Journey 188: Happy Birthday IHOP

A fun journey today, as IHOP (International House of Pancakes) celebrated 57 years in business. Restaurants across the nation, including the Joplin one, offered short stacks of pancakes for 57 cents. What a way to throw a birthday party…invite the whole country to dine on pancakes at a ridiculously low price.

I found out about IHOP’s yearly practice in 2014, during my year of firsts. Last year, the short stack, which is three fluffy buttermilk pancakes, was offered for 56 cents. Each year, I presume, the price will go up a penny, to match the number of years in business.

Happy birthday IHOP

Greg and I stopped by for an early dinner. There was no waiting when we arrived, but that situation changed rapidly. People were standing in line to get in when we left. We each had a short stack, Greg’s doused with warm maple syrup and mine with blueberry syrup, and a side of crispy bacon. The saltiness of the bacon nicely complemented the sweetness of the syrup topped pancakes.

Sometimes, the journeys are the simple pleasures found in ordinary days. I don’t mind that at all. These simple pleasures and ordinary days add up to an extraordinarily rich, joy filled life. Happy birthday, IHOP. May you celebrate many, many more years in business, offering up those amazing stacks of buttermilk pancakes.

Happy birthday IHOP pancakes

Yes….and: Lessons from Improv

When a new idea or concept comes to me, repetitively and from different people or from totally different directions, I pay attention. I’ve had that experience recently and I am so thankful to be reminded of something that I wanted to “hang on to”.

yes and

While at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference, I attended a fun class called  Improv for Storytelling. The instructor, Dan Stabb, works in improv and he used techniques to free us from ourselves and move us into creativity. His class became so much more than that for me, however, as I listened and participated and took notes.

Dan led us through three exercises, partnering each of us with someone we didn’t know. In the first exercise, each person made a suggestion to their partner, such as “Let’s have Italian food for dinner.” No matter what was said, the partner answered, “No” and then made another suggestion, to which the first person answered no. We did this for several minutes, making suggestions and answering with no. What was immediately apparent was how the word no limits creativity and stops the flow of thoughts and words. No hits the reset button in the conversation, which then becomes stilted and awkward. We all quickly ran out of things to suggest.

Next, Dan had the first person make a suggestion, and this time, the partner answered, “Yes…but.” So the conversations went like this. “Let’s have Italian food for dinner.” “Yes…but, let’s have German food instead.” “Yes…but, I would rather get carry out anyway.” And on and on the conversation went, for several more minutes. We all agreed these experiences were better….and yet, using the word “but” negatively shifted the energy of the conversation, narrowed down the possibilities and still felt awkward.

Finally, we were instructed to make suggestions and this time, answer each suggestion with “Yes…and”. These conversations were so fun! They flowed, and creativity was encouraged. “Let’s have Italian food for dinner.” “Yes, and….let’s dress up in vintage clothing!” “Yes….and let’s invite all our friends to join us!” “Yes….and let’s go dancing after dinner and stay out all night!” The energy in the room expanded, along with the creativity, and laughter and excitement filled the room.

I was impressed with the exercise, and not just because it freed creativity and ideas. I saw the amazing potential for those two simple words….Yes, and….in regular conversations and in my own thinking process. And then, after I returned home, I promptly forgot about the improv class, until a couple of days ago. Scrolling through Facebook I came across an article about using those same two words when working with Alzheimer’s patients.

The piece was about drawing Alzheimer’s patients into conversation, rather than halting their words by saying “no” and trying to correct their perceptions. My heart is still tender toward those suffering with this disease, after watching the movie Still Alice. I was intrigued by the article. Rather than forcing someone who is losing memories, or reverting to an earlier time, to come back into reality, the author of the article suggested entering the patient’s reality instead, and gently leading her out. Or staying in her world with her and just enjoying the experience and the person. The doorway for this journey was using “Yes…and”.

