Notes from a Native Daughter

"Eat, Play, Learn" by Princess Rachella

This morning, I decided that I had found what I had been looking for these past three months...the Epilogue to "The Book". However, while waiting for a related e-mail to print, I did my daily check of Rachel's blog.

Major change of plans...

After reading Rachel's posting, I knew immediately that Julie would much rather you read what Rachel had to say...about what Rachel was doing in the name of her "Big Sis" for children on another continent.

'Cause you see...Julie A. Newell was never, ever about "closing books"...she was all about opening hearts.

Thanks to Rachel, Julie's work is not done. With Rachel's help, Julie's spirit is alive and well...

Rachel...Julie and I are so proud of you!!!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eat, Play, Learn

One of the best books I've read in recent years was "Eat, Pray Love," by Elizabeth Gilbert. Although I gotta admit, at first, I was kinda turned off by it.

Keep in mind, I was listening to the audiobook while driving from Cairo to Atlanta in November of 2007, following my sister Julie's funeral. With each passing mile marker, I was getting more and more irritated by Gilbert's explanation for why her marriage and life had begun to unravel. Between my own crying jags, all I could think was, "Oh, cry me a river, wench." To me, it sounded like Gilbert "just wasn't that into" a faithful husband who loved her, a beautiful house in the suburbs and a great career.

"Bitch needs to be livin' MY life right about now," I mumbled.

Extreme grief makes for extreme cynicism, so I just wanted to reach through the car stereo speakers and slap the taste out her mouth. But by Chapter 3, I was so completely on board with girlfriend. More often than not, especially the older you get and the more crap Life manages to sling at you, you find that you ain't got to explain to NOBODY else why you need to make a change. Besides, I was being totally captivated by Gilbert's terrific prose, her engaging delivery of it, and of the brilliant simplicity of the book's concept...boiling her journey down into 3 discrete yet thoroughly explored chunks--Eat, Pray, Love.

I thought about that book yesterday when I helped deliver the first load of food to the PCEA Muniu Primary School, near the Maai Mahiu Internally Displaced Persons camp in Central Kenya. Thanks to the heartfelt generosity of four blog readers, I came back to Nairobi with $850 to donate to the school, to provide hearty lunches for the kids.

**Ron, you continue to bless the Jones family, and remain the earthly expression of Julie's unceasing love and nurturing.

**Joan, your heartfelt communications with me about my late eldest brother David, and the fact that you know from whence we all came, touch me profoundly.

**Deb, you and Ray are my role models in the "couples" department, and your friendship and support of this blog and this project are deeply appreciated.

**Glenda, as one of the mighty JAWdesses who taught me to bravely explore and embrace my power as a female journalist, I am forever indebted to tremendous role models like you, and am humbled by your sincere contribution.

I'll be posting pictures from the First Delivery of food from Project Archangel Julie on Facebook throughout the day (or as Internet connectivity allows.) Here's the link:

But back to the earlier theme: the picture up top seems to sum it all up. If kids are blessed, their lives can be captured in 3 pretty discrete chunks, too.

"Eat, Play, Learn."

If they can't eat, playing and learning become heartbreakingly difficult--if not impossible.

That's what Project Archangel Julie is all about, plain and simple.