End of the Birthday Celebrations

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It’s officially the end of the birthday celebrations. My 62nd birthday was January 9, marking the culmination of 62 days of celebrating by randomly drawing activities from a jar. It’s been fun! It’s been challenging. I’ve learned so much.

Read the post that started the fun romp toward my birthday HERE. And then check out the last activities.

End of the Birthday Celebrations title meme

Final Week of Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper, back in early November. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I drew out an activity and did what was 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. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations

As the slips of paper dwindled, these are the last activities that I drew.

Shop for an Outfit at a Thrift Store with a $20 Budget

The idea behind this activity was not just thriftiness. Buying gently used clothes instead of new reduces my impact on the world’s resources. Have you ever thought about the energy and resources consumed by the clothing industry? Read this great article about the subject.

I found this activity an outlet for my creativity too. I chose to shop at my local Goodwill Store with a $20 bill tucked into my pocket. Could I do it?

Yes!

I purchased a cute jacket, a simple black top and skinny gray pants….for a total of $16. Thanks to the jacket’s half price tag, I stayed under budget. I love the way things work out!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Thrift
End of the Birthday Celebrations – thrift store outfit

24 Hour Liquid Fast

I changed this activity from a water fast to a liquid fast. Nutritionally, the difference felt important. I think it made the activity easier and I benefited more from it.

My mornings are always liquids. I don’t eat solid food until noon. On this day, however, lunch was a huge glass of apple celery juice. By mid afternoon my empty stomach rumbled a bit. But by evening, my hunger completely disappeared and I felt energized. It’s good to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Throughout the day, I consumed freshly prepared juices, fruit smoothies, lots of herbal teas and a brothy soup.

I ended up completing a 36 hour liquid fast and felt wonderful as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Liquid Fast
Refreshing apple celery juice for lunch.

Write Chapter One in House H(a)unting Book

This activity felt SO GOOD to complete. I’ve had a book idea for many years. After quickly writing the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start this project. The reason, I decided, is because I wasn’t ready.

The years of crafting blog posts helped me hammer out my own particular writing style. And I’ve learned much this past year about trimming away the excess and keeping my writing tight and more focused. Now I’m ready.

The first chapter in this non fiction book came together extremely well. I’m excited to continue the work, chapter by chapter.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Chapter One
Chapter One…

Visit a New Place, Within 100 Miles of Joplin AND Hike a New Trail

It made sense to combine these two activities. I’m thankful for Google! How simple to type in “fun activities within 20 miles of Joplin” and scroll through the list. I considered options farther away from my hometown, however it gets dark early this time of year and this was a solo adventure.

I ended up near Galena, Kansas at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Located in Schermerhorn Park south of the town, the nature center provided the perfect opportunity for visiting a new to me place. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes looking at animals, reading through info about southeast Kansas and opening drawers containing hands-on activities. I stood for a time watching bees in an indoor hive. I’ve never seen a hive up close. The glass walls allowed viewing without disturbing the bees. A short tunnel to the outdoors enabled the insects to easily exit the building and return to the hive.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Southeast Kansas Nature Center’

Hiking

Conveniently, down the hill from the nature center a couple of trails that I’ve not hiked before snaked through the woods. Alone in the this part of the park, I first walked along the Roos Trail.

I then returned to the parking lot and headed west toward the Schemerhorn Cave. Only vaguely aware of the cave’s location, I veered right onto the trail branching off of the main track, hoping my sense of direction guided me well.

Perhaps because I was alone, I felt mildly uneasy. Or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Dark, in which paranormal activity occurs in a cave. As I approached the cave though the uneasiness grew. I felt creeped out. By that I mean I picked up strange vibrational energy. I paused on the trail and considered turning around. However, these activities are meant to challenge me and move me beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t sense danger. I sensed something otherworldly.

When I found the cave, I didn’t linger there or enter it. Distinct, negative energy haunts that area. Returning to the car I turned around twice, looking back along the trail, sure that something followed me.

In the car, with the doors locked, I looked up info about the cave. There are accounts of paranormal activity there. People have reported hearing ghostly voices and phantom gunshots in the area. The outlaw Jesse James supposedly hid out in that cave. My intuition was spot on.

Hike at Schermerhorn Park
I much preferred this merry little stream over the foreboding cave.

Do a Vlog in Place of a Blog

This is the last activity I drew from my jar, on my birthday. How perfect. This video came together more smoothly than my last one! Check it out.

Truly the End of the Birthday Celebrations

That’s a wrap! During the longest running game that I’ve yet created, I completed 62 activities. I swapped out several. Interestingly, the activities that I tried to pre-plan for specific dates…a play, a book signing and a movie…didn’t work out. I learned it’s better NOT to try to schedule random activities!

Allowing the activities to choose me works much better.

Here’s what else I discovered. I can do challenging things. Many of the activities pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I contacted brands and companies to work with, most of which have not yet responded. That’s okay. I learned how to better craft a pitch. And other opportunities came to me, including a paid sponsorship with another brand that sought me out. This game created around me an energetic space of openness and receptivity. I’m a magnet…for all kinds of deeper wonderment.

