Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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Feelings From My Eleven Year Old Self

Writing my family history from my parents’ perspective is emotionally hard right now. The idea that it could some day become a novel is distant. I’m writing about the time when my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was trying to cope with her anxiety and depression and what do to with the family dog. That is the gigantic issue for me. Hoppy.

Hoppy 1967

I was 11 years old. Hoppy, a Newfoundland/Shepherd mix was my confidant. We had moved from Philadelphia to Michigan to New York staying with other families while Dad was in Vietnam. That summer we would stay in Quantico until dad finally got stationed at Camp Lejeune again.

Hoppy had been with us through each move. But something happened to him that spring in New York. I don’t know the truth. My mom made up as story about a sick little girl who needed him more than I did. I believed it. I suppose it could be true. Now, at the age of 65, I wade through my dad’s letters from Vietnam with fear as I approach the possibility of more clues. Any day now, I could read a letter that tells me more about what happened to Hoppy. My parents loved each other very much. It was a terribly hard time for them. I’m trying to look at the big picture and have compassion for all. I wrote this note to myself in my work in progress:

Note to self: Step back and look at the big picture with compassion for all. Allow your feelings. The truth is you don’t know what happened You might was well imagine something good.

So I tried to imagine Hoppy being adopted by a loving family. Then the grief broke through from that 11 year old girl who was me.

I LOVED HIM.

The sobs came and I prayed for guidance, for comfort. All I can do right now is reach back across the 54 years to that eleven year old girl whose body was changing in crazy ways, whose father was in Vietnam, whose mother was on the verge of another nervous breakdown, the girl whose dog was gone – and wrap my arms around her and hold her and tell her she is going to get through this.

In 1967, that eleven year old girl learned to shut down her feelings. She focused on school work and escaped into Star Trek. But she still had that pain and confusion buried all those years ago trying to accept the story her mother told her about her dog.

I guess that’s enough writing for today.

Here’s a family photo from happier times. Probably right after Dad got back from Vietnam since he’s pretty thin.

I’m the big girl on the right wearing hushpuppies.

I wrote this before checking the prompt for Just Jot January which is “button.” I guess we never know when we’re going to bump into a button that takes us back to our childhood, for better or worse, offering an opportunity for healing.

Linda’s Just Jot January story looks interesting. Click the following link for details:

#JusJoJan prompt the 15th – “Button” | (lindaghill.com)


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A Letter to My Past Self About Reasons to Keep Living

This post is inspired by Eliza at: https://elizajourneythroughlife.home.blog/

I’m sending this back in time to myself whenever it’s needed most, sometime in my late teens or early twenties when I had thoughts about suicide. 

Dear JoAnne, 

It’s me, your future self, writing this to you when I am 65 years old which doesn’t feel as old as I thought it would back then when I was 20. Believe me, there is plenty of life to live. 

I know this is hard time for you. I know you are confused and lost trying to figure out what to do with your life. I know your heart aches and that you’ve had thoughts of giving up. Don’t give up!  It’s very important that you know life will get better. There will be hard times ahead. There will be times when you feel your heart is breaking, but the good times will vastly, surely, and greatly outweigh the bad. When I look back at all the good times over the past 45 years, I am so grateful that I didn’t give up.

You will gradually gain the skills to navigate and overcome the hard times. Things that seem impossible now, will someday be easier or less important. 

There are good times, wonderful times, ahead with the constants in your life: nature, art, writing, dogs, horses, cats, learning, and spirituality. These are the things you need to focus on now – the true loves of your life that always nurture your spirit and feed your soul. There will be love. Love from men, friends, and family. Your parents love you very much, even more than you can realize right now since you haven’t had children, yet, but you will. The love of family and friends is important. For now, don’t worry about the men, especially the ones who act like boys. You deserve love that is kind and caring, mature and strong. It might take a while, but you will have it. For now focus on loving yourself. 

You are valuable! You are worth so much more than you know. You have so much to give to this world with all your gifts, gifts that are still being developed. 

