63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday

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Last year, at the suggestion of my granddaughter Aubrey, I completed 62 Outrageous Things for My 62nd Birthday. I wrote out 62 activities on slips of paper and every day, I randomly drew one out of the jar and did what was written. I enjoyed those activities so much that I decided to celebrate my 63rd birthday on January 9 with 63 curious things to do.

For 63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday, I’ve made a few modifications. I still randomly draw out an activity every day. If I can complete the activity on that day, wonderful. However, if I don’t have time, or the activity requires a lot of effort, I’m okay with working toward its completion as I can. My goal is to have all activities completed by January 9.

And last year I posted a birthday activities update once a week. This time, I’m shooting for twice a month updates. I schedule out my posts in advance for each month plus I’m working with more and more brands that require social media or blog posts. To get it all done I’m limiting the number of birthday updates.

On November 7 I drew my first activity. Here are highlights of the curious activities I’ve done!

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday

63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday

I’m keeping a notebook this year, with a numbered list of the 63 activities and then a list showing which activities were drawn on which days. And I’m keeping track of the completion of each activity.

Although I’m not sharing details about every activity this year, I’ll list each one. I’m posting a good sampling of what I’m doing.

So here we go!

11/7/2020 Write out my name and list a favorite characteristic for each letter (completed)

11/8/2020 Write a poem and hide in a library book (completed)

I’m no poet, however I enjoyed creating a simple poem and then tucking it into a library book at my local public library.

Travel is the theme and I felt inspired to write about the regions my ancestors came from, according to my Ancestry DNA test results.

Here is the poem, titled Traveler:

My Irish feet dance down paths unknown

Scottish bagpipes wail and call me home

Cups of hot tea warms my soul

My gypsy heart longs to roam.

 

Northern lights draw my gaze

African savannas whisper “come explore me”

Germany’s forests shelter surprises

The world is calling, there’s much to see.

 

Of all the journeys I’ve undertaken

In travels far and wide

The one that opened doors to all others

Is the discovery of who I am, inside.

The poem found a home inside a travel book, which seemed appropriate!

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday poem
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – write a poem and hide it within a library book

11/09/2020 Draw with my left hand (completed)

I discovered during this curious activity that I can sketch with my left hand better than I can write with it. Sitting on my bed, I spied my cat Angel taking a nap. Her body contorted, as only cats can do, she nevertheless snoozed soundly.

Below is an actual photo of Angel…and the quick sketch that I did in my notebook with my non dominate hand.

Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday Angel the cat models
Angel the cat models for me, unknowingly!
63 Curious Things for My 63r Birthday left handed sketch
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – draw with left hand

11/10/2020 List 63 curious things I’m grateful for (completed)

11/11/2020 Take an online photography class (completed)

11/12/2020 Create a hot cocoa bar (completed)

This activity completed today! I enjoyed using pieces from the Decocrated Christmas box (post coming soon…use CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE1O to save $10 on a seasonal box or CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE to save $30 on a yearly subscription) and healthy hot chocolate mixes from Four Sigmatic. (Check out this POST for more info about this awesome company. You can order from this amazing company using this link. Use my code CINDYLAUDERDALEMOORE at checkout to save 10%)

I recently purchased a new cabinet to hold all my tea supplies and loose leaf herbs. This cabinet became the base for the cocoa…and hot tea…bar. I love the way it turned out!

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday cocoa bar
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – create a hot cocoa bar

11/13/2020 Make a vegan Indian recipe (completed – Vegan Curry)

11/14/2020 Send out newsletters to email lists for Beyond and Journey (in process)

11/15/2020 Create a black and white Christmas Vignette (completed)

Another fun activity, I created this vignette after enjoying my black and white fall one. I used an assortment of items, from Decocrated pieces to items I already had to Hobby Lobby finds.

This display makes me smile! I love all the buffalo plaid. Read more about how it came together HERE.

