What To Write About?

As I find my days filled with “nuthin but time,” my husband encourages me to write. That is a great suggestion, but I find myself void of any fresh ideas.  I would hesitate to diagnose myself with writer’s block.  It is more a general malaise that I believe is linked to my current jobless status.  Here are a few ideas that have crossed my mind.  They are either taboo, boring or just not blog worthy in my opinion.

Politics and the New Administration-I would not touch this topic in a public forum. From what I read on Facebook and see on the news, friends are unfriending friends, families are feuding and even some marriages have busted up due to heated and divisive opinions.  Of course, we are being led to believe that negative chatter is just fake news, or alternative facts.  I suppose time will tell.  I do discuss politics with my spouse (we disagree on many topics), and a few females (read: three) who share my thoughts and beliefs.  Sometimes, one cannot hold it all in.

Unemployment-The unemployment rate in the U.S. is just under 5%.  While this number seems low, it still represents thousands upon thousands of work-ready Americans who are looking for a job.  I am keeping track of my searches.  To-date, I have applied for twelve positions.  I have had two in-person interviews, one phone interview and one FaceTime interview.  All of my applications have been done online- a few clicks including an upload of my resume and in some cases a cover letter, too. That. Is. It.  I recently applied for a part-time administrative assistant position.  I was told that over 200 people applied for this one opening, though that could just be an alternative fact.  In any case, I make my searches, apply for the positions that seem interesting to me and that I am qualified for, and then move on.    

College-Aged Boys-I have a 19-year old son who is a freshman at a university that just earned the title, “Biggest Party School” in our home state.  Based on events that we have learned about in his first semester, he has made his own contribution to the university earning this unwanted title.  I could write about underage drinking, binge drinking, peer-pressure drinking, drinking to the point of passing out, but I will refrain.  I am sure that my son, now considered an adult, would not appreciate his mom chiming in about events from his own life on her silly, little blog.  What I will say is that it is true that “misery loves company.”  I do share my son’s story with other mothers of boys and find that I am not alone.  There is a common theme in the lives of our cherished males-one of making bad choices mainly due to impulsiveness, laziness, lack of a fully developed brain and some immaturity.  We all hope (and pray) that our men/children make it through these years of intense growth and adult situations alive and well.  Many of us have discussed, disputed and researched the age at which they really do “grow up.”  Some say 20 or 21, other studies and the auto insurance industry say it is more like 25 or 26.  Oh my.  My arthritic knees will be worn out from all of that praying, and my once brunette hair will be fifty shades of gray!

Global Warming-Another taboo, political topic.  I have my own opinions on global warming, climate change, etc. but my one question is why is this a political issue?  Isn’t the proof of such an occurrence up to scientists, meteorologists and the like?  Either way, our January/February gas and electric bill was approximately $35 less than our previous bill.  This was due to a string of days with temps of 50-60 degrees.  I will take that regardless of what the politicians and scientists agree or disagree on!

Thanks for reading my non-blog worthy post full of topics that are either too divisive to discuss or just plain forbidden, at least from my perspective.  To my husband I will say, “See, I wrote something.  Thanks for always encouraging me!”  I will provide an update on my shopping ban in about 10 days as this short month comes to a close. Unlike the search for my next employer, I am making excellent progress with my status as a non-shopper!


Current Events

Hi.  My name is Joan and I am a news junkie.  I admit that upon rising, I turn on the local news and catch up on events as I start my day.  In the evening, the TV once again gets fired up.  Time to catch up on what has transpired both here and globally. In addition to televised news, these days one can also catch up on all sorts of happenings on social media.  I find additional stories of interest on Facebook, where you can also read commentary on events as they are posted or re-posted.  There are a few hot topics saturating all forms of media these days.  Some items are “heavy” (also referred to as hard news) and others much lighter recaps of current events.  I have a comment (or in some cases two) about the top stories of our day.  To read or not to read, that is your prerogative.

