Confessions of an Anticipater

You Are Enough, from the upcoming Kindness Rocks Garden, Clinton, PA.

I grew up with years of conditioning to be an anticipater. My mother was the queen of hospitality and loved to bake and cook. She kept an immaculate home. When she and my dad entertained, there was always too much food but it was so good that none of us ever minded the leftovers.

When we invite friends or family over, we anticipate how many people, how much food, what will guests need or want to drink. This anticipating serves us well and in my work as a wedding planner, it serves me even better. I am constantly looking ahead to what’s next when it comes to weddings and the big day. Whatever the bride, groom, their respective families, and the guests need, both Sara and I will deliver on.

These same characteristics that serve me so well in my line of work do not always serve me in normal living. As a person who is committed to “letting go” of trivial matters and over planning, it is a challenge to wrestle my elite planning skills with my desire to live a simpler life.

Spontaneity is not one of my greatest characteristics. Yet I do try and be so, especially when I have no desire to cook for myself. I search for a friend who might be available for breakfast,  lunch, or just shopping. It used to be that I had to plan these things ahead of time. Well, no more.

I have several friends that I can reach out to who will likely meet me on the spur of the moment. If I can’t find one available, I simply take a book and go myself. No planning necessary there.

If I want to live life as a spiritual journey, I have to be open to whatever is sent my way. Control is best given up. Life is so much easier when it is allowed to unfold any way it wants. Sometimes the best things happen when we least expect them to.

I have a friend who likes to say, “God has a plan for us but we are not on the planning committee.” So true. Divine love is best experienced without boundaries or borders.

An Attitude of Gratitude

Me and my girl, Penelope Katherine.

January 2018 has given us a gamut of things already, hasn’t it? Zero to sixty degrees within the range of a week or two, a flu epidemic, and all kinds of flooding and wild weather. It seems as though we are into the new year with quite a bang. 

In the midst of all that, I managed to write three chapters of my next book. (yay!) I’ve had a lingering sinus cold but I loved my usual time with Penny and my mom. I try to practice good self-care (something I’m not always great at), like getting enough rest and drinking plenty of herbal tea with Jim’s delicious honey.

Penny turned two years old this past week. I keep looking at her and thinking Where has the time gone? It seems like only yesterday I was trekking to Pittsburgh to meet her for the first time. Today she’s a bright, active, social, loving child.

Lately, I have been thanking God all day long and especially when I am in one certain place. When I get into bed at night, with my warm flannel sheets,  homemade quilt, and fluffy pillows, an overwhelming feeling of gratitude comes over me. I know how blessed and fortunate I am. There are times when I think of my grandparents. They came over on the boat from Greece, in the 1920’s through Ellis Island, with the thoughts of making a better life for themselves.

Two generations later and we have that better life. My grandparents lived on very little and used the teachings and traditions that had been handed down to them. It was reflected in the food they prepared, the gardens they planted, and the hospitality in the little store that my grandparents owned. Neither of my grandparents spoke English when they came here. My own mother had to learn English to go to school. Greek was her primary language and she still speaks it fluently.

Me in my yiayia’s store when I was a little girl.

How often do we stop and think about the things we have? If we are blessed to have good jobs, food on our tables, a warm house, and money to pay our bills, that is something many do not have. If we donate to charities or volunteer for them, that is a way of showing gratitude. To be involved in something wonderful, outside of ourselves, is a precious way to give thanks.

I hope you take the time today (and every day) to be thankful.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.  2 Corinthians 9:15

 

Savor the Moments

My 60th birthday lunch!

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and holiday season. Can you believe it is 2018? It’s here!

For the past several years I’ve treated myself to a Word of the Year.  Why? It’s a compass for guidance and motivation to study and work on myself. In the past I’ve chosen Joy, Believe, and Happiness for my words of the year.

How do I use the word? I simply keep it in my thoughts, meditations, and prayers. If I am faced with a challenging situation, I bring my word to mind and contemplate how I can use it to change my perspective. I always choose positive words (never negative), and you would not believe how a simple word can change a depressing problem into a spiritual opportunity. I choose books, readings, and podcasts that also help me study my wonderful word.

The last few weeks the word SAVOR has popped into my head over and over again. I looked up the definition and here’s what I found:

SAVOR: noun

1. The quality in a substance that affects the sense of taste or of smell.

2. A particular taste or smell.

3. Distinctive quality or property.

4. Power to excite or interest.

Source: Dictionary.com

I love the fourth definition! The Power to Excite or Interest. What do I intend to SAVOR, to be excited about? Well, many things! I want to savor time, tastes, and experiences. As a Greek American, I love wonderful food, especially if it is shared with family and friends.

