Category: JoAnn

A Good Egg

I love eggs! I can eat them any way you want to give them to me. As I write this, I am boiling a couple for my dinner. Yes, I eat them for any meal. That’s how versatile an egg is. They are perfect little ovals of nutrition. Just Google “what’s in an egg?” and you will be shocked at how perfect an egg is.

I was raised on fresh farm eggs, of course. Straight from the chickens….. well, you know! My mama gathered them from the hen’s nest, and into the frying pan, they went. Back in the 1960s, mothers thought that if their baby or child would eat an egg for breakfast, they had just given them the most nutritious breakfast possible. I loved mine over easy, with fried bologna and toast. On the weekends, we might have eggs with bacon or sausage. To this day, that is one of my favorite meals. I now know to skip the bologna and various other meats, thanks to Science.

For the past 40 years, there has been a debate about whether or not eggs are healthy. Should we limit them in our diets? Should we only eat the whites of the eggs? Or is it perfectly healthy to eat them as a regular part of our routine? I, for one, am a big fan of eating eggs as a regular part of our daily nutrition. I believe one egg a day is excellent. I tend to eat anywhere from 2 to 6 eggs per week. Usually, just scrambled or boiled. No meat. No bread. So I believe I am safely enjoying my eggs without adding salt, fats, or carbs. Now and then, I will indulge and put cheese on my scrambled eggs. That’s when I feel a little crazy.

Some time ago, when I was struggling with watching my diet, weight, and all the numbers my doc had spewed at me, I concluded that if I wanted to eat something, all I had to do was ask myself one question. Would Jesus eat that? Seriously, we all know Jesus would be a healthy eater if He were on earth today. And we also know that He would never touch some of the things we put into our stomachs! I’m not sure what His attitude would be if faced with a McDonald’s meal. But I know without a doubt that He would never eat it.

I believe God would be fine eating an egg or two for any meal. After all, He created the animal which gives us those perfect little bombs of nutrition. And in case you were wondering, yes, I do believe the chicken came before the egg.

Good Neighbors

One of the greatest blessings in life, in my opinion, is good neighbors. I know this because, from experience, a bad neighbor is one of the worst things you can encounter in life!

Good neighbors are something to be appreciated, and we should show said appreciation any time an opportunity arises. Helping start a car on a cold morning, taking their trash can to the curb when they are injured, or mowing their yard with your own just to save them time or money.

Sometimes it means just leaving them alone if they are the type of person I am. I am happiest when I feel no pressure to be friends with a neighbor. When I know they won’t be knocking on my door at random times. If I had my choice, I would live with the nearest neighbor at least one mile away. I love being secluded, and I value my privacy and space. I inherited this personality trait from my mother, as did my older brother. I used to think I was weird for it, but after meeting many people along my journey that feel the same way, I have embraced it.

Growing up, until the age of 11, we lived on top of a mountain with over ten acres of thick woods surrounding us. I only began to learn who our neighbors were when I started attending school. My older sister and I would walk down our long driveway and then continue on to the neighborhood school bus stop. There I met the children that lived within walking distance of the bus stop. I only remember a couple of the kids being friendly to us. We didn’t quite fit into their circle because we lived on the mountain top, and they rarely saw us. I remember feeling disappointed because they were so cold to me and didn’t seem interested in becoming friends. But the few that were friendly were enough for me, and I cherished whatever friendship they wanted to offer. To this day, 54 years later, I am still friends with Emma, my best friend from back then. Thanks to social media, we were reunited online around 1993 and now stay in touch regularly.

At age 11, we moved to the great state of Virginia and the busy city of Newport News. It was indeed a culture shock for all of us! Maybe not so much for my dad due to his service in WWII, which allowed him to see much more of the world. For my mom, sister, and myself, it was as if we had landed on Mars. We had never lived on streets lined with sidewalks, much less played on sidewalks. We were used to fresh air and rich dirt to play in. The dirt in Newport News was sandy. Black soot seemed to settle on everything. That soot came from the Newport News Shipyard, which was a very short walking distance from our front door. The neighbor’s house to our right was so close that we could stick our arms out of our kitchen window and touch their window. Most of the homes in our neighborhood were also close together. I went from listening to children playing down the hill and wishing I could play with them, to listening to children playing on the sidewalks and the road all day. So many “city” kids, I was suddenly shy and afraid of befriending them.

