The Power of Community

When I began my plant based journey almost two years ago, I entered into unfamiliar territory, alone. I had the books of Anthony William to guide me as I made changes. And soon Greg and my mom joined me by shifting their diets as well. We were a tiny band of plant based eaters.

The Power of Community

Dr. Mark Hyman wrote, “The power of community to create health is far greater than any physician, clinic or hospital.”

I’ve learned these past 23 months just how crucial it is to be surrounded by a group of like minded people, who are headed in the same general direction. I’ve found an amazing online health-minded community, on Instagram. We encourage each other every day, posting photos of our glasses of celery juice and the latest healthy recipe we’ve tried. We ask each other questions and reach out for help if the day is rough. I greatly value the input of each person and make sure I communicate frequently with as many people as I can. Although we are scattered around the world, we have figuratively locked arms and we are walking each other home.

The Power of Community

I thought that online health community might be the only one I could find. How beautiful it has been to be led to others in the Joplin area who are on a similar journey.

I met Robin Jeep several months ago, when she invited me to join a group of people and watch the documentary Eating You Alive at the local movie theater. I was excited about the invitation. I wanted to see the film, but I was even more excited to connect with others in my area who have embraced a plant based lifestyle. It turned out I knew several people who attended the documentary that night.

Robin, who is a plant based chef and founder of the Vibrant Living Society, has been great to offer classes, educating people on the difference a change in diet can make in improving health. This evening she hosted a plant based potluck dinner. Everyone contributed to the meal. I cut up a watermelon, one of my favorite summertime meals, and shared it. Robin demonstrated making a plant based lasagna that we sampled. It was delicious!

We had planned to watch the film Forks Over Knives together. That didn’t happen tonight. Instead, we got to know each other. Some in the room have been plant based for several years or more. Some switched two months ago. Two have completed three weeks so far, eating more fruits and veggies. And some have not yet made the full commitment, but they are curious and open.

And we shared stories. They ranged from wanting to heal to in the process of healing to full healing. I appreciated the earnestness and sincerity of everyone there. I held those who are just beginning their healing journeys, or who stand on the edge of taking that leap, with great compassion. And I applauded, literally, those who have turned their lives around.

I look forward to being part of this growing, healing, questing community, in my own hometown. We are strengthening each other.

The Power of Community

Wearing the Realtor Hat

It’s 11:29 pm and I am just starting my blog post, after a very full day. Sixty minutes ago, as I sat in my office, finishing up real estate related work, I didn’t know what I was going to write about. I had been away from home, and any possible creative projects, since 8:15 am. 

And yet, I have learned in my journey to stay open, receptive, unattached. I asked, What shall I write about? 

As I sent docs for electronic signatures and started on a comparative market analysis for another client, I glanced at Absolem the caterpillar, perched nearby. He asked me the important question, Who are you?

Wearing the Realtor Hat

I think about that question while I finish my work. 

Today I wore several hats. I was Yaya and Mom, spending a short time with one of my children and two of my grandchildren late this afternoon. I was Sister and Daughter and Cousin, having dinner with family tonight and enjoying the additional company of my out of town cousin Greg, and his wife Shellie. I was Friend and Writer and Artist. 

Primarily, I wore the Realtor hat today. Suddenly an idea popped into my head, making me laugh. I actually own a realtor hat, with a KW, for Keller Williams, embroidered on it. It was time for a little late night impromptu photo shoot and a very brief recap…love the pun…of a day in the life of a realtor. 

Wearing the Realtor Hat
Although it was a long one, this was one of those magical days in real estate that I love. I had a double sided closing, meaning I represented the buyers and the seller in a transaction. Sure, I got paid today.

However, I had the opportunity to be compassion, grasping an older client’s hand tightly and telling him that the home he held dear and had shared with his wife, will be well loved and cared for by its new owners. 

I had the joy of handing the key to the buyers who journeyed far in search of their new home, allowing me to help them find it. Can we be friends? the wife asks me as the closing is completed, not wanting the time we’ve spent together to be over. Yes, I answer sincerely, I would love that. 