A woman who is confused says, “I want to go home. My parents must be missing me.” (She IS home…and her parents have been dead for many years.) Correcting her statement only brings more confusion, because she doesn’t remember that she is in her home, with the man she has been married to for 55 years. In her mind, she is 16 years old. “Yes….and your parents know where you are. Tell me about your mom…tell me about your dad.” How much more kind, to enter into her reality, rather than trying to force her into mine.

The other application for “Yes…and” is to use the words during an argument. Imagine how that discussion would go if all parties answered each statement with, “Yes…and”. Using no….yes, but…or defending myself results in further argument rather than resolution. I intend to remember this, the next time I find myself wanting to take the defense. However, I had the opportunity to try the technique out when my mind strayed down a trail of thought this evening, as I was tackling the flower beds next to the house.

It is hard work, cleaning up these neglected beds and preparing them for re-planting. I began to berate myself….and then, I remembered. Here is how the internal conversation went: I should never have used the ground cloth…roots have grown through it and that makes removing it so difficult. Yes….and I’ve learned a lot about gardening in the past four years. Yes….and I can do this, a little at a time. Yes…and the finished garden border will be so beautiful. Yes…and I will enjoy it very much.

I kept working…and then, I hit a wall, becoming hot and physically exhausted with all the digging, pulling, and hoeing, and discouraged by the slow progress. When I inadvertently ended up with a face full of dirt, I considered scrapping the idea and letting grass grow in the beds, instead of flowers. Back to Yes…and. “This is too hard. Just let the grass grow and mow it. Yes…and that is one possible solution. Yes…and it is my decision.” I looked at the 35 flowering plants on the front porch, waiting to be transplanted into the ground. Yes….and I love the flowers. Yes…and I can take this project a step at a time. Yes…and the joy is in the journey.”

I am grateful for this technique, for Dan who introduced it to me, and for the Facebook article that reminded me that I wanted to further explore this idea. I was able to see this evening how even in an argument with myself, using Yes…and led me, gently, where I most wanted to go, without self reproach. That is the true beauty of Yes…and. It shifts the energy, expands and opens, instead of constricting and closing down. I don’t want to close. I want to be open. Yes…and a wonderfully simple yet effective way to do that has been given to me, from the world of improv.

yes and lessons from improv

Journey 186: Symbol of Strength

Today was a beautiful conclusion to a long weekend. I enjoyed a restful, peaceful day that included time spent relaxing on the brickio in the backyard. Surrounded by plants and flowers, and ample sunshine, I allowed the beauty to infuse me with joy and contentment. 

  
As the sun slipped westward and some of the heat faded from the day, I turned to puttering around the garden. Yesterday I transferred a tall metal archway from the garden on the south side of the house, to the backyard garden. 

  
The southern garden is being transformed, slowly but surely. It has not been touched since the 2011 tornado and its beds are overgrown, with weeds and rose bushes that have run amok! Yesterday I freed the archway from a tangle of vines, and pried it from the ground. 

  
The archway is significant to me, a symbol of strength and flexibility. It survived the tornado intact, with only minor damage. I was so surprised to find it still standing after the massive storm had roared past. I rather expected to find that it had crashed through the large living room window, and come to rest on the floor. But it remained anchored in place, the thin metal frame bending and swaying before the onslaught of wind and debris. I love the resilience with which it endured the storm. 

  
The archway now has a new home in the backyard garden, straddling the Y in the pathway. Today I purchased two vining Mandevillas, at half price I might add, and planted them on either side of the arch. I tenderly twined long tendrils of the plant around the metal frame, encouraging the vines to embrace their new home and grow skyward. I look forward to seeing the results. 

Journey 185: S’Mores on the 4th of July

This evening I got to enjoy the brickio, and use the fire pit for the first time this summer. As neighbors lit up the skies with their own fireworks displays, Greg built a beautiful little fire that crackled merrily within the ring of stones. 

  
Daughter Adriel and her boyfriend Nate stopped by first. We enjoyed visiting and sipping on cold drinks. I had graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows near by. The first s’mores of the year were created and enjoyed amid the whistles and explosions and pops of a variety of fireworks. 