I want to savor moments with my family, especially my grandchildren, as I know how precious these times really are. My wedding families give me the opportunity to savor, and this is not just about the cookie table! God has placed me in this position to make a difference in the lives of brides, grooms, their parents and guests. I’m there to keep the calm, take the stress off the day, and use my knowledge and gifts to oversee a day they will not forget.

I also want to be more mindful of how and what I eat. Healthier choices, less guilt, and more savoring are important to me. I’ve been conscious lately of slowing down and enjoying my food. This is hard for a busy person like me. I often eat with other things in mind (like what I have to do next!). I can also be an emotional eater (chocolate!) so I’m really trying to acknowledge my feelings when I’m stressed or worried.

It is coming up on five years that I left a full time position to help my mother. It’s hard to believe its been that long. Sometimes hard, always rewarding, I feel like I can finally breathe a bit better about the future and where I am going. This is not for everyone but I am glad I chose this route. There’s a book submission in my future and this is the topic I have chosen to write about- Caring for our Elderly Parents. If you are assisting an elderly parent(s) in any way, even if you are working part or full time, and have a story to share, I want to hear from you. Email me at joannejamiscain@gmail.com.

As you savor your New Year, I hope you take the time to make one positive change. Maybe choose your own word, start a gratitude journal, begin a three minute meditation practice, or start an exercise program. Touch base with me occasionally and let me know how you’re doing. I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

Make Your Christmas More Meaningful

Aaron Burden

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is a few days away. I have been busy but not SO busy that I forget the reason for the season. There are many wonderful sights and sounds during the holidays and it is easy to get caught up in it all- the quest for perfect presents, home holiday decor, parties, cookie recipes, you name it.

Heidi Sandstrom

This holiday, I want to challenge you to think about Christmas differently. Think about it other than presents, alcoholic beverages, and a zillion cookies. To help you, I’m going to share my favorite things about the holiday. This is in the hopes that you will go deeper into your heart and look beyond the tangible into the intangible. And, I’m hoping you will share your favorite enriching experiences with me so I can open my gratitude circle even wider.

  1. Giving. This is the biggest charitable season of all. I try to support my church’s ministries and be as generous as I can afford to be. When my kids were little we rolled up dollar bills and put them in the Salvation Army buckets. We didn’t have much back then but we gave a little every chance we could. I’ll bet you my adult kids still put dollar bills in SA buckets.
  2. Friends. I’ve had numerous opportunities to spend extra time with friends. We do this anyway but at the holiday season it is even more meaningful. The food and presents are nice, but what I really enjoy is quality time and unconditional love.
  3. My family. I took my mom to see The Nutcracker a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit challenging but the Benedum staff (Thanks Steve!) was wonderful. We enjoyed the ballet and I think my mom absolutely loved the experience. I am looking forward to Christmas Eve and Day when I am with many of my family.
  4. Church. My church service and our choir is so beautiful all the time but I especially love the whole experience at Christmas. We had our holiday program recently and all the young ones sang. They sounded like little angels! Church is one of the best ways to experience unity with the reason for the season.
  5. Children. We took Penny to the Christmas Light Up in Clinton, PA.  and it was enchanting. If you want to have a great experience, take a small child to a Christmas event. Sit back and say very little; watch their faces glow. This is why we need to give young ones the gift of our time and energies. Just for things like this.
Mom and I at The Nutcracker

This is a season of love and gratitude. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of the holidays so remember, easy does it. Go for experiences, not necessarily material possessions, and remember to be generous with those less fortunate. This will transform the holidays for you.

What is your most meaningful Christmas or holiday tradition? I’d love to hear from you. Merry Christmas!

 

 

A Six Year Blogging Journey

Volume One and Two!

A few weeks ago I celebrated my 60th birthday. My sisters were here and made it so special. They gave me a wonderful gift-  a two volume compilation of all of my Katherine’s Daughter blog posts! The second book arrived today and it’s beautiful.

Six years of blogging? Could it really be? Two hundred and fifty nine posts. What have I learned? A whole lot about myself and blogging.

Initially I began a blog because I had a desire to write a book. Not a fiction book but a non fiction book about grace. As I explored this more, the research I found said if you have a blog and develop a following, your book will have an audience. As if the universe conspired to help me, I then began a full time job that was very busy but not very imaginative. I loved my boss and co worker but I had come from an events planning environment where every day was something different.

