Journey 174: Inside Out

My granddaughter Aubrey and I had the opportunity to spend the day with my sister, Linda, and her granddaughter London. We declared it a girls’ day and it was the perfect way to spend a summer afternoon.

girls day ice cream

The girls enjoyed lunch at Chick-Fil-A, with fun time in the indoor playground area, surrounded by a crowd of kids. They finished their outing there with vanilla ice cream. Later in the day, they cooled off by splashing around in a kiddie pool in Linda’s backyard and playing in the play room together.

girls day aubrey jumps

girls day london jumps

The highlight of our day was a trip to the movie theater to watch the new animated release, Inside Out. All of us were excited about this film. Aubrey has been watching previews for days, in preparation for the movie. London bought Inside Out figurines, so of course, Aubrey had to get some too. As we arrived at the theater, the girls were busily chatting about the characters, and speculating about what part the elephant, Bing Bong, played in the story.

girls day inside out

Inside Out is a Pixar Animation Studio/Walt Disney Pictures film featuring the voices of Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias, Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan.  Pete Docter and Ronaldo Del Carmen directed and wrote the story. The comedy drama is rated PG and has a run time of 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Riley Anderson (Dias) is a happy eleven year old girl, thrown into confusion when her family leaves their home in Minnesota and moves across the country to San Francisco, California. While her mom and dad (Lane and MacLachlan) deal with a missing moving van and the stress of new jobs, Riley struggles with adjusting to a new home, new friends and a new school. She is guided by her emotions Joy (Poehler), Sadness (Smith), Fear (Hader), Anger (Black) and Disgust (Kaling) who occupy space inside Riley’s brain, a place they refer to as Headquarters. The emotions direct her through every day life and situations, while keeping tabs on the colorful spheres that accumulate, each holding a memory from the day.

girls day inside out riley

Joy is Riley’s primary emotion, present with her since birth. Using optimism and high energy, she keeps the other emotions in check and strives to keep Riley happy and smiling. With the move, however, the other emotions are in conflict with Joy, especially Sadness, who while moping around, keeps touching the memory spheres, changing them from joyful yellow to tinged with blue sadness.

When Joy and Sadness are accidently relocated deep within Riley’s long term memory, the other emotions attempt to monitor and help Riley, who becomes angry, fearful and disgusted with her situation and her parents. Joy and Sadness watch helplessly as Riley sinks into resentment as she longs to return to Minnesota. While they are making their way through the girl’s memories, imagination and dreamscape, heading back to Headquarters with Riley’s core memories, they observe her personality shifting, her core values falling away into the desolate area of forgotten memories.

With the help of Bing Bong (Kind), Riley’s imaginary friend from her early childhood, Joy and Sadness navigate through a confusing and often treacherous landscape, learning how important it is for all the emotions, especially Sadness, to be given importance, if not dominance.

girls day inside out voices

This was a delightful movie. And one that provided an interesting and often humorous look at the warring emotions inside each of us. I watched, amused, as Joy rallied the other emotions and sent a steady stream happy memories and reminders to Riley, keeping her upbeat. With her highly positive outlook, she reminded me….of me. What was portrayed very well, and impacted me the most, was the role Sadness played in creating a sense of compassion and companionship between Riley and her parents. It turned out Riley needed her lower emotion of Sadness to be able to appreciate her family and her past experiences, and to appreciate Joy more.

I have struggled with the emotion of Sadness in my own life, denying it for years, refusing to give in to it, to the point where I have lost the ability to freely shed tears. It’s not that I want to be ruled by Sadness, or dwell there very often or for very long, but watching the emotions in this animated film brought to my awareness how important ALL of my emotions are, and that they all have value and something to offer to me if I will accept those gifts. I could almost hear my own version of Sadness breathe a long sigh of relief as I “got it”. And I was ruled, dominated, by the emotion of Fear for an unnaturally long time. It has taken a very conscious shift within to loosen Fear’s hold on me. I am grateful that Joy is my primary emotion now, yet I desire to be mindful of what my other emotions are alerting me to.

