Living Joyfully

Penny’s Selfie- She’s my example of living joyfully.

Last week I had the pleasure of attending a writing and podcasting conference at Antiochian Village. This jewel of a lodging/conference center/spiritual retreat rests in the Laurel Highlands of Ligonier Pennsylvania. I believe I have written about this beautiful place before. I launched my book, Ordinary is Extraordinary, there last April of 2016. This was now the third time I’ve had the pleasure of visiting and enjoying Antiochian Village (AV).

Ancient Faith Ministries (AF) sponsored this conference and I was overjoyed to be there. I missed last year’s conference and so when the opportunity came up this year I blocked off my calendar. As I write more and more for the OCN, I have become interested in the possibility of writing a book for Orthodox Christians. I couldn’t wait to see what the conference had to offer.

Interestingly enough, I was quite sure I’d know not a soul there. I did have a friendship with Melinda, the marketing director of AF. She gave me my start at the OCN two years ago and is now with Ancient Faith. But that was through a virtual connection and other than her, I knew absolutely no one. Scary? Maybe. But not really. I knew these would be people living a spiritual life and because of this I had no apprehensions.

I walked in the door and Melinda was the first person I saw. We greeted each other with a warm hug and I thanked her for giving me the opportunity at OCN. Since my room was not quite ready, I wandered into the bookstore (yes, on location at AV) and introduced myself to Father Andrew Stephen Damick. We chatted, looked over the generous display of books, and he showed me two of his books. I brought one of those home and am absolutely loving it.

Throughout the two days of the conference, I was educated, motivated, inspired and spiritually captivated. None of us got much sleep as there was just too much excitement. AF provided us with great speakers, the opportunity of chapel services morning and evening, and AV gave us delicious meals, inspiring sunrises and sunsets, and comfortable rooms.

The view from my window- Antiochian Village.

If you are a writer, do you attend conferences? I admit to not being active in a writer’s world (yet!) because I have so much else going on. But this conference helped me realize that we really do need to re-charge our batteries regularly by being around like minded people. It doesn’t matter what our interests are. Gather with others who have similar passions and watch the fires light.

I met Dr. Gary Jenkins next, waiting for dinner on the first night. We struck up a conversation and it turned out we both knew Father Paul Abernathy. Gary wrote a blog when he arrived home that captured how I felt about the AF conference (#afcon). And honestly, this gift of meeting amazing people continued for the two days of the conference. My standard opening lines were Where are you from? and What motivated you to be here? I met children’s book writers, podcasters, motivational speakers, priests, and even a small baby! One of my God moments was meeting Presbytera Stacey of Eikonia. She and her two sisters sing beautiful hymns of the church that bring tears to my eyes.

So what did all this do for me? Within a day of arriving home, I began a sequel to Ordinary is Extraordinary that is about joyful living. This inspiration came while at Antiochian Village and on the beautiful ride home. And of course I pitched a book idea to Melinda over breakfast and she gave me some good direction. I am pursuing the research and contemplating my book submission to Ancient Faith for this fall of 2017.

What brings you joy? I would really like to know! The sequel I am writing will be about the moments that have brought me joy but I would like to also incorporate some of your joyful moments. Is it the birth of your children or grandchildren? Is it a walk in the woods with your dogs? How about time with sisters, brothers, or other friends? No thought is too small and I would be overjoyed to hear your joys! So please comment below or send me a private message through Facebook. Or simply email me at joannejamiscain@gmail.com. (Your comments can be anonymous if you wish.)

Many things bring me joy. I’ve chosen some of my favorite moments below.  One more amazing side note to all of this. It turns out that Melinda, who currently lives on the West Coast, is moving to Cranberry PA this summer. Cranberry is about 40 minutes from me. Wow. How’s that for grace?

Live, love, laugh joyfully. Enjoy every day and find the nuggets within.

 

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Serenity at the Beach

Joanne Jamis Cain- Siesta Key Beach

“In every out thrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.”
Rachel Carson

I look forward to it every year. Some way, some how I get to the beach. It’s not a matter of maybe, it is a matter of when and how.

Thankfully my mom, sisters, and I have made this happen for the past three years. We have been vacationing together for one week on beautiful Siesta Key beach. My mother’s brother Steve and his wife, my Aunt KC, made this happen. They were the ones that encouraged and suggested it. (thank you!)

Mom is coming up on her 88th birthday but she is always game. She loves to see everyone from her hometown and hang out with her three daughters. This year Jim’s Aunt Joy and her daughter Donna came down for an afternoon. Both my cousins, Nick and Steve came down too which made it extra special. I missed Kristen but I did get to see Olivia. It was Taylor’s (my cousin Steve’s daughter) 18th birthday and well, that only happens in once a lifetime.

The family gets in on Taylor’s Birthday!

What can I tell you about this amazing vacation? There were so many wonderful moments- seafood at the oyster bar, the Greek restaurant in St. Pete’s, breakfast on the lanai with the view of the ocean, sunsets to make your heart stop. Siesta Key is truly paradise. White sand, weather in the high 70’s, palm trees outside your window…even weddings on the beach.

If you think you don’t have time for a vacation think again. You must make it happen.  You have to book the week, save your dollars and pennies, and GO. (I hope we can go for two weeks next time!) If you wait, wait, wait, you will never go. Then when you are old you will say, “the heck, why didn’t we take more vacations?”

