Journey 21: DIY Toilet Fizzies

toilet fizzies 2

Picture of finished product from All You website

I love making my own beauty products and potpourri, teas and even my own mosquito repellant. This evening I tried a new DIY category, household cleansers. I saw the link to this great idea on Facebook and thought, Why not? Since I make so many other products, why not try a chemical free, great smelling, easy to make toilet cleaner and freshener?

toilet fizzies ingredients

This fizzies were so simple to make and I already had all the ingredients in my kitchen. Here’s the recipe:

1 cup baking soda

¼ cup citric acid (or powdered produce preservative)

½ teaspoon vinegar

1 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide

30 – 40 drops of essential oil of choice

Combine baking soda and citric acid in mixing bowl, breaking up any clumps. In a small glass bowl, or glass measuring cup, mix together vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Add liquid mixture one drop at a time to dry mixture, stirring gently. Don’t add all of liquid at once or the baking soda will react in a BIG way, making a mess. I used an eye dropper and added a drop at a time around the perimeter of the bowl, mixing each time after I emptied the dropper. The drops fizzed a bit as they hit the dry mixture, but mixed in well without creating a reaction. Add essential oil of choice. Suggestions include citrus scents such as lemon or orange or florals such as lavender or lemongrass. Mix gently. Using a half teaspoon as a scoop, mold mixture into small half rounds and tap onto cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper. Lightly spritz rounds with 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water, to form a crust, which helps the rounds stay together. Let dry at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

toilet fizzies mixed up

The baking soda and citric acid, which can be purchased at a health food store, combine to form a natural cleaner and odor eliminator. The vinegar and hydrogen peroxide are powerful cleansers. I was out of regular vinegar so I substituted apple cider vinegar instead. And I chose lemon essential oil, for a light clean scent. I added 40 drops. The mixture should clump together when pressed with a spoon. Using a half teaspoon as a  mold, I found it easiest to fill the spoon, press it against the side of the bowl, compressing the mixture and leveling off the spoon, and then tap the spoon sharply on the cookie sheet. The half circles popped right out. The recipe made 48 fizzies. Store in an airtight container, on the back of the toilet or near the toilet. Drop a fizzie occasionally into the toilet, after flushing, to keep it clean and fresh smelling.

My fizzies are drying in the kitchen, which smells lemony fresh. I’ll test this product and perhaps next time try lavender essential oil. This was a fun and simple adventure that I feel good about. And when have I ever said that about cleaning supplies?

toilet fizzies drying

Original site…Homemade Toilet Cleaner from All You

Journey 20: Day of Contrasts

contrasts biz expo logo

Today’s journey involved lovely contrasts. After working at home this morning, taking care of business via phone, computer and the internet, I let inspiration guide me as I was drawn to different areas of my home to fill empty space. Small areas in the kitchen were reorganized. A shelf in the dining room arranged. And as the balmy spring like weather continued, complete with a rain shower this afternoon, I felt drawn out onto the front porch.

I have themed decorations for spring/summer, fall and the holidays. However, I never quite know what to do with my front porch after Christmas. It feels too early for the spring collection. I don’t really have a winter theme or Valentine’s Day decorations. I stood looking thoughtfully at my new framed Tolkien quote, hanging alone above the empty table. My spare bedroom has most of my every day décor hanging out on the bed and various tables and chairs, awaiting my decisions on what space they will next grace. I selected pieces that appealed to me and gathered them together on the little yellow table on my front porch.

contrasts front porch table

My Great Aunt Roxie’s old red box, that she used as a foot rest, sits now on one end of the table. It’s flipped upside down so that mason jars holding votive candles can be tucked into a corner along with a red wooden heart. A trio of wooden candlesticks that I’ve had for years anchors the other end. A woven table runner, a stone bird, and my old favorite metal charger complete the grouping. I like it! That look will carry me into spring.