I’m still working on the submission packet for the writing fellowship. And I have a couple of activities to put finishing touches on. Overall, what an amazing time of trying new things, having fun and growing. This might be my best birthday ever. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than expressing creativity and upping my life game. The experience launched 2020 in a powerful, magnificent way. I am excited to see what happens next!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Empty Jar
End of the Birthday Celebrations – empty jar

Here are the other weeks of activities:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Want to create your own fun game? It begins with ideas, strips of paper…and an empty jar.

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

Home Stretch

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’ve entered the home stretch, doing outrageous activities, as my 62nd birthday is this week. What fun these celebrations sparked. And, not surprisingly, opportunities for growth and going beyond my comfort zone appeared as well. That was the primary intention, playing this game. I’ll be a bit sad to see it end, however what a wonderful way to begin a new year.

Check out last week’s activities as the count down continues.

Home Stretch title meme

Week Eight 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.

Home Stretch

With my birthday so close, the jar is almost empty. I’m posting last week’s activities today and I’ll do a follow up post Friday to wrap up this two month long event. Here are the last seven activities…with an explanation. I had clients to take care of and non-celebratory but important tasks to do such as creating a vision board for the year. This past week I didn’t complete every activity although I at least began each one. I’ll follow through and finish them in the upcoming weeks.

Create Art Piece for This Year’s Symbol the Key

I started this practice last year, creating a work of art that features my symbol for the year. The idea of creating such art yearly appeals to me. Thus I began my second sketch in this series. The key is my symbol for 2020, representing how curiosity “unlocks” doors of adventure and opportunity.

Because I felt drawn to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I drew him holding a key rather than a pocket watch. The rough sketch is pictured here. I’ll tidy it up and then use colored pencils to complete the art piece. And, looking at it here, I think I’ll make that key larger. I possess a BIG sense of curiosity.

Home Stretch Sketch
Home Stretch sketch – my symbol for the year

Visit a Local Store I’ve Not Visited Before

I frequently drive by Plato’s Closet, located on S. Rangeline and yet I’ve never visited this consignment store. Plato’s Closet buys and resells gently worn name brand clothing. Although they primarily cater to teens and twenty-somethings, they carry a wide variety of brands and styles, in a full range of sizes. Prices are generally 70% off what you’d find at the mall.

When I stopped by, the store was full of shoppers looking for bargains. I didn’t have much time, however I enjoyed browsing through well organized racks of tops, pants and dresses. I saw several women carry in bags of clothing. While they shopped, employees sorted through the clothes, made selections and presented offers. I believe you can receive cash or a store credit.

I’ll certainly return to Plato’s Closet when I have more time to look.

Plato's Closet
Plato’s Closet, located at 1313 S Rangeline in Joplin.

Change Themes on the Blogs

I wrote these as separate activities and drew them the same week, which actually worked out well. It’s time to change the themes on my blogs, prompting me to look through possibilities for Cindy Goes Beyond and Journey With Healthy Me. I felt drawn to blog themes created by Solo Pine, on the site Theme Forest.

My criteria for new themes includes compatibility with WordPress, responsiveness, mobile friendliness and a clean, uncluttered layout. I selected the theme Rosemary for Beyond and the theme Alder for Journey. Watch for the blogs to freshen up their appearances in the next week or so. Because technology is one way I am forced to grow, I will spend time over the weekend uploading these new themes and making necessary changes.

Home Stretch Rosemary
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Beyond with the Rosemary theme
Home Stretch Alder
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Journey with the Alder theme

Try a New Vegetable

I’ve noticed these small green gourds in the produce section at the grocery store. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? When I drew this activity I checked out these new to me foods to discover what they were exactly.

It turns out they are chayote, a type of squash that is common in Mexico. And while this produce is technically a fruit, it is prepared and eaten like a vegetable. The meat of the chayote is used much like zucchini. It can be added raw to salads or stir fried, boiled, mashed or baked.

I purchased a couple of chayotes and found a recipe online to adapt. Although I haven’t prepared my new “vegetable” yet, I will tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Chayote

Have an Afternoon of Silence

I welcomed this quiet activity. However, I didn’t get to experience it on the day I drew the slip of paper from the jar. Instead I  partnered this one with the next day’s activity, Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series. It was an interesting combination…silence for a time then take after take recording a video.

I am at heart a solitary person. When I’m by myself, I tend to speak very little although I may burst into song occasionally. Typically music plays in the background when I’m home alone.

For this activity, I chose complete silence, with no speaking, music, or television. The absence of noise allowed my muscles to relax and my breathing to deepen. I found myself smiling several times, as I worked in my studio. I’d like to practice this activity more.

Home Stretch Silence
Home Stretch – silence

Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series

I followed my time of quiet with a burst of speaking. I ended up doing at least a dozen takes before I got a decent video for this activity…and it was only a five minute recording!

