Touching Heaven

With this being Thanksgiving week, I have decided to very mindfully celebrate a week of expressing gratitude.

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, of showing appreciation for gifts, large and small, especially those freely given. I have a choice. I can feel and express gratitude or I can choose to be ungrateful. Living a life of gratitude means I notice the gifts I’ve been given, from flowers and sunsets, to real estate closings and a grandchild’s hug. Nothing is taken for granted and life itself is a gift. I can feel gratitude even for the challenges during the journey, seeing them as opportunities to grow and shift.

Johannes A. Gaertner said “To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.”

Day 1 I felt gratitude for my family, all of my family. I am blessed to have mother, stepdad, stepmom, sisters, brother, daughters and daughter-in-law, son and sons-in-laws, grandchildren, nieces and nephews all living within an hour and a half of Joplin. I get to spend time with them and be a witness to their lives.

Today I considered what I wanted to express gratitude for. There are so many things that I am grateful for. Without overthinking it I opened my heart and went with the first image that popped up.

For Day 2 I am grateful for the opportunities to travel this year.

The travels this year were so much more than planning a trip and then hopping on a plane. I have wanted to explore the world for a long time. Nine years ago, on Mike Dooley’s TUT website, I wrote out my desire and expressed it this way:

Rome, Italy

I gave my heart’s desire to the Divine…and let go of the outcome. It’s not that I sat back and did nothing. I dreamed. I looked through travel brochures. Five years ago, when my grandson expressed a desire to go to Italy after graduation, we dreamed together and released that shared goal to the Divine. Last January we met with a travel agent and the dream began to become a reality. Amazingly, the funds poured in as needed, to meet the expenses for the trip.

What a beautiful lesson for me in dreaming, trusting, letting go and receiving.

Taxis to Venice

Orvieto, Italy

A year ago, my sister Debbie asked me about going on a trip to Scotland and England. We decided to include Ireland as well, and our group grew to include our mom, sister Linda and Ashley, Debbie’s daughter. If I had wanted to play it safe, I would not have agreed to two major trips, three months apart. I am so grateful I said yes. And there they were, the three countries I wrote about visiting, with Ireland thrown in, all in one glorious summer.

Dublin, Ireland

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands, Scotland

London, England

Again, the funds arrived for the UK trip, exactly on time. And for the second time this year I boarded a plane and followed my heart. There were other elements that came together, to express gratitude about, connected to these travels. Six family members were able to journey with me. My health improved dramatically, by way of Anthony William and a plant based diet, so that I could walk freely and enjoy these trips. My mother experienced improved health as well. Little and not so little details fell into place. Protection was given for all travelers.

And my wanderlust was truly born, set free. I have other places I hope to visit. More corners of the world to explore. The Divine knows the desires of my heart. I am grateful for that as well.

I recognize that this year of travels, these adventures, are representations of my life journey. The dreaming, the playing, the letting go and trusting, and the birthing of dreams into reality…my life is shaped by these components as well. And I am full of gratitude that traveling deepens my awareness of these connections between my wanderings around the globe and my journey through life.

Perhaps most of all, I don’t want regrets. I don’t want to be sorry that I balked at an opportunity to travel or hesitated when I could have grown. I am grateful that traveling enlarges my soul and exposes me to other people and other cultures and teaches me important truths about who I am.

Dr. Steve Maraboli sums it up well.

“Your ability to see beauty and opportunity is proportionate to the level at which you embrace gratitude.”

I am embracing gratitude.

Exploring Edinburgh Castle

The focus of our second, and final, day in Edinburgh was the castle perched solidly atop volcanic rock, high above the sprawling city. The weather was decidedly Scottish…cool and drizzly, with periods of light rain. We weren’t deterred. Donning hoodie jackets over warm layers, we set out on the day’s adventures.

Here are the highlights of our explorations:

Edinburgh Castle has existed in varying degrees of size and fortification since the second century AD. Margaret’s Chapel is the oldest surviving structure in the castle complex, and also the oldest in Edinburgh. Most of the other buildings have been destroyed during bombardments and rebuilt.

Our tour guide, Robby, was knowledgeable and guided us expertly around the castle grounds, telling stories and sharing interesting facts.

Looking out over the battlements, toward the Firth of Forth. The castle is at the top of the Royal Mile, in the heart of the Old City. Edinburgh’s New City stretches out toward the water.

And looking to the west.