  
As darkness fell, and the noise escalated, these two lovely people left to go comfort their dogs. While fireworks are fun for humans, our pets don’t care for them and are often frightened by the commotion. Two of my cats have been in hiding all day. Adriel and Nate are wonderful and conscientious  pet owners who wanted to be there with their furry babies. 

  
Shortly after they left, Linda, Roy and London stopped by. The fire was stoked and more s’mores made and devoured. London celebrated the night with a silver sparkler. 

  
I love sitting around the fire pit on a summer evening. It doesn’t normally sound like a battle is raging nearby, but the flashes of color exploding in the night sky were pretty to watch and we lost count of the number of lanterns that drifted by overhead. 

  
I felt gratitude for the freedoms I have in this country and for the love and companionship of family and friends. I was grateful that the explosions were sounds of freedom and not war. I was especially glad that when we discussed that fact, London asked what war was. 

  
Another 4th of July is winding down. The pops and crackles are more sporadic. The fire has faded to glowing embers. Puffs of smoke scurry along, carried by cool breezes. The garden surrounds me, soothes me, puts on its own little display as a few brave fireflies twinkle among the flowers and ornamental grasses. 

  
I am reminded of my Aunt Annie, whose birthday is today. Her metal container is overflowing with red, white and blue flowers, a perfect tribute to her. And I think of Uncle Dale. The Fireworks Flowers that I planted in honor of him are gorgeous, the blooms bright pink with yellow tips. 

  
I associate the 4th of July with both of these precious family members. Ironically, they passed within a couple of days of each other. As I watch the beautiful lanterns floating overhead, I am reminded that Aunt Annie and Uncle Dale are set free, their souls at peace. I miss them. I love them. I’ll never celebrate another 4th of July without thinking of them and honoring them. 

  

Journey 184: Joplin Fireworks

Tonight as the last of the day’s light faded from the sky, I joined several family members at the Joplin Sports Complex. We hauled out our lawn chairs and planted ourselves in a grassy area, ready to enjoy the city’s 4th of July celebration. 

  
This is the first year that the city fireworks display has been held at the sports complex. We easily found a place to park and walked a short distance to our grassy knoll. To avoid conflict with the Blasters baseball fireworks celebration tomorrow evening, Joplin held their event on the 3rd. 

  
I enjoyed the evening, and chatting and laughing with my mom, sister Linda, great-niece London, Greg and Roy. The rain moved through our area this afternoon and the evening was perfect…clear, breezy, mild. 

  
Although technically I passed the year’s halfway mark a couple of days ago, July 4 always reminds me that the year is half gone. In my mind, the 4th of July is the apex of the year, and the journey begins the downward descent now toward December 31. 

  
As a child, this mid-year date was tinged with sadness. I’ve always been keenly aware of the relentless passage of time, and this festive holiday not only signaled the halfway mark in the year, but also reminded me that summer was well underway and the new school year loomed ahead. 

  
Now July 4 is a gentle, joyful reminder that I’m at the halfway mark. I paused to reflect on where the path has led, and to relax deeply into the moment and the journey. I trust the flow of life to carry me throughout the rest of the year and I’m excited to see where the trail goes from here. 

  
Tonight, I expressed gratitude for my country, my family, and my freedoms. And for the incredible joy that accompanies me on the journey. 

  

Journey 183: Personal Theme Song

My grandson Dayan and I had an interesting discussion today, about theme songs. As we were concluding a three day Doctor Who marathon, Dayan let me listen to his new Doctor Who ringtones on his phone. They are so cool…I loved them! That in turn led us to discussing the theme songs for the 10th Doctor, the 11th Doctor, Rose Tyler, Martha and Donna. Every character in Doctor Who has their own theme song, as does the TARDIS. As we watched episodes this afternoon, we would exchange knowing glances as one of the character’s songs played subtly in the background.