  1. The Presidential election-Clinton or Trump?   We should always be choosing the leader of our country of over 300 million inhabitants from the cream of the crop.  In this election, we scraped up our selections from the bottom of the barrel.
  2.  Police Shootings of unarmed African-American males: I believe there are instances where police officers make grave errors based on race, but what I find much more disheartening is the black-on-black crime (often murder) that occurs every day in nearly every large city in this country.  Let’s form groups and forums about that and find ways to abolish this practice, and in turn save the lives of young men and women who deserve better.
  3.  Healthcare:  I admit, I was fired up when Candidate Obama said that he would reform healthcare if elected.  After paying astronomical premiums and co-pays for many years, I was looking forward to better management of healthcare in this country for all Americans.  ObamaCare was a huge failure on this front. Forced healthcare is not the answer, and the middle class reaped little to no benefit from these policies.
  4. Technology: I own and use a cell phone as we no longer have a land line. I communicate via text and email, however my preferred method of communicating will ALWAYS be face-to-face whenever possible.  And, oh, I still hand write thank you notes.  And one more oh.  I will always choose my Canon over my iPhone, and I prefer to be behind the camera.  Not a huge fan of the selfie.
  5. War, Refugees, Mass killings of innocent humans: (This can easily be kept to one sentence.)  Did we as a species learn nothing from World War II and the mass murder of six million Jews?
  6. Brad and Angelina: The millions of readers of PEOPLE and The National Enquirer magazines could have predicted the end of this union from the get-go. Hollywood and marriage go together like Hillary and Donald.
  7. Saturday Night Live: The Donald has been dissing the show in recent rants, but outside of local and world news, there is no better place to catch up on current events than Saturday nights on NBC.  The show just began its 42nd season on the air.  ( I was a sophomore in high school when the program was launched.) I am pretty sure that “The Apprentice” lasted nowhere near 42 seasons, and if elected President, the most you can serve is eight years.  Be sure to tune in next Saturday for what is sure to be the last debate between Donald/Alec and Hillary/Kate.
  8. Kardashian: I would NEVER have any comment on anything Kardashian except for the fact that the reality show has been on the air since 2007 and is in its 12th season. WTF?  Lest you misunderstand my acronym, that stands for What The Freaks???????

If you made it here, I thank you for taking your precious time to read this post.  There are some topics, such as gun control, trans-gender issues and same-sex marriage, that I choose to refrain from posting commentary, at least in a public forum. Some things are just better kept to yourself or at least within the confines of your own home. I also apologize for exceeding my goal of keeping my comments to just one or two sentences.  My gift of gab (or what my husband might refer to as the “flapping of my gums”) often prevents me from closing my lips and remaining silent, or in this case, keeping my fingers off of the keyboard.  I can’t help it.  Some subjects just get my goat more than others.  So, life will continue to provide current events, and I will continue to tune in and every now and then utilize my God-given right to speak and write.  Once a news junkie, always a news junkie.

Joan Is Jotting Again

It has been nearly three and a half years since I have posted on this blog.  If this were my severely neglected child, I would have been reported to Child Protective Services and then promptly incarcerated.  Lots has transpired during my absence.  Here is a summary of events in no particular order:

Said “I do” 20 months ago.

Gained a “bonus daughter” (A co-worker mentioned this term to me.  I prefer to not use the term “step” child or mother as negative connotations abound.  Think Cinderella.)

Had a son attend and graduate from high school.

Buried my mother.

Remained cancer-free (13 years and counting….)

Know of at least three friends/neighbors diagnosed with breast cancer.

Hit the 10-year mark at my current employer.

Attended six college visits between two prospective college students.

Emptied the contents of a four-bedroom house and then sold it.

Completed a few renovations to current home.

Gained another pet-Feline named Smokey (He would be the “bonus” cat.)

Learned that three more sets of parents buried a child.  (This makes eight families known to me in my small world that have faced the unthinkable.)

Planned and executed a few family vacations, including Germany and Colorado.

Kept credentials current at local hospice where I am a volunteer.

Became a card-carrying member of a female only club-Post Menopause (I will NOT be on the recruiting committee for this organization.  I have very few positive things to say to encourage other females to join.)