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday black and white
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – create a black and white Christmas vignette

11/16/2020 Research and plan a night themed garden (completed)

11/17/2020 Create my own full moon ritual (completed)

11/18/2020 Contact a person I haven’t talked to since childhood (not completed yet)

11/19/2020 Try a food I consider disgusting (completed)

There are very few foods I consider disgusting, although as a plant based person, there are many I don’t eat now. The perfect opportunity presented itself, however. During lunch at an Asian restaurant, I tried seaweed salad.

I use powdered seaweed such as Atlantic sea dulse and spirulina in smoothies, but I’ve never eaten seaweed. I expected it to have a slimy texture and a fishy taste. It did not. I enjoyed the salad. Full disclosure, however. I did belch a couple of times later and there was the fishy taste! Ewww.

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday seaweed salad
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – try a food I consider disgusting

11/20/2020 Color a page in a coloring book using only one color (completed)

11/21/2020 Read a classic I’ve missed (in process)

I love the various movie adaptation of Emma. I realized recently that I never read the book by Jane Austen. I’m remedying that. I purchased a copy of the book and I’m loving it. As I read I can imagine the characters plus I love the extra details in the book. Check out my review of the latest film version of Emma.

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday classic
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – read a classic I’ve missed

11/22/2020 Buy a new to me plant (completed)

I’m a plant fiend, it’s true. They grow in my garden, thrive in containers on the porch and patio and brighten my indoor space. When I went looking for a new to me plant, I immediately settled on a bamboo plant. I’ve actually always wanted one, and now it graces my writing table in my studio.

63 Curious Things for My 63rd Birthday new plant
63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday – buy a new to me plant

11/23/2020 Buy moon jewelry (completed)

My symbol for 2021 is the moon. I found the perfect necklace on Amazon. This Edary boho layered necklace features a crescent moon AND a globe of the world. I’m excited to receive it. You can order one too by clicking photo below.

11/24/2020 Create a new holiday dish for Christmas (completed – vegan lasagna)

There are the first curious activities as I march toward my 63rd birthday. As usual, I’m having fun, learning new things and stepping beyond my comfort zone. I honestly can’t think of a better way to celebrate who I am.

Marching toward my 63rd birthday
Marching toward my 63rd birthday

 

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Going Beyond Comfort Zones

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I just completed week five of my birthday celebrations. Amazingly, I’m already more than halfway through my 62 activities for my 62nd birthday. With a game that runs this long, I get into the flow of it and drawing an activity and carrying it out becomes part of my day. So it’s very good to shake me up a bit and keep me moving beyond comfort zones. That’s exactly what this week accomplished.

The comfort zone is a state of being in which things feel familiar and safe. While in our comfort zones, we feel like we are in control and anxiety and fear levels are low. There is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable. However, we can become so accustomed to being in that state that we stop growing, stop challenging ourselves, and life can feel a bit stale.

I like the personal growth that comes from going beyond comfort zones. That momentary discomfort is nothing compared to the exhilaration of new adventures and accomplishments.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones title meme

Week Five Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones

Here is how I’ve gone beyond this week.

Write a Travel Piece and Submit It

As a blogger I write all the time and my work is read publicly. So why did I almost drop this slip of paper back into the jar? It feels so different to send in my work and have someone else decide if my writing is good enough for their publication.

This activity propelled me beyond my comfort zone. I reworked a blog post I wrote, about how travelling helps me to grow. Delta Sky Magazine and World Nomads both captured my interest. I’ve sent off pitches to both.

The importance isn’t whether either accepts my pitch and asks for the submission. What is important is that I took action and reached out. Action begets more actions and one step at a time I move beyond the edges of where I feel most comfortable.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Travel Piece
Going beyond comfort zones by submitting a travel piece.

Take a Power Nap

I am not a nap taker. In fact, as a child, I didn’t like to nap OR sleep at night. I still consider myself a night owl who enjoys being awake into the wee hours of the morning.

To complete this activity I had to schedule it into my day, for a nap seems like a waste of time to me and an intrusion. However, there are benefits from sleeping for a short period of time.

A power nap last 10 – 40 minutes. That brief break in the day improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity and helps to power up productivity and alertness. Those naps can even slash the risk for heart disease.