Here’s what I learned. To properly do a series of videos, I’ll need a dedicated space to create in and some essential equipment. I propped my phone up in my creative studio, which seems appropriate enough. However I dealt with too much sunlight filtering in through the closed blinds, my iPhone falling over while I recorded and a cat that just had to check out what was going on. And then there were the flubs as I spoke!

It’s all valuable experience that I’m grateful for. I’m encouraged to keep trying and keep going. I know there is another video related activity still in the jar. I’ll see how that one goes compared to this initial attempt.

Home Stretch Video
Take ten. And it’s a photo of the video…not a clickable video fortunately. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Thursday is my birthday. It’s already been a unique celebration, or series of celebrations rather, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’m grateful that my granddaughter suggested this idea to me. She’s very aware of what I’ve been doing and that precious girl has been my biggest cheerleader the last eight weeks.

I’ll finish this series on Friday, although I expect that the impact from this imaginative game will continue for some time. I’ve given myself a remarkable gift.

Week Eight Activities

Check out the other activities during weeks one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

 

Amazon finds:

 


 

 

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Adapting As I Go

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With Christmas properly celebrated and captured in memory, it’s onward with the 62 outrageous things to do for my 62nd birthday. As the new year approaches, bringing my birthday on January 9th, the number of folded papers in my jar dwindles. With the holiday in the middle of last week, it was a challenge to complete the daily birthday activities. And, as you are about to discover, not all went as I thought it would, requiring shifts. That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Adapting as I go is one of the ways that I learn and grow and go beyond.

Here are the week seven celebrations.

Adapting As I Go title meme

 Week Seven 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 both deepened greatly as a result.

Adapting As I Go

Full confession….there were days I accomplished my activities…and days when I simply did not have enough time. So a couple of days, I did two activities at once. However, that did not in any way lessen the magic of playing this game. I marvel, truly, at the way that life unfolds, playfully, amazingly, when I open up and allow. One of the most important lessons that I’m learning during this game is to get out of my own way. Don’t overthink. Stay open and aware. Don’t try to control anything. Have fun.

Reach Out to a Brand for a Sponsorship

My original intention here was to reach out to a brand that I use and love. I considered the companies represented by the products in my home. And yet…as I turn over ideas in my mind, none of them stuck. That’s a sure sign to me that I haven’t hit on the right idea yet.

I finally realized I needed to think bigger, reach farther. Reach was actually my word for the year many years ago. And suddenly that word stood out on my slip of paper. Reach out.

I reached out to Amtrak, the cross country train service, with a sponsored post idea. This company is adapting the way that they market their services. They recognize the benefits of working with those who post frequently on social media. Even though there isn’t a stop in Joplin for Amtrak, I’d happily travel to where there is one and embark from there. How fun and educational a trip on rails would be. I’ll let you know how this activity turns out!

Adapting As I Go Amtrak
Adapting As I Go…with Amtrak

Order Business Cards for the Blogs

This activity seems easy enough. I even had an online graphic design company in mind to order from. However, looking through an endless assortment of biz cards and designs, nothing grabbed my interest.

And then I began to doubt. Does anyone still use actual business cards in this digital age? What would I use business cards for? Did I need business cards?

I played with creating my own designs and saved them while I do a bit of research to see if business cards are necessary or desirable. What’s your opinion? Do you still use actual cards?

Adapting As I Go Business Cards

Give Something Away Today

This activity beautifully coincided with Christmas Day. I’d already come up with a gift that I gave to several family members called a Giving Jar. What a perfect item to give away on this day and how amazingly synchronous.

My giving jars contain a Christmas Stove Top Potpourri with mandarin oranges, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, sprigs of pine and spices. As the ingredients simmer in a pot of water, the whole house smells like Christmas. Check out this post, which details how to make the potpourri.

I went a step further, turning the gift jars into giving jars. The attached card reads: This is a giving jar. After you’ve enjoyed the contents, fill the jar with something else and pass it on to someone else.

Receive and Give

The best part of this story is that once I decided on creating giving jars, events magically transpired to birth that idea into reality. I wanted to use mason jars and cover the lids with fabric. I’d recently uncovered a box in the attic that appeared to contain Ball mason jars. I retrieved the box, which came from the home of Greg’s parents after his father passed.

When I opened the box a few days before Christmas, for the first time since bringing it home, I discovered vintage mason jars as I expected. However on closer inspection I also found red, green and white material folded up. The square patterns were perfect for cutting apart to use as lid covers. I’d only need pinking shears. Do you know what else was tucked into the box? Yes, pinking shears. I can only guess that Greg’s mother created gift jars years ago and this old cardboard box contained the leftover materials.

When things like this happen, I feel so aligned with the flow of life, so connected to the Divine, so delighted in all that is. I expressed joyful gratitude for the discovery…and created the giving jars.

Adapting As I Go Giving Jars

Work in a Different Spot

The convenience of a smart phone and a laptop means I can work from any room in my house. This activity challenged me to find a different place to work.