The 10th Doctors Theme Song

Dayan and I agree that the soundtrack to a TV series or a movie enhances the viewing experience. During our marathons for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, we isolated the themes for each character, including the dragon Smaug, and the One Ring, listening for them during the films. One of the reasons I enjoy listening to soundtracks so much is because they are, essentially, the themes from the characters, the locations, and the events, woven together to form one beautiful extended song that stirs my memory and my heart, and pulls forth emotion.

My conversation with Dayan stayed with me after I left him today. I thought about what the “soundtrack” to my life sounds like, and how, if I could hear it with my physical ears, it too would be woven from themes from the characters in my story, the locations and events. There would be stirring ballads, uplifting trills and slower, more somber melodies, all telling of my adventure called Life.

But what would my personal theme song sound like? Every time I entered the day, a room, a situation, what melody would announce my arrival? That’s what I have been thinking about today. I’ve played those “What Would Your Theme Song Be?” games on Facebook. I get songs like “RESPECT” or “Walking on Sunshine”. Those games are fun to do, but the songs don’t resonate with me.

If I had to choose today, the song I would select that best represents me, would be “Going Where My Heart Will Take Me”, by Russell Watson. I became familiar with this song years ago, as the theme song for Enterprise, a Star Trek spin off series. It captures my journey well.

Going Where My Heart Will Take Me

And if I selected a musical piece, without words, as my theme song, I am drawn to the theme from Rivendell, in The Hobbit movies. This music reaches deeply into my heart, every time I hear it. It centers me, slows me down, lifts my spirit, all powerful responses to the beautiful melody.

Rivendell Theme Song

As I considered those two musical selections, I was aware that both are already theme songs for something else. Slowly, I came to the realization that it is time to create my own theme song, or perhaps, time to allow my own music to be set free. I will have to hear it first, before I can share it, before I can capture it, in notes. I have limited musical ability, but I don’t think that matters. What’s important is that I allow it to come forth, and recognize it as my own.

As I was driving home from being with my grandson, I allowed my phone to randomly play music on shuffle. The first song that played was called August’s Rhapsody, from the movie August Rush. This film is about the very things that I was pondering: the gift of music, the themes woven into something soulful and beautiful that represent life and the journey. At the end of the song, August says, “The music is all around us. All you have to do…is listen.” I got goose bumps. How perfect. I am listening….

August’s Rhapsody

Journey 182: Philadelphia Phillies Anencephaly Awareness Night

This evening I bought two tickets to the Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. They will be hosting the San Diego Padres on August 29. I recently visited Philadelphia, and on the way back to the airport, we drove by the sports arenas. I saw where the baseball games are played. I can imagine the excitement, the cheering and chanting of the crowd, the crack of a bat against a fast moving baseball.

anencephaly awareness ballgame

I won’t be there to experience any of it, however. I purchased the tickets for another reason: August 29 is Anencephaly Awareness night at the ballpark. Part of the proceeds from the sale of each ticket, purchased through a special website, goes to Duke University Medical Center’s NTD Research Fund. And if 500 tickets are bought, through the website HERE, a pre-game video will be played, to raise awareness for anencephaly.

I do this for Shane Michael Haley, and his amazing parents, Jenna and Dan. I followed their incredible journey last year. They discovered during their pregnancy that their baby boy, Shane, had a rare disorder. Anencephaly is a neural tube defect in which the tube fails to close, resulting in the absence of a major portion of the brain, the skull and scalp. Babies who survive birth generally live a few hours. There is no cure for anencephaly.

anencephaly awareness shane

The news was devastating to Shane’s parents. However, they chose to continue the pregnancy and share life with Shane while he was in the womb. Dan and Jenna created “Shane’s Bucket List” and during the remainder of the pregnancy, they shared beautiful experiences with their son, crossing each item off the bucket list as they accomplished it. Shane was born on October 9, 2014, and lived for four hours, held, cherished and loved by his family for his whole life.