The rain pelted down earnestly as I returned indoors. It was tea time and I enjoyed a cup of hot tea with a shortbread cookie, snug inside while rain sluiced down the windows and drummed on the roof. I spent a wonderful 30 minutes sipping tea and browsing through a beautiful book that I picked up from the library. Titled “Style & Simplicity: An A to Z Guide to Living a More Beautiful Life”, the book by Ted Kennedy Watson shares ideas for “making time spent at home graciously comfortable, visually rich, and truly personal.” Ted is a Lifestyle Retailer and blogger. His hope is that his book will be a starting point for discovering things you love and integrating them into your life. Looking at the gorgeous pages of the book, and seeing vintage collections and repurposed items used creatively, inspired me to continue on my journey of creating beautiful, intimate spaces in my own home. What a lovely tea time!

contrasts style and simplicity book

After a solitary and peaceful day at home, I undertook a very different type of journey this evening, visiting the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Business Expo with my sister Linda. This is a huge annual event, set up at the convention center, featuring 200 exhibitor booths. Tonight was the business to business evening, actually a Business After Hours, with only the business community invited to attend. Tomorrow the event is open to the general public. This evening though the business community turned out in record numbers to connect, network and of course, enjoy food and drink. It is a noisy, crowded glorious event and I attend every year. I love the opportunity to talk to people and see business friends that I haven’t seen in a while. I never know who I will bump into, literally, and Linda and I always have a great time. Lots of marketing goodies get handed out, business cards exchanged and appointments set. Keller Williams Realty has a booth at Business Expo and I normally work at the booth parts of both days. However, this year, I declined working in the booth and attended the Expo just to have fun and see friends. It was great to mingle and go home early.


I loved the contrast of this day’s journeys….the quiet serenity of the morning and afternoon, with time for work and creativity, and the bustle and noise of the Business Expo with its throng of people. Both were perfect, exactly as they were. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Nothing is worth more than this day.” So true. And to that sentiment I might add….and this day’s journey.

contrasts biz expo

Midwest Regional Ballet Company demonstration at Biz Expo

Journey 19: Creating Space

creating space skin serum

This evening, I gave away the last of the Christmas gifts that I made. I have not posted a pic of these creations yet, however, I was really pleased with how they turned out! I love making my own skin products. I’ve enjoyed playing around with the recipe for this serum and have loved using it on my own face for the past year and a half. I gifted the guys and gals in my family with little containers of skin serum, adjusting the ingredients slightly for the men. For the ladies, I included lavender oil with a mixture that consisted of coconut oil, calendula oil and vitamin E. For the men, I added rosemary oil instead of lavender. From my apothecary garden I added sprigs of dried lavender and dried rosemary, tying the fragrant herbs to the small glass jars with craft raffia. Cute, practical, and made with love.

Interestingly, today I also removed the last of my Christmas decorations. While it is true I have had a lot going on, I don’t think I’ve ever been this slow to pack up Christmas. I adopted a more casual decorating style last December, letting the process evolve slowly and incorporating more of my everyday items into the Christmas décor. Perhaps that thoughtful, slow decorating flowed into the undecorating process. Perhaps I was just busy and too tired in the evenings to bother with it! Whatever the reason, I now have empty spaces in my house, and I am finding that I am not in a hurry to fill those spaces with the décor and knick knacks that occupied the table tops and containers before Christmas. So the vintage suitcase sits empty for the moment, while I wait to see what I am inspired to create within its depths. The front porch awaits my muse. I am fascinated to see what happens!

creating space empty suitcase

This phenomenon is actually a mirror of what’s going on in my life, so I am intrigued by the parallels. I have a strong desire to streamline my surroundings and my life, uncluttering them, and literally, make room for the new that is showing up….the fresh ideas, the new opportunities, the shifts in all areas of my life. As I “undecorate” my life, packing away the glittery shiny things that have been the external representations of who I am, I am creating a quiet space that I am in no hurry to fill. The flow of Life will take me where I need to go, bring those I am to journey with to me, open the right doors at the right time. It feels natural and very freeing, and that clearing of energy and space opens up the area around my heart, allowing love and light to move unhindered through me. As with the decorating of my home, I am fascinated as well to see what flows into my life and what I am inspired to create! I love this gentle time of growing and opening and being.