After the tornado ripped through Joplin in 2011, the city built a new public library on the corner of 20th and Connecticut. I love this beautiful space with its huge windows and comfortable, modern furniture. This became my designated “different spot” to work in.

I found a rocking chair and a small table near huge windows on the east side of the main room in the library. By the time I arrived, darkness curtained the window. However, I enjoyed filling out the month of January in my new planner and writing in my idea notebook. I’ll return to this spot soon when it’s daytime and I can enjoy the views out the windows.

Adapting As I Go in the Library
Adapting As I Go in the Library. I didn’t have a stalker. Greg took this photo as I worked.

Read a Book in a Different Genre

The library served a dual purpose, as I accomplished two activities at once there. Not only did I work, I also checked out a book in a different genre. I read widely, so when I considered possibilities, the first out of the ordinary genre that came to mind was political thriller.

Scrolling through a list of political thrillers on my phone, a title jumped out at me, The President is Missing. The authors intrigued me as well. President Bill Clinton collaborated on this story with James Patterson. I love when people step beyond who they are perceived to be and offer something new. I’m excited to complete the book. And in the same vein, I’m looking forward to visiting Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Arkansas and viewing paintings by another president who has discovered new creative abilities, George W. Bush.

Bill Clinton Book

Say Yes Ten Times During the Day

This activity proved interesting. I’ve always practiced saying yes more often than no, even as a parent and grandparent. However, when you have no idea what opportunities…or obligations…are coming in a day, saying yes can appear risky.

I love how this activity turned out. Briefly, the ten yeses broke down like this. Three yeses secured new clients, one brought an offer to learn more about cooking Indian food, three yeses connected me to blogging adventures, one provided an app to try out for a brand and two involved learning more about travel writing.

By the end of the day, I felt joyful, full of light and open to possibilities. That’s the power of yes.

The Power of Yes

Try a New Fruit

I’m sure there are fruits I have not yet tried. Living in the midwest limits what’s available though. I hoped to experience something exotic, like jackfruit. I knew I wouldn’t find a fresh jackfruit in the produce section of my market but I hoped to find a can of it on the shelves. No.

Back to the produce section I went, where it seems a plant based diet has exposed me to everything there. After all, I eat a lot of fruit. Walking around, thinking and adapting as I go, I spy a  bin of whole pineapples.

Of course, I’ve eaten pineapple. I love the fruit. But….I’ve never eaten a fresh pineapple that I prepared myself. That’s how I adapted for this activity. I cut up a fresh pineapple, using the instructions on the tag attached to the fruit.

Now I’m wondering why whole pineapples intimidated me all these years. It wasn’t difficult to cut up and I’ll enjoy my fresh pineapple this week combined with other fruits in a salad.

Adapting As I Go
Adapting As I Go…fresh pineapple becomes a new fruit.

Ten More Days

My birthday is ten days away. Ten more days until the game ends. This has been a fun and remarkable experience. I’m excited to share some of the lessons learned and ahas realized on January 9th. Thank you for playing along!

Check out the other weeks of activities here: week one, two, three, four, five and six.

Week Seven Birthday Activities
Adapting as I go through week seven activities.

Check out these finds from Amazon and create your own giving jars:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Fa La La La La

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I began this game of randomly selecting 62 outrageous activities during the lead up to my birthday in January, I knew Christmas occurred during that time. After all, my birthday is just 15 days after Christmas. However, what I didn’t factor in was how busy the holiday season is. This is my excuse, anyway, for posting this update today, rather than last Friday! The days are full as Christmas nears. I required a couple of extra days to catch up on the activities I drew.

Here they are, week six of birthday celebrations.

Fa La La La La title meme

Week Six 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.

Fa La La La La

Last week’s celebrations felt challenging, simply because Christmas brings with it more activities, gatherings and busyness. Adding one more thing to do each day was indeed a stretch. And yet, in the midst of holiday preparations and activities with grandchildren and other responsibilities, the outrageous birthday celebrations continued to inspire me.

I felt drawn to title this post Fa La La La La because of the nearness of Christmas. After creating the pinnable title graphic, curiosity compelled me to look up the phrase. The words are meaningless, really. However, the use of fa la la la la in the song Deck the Halls is a common addition in songs from the middle ages. There was a tendency in Madrigal Choruses to fill songs with a vocal break between verses.

Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant wrote the lyrics in 1862 and set them to a much older Welsh tune dating back to the 16th century. The oft repeated fa la la la la originates from a medieval ballad.

I smiled over this info that I discovered. Deck the Halls is written by a Scotsman. And I like the reference to breaks between verses. That’s a good description of my little celebrations. They are breaks between all the other activities going on right now. Isn’t life magical, the way it works, and beautiful?

Quickly, here are the celebrations.

Reach Out to a Resort for a Comped Stay

I admit these types of activities do push me beyond my comfort zone. It is difficult for me to ask for anything! For this activity, I moved beyond and reached out to a resort in Eureka Springs Arkansas, asking for a complimentary stay in exchange for a feature in a blog post and shares across social media.

