Journey 234: Family and New Friends

What a blessed journey today. As Joplin and the surrounding area was soaked with heavy rains, I enjoyed a morning snug within my house, working on an offer/counter offer on behalf of clients. As the storm clouds scurried off to the east, family arrived from Broken Arrow, OK. Work done for the day, the fun began!


I know some people have such difficult relationships within their families. I truly am blessed, and grateful, to have amazing family members. We enjoy spending time together, look forward to visits, support and encourage each other. We gather often, celebrate life, grieve together.

This afternoon my sister Debbie and nieces Ashley and Nicole arrived in the big blue pickup truck, bringing furniture for my other sister Linda, and a new friend! Craig and Debbie have been friends for years, having met online. They got the opportunity to meet in person for the first time Thursday. Craig and I have exchanged a couple of emails, so it was great to put a face with a name, and meet him too! He easily fit within our fun-loving, chatty group.


Mom joined us, and another new friend, Paula. I met Paula earlier this year, when I taught a blogging class. We are kindred souls. Paula is very intuitive and spiritually aware, and she graced us with her presence and her gifts today. What a great afternoon of sharing about life and our journeys, learning more about ourselves and each other, and encouraging one another along the way. I experienced some “aha” moments that I’m still pondering.

Before the Oklahoma gang headed home, we shared an early dinner at El Vaquero on Main Street. Greg joined us there. Food and drink and conversation flowed, bringing an end to our afternoon together. I so appreciate the fellow travelers who dare to journey with me. It is so valuable to have companions to share with, to explore with, to expand my heart, soul and horizons with.

“I am on a journey – with my work, my explorations, and a few sad stories. I travel with a suitcase full of outrageous blessings. I am on a quest for truth, beauty, and quiet joy. I am an artist, a writer, an explorer.” – Anonymous
I add to that – I am on a journey with a band of like hearted souls, a fellowship of courageous men and women and bright-eyed children. I am so grateful.

Day 125: Lunch with a New Friend

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For today’s first, I had the privilege of having lunch at Club 609, in downtown Joplin, with my new friend Nina Johnston. These delightful firsts of connecting with new friends is such a wonderful and unexpected benefit of doing a year of new experiences. I certainly didn’t have “meet new friends” down on my list of possible firsts for the year. I feel blessed, as I journey, to be encountering fellow travelers walking the same way!

Nina and I first met when we both showed up at Local Color Art Gallery & Studio to paint chairs. Sometimes I am accompanied by friends or family members when I do a first. Often I go alone, out of the desire to step out of my comfort zone and move Beyond. Attending the chair painting class was one of my ‘alone’ firsts. I was immediately drawn to Nina. She had just arrived also and we claimed chairs and a table to work at. Painting by dribbling paint directly from the bottle was a new experience for both of us. We laughed and chatted as we worked.

Last Thursday, Nina and I once again attended a painting class at Local Color. It was so good to see her and share in another new experience. The Art Pieces class was fun and we enjoyed talking and encouraging each other as we created our unique works of art. At the end of the class, we made plans for meeting today for lunch at Club 609.

And what a great lunch it was! After admiring the beautiful interior of the restaurant, I ordered something new, a vegetable flat bread pizza, and then settled in for a visit. With a few people on this earth, I’ve met them, seemingly for the first time, and there is instant recognition and a sense of reunion. It’s like that with Nina. This is only the third time we’ve been around each other yet we fall easily into conversation like we are old friends who have known each other forever. She is funny, creative, talented and cares deeply about her family, the well being of others, and animals.

Nina grew up in a town near Toronto, Canada, in a large family, with a father and mother who originated from Poland and England, respectively. They met in England after WWII and later moved to Canada to raise a family.  I wondered how one moves from Canada to Joplin, MO, leaving behind friends and family and all that is familiar. Nina shared how her husband began working for a company while still in Canada and eventually accepted an offer to move to Joplin to work for the company here. What a brave man and woman to cross borders and move to a town where they knew no one. Nina is someone who understands what I am doing this year, in moving beyond my comfort zone!

That is another area that we have in common. We are women who are growing and becoming all that we are meant to be, leaving behind old beliefs and limitations. Nina shares a passion for life and trying new things and offering out of her generous heart. I love her authenticity and bright, beautiful energy. Ram Dass says, “We are all just walking each other home.” I am so thrilled to add Nina to my little group of travelers who, arms linked and hearts connected, are all in the process of doing just that….walking each other home.

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Club 609

Day 108: Dinner with a New Friend

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One of the most amazing things about this year of firsts has been meeting new people. It is so easy to get too comfortable with hanging out with the same group of people or worse, not getting out at all socially. I have done both. Some evenings, after busy days working with clients, delightful as they can be, I just want alone time. Nothing wrong with that except I can get into isolation mode and even begin to avoid people. And while I enjoy the great friends that I have, it is always good to make new connections.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of meeting my new friend, Catherine, for dinner at Ichiban Sushi Restaurant. We met a couple of months ago, via our mutual friend, Garen. We hit it off right away, finding it easy to chat. Recently we met again to take a watercolor class at Local Color Art Gallery and had a fun afternoon dabbling in paint. It was during that creative afternoon that we made plans to meet for dinner and a leisurely chat.

The first thing I discovered about my new friend this evening is that she would prefer to be called Cate! I loved that she shared that with me. I think names are so important, and it is equally as important to call people by the name that they prefer. So Cate she is, and henceforth will be! We both decided to try something new for dinner. So not only did I get to have dinner with Cate, as a first, but we also moved away from what each of us always orders in a sushi restaurant and tried something different! I had the High Roller and Cate had the House Roll. Both were excellent!

Cate moved to Joplin after the May 22, 2011 tornado. She is the co-creator of Greensburg Green Town, a charitable nonprofit organization working in Greensburg, Kansas to rebuild the town following the devastating tornado in May of 2007. The town has since made a remarkable comeback, reinventing itself as a model for sustainable building and green living, now recognized around the world. GreenTown works to make green building and living easily understood, appealing and accessible to all. Bringing her incredible knowledge and compassion for community and green living to Joplin, Cate now operates Green Town Joplin as a non-profit. Its vision is to help Joplin recover as sustainably as possible and serve as a model to other communities. This is one remarkable, brilliant woman, and I am so glad to have met her!

Cate and I had a pleasant, long dinner, chatting, sharing our stories, laughing and getting to know each other better. We have much in common, including similar views on life and the world we inhabit, and we see some collaborative projects in our future. She has been so encouraging to me while I am on this adventure of moving Beyond. And she offered to teach me how to make paper! That will be a wonderful and fun first. I am grateful to have Cate as a traveling companion on this journey called Life and I look forward to a long and happy friendship!