I did hang one framed quote on my front porch, above the empty-for-now table. I saw it today at Hobby Lobby and knew it was ideal for my year of journeys. It is a Tolkien quote which made it perfectly suited to me. “Not all who wander are lost.” I am not lost at all. I am on a journey without a set destination in mind, open to everything, attached to nothing, a sojourner just passing through. I am enjoying how far I can travel in a day and the joy is, truly, in the journey.

creating space not all who wander

Journey 18: Sunday Expeditions

afternoon tea with Linda

Today was a collection of journeys, which is one of my favorite ways to engage a Sunday. After valuable down time this morning, I spent the afternoon with my mom and sister Linda. My sister is getting over bronchitis. Hoping a hot beverage would make her throat feel better, we decided to start our time together with tea, before working on our vision boards.

Linda has never drank hot tea before. Rather than simply offer her a cup of tea, I prepared a proper afternoon tea for the three of us. I am always thrilled to share this wonderful custom. Taking my teapot and various goodies to Mom’s, I brewed them both a pot of Scottish tea. We had chicken salad finger sandwiches, brownies, cookies and traditional shortbread cookies. Scones were the only things missing from our selection. We enjoyed sipping our hot tea and chatting. Linda included a dollop of organic honey with her tea, to sweeten it slightly and to soothe her throat. I don’t think she liked the inclusion of the honey, which seemed strongly flavored to her.

Our next journey involved working on our vision boards. I am taking my time with this activity this year, and finding that I like that. We browsed through magazines while talking about the words and pictures we were looking for. Since working on the boards last, I’ve had time to consider what other intentions, to be represented by words and symbols, are important to me. We decided that today was not about finishing the boards, so all energy could be devoted to searching and choosing what felt right to us. I realized I wanted to include the word “blog” on my board. I voiced that and asked Mom and Linda to watch for the word. Just moments later, Linda turned a page in a magazine and there it was in a headline…BLOG. I loved that. It was as if the word called to me, right before it appeared. So much of my life flows like this. These occurrences let me know I am on the right path.

Lastly, I was aware that today is Winnie the Pooh Day, celebrated because today is the birthday of creator A.A. Milne. I enjoyed reading about Milne, who was born on this date in 1882. Although he was a noted author, primarily of poems and screenplays, the stories he penned for his son, Christopher Robin Milne, made him famous. The characters were based on his son and the boy’s collection of stuffed animals. The real Christopher Robin had a teddy bear named Edward, who was renamed Winnie the Pooh after a Canadian black bear named Winnie, who was used as a military mascot in WW I and later donated to the London zoo, and Pooh after a swan.

Pooh Milne and Christopher Robin

A. A. Milne with his son Christopher Robin Milne and Pooh Bear – Howard Coster 1926

Illustrator E.H. Shepherd used his own son’s bear, Growler, as the model for Pooh. Piglet, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo and Tigger were all toys belonging to Christopher Robin Milne. His father created two other characters, Rabbit and Owl, from his imagination. The original toys are on display in the Stephen A. Schwartzman building, the former New York Public Library, in New York City.

I loved the stories of Winnie the Pooh, long before Disney popularized them in animation. I read the stories of the bear with “fluff in his ears” and love and wisdom in his heart to my children. The adventures of Christopher Robin and his menagerie of companions have inspired me. There is a hominess in Pooh, a combination of sage advice and imaginative musings.

What a perfect way to wind down my journeys today, reading through Winnie the Pooh quotes. I’ve shared a couple of my favorites below, with illustrations. This one is perhaps my favorite, as it reminds of the flow of life, which I so desire to immerse myself in: “Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.” – A.A. Milne.  It truly is that simple…and that profound. Happy birthday A.A. Milne….and thank you.