I’ve stayed multiple times with this resort in northwest Arkansas that offers unique settings. Options include cottages, a lodge, tree houses, castles, Harry Potter themed lodging and Hobbit caves. I’ve never stayed in one of their Hobbit caves. With my love for JRR Tolkien, this seemed like a great fit, although I’d enjoy any of their options.

As with other companies and brands I’ve reached out to, it’s the act of getting beyond my comfort zone that is most important to me, not whether I receive what I ask for! I consider that bonus when it happens.

Fa La La La La Hobbit Caves
Check out all the options this resort in Eureka Springs AR offers.

Start a Conversation with a Stranger

This activity proved easily accomplished. I drew this one out of the jar on a Saturday, with family visiting from out of town. Nine of us ended up at Golden Corral for the buffet, which has good veggie options. Lots of other people made the same dining choice!

Standing side by side with strangers as we helped ourselves to food from the massive buffet, conversations flowed naturally. My favorite start up conversation was with a young girl of about eight, who engaged me and my great nephew Weston. She chatted animatedly about the dessert buffet, which is a favorite among children for sure.

Golden Corral Buffet
Fa La La La La – conversations with strangers at Golden Corral

Do An Interview

Interestingly, I began this activity before actually drawing it out. A blogger friend of mine offered me the opportunity to do a live video in her Facebook group. In return, I asked if I could do an interview with her. She graciously agreed. I love the blogging community. We all seek to help each other out.

I’ve sent my friend the interview questions that I came up with. I’ll update this section when I post the results.

Conducting an Interview

Try a New Product

I love when synchronicities occur. They signal that I am on the right path, headed in the right direction. A new to me product arrived by mail, just ahead of me drawing this activity out. This company provides sleeves, braces, socks and apparel that reduce inflammation, pain and swelling. I appreciate this brand reaching out to me to try out one of their products.

Watch for a review of the incrediwear knee sleeve next week!

incrediwear sleeve
Fa La La La La – try a new product

Outline Video One in “Believe in Yourself” Series

I’m excited about this 30 day video series that I’m developing. It will launch next year. And that’s about all that I can share at the moment. In a few minutes the outline for the first video, which is introductory in nature, came together.

You know what is really cool? There is a related activity still in the jar. On that slip of paper is written, Record video one in Believe in Yourself series. I wondered if I’d draw out the activities in the correct order. The answer is…yes I did.

Fa La La La La Outline

Sign Up on Quora

Quora is an online site where people gain and share knowledge. You can ask questions, and other Quora users answer. Or you can answer questions that others are asking. It’s a great place to connect with people with unique insights and common interests.

I downloaded the Quora app, created a profile, identified my areas of interest and knowledge…and answered my first questions!

Check out Quora here.

Fa La La La La Quora
Fa La La La La – Quora

Write Down 62 Things I’m Grateful For

I thought this activity might be the very last one that I drew out of the jar. Alas, no. However, I believe that every activity, every celebration, shows up at exactly the right time.

During this very busy yet joyful season, this activity arrived perfectly placed.

I wrote quickly and without pausing, until I got to line 56. It’s not that I ran out of things to be grateful for. Quite the contrary. I realized I was almost to number 62. Gratitude is the foundation of my life. Expressing thankfulness is a daily practice. I am not limited to 62 things to feel deep gratitude for.

Gratitude

Fa La La La La….La La La La

Tis the season, indeed, for joy, for gratitude, for family and friends, for celebrations, for remembering the reason for it all.

May the blessings of Christmas surround you and yours this week. I’m counting down to my birthday, with the last two weeks of activities. It’s been a fun experience, full of playfulness, creativity and growth opportunities. I love that at the end of these activities, a new year will have dawned. And with it, a whole new adventure.

Week Six Activities

Check out the other activities: week one, two, three, four and five.

 

Start the new year with one of these planners:


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Week Three Celebrations

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Week three celebrations are done and week four is underway. The celebrations for week two felt challenging and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone. This week, with a major holiday imminent, the activities were perfect…fun, playful and quickly carried out.

Check out this post, for an overview of how I am celebrating as I approach my 62nd birthday in January . And then scroll down to see which activities I drew out of the jar this week.

Week Three Celebrations title meme

Week Three 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 both deepened greatly as a result.

Here we go…week three.

Drive to Scotland…Missouri

I’ve lived in Joplin for almost 39 years. Many times I’ve driven by a sign on East 7th Street with the word SCOTLAND printed on it. I have Scottish ancestry and I dearly love that country. And yet, I’ve never driven down that side road to see where it goes.

Scotland, Missouri is an unincorporated community located near Joplin. The post office opened in 1873 and operated until 1903. I didn’t know if anything existed still, in this tiny community. Drawing that slip of paper meant a short trip to discover what, if anything, remained in Scotland, Missouri.