I know you might not want to hear this right now, but God loves you deeply, profoundly and forever. Just trust me on this. Your family is praying for you every day. Let this knowledge strengthen you. I know your ideas about religion are eclectic and nontraditional, and that’s okay. That’s part of who you are. But understand that there is a Higher Power who loves you dearly and has a wonderful plan for you! Trust the timing.

So, forget about men for now.  Remember your dreams. Your dreams may change, but they will always be about helping others and Mother Earth. For now, focus on loving yourself and learning. Cut down on the drinking. Be safe. Go back to college. Feel free to explore different classes, different interests.

There’s a whole world of possibilities waiting for you!

I’m sending big hugs and abundant love across time to you. Be still for a moment and feel it. Then move forward with you wonderful life. I promise your life will be will be interesting, beautiful and full of wonder.  

I love you always, 

JoAnna

Today’s Just Jot January topic was, “Letter.” I’m thankful to E for her nudge and patience on this letter and to Linda, our JusJoJan host for getting me to go through my draft ideas to get it written.

For more on Just Jot January, visit: #JusJoJan prompt the 11th – “Letter” | (lindaghill.com)


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Christmas Letters from Vietnam

Today is my parents’ anniversary. They were married on December 21, 1954. Now, they are together again in heaven. In memory of my parents, I’m sharing two of the many letters my dad wrote from Vietnam. They are slightly edited to remove items about other people.

Dec. 25, 1966  From the Republic of Vietnam

My Dearest Wife,

You have made my Christmas much better. I received ten letters from you and a Christmas card. I was feeling real blue til mail call and you came through like always. I also received a card from (his niece). We will get paid on the 6th of Jan. and I’ll send you a check for $250. This should help you some. We get paid once a month and from now on, I’ll be able to send you a check. I went to church twice today, first to Roman Catholic and then to protestant. I also received communion. I prayed each time as I do at night for God to give you strength, health, and happiness. I also thanked God for my wonderful wife and family. I love you with all my heart and will forever. We had turkey, corn, powdered mash potatoes, nuts, and candy today for dinner, but it tasted rotten. They did try however, and I guess I should be thankful for that.

We’ve had rain again for three days, but it stopped at 1:00 pm. The mud is about six inches deep and it’s getting cloudy again. It’s 8:00 pm (2000) and I go on watch at 10:00 to midnight. ….. Please try not to worry too much about me. I won’t be foolish, I love you too much. Please tell our wonderful children I love them and give everyone my best. Remember, I love only you and our family and live for you. May God Bless you.

All my Love, Forever Your Husband, Jim.

December 27, 1966 from Republic of Vietnam

Darling Betty Ann,

It rained all Christmas night and yesterday too. It’s been raining all day today and hard. I hope I don’t have to go any place. It’s now 2pm. We were real busy yesterday and last night so I didn’t have time to write. So for today, it hasn’t been too bad….There sure are a lot of rumors going around but nothing certain. One is that we are supposed to go back to Okinawa soon, but like I say, it’s not fact. A lot of people start rumors just in hopes they will come true. I am going to enclose envelopes  that you may be able to use again as the stamp was not cancelled.

I sure do miss you honey. We have a radio in my bunker and all I ever hear is Christmas carols. I just sit and think about you and the children. I love you my darling and always will. I know things seem unbearable, but it will all come out in the end. As long as we have our love, we can endure anything this world has to offer.  I just want you honey and no one else will do. You’ll always be my only love….. I  guess I am not worth much to you right now, but I’ll do all I can to make it up to you when I get home. Lover, I want to hold you again in my arms so bad that I could cry just to dream about you. You are the greatest and most wonderful woman God ever created, and I love you, oh how I love you, forever and ever.  Please give my best to all and tell our wonderful children I love them. May God bless you all.

All my Love, Forever Your Husband, Jim.

My favorite photo of my mom and dad – 1960 Newfoundland Canada. That’s me on the left.
Dad in Vietnam
Post retirement photo of Mom and Dad on the road with Frannie


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Reasons to Live

This post  was inspired by Eliza at Reasons to Live

IMG_1972 (2)

In 1976, I thought about suicide. I was in 21, my boyfriend had broken up with me, and I dropped out of college. Things weren’t working out like I had hoped. Not even close.