Wearing the Realtor Hat

In between closings and emailing documents and comparative market analyses, I spent the day doing what realtors do…

…taking down signs and a lockbox, talking to other realtors, saying hello to a new agent, who…ha ha…turned out to be in my own Keller Williams office, getting feedback, scanning in documents, scanning in more documents, meeting with the realtor on the other side of an in process transaction to discuss an inspection, dropping off reports with clients, looking up info, texting clients, calling clients, responding to messages, offering reassurance, guidance, congratulations, empathy…

Wearing the Realtor Hat
It sounds like a lot of busy work…and it was. And it was so much more. I was walking my clients home today. From the first few hesitant steps of inquiry to ushering them across the threshold into a new home, it was all part of the journey.  

In keeping with my desire for this year, I was making life a little more tender, in many small and not so small ways. It all matters. It is all important to someone. It’s all part of life. And I got to walk alongside, while experiencing others coming alongside me. 

Who are you? asked Absolem. Today, living and offering fully out of who I am, I could answer…I am a Realtor. 

Wearing the Realtor Hat

Ruby…and Gold

I experienced an interesting evening, as I embraced making life a little more tender, followed by receiving inspiration from creative souls who most definitely live out making art a little more robust. I wavered back and forth between which event to write about. As it turned out, it was both. 

I met a friend for dinner. V and I have known each other for 35 years. Recently, life has been very challenging for her. She is a cancer survivor. And in 2011, she was seriously injured during the Joplin EF5 tornado. She also became a widow that day. Her husband did not survive the storm. 

As her friend, I have walked with V through dark days and despair, and through healing and a new beginning. As her realtor, I helped her sell her home in Joplin so she could make a fresh start in a new town, away from the reminders of all that she lost May 22, 2011. 

We met for dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. V graciously made the drive back to Joplin, so we could chat and catch up, and she selected a restaurant that offers a large, fresh salad bar so that I could dine on veggies. 

Our conversation quickly centered around my friend’s health. She is not doing well. I have watched V deteriorate in the years since her life drastically changed. Post traumatic stress syndrome, living with what she heard, saw and experienced, has thrown her body into distress, and dis-ease. 

Tonight I recognized that contrary to what doctors have told her, that her symptoms are all in her head, or that she is suffering from a mystery illness, she is ill. Mystery illnesses. Autoimmune disorders. These are what I have been learning about in my own healing journey. There is a cause, and trauma ignites a firestorm of inflammation and symptoms within the body. I will be walking with V by offering what I have learned through changing my diet and building up my immune system while fighting the viruses that have wreaked havoc in my body. I can offer her hope while she continues to seek help from the medical community. 

This will be an ongoing journey. Much will depend on her willingness to take back responsibility for her health. Tonight, It was enough to listen with compassion and share from experience. 

At home again, I watched the Golden Globes. Movies, and a few television shows, speak strongly to me. I watch these films and shows to uncover deeper truths and lessons for my life. The award shows that occur in January, the Golden Globes, and February, The Academy Awards, are meaningful to me. 

I don’t view actors and actresses as superstars who can do no wrong. I see these men and women as artists who have a passion for telling stories in a larger-than-life kind of way. I appreciate that they have the courage to follow their hearts, and do what they love. I get to receive the overflow that pours out of their hearts, souls and lives…performances that impact me, shift my perspective, enlarge my own soul. 

Tonight the Golden Globes recognized a broad range of movies and tv series…dramas, comedies and musicals. It’s a preview of the movies that will be nominated for Oscars, a peek at the films that have made the greatest impact. You can see the list of winners HERE

More important to me than who won is the opportunity to hear the presenters and winners express their hearts and gratitude. I don’t agree with every word that is spoken. But I do respect their right to share what stirs their hearts. 

I begin making a list of movies to watch, after the award shows air. Already on the list after tonight is La La Land, Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. After the Oscars are handed out, I will watch each of the Best Picture nominated films. This evening, I was inspired watching these talented individuals, inspired to follow my own heart and heed the call of my own creative passions. 