The sun neared the western horizon as Greg and I drove east out of Joplin. I literally had minutes to get to the community before darkness fell. To my delight, a small cluster of houses occupies that space. The post office is long gone, however there are several streets laid out in a simple grid pattern. Woods encroach on one side of town and pastures surround the rest of the community. There is one business at the far edge of the little town, a trucking company.

I can officially say that I have driven to Scotland! I didn’t see coos or sheep, but three horses dwell peacefully in one of the pastures.

Week Three Celebrations Scotland
Week Three Celebrations – Driving to Scotland, Missouri

Listen to Music from a Different Country

This was one of two music related activities that I drew for week two celebrations. The country of Brazil immediately came to mind. I love Google. Typing in Brazilian music brought up a list of musicians and bands from that country.

On YouTube I listed to Michel Telo. Michel is a Brazilian singer, songwriter and actor. He’s been the lead singer in various bands, including Grupo Tradicao and has a solo career now. Michel’s biggest national and international hit is “Ai Se Eu Te Pego”, which happened to be the first song of his that I listened to.

Find a Role Model Who is Doing What I Want to Do

Meet the Accidental Icon. Lyn Slater is a professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Services. She started a style blog in 2014 after not finding one that offered an “urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic”. Her intention was not to become an icon. However, her fresh voice on fashion, politics, society and the world draws followers…and companies…to her.

What I find most encouraging about Lyn is her authenticity…and her age. She is 65 and discovering new adventures and opportunities every day. Just by being herself she encourages me to do the same. Lyn advises women to do the work they need to do, so that they are okay with being who they are, and to focus on the content they create.

Check out the Accidental Icon Blog.

Week Three Celebrations Accidental Icon

Lyn Slater, the Accidental Icon. Photo by Calvin August Lom.

Listen to a New Genre of Music

At first I thought I’d find it difficult to listen to a genre that is new to me. However, I discovered there are more than 50 genres of music! I chose House Music.

This genre of electronic dance music was created in the 1980s by disc jockeys and music producers from Chicago’s underground club culture. DJs altered disco dance tracks to give them more mechanical beats and deeper basslines. They began to mix in synth pop, rap, Latin music and jazz into their tracks as well.

The genre expanded internationally to London and to major US cities such as New York City and Detroit. Over the years numerous subgenres developed. Today House Music remains popular on radio and in clubs.

Leave Encouraging Sticky Notes Around Town

My granddaughter Aubrey helped with this day’s activity. In fact, I supplied the sticky notes and a pen and she busied herself writing all the notes. In a few minutes Aubrey created a pile of encouraging notes with saying such as You Can Change the World and Don’t Give Up and Follow Your Dreams.

We had errands to run and a family dinner that evening. As we visited different locations, Aubrey and I left behind encouraging sticky notes. It was a fun shared activity! I hope we brought joy to the recipients.

Week Three Celebrations Sticky Notes
Week Three Celebrations – Leave Encouraging Sticky Notes

Research a Topic I’ve Never Researched Before

When I selected this activity out of the jar, the first topic that came to mind involved water. In the new Frozen movie, a plot point involves water memory. Does water really retain memory?

I decided to research it.

Water memory is the purported ability of water to retain a memory of substances previously dissolved in it, even after repeated dilutions leave no molecules of the original substance. It’s an intriguing theory initiated 31 years ago by French immunologist Jacques Benveniste. The scientific community does not accept Benveniste’s findings, which have been duplicated occasionally, but not consistently, since his initial claims that water does retain memory.

Water is fascinating. It can occupy three states…liquid, solid and gaseous. Water is essential for all life on Earth. Japanese author Masaru Emoto demonstrated that human consciousness affects water molecules. And Professor Bernd Kroeplin at Aerospace institute in Germany discovered that an image of a flower remained in drops of water, after the flower was immersed in a container of water. He studies the drops of water on slides under a dark field microscope.

I intend to do more research on this interesting topic.

Check out an interview with Kropelin  HERE.

Week Three Celebrations Research
Week Three Celebrations – Research a New Topic

Make a Heart Ornament for Christmas

For many years I’ve purchased a heart shaped ornament every December, to place on my Christmas tree. The ornaments remind me of the importance of my own heart and how necessary it is for me to keep it open and whole.

I was excited to draw this activity yesterday, until I realized that none of the craft stores were open on Thanksgiving Day. My choices for materials were limited to what I had on hand at home. Chatting with my daughters about my dilemma, Elissa suggested I make one out of a vintage handkerchief. What a brilliant idea! I have at least a dozen vintage hankies that belonged to my grandmothers and to Greg’s mom.

Looking through my collection later, I found a very delicate handkerchief that belonged to Leta Moore. To my delight, it even has a Christmas motif, with bells and holly embroidered on it. The thin material and embroidery gave me pause though. I’d have one chance to create a heart ornament from this keepsake. And the thought of cutting into the silky material bothered me.

Greg came to my rescue. He brought me a stack of white handkerchiefs that his father never used. I felt relief. I now had plenty of material to use. I’ll save the Christmas hankie to use in another way.

