Category Archives: Change

She Believed She Could

This beautiful image courtesy of Artsy Pumpkin- Click HERE for the link.

“I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish.”
Anne Lamott

Happy New Year! How was your holiday? I can’t believe it’s over already. Now it’s back to reality and real life! I couldn’t resist the above quote by Anne Lamott. She makes me laugh, cry and smile, sometimes all at the same time. Reading her books and writing can turn around my whole day.

Penny on the beach, Summer 2016

When I look back on this year, I can consider it an amazing one. I did many more events than I thought possible. My church had a centennial celebration that I was blessed to be a part of. Penelope Katherine, my newest grandchild, was born on January 24 and brought such joy to my (and the whole family’s) life. I published my first book, Ordinary is Extraordinary and sold more copies of it than I thought possible (thank you!).

On the flip side, I was sometimes overwhelmed by too much to do. As usual I think I am managing well but then a dark cloud comes over me. That is why that quote above is especially poignant. I can really relate to it. Sometimes it is other people that bother me, sometimes it is the situations I create myself.

My word of the year for 2016 was Believe. It was a great word and I have kept it in mind all year. I hoped to use it to deepen my faith and I believe I accomplished that goal. I also know I will always keep building my relationship with God. I am never done and He will never be rid of me.

In the past two months, I lost a good friend to cancer. Another friend of mine, who was to be a first time grandmother, experienced a stillborn loss that I am still struggling to believe. Both of these were deep losses that I felt (and am still feeling). This is the hard part of growing up, getting older. You lose people that you love, bad things happen and we don’t understand them.

I remember when my father died almost nineteen years ago. We didn’t really see it coming although he had been sick for quite a while. The day after his death the sun came up. Time waits for no one I thought. Despite the awful loss of my dad, the world did not stop. People came and went. Friends showed up.

Isn’t this how we get through life? We plod along and sometimes there is deep mud to walk through, rain that beats down on us, and the occasional lighting strikes. Then there are those days when the sun comes out, someone gets married, a baby is born, a new friend is made. These events are what makes life worth living.

May you go forward in 2017 with a renewed attitude, a motivation to learn something new, and an awareness of the grace that will surely come your way.

I wanted to share some highlights of my year. These moments were especially wonderful. xo

Penny’s Baptism

Meeting an old friend, Dreama after many years.

Watching my son John and his entrance into Fatherhood.

Our visit to Nantucket.

Watching Penny adore my mom.

Meeting Vivian Howard of “Chef and the Farmer”

My sisters, mom and I at the kick off party to the Centennial of my church.

Penny and me on Christmas Eve.

Siesta Key Florida March 2016.

Backpack Feeding Kickoff at FOCUS West Central PA

Last wedding of the season- Ashley and Eli, Photo by Michael Will

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In the Company of Beautiful Women

Photo by Mary Yohannan

Photo by Mary Yohannan- Life is Better Through Traveling

“She is free in her wildness, she is a wanderess, a drop of free water. She knows nothing of borders and cares nothing for rules or customs. ‘Time’ for her isn’t something to fight against. Her life flows clean, with passion, like fresh water.”
Roman Payne

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I believe there are no coincidences. A friend of mine likes to say, “Is it Odd or is it God?”. Spiritual paths and journeys can cross with others at any time. I’ve been blessed to have this happen to me many times.

One of those times was last fall when I was contacted by a friend of mine to discuss a business idea. Tracy and I met for coffee and we had a great talk. During that time I mentioned my blog and spiritual journey, and my quest for putting together a small inspirational book. “Ordinary into Extraordinary” was the working title of the project. Tracy told me she wanted to host an empowerment weekend for women in the spring of 2016. “Can you finish your book by then?” she said.

Always being up for a challenge (and a good kick in the butt), I said yes. At first I was editing my favorite blog posts for a compilation book. This was the initial idea but by month two I was bored, restless, and trying to decide what to do. Enter my fellow blogging goddess, Sunday’s Child. A long talk from west to east coast, lots of encouragement, and a brave idea emerged. Begin a new book, write like there’s no tomorrow, and finish it by the retreat.