READ SHANE’S STORY

I was deeply touched by Shane’s story, and by the love and courage of his parents. I continue to check in on their Facebook page periodically, and was thrilled recently to find an opportunity to contribute toward research to understand and prevent anencephaly. I was happy to purchase tickets for the game, and donate them to someone in Philadelphia who can attend. Jenna and Dan have done so much to raise awareness for this disorder by sharing their soulful journey. I applaud them and surround them with hope, peace and love. As they have said, many times, “There is no footprint too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.” Shane Michael’s imprint has been huge and continues to impact others.

anencephaly awareness logo

We can all do something, in some way, for others. This is something I can do…buy tickets, cheer the Phillies on, vicariously, allowing others to sit in the seats I reserved. And raise awareness for Shane and anencephaly.

Purchase Phillies Tickets Here

Learn more about Anencephaly Here

Journey 180: Have a Snack

Ive been wanting to do this pay it forward activity for a while, ever since Dayan and I saw the idea on Facebook. I had to wait until I rented another DVD before I could carry out my plan.

Before I returned Still Alice to the store, I wrote a note that says “Enjoy the movie…and a snack! Pay It Forward!” and taped it and a couple of $1 bills inside the DVD cover. Easy to do. I know the store employees pop open the cases to make sure the DVDs are present, before returning the movies to the shelves. I hope he or she was okay with my surprise!

And I hope the next person who rents the DVD enjoys the surprise. That’s the fun…and the trust factor. Once they leave my hands, these “pay it forwards” go out and where they end up and who is touched by them is beyond what I need to know.

It is totally up to the next individual whether they pay the act forward, or not. Again, that’s beyond my control, which I love. The truth is, no act of kindness, large or small, goes unanswered, no act of love is in vain. The ripples move outward, and goodness follows. And that is all I need to know.

Journey 179: Still Alice

I don’t usually post two movie reviews, back to back. However, I stopped by the DVD rental store Friday. I had no particular movie in mind. I just slowly walked the new release section, to see if anything grabbed my attention. I made it to the S section before I zeroed in on a DVD. I brought home Still Alice.

still alice movie poster

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parrish, Shane McCrae, and Stephen Kunken and was directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland. The drama is rated PG-13 for mature themes and very brief language and has a run time of 1 hour and 41 minutes. Julianne Moore won an Oscar for Best Actress for her portrayal of Alice.

Alice Howland (Moore) is a renowned linguistics professor at Columbia University, happily married, with three grown children. She has just celebrated her 50th birthday and life is grand. Except, Alice is experiencing these nagging little incidents. She struggles to come up with the right words and names at unexpected times, gets lost during a jog on the university campus, and loses her train of thought during a lecture.

Thinking it might be menopause, or worse, a brain tumor, Alice seeks out a neurologist, Dr. Benjamin (Kunken), for a diagnosis. After a series of tests, she is shocked to learn that she has a rare form of early on-set Alzheimer’s Disease. With her husband John (Baldwin) beside her she tells her children, Lydia (Stewart), Tom (Parrish), Anna (Bosworth) and Anna’s husband Charlie (McCrae), that she not only has the disease, but it is genetic. It is possible that her children have the mutated gene as well, which means a 100% chance that they, too, will have the early on-set Alzheimer’s. Anna and Tom choose to be tested. Anna is positive for the gene also.

The disease progresses rapidly and Alice’s world changes just as rapidly. She leaves her teaching position at the university, finding it too difficult to lecture coherently. Alice is resourceful, though, and uses technology to help her. The smart phone becomes her memory, and every morning, at 8:00 am, an alarm sounds. Alice has a list of questions that pop up: What is her older daughter’s name? What is her address? What month is her birthday? She films a video for herself and stores it in her computer. At the bottom of her list of questions are instructions to watch the computer video, file name Butterfly, when she can no longer answer the questions. The video details how she can find a hidden bottle of sleeping pills and take them all…and sleep.