I didn’t act on my suicide thoughts because I knew how much it would hurt my parents. They had already lost my younger sister who was killed by a drunk driver. They didn’t deserve to lose another child. No parent deserves to lose a child to death.

Eventually, I went back to college and married someone who I had a lot in common with like art, science fiction, pizza, and beer. We grew up a little and made wonderful memories having two children who I love dearly.  If I had killed myself at 21, I would not have know the love and joy of a family.

Over twenty years of marriage, my husband and I grew apart. We didn’t seem to have as much in common anymore, but I still believed in our marriage. I believed we’d grow old together and travel across the country in an RV after the children were grown.  But that wasn’t what happened.

My husband left me around the turn of the century. I was in shock. Devastated. I didn’t want to live anymore with the pain of being rejected and “alone,” though I was never really alone.  Thoughts of suicide crossed my mind, but I knew I couldn’t act on them. My children needed me, my dogs needed me, and my parents loved me. I couldn’t abandon them.

Vulnerable and confused, I made things worse by allowing myself to fall into a terrible relationship, now dubbed “the rebound from hell.” But I survived and moved on, putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes I got dragged.

Cartoon about footprintes

In time, I learned to love myself again. I rediscovered my value, my gifts,  and the constants in my life that have always been important to me like nature, animals, music, art, family, and God who has been with me through every heartache and every challenge.

Now, I am married to the love of my life who found me when the time was perfect. Together and as individuals we’re exploring creative ventures, living our dreams, and building wonderful memories.

If I had remained single, I am certain that I would have been happy in the company of friends and family, loved unconditionally by dogs and by God, growing in confidence, peace, and gratitude.

 

I would not have wanted to miss any of this life.

 

JoAnne and little Ayla on a horse at Ashton Farm (2)

Me and my daughter 1995

Jesse swimming (2)

Jesse 2006

Bride & Groom framed  by doors

2012 with my high school sweetheart

JoAnne painting rabbits

Painting on a community mural 2016

sunset scarlet with bird

So many spectacular sunsets…

birds on beach w blue

Walks on the beach…

Jess looking at hole in tree

…. and adventures with grand children.

 

 Miracles are everywhere.

Remember these words from Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese”:

 

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely

The world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –

announcing your place in the family of things.


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My Sisters on the Other Side

Yesterday was the birthday of my older sister, Linda. She’s been gone from this world now for almost ten years. Just a year less than Mom. I don’t remember her being in my life when I was very young, but there are pictures that tell a different story.

Infant joanne w Linda and mom

Linda is holding me as Mom plays with her hair.

Little JoAnne and Linda

I remember those wooden shoes hurt my feet. Maybe Linda is trying to comfort me with her hand on my knee.

She was ten years older than me, technically a step sister, but the father who adopted her when he married my mother was much more of a father than the first one.

Linda got married at 16. We saw her now and then, usually during a crisis, like when her son died, then the  few months we stayed with her and her husband and daughter when Dad was in Vietnam, and later when my younger sister died.

After my divorce, Linda and I talked on the phone more. Her love and acceptance reached all the way from California to the Atlantic coast. She was a welcome comfort during that dark time of my life. I kept saying my daughter and I were going to come visit her, but I didn’t realize how sick Linda was, and that sometimes we don’t have as much time as we think we have. Still, I’m grateful beyond words for her love and I know she is in a good place, probably singing hymns with Dad like they did when my parent’s visited her church.

A few days ago, I had all the loose the old family photos laid out on the table so I could add them to the family history album. That’s when I realized how much Linda cared for me when I was young.  I also studied the photos of my younger sister, Mary Kaye.  It’s one thing to die when you’re old – whatever old is… I’m not so sure anymore – But Mary Kaye was young. It was on her 16th birthday, in March of 1975, that Mary Kaye was killed by a drunk driver.

Mary Kaye was not interested in school. She smoked cigarettes and ran away from home once. But she also volunteered with handicapped children and helped with fundraisers for their group home.