As if that wasn’t enough God power for me, enter Karen of BetterBe Creative. I met her just a couple of years ago and she is another goddess. A graphic designer with a beautiful, comforting personality, she has agreed to take on the task of designing my first cover. And guess what? She knows a publisher who can print the book. I’m self-publishing so figuring everything out is up to me and Karen. (PS. this book will eventually be available through the web for purchase- YAY!)

A few nights ago I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the other speakers. Joy Bufalini is missing from this picture (she had to leave first) but trust me, she is as awesome as rest of us.

From L to Right: Yours truly, Mary, Kate, and Tracy.

From L to Right: Yours truly, Mary, Kate, and Tracy.

After we each introduced ourselves and told our little story, I was infused with gratitude for what God has brought together. Tracy and Mary have organized this retreat at the beautiful Antiochian Village in the quaint town of Ligonier, Pennsylvania.The dates are April 1-2. We are motivated entrepreneurs and have all been through the school of hard knocks. We will share our stories with you at the retreat and tell you how we have taken our lemon filled lives and made lemonade.

I realized at our little dinner that this will be a retreat about self love and self care. We the speakers will encourage you to lift yourself up and move beyond the blocks that may be holding you back. The friendship and love we will show you will be with you for a long time. You will be changed by this weekend I promise you.

Click HERE for the registration link to the Women’s Empowerment Weekend.

Check out the agenda!

Agenda for WER April 2 2016

I will be there Friday and Saturday. Come and join us and be transformed.

Blessings!

Joanne

 

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Mid Life – Schmid Life

Check out my "Racing Stripe!" Thanks to my buddy Joe Indovina for this pic.

Staying Happy in MidLife! Thanks to my buddy Joe Indovina for this pic.

“Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging.”

Maya Angelou

I am 57 years old and feel like I am finally coming into accepting this beautiful, whole mid life thing I’ve been going through. I cannot believe at times, how I took my own youth for granted. I also can’t believe the things I worried about in my younger days.

They say youth is wasted on the young and ok, I get it. It would be nice to have a few things back right now, like a smaller waistline. But then I wouldn’t have all this wisdom and maturity I finally get to enjoy.

I can’t lie. It has been hard to accept certain parts of being over 50. Most of all, I can’t believe how naive I was about the changes my body would go through. I’d look at older people and make fun of the sagging skin on their arms or the fact that they couldn’t see or hear. It is pretty humbling when those same things start to happen to you.

I’ve struggled on and off with being ok about the sight and hair changes, the attention and focus issues, and the forgetfulness. Mostly I realize some of those things can happen to anyone at any age. My own 32 year old daughter couldn’t remember her banking PIN number when planning her work conference a few weeks ago. 🙂

So the thinking I’ve been coming into lately has been one of acceptance. Of loving my body and who I am no matter what. Of accepting who I am and embracing my age. (a mantra really for any age!) That’s why my opening quote is by Maya. She and my mother are really my role models for aging acceptance.

I quit coloring my hair a few years ago. It just got to be too much. Too much upkeep, too much trouble. The temptation to take it back to full on (dyed)color left me after the first year. This was one of the things I felt most strongly about- embracing the changes that were really mine, a part of my aging process. I didn’t take hormones through the change either. I had good role models who encouraged me to hang in there. I got better at deciding what I really needed to be emotionally healthy. I left a job that I loved because the drive was too dang far. For me, I have to do the mental work of healthy attitudes before any kind of physical work (like exercise or a career change) can really take root.

You know me pretty well by now to know that I’m a grace and love kind of person. I want to be the child of God who embraces unconditional love for all people. It doesn’t mean I agree with everyone’s viewpoint. It also doesn’t mean I condone unacceptable behavior when someone isn’t treating me well. It just means that I give others the right to have their viewpoint and I expect them to respect mine. And I love them pure and simple for who they are. This is the attitude I try and embrace every day. Aging and faith have taught me this.