The girls chatted about the movie afterward, and perhaps not surprisingly, both had sympathy and appreciation for Sadness as well. Aubrey used to play a little game with people, when she was only two years old. She would rest her hand lightly the leg or arm of another, feeling into their emotions, and ask, “Are you happy, mad or sad?” Watching Inside Out today, I recognized that she has had a very healthy relationship with her emotions for her entire life.  It is amazing what I can learn from an animated movie. I appreciate the girls for suggesting this film. We all want to see it again!

girls day movie stand up

The girls hamming it up with a movie cut out.

 

Journey 171: Norwex

Today’s adventure was in the category of first things. I had not heard of this Norwegian company until my sister Linda invited me to a Norwex Party at her house this evening. When she told me Norwex promotes cleaning without the use of chemicals, I was intrigued.

norwex

The party was fun and informational. Distributor Rachel Mayfield from Chetopa KS showed product and demonstrated how Norwex Microfiber cleans using only water, and without the addition of chemical laden cleansers. The backbone of the company, the EnviroCloth, cleans everything. Used dry, the cloth, loaded with microfibers 1/200th the size of a strand of human hair, picks up and holds the smallest particles, creating a clean surface with no chemical residue. Adding water to the cloth enables the microfibers to loosen and lift dirt and debris and hold it in the cloth.

The cloths are available for general cleaning and personal care for face and body, and all without adding cleansers or soap. The material is infused with micro-silver, which has self-purification properties that prevent mold, fungi, bacteria and odors. The EnviroCloths and body and face cloths can be washed every two or three weeks and allowed to air dry. Care is that simple.

I was impressed with the products. I have the desire to live more green and chemical free. I researched the company after the party and discovered that Norwex began in 1994 in Eidsvoll, Norway, with a little red microfiber cloth. The cloth’s ability to clean bugs from a windshield sparked a vision in founder Bjorn Nicolaisen and Norwex was born.

norwex plus water

In the past 20 years, millions of customers have embraced cleaning using only Norwex Microfiber and water. It is less expensive and safer than using chemically based cleansers. Norwex promotes healthier living and a healthier, sustainable environment. Their global mission statement is: Improving quality of life by radically reducing chemicals in our homes.

The company’s intentions for the future are:

* To create millions of safe havens at home and around the globe

* To raise awareness and educate about chemicals and our environmental challenges

* To ask everyone to make small conscious choices to improve our planet

I’m excited about what I learned tonight about this company. And to back my excitement and show my support for lessening chemicals in my home, I purchased basic Norwex supplies to give them a try. In the spirit of adventure, and for the good of my health and home and the environment, I’ll test these products and give a report later. Thanks Linda and Rachel for the introduction to a new way of cleaning. I’m all about shifting and learning and change.

norwex Rachel

Journey 137: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers poster

I was thrilled to see this movie this evening with my sister Linda. It’s been a while since I’ve sat in a darkened theater and lost myself in a larger than life story, full of heroes and villains, adventure and angst. Marvel movies always deliver. I’ve been a Marvel and DC comic fan all my life. For this amazing series of movies, I’ve faithfully followed each of the individual character stories…Iron Man, Captain America, Thor…and thoroughly enjoyed the first Avengers film.

Avengers: Age of Ultron has a huge all star cast including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Paul Bettany, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen and the distinctive voice of James Spader. Directed by Joss Whedon, this action/adventure/sci-fi is rated PG-13, for action, violence and destruction, and some suggestive comments. The film has a run time of 2 hours and 21 minutes.

Taking place after Captain America: Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron finds the heroes together in the Eastern Europe country of Sokovia, raiding a Hydra Outpost. Experiments on humans have been carried out there, using the scepter previously wielded by Loki, Thor’s (Hemsworth) brother. The Avengers encounter a set of twins with special gifts. Pietro (Taylor-Johnson) has superhuman speed and his sister, Wanda (Olsen), can manipulate minds and matter.

Escaping with the scepter, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr.) and Dr. Banner/Hulk (Ruffalo) discover an artificial intelligence within it, encapsulated within a gem stone. With the desire to see peace around the world, the pair seeks to complete Stark’s creation, the Ultron Global Defense Program. It appears their efforts are unsuccessful and they leave to gather with friends and colleagues for a party. The artificial intelligence becomes sentient, twisting the directive to bring peace to the planet. Ultron (voiced by Spader) sees his mission as one of bringing peace by eradicating human life from earth. His first objective: eliminate the Avengers.