This neighborhood was where we learned what it was like to have bad neighbors. But all in all, the good neighbors outnumbered the bad, and I am happy to say that I am left with more good memories of the remainder of my childhood. I made some great friends as I grew into a young adult. I cherish the time we lived there and the great adventure it turned out to be.

Now fast forward to 2022, and I am once again learning to live in a new way. Four years ago, I moved into a duplex apartment, all alone this time, for the first time. Fifty-six years old and moving into my first apartment alone. I would have never imagined that this is where I would be at this stage of my life.

One thing I can say about it is that I am incredibly thankful for the good neighbor I now have! He is a 70-year-old truck driver named Tom. He spends most of his days on the road. This means it is very quiet around here for me! I can turn my tv or radio up as loud as I like. I feel like I won the lottery by having Tom as my neighbor. He makes sure our yard stays mowed and is quick to bring my trash can back from the street whenever it needs to be. I am very quiet when he is home, hoping that I never disturb him, as I am so grateful for the time he is gone. He seems to be a lovely person the few times we have talked. And yes, I did take the opportunity to express how much I appreciate him being a good neighbor! I do not plan to remain in this duplex for much longer, as I dream of a newer, more updated apartment. But I have to say, having a good neighbor like Tom has me taking my time moving on. I know just how lucky I am.

There have been many neighbors throughout my life that left a positive influence on me. Whether it was them being respectful of my privacy, lending a helping hand, or a few who became my friend. I have been very blessed with good neighbors, and in turn, I have always strived to be a good neighbor myself. As much as I can be a hermit, I enjoy living by the golden rule.

Begin Again

How many times can we begin again? Of course, the technical answer would be every day! Whether it’s in our careers, love life, where we live, or our health.

Each morning we awake to a brand new day. Everything that happened yesterday is now a part of our past. It can never be revisited, redone, or relived in the same exact way. We can try, but it will never be exactly like yesterday.

That can be a sad idea, but it can also be quite freeing. If yesterday was a good day, it’s a shame we can only relive it through our memories. But if yesterday was terrible, we may have the opportunity to make things right today.

As a Christian, I believe that each new day brings a brand new portion of grace from our Lord. If we repent for our failings each night, the new day will meet us with a clean slate and an abundant amount of grace. We can begin again with all the grace we need for a brighter day than the one past.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the days that have been negative in our past. To let them color our future is the last thing we should do. I, for one, am trying to start each day brand new, just as it’s meant to be. What is wrong with beginning again every day? Instead of waking up, feeling that you have the same struggle at work or home, why not awake thinking I have a brand new day, slate clean! Maybe starting your day off with that kind of attitude will make a difference. I certainly don’t think it could hurt.

I believe a person should begin a new life as many times as they need for their own happiness. If you’re not happy where you live or work, try everything to start over somewhere new. I regret letting myself become stuck in the same places for so long when I was indeed unhappy. Now I realize there is nothing wrong with moving around. I was brought up to believe that a person puts down roots and stays. Now I know that is one of the most challenging things a person can do. It can become very depressing and certainly not for everyone.

We are to continue growing and learning all the years of our lives to be truly happy. I don’t believe that’s possible without beginning again over and over many times. Many people think that to start again means you have failed. I realize now that is not true. It only means you are growing into something new to avoid getting stuck. That’s a good thing.

The Ripple Effect

A while back, I wrote a missive about the importance of saying “thank you.” Today I realized that things have not improved at all since I wrote that missive.

With all that is going on in this world, kindness is not only very needed, but it is also the most “FREE” thing we can offer anyone. It costs absolutely nothing, folks!

A simple “thank you” or a smile with a “good morning” can go a long way in causing a ripple effect in someone’s life. Maybe that person you give a friendly smile and good morning to will feel more hope for their day because of your efforts. Perhaps they will, in turn, smile at someone and have a kind word for someone else to help them get through their day.

The ripple effect is real. Positive breeds positive, and negative breeds negative. Whether it’s in an attitude or action, it matters!

I went to a drive-through last week in hopes of receiving a nice hamburger for my lunch. Getting out of the house the past two years has been rare for me. When I do decide to get out, I want to enjoy myself. I love hamburgers, and I looked forward to having one this day.

Upon giving my order to the lady on the other end of the speaker box, I knew instantly that things weren’t going to go smoothly. She was clearly busy doing something else, and I did not have her full attention. She asked me to repeat my order at least three times before she finally had it correct, or so I had thought. When she gave out my total, it was about $3 over, so I knew she had not heard me the two times I explained that I had a coupon.

