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!


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.

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.


As I prepared to share benefit #2 from the 28 day healing cleanse, I debated between two possibilities. Then I realized they both fit within the area of relationships. One has to do with the extraordinary people I’ve connected with on this journey. And the other revolves around the shift I’ve had in my relationship with food. 

As I’ve shared my healing journey, I have encountered others who are on similar paths. Through my blog, and social media sites such as Instagram, I’ve had the privilege of connecting with health conscious people all over the world. 

Like me, these dear ones are taking back their health by changing their diets to a plant based one, and eliminating inflammation feeding foods such as sugar, dairy and gluten. They are healing from migraines, thyroid disease, fibromyalgia, colitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Those who are farther along in their journeys offer encouragement and suggestions to me by way of comments, pictures of yummy smoothies, salads and juices, and great recipes. I can, in turn, reach out to those who are just beginning the cleanse or who are considering it, and share my experiences so far. 

An amazing community of like hearted, like minded people exists out there. And I am grateful to walk alongside, learning and sharing and growing. 

My other relationship shift during the last 28 days has been with food. I enjoy a good meal. No one has ever accused me of being a picky eater. However, I have often rewarded myself with a treat, or eaten something that I knew wasn’t good for my health, in exchange for comfort or a temporary craving fix. I have a lot of knowledge about nutrition, and yet I have chosen to ignore what I know. 

As I focused on healthy eating, I coupled the cleanse with free writing in the mornings. This was a fresh approach for me. Writing allowed me to explore what I feel around food and go deeper into that relationship without beating myself up about it. I also examined my beliefs about my ability to heal from chronic pain. 

I would never use inferior or contaminated gasoline in my car, and expect it to operate well. The poor quality of the fuel would result in poor functionality and eventually lead to malfunction and ultimately engine failure. And yet, I have done that very thing to my body, that is fearfully and wonderfully made. I have fed on poor quality “fuel”, and the consequences have been accumulating malfunctions and dis-ease.

No more. Realizing the importance of eliminating the crud from my diet and eating fresh, whole foods, I am committed to learning what best fuels my body and keeps me at an optimal level, and then consuming that food. I’m not ready to label myself a vegetarian or a vegan, but I am heartily ready to do whatever it takes to feel my best. 

I am excited in the days and weeks ahead to prepare foods in new ways, incorporating fresh fruits and veggies in every meal. After the cleanse I’ll be including brown rice, cooked veggies, small amounts of olive oil, nuts and legumes. This is my chosen lifestyle. I am embracing it. 

These relationships, with others walking beside me, and with healthy food, help to guarantee the success of my continuing journey. I will respect and cultivate both. 

This quote by Aart Khurana sums up my thoughts well. 


Day 250: If I Stay

If I Stay e

Tonight was movie night at the theater. Linda and I have not had many opportunities, between my trip and a cruise that she took, to indulge in this favorite pastime. We had a couple of films we were interested in, and for my first today, we settled on the recent release, If I Stay.

If I Stay stars Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, and Stacy Keach. It was directed by RJ Cutler and is based on the novel by the same name, penned by Gayle Forman. This drama is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz), a 17 year old girl, finds herself at a crossroad. Her biggest decision seems to be whether to pursue a musical education at Julliard or remain in her hometown of Portland with her boyfriend, Adam (Jamie Blackley), while he launches his career as a rock musician. And then, in an instant, riding in the car with her family on an icy road, life shifts. There is a horrific head on crash. Mia wakes up to find she is having an out of body experience. She observes the paramedics working intently over her still body, near the demolished car. Confused, not knowing where the rest of her family members are, she follows her battered body into the ambulance and to the hospital.

Alternating between flashbacks that tell Mia’s back story and present day scenes in the hospital, the movie tells of the relationships between Mia and her amazing family, Mia and her musical genius with the cello, and Mia and Adam. Raised by loving and supportive parents, played by Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard, Mia has been exposed to music since her birth. Although her parents tend toward punk rock, her father being part of a band until the birth of Mia’s brother, Mia fell in love with the cello when she was eight. The love of her life is the cello, until she meets Adam.

Adam appears to have his life completely figured out. Already part of a very successful band, before he’s even graduated from high school, Adam is drawn to Mia and the passion she has for classical music. Music brings the two together, and threatens to tear them apart as each desires to pursue their dreams, Adam with his rock band and Mia by attending Julliard, in New York City. Mia’s parents support her decision, no matter where that choice takes her. But Adam and Mia find the strain of wanting to travel down different paths threatening their future together.

If I Stay Mia and Adam e

In the hospital, staying near her comatose body, Mia finds she must make a far more difficult choice….leave to be with her family, who have all died as a result of the accident, or stay….and live a much different life than the one she had envisioned. Friends and other family members keep a vigil from the waiting room. Her grandfather (Stacy Keach) bids her a tearful goodbye and tells her to go, if it is too difficult to stay. He also tells Mia that her father left the band because of her, not because of the birth of her baby brother. He sacrificed his musical career because he recognized the gift that Mia had and sold his drum set to pay for her cello.

Adam stays near Mia’s bedside as well, singing a song to her that he wrote, and at last, reading to her the letter from Julliard that she had been anticipating. From a place of deep grief and love, he begs her to stay, and tells her that he will let her go, to pursue her dream, if she will only live.

Linda and I realized quickly that we were the oldest females in the movie theater! We were surrounded by younger ladies. We enjoyed the movie, as did the rest of the audience, as indicated by their responses. The character of Mia, although only 17, was an old soul, and I could identify with her. The film was beautiful to watch as it explored Mia’s relationships. There was much to admire about her parents and their unconventional parenting style. And I enjoyed watching the developing romance between Adam and Mia. They had different backgrounds, different musical abilities and styles and yet their passion for music brought them together and bound them. It is common, among those who have fallen in love, to question the journey ahead when two people seem to moving along paths that will take them far from each other. Does one sacrifice for the other? Do both sacrifice love for the sake of promising individual futures? One of the most beautiful scenes in If I Stay centered around an inspiring duet between Mia and Adam, and impossibly, between the cello and a guitar. That magical scene blended the two young lovers and two seemingly incompatible musical instruments and created something new, something beyond.

The most amazing relationship to watch during the film was the one Mia had with her cello, and ultimately, herself. I love the haunting sound of the cello. It speaks to me, very much like the bagpipes do. The soundtrack for this movie was amazing, because of the cello pieces. Mia loves Adam. And she loves the cello. Much of her indecision on whether to stay and engage life, or leave, rests with what she believes about herself and her future as a musician. During a flashback, Mia’s father tells her, “Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes, the choices make you.” The truth of that phrase resonated with me, and in the end, the choice makes Mia.

This was a very powerful movie, beautifully done. My emotions tumbled from smiles and laughter, to tears and a tightening of the chest. Love is a journey teeming with joy and sorrow, lessons and spontaneity, and yes, choices. Sometimes the best choice is to keep journeying, and see what unfolds.

If I Stay sometimes you make choices e