Fleeing with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources at the Sokovia lab to upgrade his metal body and build an army of robots. He enlists the help of the twins, who blame Stark for their parents’ deaths. The Avengers pursue Ultron but Wanda confuses their minds by implanting deams, and Hulk goes on a rampage. Forced to retreat to recover, the group hides out at the remote house of Hawkeye (Renner). Each member of the team seems focused inwardly, still sorting through the visions that they had, with the exception of Natasha/Black Widow (Johansson) and Dr. Banner, who suddenly seem to have noticed each other. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans) and Stark bicker about what needs to be done and whose fault it is that Ultron exists.

Avengers Ultron

Nick Fury (Jackson), from SHEILD shows up, urging the Avengers to unite and stop Ultron. In Seoul, Ultron is creating a new body for himself, using the scepter’s gem and synthesized tissue. Before the download of his mind is completed, Wanda senses Ultron’s intentions for destroying humanity and she and her brother turn on Ultron. The Avengers capture the synthetic body and Stark downloads JARVIS into the body, creating an entity called Vision (Bettany, who also voices JARVIS). Thor helps to activate Vision, explaining that the gem on the being’s brow is an Infinity Stone, one of the most powerful objects in the universe.

The battle for humanity ensues, the Avengers joined by Pietro and Wanda and Vision, while Ultron fights with his army of drones. The battlefield is Sokovia. The outcome determines the fate of the earth.

This was, as I anticipated, a very fun, high energy, action packed movie. The heroes were, indeed, all larger than life, with special abilities, big personalities and sometimes, big egos to match. There was intrigue and human drama, interspersed with humor, thwarted desire and overall, the intention to serve and protect mankind.  I think what I love most about the Avengers films is that these individuals, with their own sets of quirks and gifts, struggle most of the time to work together as a team, getting in each other’s way and in their own way. And yet, when they put aside their egos and their differences, and come together as a powerful, smoothly functioning team, they are astounding.

I know it may sound silly, but when these heroes formed a circle, backs together, facing outward, ready to slay the enemy, as a team, it brought tears to my eyes. Each brought his or her gift to the group, and didn’t worry about what the others were doing. They trusted each other, trusted themselves, to work as one. And of course, in that space of unity, they were unstoppable. What a great life lesson, to bring my gifts and abilities, unique to me, to stand with others, trusting them to bring their bests as well, all of us offering to the world.

This was an exciting, fun to watch, cheer worthy movie. The stage is set for another Avengers film and at least another Thor adventure. I’m glad. I’ll be there, ready for those larger than life heroes again, when the next villain threatens the world!

Avengers hero shot

Journey 108: Colander Planter

colander planter finished

Today, in spite of thunderstorms and rain, my mom, sister Linda and I headed out into the weather to participate in Sutherland’s annual half price plant sale.  Mom and Linda wanted plants for their “Aunt Annie” containers, among other flowers and vegetable plants, and I had many metal containers still to fill. Rain or not, this was too good a sale, too great an opportunity, to miss.

The rain didn’t deter us or, apparently, other shoppers. It was busy, in a cheerful sort of way, in the garden center at Sutherland’s. We had fun, pushing our carts up and down the crowded aisles, discussing flower choices and what would grow best where. We each ended up with our own unique assortments, since we each have our own preferences and ideas. Linda called her selection of plants the “rebel” assortment.

colander planter ingredients

There were a few plants that we didn’t find at Sutherland’s, so off to Lowe’s garden center we went next. Mom found the central plant for her tub, a beautiful red Gebera Daisy. And I picked up a trailing perennial for my copper watering can and an assortment of succulents to complete a project I was looking forward to doing for the first time. I had a grand time, shopping with my mom and sister, laughing and talking, and not minding the dampness or how wild our hair looked. Okay, maybe it was just my hair that looked wild!

colander planter in process

 Back home, the rain moved out of the area and the sun, at last, came out. I was excited to bring my idea to fruition. On the first day of spring this year, I brought home a metal colander from True Treasures in Bentonville, AR, with the intention of using it as a planter. Serendipitously, the very day I bought the colander, a picture popped up on Pinterest sharing this very idea. I laughed this afternoon, when I pulled up the Pinterest pic again. The instructions for creating the planter were in Spanish. Oh, well….I was confident I could create my own.

colander planter angel loves it

Angel loved the new planter!