Our sleep cycles are divided into four stages.

  • one – light sleep somewhere between fully awake and sound asleep
  • two – real sleep where we are unaware of our surroundings
  • three and four – deep sleep where muscles relax and breathing slows and rapid eye movement (REM) begins

Typically REM begins 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. The perfect power nap stays in stage one and two for up to 40 minutes. If you sleep any longer than that, you’ll feel groggy unless you continue to sleep for 90 minutes and complete the cycle.

I waited until 3:00 to do my activity, when sunlight streamed in through southern windows. My cat Rilynn curled up in my lap and encouraged me by promptly falling asleep. Aren’t cats incredible nappers? I didn’t know if I could even doze off.

Covered by a soft blanket, snuggled with a cat, bathed in warm sunlight I did manage to fall asleep…for exactly 10 minutes.

And I did feel rejuvenated. I didn’t try power napping again, but perhaps I should work on scheduling one in daily.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Power Nap
Rilynn enjoyed the sunshine and the nap.

Listen to a Podcast I’ve Never Listened to Before

I’ve only recently begun to listen to podcasts and I’m not sure why. Podcasts are audio, and sometimes visual, episodes online that range from a few minutes long to a couple of hours. They cover a wide range of topics. Although I almost always play music while in the car, I rarely listen to a podcast. I’m in the process of changing that.

For this activity I selected a podcast from a series called The School of Greatness, by Lewis Howes. I receive emails from Lewis and finally listened to one of his podcasts. Titled Compassion Over Pity with Humble Poet, the recording is excellent. Check out Lewis’ podcasts HERE.

Lewis is a NYT author, lifestyle entrepreneur and former pro athlete. He shares inspiring stories from brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities to help listeners discover what creates greatness.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Podcasts

Create My Own 30 Day Flip Calendar of Inspiring Quotes

I’ve enjoyed this activity. Using index cards on a spiral ring, I used the blank side to write out quotes. My desire is to inspire, encourage and challenge myself…daily. This little DIY flip calendar helps to accomplish that.

So far I’ve written a dozen quotes. I’m taking my time because I want the quotes to find me or draw me. There are many that I’ve used over the years that I could quickly jot down but that’s not what I’m going for. I want to be challenged to think big, expand my awareness and go beyond.

When I have 30 quotes written out I’ll go back through the cards and number them and perhaps add artistic illustrations.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Flip Calendar
Going Beyond

Send a Message of Appreciation to an Actor/Actress

I have great appreciation for actors and actresses who do what they love doing. They enjoy their craft and they excel at stepping out of themselves and into another role. I’m sure my appreciation for performers and films are strongly connected.

Truthfully, though, I felt embarrassed that I wrote out this activity. What was I thinking? Who to contact? And how to get a message to someone?

Back to podcasts. One that I am enjoying is called The Well Podcast. It offers stories and interviews that feature creative inspiration. And it is hosted by Branan Edgens, a film editor and cinematographer, and Anson Mount, an actor who recently portrayed Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek Discovery. I love what Anson brings to a well known although little portrayed character.

Branan and Anson interview fun guests on their casual podcasts and seem to enjoy the banter. Listen in as guest Doug Jones, a regular on Star Trek Discovery, shares amusing stories from his career.

I selected Branan and Anson to write a note to, expressing appreciation for all that they offer to the world. It doesn’t matter whether they respond to that note or not. I accomplished the intended purpose of the activity…going beyond comfort zones to reach out to someone “famous”, with no expectations in return.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Celebs

Create a New Recipe

Since switching to a plant based lifestyle, I spend more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. I’ve become much more at ease and creative in the cooking process, although I still refer to recipes most of the time.

In spite of writing this activity, I felt stumped when I drew it out of the jar. I had a packed out day ahead. What should I even attempt to create?

I love when I put a question out there…and then go on about my business. Because, invariably, the answer shows up while I’m busy doing something else. Such was the case with creating a new recipe. Out of nowhere, it seemed, the words aloo matar soup popped into my head.

