Category: Family – JoAnn


Pack & Unpack


Over the past 10 years I have done a lot of “downsizing”. When my youngest daughter graduated high school, this mama bird’s nest was soon to be empty. And thus, the packing began.

I downsized while my daughter was in her senior year of high school. I knew I would move on to a new chapter of my life, just as she would be. I must have packed up a hundred boxes within those last months. There were more boxes to be donated to charity than there were for my new destination. I had accumulated belongings, both personal and household, for 29 years. What my 3 daughters did not want, either needed to be sent to charity, sold in a yard sale, or given away. I would estimate that 60% went to charity. 

It took some time for me to accept the downsizing. To be in a home raising children for almost 30 years, items become memories. It’s difficult to let go. But the more I let go, the better it seemed to feel. It felt good to get rid of the clutter, and even better to release the hold material items had on me.

I come from an upbringing where holding onto material things is the norm. My mother was an avid collector of anything she felt precious. She had many, many collections. Mostly of glassware, and antiques, just to name a couple. She and my dad even did the flea market scene in their retirement years, selling everything from antiques and imported novelties to homemade fudge. 

My mother thoroughly enjoyed collecting! The collector’s bug bit me also around age 12. It was something my mother and I enjoyed together for many years. Collecting was something that neither of us did halfway. It was all in or nothing. That means you collect everything you can get your hands on in the subject you are interested until you can find no more! It’s a thrill and a lot of fun for people who enjoy that type of thing. But once your home is filled with your collection, gone is the joy for many of us. And we are ready to move on to the next collection. Which means the old collection needs to go.      

So, with downsizing, there is no room for collections. I needed to let go of that collector’s mindset in order to move on with my new life. So, packing we did, until my daughters and I could pack no more! It was a daunting task the first time I moved alone in 2011. They left me with just enough items to pack my large Ford Crown Victoria to its maximum capacity! I consider myself an excellent car packer due to all the years of road trips with my 3 girls. So, believe me when I say I took advantage of every inch.   

Fast forward 6 months later and I am packing again. Off to charity went more items, either from my past life or newly purchased. I again packed my car like a can of sardines, and off I go. This routine of packing, moving to a new place, and unpacking would be repeated 4 more times. Each of the times I packed, there would be more downsizing accomplished. Finally, when I moved once again in 2015, I only had about 10 small boxes that I could handle myself and my clothes. I had gone from an enormous home that was once filled with a family of 5 and all their belongings, to 10 small boxes.  

I would be lying if I said that looking at those 10 boxes and knowing they held all I had left in the world didn’t bother me. It saddened me immensely. I didn’t even have a car. I had no furniture, not even a bed. But I took it all in stride. I looked at where I had started and how far I had gone. I may not of had the many material possessions anymore, but I had traveled through life in directions I had never thought possible. And by literally having a lighter load to carry, I could accomplish many new things. I had been married 20 years, divorced, raised 3 daughters as a stay-at-home mom, and now I am doing things “alone” I would have never thought I could do it. It seemed to be my time to live life and have experiences to make me grow. It took a lot of packing and unpacking, but I made it, and with no regrets. Not a single one.   


Soap Opera Fan!


When I was a little girl, my mama would tell me to either play outside or sit quietly, while she watched her “stories” on TV. Those stories were, of course, daytime soap operas. Mama only watched the CBS soaps. To my best recollection they were: As the World Turns, Guiding Light, The Edge of Night, and Search for Tomorrow. I know, very dramatic titles, right? They usually ran 30 minutes each.   

Mama was a very early riser and worked hard as a stay-at-home mother and wife. So, by mid-day, when the soap operas came on, she needed a pleasant break. She would sit in her favorite chair, often with her lunch and a cold drink, and enjoy her stories. It didn’t take long for me to realize these stories, as she called them, were pretty interesting. I took after my mama and learned to appreciate the entertainment soap operas offered.  

By the time I was a teenager in the early 70s, I added a new soap opera to the CBS lineup: The Young & The Restless. They took a more modern approach to their characters and storylines. I was hooked! So was my mama and my older sister, Jeanie. We all three watched the new soap whenever we had the chance. If my sister and I had to miss it, our mama would fill us in later. Jeannie even bought the soap opera magazines that were published just for the people who couldn’t watch the episodes daily but wanted to keep up.  