And create it I did. Using a coco fiber liner, I cut it to size and lined the inside of the colander with it, and filled it with fast draining soil mix (both items were purchased at Lowe’s). The fun part was adding a variety of succulents. It was an easy project. I look forward to seeing the plants grow and fill out. After the plants are established, I’ll keep the colander-turned-planter on my bistro table in the garden.

watering can prep

With such gorgeous weather, I didn’t stop, but continued adding my newly purchased plants to various metal containers. Four buckets and a large watering can received impatiens and asters in pinks, purples and whites, and bronze and yellow Gazanias. And I tucked the trailing perennial with tiny white flowers, called Trailing Mazus, into the copper water can and hung it on its shepherd’s hook in the hosta garden.

watering can with Mazus

I loved my time in the garden this afternoon. The earth was washed clean from the heavy rains, and there was a freshness, a newness, in the air. Drops sparkled like diamonds on the wet grass. It was a fun and productive day. More weather is moving in overnight, with an 80% chance for thunderstorms tomorrow. I have flowers for my next project, which will make use of a recent purchase during the 2 Friends & Junk show. After the rain….I’ll be back out…puttering in the garden, creating, enjoying, getting dirty…experiencing bliss.

colander planter next project

Journey 107: Camping Under the Stars – Jesus Jam 2015

jesus jam camping under the stars

This evening was a first for me and my sister Linda. We volunteered to help out at an annual event at College Heights Christian Church, known as Jesus Jam. The theme of this special evening this year was Camping Under the Stars.

Along with many other volunteers, who decorated the building, prepared and served food, greeted, floated, and buddied up with guests, Linda and I donned appropriate “camping” clothes and showed up ready to help create a magical evening for local physically and mentally challenged adults.

jesus jam justin and linda

Justin and Linda

Stations were set up around the church, with the auditorium transforming into a large dance floor. The  room was strung with white lights and a colorful disco ball spun from the ceiling. The space was decorated with tents and artificial trees. Hallways sprouted more trees and were dotted with wild “critters”, canoes, artificial campfires and cute punched tin cans with flickering battery operated candles nestled within. The atrium became the mess hall, where hot dogs, beans, chips and cookies were served. Games were set up at various points along the hallways and a photo opportunity was available, in front of a large canoe.

jesus jam decoration

As the time drew near for the guests to arrive, we all lined up along a long hallway, the largest gathering I’ve ever seen of smiling men and women decked out in plaid shirts, ready to be paired up with each arrival. As the guest and buddy walked together down the hall, we welcomed them to Jesus Jam with applause and smiles and waves.

Linda and I made sure each guest had a buddy, and then we floated, visiting with people, enjoying a meal with new friends, checking out all that was going on. Our friend Justin, who helps to organize and carry out this special event, invited us to attend this year, and gave me permission to take photos as I walked around. My sister and I eventually ended up in the large dance space, where loud music played and the most people had gathered. Excitement and joy overflowed here, as guests and their buddies moved with the music, laughing and talking and simply having fun.

jesus jam dancing

As at any dance, there were some who chose to sit on the perimeter, watching, feet tapping occasionally. Each guest who sat as a spectator had a new friend sitting beside him or her…someone to talk to if they felt like it, or someone to just be present with. In a room down another long hallway there was a classic movie playing, for those who preferred a quieter atmosphere.

jesus jam dancing 2

I was impressed. And truly, this is what love is all about, embracing all, welcoming all, being the hands, feet and heart of Jesus. This was perhaps the happiest and most happening place in Joplin this evening. I am so glad that I was there.

jesus jam

Journey 100: National Sibling Day

sibling day youngsters

Today is National Sibling Day in the US, a day set aside to recognize and honor the relationships between sisters and brothers. The holiday was originally conceived by Claudia Evart, in memory of her brother and sister who both died early in life. In 2005 the holiday was officially introduced into the Congressional Record.