I love this Indian dish made with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and spices such as curry, ginger and garam masala. How well would this dish transform into a soup? I had my idea for a new recipe.

I have to say, the aloo matar soup turned out wonderfully well. Resisting the urge to just peek at a recipe, I instead added ingredients with confidence. The resulting soup has all the flavor of aloo matar with a rich broth. I’ll be making this spicy soup again.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Create a Recipe
Going beyond comfort zones by creating a new recipe.

Have an Indoor Camp Out and Sleep in a Blanket Tent

I envisioned drawing this activity on a Friday or Saturday evening, when I had the weekend to recover! Talk about going beyond comfort zones…with the emphasis on comfort. I haven’t slept on the floor in a blanket tent since childhood.

All evening, as I continued to work on writing projects, I debated on whether to draw out another activity and save this one for Saturday night. That’s not the way this game works though. So at 10:00 pm, I snapped my laptop closed and built a blanket tent…technically a sheet tent…in my creative studio.

I lay cushions from the living room sofa on the floor, covered them with a quilt and then added a sleeping bag. A queen sized sheet draped over two chairs formed my tent. I lit candles throughout the room…well away from the tent…prepared a cup of chai hot chocolate and settled into camp out mode.

How lovely the experience became with flickering candlelight, soft music playing on my iPod, and a cup of dairy free, sugar free hot chocolate. It was, indeed, the perfect night for this activity. After finishing the hot chocolate, I crawled into my sleeping bag and listened to yet another podcast on Lewis Howes’ site, this one called The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

I slept well, snug in my sleeping bag, and woke up refreshed. And surprisingly, I crawled out of the tent and stood up without groaning!

Going Comfort Zones Camp Out
Did you ever make a blanket tent as a kid?

Going Beyond…and Onward

These weeks of activities are bringing rewards beyond playfulness. I am growing. I’m learning things about myself. And I’m excited to see what’s next.

You can check out the weeks of activities below.

62 Outrageous Things to  Do for My 62nd Birthday

Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four

Birthday Activities

Pick up a sleeping bag and create your own indoor camp out!

 

 

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62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday

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On January 9, 2020, I’ll turn 62 years old. As far as birthdays go, it’s nothing special. However, my granddaughter Aubrey made an awesome suggestion. Her clever idea was this: celebrate my birthday by doing 62 special things, one on each day leading up to it.

I love the way this girl thinks! And she knows me well. Aubrey understands that I enjoy trying new things, playing creative games and growing through experiences.

I adopted Aubrey’s suggestion, writing out activities on slips of paper. Coming up with 62 things was a bit of a challenge! However, I prevailed and today begins a birthday version of one of my favorite games to play. I will randomly draw out a slip of paper each day, through January 9, 2020, and do what’s printed there.

Here are 62 outrageous things to do for my 62nd birthday.

62 Outrageous Things to do for My 62nd Birthday title meme

A Note about Outrageous

A few explanatory sentences, before I type out the list. I’d love to include items like “jump out of a plane” or “vacation in Paris”, however, I also desired to actually do the activities listed. Having one action per day means I must have the time to carry out the activity.

So these suggestions are very doable, in a few hours or less.

On the other hand, I love trying new things and going beyond my comfort zone. My intention is that most of these activities challenge me a bit…or a lot…and result in personal growth, all while providing outrageous fun.

Following the nudge of curiosity, I looked up the word outrageous, which today means “bold, unusual and startling”. The word originates from outrage, which in turn comes from the Latin ultra, which literally means “beyond”.

How cool is that?? Cindy goes beyond…outrageously…for her birthday. I love it!

62 Outrageous Things to do for My 62nd Birthday Papers

62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday

And…here they are, the activities I wrote on slips of paper. I folded the papers up and dropped them into a jar.