Enter my blogging journey. I started Katherine’s Daughter six years ago today on December 11, 2011. I remember being a bit scared of the technical side of a blog, and inspired by the sheer excitement of it. Blogging is fun! I met lots of other wonderful writers too numerous here to name. They showed me the way and taught me many things.

Are you thinking of blogging or writing? Here’s a few awesome things I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t strive for perfection. If you think every post has to come out like a Vanity Fair or New York Times article, think again. Anyone with a desire and basic knowledge of their language can write. My way of writing is to think about what I want to say for a few days then sit at the keyboard. Usually my posts will tumble out and I edit them a couple of times. I resist the temptation to revise over and over again. That drives me insane.
  2. Practice makes it easier. When I look at my first post and look at my last post, I’m kind of proud. I think my writing is a little better since the beginning and I will tell you that each time I post I worry a bit less. I just let it happen.
  3. Writing a blog is a creative outlet. Do you have something to say? Photography to showcase? A zillion recipes to share? A family life that is outrageously humorous? Blogging is a chance to share your magic with the world. I like to tell stories that show ordinary life as extraordinary. It does help to have a central theme in mind.
  4. If you have a business, blogging will broadcast it. I have an events blog tied to my wedding business. I do very little paid advertising. But I do wedding posts on a regular basis and I can’t tell you how many brides have found those posts and hired me as their coordinator.
  5. Be yourself. You can be a swearing, outrageous blogger that showcases your daily struggle with mental illness or a major momma in the kitchen with amazing recipe magic. Either way, be respectful to yourself and others and have a good time with it.

What’s yet to come? My sister Mary wrote me a beautiful letter when she gave me volume one. I want to share it with you.

Happy 60th Jo!

I’m writing this note three days after your 60th birthday. The Fed Ex package due to arrive on your birthday arrived instead at 10:38am this morning. I suppose that means your birthday is meant to live on at least a few more days, if not more.

I’ve thought about this present for you for quite some time. Cally initially rejected the idea of creating a book/s of all your posts. But I knew this would be the perfect gift for you. Mostly for selfish reasons—because my hope is that this year you’ll think about creating a compilation book of the best of your blog posts. It’s not my place to decide which ones are the best. But I knew what I could do was print every blog post you’ve written (or at least those on the katherine’s daughter site) as a book and also as pdfs to make it easier for you to read and select your version of Anne Lamott’s Traveling Mercies orGrace (Eventually) or Hallelujah Anyway. 

Sometimes I wonder if you realize what a gifted writer you really are. Your blog will always be something I can return to again and again to remind me of mom, of what it was like to grow up in our family, to remember how sweet life can be, and to be grateful for the big and little things that happen in our lives.

So my hope is that when I turn 60, your present to me is a published copy of your “best of katherine’s daughter.”

Happy 60th big sister.

Love you Jo.

Mary

Ok Mary, I accept your challenge! I will do my best to have the Best of Katherine’s Daughter published by December of 2019!

To all of my supporters and faithful readers- Thank you so much for all of your love and encouragement. Your comments, likes, and shares of my posts lift me up on my writing journey. Here’s to many more years!!

 

My 60th Birthday

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
― Maya Angelou

The Jamis Girls at Poros, Pittsburgh

It has been a wonderful week. Turning 60 has been a happy experience for me in many ways. My sisters (who both live in NC) came home for the week which of course, happened to be Thanksgiving as well.

I wanted a few close family and friends on my actual birthday. No fancy stuff; just pizza and cake. It wasn’t about the food, it was about love and friendships. Penny was there of course and though she wouldn’t sit on my lap, she loved watching everyone sing. John and Jess gave me a blanket with their wedding pictures all over it. What fun!

Too many candles!

What have I learned by this age? Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve learned that I can be myself and if people like me for who I am, that’s great. If not, I’m ok with that. I have a smaller circle of friends but I kind of like it that way. I don’t have the stamina that I used to have, but I still have plenty of energy. I will make time for anyone who wants to talk to me (about anything). My ministries are important to me (my mother and FOCUS) and my love for writing and blogging has only increased.

My faith is my guiding light and it keeps me centered. I try and remember to be grateful every day for the blessings that surround me.

My sisters planned a gift for me that they thought would arrive on my birthday. It did not and though Mary was upset, I was fine with it. They took me to lunch on Wednesday to Poros, and my daughter and two cousins showed up.  I didn’t know Nini and Lisa were coming until the last minute. I love surprises. Then we decided to text my cousin Nick (who works around the corner) and he came within twenty minutes! Wow!

