciated, and living as the person you are created to be requires courage. He has been my gardening buddy, introduced me to Doctor Who, taught me about the countries of the world, expanded my knowledge and my beliefs.

I have spent one afternoon a week with my grandson, picking him up from school or hanging out with him during the summer, since he was in third grade. We've played games, built virtual kingdoms, explored Joplin and beyond, and these last few years, sat comfortably together on the sofa, watching TV shows such as Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Okkupert (a Norwegian series with English subtitles) and most recently, Once Upon a Time. We've laughed, and sniffled together, and had amazing conversations about every topic imaginable. I always bring him Chinese food.

My heart was very full as I hugged him goodbye tonight. Dayan, these words I send with you as you embark on your next adventure:

I love you. No matter where you go, or who you are, or what you do, or who you journey with, nothing will ever change my love for you. It is absolute and unfailing.

I am always here for you. I am your fan, your cheerleader, your confidante. I will listen, offer my heart and my words, wrap my arms around you, applaud your achievements. You can call, text, message or visit me anytime. Yes, even in the middle of the night. You are never too old, never too far away that my love can't find you.

Be you. Always. Be kind and courageous. Use your mind and your heart and your voice. Learn. Grow. Travel. Explore. Follow your passions and trust your instincts. Keep looking for the good in people, in situations and in the world. Be the change you want to see in the world. Love. Love yourself and love others. Know that the Divine is with you, guiding you.

And keep having adventures. Lots of them.

I am very glad tonight that Columbia is only four hours away. This week, I will miss meeting Dayan at his house, Chinese food in tow. Wednesday afternoons will feel empty for a while.

I am grateful for the relationship we have, for the years we have spent building it word by word and hug by hug and adventure by adventure. I know Dayan will do great things. He has been raised well and prepared for this next step. That he walks on his own now is a tribute to his mom, stepdad and family.

Although I know we might have more adventures together, this is Dayan's time to adventure on his own. This is his journey. And when we cannot walk together, I will surround him with love and joy and peace.

After hugs tonight, I asked Dayan if I could visit him on the MU campus in a couple of weeks, before I leave on my next travel adventure.

"You can visit me any time, Yaya," he said. "Bring Chinese food!"

I will, Dayan. I will!