Activities 1 – 20

  • Say “yes” 10 times during the day
  • Drive to Scotland…Missouri
  • Start a conversation with a stranger
  • Do a vlog in place of a blog post
  • Download a new tech app
  • Listen to a new genre of music
  • Watch a movie in a genre I don’t typically choose
  • Find a role model who overcame challenges, to do what I desire to do
  • Apply to a writing fellowship, in another country
  • Brush my teeth, while standing on one leg
  • Hike a new trail
  • Create a new recipe
  • Watch a tv show/movie in a foreign language
  • Take a class
  • Take a power nap (I do not usually sleep during the day)
  • Make eye contact and smile at everyone…all day
  • Listen to music from a different genre
  • Read a book in a different genre, that’s way out there for me
  • Work in a different room/spot
  • Travel to a familiar location, via a different route
62 Outrageous Things to do for My 62nd Birthday Yes
Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday – Say Yes 

Activities 21 – 40

  • Try a product I’ve never tried before
  • Eat at a new restaurant
  • Make a request SO crazy, that I’d expect a “no”
  • Visit a local shop I’ve never visited before
  • Have a mini afternoon retreat
  • Do an interview
  • Reach out to a brand that I love, for a sponsorship
  • Reach out to a resort, for a comped stay
  • Outline Video 1, in Believe in Yourself for 5 Minutes Series
  • Record Video 1, in Believe in Yourself for 5 Minutes Series
  • Write chapter 1 in House Haunting book
  • Storyboard ideas for online products
  • Meditate for one hour in a new place
  • Try a unique vegetable
  • Experience a new fruit
  • Do a 24 hour water fast
  • Order biz cards for blogs
  • Design and order t-shirts for blogs
  • Change theme for Cindy Goes Beyond
  • Change theme for Journey With Healthy Me
62 Outrageous Things to do for My 62nd Birthday Notes
62 Outrageous Things to do For My 62nd Birthday – Write Encouraging Notes

Activities 41 – 62

  • Spend 30 minutes brainstorming ideas, as rapidly as possible
  • Plan a 10 day trip to a country NOT on my Travel List
  • Write a travel piece and submit it
  • Have a midnight picnic, with candles and firelight
  • Go to a thrift store, with a $20 budget, and buy a cool new outfit – wear it to lunch or dinner
  • Have an indoor campout – sleep in a blanket tent
  • Leave encouraging sticky notes all over town
  • Watch The Lighthouse at Bookhouse Cinema
  • Attend Birth of Darkness book launch
  • Attend Return of the Christmas Kid at Joplin Little Theater
  • Make a heart ornament for my Christmas tree
  • Create a fresh Christmas vignette
  • Decorate my live pine tree, instead of purchasing a cut Christmas tree
  • Send a message of appreciation to an actor or actress that I admire
  • Listen to a podcast that I’ve never listened to before
  • Give something away today
  • Research a topic I’ve never researched before
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Sign up on Quora and offer advice
  • Watch a TED Talk that I wouldn’t normally watch
  • Write down 62 things that I am grateful for
62 Outrageous Things to do for My 62nd Birthday Gratitude
62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday – Write Gratitudes

Celebrating One Day at a Time

There they are, my 62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday. I’m grateful for Aubrey’s idea and I’m excited to play this fun game. The rules are that I randomly draw out a paper each day and do the activity listed. No missed days. No excuses. My only exceptions are the three activities that are connected to events that are available on specific dates.

It’s been a very busy week and this day has been full. Nevertheless, I drew out my first slip of paper this evening. This is what I got:

Watch a movie in a different genre

I love gifting experiences for special occasions. I can’t think of a better gift to give to myself, in honor of my 62nd birthday in January, than 62 daily experiences.

I’m smiling at the thought.

And I’m off to watch a movie, in a different (for me) genre. Thank goodness for Netflix and Amazon Prime! I know I’ll find the perfect movie to kick off two months of outrageous celebrating.

62 Outrageous Things to Do for My 62nd Birthday

Week One Birthday Update: First Seven Activities

Read about the first time I played a “draw an activity” game in this post, Launching Arrows of Desire.

Curious about Quora? Check it out HERE.

And try out Amazon Prime, so you too can start a movie any time of day, in the comfort of your own home.