Wonderful time!

So the day after Thanksgiving we finally all met at a coffee shop and my gift had arrived. Imagine my surprise when it was a hardcover book of my first three years of every Katherine’s Daughter post! I cried a bit when I saw this. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was!

What a great gift!

Last night I sat down for a while and read the book. It was wonderful to read my posts from the beginning. It was very insightful and I was frankly, a little proud of myself. I couldn’t believe how much I accomplished.

My sister Mary wanted to motivate me to think about compiling my favorite posts into a book. I told her she has succeeded and this is definitely inspiring me to sit down and do the work.

Thank you to my sisters, mom, Jim, Michelene, Jessica, John, Penny and all of you who made my birthday so special. The blessings, wishes, and love from all of you have filled me with joy.

*Do you have a blog you’d like to turn into a book? My sisters used Blog2Print. They’re having a Cyber Monday sale right now so use the code SHOPCOZY for 35% off. 

A Letter to My Grandson

A few years ago, but us none the less!

Yesterday I was going through some office papers when I stumbled across a note that Jim wrote to Gavin last year. I was supposed to post it to my blog but somehow I completely forgot. (please forgive me Jim)

While Jim and I were on vacation last year, Gavin assumed most of the care of our home, including our 13 year old dog Jordan. During a shopping experience at the Nantucket whaling museum store, Jim picked a beautiful compass for Gavin as a gift. He gave it to him when we arrived home.

Without further ado, here is the letter Jim wrote to Gavin.

Compass: A tool often used to help with direction.

Dear Gavin,

While proving yourself this past week by taking care of the house, chickens, and the dog, I was thinking of myself when I was your age. I don’t think I would have done as good a job as you did. Most likely, I would have declined direction or refused the instructions offered to me, thinking that I knew better. Most of the time in my life, when I found myself lost, it was because I declined to use the tools and direction that were so freely given to me.

My hope is that if you use this compass to know the direction you’re starting in, you will always be able to find your way home. But please remember that it works best if you know where you are starting from.

Hopefully, with some Good Orderly Direction, you will never get lost. Always know that I love you.   Jim

PS. Clean up your room, stand up straight, and listen to you mom (lol)

When I found this yesterday it melted my heart. Gavin is going to be 17 this coming April. Hard to believe. It feels like yesterday that he was just a little guy.

Thank you Jim for helping me clean out my office and for writing this beautiful letter.

Rock My World

My daughter Michelene and her rock. “There is a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

You might remember that this past June I happened to be at Susquehanna University. It was there that I stumbled upon a Kindness Rocks Garden and stopped in my tracks. It captured my attention and so much so that I contacted my daughter’s childhood friend, Steph, who worked for the Recreation Department of Findlay Township.

I told Steph about the Kindness Rocks Garden and asked if there was a chance that we could make one in Clinton Park. “Sure!”, she said. And that was the beginning.

Since I am turning 60 this month, I wanted to do something to honor my friends and community. Creating this project filled the bill. On Thursday, November 9, about twenty new and old friends gathered to paint rocks and write inspirational sayings on them.

Armstrong Telephone gave us a grant and through them, we were able to buy all of the supplies. The Kindness Rocks website has a pdf form that makes it so easy to get everything you need. The oil based markers were terrific. We also had pre-painted about 25 rocks, just to get the evening started.

My deepest thanks to Steph, Findlay Township, and everyone who turned out! We will be creating the actual garden in Clinton Park this coming Spring of 2018. I promise to keep you posted here and on social media. If you live in the area and would like to make rocks for this project, feel free! We would welcome groups or individuals who love to create. Feel free to contact Findlay Recreation at 724-695-0500 extension 240.

Here’s what a fabulous evening it was.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
― Maya Angelou

The Magnificent Color of Life

Magnificent color. Photo by Aaron Burden.

From the time I was a little girl, I loved nature and I loved color. I remember there was a book that I read to my daughter when she was little. It was about loving mixed up colors best, a baby robin’s speckled breast… Oh how we read that book over and over.

As a young child, I used brightly colored crayons in pages upon pages of coloring books. Even as a grown up, I love to color. It is no wonder that I love fall.

Photo by Corey Blaz

Normally I get so tired of driving but during autumn, that’s a different story. I log about 300-400 miles a week because anything out of Clinton Pennsylvania is a drive. I drive to mom’s, to Penny’s, to the grocery store, to church, on and on. Most of my CD’s are gone although I find myself not missing them much these days. With all the quiet there’s time to think,  to pray, and relish the solitude. There was a time when I needed constant stimulation and a racket in my head. Anything to keep my mind occupied.