When my silver hair grew out, it came in mostly on the sides of my head. I have darker hair down the middle and pure silver all along the edges. I call the darker part my “racing stripe.” And truly, I mean it.

Jo By Tree

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When the Braces Came Off

Thank you Dr. K

Thank you Dr. K

The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. 

Dolly Parton

I changed my profile picture on Facebook this week to the one above. Boy, did I get the comments. I was blushing. 🙂 You probably don’t know this about me, but I wore braces for what felt like half of my life. It really wasn’t half of my life but to me it seemed that way.

The radiant, lovely smile I possess now I never take for granted. It took me years to get it and so, in gratitude, I want to pass along my story for anyone who might be wishing for a change.

Yes, this is really me!

Yes, this is really me!

First, let me tell you I smiled all the time as a small child. In looking at pictures of myself at a young age, I was always happy and showing teeth in all my photos. When my permanent teeth came in, that was when things began to change.

I must have inherited a small mouth and large teeth. When my two front teeth came in, they were pointed in a V shape. Most of the rest of my front teeth were crooked as well. My mouth was a train wreck of sorts and my parents took a very conservative approach to this problem.

Since my Dad had lost all of his teeth after the second world war (poor nutrition and lack of a dentist in India where he was stationed), he didn’t want any of my teeth pulled. And since orthodontics was not really in vogue yet, we ended up at a regular dentist who was trying to move my teeth using very traditional methods. Mostly, he used a plain retainer and wired my teeth to that retainer.

I believe I wore this retainer for approximately four years or so (with very little change) until a friend of the family graduated from dental school, specializing in orthodontics. Dr. K. took one look at my mouth and told my parents I had to have four teeth removed. I clearly remember my mother saying “Those spaces had better close up afterwards!” to which Dr. K. replied, “Don’t worry, they will.”

I had the four teeth pulled and Dr. K began his work. He put “railroad tracks” on the teeth in front of and behind the then open spaces in my mouth. I swear it was less than a year later that my front teeth straightened out completely. I continued to wear full braces during my senior year in high school, and then through three years of college.

Braces off- One happy camper

Braces off! I was one happy camper that Christmas!

The timing was amazing. I graduated from college and Dr. K. took my braces off. It had been years since my teeth saw the light of day. I began smiling with a full on, bright smile. I couldn’t smile enough. It was like the sun coming out after a long heavy rain.

If you are thinking about fixing a problem in your smile, and whether you are young or old, I want you to go for it. The temporary inconvenience is worth the permanent improvement. I had my son and daughter in braces at a young age to save them the hassle of having it done later. Plus, it’s worth it for the self esteem alone. No one wants to go through life with crooked teeth.

Thank you to Dr. K. and his staff (Mrs. S.!) for what they did for me. My life was changed by their dedication and knowledge. I’m grateful every day for my beautiful smile.

My kids, Michelene and John and their beautiful smiles

My kids, Michelene and John and their beautiful smiles

You might not hear from me for a week or so. I’m headed for vacation this Saturday!

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My Unresolutions for the New Year

Calvin is Perfect! Nothing to Change! Photo Credit Decibel Magazine

Resolutions, ME?

Yes, I have to admit that in the past I was always reluctant to set New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I still am. But today I am thinking about what may be worthwhile to change as I go into this new year.

Being an over-doer and over-thinker, I hate setting goals that feel like more pressure. I already place too many expectations on myself and the thought of more pushing can overwhelm me.

But I am thinking that I can set some “un”resolution goals. This could be a good thing for me; a “restore-myself-to-sanity” thing and guess what- my word of the year just happens to be (drum roll please) – Sanity.

So here we go. I’m officially offering up my unresolution goals in the hopes you over-doers out there will join me.