The stone structures comprising the castle are beautiful. The castle grounds spiral upward by way of cobbled courtyards and streets. The former royal residences are at the peak, where they were most protected. Today the castle house’s numerous museums and exhibitions and it is one of the most visited sites in the world.

The Great Hall.

The Royal dining room, and a sculpture representing the crowning of Robert the Bruce, located in an alcove off of the room containing the Crown Jewels of Scotland and the Stone of Destiny. Photos were not allowed in the Crown Jewels room.

I love the Stone of Destiny, a slab of ordinary looking stone that the kings of Scotland were crowned upon. King Edward I of England took the stone, and for 700 years, it rested beneath the throne of the English monarchy. But it was officially returned to Scotland in 1996.

Group pic in front of the castle.

We walked through a stark recreation of the living conditions in the castle’s prison rooms, where prisoners of war were held. Americans ended up in here as well, when they were captured as enemies against Great Britain. The rooms, while fascinating to explore, held a troubled energy that empathetically created discomfort in my chest. We viewed the original wooden cell doors, where prisoners had scratched words of hope and detailed works of art, including an American flag.

We enjoyed a light lunch in the castle’s tea room, and later shopping on the Royal Mile. However, most of our day was spent within the castle walls, looking, listening, learning. This was not just a tourist stop for us. The history here is part of our history as well.

The Scots are my people. This is my land. My heart dwells here in joy and peace, and embedded in my DNA are characteristics that sprang from this rich and fertile land. I’ve loved every moment spent in Edinburgh.

Tomorrow we head south to Lauder, in the Borders. This area of Scotland has great significance for my family. I am looking forward to visiting Thirlestane Castle again and

sharing that journey with my mom, sisters and niece.

Alexander McCall Smith wrote about Edinburgh: “This is a city of shifting light, of changing sky, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.”

I so agree. I love this city. My heart has been pierced by its beauty and energy. Edinburgh, I will be back.

Edinburgh Says Welcome Back

I first visited this amazing Scottish city in 2014. I’ve dreamed of returning since the moment my airplane lifted into the skies above Edinburgh, homeward bound. What a powerful feeling of anticipation I experienced this morning as our small jet flew low over the Scottish countryside, in preparation for landing.

Edinburgh feels like coming home to me.

We are staying in a wonderful 2 bedroom apartment in the center of old Edinburgh. As we waited for our quarters to be ready, we explored the neighborhoods nearby, found a delightful little cafe for lunch, and eventually ended up touring the city in our favorite way on a hop on/hop off bus.

Here are highlights of the day:

This huge sign greeted us as we exited the Edinburgh airport, perfectly expressing the way I feel. In ways I can’t fully explain, Scotland feels like home to me. Although my ancestors came from the Scottish Borders south of the city, and I love that region as well, Edinburgh calls to me like no other place on earth. It is my favorite city.

As I was looking for a quote about Edinburgh that I only half remembered, I came across another one that expresses my sentiments as well: “I always feel that when I come to Edinburgh, in many ways I am coming home.” What surprised me was who said those words…the late actor, Alan Rickman, who has been foundational to my year of inspiration. I should have known he had a connection to Edinburgh as well.

The ancient Edinburgh Castle sits high atop a craggy hill, overlooking the city. We will visit this fortress in the morning.

Beautiful architecture throughout the city, in both the old side and the new side, which is still more than 700 years old.

One of the places all of us wanted to see was the site of the Greyfriars Bobby statue. Bobby was a wee terrier whose owner passed away after a sudden illness. For 14 years, the faithful dog stayed near his owner’s grave in the cemetery. People cared for him, providing food and shelter. When the loyal pup died of old age, he was buried just inside the graveyard gate, near his human.

We toured the Greyfriars Kirk Graveyard as well. This old cemetery has a very gothic look, with headstones and memorials dating back to the 1500s. The overcast day created a gloomy atmosphere that was perfect for our exploration. Bobby’s grave is marked by a headstone that matches his owner’s, John Gray.

We completed our first day in Scotland with a delicious dinner at Deacon Brodie’s Tavern. Debbie and Linda tried haggis for the first time. Mom and I had a veggie burger that was awesome. And I got to enjoy a Scottish cider called Thistly Cross. This light and refreshing hard cider has simple ingredients and no added sugar.

It was an enchanting day, full of glad remembrances and happy reunions as I recognized landmarks from my previous trip. I dearly love this city. The energy is lively, uplifting and intriguing. My heart beats in sync with the rhythms of Auld Reekie, so named for the smoke that used to rise from the cottages.

