Category Archives: Women

My First Book! Ordinary IS Extraordinary

My first book! The Beautiful Cover is by Karen Captline of Better Be Creative

My first book! The beautiful cover is by Karen Captline of Better Be Creative. Editing by Daleen Wilson of Sunday’s Child.

Today is a special day. I am sharing my first book with you! The excitement of this has been building over the last couple of months and I am over the moon about it. This weekend I will be speaking at the women’s empowerment conference in Ligonier, PA and sharing my story.

When I received the first early copies of my book, I gave one to the mother of my granddaughter Penelope. Jessica is my friend and the partner of my son John. She is the manager of the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Allegheny Valley, PA.

As luck would have it, Jessica, Penelope and I went on a little field trip yesterday. We visited another Restore and stopped for lunch afterwards. We talked about how to market my book and Jess offered to do a review for me. I took her up on the offer!

So here, without any further ado, are Jessica’s thoughts on “Ordinary IS Extraordinary.”

When I read Ordinary IS Extraordinary I was nursing my infant daughter, Penelope, and read most of it out loud to her.
We cried at different parts for different reasons…
I had tears in my eyes when Joanne shared her journey of rediscovering her faith and loving herself.  I smiled as I pictured her as an awkward young person.  Looking down at Penny while we read, I couldn’t help wondering if she would face some of the same challenges in life.
I was inspired by Joanne’s discoveries of growth, as the lens she saw both the world and herself through, changed as her experiences colored the glass.
When I closed the book..I found myself savoring so much of her insights, that I let out a huge breath I didn’t know I was holding…and with it a burden I didn’t realize was there.  As for Penelope, she always loves hearing her Nana’s adventures, even when she’s hungry.
Grab a cup of Jo, your favorite snack, and devote a morning or afternoon to walking in her footsteps.  I know you’ll enjoy the landscape.  The writing is honest and you’ll feel as though she is sitting across from you on that lounge chair, having a coffee, sharing in your delight along the way.
From Jessica Levine
John, Jess, and Penelope Katherine

John, Jess, and Penelope Katherine

Jessica, thank you so much for your beautiful words!

Click HERE to order my book on Amazon. There’s a Kindle version too! You may want to order two books ;), one for you and one for a friend.

When you read Ordinary IS Extraordinary, I’d love to hear from you! Please email me at joannejamiscain@gmail.com with your thoughts. If you are a blogger that writes on spirituality, I would be happy to send you a book to review.

Thank you and God Bless!

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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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Gifts From My Father

 

My Dad, in his younger car selling days!

My Dad, in his younger car selling days!

The year was 1980. I had finished college by then and left my first real job. The main catalyst for my move home was my boyfriend. Jack and I broke up after he moved back to Florida, and I was floundering like a fish out of water.

I went to the home of my childhood, back with my mom and dad. At age twenty one and after being on my own for almost four years, this was bittersweet. Though I was glad to be back home, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with myself.

After applying for several jobs and not getting anywhere, a month passed and I was even more restless. During that month, my dad asked me three times to come and work for him. He didn’t yell or pressure me. He just asked. Finally, on the third time, when I had no other options, I said yes.

My dad owned a Nissan dealership back then. And he didn’t take his oldest daughter to work in the office. No. He took me to sell cars. Now this was 1980 remember and seriously, there were no women car salespersons.

I remember that I had to learn to qualify people. If they had a big family, I’d recommend a station wagon, not a sportier two door coupe. I also learned to take my time with people, showing them the benefits of each car and taking them for a test drive. I treated people as I would have wanted to be treated, with kindness and respect. I took their concerns seriously and they responded.

There were weeks that I outsold the sales manager, a guy who had been with my father for years.

I was selling cars when I met my husband Jim. The first time Jim walked me to my car (at the disco where we first met) my dad had loaned me a 280Z for the night. I imagine my husband thought I was one lucky girl!

I sold cars for a little over a year then I got engaged. When I got married I didn’t think the car business was conducive to a new marriage. Too many nights and steady Saturdays. So I left the car business but never forgot the lessons I learned.

On this Father’s Day 2014, I salute the fact that my father believed I could succeed in a male dominated field. He encouraged me, taught me good salesmanship and loved the fact that I was there with him. We had many good conversations about life and the future. I cherish those memories and the skills he taught me. Thanks Dad!

 

 

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After the Storm….Grace

Some of my closest friends and I get together at a lake house in Deep Creek, Maryland every year for a long weekend. We are blessed because one of our friends happens to own a beautiful lake house in Deep Creek and really, we can hardly believe our own good fortune.

So we all gathered at the house, beginning on Friday afternoon. We hung out down by the lake, soaked up the sun, caught up on each others lives. Some of my friends I had not seen since December so I was joyous and happy to be with them.

