Tag Archives: friends


25 Jun

This week has been the longest, hardest, and deepest week of my life. At this time last Thursday my friend Ogun summoned me to come see his wife and my dear friend Jennifer. I was blessed to be able to talk with her and speak words of love and share a hug. She was entering hospice then and today was her first celebration on life service.

I was one of the lucky ones, since Jennifer received many of her treatments here, I got to spend lots of time with her over the last several months. When I moved to Lee’s Summit 9 years ago Jen, Ogun, and their daughter Joy adopted me into their lives. Even though they moved away to follow their calling, we were never that far away in our hearts.

I understand that some people are close with their blood relatives. Since I grew up half a country or more away from my parents siblings, I never have had a consistent ‘I really know you’ kind of relationship with most of the extended family. Of course we loved them and had fun on trips, but a year or two is a long time between visits especially for a kid. We did however have some great family friends who were my ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ and of course the church grandma brigade.

I moved far away from the place I grew up and began the process of finding my ‘people’ all over again. It is a beautiful thing to be willing to love and be loved by the friends who do become your family. Family can sometimes have something to do with shared DNA, but it can also be about shared experience, understanding one another, acceptance, and positive regard.

This last week I’ve spent a good portion of my time with the family and close friends of Jennifer. Together we laughed and cried, shared stories, had golf cart adventures, and held vigil. Jen’s sister and Ogun’s sister tended to Jen’s needs in a beautiful dance of service, love, and tenderness in the weeks leading up to her return to Unity Village which they continued along with others when they were here. My role was in service to them and the family: airport runs, where can we find a such and such, a shoulder to laugh or cry on, and supplying cinnamon rolls. There are not really words to pull together the fullness of our experience, but I will never forget it.

Today when I made some remarks at the service, I thanked Ogun and Joy for allowing me to be a part of their family. I included all of the family, Jen’s parents, Ogun’s mom, and the sisters, in that sentiment. I feel like as a last gift (that I know of at this moment) Jennifer gave us each other. For that, I am truly grateful.



Free Will

7 Jul

A few months after moving to Missouri some friends took me to see Shakespeare in the Park. As a theatre person I didn’t know what to expect, but as a stranger in a new town, why not?

I was pleased to find that many of the actors (and the Stage Manager) were pros, members of the union I was, until a few months previous, working to be included in. The show was great, I loved how the lighting played so well with the setting sun and the tree that leans close to the stage. The whole thing was very well put together. I was in love with the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival.

This is my 7th summer here in MO, and I think there has only been one of those summers that I have only gone once. The shows are excellent from the costumes, the acting, lights, sound, a show worth paying to see… and yet,


They would prefer you give a donation at the gate of course, if you don’t it’s ok. If you do, you get a show button and a sticker that says “I gave of my own free will.”

I have gone with many combinations of my friends, sharing a bag of kettle corn and hollering in the audience participation portion of the opening announcements. Now that my sister lives here she also loves going too, they always have ASL interpreted performances. (and of course she also now knows the proper times to holler during the intro)

But all this is just a part of what I love about this theatre company. It’s the atmosphere that makes it so delightful. People bring blankets and chairs, picnics and wine. They come early to get a good spot, hang out and snack. They maybe make friends with the person next to them. We are young and old, liberal and conservative, PHd’s and 1st graders. Some vacation on the french riviera and some would love to be able to take a vacation. Everyone, from the ladies who valet park while shopping with a platinum card to the family that can’t quite make ends meet are having this shared experience of art. We’ve laughed with Puck and cried with Juliet, agonized with Lady Macbeth and fought Cesar’s army.

Sure some folks pay for reserved chairs, but most people just come and stake out a spot. We all brave the elements and bugs. And of course when it comes down to it, we’re all equal citizens in the porta potty line.

So I raise a huzzah for the visionaries who wanted to do Shakespeare in the park 20 years ago, and have kept it free. For the 40,000 some people who come each year, we are grateful! You are one of the reasons Kansas City is a cool place to live.

If you haven’t gone yet, GO! keep art alive!


PS There are rules about taking pictures of the show. So I didn’t, but here is my little pile of Shakespeare necessities.

15 years

2 Jul

Fifteen years after I graduated from high school I found myself in my parent’s attic, sorting thru the treasures of my childhood. Some things brought the laughter of remembrance while being chucked in the goodwill, recycle or trash pile. Others were too precious to go just yet.

Nametags from kids camp, badges from square dance competition, programs from endless shows and concerts. Plus of letters sent through the mail, pics, pics and more pics. An invite to participate in world day of prayer from 1995, YOU and square dance newsletters, years of birthday cards.

15 years ago so much of this was the essential fabric of my life.  Today a relatively easy choice to keep or release.

My mom kept me company for part of my time travels, hauling down the ladder my piles of released stuff. Two of my closest pals from that time, who after a time in the wilderness have each found their way back into my world, (or maybe that’s in reverse) kept me company as well. I took pictures of the treasures I found and sent them off with glee, anticipating the burn it or post it response.

15 years. In some ways I don’t understand how it could have been that long. Kadie is as artistic and funny as always, Zeb is, well, Zebtastic, and I still believe in changing the world. But then, it also feels like it’s been a million years, we are those kids we see in the pictures, but so much more that. The way we are in the real world is more like who we were in private with our buddies back then.

I like to think that 15 years ago Rachel would be pretty amazed at my life, think it obvious that I was here at Unity Village in school (even if 15 years ahead of schedule) and of course be delighted that I was still hanging with Kadie and Zeb.

And some people and places have fallen away, sometimes prematurely, sometimes holding on longer than was healthy. Always lessons, and an attic full of reminders. Reminders of a moment in time of honest and true love and caring that passed between people in that moment.

I guess sometimes the path that our life takes isn’t what we expected, but it still makes perfect sense when we get to the right perspective point.

15 years, wow. So grateful for the journey and my fellow travelers.

What will the next 15 years hold?

ps. I’m posting this from my phone at some point I may add pics of which I speak.

(this is something I drew up back in the day… one of these days I’ll get out the scanner and really cause some havoc 🙂

a rebuttal and relationships

3 Feb

With a title like that you might think I’m about to get belligerent. I don’t think we’ll quite go there, but something I saw in a friend’s blog pushed a button.

To paraphrase, the blog said to surround yourself with folks further along the path than you so you can learn from them and folks not as far along as you so you can teach them.

So I’ll make sure I let everyone know I’m at mile post 17, and you can let me know where you’re at so we know who the teacher and student are. Ah if only life was that un-complicated.

In my experience it’s just not that simple to tell who is further along than who. There are so many facets of how we express in the world, and surely most of us are not in exactly the same place in all of them.

For instance, I have a friend who I look up to as a great example of organization and expertise in her field, I could go on for a while about her excellent attributes. She on the other hand calls me her example on how to have fun, even in the midst of getting the work done.

I see many of the relationships I have with people in this dynamic yin/yang place. The abilities that we each posses might appear to fall opposite of each other, but with the chance to learn and bend with the other, we are both made stronger.

You remember that scene in Forrest Gump when Forrest and Bubba lean against each other so neither of them land in the mud while sleeping? That’s how I see it, we all need each other to lean on so we can achieve our goals.

That’s all I have to say about that.

With love ’til next time,


PS, this is my 30th blog, thanks for reading 🙂