1. I resolve to unhook myself from negative thought. As soon as my mind starts on the “you’re not doing enough, blah blah blah” I resolve to kick it to the curb and look at myself realistically. Am I really doing enough? If the answer is yes, well then, Good Enough is really Good Enough.

2. I resolve to un-counch-potato myself and get the heck to the gym. Yes, I’m signing up for a swim class and not making excuses about why I don’t like to exercise. Enough already- just do it!

3. I resolve to undo my own guilt trips about food. I noticed recently how much grief I give myself about any sweet treats and honestly, I’m tired of my own berating. If I want a cookie (provided I haven’t eaten ten of them already), I’m having it without guilt. If I work on loving my body for what it is (a beautiful thing!), the chances are I will make better choices anyway. (This may not always apply at Sunday’s donut fest after church services. 😉 )

4. I resolve to uncontrol my life more and give the big issues to the Universe. Honestly God does a much better job of figuring things out vs. my struggling and struggling.

5. I resolve to unleash my mind and let it live in the moment. I want to live more freely, more spontaneously, more enjoyably. I don’t need to plan as much, just go with the flow and enjoy what comes my way.

I’m smiling just looking at this list. I think I’ll print it out and hang it somewhere.

Will you join me? If you create an unresolution list, comment below and share a couple.

Happy New Year!

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Moving in a New Direction

My original blog picture!

My original blog picture!

How do you know when it’s time to move on?

Well, I know. When I feel that restlessness, that movement deep within me that says it’s time to break out of my own comfort zone.

When I created the website for my business Katherine’s Daughter Events, I found a fabulous webmaster (thanks to my sister Mary!) who held my hand every step of the way. From the beginning of our friendship Susan encouraged me to not only create my own events website, but to move my blog where I would have more control over what I can do with it.

The time has come. We are moving this blog, Katherine’s Daughter, over to a self hosted site in the next few days where it will be easier for me to manage and hopefully, grow my readership beyond what it is right now.

What will happen to you? Absolutely nothing if you are already an email subscriber. You will not notice a thing and you should still receive all of my posts via your email. I applaud you, my faithful reader, for sticking with me and I look forward to having you along on this next phase of my blogging journey.

If you are jointly a WordPress follower and an email follower, you will have to re-subscribe if you still want to receive email updates. I will still show up in your WordPress reader. So we can still hang out together!

This is a brave new world for me and recently I heard the quote “Facing fear is the new black.” I love that. I believe in plowing ahead, stretching out of my comfort zone and taking new chances.

So here we go into the next new phase! I’ll keep you posted!

Love, Joanne 🙂

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My Word of the Year

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It was an exciting moment. We were all gathered together. The occasion? The yearly gifting of our word of the year.

After the coffee was poured and Amy’s pizzelles were delightfully sampled, Nicole passed around her pretty basket filled with handmade bookmarks. On each of those treasures was a quotation reflective of the word.

Here was my quote: “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” Carlos Castaneda

Well, what can I say? The quote was perfect for me. The holidays always spark excitement as well as exhaustion for me, as I try and cover all those responsibility bases. I had been feeling a bit overwhelmed and at that moment, I gave myself permission. I breathed in deeply and said, just enjoy it.

I turned the bookmark over and lucky me, there were actually two words. Self- care and Happiness. Wow, I couldn’t have said it any better.

My friends and I are always of the feeling that we get the word we are supposed to for a reason. Now I have had some unexplainable words given to me over the years but it has been uncanny how they easily become my theme for the year.

So here’s to self care and happiness in 2014. Not surprisingly, I received an email shortly after given this word and received my first client of the new year! A wedding to be held in June of 2014!

So here’s your challenge. Pick a word for yourself that can be your word of the year. Keep that word in the back of your mind and read about it. Study it just a bit. Make it part of your mantra. You will be surprised how it will keep you motivated!

My friend over at Sunday’s Child wrote a great post about her word of the year! For more inspiration click HERE.