Riding in the top deck of our tour bus, I couldn’t help but notice bright yellow flags along a street. Welcome Back they declared. Thank you, I silently answered. I am so happy to be back.

Getting to Know Dublin

We arrived in Dublin, Ireland about 8:30 am this morning, after leaving Tulsa at 3:27 pm the day before. It was a long day of travel, however I am grateful for flights that arrived and departed on time and skies that remained free of storms. Other than the fact that none of us slept well on the plane, it was a smooth flight across the Atlantic. I watched movies and chatted with my family and seat mate, and closed my eyes and rested for a short time.

Today we decided to forego naps, even though we have all been awake for 36 hours, and get to know Dublin.

One of the best ways to get to know a new city is to take a tour on a Hop On/Hop Off bus. We found a café in which to enjoy our first Irish meal together, and then boarded a bus for a tour of Dublin. Come along!

We dined at Copper Alley Bistro, where Mom and I sampled the vegetable soup, which was puréed and served piping hot, and the others had traditional Irish fare such as fish & chips and beef stew. All of our meals were delicious and filling.

We sat on the top deck of a double decker tour bus and appreciated learning about this busy city. About half way through, the driver/tour guide changed and Bill was not only knowledgeable , he was humorous with a delightfully thick Irish brogue. He kept us interested and entertained.

We loved the impressive gothic structures that appeared moody against an overcast sky. We were surprised when we exited the plane this morning to learn it was a brisk 46 degrees in Dublin. Long sleeves and a jacket felt great today to protect against the chill.

We learned about Dublin’s history and heard colorful stories about founders, residents and events. This city has many national art museums, which can be visited free of charge. Today we didn’t “hop on and hop off” of the bus so we could get an overview of Dublin and learn where areas of interest were so we could return to them tomorrow.

One of the saddest stories, accompanied by sobering sculptures, was of the Irish Potato Famine that lasted from 1845-1852. The population decreased dramatically in Ireland, due to death by starvation and the exodus of people seeking to survive by emigrating to other countries. According to our guide, Ireland’s population has not recovered from that great tragedy.

We had fun, on this second day of our adventure. We learned how to get around the city, where to shop for simple dinners eaten at our apartment tonight, and we have a general idea of where major attractions are. As we ate this evening, we each contributed to a list of things we most want to do and see tomorrow.

And now, although it is still daylight outside, one by one the others have gone to bed for a long and well deserved night of rest. Dublin is beautiful and rich with architecture, history and legend. The people are friendly and helpful. We are excited about the possibilities and the opportunities that the new day will bring!

Dublin Bound

I am at the Tulsa airport, awaiting departure on the first leg of our journey to Dublin, Ireland. I’m sitting with my mom, sisters Linda and Debbie, and my niece Ashley. We’ve already laughed as we fumbled our way through the airport, dragging our carry ons, dropping travel pillows, watching my mom have to go through a security check because of metal in her knee.

This is going to be an amazing adventure, a one of a kind trip.

I’m posting early because our time is short here and even shorter at the Atlanta airport. And then we will lift into the air and arc over the Atlantic. I am looking forward to exploring Ireland, Scotland and England with my family. Even these times of sitting together at airports is precious as we chat and laugh and dream and wonder.

Ireland is where strange tales begin and happy endings are possible. ” Charles Haughey

Next stop, Dublin.

The Next Adventure Begins

The last day before my next adventure was full of real estate related work, which was fine. I am grateful for amazing clients and a bustling business. And…everywhere I went today, the question I was asked was “Are you packed yet?”

The simple answer was…no!

I started packing about 8:00 this evening as work wound down and fresh clean clothes began coming out of the dryer. As I rolled clothes and tucked them into my carry on, the excitement that has been building for the last week bubbled up. It is almost adventure time!

My post is brief tonight, as I still have a couple of real estate emails to send and a few things yet to cross off my “to do before I go” list before I sleep. However, I am smiling as I write this post. I can’t help it. My wandering heart gets to venture forth, starting tomorrow.

The beginning of the packing process…piles of clean laundry and an empty suitcase.

Keeping an eye on the final work for the day.

Tomorrow’s simple travel clothes laid out and ready to wear. I’m excited to carry the plaid poncho onto the plane and let it double as a blanket.

Young Living Essential Tangerine Oil in the diffuser keeps my energy up.