Mary Kaye in candy spiper uniform with Lobo

Mary Kaye in her candy striper (volunteer) uniform with Lobo

Mary Kaye at bake sale and with Lobo

Left: MK is putting the hamster on Lobo’s head. Right: she’s wearing the smiley face T shirt and volunteering at the bake sale for the  Carobell children’s home.

We were very different in many ways. She was more of a free spirit. I was more serious about school and had bigger plans for saving the world.  We were just starting to get beyond our sibling rivalry when she died. I often wonder what she would be like today. I wish my kids had been able to know her. These were my thoughts when I started sobbing at the table full of old photos. My husband was there to comfort me and suggested I take a break from the photos since I’d been at it for a while. I picked up my journal and went to the couch to write my feelings. A few minutes later, I felt Mary Kaye’s presence. I have not felt her presence much like I have my parents who died more recently, but it was very much the same feeling of intense JOY. No clear words, like my father gives me, but clear and unmistakable JOY.

dandelion sun through trees (3)

This evening, I stopped writing this to go for a walk with David and Doodle. Breathing in the cool air, I reached out to Linda and felt the gentle joy of her spirit. Then lightening flashed in the distant clouds. Maybe that was Mary Kaye.

If you have sisters or brothers, parents or children, beloved family by blood or by choice, still living in this world, treasure the moments you have with them. And also know this, our loved ones who have passed on are alive in spirit and in love on the other side.


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Good News Tuesday: Korean Family Reunions, A Walk of Love, and A Patient Dentist

1.

After many decades of separation, North and South Korean families were chosen by a lottery to meet at a resort. It is not enough, but it’s still good news for these families. We can hope this is just the beginning of growing peace and more reunions.

 

2.

In other news, 98 year old Luther Younger has been walking 6 miles to visit his wife who is in the hospital. His family has raised money to help ease his journey.

 

3.

Finally, here’s a story about a Louisville dentist who developed a holistic program for those on the autism spectrum. Click the link below for a video about this compassionate, patient, and understanding dentist.

//www.wdrb.com/clip/14572066/louisville-dentist-offers-special-program-for-those-on-the-autism-spectrum

 

Sunflower w address

We some need balance.

Spread good news!


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It Seemed Like Things Were Getting Worse for this Homeless Family, Until…..

Ebony Rhodes was arrested and the car her family had been living in was impounded. But the officer asked questions and reported the situation to his deputy police chief setting in motion big changes for the family.

This good news story is full of compassion and wisdom.

 

Got good news? Please feel free to share!

Sunflower w address


17 Comments

Good News Tuesday: My Son is Visiting and I’m doing a Happy Dance!

From the get-go, I’ve been open to Good News Tuesday being global, local, or personal good news. Today, I’m going with personal.

My recent good news is that  Trust the Timing is available on Amazon in paperback and the e-book is coming soon!

Today’s good news is that my son, my first born, is coming down from the mountains to visit.  And he’s bringing a friend I’ve never met. I get to see my son about two or three times a year, and it’s always special. We’ll be going to the beach this evening and spending time at my dad’s house tomorrow. Dad’s been gone almost six months now, but I still call it his house, and his truck. Family and friends become more important as we get older.

So, for the next couple of days, I’ll be focusing on family, which means less time here on WordPress. But I’ll be back by the end of the week, and I’ll try to pop in some before then.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that relates to my son shortly after he was born thirty something years ago:

           The bond of protection and love I felt for my little offspring was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was the first time I knew beyond any doubt that I would be willing to protect someone with my life. I started driving the speed limit and crying over the TV news. For the first time in years, I started thinking about going back to church, but it was just a thought.

Here’s something I found looking for a happy dance. Lucy is like mainstream media – concentrating on bad news. Don’t let anybody stop your happy dance!

 

Happy Midsummer!

Sunflower w address

 

 

 


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In Transit

 Deborah Drucker has perfect timing with today’s prompt: “Transcendent.”

Today, I will transcend the news of the world, but not in an abstract way. Using the  definition, “surpassing the ordinary; exceptional,” I will be doing something out of the ordinary for me. This weekend, I’ll be in transit to visit my grandchildren who live 760 miles away. I wish I could use a transporter like they have on Star Trek, but I’d probably get queasy having my molecules scattered like that. Driving will be a challenge, but spending time with family who I don’t get to see often will be a welcome alternative to  worldly things.