Usually on the first night we take it easy with dinner. Someone brings a frozen lasagna (yep, we’re real gourmets here), someone brings salad, and so on, including rolls, drinks and the requisite desserts. In this case, dessert was a delicious blueberry pie. You just can’t be without sweets during this lake weekend.

So we heated the lasagna, got dinner on the table and the sky became darker and darker. We moved inside in just enough time and then the storm hit. Thunder, lighting, wind, lots of rain. We kept talking, barely aware of all the nature goings on, until of course, the lights went out a few times. Then, the lights went OUT.

My friend Susan quickly gathered all her candles and lit them. We figured this would be a short inconvenience and heck the candles were so cozy we just laid back, kept talking and waited for the lights to come back on.

Here’s the thing. They never came back on.

Saturday morning we all woke up and still no lights. So we heated water on the stove (thank God it was gas), drank instant Chai and had coffee cake, banana bread and fruit. Some of the girlfriends had signed up for a garden tour so they prepared themselves as best they could (there were numerous jokes about a bad hair day) and off they went.

When they left, I hung out with my buddy, Samantha. We changed into bathing suits, sat on the dock and chatted. Later, I took a short nap, just because I could. I had planned to do dinner on the gas grill that night, so there was no stress about warming anything else up in the oven. It was a luxurious afternoon.

When the garden tour group returned, we were all treated to a long boat ride around the lake. The sky was a real stunner- gorgeous baby blue with fluffy marshmallow clouds. As the sun went down, the rays streamed through the clouds and touched the lake. I looked at my friends on the boat. I looked at the sky. It felt like a spiritual experience.

Here’s the Grace. Despite our lack of electricity, we laughed and had the best time. We lit candles when it got dark. We ran down to the lake with watering cans and empty gallon jugs to fill up with lake water, just so we could flush the toilets. Through all this, there was no complaining, no talk of leaving. We just made the best of it. We used dry shampoo, called ourselves Pioneer Women and slept with flashlights.

By Sunday afternoon, we reluctantly packed up our bags. It is never easy to leave the lake house and I think that each time we get together, it almost becomes harder to say good bye. We so enjoy each others company, love and accept each other so completely, and we know that our friendship is a true gift.

Truly…..Grace from God.

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On Being “Katherine’s Daughter”

In just three short months since I started blogging, life is definitely different. I love writing my blog, being part of the writing world and sharing some inspirational experiences of love, hope and faith.

WordPress.com is the host of my blog. For me it has become a mecca of sorts, where I can rub shoulders with and be inspired by some great writers. When I began the creation process for my blog, the WordPress prompts asked me what is the name of your blog? In the two minutes it took me to think of a name, I chose Katherine’s Daughter. Yes, I am the daughter of a Katherine (with a K!). She is the beautiful woman with me in the picture above. We are all someone’s daughter or son, aren’t we? Perhaps I felt my blog name implied a common bond that I could share with my audience.

That said, I have friends who do not (or did not) have memorable mothers. It doesn’t matter. I swear God sees to it that there is always someone in our life who will love, nurture and care about us. That chosen person will bring out the good parts of us and love us unconditionally, thank goodness. They will mentor us through difficult times. Think of who that person is for you. That person, for me, is Katherine.

My father passed away some fifteen years ago. Katherine is now 82 years old but gets along very well. Her vision is somewhat compromised so Cally, my youngest sister, has begun reading my blog posts to Katherine whenever she visits her.

I spoke with Katherine last night and she mentioned three of my last blog posts. Cally had apparently read all of them to her yesterday and Katherine said something to me about each one. I am truly blessed to have a mother who not only supports my writing but makes positive comments about it! Good Lord, what a blessing!

I want to thank my family and friends who have supported my blog, shared it on their Facebook pages, loved me through this process, even become one of my subscribers. In case you didn’t know, there is a place on my blog page where you can sign up to get my twice weekly blog stories. (Yes, you can have me drop- kicked to your email every week!). Best of all, it is FREE to subscribe. I just love free stuff…don’t you?

My goal is to publish a book, hopefully within a year, with stories on faith and love. A book to warm your heart and help you realize how truly loved you are. So many things have inspired me (another story!) and I just continue to follow my dreams. I hope you don’t mind if I take you with me.

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Stretching Spiritually

Two views of local Extension leaders drilling ...

(Photo credit: Cornell University Library)

Just like I exercise to keep my body limber, I believe in exercises that stretch me spiritually. Whether or not I’m in a good place emotionally or mentally, focusing on what I can do to make myself a better person is the stuff good growth is made of.

A few years ago I challenged myself to write down a few things a day I was grateful for. Even though it may not seem so, some days it was hard to come up with one thing. Some days I had a longer list; those were good days.