Later on, when my sister and I were both married and raising families, we would talk on the phone often to each other and our mother. It never failed that the topic of our favorite soap opera would come up somewhere in the conversation; what character was doing what with whom, and where and why! I was even a pen pal to my favorite aunt who also loved the soap, and we would often write about the latest goings on in our letters! We were all loyal fans. Heck, I still am.

We may sound a little crazy, or rather misguided with our love for Y&R, as fans refer to it, but the statistics don’t lie. Young & Restless has been successful for over 53 years! It has held the spot as the #1 watched daytime soap opera for many of those years.  

I’m not sure if my sister Jeanie still watches Y&R, as it has been a very long time since the topic came up in one of our conversations. She works full time still, and I doubt she is home to watch, but with the wonderful technology we have today, if you miss an episode of any television show when it’s broadcast, you can be sure to catch it online. I often catch up with my favorite characters of Y&R just that way.    

The show’s original theme song “Nadia’s Theme” still plays at the end of every episode, and with every note I am reminded of the enjoyment I shared all those years ago with my mother, sister, and aunt. Lots of times we would be busy somewhere in the house and hear that theme song start to play. We would drop what we were doing and run to the television set before we missed something important. There was no rewinding a scene or recording an episode as televisions can do today.    

My mother has been gone for 20 years, and my aunt for ten. I truly miss the little things with both of them, even something as silly as watching a “story”. I’m happy Y&R is still on after all these years. It’s a sweet reminder of two women I love.                 


The Importance of Saying Thank You


I learned many years ago the importance of the “Golden Rule”: Treat others as you would have them treat you. It’s not only a biblical rule found in Matthew, but a practical one for any culture. My parents and teachers taught me this principle. Throughout my life I have had friends who taught me the importance of this rule, and the many ways it can lead to success. It is one of the simplest rules to remember and follow. Or so you would think.

One of my few pet peeves has got to be when a person does not say “Thank you”. Sometimes the words aren’t so important if you can clearly see with your eyes the appreciation, usually through the look on their face or a smile. A big smile can cover a multitude of unspoken words. But on average, through general communication in daily life, the words need to be verbalized.  

For my need for peace, I have learned to have a golden rule attitude when in public. I consider everyone is out in the world, just trying to make it through another day, just like me. I try to always keep an understanding that I know nothing about what a person may go through in their personal life, and to not judge if their reactions are not what I would like them to be.  

Perhaps the cashier at the grocery store is overwhelmed by the overflow of customers that have all checked out at the same time. Maybe she has a sick baby at home she’s worried about. Perhaps her boss has warned her for the last time about making a mistake at her job. Maybe that mechanic is more worried about how he will make his house payment this month, than he is about your oil change. There could be a million different reasons.     

The point is, I try to not let rudeness, or the lack of basic manners by another person get to me. But sometimes, dang it, it is hard! Usually when I give someone my business, I expect some gratitude. After all, I am giving them my money. If it’s only a smile, or a “come back soon” sails out that drive-thru window, I feel appreciated. But when I am not even acknowledged, as though I am a robot on the other end of my debit card, I get a little aggravated. What can I say, I am human?

It’s all minor in the big scope of things, but little things add up. Just like I believe being kind in small ways can add up to something big, I believe being unkind in little ways can add up as well. Like someone getting the impression that you are a rude, uncaring person, when the opposite may actually be true. Who would want that?      

Perhaps I am way too sensitive and should not take things so personally. I will continue to work on my shortcoming of letting someone’s lack of saying “Thank you” perturb me and continue trying my best to live by the golden rule. I will choose to be polite and sweet to people even when it goes unnoticed by them. After all, you never know when a smile or kind word can actually change someone’s day, or even their entire outlook on life at that moment. Even if they don’t respond, just maybe they will hear it, and that’s all that matters.   

Another Mothers Day


The month of May brings many blessings. Sunny days, warmer temperatures, flowers, bright blue skies, and all things categorized as Spring. But it also brings the most coveted holiday for women who have children, Mother’s Day.  

It’s true, that mothers should be thanked, appreciated, and showered with love every day of the year. After all, they earn their title daily. But it’s really special having a holiday on the calendar devoted just to us mothers. One day a year to receive special recognition for our years of hard work being the best moms we know to be. Even if we aren’t perfect at the job, most of us give it our best.  