The Alzheimer’s Association invites Alice to speak at a conference. Using a technique she came up with, of underlining the sentences that she wrote with a yellow highlighter so that she doesn’t lose her place, Alice delivers a personal and moving speech about what it is like to live with the disease. She quotes the poet Elizabeth Bishoponce, who wrote, ”The Art of Losing isn’t hard to master: so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.” Alice goes on to detail what she is losing daily…her bearing, objects, sleep…but mostly she is losing her memories. She is little by little losing pieces of herself.

Alice’s family supports her, even as they watch the wife and mother that they know slip away. Anna and Charlie, after years of infertility, become pregnant with twins after fertility treatments. They have the embryos tested for the defective gene. Lydia, who lives in California, and is pursuing an acting career, struggles the most with the changes that are transforming her mother, and yet she is the most real and direct about those changes. She eventually moves home to live with her mother while her father takes a position with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Life has become simple for Alice, who truly lives in the moment. And it becomes simple for Lydia as well. She watches over her mother, and loves her.

This film caught my interest during the Academy Awards. Greg’s mother, Leta, died of Alzheimer’s 16 years ago. For almost a decade, her family watched her and loved her as the disease robbed her of her memories, of her ability to care for herself, and eventually of her speech and consciousness. She died peacefully at home, with her husband, whom she had not recognized for some time, holding her hand.

As I stood Friday, with the DVD in my hand, I wondered whether I really wanted to watch this movie, or not. I brought the DVD home. Tonight, with Sadness and my cat, Angel, as companions, I decided that yes, I did want to watch it. This was a beautiful film. My initial reaction was to resist Alice’s memory lapses, as if somehow I could will her not to go down that path. But, of course, Alice had no choice. I accepted that and allowed the film to unfold, moving me, bringing me to tears, scaring me, actually, that the mind can so quickly slide into confusion.

As Alice learned to adapt and accept her life, I learned to accept her journey as well, along with Leta’s similar journey. Both inhabited the moment so purely, so simply, so completely. Alice smiled to cover her confusion, watched what others did so that she could copy them. Greg’s mother did the same, and became like a small child, trusting, sweet, happy, for the most part. I was very glad, in the movie, that when Alice accidently discovered the video that she had previously recorded, her ability to remember limited her ability to carry out the instructions. By the time she found the pills and attempted to take them, her caregiver arrived. I am not making a statement about whether it is right or wrong to take one’s own life, under such tragic circumstances, however, Alice still had love and beauty in her life, and I am glad she remained present in it.

In the final scene, Lydia is quoting a beautiful story to her mother, which has at its core that nothing is lost forever, nothing is wasted, especially not life. Alice is not able to communicate well, but she smiles tenderly at her daughter. “Mom,” Lydia asks, “can you tell me what the story was about?” Alice smiles again and whispers….”Love”.  Lydia smiles back. “That’s right, Mom…it was about love.” That’s what this movie was about too. Loss….and love. I am glad I watched Still Alice. I am glad that I didn’t push Sadness away but embraced her, allowing her to infuse me with compassion for those who are struggling with this insidious disease, and with acceptance for all the richness and beauty that life brings, even when it pierces the heart.

still alice losing parts of herself

Alice, losing pieces of herself.

Journey 178: Jurassic World

Twenty-two years ago, I saw Jurassic Park, and marveled with other movie goers over the special effects that brought dinosaurs to life on the big screen. Although the sequels were decent enough, neither had the surprise factor or the visual impact that the first movie did. Today, my mom and sister Linda accompanied me to see the long awaited new installment in this franchise…Jurassic World. Enough time has passed that we were ready to venture back into the world of genetically modified dinosaurs.

jurassic world logo

Jurassic World stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Irrfan Khan, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ty Simpkins and Nick Robinson. The action/sci-fi was directed by Colin Trevorrow. It is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and peril and has a run time of 2 hours and 4 minutes.