As I kept up this exercise, I found it became easier and easier to recognize things I could be grateful for. The sunrise, a good meal, time with my kids or husband, a joke that made me laugh out loud; these made my list. I kept an inexpensive journal next to my bed and tried to write something worthwhile each night. What all this brought about was a shift. A shift in thinking how really lucky I was to have so many blessings and grace in my life.

My next exercise challenge was three things a day. This challenge was to do three things a day for someone (any one’s) welfare but not to tell anyone else about it. This was definitely a challenge. I am a good talker and storyteller- wanna -be.

: Parking meter

Image via Wikipedia

So I put coins in parking meters that were about to expire, I lit candles in church for someone who was suffering, I mailed personal notes of love or encouragement to friends. I gave canned goods to the food bank, smiled at strangers and said have a wonderful day! I offered my arm to someone older who needed the stability to cross the street.

The reward? A serious reduction in the world revolving around me. Also, a shift in Ego, the loud mouth in my brain who likes to say “It’s all about me baby!”. Extra reward: peace, serenity, balance.

I still do things every day that I don’t tell anyone about. I figure it’s between me and God. She knows. She smiles down on me and keeps me going in the right direction. She gave me some extra responsibilities lately and I’m trying to show her I’m up to the task. Obviously, she believes in me.

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To Amy, With Love

A few years ago my husband Jim and I were invited, by our good friends Amy and Joel, to spend a weekend in a cabin among the beautiful tall trees of Cook Forest.

If you have never been to Cook Forest, it is worth the drive. It is a rustic, back- in- time, beautiful kind of state park. It is lush with trees, big rocks, streams (you can go canoeing!) and of course the usual little gift shops. It’s very spiritual and a great place to unwind.

That weekend Jim, Joel and I got to the cabin ahead of Amy. Amy was riding up with her daughter Becky. Apparently it had been a long drive because when Amy got out of the truck, the first thing she did was bend over, grab a flat rock and turn it over.

I missed this somehow but Jim caught sight of it. He said to me later, “Did you see what Amos (our pet name for Amy) did when she got here?” He clued me in. What this meant was, something frustrating had gone on in the truck and Amy, in her wisdom, decided to turn it over.

Turn it over means let it go. Sometimes it can mean look at it in a different way. Other times it means I’m so angry I can hardly think!

Amy and her grandbaby, Willow

Amy has been an example to me of how to turn it over. She has had some troubling things happen to her in the last couple of years…. things that would have sent others over the edge. She just keeps going, keeps turning it over, keeps faith in her core. I can have the worst possible day going but if I see Amy, I always feel better.

Sometimes we all need an extra prayer. This week is a trying week for Amy as some memories are front and center. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. I’d really appreciate it. Thank you and have a blessed day!

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What Water Aerobics Class is Really Like

My husband and I are taking a water aerobics class. Lest you immediately picture a group of svelte, toned swimmers doing sleek, calculated aerobic moves in an Olympic size pool, let me clue you in. This class is definitely not a group of Baywatch babes!

There are about a dozen or so participants in our class. I would say the age range is probably anywhere from 50- 70. Nobody is thin. We all complain about aches and pains, which is the main reason we are there. We are trying to get a bit more healthy.

The class is held at a local school, through our township. It is unbelievably cheap. A whole series of nine classes is $48 per person. Sometimes I can’t believe my husband (Jim) was game to take this class with me. He has had some health issues and I thought he’d laugh at the idea when I asked him if he was interested. But to my surprise, he said yes.

Here’s how a typical class goes. All of us warm up by walking around in a large circle in the shallow end of the pool. Occasionally, our instructor (Leslie) shouts “THE OTHER WAY!” which means we turn around and start walking the other way. This causes the water to swirl and creates resistance. It’s a good way to warm up.

After warm up, we usually launch into some kicks and stretches below the water level. Leslie likes to mix it up and we get to work with weights (they float!), noodles and these circular stretchy things that go around our ankles. We do some laps too as part of our hour. The class is definitely a work out. There is however, no pressure to push beyond what we individually are comfortable doing. Thank goodness or I never would have lasted long in this class.

Here’s my challenging part of class. Our instructor is younger than us and has yet to experience the drop in hearing that comes with age 50+. The pool is in a large room that echoes. To complicate matters, Leslie likes to play loud music (upbeat stuff like Flash Dance) via a CD player near the back wall of the pool. As you can well imagine, I spend most of my class time trying to read Leslie’s lips.

This past week, Leslie created “stations” all around the parameter of the shallow end of the pool. Each station had a note card (encased in plastic of course) that gave you a different exercise to do. Leslie is very creative but she is not always a good communicator. So though I tried to get a good grip on the entirety of this exercise, I never really understood exactly how it was to work.