I wish you a happy and healthy new year in 2014! Blessings!

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Realizing the Dream

Jess and Jake's wedding

Jess and Jake’s wedding

A dream is a wish your heart makes….Cinderella

The beautiful couple above really started the whole thing. Meet Jess and Jake. Their barn wedding took place on a lush farm about an hour from the city of Pittsburgh a few years ago.

I had been working for a religious institution planning and organizing programming and events, including weddings. Though it was interesting, I longed to be there for the actual unfolding, something that was not required of me in my job.

So when I heard Jess and Jake were getting married, I asked them if I could supervise their wedding. Thankfully, they said yes.

Jess and I met a few times to go over details. I went early to the farm on the day of the wedding and made sure the set up was accurate. I timed the bridesmaids walking down the lawn. I stuck around all night to insure everything was taken care of. I was in charge of paying the vendors and I also made sure all the gifts and cards were put in a safe place.

When Jess and Jake returned from their honeymoon, we went out to dinner. They gave me a present, a plaque with a poem titled “Those Who Serve.” It was absolutely beautiful.

The owner of the farm was watching me the night of the wedding. She offered me a part time summer job. The next year, I did six or so weddings at three different farm locations. The outdoor wedding bug bit me hard. I fell in love with barn weddings.

And I still love weddings, all kinds. Whether they are Orthodox, Jewish, Catholic, Methodist, indoor, outdoor- I love them. Maybe it’s because I believe in the “Happily Ever After” or maybe it’s because I just love that moment in time, when two people decide to join together and make a commitment to each other. I love all the families being there, wishing them well. I could go on and on….

So I began to think about starting my own business, planning weddings and special events. When my mom fell ill and I quit my full time job, that dream came closer and closer. I talked it over with a few people and decided to go for it. Business cards were made, a few “Partners” said YES!, and my event planning website went “LIVE” last week. (Hang on, I’m going to share the link with you at the bottom of this post!)

This leap of faith I am taking is inspired by grace. Instead of feeling fear, I feel an inspiration to give this long desired dream a chance. I pray that I will again be led in a divine direction, to go where people may need me most. The people I have met already who want to be a part of my new business are well, just heaven sent.

So tonight, raise a glass and please make a toast to my new business, Katherine’s Daughter Events. Your blessing and your prayers will mean more to me than anything else. After all, this is a joint project. You are part of my life.

Check out my new website HERE!

What’s your most unforgettable moment from your wedding, or a wedding you’ve been to recently?

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Love Is Like A Rock

I’ve been staying at my mom’s on and off during her recovery. Recently, we watched the movie “Hope Springs” together. Have you seen it? The movie stars Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in a marriage gone stale. It was quite the interesting story if you ask me.

Without giving too much away, Meryl Streep decides after 31 years of marriage (and separate bedrooms), she wants more. Tired of no intimacy and the same routine day in and day out, she decides to challenge the status quo and sign up for a marriage enrichment program in a town called Hope Springs. Her husband says he is not going, blah blah blah, but (much to Meryl’s delight) he shows up for the plane departure.

Husband Tommy has plenty of money but they stay at the EconoLodge. He sleeps on the pull out couch while Meryl sleeps in the bed. The poor psychologist has his work cut out for himself as Tommy flings verbal hatred at him. But I know what’s really going on. Poor ol’ Tommy is in deep seated fear. Fear of change. Fear of feeling real love.

I know there are many troubled marriages and relationships in the world. I’m sure this movie caused some people to squirm in their seats. I am one of the lucky ones. I felt no uncomfortable-ness. I “hoped” for them and the repair of their marriage.

My Favorite Picture of Jim and I! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare

My Favorite Picture of Jim and Me! Taken by my sister, Cally Jamis Vennare

Jim and I certainly do not have the perfect relationship. We are only human and only God is perfect. We do however, have the “tools in our toolbox” to work most issues out. And we have had some big issues in the nearly 33 years of being together.