Making the Ornament

To make the ornament I drew a heart shape on card stock, cut it out and traced it onto the handkerchief, tucking the point of the heart into a corner of the folded hankie. After cutting out the heart, I pinned the edges together, adding a loop of narrow silver and white ribbon to serve as a hanger.

I’m grateful Granny Grace taught me hand sewing as a child. It didn’t take long to sew around the edges, right sides together, leaving a small opening to turn the heart right side out. The rest of the handkerchief became the stuffing for the ornament. I cut the material into narrow strips and stuffed them into the heart, then sewed up the opening.

Finally, I tied strands of white, purple and turquoise ribbon around the loop hanger. It turned out so cute! I love my heart ornament for this year.

Week Three Celebrations Heart Ornament
Week Three Celebrations – Make a Heart Ornament

A Week of Play

I loved the playfulness during week three celebrations. Curiosity led me to new discoveries and my creative side got to play.  My granddaughter joined in and we had fun doing an activity together.

Fall decor is coming down and I’m ready to transform my home into a Christmas wonderland. I’m excited to see which activities show up, as December arrives.

Week Three Celebrations

Week One Celebrations

Growing Through Week Two Celebrations

 

Check out Masaru Emoto’s book on water:

 

 

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Double Birthday Celebration

It’s incredible to believe that we are back around to the July birthday celebration for my Uncle Rex and Aunt June. Much has happened in the past year to make today’s party even more precious. Rex and June are the last two surviving members of their original family. Gone are their parents and their four siblings. At ages 83 and 81, I love that they enjoy celebrating together and having the attention and well wishes of the family gathered around them. 


Joining in the festivities today were both of my sisters, Linda and Debbie, my cousin Michael who is Uncle Rex’s son, Aunt Mary…Rex’s wife…and my cousins Denny and Alan, the sons of Aunt June. Everyone contributed food and paper goods, drinks and desserts. Michael and Alan earned high praise for contributing made-from-scratch birthday goodies…making blueberry pies and wacky cake with chocolate buttercream icing, respectively. 


I enjoyed an afternoon of visiting with my older family members, and chatting with my sisters and cousins. Uncle Rex and Aunt June were so cute together as they blew out candles on their birthday cake. While they ate a hearty and savory lunch, they were excited to sample the cake, pie and ice cream. I caught Uncle Rex having a second helping of cake. 


Watching their antics, and listening to their humorous stories, I realized that this brother and sister have reached the age where their inner children are more apparent. I’m writing with heart-aching transparency as I share that Uncle Rex, Aunt Mary and Aunt June are all experiencing memory loss. That was very evident today as they repeated stories and forgot what they were talking about or wondered about something that had just been discussed. 

What was also evident was how in the moment they were, how full of laughter and love and joy, and how easily they dipped into sorrow occasionally as they remembered those who are now gone. My family is amazingly supportive and offered only love and patience and acceptance to these dear elders. No one stopped a story that had been told already, several times. To Rex and June and Mary they were fresh tales, everytime. No one corrected information or expected anything other than what we were experiencing…a family celebration, a rejoicing that these sweet people are still here with us. 

Being with my aunt and uncle reminded me that my father, their brother, is no longer with us. I don’t know how many more of these double birthday parties we will get to create, or how many more times we will gather together to laugh and talk and tell stories. As long as they enjoy the festivities, we will continue to meet, for their sakes and ours, and for the love of family. And…for the love of pie and cake! 

Journey 64: Happy Birthday Linda

Lindas birthday

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

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

Linda and grandkids 2 Linda and grandkids

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

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

linda and weston

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

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

Linda 5K run

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

RSVPaint class 2

Day 268: Happy Birthday Mom

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The September birthday month continued with a celebration today of the matriarch of the family, my mom. It was a small party…my mom and stepdad, my sister Linda and me, at one of my mom’s favorite restaurants, Golden Corral, located at 2415 S Range Line in Joplin. But we partied big with an all you can eat buffet, wonderful conversation, and an abundance of laughter.

It’s always fun when any members of my family get together. We just know how to make the most of that time, whether we are dining, playing or partying. Birthdays are especially meaningful. It is a time to honor and celebrate the one marking the passage of another year. And for me, a time of reflection on the life of that person.

I am so grateful for my mom! So many of my best traits are a refection of her. She raised my sisters and me to be strong, independent women with “can do” attitudes. My mom is one of the strongest women I know. I’ve watched her throughout my life, more than she realizes.

From the example of her life I’ve learned resourcefulness and how to accomplish much, sometimes with little more than determination and creativity. I’ve learned to go after what I want and to enjoy what I do have, along the way. Mom has owned and operated several businesses, including a video store and a pizza restaurant. My children loved how their Mimi had the biggest selection of movies imaginable when they visited! I learned how much hard work goes into being the boss and how important customer service is. I also learned to make a mean pizza with my mom’s secret recipes!