And I am inspired to walk with my friend, through the bewildering landscape of post traumatic stress syndrome and illness. 

Ruby Tuesdays…Ruby…considered the stone/color of love, energy, passion, power, and a zest for life. Golden Globes….Gold…considered the mineral/color of illumination, love, compassion, courage, passion, magic, and wisdom, as well as sparkle, glitz, and glamour.

The two events from my evening seem totally unrelated…and yet I know that life doesn’t work that way. There are connections everywhere. There are connections here. I am open to discovering what they are.

Journey 30: Walking My Clients Home

walking each other home beach

I love the quote by Ram Dass that says, “We’re all just walking each other home.” For me that perfectly captures the idea of journeying together through life, sharing in the travels, keeping each other company as we all head toward Home. Capital H. Sometimes I get to walk with someone for a long time. Some, I’ve been walking Home for a lifetime. Sometimes it is a short journey, a brief encounter that nonetheless makes an impact on me and on the traveling companion, and I always hope to encounter that sojourner again further down the road.

And sometimes, because of my current profession, I get to literally walk people home, a new home they have found after we’ve searched together for a while. It might be a first home, a larger home, a smaller home, a country home. Just as often, the walk I take with someone is away from a home as my client finds himself or herself at a crossroads, or experiencing a life changing event. Those journeys as just as crucial and oft times, those are the walks where I hold a hand or offer a shoulder to cry on.

Today, I got to walk alongside several clients, as they completed their walks toward new homes, or began a new journey, leaving a cherished home behind, or in the case of one couple, I accompanied them as they walked away from the home where they raised their family….and then toward the next home that is part of a new adventure. I spent a good portion of my day at title companies, and while there, I had the privilege of watching life unfold in amazing and varied ways. The closing is the time of greatest joy for me as a realtor. I know people think it must be because that’s when I receive a paycheck. The money is nice, and a necessity, but the joy comes from being present while a client gets a brand new key, and another leaves with a check that funds the way to the next part of their journey. There can be a little bit of anxiety or stress present at the closing table, and today was no exception. However, for the most part, people are happy, excited, relieved. I am the quiet observer of their genuine emotions and the smoother of paths if an unexpected bump arises.

I was very mindful today that there is a host of people who walk with me on this journey, with my clients’ best interests in mind. To the lenders who diligently push through mountains of paperwork to provide the funds at closing, to my allies at Keller Williams who oversee the closing process, (especially Melissa, Valerie and Whitney), to the cheerful and self-less closers, receptionists and behind the scenes staff at the title companies…today First American Title and Abbey Title…and to the other hard working realtors (Joni and Stephanie) on the other side of the transactions, I offer my deepest gratitude for all you do to make my job easier. I so appreciate that when there are challenges, you all keep going, so my clients and I can keep going. When there are delays, you smile and put us at ease, so that my clients and I know it will all be okay. You cheer us on, by playing your roles so well.

And to my clients today, I thank you for allowing me the honor of walking this far with you, for sharing your lives with me, and your fears, your dreams, your hopes for the future. I loved watching the laughing young couple with their 5 month old daughter buy their first family home. Their excitement was contagious. I hurt with the couple selling their dream home as their lives chart a course they never dreamed of two years ago. And yet, there is a fresh start now, for both of them. And the ability to fund new dreams, new lives. And I sat quietly with the couple who allowed their home to become new for a family just starting out, packing up 20 years of belongings and memories, laughter and tears. Immediately after that chapter closed, we walked to the door of the house that perfectly fits their needs now. We celebrated the exciting direction their lives are taking.

This was my day, after hours of preparation: smiles, hugs, handshakes, pats on the back, handing over new keys, and silent entreaties of peace, encouragement, strength and joy for all. And  waves and waves of thankfulness for those who made it all happen, stayed late, prepared docs, checked files, sent emails, held a baby who would not sleep so mommy and daddy could sign docs. It’s been a full day, completing a full week. I am spent and oh so content.


Day 125: Lunch with a New Friend


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.


Club 609