Even after our kids are grown, we never stop being a mother. Age just brings on a whole new set of worries, and reasons to pray for our children. They still need us in every phase of their lives, even if they don’t always realize it. No one can understand like a mother. She has already been through it all and has a reason for her advice. Moms never stop wanting to take away a problem from our children. If they hurt, we hurt. No matter how big or small. You never age out of being a mother. It will stay with you for the rest of your life and beyond. 

This year marks 38 years that I have been a mother. I count the first year because I was carrying my firstborn in my womb. I was indeed already a Mama. I took care of her for 9 months in the most crucial of ways. Making sure she grew healthy. I tried with all my might to prepare a wonderful world for her to be born into. Long before she saw my face, she heard my voice, and my prayers for her.  

I am still praying for her 38 years later, along with her two sisters that came along after. I have added three grandchildren to my prayers as well. It’s like an enormous ball of snow rolling down a mountain, growing bigger and better with a mother’s love all the way.  

When I was a young Mama, it was a big deal to be recognized on Mother’s Day with cards and gifts. Homemade crafts from the children, a bouquet of Spring flowers, maybe. A day filled with well wishes and family. Now, after so many years, the need for recognition is no longer there. I don’t even need a card anymore. I couldn’t be prouder of the now three adults who made me a proud mother so many years ago! All I care about is hearing my grown children’s voice saying, “I love you Mama”. That is all I need for a happy day. 


Lets Play Fetch?


 My pet Paisley loves to play fetch with me. What makes that so unique, you say? Well, maybe it’s because Paisley is my cat.  

I have owned cats my entire life. Had them as far back as my 58 years of memory can go. Not once, in all the cats loved, has one ever played fetch with me. 

Paisley has never been interested in actual toys. I guess you could say she prefers homemade ones over store bought. Like pieces of plastic peeled from a package, a cotton swab, button, or the plastic ring that is stripped from a milk jug. Unfortunately, she also loves rubber bands and thread. But I have prohibited those from her possession as she tried to ingest them.  

Paisley can play for 30 minutes or more with whatever tickles her fancy. All I have to say is, “Bring it to Mommy”, and the game of fetch is on. I will take the object of her affection, flick it with my finger to make it fly across the room, and she’s off, stalking and then catching it like her prey, only to return it to my lap for the fun to be repeated. I have been jolted awake many times in the middle of the night with Paisley pawing at me because she has brought me a “toy” and wanted me to play fetch with her. Yes, it’s adorable she does that, but not before dawn! Sometimes, I can kindly tell her mommy is sleeping and she’ll leave me alone. Sometimes I sleep too soundly, and I awake to find several of her toys beside my pillow. Poor baby tried more than once and couldn’t get me to play. 

I’ve heard many times from non-cat enthusiasts that the reason they don’t like cats is that they are boring or stupid. They aren’t like dogs; they say. Well, I believe people make such comments because they have never had a proper relationship with a cat. They have never taken a kitten, cared for it, watched it grow, learned its personality, interacted with it, or loved it. They really don’t know about cats. Very sad.

I am a HUGE cat fan, as you can tell. It would be wonderful if more people, who think they dislike cats, would educate themselves and give a cat a real try. I believe many would fall in love with them, just as I have. There is such an enormous need for adoptive parents for thousands of homeless cats all over the United States. It’s devastating!  

It is really quite easy to own a cat. They enjoy their alone time. Thus, they do not need the constant attention that a dog requires and most do not suffer from any form of separation anxiety like a dog. They do not need to be walked or go potty outside. In fact, they can live their entire lives only indoors, healthy both physically and mentally. This lowers their need for vet visits. My Paisley has been spayed and vaccinated. Other than that, she has never needed a vet’s care. She is the picture of a healthy kitty.  

The only downside to having a cat is the litter box. They must go to the bathroom somewhere, right? I used to hate the litter box. Keeping it clean was a chore. That is no longer the case. The type of litter boxes available, and the technology with the actual litter, has made the job not only very simple, but completely odorless. I use a litter that has no smell or dust yet absorbs all odors. It’s amazing compared to the kitty litter I used for my cats 20 years ago.  

So there really is no excuse anymore not to give a kitty in need a home. Try it. You may just fall in love and end up with a beautiful, unique cat like I did. My Paisley is my little fetching buddy, and I can’t imagine my home without her!