Pooh What day is it

Pooh And adventure

Journey 17: Dayan Drives

dayan drives 2

Today’s journey was a literal one, around a small town near Joplin, and an exciting first. Late on this beautiful spring like day, Greg and I picked up Dayan for some driving practice. This 15 year old has his driver’s permit and I had yet to let him drive my car. It was the perfect time to remedy that.

Taking advantage of the fact that school was not in session on a Saturday, we put Dayan behind the wheel in the parking lot of a local high school. I let his papa sit up front with him while I took the backseat so I could take a few pics. I was NOT a back seat driver, allowing Greg to coach his grandson in driving skills while I offered praise and encouragement.

dayan drives with papa

Dayan has not had a lot of experience yet, with driving, and yet he did remarkably well. After just a few minutes of handling my car in the parking lot, testing the touchiness of the brakes and getting a handle on how far to turn the steering wheel, Dayan headed out into the streets surrounding the school.

He did great! His confidence and ability rose immediately. At this time of day, on Saturday, there were not many cars in the area. However, Dayan did well when faced with oncoming traffic and negotiating streets with cars parked along the curbs. We found the perfect route that looped from school parking lot down side streets to another school parking lot. He practiced stopping and starting smoothly, parking within the lines on the parking lot, maneuvering over speed bumps and on the city streets, using his turn signal, moving into the turn lane and stopping at stop signs. I was so proud of him and had fun riding along in the back, snapping pics.

dayan drives in traffic

Greg was a patient and encouraging driving instructor, offering just the right blend of instruction and letting Dayan figure things out for himself. They kept up an easy banter in the front, with Dayan asking the occasional question and Greg answering or helping Dayan to arrive at the answer on his own. I marveled as I watched this tall, handsome young man drive. Wasn’t he just a toddler a short time ago? I remembered Greg and I accompanying Dayan and his parents to the zoo when he was a little over a year old. Rather than being fascinated by the various animals, this bright and curious boy looked with wonder at the huge fans cooling the Desert Animals Section and pointed excitedly at the staff golf carts and the zoo train chugging along the track.

dayan drives

That day, as he toddled around, he was interested in machines and gadgets and vehicles. Today he is smoothly operating my car while chatting with his granddad, gracing me from time to time with a smile over his shoulder, when he was safely at a stop. I know it won’t be long at all before he drives off to college in his own car, entering into an adventure of his own, following his own path. I am so honored to have walked beside my grandson, learning from him as much as I have offered to him. We will always be close, Dayan and I, no matter how far away he goes to continue his education, and he has set the precedent for the relationships that I cherish with each of my other grandchildren.

The journey ahead is bright with promise for Dayan. I look forward to seeing where life takes him as he offers his gifts to the world. For this afternoon, it was enough to sit in the backseat and watch him drive, knowing he is expanding his horizons bit by bit, content in knowing he’s not yet ready to say goodbye and drive toward that horizon. With joy, I  smiled back at him, each time he grinned happily at me.

dayan drives smile


Journey 16: Family Friday

family dinner quote

If I described today’s journey in one word, it would be FAMILY. A week ago today, I had a birthday. I got to see a few family members throughout that day and Greg and I enjoyed Keltic Knot at the Woodshed in Carthage, a real treat for me. With the varied schedules among my adult children and their kids, it was a whole week before we could gather for a meal. Today was a Family Friday.