All packed, in a carry on: one pair of jeans, two jackets, pjs, a pair of walking shoes, a dozen pairs of socks, a dozen undies, two bras, thirteen shirts, supplements, a clear makeup case with my BOOMstick trio and essentials such as a toothbrush and comb, and my quart sized zip lock bag with travel sized liquids such as shower gel, lotion and toothpaste. There is room yet for a few more items after my morning shower.

I have several new shirts from Solgave that I look forward to wearing on the trip. This one expresses well where I am in my life journey: having fun and following my heart and living with No Regrets. I am doing what I want to do, and living large, so that at the end of my journey those words will be my epitaph.

Fifteen hours and counting. The next adventure begins!

The Continuing Adventures of Dayan

My grandson Dayan leaves tomorrow, headed to his new home for the next few years, a dorm room at the University of Missouri in Columbia. A few of us gathered for an impromptu dinner, to send him off with smiles and gratitude and promises to visit.

It is a big step, for him and his family. My children all attended local universities. Dayan is the first to venture farther out, which is so typical of this world minded young man. He thinks big. He lives big. I am so incredibly proud of him.

Dayan and I have had a strong connection since before he was born. When my daughter was pregnant with him, I had a dream in which an angel appeared, carrying a baby boy. He stretched his arms out toward me. The angel placed the dark haired, dark eyed child in my arms and we studied each other's faces. I knew this was my grandson. My heart overflowed with love for him.

Dayan began calling me Yaya when he was 8 months old. I discovered that Yaya is the Greek word for grandmother. How did this baby boy know that? I'm not sure. I only know he has an old soul, and he was a wise baby, meaning he seemed to know things beyond his years.

We have shared many adventures, this boy and I. We used to invent stories when we were together. We called them The Continuing Adventures of Dayan and Yaya. As he grew older we stopped telling made up stories and lived the adventures instead.


A little foreshadowing, from 10 years ago.

I have learned so much from my oldest grandchild. He taught me by his example to see the good in people, that kindness is always appreciated, and living as the person you are created to be requires courage. He has been my gardening buddy, introduced me to Doctor Who, taught me about the countries of the world, expanded my knowledge and my beliefs.

I have spent one afternoon a week with my grandson, picking him up from school or hanging out with him during the summer, since he was in third grade. We've played games, built virtual kingdoms, explored Joplin and beyond, and these last few years, sat comfortably together on the sofa, watching TV shows such as Doctor Who, Broadchurch, Okkupert (a Norwegian series with English subtitles) and most recently, Once Upon a Time. We've laughed, and sniffled together, and had amazing conversations about every topic imaginable. I always bring him Chinese food.

My heart was very full as I hugged him goodbye tonight. Dayan, these words I send with you as you embark on your next adventure:

I love you. No matter where you go, or who you are, or what you do, or who you journey with, nothing will ever change my love for you. It is absolute and unfailing.

I am always here for you. I am your fan, your cheerleader, your confidante. I will listen, offer my heart and my words, wrap my arms around you, applaud your achievements. You can call, text, message or visit me anytime. Yes, even in the middle of the night. You are never too old, never too far away that my love can't find you.

Be you. Always. Be kind and courageous. Use your mind and your heart and your voice. Learn. Grow. Travel. Explore. Follow your passions and trust your instincts. Keep looking for the good in people, in situations and in the world. Be the change you want to see in the world. Love. Love yourself and love others. Know that the Divine is with you, guiding you.

And keep having adventures. Lots of them.

I am very glad tonight that Columbia is only four hours away. This week, I will miss meeting Dayan at his house, Chinese food in tow. Wednesday afternoons will feel empty for a while.

I am grateful for the relationship we have, for the years we have spent building it word by word and hug by hug and adventure by adventure. I know Dayan will do great things. He has been raised well and prepared for this next step. That he walks on his own now is a tribute to his mom, stepdad and family.

Although I know we might have more adventures together, this is Dayan's time to adventure on his own. This is his journey. And when we cannot walk together, I will surround him with love and joy and peace.

After hugs tonight, I asked Dayan if I could visit him on the MU campus in a couple of weeks, before I leave on my next travel adventure.

"You can visit me any time, Yaya," he said. "Bring Chinese food!"

I will, Dayan. I will!

The Pilgrimage

On our last day of travel in Italy, as we journeyed back to Rome where our adventure had begun, Fabi our tour director shared a story. She directed our attention out the bus windows to a bell tower in the distance. 