 


 

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Surrender 19: Celebration at El Vaquero

I had a birthday ten days ago, a quiet one spent mostly at home, doing things that I enjoy. The weather was cold and snowy and my family scattered so it was the perfect way to spend the day. Greg and the kids made arrangements for all of us to get together this evening, for a late celebration, at one of my favorite restaurants, El Vaquero. Greg, Elissa, Josh, Dayan, Jonathan, Nathanael, Megan, Adriel and Nate were present.  We missed the three younger grandkids, Joey, Oliver and Aubrey.  

 

It wasn’t a difficult choice at all to surrender to a family celebration. Nothing brings me greater joy than spending time with my family. What I had to let go of was my concern over the wintry weather that moved into the area late this afternoon. Freezing drizzle was creating slick roads. I gave my adult children the option of rescheduling, especially since two of them live in towns outside of Joplin. But they insisted. The Mother in me cautioned, “Please drive carefully!” The surrendered woman and fun Mom/Yaya in me said “Let’s do it!” 
 Left side of the table: Josh, Nate, Adriel, Elissa

 Right side of the table: Nathanael, Megan, Greg, Dayan, Jonathan

I’m so grateful that the kids remained determined to get together. Apparently other diners stayed home this evening because of the weather. The restaurant was almost empty. Which meant no one minded a large group of chatting, laughing people. Because when we are together, we laugh, a great deal. There are stories to share, pictures on phones to pass around, news to catch up on. I enjoyed sitting back and watching them, my children and their sweethearts, my grandchildren, as they interacted easily with one another with affection and humor. 

I couldn’t be more proud of each of them, or more blessed. And the Mother in me was thankful for each “made it safely home” text. Happy birthday, again, to me! 

  

Journey 170: Happy Birthday Cate

What a joyous event tonight, as my friend Cate celebrated a milestone birthday. Hosting a large gathering in her home, Cate shone brightly this evening, surrounded by family and friends. I met this amazing woman last year, during my year of firsts. We have been great friends since, sharing a variety of firsts and journeys, the occasional meal, and meeting every three weeks in our book club group.

Cates birthday Daniel and Cate

I was honored to celebrate Cate. Her best friend of many years, Daniel, laid out a perfect celebratory feast that included a sumptuous dessert bar. A few friends showed up early to help chop veggies and slice cheeses while Daniel decorated. As friends arrived we shifted and moved, forming and reforming groups, introducing ourselves and chatting. In the midst of this large gathering, I could always locate Cate by her joyous laughter. She has a wonderful, very distinctive laugh, and it is infectious, rippling through the room in her wake.

Cates birthday food table

Cates birthday dessert table

Because Cate is the type to encourage others, cheering them on and celebrating their lives, she gave gifts away this evening as door prizes! We each drew a number out of a container and Daniel called out the numbers as he drew them, allowing the winners to select a gift from a wide assortment of goodies. That is so like Cate, to focus on giving. And rather than request gifts for herself, she asked each party attendee to bring a poem or a quote that we felt was fitting for her.

Cates birthday guests 2

Several read poems in her honor, and we raised our paper cups or bottles in a toast after each was read. The rest of us, myself included, tucked quotes or poems into her birthday cards, keepsakes for Cate, demonstrations of how much we love and admire and appreciate this woman. I know my journey has been enhanced and my life enriched because she travels at my side, a constant friend, a listening ear, offering words of compassion and wisdom. I am so very grateful to know her and have the privilege of walking alongside as we explore this life, this world.

Cates birthday guests 4

Cates birthday guests 5

I considered carefully what quote to share with Cate. I settled on this one, which I purchased on a large cardboard tag and inserted it into her birthday card. It captures Cate and her journey so well.

“We are all wanderers on this Earth, our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.”  Gypsy Proverb

May you wander far and wide in this life, sweet friend, your heart full of wonder, your soul deep with dreams! Thank you for so beautifully being who you are! Happy, happy birthday Cate!