These days, quiet wins. I like being with myself and I love the peacefulness. There’s been so much going on lately- weddings, events, three dogs in the house- truly, it’s a welcome relief.

If you live where there is fall foliage, do you notice it? When you’re driving are you in awe of the golden yellows, oranges, and reds of the season? I look around every time I drive. I find myself taking back roads just to see the color.

Caleb Jones

I am ever amazed at the hurry people are in these days. They like to cut the next guy off, they get mad when they don’t catch the green light, and they don’t wait for those poor pedestrians to cross the street. I love to do my “three things a day that no one catches me at” and stop, wait, and let those who need to cross the road.

If we take time to slow down and look at the colors, we will be amazed every day at what we’ll see. The world will open up. The gratitude of the season will have more meaning when we see those small little things. If we only focus on what’s wrong in our life, we will not see the gorgeous beauty awaiting us every day.

Last week John and Jess brought Penny to Hozak Farms. We have been going there for YEARS. I took John and Michelene as children, Gavin when he was a little guy, and now Penny. Instead of riding the hay wagon to the  pumpkin patch, Penny headed straight to the straw hut. Nothing fancy but Penny loved it. While we ate fried pickles (and I shopped), Penny spent close to an hour throwing straw with other kids. She had so much fun.

Penny photobombed!

Hozak’s was beautiful. Yes, it ‘s a bit more crowded these days but I still love it. It’s a wonderful place to see lots of trees, life, and color. The memories of past visits fill me with nostalgia. Life goes by so fast. Take the time to look around and drink in the color.

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

 

 

In My Dreams

A place to nestle. Outerbanks Couch- Photo by Arhaus

When you think of your home, what space would you most like to treat to a makeover?  Recently, Jim and I made the big decision of removing our wall to wall carpet and exposing the gorgeous red oak floors below. It was a major move for us. The floors have been covered since we moved in thirty four years ago. No sanding or varnishing was necessary. The floor is absolutely beautiful.

My home doesn’t look like the picture above (I wish!). But it’s ok for a girl to dream, isn’t it? Since I’ve been taking care of my mom for the past four years, I’ve been embracing simplicity. There are limited extra funds these days but I’m ok with that. Being able to spend time with my mom is worth it. Still I know the day will come when I will pick a new look to go with those hardwood floors.

Let’s dream together, shall we?

I’d like to make my living room the kind of space that would be a welcome retreat. When I come home from a busy day with mom or Penny, I’d like to melt into a comfy sofa with lots of pillows, a throw blanket of fleece or warm cotton, and my perfect reading lamp nearby. Arhaus has a lot of great lamp options you can check out. It might be snowing outside so I’d have a delicious mug of cocoa (yes, with mini marshmallows).

Or, I’d have a warm and inviting chair I could cuddle up to, a soft ottoman to rest my feet on, and the sunshine of the day behind my shoulder. The other colors in the room would be neutral and soothing.

I checked out the Arhaus website recently and found this gorgeous chair. It would be perfect next to the oak floors. A throw pillow behind my back and I’m ready to relax. I’m a fan of white walls. They look so clean. How about a few potted plants? There are plants everywhere in my house including my bedroom. Did you know certain plants are helpful for rest and relaxation?

What would I be reading? I love fiction novels with happy endings, non fiction books that inspire, and decor dream magazines like Country Living. My books would be stacked in fair trade baskets from Serrv. I love their mission and what they stand for.

Serrv Baskets

This past weekend, out of the blue, I ended up in Wexford PA. I stopped at my favorite clothing place and behold, an Arhaus was next door! I stopped in and walked around the store not once but twice. I asked one of the nicest saleswomen ever to take my picture. She asked if this was going to be my Christmas card. I laughed and replied no. I said, “A girl can dream, right?”. She said, “Absolutely!”.

Wow, love this sofa!

I hope this post will inspire you to think of your home as a sanctuary. Clean out clutter first. Go through your things and decide what’s really important and give away what is not.  If you don’t have the energy or motivation to do this, hire someone to help you. Organizers are worth every penny. Then think about what you’d like to do. Check out Pinterest for some great ideas. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming and who knows? When we set an intention, we let the universe know what we want. And I believe the universe will conspire to bring it to us.

Blessings,

Joanne

I loved these 25 Cozy Interior Design Ideas from Lushome. Click HERE to check it out.

Have you done a makeover recently? Do you wish for one? Share your ideas here or on my Facebook page. If you want, set an intention and share it with us!