1114 S Noland Rd Independence, MO 64050


Month: August 2013

Independence Film, Art and Music Festival

Film Art Music Festival

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Independence, Missouri Film, Art and Music Festival.  While it was the first, it won’t be the last.  I am already looking forward to next year.  And if attending these fine films was not enough, I had the privilege of hosting Ellen Frick, documentary film maker of Patriot Guard Riders right here at Silver Heart Inn B&B.  She is a great lady.  I will miss her and all the great conversations at breakfast over coffee.

You might be thinking, oh man, you actually sat through an entire weekend of documentary films!  Well, yes, Perry and I did.  We also took our 10 year old daughter.  There was much to be learned, shared, discussed, and well, you sometimes just need something to interrupt your world and open it up a little.

I am not a Bible beater, soapbox stander, or anything like that.  I am like most people who get fairly busy and comfortable in my world.  Sometimes I make assumptions based on what I know and often what I think I know.  I certainly take things for granted.  But I have to say this, things move me.  I cry at Hallmark commercials, the national anthem and movies.  When life and people touch my world, it changes me, I become connected.

I have heard it said that the world is getting smaller.  Yet there are things happening right around us that we do not know.  How can that be in this age of information, real-time and Facebook?  I believe that it is easier to get lost in the confusion.

Documentary film makers are trying to bring awareness, discussion, education and well, sometimes change.  They want you to see the fabric of the bigger picture playing on the screen around your life.  You don’t have to agree or disagree but be open to being reconnected to your world.  There was a time in our history that we were free thinking and great debaters.  At this time, with the world of information in the form of the internet at our finger tips I believe that this has been lost.  We are more a society waiting to be programmed, told, informed about what we should know.

I would like to introduce you to Frank Buckles.  What, you don’t know him?  He is famous.  He was the last survivor of World War I, at 110 years old.  I love Frank.  He has had an extraordinary life, which he shared with film maker David DeJonge in Pershing’s Last Patriot.  He reminded me somewhat of Indiana Jones, adventurer, foreign traveler, fighting an evil enemy.  Really, it’s an amazing story of a gentle man who was selfless.  All he wanted was a World War I memorial in Washington DC to represent those who served.  There isn’t one in DC and it looks as if there may never be.  Fortunately, here in Kansas City, is the World War I Memorial which has been designated as the national symbol.  But what about all the visitors who go to Washington, school children, veterans, who look at all the monuments in this central location?

Some time ago I wrote about our family’s experience with the drive-in theater.  Film maker April Wright was our inspiration with her documentary, Going Attractions.  My daughter got to meet her in person!  What a thrill to share with her how she showed us what we have right here in Independence, two drive-ins open and thriving!  Thank you April.  I am hoping to squeeze in another night at the drive-in with the family before the end of the summer.

TWA Flight 800 and the surrounding controversy was the topic of film maker Kristina Borjesson’s movie.  Kristina is a former news reporter.  Her facts and details in this film are riveting.  It certainly was thought provoking.  Perry and I had a great discussion about the material presented here for contemplation.  But, more than discussion, an opportunity was presented here to become involved in making a difference.

Certainly, you have heard of the hot topic in Kansas regarding the Darwin theories presented in public school education.  I did not realize all of the angles on this story and I live in the Kansas City area!  I felt challenged myself to see the balance of sides presenting information.  There is a great deal of pressure from the legal sector as a decision could be historical in the way scientific theories are taught.  You should definitely check this out.  The world is watching to see what will happen here in the United States.  Jeff Tamblyn, film maker, did a fabulous job of covering this in a fair and balanced approach in Kansas vs Darwin.

My 10 year old daughter chose Patriot Guard Riders as having the most impact on her life, “It made me sad.  I didn’t know people would do things like that.  Those people who ride the motorcycles are doing a very important job.  Those families know that someone loves them.  God wants us to love people who are sad and hurting.”  I sat with her in the theater after the movie on Sunday.  She asked questions, and knows that Kansas is the state next to us where this all began.  We discussed what we believe as Christians, and how other people might think about people who call themselves Christians when they see what happens in this movie.  We even talked about the First Amendment and the rights American citizens have under that amendment.  She has a brother in the Navy.  This all hits pretty close to home for her.  I believe her little heart was touched, her world enlarged, her mind challenged.  In a nutshell, that is what a documentary is supposed to do.  We are supposed to think.

Patriot Guard Riders

There were many other films to see.  I’m sorry to say that Perry and I didn’t even get to see all the ones we had on our list.  It was only one weekend.  I considered it time well spent, and very enjoyable.  Thank you to all the film makers who have given so very much time, talent, and cost to be here.  We are honored to have hosted you and your fine works here in Independence.  Thanks to Jim Hennequin and volunteers, only 365 days left to plan the next one!