Cates birthday

Day 233: Celebrate Elissa’s Birthday

Elissas birthday celebration e

My daughter, Elissa, had a birthday while I was away in Scotland. I got to wish her a happy birthday via Facebook and text. However, I missed getting to see her and have our traditional birthday dinner. Tonight 13 family members gathered at Rib Crib, in Joplin, to celebrate Elissa!

Elissa is my firstborn, the child who made me a mommy. When I was still a child, all I wanted to be, when I grew up, was a mom. I used to sit and daydream, in one of my solitary places, about the children I would someday have. Three years into my marriage and one miscarriage later, I began to wonder if that dream would go unfulfilled. I spent a year reading about the gift of children, preparing for the role that I still hoped to embrace. I was given a Divine promise, that I would become a “joyful mother of children”. I believed! Shortly afterward, I found out I was pregnant. When Elissa Dawn was born and placed in my arms, I thought my heart would burst, so great was my joy.

This beautiful girl, intelligent, creative and witty, has taught me so much, about parenting and about life. Fiercely independent, since her toddler days, she has never ceased to amaze me with her ability to learn and grow, adapt and create. She was my perfectionist child and in her I saw myself and my own need for perfection. We both learned to let mistakes be okay. Everyone in my family is artistic and most of us draw or create by looking at a picture and copying what we see. Elissa is gifted with the ability to draw and create from her imagination. She is an amazing cartoonist and illustrator, creating the book covers for all three of my mom’s published children’s books.

My daughter’s passion has always been horses. She loves most animals and has the ability to connect with them easily and deeply. But her great love is reserved for the mighty horse. During her teen years she spent many hours each week at the stable where she took riding lessons and boarded her horses. Elissa was happiest when she was mucking out stalls or seated in the saddle atop a magnificent mare or gelding. I spent many hours watching her compete all over the Midwest or simply care for and train horses at the stable.

One of the greatest aha moments that I had as a mom came as I stood leaning on a fence, observing Elissa as she worked with yearlings in an indoor arena. “Watch this one,” she called out to me, “he’s naturally gaited. He will make a great show horse.” I noted the high stepping little colt as he ran around in a huge circle. “And this one is a jumper.” She laughed as another young horse ran toward the end of the arena and sailed over the gate. Elissa carefully studied each horse and then worked with them, in accordance with their gifting and natural abilities. Standing there listening to my wise daughter, I suddenly had clarity on a scripture that many use rearing children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” The interpretation usually given is to discipline a child in order to modify behavior so that he will grow up decently. Watching Elissa, a new meaning came to me. Perhaps I was instructed to observe my children, note their gifts and encourage them, “train” them, “in the way they should go” meaning to guide them to follow their hearts and use their God given abilities and desires. It wasn’t about correcting, it was about allowing, and working with, not against. My parenting style shifted that day and my sweet daughter, happily in her element, with hay clinging to her shirt and jeans, was to thank for that shift. I am forever grateful.

My girl is a mom herself now, an amazing one, with a wonderful son. Elissa has spent most of her adult life working as a legal assistant and spent a year working for me as my assistant. She currently has an awesome job with a progressive and innovative company in downtown Joplin where her attention to detail and her ability to learn quickly allows her to shine. And she’s recently begun to ride again, engaging her passion for all things equestrian. Her dream is to someday own and operate a horse training and boarding facility. I have no doubts that she will accomplish all that she wants to do. Happy birthday, precious daughter. May joy, beauty and happiness continue to surround you!

Day 172: Celebrate Joey’s Birthday

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What a fun day, for me and the rest of the family, but especially for Joey as he celebrated his 8th birthday! This sweet, thoughtful young man actually turned 8 last Sunday. Today, however, was the day the family gathered to take part in a full afternoon and evening of festivities. Joey is the son of my son’s fiancé, so he is welcomed as a new grandson. For me, he is already my grandson, and I am his Yaya.

Nate and Megan went all out to create a special day for Joey, making sure they included some of his favorite activities. The afternoon began with Joey, Oliver, Aubrey and several cousins attending Mudstock in Carthage. Sponsored by the Carthage Fire Department, the event is described as a mix of dirt, water, an obstacle course of rope swings, mud pits and hills, low rope obstacles, sun and fun. The kids are allowed, and encouraged, to get muddy as they play and move through the obstacle courses. What a great idea and fun activity for kids!