I spent a portion of the day with two family members who are very dear to me. Harry and I accomplished so much today and enjoyed chatting in between our many errands. Those interesting talks in the car as we drove to various appointments were priceless. Such an amazing young man. I got to love on Jeff too, giving him a hug and sharing lunch together. Jeff is a sweetheart. A grown man with a boy’s heart and enthusiasm, his way of looking at life and enjoying the moment teaches me to do the same. When Harry and I returned late this afternoon from our last appointment, Jeff greeted us and wanted to know where we had been. I loved how he studied us, determining whether we had been off having fun without him, even after Harry assured him we had NOT been having fun. Harry is so compassionate and so very good with his uncle. Watching them together warms my heart.

family dinner Jeff, Mindy and Harry

Because I failed to snap a pic this afternoon, “borrowing” one of Mindy’s fb pics.           
Harry, Jeff, Mindy

This evening I joined all of my children and all of my grandchildren for dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street in Joplin. This is a rare enough occurrence, having everyone present, that it qualifies as a high celebration! Greg, my mom and stepdad, and my sister Linda made us a lively party of 16. That created a bit of a dilemma for the staff at my favorite Mexican food restaurant as they sought to seat us. They found two oversized booths close together and we divided up. Greg joined the adult children and their spouses and significant other, and I gathered the grandchildren to me, along with Linda, Mom and Walter. We declared our table the fun table, and indeed, it was! (Although hearing laughter ringing out from table 2, I did peek over and they appeared to be having a grand time as well!)

family dinner side one

family dinner side two

Table One: Jonathan, Joey, Cindy, Aubrey, Linda

Walter, Mom, Dayan, Oliver

I have five grandchildren, ages 15, 9, 8, 7, and 6. Dayan, Jonathan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey, who is the youngest, and the only girl. They are each unique and gifted and precious in their own ways and I enjoyed talking to all of them and listening to their stories. Dayan could easily have joined the adult table, but I’m so glad he sat with us. The conversation was animated, and not just because of the kids. Linda and Mom joined right in. Poor Walter rarely got a word in, but he smiled and he won the cool hat award.  And I learned a new tech tip. Dayan taught me how to use the pano button in my iPhone for taking wide angle pictures.

I am so grateful for my family. Grateful for Harry and Jeff. Grateful for Elissa, Josh, Dayan and Jonathan….Nathanael, Megan, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey…Adriel and Nate. Grateful for Greg, Mom, Walter and Linda. Each juggled their schedule around or made some effort to be present with me today and this evening. I couldn’t ask for a better family. I couldn’t feel more loved!

family dinner table two side one e

family dinner table two side two

Table Two: Greg, Elissa, Adriel, Nate

Josh, Megan, Nathanael

Journey 15: A Tiny Treasure

tiny treasure acorn

A week ago today, my cousin Mindy left us, following a different path on her journey. It’s been a busy week, interspersed with sadness and joy, celebrations and reflections. She’s never been far from my thoughts. I’ve been able to spend time with Mindy’s son Harry this week as well, watching this bright, soulful young man literally grow up overnight as he has assumed responsibilities most 19 years never imagine.

I spent time in Neosho today, staying at the house while Harry was at school. These early anniversaries of loss are tough. Every Thursday, for a while, Harry will remember. I will remember. Mindy’s friends will remember. It’s part of the grieving process. Then the 8th of each month will bring a fresh wave of sadness and memory, and finally, each year January 8 will be a day of sorrow, mixed with more and more fond memories as time marches on.

Today, the loss is still fresh. The house was quiet and yet Mindy’s presence was strong and signs of her life were everywhere….the wool hooked rugs that she crafted so beautifully, her coat flung casually over a chair, a box of tea in the kitchen. Mindy’s pugs, which were her fur babies, watched me with big eyes.  Mindy loved these little dogs, calling one Bella and the other Rudy.

tiny treasure bella and rudy

It was a beautiful day, cool but with brilliant sunshine and just the tiniest promise of spring. Gathering leashes, I took Bella and Rudy for a long walk, savoring the warmth and the bright light that slanted through the trees in the park near Harry’s house. I let the dogs set the pace, so we ambled, stopping frequently, and that was fine with me. It fit perfectly my somber, reflective mood. In my heart, I talked to Mindy, telling her how proud I was of Harry. The dogs snuffled around the base of a large tree and as I stepped forward, something crunched beneath my feet. Looking down, I saw the ground covered in acorns. I was beneath an old oak tree and acorns and their tiny “caps” were scattered in a wide circle around the tree. My heart beat a little faster and I searched among the dried leaves for a perfect acorn to pick up.