It seems as soon as I get one hour outside of home my brain begins to relax. I forget about meal planning, responsibilities, bills, you name it. I stick my toe in the sand and sit in my beach chair. There are mini sandwiches in the cooler, cold water bottles, chips, and fruit. I stuck my arm out with a small piece of sandwich in my hand and a seagull took it. No kidding!

We had a challenging stove and between Mary and me we burnt pancakes, hamburgers, and fried eggplant. Oh well! So what! It’s vacation! Many things turned out delicious. Scrambled eggs with basil and tomato. Honestly, I don’t remember much else but everything we ate was wonderful.

I’m going to share some pictures (if you haven’t seen them on Facebook already) so you can motivate yourself to book a vacation. Till next time!

Lunch at Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar.
Flowers Everywhere.
The Acropolis Taverna, St. Pete
Sun kissed and happy at Siesta Key Oyster Bar.
My Sisters Eating Oysters! Notice the money all over the walls!
Donna, Aunt Joy, Moi, and Mom.
The Jamis Girls eating Gelato.
Aqua Water So Clear!
Orange Dusk. Breathtaking.

 

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

Life in Pennyopolis

Penny discovers napkins
Penny discovers napkins with Grandpa Jim

“Everything is ceremony in the wild garden of childhood.”
Pablo Neruda

I stood next to Penny while she played with her new toy- a small plastic basketball hoop. As she plunked the ball through the net, the crowd cheered. When she put it through a different hole behind the hoop, numbers would count down on the screen.

throwing-hoopsThis was fascinating to Penny. I sat behind her, not wanting her to fall backwards, while she stood and put the balls through the holes over and over. Every now and then she would turn around, look at me and smile. It was like she was saying “This is so cool isn’t it!”. I was right there with her, discovering new stuff all over again.

My granddaughter Penny was born on January 24, 2016. If you do the quick math, she is now almost nine months old. I raised my own two children, Michelene and John, plus I helped with my grandson Gavin (now 15 years old- wow!). I’m blessed to spend consistent time with Penny these days.

Life in Pennyopolis (as I like to call it) is like looking under rocks all day long. What we take for granted on a daily basis is brand new to her. Every day is an opportunity for discovery, exploration, and learning.

The day starts out with a good breakfast. Scrambled eggs and the comfort of nursing with her mom. Then maybe a short (or long) nap and it’s playtime. There’s at least an hour or two of solid play before the big afternoon nap.

Lots to do in this fancy toy!
Lots to do in this fancy toy!

I know we all have things to do in our adult life but I think we could take a lesson from children. What if our day was made up of learning, relaxation, exercise, and play? We do have work and grown up responsibilities but what if we allowed ourselves the chance to learn something new or really relax? And, connect with others. Penny is a very outgoing child. She loves to meet new people and usually offers them a big smile. People feel drawn to her, just by virtue of her warm and happy personality.

Every time I spend the day with Penny I am reminded of how simple childhood (and life) can really be. Do we need fancy things or lots of money? No. Even with a basket of napkins to amuse us, life can be enjoyable. 🙂

How about elaborate entertainment? No need for it as there is always music. Penny loves music and will often move herself easily to rhythm. Since she was born, her dad has played his guitar and she has listened.

Penny’s mom Jess has a second degree black belt and they do simple exercises together. Penny giggled and laughed the one day when I was witness to this. It was heart warming.

What if we played simply, laughed more, and lived with less? Getting down to basics has it advantages. More down time, less clutter, more happiness. Reaching out to love, connect, and socialize (without substances or social media) allows us to connect on a fundamental, spiritual basis. This is truly the way to live.

“Play is the highest form of research.”
Albert Einstein

penny-with-apples

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015

What To Do At A Party

What to do at a party

“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.” 
― Frederick Buechner

How have you been? It’s been a busy couple of weeks but I so wanted to say hello and touch base.

I have been blessed with lots of activity. My sister Mary visited from North Carolina and my cousin Christina is here with her daughter Arial. A beautiful reception to coordinate was dropped in my lap and two more weddings to oversee have magically appeared as well. God is truly keeping his eye out for me.

One of the summer events I had the privilege to attend was a memorial picnic in honor of a young woman who passed away five years ago. Her children were there as were many others to remember and cherish the beautiful person that Mandy was. It was while I was there that I spied the creative and inspirational poster of sorts that you see above.

Take a moment and notice which activities were already checked off the “What To Do At Party” list. Read books, tell jokes and jump on trampoline were already checked off. I wish I was there for the trampoline part, but then again, maybe not. 🙂 I especially loved make tambourines- wow!

This poster reminded me of what it was like to be a kid all over again. What things did I like to do when I was a child? I loved to color and make creative paper drawings. I loved to listen to music and pretend I was in a band. My friends and I would get together and go bike riding every day. We would definitely drink root beer floats.

In this age of too much, too soon, I think we can sometimes forget the simple things that are good and uncomplicated. A family meal, not elaborate, but eaten together. Time well spent just talking and walking on a trail or on the beach. A chance to get back to ourselves and get quiet.

I’m guessing it was Talulah, Izaya and Willow that made this poster. I have to thank them when I see them next. I really love it.

Blessings to you for a joyous summer! How have you been? What were some of your favorite things to do as a child?

 

Join me on my graceful journey.
1015