I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll be able to fit in over the next few days, but my goal is not to worry about that. I’ll be in touch with you, my dear blogging family, when I can.

just-jot-january

Just Jot it January is hosted by Linda Hill at :

https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/20/jusjojan-daily-prompt-jan-20th17/

In addition to visiting Linda’s blog, I hope you’ll read Deborah’s post today which sings to my heart. https://notestiedonthesagebrush.com/2017/01/19/transcendent/

Here’s more about Just Jot It January:

1. It’s never too late to join in! Here, we run on the honour system; the “jot it” part of JusJoJan means that anything you jot down, anywhere (it doesn’t have to be a post, it can even be a grocery list) counts as a “Jot.” If it makes it to your blog that day, great! If it waits a week to get from a sticky note to your screen, no problem!

2. The prompts will be posted every day at 2am my time (GMT -5). You don’t have to follow the prompt word, but this will be where you leave your link for others to see. Make sure you link your post to the correct day’s prompt. There will be a post like this every day except Wednesday, when the prompt is simply my One-Liner Wednesday, and Saturday, when you’ll find the prompt on my usual Friday Reminder post for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (SoCS).

3. As long as your blog is on WordPress, you’ll be able to link via pingback. To execute a pingback, just copy the URL from the daily prompt post, and paste it anywhere in your post. Check to make sure your link shows up where you want it to, and go back occasionally to see other bloggers’ entries – the more you visit others, the more they’ll visit you! If you’re participating from another blogging host, just drop a link into the comment section. Note: The newest pingbacks and comments will be at the top.

4. Tag your post JusJoJan and/or #JusJoJan.

5. Write anything! Any length will do! It can even be a photo or a drawing – you’re going to title it, right? There’s your jot!

6. The prompts are here both to remind you and to inspire you to write. However, you don’t have to use the prompt word of the day. You can link any kind of jot back here. Even your shopping list. Note: If it’s 18+ content, please say so in a comment with your link.

7. If you’d like to, use the JusJoJan badge (above) in your post so that others can find your post more easily.

8. Have fun!

If you’d like to look ahead to see the upcoming prompt words, click this link: https://lindaghill.com/2016/12/31/just-jot-it-january-2017-rules/ You can always write your post ahead of time and schedule it to come out on the appropriate day.


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Inside Out: A Fun Movie About Perseverance….and Faith, and Hope

I don’t go to movies much. But when I saw the trailer for Inside Out, an animated film about feelings, I wanted to go. Then a woman from my support group brought it up and we decided to go see it.

The main character (on the outside) is a young girl named Riley. She has a hard time with her family’s move to California. Having moved at least nine times as the child of a 20 year marine, I could feel Riley’s pain.

The characters on the inside include Riley’s feelings: Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, and the ever popular, Joy. Inside Out shows how all our feelings have important roles to play in our lives.

My favorite part begins somewhere in the middle when Joy and Sadness get sucked out of brain headquarters, where decisions are made, and have to find a way back carrying some really important core memories.

On their adventure they encounter the worlds of imagination, long term memory and the dark pit where forgotten memories go. They meet Riley’s imaginary friend, who’s actions give me a theory about why I have no memory of my imaginary friend, Auntie Jane, who my mother said I blamed for my misdeeds.

The only problem I had with the movie, and it’s a minor one for me, was that the happy ending of the traditional family with mom and dad, might be hard for children who come from  non-traditional or single parent families. But then, the film provides a great framework with which to identify and talk about feelings that might arise. I’m probably activating Fear’s cousin, Worry, about this. I’m sorry, Worry, but you need to go away.

Watching Inside Out, I laughed, and I cried, joyfully forgetting I was watching a cartoon. I found Inside Out  to be entertaining, original, and visually intriguing. It’s a fun movie that teaches about perseverance, teamwork and problem solving. Now that I think about it, it’s also about faith and hope, too.

I might even go see it again.

Remember: Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides.