Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Tonight’s story arrived in a round about way. I had intended to do a review of a tv series that I recently started watching. Just before beginning on that post, I went to Google to look up photos of the series. As it happened, the first news headline beneath the Google search bar announced the cancellation of that series!

Sitting on my bed, in my room, I opened up to other possibilities, and another story to write. My eyes fell on the vignette in the vintage suitcase atop my armoire, a visual reminder of my love of traveling and the desire to do more exploring. And that glance suddenly unlocked a flood of memories.

This is the true story of two friends who have never actually met. However, the actions of my long distance friend Erik nurtured a hope within me that later manifested into reality.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I met Erik in 2004, in an online chat room for people who loved The Phantom of the Opera story. The film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical had just released and I fell in love with Phantom. In a time prior to Facebook or Instagram, I connected with amazing people from around the world who shared an appreciation for this classic story. I’m still friends with several of those creative souls.

Erik lived in Germany at that time. He was as mysterious as the Phantom at first, in the chat rooms, and ironically, had much in common with that character. Over time, as trust grew between us, we became the technological equivalent of pen pals. We spent hours chatting about the movie and about the fan fiction that sprang up to feed the desire for more stories about the POTO characters.

I learned more about Erik, as he opened up about his life. His stories are just that, his, and not mine to share. I marveled though at his ability to rise from the metaphorical ashes of a difficult youth and create beauty. He shared deeply moving artistic expressions…musical pieces on the piano and violin, songs, poetry and written stories. Erik was able to use the fire of pain to forge incredible works of art.

I still have recordings of his songs, although the stories are long gone, casualties of a string of computer crashes. I have a dvd that I cherish, his performance in the musical Jekyll & Hyde, in which he played the title role.

And I have items displayed throughout my home, that came to represent hope to me. Erik had lived in or visited many different countries. I had visited none, yet, other than Mexico. Knowing my desire to explore new places, Erik began to send me gifts, items from around the world.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I received Japanese geisha girls and intricate fans, a cuckoo clock from Germany, a Scandinavian nesting doll, statues, a vase, plates, keepsakes…all from various countries. The canvas painting in my travel vignette, the piece that drew my attention tonight, and inspired this post, is from Erik and came from France.

The final gift that Erik sent me was a big surprise. We had discussed the Lord of the Rings stories by JRR Tolkien. I love that epic tale of transformation. In particular, I identified with the elven Arwen. Erik sent me a replica of Arwen’s sword, as a reminder of who I really am as I journey, and as a connection to another destination, albeit fictional…Middle Earth.

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes

I’ve had the privilege of traveling, since those days when seeing the world was just a dream. Tonight, as I thought about my friend, whom I have not heard from in years, I realized how important, how precious, how sustaining those gifts were. They ignited a hope within me that someday what I dreamed of would come true. Erik shared his travels with me. He helped me to develop a bigger view of the world.

And, I realized tonight how precious the friendship was. Erik and I never spoke on the phone. We never tried to meet. We didn’t need to. It was enough to connect via chat rooms and later by texts. We shared hopes and dreams and we discussed the sorrows and joys of life. And eventually we lost touch with each other. Until tonight.

With a bit of hesitancy, I sent a text to the last phone number I had for my friend. I identified myself and asked if this was still Erik’s cell number. I knew it was possible he had a different number. Or that he would not or could not respond. I had things I wanted to tell him, stories to share about countries I’ve visited. I wondered how he was and what he was doing.

I didn’t have to wonder for long. Almost immediately I received a reply. “Hey, love. It’s been a while. How are you?”

Oh my friend, hello again, I have so much to tell you…

“Friends…they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” Henry David Thoreau

Cherishing One Another’s Hopes


When I realized today was International Storytelling Day, I immediately knew I wanted to participate, by way of my blog post. After all, story is my word for 2018, my theme for the year. I mulled over stories that came to mind. There are many I could tell, from humorous tales to magical encounters to stories that would make you sleep with the lights on. And yet, I knew really, what I would share…something close to my heart. It is a story about friendship.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

As I was writing in my journal last week, answering memoir questions from It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again, for ages 5-10, this question came up: Describe a close friend.

I thought of Jamie. The very first friend I remember having was a boy named Larry, when I was about three. We were great buddies. But Larry moved away with his family while we were still preschoolers. The person I considered my best childhood friend was Jamie. She was my next door neighbor, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, living with her parents, older brother Randy and younger sister Carrie. Randy was actually my age, and Jamie a year younger, placing her in between me and my younger sister Linda, age wise. And Carrie and my little sister Debbie were the same age.

The six of us played together frequently. Often, however, the two youngest children entertained each other, leaving us four older kids free to go on adventures or join together with the other kids in the neighborhood, playing hide and seek or riding our bikes around the block.

Jamie A Story About Friendship This newspaper clipping shows me, Linda, Randy and Jamie posing in front of a busted water line in our neighborhood.

Jamie and I entered into an easy friendship that lasted throughout our childhood, and as I wrote about her, on March 12, 2018, I noted that she was my closest friend during those years.

We had many things in common, Jamie and I. We were both the oldest girls in our families, we loved animals and felt a sense of compassion and responsibility for them, we went to the same school, one grade apart, played our favorite pretend game…school…together, and teamed up for sports. We were January babies, with my birthday on the 9th, and hers on the 15th, making us one year and six days apart. And we both had surgeries to remove benign tumors from our bodies, during our childhoods. Jamie had a tumor in her chest. I had one on my right leg. Both surgeries were a success.

We had so many fun adventures together, had sleep overs during which we talked all night. We played board games, wrote plays to perform in the backyard, hosted carnivals and held neighborhood fairs. We organized an exercise club, that didn’t last long, swam at the local pool, climbed trees and talked about everything under the sun.

After completing sixth grade, I moved to Missouri with my mom and sisters. It was very difficult to leave my childhood friends, especially Jamie. We had grown up together and shared so many dreams for the future. My last night in Tulsa, I spent the night with Jamie. We vowed to remain friends.

Jamie A Story About Friendship The only photo I could find of Jamie during our childhood. This slightly out of focus pic shows Randy and Jamie, seated on the porch, with me kneeling in front. We found a baby squirrel on the ground, built a cage and took turns caring for it until it could take care of itself.

I did see Jamie several times during our teen years, when I returned to Tulsa during the summer months to visit my dad. We made the most of those infrequent chats, catching up on our journeys. The thing I remember most about Jamie during those years was that she was in a hurry to grow up. She was eager to be an adult and get on with her life, which at that time meant finding the right young man, getting married and having a family of her own. Being teenaged girls, we talked about boys a lot!

I only saw Jamie once as an adult. She did indeed marry young, as had I. We met, Jamie and I, along with our siblings and our young children, excited to see each other and meet each other’s kids. My mom joined our happy gathering. Sadly, Jamie’s mother had passed away. Later we found each other on Facebook, and kept in touch that way. Life had not gone exactly as Jamie had envisioned as a young girl. No one’s life does. However, Jamie had become a beautiful woman, with that mischievous gleam still lighting up her eyes. And then…she left Facebook and I lost track of her.

Jamie A Friendship Story From Jamie’s Facebook page.

Jamie and I had one other thing in common. Our fathers both died from pancreatic cancer, just two days apart. Unbelievably, they were in the same hospital before their deaths. I ran into Carrie in the elevator. It was a bittersweet reunion. My sisters and I got to visit with Jim and Carrie briefly. Two weeks later, both my dad and Jim were gone from our lives.

As I wrote about Jamie, so many fond memories rose to the surface. I recalled happy years as best friends. And I felt regret that we had lost touch. I knew that, tragically, Jamie was now fighting her own battle with pancreatic cancer.

Here is where my story takes an interesting turn, as so many of my stories do. As I thought about Jamie, and continued to write, a loud popping noise began in my room. It seemed to move about the room, hovering near the ceiling. Pop. Pop, pop, pop. No windows were open. The ceiling fan and overhead light were turned off. I could turn my head and follow the sound of the pops, which occurred every couple of minutes.

I knew what this sound meant. When departed ones visit me in spirit, I often hear these popping noises. What I’m sharing may be difficult to believe, but I’ve experienced such things all my life. When it is a family member visiting, I know exactly who it is. When it is a stranger, or someone I haven’t been around in a while, I don’t immediately know, but I always receive additional information, in a variety of ways. I asked aloud, Who is here? Pop. Pop. The sounds were right above me. I should have known who it was right away. I continued writing.

The next day, Jamie’s sister sent a message. Jamie had passed away. The last month had been difficult for my friend. She was at peace, now, and free from pain.

I’ve thought of Jamie for the last eight days, allowing memories and past conversations and regrets to surface. We were such dear friends as children. I wish we had stayed in touch better. I discovered after her death that Jamie had returned to Facebook about three years ago. I could have had those years to communicate and perhaps set up a time to get together.

I’ve worked this week on releasing those regrets. Jamie was my first best girlfriend. She holds a special place in my heart and in my journey. I am grateful for her friendship and for her life. I’ll see her again someday. And she can visit me any time she wants, announcing her arrival with those pops. I can learn to recognize her instantly when she does. How I do that is a story for another time.

You don’t forget your childhood friends. You remember always the neighborhood kids you ran with, played with and grew up with. Jamie, my friend, you will not be forgotten.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

Meeting Marva

This is a story of friendship and the joy in meeting that friend in person today. I connected with Marva several years ago, on Facebook. We had friends and interests in common, and even more intriguing, our life journeys ran along similar paths. I just knew that if Marva and I had met as children, we would have become fast friends.

It’s never too late, however, to meet and create a beautiful relationship.

Marva lives in a small city in Kansas, about 3 1/2 hours from my small city in Missouri. Greg and I set out this morning on an adventure that culminated in lunch with Marva at Prairie Harvest, a wonderful blend of café and health food store, and appointments for each of us to experience one of her Peer Support sessions.

Marva brings her compassion, ability to listen deeply without judgment, and infectious sense of humor to a unique support opportunity aptly called Insight. The setting, equally supportive, is nicknamed the Living Room. Visitors are welcomed into the warm and inviting space and offered a choice of comfy chairs to relax in.

Marva shares that peer support is an intentional relationship built upon equality and common ground in life experience. Together, she says, we agree to forge a safe and accepting connection that inspires us to explore what matters, express why we care and imagine how we can grow.

And, Insight is an affordable option for everyone. Whatever the visitor makes per hour, work wise, is what he or she pays for an hour spent with Marva as she listens and reflects back wisdom.

After a delightful lunch, during which there was much chatting and laughter among the three of us, Greg and I took turns meeting with Marva. While I had my session, Greg explored shops along Main Street. And when Greg and I traded places at Insight, I returned to Prairie Harvest for tea time.

Greg and I agree that our conversations with Marva were fun, insightful, encouraging and uplifting. This dear woman immediately puts her guests at ease. She is extremely easy to talk to and I felt heard, appreciated and loved. There was joy, peace and happiness present in the room, contributing to teary eyes, laughter, reflection, and such profound acceptance.

Marva and I cracked up taking a selfie when we realized how similar our sweaters were!

Every once in a while, I meet someone for the first time, only to realize…I know this person. There is an instant connection, or perhaps it is a reconnection at last, as we journey through this life. Such was the case today, when meeting Marva. I was right. As children struggling with challenges that made us feel like misfits, we definitely would have found each other to be kindred spirits.

At this season in our lives, we are misfits no longer. We are wild women. We are free spirits. We are marching to the beats we drum…and having a blast. We both accept who we are, as we are, and that enables us to accept each other and everyone else, and celebrate together this joyous thing called Life.

Marva takes appointments for peer support sessions, in person and via phone or skype. You can contact her HERE. I highly recommend Insight. And may we all have a Marva for a friend. I am grateful that I do!

Orange You Glad

A simple blog post tonight, reflecting a simple pleasure today and a simple kindness that inspired me. My friend Garen took me to lunch to celebrate my birthday, which was Monday. This is a yearly tradition that I enjoy, as Garen and I catch up on each others’ journeys and lives.

Orange You Glad, Simple Kindness of Others

We went to the M&M Bistro, a Mediterranean cafe in downtown Joplin. The bistro is a beautiful little place, with a friendly staff and a great selection on their menu, including vegetarian fare. Garen and I chatted as we dined. I savored the Vegetable Platter, with grilled squash, mushrooms and eggplant, over a bed of greens, tomatoes and olives. Hummus was included, and so was pita bread, which I did not eat. It was a lovely meal and a lovely lunch. I so appreciate my friend. We have known each other for almost a decade, and we have walked together through many joys and life challenges. I always appreciate Garen’s ability to listen well and respond with valuable insights. His kindness, his way of making life more tender for others, inspires me and encourages me.

MandM Bistro Making Life a Little More Tender

As we concluded our meal, Garen mentioned to our waiter, who is also the gracious owner of M&M Bistro, that we were celebrating my birthday. Our host offered a dessert, and made several delicious suggestions. I thanked him, and explained that I don’t eat sweets, just fruits and vegetables. He asked me what fruits I enjoy.

A few minutes later, he placed a small plate before us, containing a perfect blood orange. With delight, I scored it, peeled it, and Garen and I shared it, going halfsies. It was a wonderful finish to a fun meal.

I thought about that kind gesture the rest of the afternoon. The owner, who so attentively waited on us, keeping our water glasses filled, asking often if we needed anything, didn’t need to go beyond the offer of a sweet dessert. When I declined, he could have said, “Very good.” and brought the tab. Instead, he brought an orange, something he knew I would enjoy. Garen and I suspected the orange might have come from his own lunch or dinner, which made the gesture even more beautiful.

I looked up oranges in my Life Changing Foods book, by Anthony William, when I got home this evening. It is full of benefits, healing the body from a host of viruses and alleviating symptoms such as aches and pains, acid reflux, mood swings and allergies. What caught my attention was that oranges are considered a ray of sunshine, helping to chase away sadness and weariness. They shine a light into our lives, warming us and reminding us of what is important in life…things like kindness, tenderness and friendship.

As I was thinking about the day, and oranges, preparing to write my blog post, I remembered a knock knock joke from my childhood. “Knock knock.” ” Who’s there?” “Banana.” “Banana who?” This is repeated several times, until at last… “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Orange.” “Orange who?” “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?” It still makes me smile! Orange you glad?

Yes, yes I am glad. I am glad and grateful for a friend who takes the time for a leisurely lunch and fun conversations. I am glad and grateful for the M&M Bistro and a truly kind and gracious host, who embodied making life a little more tender today. I am glad and grateful for the simple and delicious orange, a very satisfying and healthy dessert.

I am glad. Orange you glad?

Orange You Glad, Life a Little More Tender

Saying Goodbye to James

I lost a dear friend this past week, someone I have known for most of my life. If his sudden illness and death saddened me, and it did, deeply so, I know his sweet wife and two sons are experiencing his loss at a heartbreaking level. 

My thoughts have not strayed far from James and his precious family. Memories have surfaced. I met him when I was a young teen in Noel, MO. He was married to Patti, the older sister of Shelley, one of my best friends. James and Greg grew up together. After Greg and I married, we would hang out with James and Patti. These familiar people became more than just Shelley’s relatives…they became my friends too. 

While we lived in Noel, our lives were interconnected, as so often happens in small towns. James captured my family in portraits and he was the photographer at my wedding. He owned and operated the Ozark Theater in Noel, one of my favorite hangouts. I took care of Anthony, James and Patti’s first son, for a short time when he was two, before my own firstborn arrived. 

James and I enjoyed discussing movies and literature and writing. We shared an appreciation for sci-fi and fantasy fiction. “I’ll write a book someday,” James always added. 

Even after Greg and I moved to Joplin, we stayed in touch with the Carrolls. James and Patti’s family grew, with the arrival of their second son, Ryan. They trekked to Joplin or we stopped by to see them in Noel, not as often as we would have liked, but enough to keep the bonds of friendship strong. 

James became a mail carrier and later mayor of Noel. Always one to give of himself to his community, he continually sought ways to improve his town and help people live better lives. 

At his memorial service this morning, I heard words such as “wonderful”, “thoughtful” and “courteous” used to describe James. And those words were certainly true about this kind hearted man. I never saw James without a smile brightening his face. He had a great sense of humor. He was gracious with a gentle soul. And, he had this spark that lit up his eyes. 

I just this week realized what that ever present spark signified. It was the fire of creativity shining out through his eyes. That word was strongly connected to James this morning and I wholeheartedly agree. James lived a wonderfully creative life. 

From his photography days to drawing and painting to performing plays to building forts for his sons, James expressed his artistic side through a variety of mediums. This talented man fearlessly explored his creativity and had fun playing with it. 

And that book he intended to write? He did it. Several years ago I was both honored and excited when he presented me with a copy of SARREN. Full of magic and adventures, love and battles, SARREN is an epic fantasy novel with a strong heroine as the central character. 

I’ve been slowly re-reading James’ book this week and I am enchanted by the story once again. And beyond that, I am connecting with my friend and knowing him at a deeper level as I discover more about James through his beautiful writing. 

I hold in my hands James’ creativity, birthed into reality through his writing. I am inspired by him to make manifest my own creative ideas. I see, too, that the Alan Rickman quote I so love, “If only life could be a little more tender, and art a little more robust” was lived out in James’ life. He cared for people and put actions with his desire to create a better world. And he offered his creative gifts to the world as well. His contributions are timeless, and far reaching. His life will continue to impact and touch others, in ever expanding ripples. 

He has impacted me. His book SARREN will rest on my writing desk, in my studio, a visual reminder of what is possible, of what a creative life can bring forth. As I move into a new year, with a focus on making life a little more tender and art a little more robust, I will draw inspiration from my friend James. 

Saying thank you seems so inadequate. However, I am so very grateful, James, for your life…and your art. 

In the Company of Women

My ladies group met tonight. We have been a Book Club, and may be again. Right now we are meeting and enjoying different themes: watching a TED talk and discussing it, reading an article or poetry together, experiencing movement and energy, being blessed with a book that was written for grandchildren. This evening we gathered, and colored, each of us bringing a coloring book and supplies. Kathleen brought a project she’s working on.  

We sat in a circle, heads bent over our creative endeavors. In that quiet and sacred space, conversation flowed freely amongst us. We talked about a broad variety of topics, about life, about our journeys. We laughed, and encouraged each other, and sometimes sat in silence for a few moments, the scratch of colored pencils on paper a soothing, grounding sound. 

I thought of how women have gathered together through the centuries, sitting together companionably as they sewed, or snapped green beans, or read aloud. They shared their stories, about caring for their families, entering the work force, growing older. The activities have changed over the years and the topics discussed have expanded, yet that sense of empowering each other and being present has remained. 

Being part of this circle of women is extraordinary to me. I have always preferred male friendships, while maintaining one or two close female friends. In my teen years I mostly found girls to be competitive and fickle in their relationships. In any group of young women there was always drama, hurt feelings, and accusations. By comparison I found it easier to hang out with my guy friends. I didn’t date my male companions, which eliminated expectations between us and allowed us to simply journey together. 

I’ve held to that model all of my life. I’ve enjoyed some good friendships with some amazing women, yet I’ve rarely joined women’s groups, of any kind. Until recently. 

As I’ve grown, my perspectives have shifted and my life has opened. As I’ve journeyed inward first, and then brought my attention outward, content and happy with myself, my friendships have shifted as well. I have more female friends at this stage in my life, than I have ever had. To be a part of this group of women has enriched my life in many ways and broadened my knowledge and my humanity. 

For the first time in my life, I am at ease and at peace, in the company of woman. I’m sincerely grateful. 

Surrender 85: Tolkien Reading Day Helps Me to Release a Friend

Today is Tolkien Reading Day, a global celebration of the writings of JRR Tolkien. Begun by The Tolkien Society in 2003, the event is intended to encourage people to read and discuss this amazing author’s work.

I discovered this holiday last year and I’ve looked forward to reading from a selection of my Tolkien books today. There is a different theme every year. Life, Death and Immortality is the theme for 2016.

I enjoyed a quiet time this morning, reading from The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and a beautiful leather Tolkien Dictionary that my grandson Dayan gave me for Christmas. Tolkien is one of my favorite authors and his words have the power to stir me deeply.

The holiday and theme of Life, Death and Immortality carried greater significance for me today. A dear friend of mine died five years ago this month. He possessed a beautiful soul. He was also a beautiful mess. Big-hearted, fun loving, one of the best huggers in the world, he appeared to be a happy, successful man.

However, like so many others, inside he was a broken man, full of angst and deep wounds. To him, there was no healing from his inner pain, which descended upon him at unexpected times, robbing him of joy and hope. During his last bout with despair, he ended the pain by taking his own life.

I have carried that memory for five years. It has been a very solitary journey in which I have worked my way through shock, grief, and anger to acceptance, forgiveness and finally gratitude for the impact he had on my life. My journey now is what it is, because of his life and death.

I have also been the caretaker of my friend’s cremains, his ashes contained in a large brass urn. Many times during the last five years I’ve thought of spreading his ashes in a beautiful place that he loved. There was one problem. I couldn’t get the urn opened.

Recently, it has felt like the right time to release my friend, to symbolically free him and free myself, to let him go. If only I could get the urn to open. A week ago, I asked him for help, from the Spirit realm, if this was indeed the right time to do this. Tuesday, in an unexpected turn of events, the urn was opened. It was time.

This was a gorgeous day to say “I’ll see you again some day.” I walked along the river, which is my symbol for this year. The river also symbolizes Life and Transcendence, Flow and the Passing of Time.

I found the perfect spot to release the ashes. I played his favorite song. His wristbands adorned my wrist. I spoke quietly to him, thanking him for touching my life. I invited his shining spirit to visit me anytime. I wished him peace and joy and love. And scattered his ashes along the river.

The sun was brilliant upon the water. And the air was perfectly still, yet charged with energy. I suddenly noticed yellow wildflowers growing all around me. I felt peace.

I read a quote of Tolkien’s, which was so right for the day. And headed home. As I walked to my car, I sling-shot the wrist bands deep into the woods, where they can rest among the flowers, reminders of his presence in this place that he loved.

“End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path. One we all must take. The gray rain curtains of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it. White shores and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.”


Surrender 33: Old Chicago Pizza

Today I got to try out, for the first time, a restaurant that opened recently in Joplin. Old Chicago Pizza is located at 3320 S. Range Line Road. I met my good friend Garen there, who is always great to suggest new places to experience. 


I arrived a few minutes ahead of Garen and looked up info about this restaurant. Old Chicago Pizza and Taproom started in 1976 in Boulder, Colorado. It is now part of CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, which operates 60 restaurants in 22 states.

Old Chicago features delectable pizzas in deep dish, thin crust or stuffed crust versions. They also serve more traditional dishes, such as pastas, sandwiches, salads, burgers and calzones as well as appetizers. The cheesecake is highly recommended. And each restaurant carries a wide assortment of beer. 

The Joplin restaurant is clean and brightly lit, with ample seating space, and a bar at one end. Garen joined me at a booth and the task began of deciding what to order for lunch. Everything in the menu looked appealing. We passed on an appetizer, although they offered great choices. Although we were in a place that specializes in pizza, both of us opted for a sandwich. I’ll try the pizza another time. 

I sampled the California Chicken Sandwich, primarily because it is served with slices of avocado, accompanied by a side of fresh veggies with ranch and bleu cheese dressing for dipping. Garen had a Spicy Thai Chicken Sandwich with the fresh veggies as well.
Both sandwiches looked amazing! I can only vouch for mine…it was amazing. I believe Garen enjoyed his also. We quickly gave up trying to pick the sandwiches up to eat them. They were so loaded, it was impossible not to make a mess. A knife and fork worked well. 