What does all of this mean besides some boring summary of the “Life of Joan?”  It means that we must accept and embrace change-the good, the bad and the ugly.  It means that bad things happen to good people.  It means that life goes on so changes to the family dynamic can and do occur with positive outcomes.  It means that our kids grow up and leave the nest.  It means the “to do” list is never-ending.  It means we should find time to relax and enjoy life.  It means that one can find purpose and enjoyment outside of family and work right within your own community.  Most importantly, in my opinion, it means that life is in constant motion-NOTHING stays the same.

One huge change that is barreling its way towards me is that my job as I have known it for many years is being revised.   The good news is two-fold.  I am still employed AND I get a day off during the week.  It is my intention to use this time to write.  That means a return to blogging as well as purposeful devotion to finishing a motivational speech idea that has been rolling around in my ever-aging brain for quite some time.  The idea of working from home has always been a little sketchy for me as I believe I can easily become distracted and enslaved by the call of laundry, dishes, yard work and other such mundane busywork.  This is FEAR disguised as a chore list.  Fear of failure, fear of having anything worthy to write, fear that I can even write and fear that anyone would find anything “motivational” about what I have to say.  This is when I choose to remember that there are really only two operating forces in this universe-LOVE  and FEAR.  I hope that I choose LOVE!

Thanks for reading.  It feels good to talk with you again, but I have to go.  The washer just buzzed.  Oops!  LOVE is all we need.  Clean clothes are optional.




Biography of _______ (Insert Your Name Here)

Every two weeks for seven years, Steve Hartman, a CBS News Correspondent, went from one random US town to another and documented the life story of one unsuspecting American. His multiple award-winning feature series entitled, “Everyone Has a Story,” produced 120 personal biographies of ordinary citizens, and confirmed the fact that each and every one of us is living out our own unique tale, and it is worth sharing. Sometimes, our stories are sad or tragic, but their message of hope and perseverance is something we all can learn and grow from. Other times, the stories are humorous or full of adventure, and just might nudge us out of our box and encourage us to live life a little closer to the edge.

Many years ago, I befriended a fellow fitness enthusiast from my local gym. I was instantly drawn to her outgoing and engaging personality, and it didn’t hurt that we shared the same name, though she went by “Joanie.” One day while we milled around the local grocery store, she shared with me her secret for meeting and talking with people, most often complete strangers. She had learned that there are few people on the planet who dislike talking about themselves, so she frequently started conversations with people by complimenting them on their attire or commenting on some insignificant issue (such as the weather) while in the checkout line. I have used Joanie’s tactic dozens of times over the years, and have had the opportunity to converse about the mundane and the serious with countless individuals.

For example, about two weeks ago, a woman I barely know shared with me that her mother had died during her birth, leaving her father widowed with five boys and an infant daughter to care for. It was the early 1960’s, a time when single parenthood was a somewhat rare phenomenon. With few community resources available to help with this sudden change in the family dynamic, her father made the decision to place all six children in orphanages until he remarried several years later. His new wife, a former nun with a son of her own, took on this family of seven and remained the matriarch until her own untimely death many years later in a car accident. A similar story was shared by a co-worker. Cathy had also spent time in an orphanage before she and her siblings were adopted by an often less-than-loving family. I personally know five women who have buried a child. I have spent a fair amount of time with three of them and have witnessed first hand their heartbreak and tears. If their stories were told publicly, such as on a television show or in a book or magazine, I promise that you would be awed by their strength and grace and their ability to move forward with their lives despite suffering such an unthinkable loss. These are just a few examples of stories I have heard over the years. I am often left speechless when I hear of the pain and suffering and loss that some individuals have experienced, and it helps me to put my own challenges, or events I view as challenges, into perspective. Other times, I am left laughing till I cry by the often hysterical tidbits that are shared. Once and awhile, I am left intrigued and even a little envious of someone who has lived an experience that I never allowed myself because I let fear or self-doubt stifle my dream.