Long ago, she said, pilgrims made their way each year to Rome. Most were on foot. As they traveled, they watched for the bell towers in each village or town to appear. Sighting a tower meant they were close to food and water and shelter. The bell towers became a way of tracking their journey. They knew how far they had come. And they knew how far they still had to go, as they noted the towers. 

The Pilgrimage
I was captivated by Fabi’s tale of pilgrims on a journey. We were traveling to Rome as well, by bus, thankfully, rather than on foot. However, I began to watch for the bell towers as we rolled along, tracking our pilgrimage.

The Pilgrimage          A bell tower in Lucca. 

The Pilgrimage Perhaps the most famous bell tower in the world, the leaning tower of Pisa. 

I realized our Italian journey over the last 11 days could be marked by bell towers also. I had taken pictures of the towers in each city, town or tiny village, without understanding their significance at the time. Most of the towns had more than one bell tower. Previously associated with certain wealthy families in the region, the height of the tower indicated the importance of the family. 

The Pilgrimage            Siena bell tower

The Pilgrimage San Gimignano bell tower in the distance

The villages’ towers were often near the center of the towns, in piazzas. Each one was uniquely different, ancient, and often still in use with working bells. Elissa and Dayan climbed a couple of them, trudging up hundreds of worn steps, rewarded with gorgeous panoramic views at the top. 

I thought about how pertinent the pilgrimage story was to our Italian journey, but also how significant to my life journey as well. 

The Pilgrimage             Florence bell tower

The Pilgrimage         Verona bell tower. 

The word pilgrimage means a pilgrim’s journey, usually toward a holy city, such as Rome. Pilgrim came from the Latin word peregrinus meaning foreign or foreigner. As I discovered during my Year of Journeys two years ago, journey literally means the distance one can travel in a day. 

Pilgrimage then means the distance a foreigner can go in one day, day after day. Or from bell tower to bell tower. The deeper meaning became apparent to me. I am a pilgrim, a foreigner, on a daily trek. In Italy I was a foreigner. And here on the playground that is Earth, I am a foreigner too. My ultimate destination isn’t Rome, or Edinburgh, or any earthly city. It will be a return to the Divine, a return to pure Love. 

The Pilgrimage              Venice bell tower

The Pilgrimage         Burano bell tower. It was leaning too. 

For now though, I travel…to amazing places around the world, and through life. I mark my passage by the events that happen, times of growth or upheaval, the symbolic bell towers showing me how far I have come and how far I still have to go. 

On my journey, I have amazing companions who are traveling alongside. Some have been with me   throughout my lifetime, some walked with me for a short time only. All teach me something about who I am and the journey I am on. 

The Pilgrimage My family in Italy. 

During my time in Italy, I was surrounded by traveling companions. We started off as strangers, except for my daughter and grandson of course. By journey’s end we had become family, a family whose members came from across the globe. Our guides for this part of the journey were a quiet and exceedingly charming man called Luciano, whose driving skills enabled our pilgrimage, and a wise, joyful woman named Fabiola, who introduced us to Italy and deeper aspects of life. 

Like the long ago pilgrims, moving from bell tower to bell tower, we arrived at last in Rome. But that bustling city was not our resting place. Rather it launched us all abroad to continue finding our way in the world. I am so grateful for my Italian travels and the impact it has had on my life and on my journey. 

Onward I go, to the next bell tower. 

The Pilgrimage

When I Believe 

I wake up every morning with a song playing in my head. Sometimes the same song stays with me for days. Most often, the songs change with the sunrise. This morning I hummed along with the tune only I could hear, recalling a few of the words from the chorus. 

Curious why this particular song was with me today, I pulled up the song list on my iPhone. I knew I had this one saved. From the Prince of Egypt soundtrack, I actually had two versions of the song, When You Believe, one from the animated film, and one performed by Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. 

When I Believe

I listened to both versions…and was moved to tears. And forget trying to sing along with the song. I choked up and no words could flow. Out running errands today, I must have played When You Believe at least a dozen times…and I teared up every time. 

I have never been one to cry easily. When my emotions are close enough to the surface to inspire teary eyes, I pay attention. It is more than a Divine tap on the shoulder. Tears are a strong invitation to slow down and look deeply within. 

After a day of reflection around the When We Believe lyrics, and my response to them, I’ve realized that the song mirrors aspects of my journey, and in particular, my healing journey. 

When I Believe
I’m adjusting the lyrics, changing them to the first person. Otherwise they are directly from When We Believe

Many nights I prayed/with no proof anyone could hear/in my heart a hopeful song/I barely understood. 

I have a daily, ongoing conversation with the Divine. More than prayer, it is a share and listen kind of communication, full of signs and synchronicities. I do have proof I am heard. However, the part about having a hope in my heart that I barely understood was the first line that caused tears to flood my eyes. 

I am a positive, hopeful person. However, as the pain in my legs increased the last few years, I felt like the hope I was clinging to, that I would somehow get better, was slipping away. The song I barely understood was the act of healing. 

Now I am not afraid/although I know there’s much to fear/I was moving mountains/long before I knew I could

These words reminded me that fear no longer grips me as it once did, even though there will always be fear inducing events going on in the world. It is faith and trust that move mountains, or obstacles, out of the way. Part of my recent journey has been learning to trust deeply, and let go of any need to control life and outcomes. 

(Chorus)

There can be miracles/when I believe/though hope is frail/it’s hard to kill

Who know what miracles/I can achieve/when I believe somehow I will/I will when I believe

I have experienced miracles in my life, in my health and well being, the past 10 months. It began with a belief…and not just believing that I could get better. It started with the belief that there was an answer out there for me. I stopping asking for relief from the pain and healing for the deteriorating condition of my legs. Instead I asked where to look for answers to my questions…and remained open to all possibilities, both conventional and unconventional. 

In this time of fear/when prayer so often proves in vain/hope seems like the summer bird/too swiftly flown away. 

Yet now I’m standing here/my heart so full, I can’t explain/seeking faith and speaking words/I never thought I’d say. 

One year ago, I felt fear trying to crowd into my heart and mind. I had been walking with a cane for more than six months. When I woke up in the mornings, it took half hour of slowly stretching out my legs before I could stand, and several more hours of using a cane before I could move well enough to leave the house. 

When I Believe
When I Believe18 months ago, the cane with me so I could walk. I was on pain meds, so I could keep up with my granddaughter and great niece. I was also 60 pounds heavier. 

On my worst days, I wondered what was going to happen next. And when I would no longer be able to walk at all. Hope seemed fleeting on those days. My choice was to resign myself to the seemingly inevitable loss of mobility and severe, ongoing pain…or ask the Divine what I needed to do to bring about healing. Doctors had told me my condition would only continue to worsen. 

And yet…now I’m standing here…my heart so full I can’t explain… Those words from the song evoked the greatest emotion. Because… I am standing. I am walking, without a cane. I am pain free. I am the healthiest I have been, in more than 22 years. My heart is, indeed, very full. 

They don’t always happen when I ask/and it’s easy to give in to my fears/but when I’m blinded by my pain/can’t see the way, get through the rain

A small, but still, resilient voice/says hope is very near/there can be miracles/when I believe. 

Beautiful, powerful words. I was nearly blinded by pain and despair wasn’t far from overtaking me. Hope was very near,  however. That still small voice guided me to Anthony William…the Medical Medium…a man very connected to Spirit, who happened to have a post on Facebook about neurological pain as a result of the shingles virus attacking the nerves after a trauma. A trauma such as a car accident. 

There in that article, I found answers. 

In 2013, my word for the year was Believe. I learned a lot about my old beliefs and about seeing in a more expansive way. The next year my focus was on living Beyond my comfort zone and stretching and growing. Then I had a year with the word Journey, as I continued to move beyond what I had previously known. Last year was all about Surrender. I wasn’t in control of where the Journey was taking me. I only had to decide if I would go with the flow…or watch life flow by while I stood still. My trust and faith deepened incredibly last year. 

While in that surrendered state…open and unattached, in pain and unsure what my future held, but believing, hoping, immersing myself in the flow…that still, small voice guided me to the answer I sought. I see the progression now, the unfolding of my journey, each step vital. 

My healing journey continues, as I experience greater health. My heart is full…of wonder, gratitude, love, compassion and boundless hope. My desire is to share publicly about my journey, and the benefits and improvements that a healthy diet and a positive attitude can bring. Someone else may be asking for answers to their health struggles. Someone else may be clinging to the hope that they can heal. 

There can be miracles, when you believe. Though hope is frail, it is hard to kill

I believe. 

When I Believe             Healthier, pain free, lighter, stronger. 