My desire to travel has to flow from my mom to me. She’s a seasoned traveler, visiting all 50 of the states in the US, and many countries around the world. I have a ways to go to catch up with this adventurous lady! She gardens, sews, creates amazing treasures from ordinary items, makes her own laundry soap. She has a soft heart for abandoned dogs, teaches toddlers in Sunday School, bakes treats when family visits. I participate in Zumba because she encouraged me to join her in class. She understands how to live life to the fullest and I so humbly follow in her footsteps, seeking the same.

Most of her life, my mom has been a teacher, to her daughters and to others, an artist, a writer. She was a storyteller first. We three girls would lie awake in our beds at night, after lights out, and listen as my mom spun fantastic stories that sparked our own imaginations. Her grandchildren received written stories from her when they were small and she lived for a time in Yuma, AZ. Each child received stories, with themselves as the central characters, thinly disguised as other people in other lands and eras. The kids grew up yet Mom kept writing. She’s published numerous stories in well known books, such as the Chicken Soup series, and three children’s chapter books. My desire to create stories, and write, is a gift from her as well.

We laughed over some of our amusing mom stories, over dinner. I won’t share those. There are lots of humorous tales around Mom because she doesn’t mind laughing, especially at herself. Just mention a certain bachelorette party that my mom attended and rather enjoyed and my whole family will dissolve into laughter. She created good memories that evening.

Actually, she’s created good memories all my life, with an energy that can make me tired, and a mother’s love that knows no bounds. I am who I am, because of her, and that deep love. I am thankful, and challenged to keep living large. Happy birthday, Mom. I love you so much!

Day 139: Dayan’s 15th Birthday

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What a fun first for today, celebrating my oldest grandchild as he turned 15. While celebrating birthdays in my family is not new, during this year of firsts, I acknowledge each milestone birthday and the specialness of each of my family members. Dayan’s birthday, which actually is today, is a big one for him as he is now old enough to get his driver’s permit, a first for him and a first for me….a grandson old enough to begin driving.

From the moment of his birth, Dayan Aaris Reynolds has been creating firsts for me: first grandchild, first grandson, first to call me Yaya, first school programs and band concerts and art competitions, and many first opportunities to see the world afresh through a child’s eyes. When he was a small boy, we began a tradition called “The Adventures of Dayan and Yaya” where we created stories together, each of us contributing a few sentences at a time to the story as we took turns narrating it. We’ve been happily creating adventures ever since.

Dayan was a joyful, loving , bright child who was always quick to laugh or dance or sing. He was a friendly boy who never knew a stranger and was gifted with the ability to see the best in people, in all people, and compliment them in the most sincere way. I have learned so much about life from this amazing child, who is now a young man.

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Dayan, age 1, experiencing bubbles for the first time. He’s been laughing ever since.

A few years ago, when he was about 8 years old, the trolley system came to Joplin. Wanting to experience a trolley ride, Dayan and I stood with a group of people outside the Joplin Public Library, waiting for our turn . As we watched for the trolley, a man moved slowly down the sidewalk, in a wheelchair, toward our group. He was a double amputee, missing both legs from the thighs down. The adults all carefully averted our eyes, out of pity or discomfort. I glanced at Dayan. He was watching the man intently. I thought, “Oh Dayan, don’t say anything…” and tried to distract him, fearful he might ask embarrassing questions. As the man stopped near the edge of the group, Dayan stepped toward him, bowed at the waist, and said in a bright, cheerful voice, “Good day, good sir, how are you?” The man’s face lit up. As he and Dayan had an animated conversation the adults looked at each other sheepishly. While we tried to pretend we didn’t see the man, Dayan not only saw him, he engaged him. When the trolley pulled away, that man energetically wheeled away in his chair, waving to Dayan. I learned a huge lesson that day, one of many from this kid, about really seeing people and recognizing their shining souls.

I continue to watch this young man study people and find the perfect words to draw them out or light up their faces. He doesn’t engage in flattery, he engages hearts and encourages others by pointing out what’s true. I once thought he had encountered a person who could not be encouraged. She was frazzled by a day of running the register at a busy store and her words, demeanor and appearance all suggested she had had a bad day. I didn’t think even Dayan could find anything good to say. How shallow of me! He studied her, while I studied him, hoping he would just let this one pass. I had heard her sharp words to the customer in front of us and I didn’t want her to snap at my grandson. Suddenly Dayan said softly to her, “You have beautiful eyes.” She melted….and her eyes, which were indeed beautiful, once I really looked at her, filled with tears. This dear woman transformed before me, chatting easily with Dayan as he loaded our purchases into the cart. As we left, she told me what an amazing boy he was. I agreed.

And I believe that still. I am proud of him for all his accomplishments, in school and beyond. But even more so, I am grateful for Dayan and for his perspective on life and his compassion toward others and his fearless way of speaking up. I am grateful that I am his Yaya. And I am grateful for the way my heart and life have opened and expanded because of him.

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Birthday dinner at Red, Hot & Blue