I leave you with a challenge. Tomorrow, strike up a conversation with a co-worker, neighbor, classmate or complete stranger. Once you get the chit-chat started, zip your own lips and just listen. You just might be surprised by what you can learn, because EVERYONE HAS A STORY!

Catch Up

It has been nearly six months since I have posted anything on this blog. The only writing I have done has been limited to answering emails and a few journal entries. Life is ever-changing and new routines are in place. Let me catch you up on the life and times of Joan and son.

On October 22nd, it will be one year since a divine intervention took place, and I met my current boyfriend. We both marvel at the time that has passed and on how far we (and our children) have come. Between work and commitments with our kids, we steal our moments on Fridays and Saturdays, and occasionally get some time on a week night. We hope to combine our households some day, but most likely this will not occur until his daughter finishes high school in 2014. I am blessed to have found someone who makes my world brighter and more complete. We look forward to spending more time together as our nests eventually empty and spare time becomes more plentiful.

My son started high school this past August. The man/child is a freshman at an all boys high school. He had been on track to continue his education in the school district where he began, but he impulsively decided to take the entrance exam for the local parochial schools late last year, and was accepted to all three schools of his choice. He chose the one that best fits him and his personality, and so far is enjoying it and thriving there.

The same time M. started his new journey, I made a change of my own. I am now a full-time, 32-hour per week employee at the company I have worked at for over six years. Skyrocketing health premiums, along with ever-increasing household expenses forced me to increase my hours and give up the “have it both ways” lifestyle I was blessed to live for many years. I am grateful that I was fortunate enough to be able to put my child on a bus, go to work and be home when the bus dropped him off. In my son’s eyes, I was a stay-at-home mom.  My new motto is “Nothing stays the same, ” and so this era has come to an end. It has run its course, and it is time to move on to a new normal. It has been about six weeks since making the change. I miss my day off during the week, but am finding ways to complete the tasks necessary to run a household single-handedly. I have neglected my few, treasured friends over the past months, and have not had a consistent hospice patient since the passing of Miss Helen in April. I believe wholeheartedly that our relationships and connections with others are vital to our purpose here on earth, and intend to find the time to keep friends and my volunteer duties a part of my life. I will sort it all out in time. Baby steps…..

I hope your own life is full and complete, and that you too are finding ways to connect and keep in touch. Sitting down at the computer to write today was a goal of mine for the weekend. I got it in with only six hours to spare. Goals are a good thing to have. Be well, and as always, thanks for reading.


It is Thursday afternoon, and  normally I am visiting my hospice patient, Helen, at the nursing home where she resides. Helen was the first patient I was assigned to after completing my training with a local hospice in August 2011. She was 88 years old and suffering from Dementia, which she had developed several years earlier. I have visited Helen weekly for eight months. She never knew my name, and we did not have normal conversations about our past, our likes, our dislikes or our dreams. Stringing together a sentence was complicated for her as the disease must erode the language center of the brain. But I believe that once our eyes met and she reached out to stroke my arm or hold my hand, she connected with me-physically with touch, and spiritually as one soul to another. I often sat with her while she picked at her lunch, or would walk laps with her around the halls of the home. Later, a wheelchair would become her method of transportation as a fall broke her hip and she never recovered her usual physical stamina or strength.

Helen’s health continued to decline after the fall, and the dementia worsened as well, continuing to feast on the remnants of her brain. Words became ever more elusive as she was reduced to mumblings, which could not convey her thoughts or wishes. She napped more often, and her favorite word often became, “No.” She withdrew socially as well, a fact confirmed by the staff at the home.

Helen passed away Tuesday, April 17th. During what was my last visit, I could not rouse her from her afternoon nap. I am not sure if she was medicated or just tired and weak or both. We didn’t speak, but I did stoke her arm and let her know that I was there. I was not terribly saddened by the news of her death, because I picture her in a much better place, reunited with her husband and a son who passed before her. She is once again able to speak freely and clearly, and she has lots to say.