As any couple in a long term relationship will tell you, it is not about who is squeezing the toothpaste tube from the bottom or who makes the bed better. A couple who has been together for a while knows how to pick their battles. The real secret to relationship happiness, I’ve come to believe, is not to lose yourself in the process.

Though my marriage has been through many ups and downs over the years, there was a period about seven years ago when I finally became comfortable with who I was. At that point, my unreasonable expectations of Jim fell away. I was responsible for myself and he was stuck loving me the way I was. Thankfully, he loves me as I am. And I love him for who he is.

I believe this unconditional love is the secret to happiness…in anything. Point my finger, tell you how to do it better and I make you miserable. Focus on myself and what my needs are and my life becomes my responsibility. Focusing on what my husband may or may not be doing is not the answer. Loving him for who he realistically is….this is the secret to a happy marriage.

When my mom was ill in the hospital this past winter, Jim was my rock. He endured my tears, fears, tantrums and joys. He was there every step of the way. I called him My Rock on numerous occasions and I still believe this. Without him to lean on, I would have been lost.

On May 10, Jim and I were married 32 years. May you be blessed to have (or to have had) someone in your life, spouse or likewise, who means as much to you. I believe in my heart we are all worthy of unconditional love, not only from others but especially from the God of our own understanding.

Welcome Daily Prompt Readers! Is there someone in your life who is your rock? It doesn’t have to be a spouse! Who can you be yourself with but yet lean on in times of stress?

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Spring and Renewal

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“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

Here in the Northeast USA, it is hard to tell it is Spring.

It has snowed every day this week- an amazing feat for Pittsburgh in late March. I can’t remember when it’s snowed so much, especially since the first day of spring has already passed.

I have been thinking about buds, new life and renewal. When spring arrives, we all have a chance to dust ourselves off, change up to more color and start anew. I’m feeling like a living testament to change…to spring….to new life.

DSC_0045Everything I have laid in place over the last two years is going to shift….again. My mother’s illness has been the catalyst. I am reminded of M. Scott Peck‘s ideals, documented in his famous book “The Road Less Traveled”. In it, he describes how we all have internal “maps” of where we go and what we do. Well, my “map” is about to change. I’m choosing a new path on my road of life.

Here’s the first change. I’ve put notice in at my job and am leaving in two weeks. Yes, I am trading my comfortable, secure, full time job for more time. Time I wish to spend with my mom, my family, friends and myself.

Change number two. I need some source of income so I signed up to be an independent sales consultant with a company that looks very…faithful. I am going to shamelessly self promote myself just this once. Check out www.faithco.net/joannecain to see my latest venture. (PS. That is not me at the bottom of the website!)

So whew! So much change. What inspired all this? Well, in addition to my mother’s long illness, time played a major factor in bringing me around . You have a lot of time to think when your loved one is in the hospital for an extended period. You have nothing to do but sit there, think, fill up glasses with ice water, think, watch mom sleep, think. It is life changing really; the shift that occurs in your thought process when you realize how precious, fragile and short life really is.

In all my pondering and all these precious blocks of time I’ve had lately, I’ve been wondering if God sometimes hits me over the head to get my attention. “What does it take” I imagine him saying, “to push you to your next level, to get on with it, for goodness sakes?”

Because I confess…I had been thinking for months about how to spend more time with my family and on the things I am passionate about (writing, non profit work). I had some ideas but I was holding back. I was hesitant to let go of the security within my life; a life comfortable and fulfilling, just not as deeply spiritual as I yearned it to be.

What does God have planned for me? Truly, I don’t know. My one friend likes to say, “God has a plan for us, but we are not on the planning committee.” If I am willing to turn my life over to a power greater than myself, I’m sure my purpose going forth will present itself to me.

DSC_0036Photos of “Snowdrops” by my daughter, Michelene Cain

Tell me…..Have you ever given something over completely to faith? What happened?

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