Listen to When You Believe HERE

Journey 365: 2015 Review

How incredible, to type in Journey 365 this evening. Another year is coming to a close. As I did at the end of my Year of Firsts, I’m concluding my Year of Journeys with a review. 

   
On January 1, 2015 I began a journey that consisted of 365 daily journeys. I discovered that my word for the year came from the Old French word journee, which literally means the distance one can travel in a day. I was excited to see where my companions of curiosity, enchantment and soulfulness would lead me, and I was not disappointed. It was an extraordinary year. 

  
One of my mentors, Lu Ann Cahn, who inspired my Year of Firsts, was an important part of the year. We met for the first time in January, when Lu Ann visited Joplin during her 30 Dares in 30 Cities Tour. We did a first together, preparing lunch for the homeless at a Joplin shelter. In June I flew to Philadelphia, my first time in that beautiful city, to stay with Lu Ann while attending the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. What an amazing experience, to associate with and learn from other writers. In September I had the privilege of spending the day with Lu Ann in Springfield, MO where she was the guest speaker at a conference there. I appreciated the friendship and advice that this lively woman offered. 

 

 
I also had the opportunity this year to journey to Wichita, KS to hear another of my mentors speak. Elizabeth Gilbert has greatly influenced my life, through her online community and the book Eat, Pray, Love, and her newest release Big Magic. At her event, Liz recommended the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Campbell. This 12 week course, coupled with Big Magic, a book on living the creative life, has ignited my creative side. 

  

 

My awakened creativity has been one of the most fun journeys this year. I’ve drawn more, discovered the joys of coloring as an adult, created vignettes in all kinds of interesting containers, gardened throughout the growing season, and of course, I’ve expressed my journeys and my growth through my writing. I am grateful for 730 days in a row of writing, an accomplishment I would have not believed possible three years ago. 

 
 

I had adventures with family members, attending celebrations and events that ranged from talent contests to football games to concerts. I wandered around in my first corn field maze with Aubrey, London, Linda and Mom. With a group that included my sisters, nieces and grandson, I watched my favorite musical, The Phantom of the Opera, from the front row. Dayan made a Whovian of me and I have a deep appreciation for the Doctor Who series. I shopped and dined with each grandchild during the Christmas season. Throughout this year, they have touched my heart and expanded my thinking just by being who they are. 

 

 
When I was given the symbol of the open door for 2015, I wondered. It came to represent adventure and opportunity, much as it did for Bilbo in the movie The Hobbit. For me, however, an open door has always been a symbol for passing through to the other side. I wondered if loss would be part of my journey this year, and it was. Six beautiful souls close to me departed this world during 2015, and journeyed onward without me for now. I said “see you again someday” to my cousin Mindy, to Aunt Annie and Aunt Jeannie, to Uncle Dale and long time family friend, Loretta. And I walked with Greg’s dad, my second father, through the valley of the shadow of death until he slipped away and I could walk with him no more. 

  
I miss each of these kind and loving people. And I know I’ll be reunited with them at the right time. I have grieved, but I’m not without hope. I’ve created reminders in my home and garden of these lives. I treasure items that once belonged to them and I’ve repurposed some of those to function in new, creative ways. My garden has containers that were once theirs and there are flowers planted in their memories. 

  

  
The most incredible journey this year was centered around my expanded awareness and consciousness. My perceptions about the way life and the Divine work opened my heart and developed my intuition. I adopted the mantra of staying open to everything and attached to nothing. This attitude freed me to travel through the year with deep peace and joy. I was led by curiosity to explore new places in my world and new places in my heart. I embraced my inner creative child and revisited my childhood with fresh understanding. She was a plucky girl, that little Cindy. She has much still to teach me. I value her. 

 

 

I have seen this year that my journeys are guided by the Divine, through signs, synchronicities and life itself. As I stayed open, opportunities came, doors swung open, people appeared at the perfect time. I was led, invited, joined in the journey. Life kept presenting opportunities as well, to grow, expand, shift, love, offer and release. I began the process of decluttering, my house and my soul, so that I could journey lighter, less encumbered. I settled deeply into who I am. 

 

I am grateful for my year of journeys, 365 of them! And I am excited about 2016. I compared my journey at the beginning of this year to Bilbo’s, as he headed out through his front door on the greatest adventure of his life. Unlike Bilbo, I am not making the return trip, not  just yet.  I am about to embark on a new adventure. Join me!