In researching this day, I discovered that 80% of people in the US have a sibling and that by the age of 11, children devote one-third of their time to their brothers and sisters. That’s more time than they spend with parents, teachers, friends or on their own. Having siblings teaches a child social skills, according to one study done on kindergarteners. The study revealed that children with siblings got along better with classmates than those without. The mix of boys and girls matters too. Boys that grow up with sisters are more sensitive and have better listening skills (You are welcome, Bryan!), while girls who grow up with brothers are less serious.

sibling day sisters

Do we look less serious here? Thanks, Bryan!

Relationships with siblings often outlast all other relationships. Our brothers and sisters are our first, and often our last, friends. We begin and end life with them. We quarrel, compete, wrestle, laugh, love, encourage and support each other. Being the eldest in my family, I was fiercely protective of my younger sisters and my baby brother. We are all adults, comfortably in middle age, and we still enjoy each other’s company, choose to spend time together, play and celebrate together. And I still feel protective of them. Throughout the day, working and teaching, spending time with a grandson and showing property, I thought about my siblings and felt gratitude for each of them.

sibling day Linda

Linda is the sibling closest to me in age, the person who made me a big sister. I can’t really remember a time where she wasn’t present in my life and still she is often my companion, doing firsts, going to movies, hanging out. As small children, I felt a huge sense of responsibility for her and became her interpreter when most adults couldn’t understand her rapid speech pattern. Linda lives life out loud and to the fullest, shares from her heart, loves children and animals. She is Gigi to her four grandchildren and to the rest of the kids in the family, and mom to two grown sons. She is fun, outgoing, loves to laugh. Linda teaches me about being true to who I am, and loving and accepting others, just as they are.

sibling day Debbie

Debbie is my younger sister, by six years. She was so adorable as a toddler and little girl, that Linda and I had to occasionally take her down a notch! She good naturedly put up with our attempts to teach her humility, when she would bat her big brown eyes and ask, “Aren’t you glad you have pretty little ol’ me?” And of course, we were. Debbie is artistic, quiet, but with a wicked sense of humor and a vast knowledge of music and movie quotes. She is Meem to her two grandsons and the other children in the family, and mom to one daughter, who shares her love of Halloween. Debbie teaches me that happiness doesn’t always show up with a smile but sometimes with a twinkle in the eye and a witty remark and a deep sense of loyalty.

sibling day Bryan

Bryan is the baby in the family, the son of my dad and stepmother. He is 14 years younger than I am. I loved him from the moment I saw him. He was a game changer, being the brother in a sibling group that had only contained sisters before his arrival. I spent many happy hours in the summer months, during my teens, playing toys with this bright, happy, inquisitive boy. Bryan was a young uncle to my children, and remarkably, my son and my brother look similar, because they both so resemble my dad….same dark hair and eyes, and same big smile. He is affectionate, fun, intelligent. He is a great dad to his two boys and his stepson. Bryan teaches me about compassion and humor and connection. He still calls me Sister, rather than using my name.

Clara Ortega says, “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” I love that, especially since my sisters and brother and I are far from childhood. I treasure the fact that these dear souls walk alongside me, knowing me in ways that few people do, willing to fight for me, protect me, encourage me, be with me. And I do the same for them. Together, they have taught me how powerful and unbreakable the bonds of love are. I am honored and blessed to be their sister. I am grateful for them. Happy Sibling Day Linda, Debbie and Bryan. I love you and I am grateful for you!

sibling day Halloween

Having fun, Halloween 2014

Journey 78: Spring Break Fun

spring break

In the Midwest, spring break is often a casualty of too many snow days. When school has been cancelled more than a couple of times, due to ice or snow, the days are made up by eliminating part or all of spring break. This year, thanks to fairly light winter precipitation, kids in the area enjoyed a full week of recess from school. I’ve had the joy this week of spending time with all of my grandkids, at various times, and all my adult children too. Today, my sister Linda and I took four of the youngsters to that favorite hang out for children, Chuck E Cheese.