After cleaning up, the party began at Nate and Megan’s house. Joey wanted a water themed birthday party. Adults chatted and watched as kids swam, ran and slid down a slip n slide and threw water balloons. There were kids everywhere, mostly boys, as all of Joey’s cousins are boys except for London! It was a hot June day, so the water felt great to the kids and to the adults who were splattered with a water filled balloon. I didn’t mind one bit when the water balloon I was tying off for Oliver suddenly slipped from my fingers and sprayed me with water. The kids enjoyed bouncing on the new trampoline as well and discovered that the water balloons didn’t break immediately when dropped onto the trampoline’s surface. Instead, the balloons bounced and jiggled along with the kids.

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After cake and ice cream, opening presents, and a bit more play time, the party shifted to a Sonic in Joplin that has a sand volleyball court and play area for kids. Joey likes to play volleyball and yet the court was always busy when he tried to join in a game there. His great parents solved that dilemma by renting the court for the evening. Joey got to join cousins and adults in his family in fun games of volleyball. I watched from the sidelines and he did great going after the ball and serving it up.

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What an amazing day, for an amazing boy. I am enjoying getting to know my grandson. He currently likes the color orange. As the older brother, he watches out for his new younger sister Aubrey and his brother Oliver. He and Aubrey have been known to join forces in plotting out adventures. He enjoys art and has an interest in and talent for drawing. He loves animals, RC cars, and nerf guns. He’s a thinker, quick to show affection and say “I love you” and kind hearted. I look forward to watching him have fun, grow and become  the person he is meant to be. He has family who loves him very much and will be there to journey alongside him as he figures out who he is and what he is here to do. Happy, happy birthday, Joey! I love you!

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Day 75: Celebrate Weston’s First Birthday

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One of the things my family does well, is celebrate! We love a reason to gather and have fun. And, we especially enjoy the opportunity to gather for the birthdays of the children in the family. Today’s first was a double first! Today, Weston Miller, my great nephew, had his first birthday party and I had the privilege of being there to sing and clap and watch him celebrate, for my first.

Weston is my sister Linda’s grandson, and son of my nephew Scott and his lovely wife, Nicole. Weston was hoped for and prayed for and planned for, for a very long time before he made his entrance into the world and into our lives. All children are precious. When you have waited for years to hold the child that you’ve longed for, he is a treasure beyond compare. His mommy and daddy are such great parents. I’ve watched them with their baby boy this past year and I’m so proud of them. Weston will grow up knowing he is cherished. Add to that the adoration of his Gigi and Papa, great grandmothers and an assortment of aunts, uncles and cousins, and this boy is well loved indeed.

That was very evident this weekend as party preparations got underway! Nicole brought together a variety of ideas around a Little Monsters birthday party, carrying forward the theme from Weston’s baby shower. Nicole is one clever young woman! Linda’s living room was transformed into a party room boasting bright colors and fun, playful decorations. Little monsters were strewn about the room. Pictures on the walls were covered with colorful plastic table cloths and large eyes attached. The food was both nutritious and delightful and covered with googly eyes. One of my favorite decorations was the banner of 13 flags stretched across the French doors. The first flag had a picture of the newborn Weston, and each flag after had a pic of him as he aged, month by month. The final flag had today’s 12 month picture attached.

Weston thoroughly enjoyed his day. An adorable boy with curly red hair and big brown eyes, he easily accepted being the center of attention today. And when he grew tired, with two presents still to open, his wise mom and dad called a break to the festivities and let Weston be himself, which is an inquisitive, bright boy intent on exploring his world. Weston studies people and objects with a serious, intelligent gaze, and when he smiles, we all smile with him. It will be a joy to watch him learn and grow and become the person he is meant to be. For this day, he is one, and on the verge of walking and talking and figuring out who we all are! And that’s absolutely perfect. Happy, happy birthday, dear Weston!

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