Set 22 years after the disaster at Jurassic Park, the improved theme park on Isla Nublar is open and doing well. The park is full of new, genetically modified dinosaurs. Although attendance has been good at Jurassic World, the number of attendees has steadily declined in the past decade. As park operations manager Claire Dearing (Howard) explains to future investors, people are no longer impressed with dinosaurs. They want to see something bigger, more fierce, more menacing. With that in mind,  InGen, the park’s in house lab facility, has created the next exciting attraction at Jurassic World….the Indominus Rex.

However, prior to unveiling this newest “asset”, as the dinosaur is referred to, the park’s owner and CEO, Simon Masrani (Khan), has some concerns. He asks Claire to have former US Navy man and the park’s raptor researcher, Owen Grady (Pratt), to take a look at the facility housing the Indominus Rex, and evaluate both the structure and the dinosaur.

Claire and Owen have a strained relationship. She is an organizer, a numbers person, cool, detached and very business-like. Owen is flirtatious, humorous, easy going, but very serious when it comes to dinosaurs. He is working with the park’s raptors and has trained them to respond to commands given by him. He has become more than their trainer. Owen is the Alpha, the leader of the raptor pack. His work has captured the attention of Vic Hoskins (D’Onofrio), chief of security at the park, who believes the raptors have potential for use as military weapons.

jurassic world indominus rex

Owen and Claire stand in the observation area of the Indominus Rex habitat, watching for her, but she appears to have escaped. Alarmed, Claire heads to the control room to search for the dinosaur’s whereabouts by way of her implanted tracking device. Owen and two park workers enter the habitat, and are ambushed by the dinosaur. Owen escapes but the workers are killed. The newest dinosaur in the park crashes through the wall of her enclosure and the havoc and killing begins.

Claire’s young nephews, Zack (Robinson) and Gray (Simpkins) are visiting the park. While their aunt is busy with the investors and park business, the boys slip away from Claire’s assistant and enjoy the many rides and attractions at the park. They are in the gyro-spheres when an emergency shut-down of the park is put into effect. The boys, who have wandered off track, have their own encounters with Indominus Rex and must use every bit of the ingenuity and courage that they possess to survive and get back to the main park.

It’s beast versus man as Indominus Rex runs amok, killing for the pleasure of it, learning to adapt and threatening thousands of people who are trying to flee the island. Claire and Owen, with his raptor pack, must bring this asset down, or risk the loss of many lives and the future of the park.

This was a fun movie to watch, although there were long sequences of intense action that made me jumpy! There was a parallel between what Claire told the investors, about people being used to seeing dinosaurs, so they wanted bigger, meaner beasts, and the film itself. Indominus Rex was the solution to raise attendance at the park. She was intended to be the solution for the movie as well, for we who are familiar with the Jurassic Park films have seen dinosaurs roaming the valleys of the island, interacting with people. And we’ve seen the T-Rex in action as the big bad boy of the film, while the raptors were the sneaky villains. We, too, are used to dinosaurs.

Jurassic World had to bring more than the surprise value of living behemoths and a few rogue dinosaurs hunting people down. It brought a bigger, meaner, smarter, more adaptable dinosaur….it brought indominus…which means “fierce, untamable”. It brought the surprise of the raptor pack, those sneaky dinosaurs, working with humans. Did the film deliver? Some don’t think so. Some do.

I enjoyed the movie, as pure entertainment. It brought back nostalgia, as soon as the familiar theme music played. There were similarities between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World…a young sister and a brother on their own, endangered by dinosaurs….and two young brothers facing the same threat, and in each film, a strong single woman and a knowledgeable man who are attracted to each, eventually, as they work together to save people’s lives. I believe the similarities were intentional, to bridge the two films, and to remind the audience of all that they loved about the original movie.

I found the special effects to be very good. And some surprises unfolded, one of which elicited an out loud exclamation from me! I’ll just say, beware the resident Mosasaurus in the murky water. That thing is huge! It was a fun way to spend the afternoon, with my mom and sister, watching an action packed movie. And if there’s ever a real Jurassic World Theme Park….you can bet….I won’t be there! I know how it goes. Those dinosaurs never stay in their enclosures!

jurassic world park