And, for those of you who missed out…well, you did!  But, at least there will be next year’s festival.  Make sure you get advanced tickets because there won’t be as many open seats next year.  Word is out now!

Boxing and Life: 2013 Ringside World Championships

Ringside Boxing Tournament 2013

We recently had guests stay with us who were attending the 2013 Ringside World Championships boxing tournament.  This is the first year that the tournament was held in the new Independence Events Center.  It was an amazing experience. There are several insights that I would like to share.

Boxing Venue: Independence Events Center

I never was a boxing fan or even had any real understanding about the sport or the people who live that life.  And I do mean “live.”  It is not something that is taken lightly, for to be successful you must eat for the sport, live your daily life in a way that is centered around the training and conditioning necessary, even sleeping revolves around a different schedule.  A strict discipline of mind and body are essential.  The commitment it takes is astounding.  What I saw in just a few days was a mere tip of the iceberg.

One small group of boxers arrived from far to the east, Philadelphia.  Six guys crammed into a small car for an amazing eighteen hour trip.  If that wasn’t enough, upon arrival they crammed into our largest room and stayed together, supporting and encouraging each other for the next five days.  Late that night they ate one can of tuna and a few crackers and then went for a long run.  Some of them wrapped in plastic, sweating, to maintain their body weight within a few pounds.  All of this is critical control as in a few days it would be time to weigh in.  They must qualify for their weight class.  The next morning was more of the same, sleeping, running and even finding a local gym that they sometimes used into the night.

It was so very different than my own life.

In the first few days, we began to get to know one another.  I am talking about conversations of their lives and backgrounds.  It is not like the gritty “Rocky” scenes that you see in the movies.  These are men who have stories, aspirations, and struggles.  Boxing became real for me then.  I connected to the humanity of it all.  I connected to the ones who had entered my life.  My family went to the Independence Events Center and watched them in the ring.  I cared, I cheered, and shared the disappointment when they had their first nights of losses and in that one stroke, for them it was over.  But, the team stayed.  They cheered each other on.  Victory for one would be a victory for them all.  They had pride in their home gym.  The others continued to train while they waited for their one chance in the ring.

Boxing Training Fare

I have never cooked so many egg whites or turkey bacon in my life!  We went through ten dozen eggs this week.  Out went the B&B menu and I began cooking for “my boys.”  Some started calling me Mom.  I was the house Mama. They could look up into the stands and there I was, watching for them.

Another group of boxers was a family from Kansas who stayed in our beach cottage.  They have a gym and their son and his teammates came to fight.  This family lives for boxing, and their son’s success.  He is a champion, aged 15.  You would never know it.  He is gentle and humble.  His extremely conditioned body would be the only tip off of a dedicated athlete.  His family has drive and passion not only for their own son, but the other boys at the gym.  These gym owners literally fund the location, equipment, and trips out of their own pockets.  Why? Because they care.  Many of these boxing clubs are located in areas with low incomes, gangs and the like.  The boys they help have little, but what they get from boxing is beyond measure.  They turn a cocky young boy with attitude into a conditioned, disciplined young man.  I appreciated the heart they have and they way they give of themselves.  The dad has a regular job, a cattle farm, and works at their gym every night from 4-8 pm.  While they were here they had some car problems.  There he was, out in the parking lot, with those boys, pulling the tires and brakes off.  He was teaching them outside of the ring.  Those life skills will be a valuable asset to them.  His wife was totally supportive.  The two of us ran to the auto store to get parts that they needed.  She is making a difference in the lives of these young men.  They treat her with respect and she cares about them.  She is an amazing lady.  Her husband told me that and so did her son.  This husband and wife are a team with passion and purpose.  I now consider them friends.

A coach from St. Louis stayed with us while his team fought.  He had 3 young fighters, somewhat green, here to experience this huge event.  It is important experience to gain.  There were six rings set up for the tournament, with boxing matches going on continuously.  That is a lot of commotion and noise.  While the fights are going on there is cheering and mass confusion in the room.  Each boxer needs to learn to focus, tune out the distractions and spectators so that they can hear the coaches shouting to them instructions during the match.  It is difficult at best.  This was a time for the St. Louis group to learn as well as compete.

Breakfast was a grand time.  Since I had a house full of boxing people, the conversation flowed freely and friendly.  They made connections.  They shared stories.  They also had the same experience as me.  I heard them talking about life and shared interests outside of boxing.  They were getting to know each other, making new friends.  I was proud for that to be happening at the Silver Heart Inn.  I felt a small part in the bigger picture.