Chuck E Cheese London plays

My son Nate, with Joey, Oliver and Aubrey in tow, met Linda and London, me, and my sister’s friend Tammy and her daughter Megan at the fun pizza parlor located at the Northpark Mall in Joplin. Because of spring break, and the cool, drizzly weather outside, the place was packed with boisterous children and patient, good-natured parents. We snagged two tables back to back, with the children occupying one and the adults the other. Fresh hot pizzas brought cheers from the kids, while the adults made trips through the salad bar first. (For me, being Whole30 conscious, the salad bar and an unsweetened tea was it for me. I didn’t even crave the pizza.) Greg surprised us by tapping on the window outside. He joined us for a quick lunch as he took a break from work.

As much as the kids enjoyed chowing down on cheese and supreme pizza, they don’t relish going to Chuck E Cheese for the food. They made one extra large pizza disappear very quickly. While a second pizza was being prepared, off they scampered, cups of tokens in hand. For that is the fun reason for being at this eating establishment…plugging tokens into a host of flashing, whirling, blaring gaming machines to win tickets. London and Aubrey, 5 and 6 years old, are more interested in running around, playing in the playground area and riding some of the small rides than they are securing tickets, even though they love the process of redeeming the tickets later for prizes. Megan, being older, struck out on her own, playing an assortment of games. Joey and Oliver, however, at 8 and 7 years old, have this gaming business down. They have a system of playing the same machine rapidly, and usually score big in the way of tickets. While the girls averaged about 200 tickets each today, Joey and Oliver hauled in 1200 tickets, together. I was impressed. They all had fun picking out prizes.

Chuck E Cheese Nate and the boys

Nate spent time visiting with us and then time on the busy floor, watching the girls and playing skee ball with the boys. Even grown kids need some play time. I made sure he had tokens of his own. After a fun afternoon at Chuck E Cheese, Nate headed to a meeting at work and Tammy and Megan said their goodbyes too. Linda and I gave the kids the option of having ice cream and of course they said yes. We stopped at Andy’s for treats for the kids. We quickly discovered that chocolate ice cream and a group of kids…were there really only four of them?…make a fine mess. But that was okay. Napkins and face wiping took care of that….or most of it anyway!

Chuck E Cheese Nate with kids

We ended our play date at Linda’s house, affectionately known as Gigi. One of the things I love about my sister is that she doesn’t get uptight about kids playing in the house. I would have loved to have taken the kids to a park to run and climb and slide, but we will save that experience for another sunnier, warmer day. At Gigi’s house, it is okay to make a mess, to play hide and seek, to ride the scooter in the house. The kids did all those things, plus coloring and watching cartoons and setting up a mock restaurant. They had fun. Gigi and I had fun, watching, interacting, allowing the fine staff at the imaginary restaurant to take our orders for meals, over and over.

When Nate showed up to claim his kids, he joined in the fun for a bit. And then it was time for all of us to hug and say goodbye and go home. Kay Redfield Jamison said, “Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” I so agree. One thing we are good at in our family, is allowing kids that freedom. It is good for their souls. They learn to share, to create, to explore. I’m grateful today for spring break, Chuck E Cheese, Andy’s, Gigi’s hospitality, friends, Nate’s willingness to share the kids….and most of all, Megan, Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and London. Their play, their creativity, their laughter, is good for my soul.

Chuck E Cheese playing at Gigis

Coloring at Gigi’s

Chuck E Cheese Joey and Oliver at Gigis

The boys play “store”. While Joey set up, Oliver discovered that three balls lined up make a pretty good recliner. And yes, we all pitched in and cleaned up after play time!

Journey 64: Happy Birthday Linda

Lindas birthday

This evening, eight family members joined my sister, Linda, to celebrate her birthday, which actually is today. We are always a lively and talkative bunch where birthdays are concerned, and even more so when the object of our celebration is my sister. Seated around a long table at Cracker Barrel, in Joplin, we laughed and chatted and enjoyed home-style meals. The birthday girl finished our time together with a piece of double chocolate Coca-cola cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Linda passed the cake around so that others could share in the chocolaty goodness.

And that is very typical of my sister, to share what she has, without expectation of getting anything in return. This fun loving, good natured, big hearted woman is one of the most generous people I know. What she has, you can borrow or share it with her. She enjoys a good laugh, and loves to play board games, go on outings, watch movies, and learn about interesting things.