Apparently I was not the only one confused. A bunch of us (slightly deaf ones like me) kept looking at each other and saying “what’s next”? If I asked Leslie, she always helped me figure it out but I hated asking her every time. After a couple turns of the stations, I had a light bulb moment. No one was giving me a hard time, no one really cared that I didn’t get it. Everyone kind of did their own thing. So that is what I did.

At one point I looked around and we were all participating and splashing. It was fun, healthy and ok. It didn’t matter how I did it. It just mattered that I was there, doing it.

Afterward, when we were done with the stations, we did our (ending) cool down stretches. Leslie asked what we thought of the stations. Most of us liked it. One woman said it was not enough of a work out for her. Jim and I discussed this later and decided this woman was just not really digging in. I think this was just our way of siding with Leslie. We really like her.

Did you ever do something you weren’t really good at but you plugged away at it anyway? Because when you were all done, you felt really good about the way it made you feel? And even though you knew you didn’t look all that good while doing it, who cares?  If you’ve ever had a moment like this, share it with me!

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Get ready! Saturday is Jammie Day!

Calvin and Hobbes

Saturdays are for relaxing!

I have been really busy lately. It will be June before my five day work week becomes a four day work week. And as Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes!) would say, the days are just packed. So in order to ward off a winter meltdown, I have invented a new Saturday morning splurge for myself. I fondly call it Jammie Time.

Just in case you think I am talking about grape jam or orange marmalade, let me clarify. I am talking about pajamas. Wonderful, warm and soft pajamas. Last Saturday, I happened to stay in my pajamas until NOON and did not do any form of work. I reveled in the simplicity of an endless pot of coffee, numerous favorite shows in my DVR and a pot of chicken soup simmering on the stove. What luxury! What decadence!

Lest you think I have completely lost my mind, remember I am an over-doer. Sitting around in my jammies until Noon is kind of a no-no. I usually have a line up of things to do, people to meet, goals to reach. But even God took one day off. Why not me too?

I loved my Saturday morning so much, I want to spread the idea of Jammie Time! I want to encourage everyone to have JT at least one morning a week. The catch is, you cannot do something you consider to be work. Maybe your idea of relaxation is baking. Maybe it’s knitting or reading. Whatever it may be, just go for it! Just don’t go and clean out your extra storage room. That is not relaxing!

By the way, I have to mention my new favorite pair of jammies. They are from Soma, a beautiful store at the mall. They are all cotton and oh so soft. The top is a red Henley and the bottoms are decorated with little black and white penguins that have red scarfs around their necks. They are totally silly jammies but I love them.

It is so worth it to set aside time to regroup and recharge our batteries. Join the bandwagon and embrace Jammie Time! Let me know your favorite JT activity(ies). And spread the word!

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My Idea of Heaven

On my way home there is a spot on the highway where, if the sun is setting and it’s in exactly the right spot, the brilliance of the rays captures my attention and inspires me to think of heaven.

One day it was lightly raining when I was approaching this spot and I wished I had a camera in my car to capture the image. It was sunny, rainy and hazy all at once (like potential rainbow kind of weather). When my car began to go further into the yellowy haze, I felt momentarily engulfed. For a brief second, I was scared. Then I was not. Then, I was in awe. I wondered is this what the entrance to heaven may be like? The experience lasted less than one minute. But I can bring it up in my mind anytime and I often do.

I grew up hearing about heaven and hell in church. My take on religion when I was a child and later into adulthood was that you either behaved or you were done for. God was the big police officer in the sky.

Thankfully, I no longer believe in a punishing God. I believe in a loving, forgiving God and a God with an occasional great sense of humor. My current views of heaven therefore, can involve some silly stuff. I’ll save some of my thoughts for another blog post, but today I want to share with you my absolute favorite idea of what heaven could be.

various potato dishes: potato chips, hashbrown...

Yay! Endless Potatoes!

My favorite idea of heaven is that of endless potatoes. Yes, you read correctly- potatoes. Potatoes in every way shape or form. Crispy french fries with melted cheese and crumbled bacon on them. Mashed yukon gold potatoes with lots of butter and maybe some roasted garlic cloves smashed into them. Baked potatoes with lots of butter and sour cream. Even sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar.

Get the idea? And, of course none of these would contain any calories whatsoever. I would just eat and eat to my heart’s potato content and none of my potato feasts would show up anywhere on my stomach or thighs!

When I am with potatoes, nothing else really matters but the potatoes. Meat be gone! Salad….for bunnies! I love potatoes! Hopefully, when I walk through those pearly gates, God will be standing there with a big plate of yes, cheesy potatoes!

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