It was exactly one year ago today that I sat at this very computer and launched my online dating search. For the next nine months, I posted weekly recaps of my experiences, including the good, the bad and the ugly that aging men write in their profiles. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I did not meet anyone of any significance in my stint online, but once I canceled my membership and surrendered my process to the gods, a divine intervention took place. I have met someone. And not just anyone. I have met the person I was looking for. The one who possesses all of the qualities on my “list” and then some. It just so happens that he was also widowed, which is not something you would wish on anyone, but it is an experience we have in common. We understand the somewhat long and tedious process of moving forward with your life after the proverbial rug gets pulled out from under you. We have learned (the hard way) that life is precious and that it should not be taken for granted. We try to appreciate each and every day, and the people and relationships that enrich our lives and make us whole.

This relationship is in its infancy if you count the days on the calendar, but in many ways it feels like I have known him forever. I completely understand that two relatively young people had to die in order for this meeting to occur, and I try to always remember that. I know that I called upon my own guardian angels for guidance and support as I navigated my way through this process. To them I am eternally grateful for insuring that I attended a concert on October 22nd, and then was placed right next to the person I had been looking for. I believed in second chances, and I was rewarded. Prayer, dreams and wishful thinking are not fruitless endeavors. If you believe, you can achieve it.

A usual, thanks for reading along today and throughout this past year. I wish you and yours the VERY best this New Year. Choose to believe, and your dreams can come true, too. Love ya, mean it!

Answering the Call

On August 6th, I fulfilled a goal and completed the training necessary to become a volunteer with a local hospice. I guess you might say I fulfilled a “bucket list” item, but I prefer to think of it as answering a call. I was first trained as a hospice volunteer in college, while working towards my psychology degree. Little did I know that just about 20 years later, my own husband would spend his final 12 days under hospice care with me as his caregiver. I was given a somewhat unique, dual-sided view of this process, not unlike my experience with cancer. I found a hospice that allows me the freedom to visit with my assigned patient(s) on my own schedule. This past Thursday, I met and spent time with my first two patients-one male, age 91 and a female, age 88. They both suffer from dementia and reside in the same nursing home. My job is to provide companionship, emotional support and socialization to each of them. I intend to document all of my visits in a new journal that I started. I hope to capture the essence of our visits, which will help me to remember them and their impact on me long after they have gone. I can only imagine what lessons I will learn from each patient I am assigned. Ultimately, they will give me so much more than I can possibly give them. I am grateful that I was given this opportunity, and look forward to meeting each and every person that may come my way. I know that it will prove to be a life-altering experience.

Ramblings of the Pubescent Male

I have been meaning to write this post for months now. I want to record, for posterity’s sake, the language and interests of 13-year old males, one of whom currently resides in my home and shares my last name. Kids, as you know, say the darndest things. This gets stepped up a bit once they reach the tween and teen years, or so has been my experience. Here are just a few noteworthy snippets of conversations with a few American, male teenagers:

My son, like so many kids today, is an avid listener (and downloader) of rap music. (Often referred to by me as “Rap is Crap.”) Music, like television and advertising, has a profound influence on young people, and my son is certainly not exempt. M.’s initial texts to friends is limited to just three characters: Sup. (For those of you unfamiliar with gansta language, this is an abbreviation of “What’s up?”) My son would never greet a friend with a “Hi” or “Hello” or even “Hey.” And, this is just one word (can you call it that?) in a vocabulary that also includes, “Homey” and “Bro.” Whose child is this? Where is my Caucasian, half-Jewish kid?

For awhile now, a favorite response of M.’s is, “That’s gay.” Initially, I was quite taken aback by the somewhat derogatory use of this term, until I realized that it had nothing to do with people who are not heterosexual. ANYTHING, including inanimate objects, can be “gay.” My favorite misuse of this term came late in the school year as the students and staff prepared for the state achievement tests. M.’s class was not permitted to take the tests in their regular classroom (which was Band) due to the lack of desks. They were re-located to the cafeteria, where they could properly sit and work. M.’s response to this room change was, “That’s gay!”