Linda and grandkids 2 Linda and grandkids

Her two great passions are her children and grandchildren, and animals, especially dogs. She has long been an advocate for pet health and wellbeing and was the director of an animal shelter in Oklahoma for years. She has not only cared for dogs and cats without homes, tending to them, fostering them, making sure they were adopted by loving, caring families, she has gone on many rescue missions to bring abused or neglected animals to a safe place. One of her dreams is to form a “no-kill” sanctuary in the Joplin area for homeless dogs and cats.

She is Gigi to her grandchildren, three granddaughters and one grandson, and one could not ask for a more fun and loving grandmother. She is playful with her grandkids and loves seeing the world through their bright eyes. My grandchildren and my younger sister’s grandsons call her Gigi as well. We are a big, active, nurturing family, and Linda loves being in the middle of that happy group of souls.

linda and weston

Being the eldest child in my family, I have journeyed with my sister since her birth. I’m told I really wanted a puppy when she was born, and supposedly slapped her when I met her. I’ve done my best to protect her since, both literally when we were kids growing up in a neighborhood full of children, and emotionally and spiritually as well, as adults. You don’t mess with my sister….or any of my family members.

I had the privilege of selling Linda a house in Joplin a couple of years ago, and I have so enjoyed having my sister nearby. This past year, as I moved beyond by experiencing something new each day, she was often my companion, happily trying new things with me. And so we watched a college basketball game together and sipped wine while we painted a picture downtown. We attended a weather spotting class and also watched a hypnotist at work. We did chalk outlines on the side of a downtown building as part of a living art project that honored a Joplin tornado victim, and tried chemical peels for the first time. If I needed someone to go with me on a first, she never hesitated to volunteer. I also had the joy of being at the finish line as Linda participated in a first of her own, a 5K run.

Linda 5K run

I look forward to our continued journey together. Life isn’t always smooth or perfect, but one thing is true, my sisters and I always have each others’ backs. Cali Rae Turner said, “The best thing about having a sister was that I always had a friend.” I am so glad to call Linda my sister….and my friend. Long may we journey together, even into the twilight years of our lives. A sister is the first friend we make, really, and perhaps the last friend that we have at the end of our journeys. Happy Birthday, Linda…I love you!

RSVPaint class 2

Journey 52: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman the secret service

My sister Linda invited me to a movie today, which is always a “yes” from me! We settled into the theater for a matinee viewing of Kingsman: The Secret Service. This action adventure film stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Sofia Boutella and Sophie Cookson, with a brief appearance by Mark Hamill as Professor Arnold. It is directed by Matthew Vaughn and adapted from the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Kingsman has a run time of 2 hours and 9 minutes and is rated R for language, violence and brief sexual content.

Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a British super-spy organization intent on recruiting a new person into the elite circle. Dapper Harry Hart (Firth), codename Galahad, and the other Kingsmen, go on alert when an agent is killed during a rescue attempt. Techie billionaire Richmond Valentine (Jackson) and his assailant partner Gazalle (Boutella) are the villains behind a series of kidnappings that targets heads of state and VIPs, some of whom disappear while others reappear with a device implanted behind the ear.

Hart brings to the recruitment program a young man, intelligent and capable, but adrift, headed for a life of crime and imprisonment. Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Egerton) is the son of another recruit who died 17 years earlier while training with Hart. Rescuing the son is Hart’s way of making up for the father’s sacrifice. Overseen by the Kingsman leader, Arthur (Caine), and under the training of senior Kingsman, Merlin (Smart), Eggsy and the other candidates for the program undergo a series of strenuous and challenging tests, narrowing the field of potential Kingsmen down to Eggsy and female candidate, Roxy (Cookson). Roxy is selected. But a devious master plot emerges. Valentine and Gazalle, seeing the population of the earth as a “virus” that will ultimately destroy the planet, develop a plan to eliminate most of the inhabitants. Valentine gives away SIM cards for cell phones, granting free cell phone and internet use. Millions take advantage of his seemingly generous offer.

The SIM cards can be activated by Valentine, causing people to become uncontrollably violent. A test run at a church in Kentucky results in the members of the congregation killing each other. Valentine intends to activate the signal on a global level, allowing those that he considers “lesser” to destroy each other, while he preserves a small group of people who will then govern the world. When this plot is uncovered, Merlin, Eggsy, and Roxy join together to save most of mankind from annihilation.

This was a FUN movie! I was surprised by the comedic element. This was a tongue in cheek tribute to the Bond movies and other spy type movies and TV series such as Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers. The men in the Kingsman organization were gentlemen and followed a code that included such gems as “A gentleman is always on target with witty remarks, interesting facts, and conversation starters that bring the best out of everyone.” Make no mistake though, these well dressed gentleman were highly trained in combative maneuvers and employed an arsenal of secret weapons, from umbrella rifles to shoes with hidden blades and grenades disguised as cigarette lighters. In a very Get Smart way, the Kingsmen used a tailor’s shop as a front for their organization. Each agent was carefully fitted for superb, stylish clothing that also happened to be bullet proof.

I loved watching young Eggsy transform from a down on life, street wise kid to a Kingsman. Hart taught him this vital truth from Ernest Hemmingway: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Eggsy learns who he is and steps up into that space, becoming a team player when necessary, and striking out on his own when that is the action needed. Actor Taron Egerton delivered a cheeky, fresh performance. Colin Firth is always a joy to watch, and from my research, did 80% of his own stunts. And Samuel L Jackson, as a villain with a lisp who throws up at the sight of blood, brought humor to what could have been some gruesome scenes. In fact, humor showed up unexpectedly several times, all with the purpose of lightening scenes that would have weighed heavily otherwise.

I also enjoyed the references to the Bond movies, and the nod to King Arthur and his Knights by using names from that tale for the Kingsmen codenames. This was a lively romp of a movie, with undertones of nostalgia for one who grew up watching spy movies and TV shows. I sincerely hope they make a sequel!

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Journey 24: Fancy Flamingo Flea Market Frolic

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A few days ago at a local craft store, as I wandered the aisles, I searched for a representation of my symbol for 2015…an open door or at least an interesting door! I found pictures of doors and small doors that could hang on the wall. About the time I discovered full sized artistic doors (insert fake doors here), for $150.00, I decided that instead of looking for something that represented a door, I’d look for an actual door, preferably a vintage screen door.

Today I got to hang out with my mom, both sisters and my niece and two great nephews. This afternoon we enjoyed browsing at The Fancy Flamingo Flea Market, located at 5171 N Main, Joplin, with its many unique and fun booths. Greg met us there and strolled along with us.

I love this flea market. I entered through the doors with openness and curiosity, and the intention of having fun and seeing if anything grabbed my interest. If I found a screen door, perfect. If I didn’t I knew it would appear at the right time.

We enjoyed looking in each booth. The adults reminisced about objects that harkened back to our past, stirring memories and sparking conversation. My nephew Ethan stayed with Papa Walter at my mom’s, but my other nephew, 3 year old Kaleb, is a pro at shopping the flea markets. I have as much fun watching Kaleb inspect items that catch his interest as I do shopping for myself. Today he was drawn to Mickey Mouse memorabilia, objects that were blue, a tiny wrench and rotary dial phones! His gracious mom allowed him to pick out several items and Greg gifted Kaleb with an old rotary phone from home.

At the end of our shopping adventure my mom found a couple of novels, my sister Linda picked up the LP of Gigi to use creatively as wall art in her home and my sister Debbie bought an assortment of items that will be transformed into Halloween decor this fall. Niece Ashley paid for Kaleb’s purchases.

I collected a metal bucket and a candle holder adorned with acorns, my sub-symbol representing this year’s journey. And to my delight, I found my screen door, waiting for me in a booth in one of the last aisles we wandered into. It’s wooden, painted gray, and nicely aged, with intact screens. All these items will most likely grace my backyard garden. I’ll let inspiration guide me on how best to display the door.

It was a great afternoon, looking, visiting, laughing with family. I never know what I will find in the flea market and that’s part of the appeal. Each visit becomes a treasure hunt, without a map. I’m simply guided by knowing what I like and an openness to being surprised by beauty or intrigued by using an interesting object in a new way. Visiting a flea market parallels the way I journey through life….open to everything, attached to nothing, inspired by joy.

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