I pull up to the window with a smile on my face, not really too bothered. Perhaps the workers were just swamped inside. The lady who took my order was not the usual teenager I see at this fast food joint. She was around forty. She tells me my total, and I hand her my coupon. Without saying a word to me, she yells, yes YELLS, to another employee, “How do I do this?!”. She finally got the total correct, and I handed her my debit card. I was given my hamburger, and off I went. There was no “thank you,” no sorry for the mix-up, nothing. And definitely no smile.

I guess you could say I was a little put-off by the service I had just received. I have encountered many teenage employees who do not say thank you or act friendly. I know they are still learning, and don’t take it too personally. After all, if their home life has not taught them to say thank you and to be kind, they are not going to be that way at work. It will take a while for them to learn the importance of both on their own.

But someone forty years old should know better! I may have had a coupon and was receiving a half-priced burger, but still, I deserved to be treated with professionalism and courtesy just as much as a customer who was ordering one of everything on the menu.

My question as I pulled out of the parking lot was, “What are these managers telling these employees when training them?! Are the managers actually training them?!” I am beginning to think that professional training is a thing of the past. Why else would this be happening every place I go? I am a kind person who greets everyone with a smile and a pleasant disposition. I know the problem is not me.

I had a conversation with my oldest granddaughter, Randi, about this. She had worked in fast food at Subway for a while. Randi is 17 and will graduate this year. She assured me that she was always kind and said thank you to customers and gave them the best service she could. I believed her. And I felt very proud not just of Randi, but my daughter & son in law who I know had raised her to be this way.

Randi did tell me several stories of horrible customers she had to deal with. Each of my three daughters has had their turn working for customer service, so I’ve heard many of these stories before. I have always taken that into account when I am the customer. I make a special effort to be kind, patient, and forgiving. But even someone like me has their limit, I guess.

I decided that was the last time I would endure such unpleasantness at that particular fast food place. They no longer had me as a customer. I’m sure they won’t miss me as I didn’t spend much money there. I still believe it is a shame for them to lose a good customer, though. I wonder what the manager, or better yet, the owner, would think of this story. Would it make a difference somehow? Would they try to train their employees to have better manners? Who knows. Maybe I’ll try to find out.

No matter what, I will continue to do my best to make a positive ripple wherever I go. I hope you’ll join me.

The Hug

The last two years have certainly been different. It seems masks, vaccines, boosters, opinions on whether or not to get the vaccine, and distancing ourselves from one another have become our new norm. Or at least it has for my family and me. I for one, HATE IT!

I was feeling quite lonely the other day and thought to myself how nice it would be to have a big hug from someone I love at that moment. I live alone and do not have a significant other. All three of my daughters are grown and living with their spouses and children. Since the pandemic began, I have seen them less and less.

I tried to remember the last hug that I had shared. It had been when I hugged my oldest granddaughter Randi when she came by to drop off something for her mom. It was a quick hug initiated by me. My granddaughters have been warned not to hug me, as I am considered “high risk” due to several ailments that weaken my immune system. I find it very difficult, or downright impossible, to be around one of my granddaughters and not hug them. That’s one of the main reasons why I stay away. I know I will not be able to control myself. It’s the same with my grown daughters. They will forever be my “little girls .”I see them, and it’s impossible for me not to hug them.

I very rarely go out into public settings. But my children and grandkids are out in the world daily. I especially worry about my grandchildren as they are in the public school system. I imagine that to be a virtual cesspool of germs. Most assuredly, Covid germs.

I sometimes wonder if the danger is all in my mind. I see people going about their week like everything is normal. No Covid, no precautions, not seeming to have heard there is still a pandemic. Just as I begin to let my guard down and join them, I read another story or hear of another neighbor or friend of a friend who has become very ill from Covid or its variant. And worse than that, I hear of another death from the monster in this chaos.

I’m tired of not seeing my family as much as I want to and feeling guilty when I do. I’m tired of not having a hug when I need it or offering one. I’m tired of trying to protect my physical body at the cost of my mental health. Am I the only one who feels this way? It seems most days like I am on the outside looking in as everyone else is living their lives as usual. Or are they?

If there ever was a time in my life to say I’m living in “The Twilight Zone,” it is undoubtedly now. And I am beyond ready to change the channel. And if there ever was a time in my life I needed a hug, it is NOW.


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