The fascination and obsession with fast, and often expensive cars has begun. For awhile now, M. has informed me that he intends to drive a Mustang or Camaro when he gets his license, preferably as his first car. (Yeah, right! The insurance for a 16-year old, male driver of a sporty car probably costs a few thousand dollars per year.) Fairly recently, the price tag on favored cars has risen considerably as M. and his friends talk non-stop about Bugattis and Maybachs. Personally, I was unaware of the existence of these particular automobiles, most likely because their sticker price is in the millions, and well, I am female. They often talk about becoming doctors (M. wants to be an anesthesiologist) or orthodontists so they can earn enough money to purchase their dream cars. I am thinking they might need to either become pro sports players, rappers or rock stars, or their generation’s version of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in order to write that check!

Sticking with the topic of cars, I recently picked up a friend of M.’s to bring to our house. Since he and I were alone in the car, I attempted to make small talk during the brief ride. I asked what car his 16-year old sister would be driving once she got her license. This question prompted A. to divulge that he has already informed his dad of the following (and I quote), “My first car is going to be a sexy car, and you know, not all sexy cars are expensive.” ( I have overheard the boys use the “s” word while playing video games. I am not sure what’s “sexy” about gore and violence?) I guess they, like Justin Timberlake, are “bringin’ sexy back!” Oh, my!

A few years ago, a co-worker shared with us her then 13-year old son’s interpretation of the acronym, WTF. He informed her that EVERYONE knows it stands for “What the farm?” Fast forward to 2010. My own son informed me that WTF is short for “Where’s the fruit?” Just the other day, M. clued me in to the more positive, current meaning, which is “Well that’s fantastic!” And it is.

I am fairly certain that I will be privy to more peeks into the mind and interests of the developing male teen, and so I end this post with, “To be continued…….”

Grateful for a Great Weekend

This summer kicked off in high gear and never showed signs of slowing down. First, there were the back-to-back band camps that my son attended, which required adhering to a schedule. Then there was the dog’s foot surgery, and all of the supervision and work involved in trying to keep it clean and dry and out of her mouth. (She managed to remove her bandage and stitches three times. Long story. Another post.) I was still finishing up yard work late into June after getting far behind this Spring due to my unexpected knee surgery (and slower-than-expected recovery), and never-ending rains, which kept me and everyone else inside. And then there was the planning and packing for vacation, which always leaves me, well, ready for vacation. In between work and all of the above, I seemed to be either chauffering M. and his friends around, sometimes multiple times in one evening, OR pumping gas at the local station so I could cart them around some more.

As June morphed into July, I had the dreadful feeling that this summer was going to blaze by with barely a chance to soak up some down time. And then we hit week three of this month, and I could feel the pace of life being taken down a notch or two.  (The record heat and humidity, which is scorching a large part of the country, might also be a contributing factor to the meltdown slowdown.) I utilized last weekend to settle back in from vacation, and by Friday, I was pretty much caught up at work. All in time for this weekend, which had no things-to-do or places-to-be scribbled on the calendar. Could this be my chance (finally) to catch up on reading and maybe, just maybe, carve out some time to work on my shoe story? The answer is a huge YES!!!!! I feel extreme gratitude for finally being given the opportunity and space necessary to leaf through magazines and leftover newspaper articles, and more importantly, to work on a story that I initially wrote approximately five or six years ago. I spent some time Saturday reworking my piece based on critiques I received in a writing group last month. The group meets again in a few days, and I was determined to have the revisions in place for a second reading by the constructively critical eyes of the other members. Deadline met! As if that wasn’t enough, there was also time for journal writing and the posting of my weekly online dating summary. AND, I drafted another post about the ramblings of 13-year old boys, that I will complete and share with my readers early next week.

This weekend was reminiscent of snowy days in January where you hole up inside with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate,  escaping the frigid temperatures and biting winds whistling just outside the door. It is July, and much of America is barricaded indoors due to stifling humidity and triple digit temperatures and/or heat indices. Suddenly, January doesn’t seem so bad.