What a great meal, at Old Chicago, and a wonderful time of catching up and sharing with my friend. I deeply value Garen’s perspectives on life and his input. We’ve been friends for seven years and it’s been a privilege to journey with him, learning, growing, discussing ahas and oh nos along the way. He’s been present with me through times of great joy and great sorrow. 

Today he told the waitress it was my birthday. It was…last month! She wished me happy birthday several times, and even left a note on the bill, writing “Happy 21st birthday!!” 😃  To celebrate the day, we of course had to try Old Chicago’s famous cheesecake. Covered with strawberries and blueberries, we found it worthy of its reputation! 

Garen’s birthday was last month also, just three days after mine. It’s my turn to treat him to lunch. I’m thinking about what new place to try next!


Surrender 18: Adventure and Tea

Today presented an opportunity that was easy to surrender to. I met my friend Cate at Panera to discuss life, writing and surrender! On this bright, chilly day cups of hot tea were perfect accompaniments to our shared time. 


I tried the Mango Ceylon, an exotic blend of full leaf black tea, mango and blossoms. It is described as a metabolic frolic tea, which made me smile!  This was my one lovely indulgence today, shared with a friend. Steaming mugs of tea in hand, Cate and I found a booth to slide into and the chatting began. 

I so love and appreciate my friend. Cate and I met during my Year of Firsts and she has been a dear friend since, accompanying me on many of my journeys. I thought of the Peter Pan quote, “Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?” That’s us! We can have an adventure or a cup of tea, or both, and it’s all good!


We spent a very pleasant couple of hours sipping tea, and discussing writing, life and surrender. It is wonderful to have traveling companions who not only understand my journey but are on similar paths themselves. Cate is one of these. She shared lessons from her own life experiences, as she has learned, she added, to surrender to the inevitable. Cate gave me another quote, from Anthony de Mello, that fits well with her adage: “Enlightenment is absolute cooperation with the inevitable.”

Tea consumed and hugs exchanged, we parted company, full of the joys of life, and of friendship. Next time we meet, Cate and I must have an adventure! 


Journey 320: An Evening of Friendship, Sushi & Coloring

One of life’s greatest blessings is having traveling companions on the journey. There are those in my life who walk alongside, sharing their own experiences, and offering a helping hand or a timely word of encouragement. I’m so grateful. This evening I had the pleasure of spending time with one of these dear souls. 

I met Cate last year, during my Year of Firsts. We instantly connected and have become great friends. I appreciate her willingness to try new experiences and how brightly she shines as her authentic self. 


Cate graciously invited me to her house this evening, for a time of chatting, dining and coloring. I picked up sushi for both of us from Han the Sushi Man in Joplin. Cate enjoyed spicy tuna sushi and I opted to try something new, something I’d never had before. The “To Die For” sushi roll was amazing, with shrimp and avocado.  

After dinner, we cleared the table. Cate served cups of hot tea and freshly baked, healthy cookies while I brought out coloring books and colored pencils. One of the things I love about coloring is that two or more people can color together companionably and chat at the same time. Cate selected a page out of the Creative Haven Owls book while I started on my first page from The Time Chamber by Daria Song. 

What an enjoyable evening. Cate is one of those amazing people who can converse about a wide range of topics. And she’s so easy to talk to. We caught up on our journeys, discovering that we are on such similar paths, even down to a word that is repetitively popping up for both of us. We discussed books, synchronicities, what we are learning from our experiences and…coloring. I found that I color more slowly as I talk, but since there’s no deadline, that’s not an issue! 
I love Cate’s choice of colors and that gorgeous night sky. The heart stands out on the page because she was drawn to color that rune in first. Cate’s heart for others is just as evident. She is one of the most loving people that I know, caring for people at a deep level. I appreciate her listening ear and sage words. And then there’s that joyful, infectious laugh!   

We were so engrossed in our coloring and chatting, that it took several rumbles of thunder before I realized storms were approaching and it was late. Time to go home. What a great start to our coloring pages. And what a warm and comforting evening with a treasured friend, a kindred soul. I love the Ram Dass quote that says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” Thank you, Cate, for walking with me tonight.