The dogs came over to see what I had found as I at last spied what I was seeking. Smiling, I held the small brown nut in my hand. There is a deeply moving scene, in the final Hobbit movie, that made me smile even as tears filled my eyes. Thorin sees Bilbo holding an object in his hand and demands to see it. Bilbo opens his fist to reveal a small acorn. He picked it up in Beorn’s garden, he tells Thorin. He intends to plant it when he gets back to the Shire. Bilbo says he will care for the tree that grows and every time he sees the oak tree he will remember his journey, all of it, the good and the not so good. Thorin says it is a poor reward for his adventure but to Bilbo, it is a precious treasure and one he has carried and cherished for a long time.

That scene flashed through my mind as I cupped my own small acorn in my palm. What a significant find today. I will cherish this treasure as a reminder of my journey this year…all of it…the good and the not so good. I won’t plant the seed, as Bilbo did, however every time I see this acorn, I will remember, and smile. Bilbo’s treasure grew into a mighty oak tree that later in the story, became known as the Party Tree. Bilbo hosted his birthday party each year beneath that tree and memory and celebration become entwined.

And so it shall be for me. The memory associated with this small acorn, with the passage of time, will sprout into a mighty framework beneath which, I will celebrate… this year, this journey, Mindy. On January 8, of each future year, I will hold my treasure, and remember and rejoice. The pugs gave me quizzical looks. However, I felt Mindy’s approval, and the light around me shifted and brightened and the warmth was surely from a source beyond the sun. With quiet joy, and an acorn in my pocket, we headed home.

tiny treasure memory

Journey 14: Witnesses to the Journey

Joplin Globe article

There is a great quote from the movie Shall We Dance. I’m going to adjust it a bit, because she is speaking to her husband. Susan Sarandon’s character, Beverly, says, “We need a witness to our lives.  There’s a billion people on the planet, what does any one life really mean? [Another can say] ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.  Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness’.” The idea of being a witness to the life of another resonated deeply and the thought has stayed with me. When I am present with another, whether he or she is performing in a band, singing a song, running a marathon or living a life inspired by passion, I am bearing witness to the significance of their lives.

Having my mentor in Joplin the last couple of days was such an instance of bearing witness. Lu Ann, by her presence here, by her questions, by her sharing of insights and by her willingness to journey alongside me, bore witness to and brought a sense of affirmation to me and my ongoing adventure. In the same way, I got to bear witness to Lu Ann, to her gifts of journalism and putting people at ease and to her courage in striking out across the US, visit 30 cities in 30 days….and doing 30 dares. I was honored to have her here and privileged to share in a meaningful first with her. We used video cameras and iPhones, words and blogs and social media to capture that witnessing.

In a similar way, Andra and Roger, from my city’s newspaper The Joplin Globe, were present with us to bear witness to all that we did, both individually in our past adventures and together in Joplin. Andra is a great journalist with a promising future. I suspect there is a book within her waiting to be birthed. Roger was kind and attentive and quietly snapped pictures without making us aware that he was doing that. His photography is another powerful form of bearing witness to the life of another as he captures each moment and freezes it in time.

The culmination of their joint efforts appeared today on the front page of The Globe. I was surprised and then humbled by that placement. The story so beautifully details how Lu Ann inspired me through her transformational year of firsts and continues in the expansion of her life, and how I grew and opened to new experiences and now continue as well on my journey. Roger’s photo that depicts shared laughter between Lu Ann and me was perfect, and could be titled, simply, Joy.

I am grateful for these witnesses to my life these past couple of days, and indeed, to all those who journey with me who affirm my life and let me know that they see me and see what I am doing. I am honored to do the same. Your life will not go unnoticed because I notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I am witnessing it. I see you. I applaud who you are. You are beautifully YOU.

