Miss Virginia and Miss Sara   

In the small Southern town where I grew up in the 50's, it was customary for women to put on a “tea.” These teas were to honor one of the young women in the town who was soon to be married. 

A group of three women who were best friends entertained together:  Miss Virginia, Miss Sara, and Allene, my mother. 

They would plan in advance…sometimes on the phone, occasionally in person. The parties were elaborate. 

My mother and her friends were not sophisticated or wealthy.

But they knew how to put on a “tea”. The silver platters were polished and ready beforehand, along with the silver coffee pots, sterling silverware, bone china, and freshly starched linen napkins. Fresh flowers from their own yards and tasty morsels were always featured.  

My younger sister and I were designated servers. I’m guessing I was 9 when I became a part of the tea party scene. What I remember is that we had detailed instructions as we learned...

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Stayin' Alive on the 4th of July

As we celebrate another of our nation’s birthday this Independence Day, I am reminded of a July 4th post I wrote back in 2011 when my son, Rob, was deployed to Afghanistan. Rob is home now, but re-reading the post today brings all those feelings back to me. It also makes me feel a deep gratitude that he returned with his body, and his psyche, intact. I will forever feel grateful for that.

I still feel connected to those who served in that faraway country.  I am privileged to have worked as a counselor with Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors who were deployed and returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their stories are chilling, young men who know the horrors of war and are still trying to make sense of it all.

As we celebrate this 4th of July

 I hope that all of us remember our service members & their families.

The ones who are still deployed, still in danger, the ones who are struggling, and the many who are wounded warriors.

Think for a moment about the ones...

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Summertime and the livin’ ain’t that easy

Summer is the best time to sit back, have a barbeque, go for a hike, lay in a hammock, chill out, right? 

Are you doing that?  Confession. I’m not. I’m busy and overwhelmed a lot. 

I looked up the definition of overwhelm to see if it’s as bad as I thought:  Here’s what I found:  “to exist in such great amounts that someone or something cannot deal with them. ”Yep, it’s what I thought. Plus they could have added this part:

 “And you don’t know what to do about it.”

Thoughts of burning down the house (to get rid of clutter) or running away or bursting into tears because there’s so much to do and you don’t even know where to start doesn’t really help, does it? And to top it off, everyone’s taking a vacay. What if you don’t even have the time to figure out how to get away? Geez. Sheer craziness, right?

Here’s what I think might...

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Say Goodbye to Your Saboteurs Forever

I’ve decided to come clean and tell you the truth:  I’m going to write you every week. Whoa. I cringe because I’ve said this before. But this time I really mean it.

When have you promised yourself (or someone else) that you’d do something? And then - it happens. You stop doing something you meant to do. And usually it goes like this: you miss a week. A week turns into 2 weeks and then 2 becomes a month, and then the next thing, it’s not happening.  AT ALL. Please tell me you’ve done this, too.

The thing is, I KNOW what happens for me. It’s called a big fat, mean saboteur, who sits on my shoulder.

I hear him breathing in disgust, reading what I’ve just written. “So, Jo ... when did you get so bold that you're telling people you’re going to write them every week? Really?” (I can imagine him rolling his eyes). “How long will it last THIS TIME? You can’t even think of what to write about."...

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It’s my birthday and I can be who I want

This is me on my 5th birthday right next to my sister

Today I am 69 years old.

I decided that part of my birthday present to myself would be in looking back when I was 5 years old to see if I have any of the traits she had after all these years. 

I wanted to get to know this younger part of myself since I have three granddaughters about this same age.

It's so important for me to be aware and guide them so that they don’t fall into the same traps as I did.

 This is me at 5.  I look determined and a bit defiant.

It is shocking for me now to see this photo since I grew up with a mother who didn’t tolerate any challenges to her authority and certainly not any sassiness in a little child or anyone for that matter.  

When I look into the eyes of this young girl I wonder, was I really a little spunky? 

So what was going on here?

Was there a moment of posing for the camera with my real true little self before anyone noticed and could...

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Living Your Best Life

Greetings from Port Vila, Vanuatu

Most people have never heard of this tropical island in the South Pacific. Vanuatu is an archipelago of about 82 small islands near the Fiji islands.

Vanuatu

I came here to live over 30 years ago when my sons were 3 years old and 6 months. I was excited but nervous to bring little ones here, especially sight unseen. But I trusted my instincts that we would be safe and we were. And for 5 years I was able to call this place my home.

It was one of the best and happiest times of my life.

Now I find myself here again, watching my 3 grandchildren grow up.

In this photo, you can see I am surrounded by my little grandchildren and my beautiful daughter-in-law, Stephanie. 

The little boy who was 3 (Andrew) has come back to live here where he has created a shipping business with tugboats and barges for inter-island business.

Here are my sons in 1988.  Andrew was 5 and Rob was 3. 

The point of this story is that you never know how life will...

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Making 2019 Your Best Year

These are my 5 grandchildren. Three of them live far away on an island in the Pacific. Our families met up together in March last year in Fiji so I had the pure joy of hanging out with them. It was wild at times because they were all under the age of 4. And I was smiling the entire time. Even now I smile, thinking about that trip. 

Lucky, lucky me. Had I not planned or anticipated this trip, it would not have happened. But I found a way because it was super important to me to be around these 5 cuties.

What I want to ask you is, what fun things do you have planned for yourself this year? What are you planning that will bring you joy? 

Take the leap and decide you're going to choose this to be a great year. Your best year. 

For me, I’m planning on lots of travel and keeping things simpler, spending more time enjoying the people I love.

And being less frenetic than last year.

I was so hyper focused on getting my Ageless Wisdom and Passion online retreat...

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When things go sideways...an adventure on a tropical island

 "In every journey or adventure, there will be the unexpected, the low points, the funky stuff that happens. This is true for travel or for life. And there are always lessons to be learned." 

February is the month of love. And because of that, I decided it would be a theme of self love. And since my blog is live again, I thought I'd repost this story as this adventure taught me so much about loving myself amidst being terrified and making decisions. I also learned a lot about forgiving myself.

Three years ago my husband and I visited my son and his family in the tiny South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. We were stoked to be so close to an active volcano. The events that happened were, shall we say, a little scary?

It all started a little bit wonky, the beginning of our trip to see the live volcano on Tanna in the South Pacific island of Vanuatu.

That tropical morning we got off the plane from Efate, the main island of Vanuatu, and arrived by plane an hour later on the...

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