The other guest is a retired boxer and now a gym owner from far away Canada.  He has always wanted to come to the Ringside Tournament.  He may have arrived alone but soon found many new friends.  He is a gentle soul with a passion for the craft of boxing.  He shared with me a dream of coming to the USA and opening a gym here.  He described a feeling of destiny every time he has come to the U.S.  He wants to change lives too.  He loves the diversity of the U.S. and our many landscapes across it.  But what he would choose is the inner city where he can reach more boys and touch more lives.  Maybe we all want to leave our mark in the world.  I think that the greatest contribution that we can leave behind is the lives we have touched.  We may never know what a difference we might make on one person.  I had this conversation with one of the young men from Philly.  What is the difference between ordinary and exceptional?  I think our friend from Canada wants to give these young men a chance to live an exceptional life.  I admire him and hope that he gets the chance to live his dream.  He is a very kind man with a huge heart.  I will definitely be keeping in touch to see how his future plans unfold.

The tournament ended today and most of my new friends have gone home.  Tomorrow our friend from Canada will depart.  Somehow I am sad, the Silver Heart Inn seems empty without all of them.  Boxing has made me a better person.  My own world is bigger.

What I take away from all of this is that I have looked through the sport and have seen the people.  Pain, desire, aspiration, disappointment, joy and above all passion and commitment.  I just want to thank all of you for becoming a part of my world.  You are people, just like me, striving to live your dreams.  You are extraordinary.

A Train Trip: Take the Rail to the Trails

Truman Depot, the start of our train trip

I recently had the pleasure of making a train trip by the Amtrak line which comes into Independence.

While I needed to make a trip to St. Louis, I turned it into a bit of a research project for the Silver Heart Inn Bed and Breakfast.   Boarding the “Missouri River Run,” which is the name of the route which runs across the state between St. Louis and Kansas City, I left from the local Independence Station.   The early morning train which would take me into the St. Louis station would arrive just after lunch.   Of course, this would give me time to maximize all the opportunities of traveling on the train.

It had been many years since I had ridden the train, and honestly I had forgotten how enjoyable it can be.  The gentle rocking of the train was comforting and the scenery rolling by the window reminded me that Missouri is a very diverse state.  I observed the quick change from city with industry that used to depend on the rails to bring needed resources and take the finished product to the market place, to rural with its fields full of soft, lush, green spring grass.  Old rail fences took me back in time to a different pace of life attested to by more than a few abandoned barns who had stories of their own to tell.

Each stop was interesting, people coming and going.  I wondered what brought each of them to the train: commuting, seeing loved ones, a special time of getaway?  A group of school children were being herded by teachers and mothers, taking a short ride from one stop to the other.  I saw a young man asleep, a bunch of soft pink roses bundled in pretty paper tucked protectively in next to him.  What lucky girl would have them?  I wondered if she knew how much he cherished and missed her.  The image of a sweet reunion played in my mind.  A grandmother and granddaughter were traveling together.  The little girl’s voice was full of excitement as she questioned the older woman about all things that were new to her.  They smiled and enjoyed each other; it will be a precious memory neither will forget.  My own daughter and I traveled together, a spontaneous trip to see a young man who is very special in her own life.  She will soon be out on her own, beginning her life in the world.  We both have busy lives.  I captured the opportunity to make something special of our stolen time together.

Feeling a bit hungry, my daughter and I were free to get up, move around, and walk to the club car.  A charming boxed lunch was shared in the booth in the club car.  We had time to talk.  My daughter, who had been somewhat skeptical about the train verses driving (because it would have been a half an hour shorter), remarked that, “This was really nice,  I’m glad we did this.  I would definitely do this again.”  I would trade 30 minutes for this time with her any day!  Having had our fill, we returned to our seats and catnapped.

A pull of the whistle announced Jefferson City station.  Our capital is beautiful.  From the tracks, the Governor’s mansion and various state government buildings can be seen.  The range of history here boggles the mind.  Many of the people boarding were in business attire.  Could I be traveling with lawmakers and other important people?

Mid-way into the trip, we entered Missouri wine country.  There are many choices for tasting.  I have my own favorite Missouri wines.  I enjoy the variety of those produced and often serve them for events at Silver Heart Inn.  We do our best to support local sustainability by conscientiously choosing locally produced products.

The landscape began changing from suburban to urban once again.  St. Louis was not so far away now.  Was this the end of my trip?  No, my trip had begun at the station as we boarded.  When we travel as a “car” society, we think of how long it will take to get there before our “vacation” can begin.  Travel is something we tolerate, a necessity of going from one place to another.  But what if we were to look at the “getting to” as part of the journey that can be the phase where we begin to wind down?  How much more would we feel like we got out of it?  I was only gone for an overnight trip but I do feel refreshed.  I slowed down and so did time, it seems.

And just so you don’t think that I was slacking, I wrote this blog, “Take the Rail to the Trails” on the train.  Which trails?  The Civil War, the westward trails, Santa Fe, Oregon, and California, or the campaign trail which ended here for President Harry Truman?  I will be arriving home in Independence as he did, later today.

My daughter is already planning her next trip.  It was fun!  I’m looking forward to doing it again.  But first, I think I’ll catch a bit of shut eye.  I’m not doing the driving!

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