Lu Ann’s blog post about her visit to Joplin

Joplin Globe article about our shared dare

Journey 13: A Shared First at Watered Gardens

Watered Gardens preparing lunch

One of the things I discovered during my year of firsts was how fun it was to share them. My family members and friends were such good sports and willing participants in the adventure I was enjoying. Today, I had the honor of sharing a first with the person who inspired that adventure, Lu Ann Cahn. During Lu Ann’s 30 Dares in 30 Days tour, she graciously stopped in Joplin so we could meet and do a dare, or first, together.

We chose to experience a first that gave back to the community. We volunteered today with Watered Gardens, a ministry that provides shelter, food, and a variety of services and items to the homeless and those in need. Located at 531 Kentucky, in Joplin, the mission of the Gardens is based on Isaiah 58…“Is this not the fast I chose … To divide your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked to cover him … And you will be like a watered garden and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” Although I was familiar with Watered Gardens, I have never been inside the facility or volunteered my time there.

Watered Gardens interview

Trish with Roger, Andra and Lu Ann

I am grateful to Trish, Volunteer Recruiter and Coordinator, and James, Co-founder and Executive Director, for setting up today’s service opportunity for Lu Ann and me. Both met us at the facility today and James gave us an overview of the ministry and answered our questions. I was impressed with the programs offered and Shop Worth, which provides an opportunity for the residents to create products, such as jewelry and bags of roasted coffee, that are sold. Each person is valued and given a task to complete for the day. I liked the friendly atmosphere and the general busyness as men and women pushed brooms, mopped floors and cleaned the gathering room.

Donning aprons and plastic gloves, Lu Ann and I got right to work in the industrial kitchen, helping Jean prepare lunch. We sliced bread and slathered on melted garlic butter. We spooned up servings of Jean’s wonderfully aromatic bread pudding, filling two tiered carts with plates of the dessert. Pairing spoons and forks, we rolled them in paper napkins. I have never done that before while wearing gloves, and we laughed until I got the hang of it. All the while, Andra, reporter from the Joplin Globe, and Roger, Globe photographer, kept us company, jotting down notes and taking photos respectively. Lu Ann and I chatted and laughed and shared stories about our firsts. I found her so easy to talk to and be around, like a life long friend who came for a visit. She occasionally grabbed her video camera and interviewed me or James and once recorded a conversation between the two of us, flipping the camera back and forth. At the end of that chat we stood side by side for a “video selfie”, as Lu Ann deemed it, which made us both crack up with laughter. Roger snapped a pic.

Watered Gardens serving lunch

At last lunch was ready, all the food donated by individuals or local businesses. On the menu today was fried chicken (until that ran out…and then chicken nuggets), mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, garlic bread, and Jean’s bread pudding. The sliding door covering the service window slid upward and people began to line up in the long hallway outside the kitchen. Jean and kitchen manager Casie allowed Lu Ann and me to stand closest to the window, so we could chat with the good folks picking up lunch. We started a food line, preparing each plate with generous servings of food. I passed full plates to Lu Ann, who then handed them to each diner as they passed by. It was an honor to serve these hungry people, many of whom had just come in out of the cold, the briskness of the day clinging to their clothes and making their cheeks pink. Men, women, teens, and children filed by, many of them saying “thank you” or chatting for a moment. The food lasted just long enough. As the last few people came in to eat, we scraped the serving pans. Jean estimated between 60-70 people were fed today.

Watered Gardens Lu Ann

Before serving lunch, James asked Lu Ann to share a few words with the group gathered in the dining room. I was touched by her acknowledgement that we are all on a journey. And we can choose to make a change, one small change at a time. She spoke about how stuck she felt in her own life and how doing firsts, even the small simple firsts, opened up her life. Standing there, listening to Lu Ann, watching the attentive faces turned toward her, I agreed in my heart with all that she shared. We are each on our own journey. Where we are today is not an indicator of where we will be tomorrow. There is always hope. And good people like James, Trish, Jean and Casie who are willing to lend a helping hand along the way. Many of the people I met today are without a job, currently, and therefore unable to pay rent. Some have just moved into the area and are out looking for jobs and housing and need a place to eat and sleep. Some have encountered difficult situations that they are dealing with.

All are valuable. All have something to offer. Lu Ann and I heard bits of their stories, looked them in the eyes, smiled encouragement, served them lunch. I went to Watered Gardens today to help. I left feeling ministered to myself, touched by the resilience of the human spirit, and with a new appreciation for others. I am grateful to Lu Ann for her visit and her willingness to reach out and touch lives, and for the staff at Watered Gardens for allowing us a glimpse into their facility and their world. Steve Maraboli says, “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” Compassion is present at Watered Gardens. I will be back.

Watered Gardens James and Lu Ann

James and Lu Ann, as she signs a copy of I Dare Me, which she donated to Watered Gardens.

Journey 12: Meeting My Inspiration

lu ann cahn meet and greet

Anyone who followed my journey in 2014, through my year of firsts, knows that I was inspired to undertake this huge challenge by reading the book, “I Dare Me”, by Lu Ann Cahn. My word, BEYOND, had selected me, as had my symbol and song and theme. I wanted to move beyond my comfort zone and into a more open and expansive life. As I was wondering how, exactly, to accomplish this, I came across a post on Facebook about Lu Ann. The article shared how this news reporter from Philadelphia, desiring to get unstuck and out of the rut her life was currently in, did a year of dares in 2010, experiencing something new every day.

Intrigued by what I read online, and excited by the discovery, I bought and read Lu Ann’s book. “I Dare Me” resonated with me. I KNEW this was my path for 2014 and beginning January 1, I created my own Year of Firsts. On day 40, marveling at the way my life was opening up due to this shift in attitude, I contacted Lu Ann via her Facebook Page and shared my blog with her and how amazing the year already was. I knew I still had a long way to go, however I also knew there was no turning back on this adventure.

lu ann cahn meet and greet group 2

Lu Ann graciously responded to my post, with an invitation to do a guest blog post on her blog. I was honored and so impressed by Lu Ann’s graciousness and authenticity. Thus began a correspondence between us….this author, blogger, news reporter in Phillie with this writer, blogger, realtor in Joplin. Lu Ann has been an encouragement to me, a guide who has tread this path before, and succeeded. I have continued to follow her journey via her blog and Facebook.

In December, Lu Ann contacted me about possibly meeting in January…in Joplin! I was delighted. I wondered if she was speaking nearby or passing through on the way to somewhere else. Lu Ann is experiencing another first, another dare, in a grand way. She’s traveling across the US, on an adventure. Her 30 Dares in 30 Days tour will hit 30 different cities. In each location, Lu Ann will join with a reader in experiencing a new dare. What a privilege to have her stop here in Joplin. Tomorrow we will experience a first together.

This evening, Lu Ann joined a group of people at Books-A-Million for a meet & greet time. I got to say hello to my inspiration and give her a hug. She is charming and genuine and funny. As people stopped by, chairs were pulled up and the meet & greet became a sit and chat and get to know each other. I loved that. One thing Lu Ann and I both learned from doing new things everyday is that you go with the flow, which is always exactly right. This evening wasn’t about being formal or following a schedule. It was an opportunity to get to know Lu Ann and for Lu Ann to meet some of Joplin’s dear citizens.

lu ann cahn meet and greet book signing

We had an amazing time, sharing, asking questions, and just being ourselves. Lu Ann created the space for us to do that. I heard more of the stories behind the stories in the book and enjoyed hearing of others who are experiencing dares also. This gracious lady then took the time to sign copies of her book, chatting with each person as she did so.

I look forward to spending time with Lu Ann tomorrow, sharing about our experiences while doing good for my community. And then off she will go on her continuing journey, seeking the new, opening to possibilities, embracing change and people along the way. What a way to begin the new year! I am, once again, inspired.

lu ann cahn meet and greet all in