"The Book of Me, Written by You" - When I grow up I want to be........

The prompt for the week is:    
When I grow up I want to be........
The Brief:
  • What did you want to be?
  • What inspired you?
  • Did you become what you wanted to be or did you do something different?
  • - was that deliberate or simply the way things worked out?
  • Did you follow your childhood dream and it not be at all what you though?

When I first read this topic, it took me back to primary or elementary school. I think it was in grade 1, we had to draw and cut out us dressed in what we wanted to become. Problem wasn't that I didn't know, but how on Earth did you draw an astronaut? I asked the teacher and she didn't know, so I had to pick something else and didn't know what. I sat there almost the entire time thinking...what can I become. The only thing else was a cowgirl because I liked the thought of riding on a horse all day long. It was done quickly as most of the time everyone else had I sat there thinking of what I could do, so had very little time left to actually do the work. These were to be used for Parent/Teacher conferences so you can take your parents over to where you sit and talk about what you want to become. The thing is we never went because my mother had to work, so the whole thing was work gone to waste. As if that wasn't enough of a disappointment, but my desk was the only desk that wasn't touched - everyone had basically nothing left on the desk, but mine was still sitting there as I left it the day before. Talk about not being like everyone else.

Then as I was growing up, I loved the library so I had thought of going to work in one of those. However, I'm a loud person when I get going, so a quiet library and me just didn't work well together.

As time went on, I found typewriters, which lead to talk about business and banking and then eventually computers. I thought about becoming a bank teller but that seemed boring. Then I thought about being a business person, but thought it wasn't varied enough for me. I didn't mind the financial side of things, so I decided to see if I could do something with computers, financials and business. This lead me to grade 11 and I wanted to go to the Vocational Center, also called BOCES to us.I already had a few classes of business taken, so I figured a computer class with business was pretty good and that lead me to Business Computer Technology which I completed by the time I finished year 12. I found I was good at it and even went to a conference where we competed against each other and tied for 5th in all of the state of New York for Financial Information Processing.

By the time I attended Orange County Community College in Middletown, NY, I was feeling pretty confident only to have that dashed the first few terms as the requirements had doubled from what I was used to, so I was feeling a bit like a fish out of water. However, within 3 years, I was actually tutoring other students, helping in the labs and doing pretty good in my courses. In 1994 I completed my Associates degree in Computer Information Systems.

I did start at SUNY of Technology at Utica/Rome in Rome, NY, but found I just didn't have enough financial help to actually continue. Topped with that, I had met my husband and had planned on getting married.

Since then, I have strived to be apart of different aspects of the IT world - however, we have a love/hate relationship - I love the stuff but companies hate or don't like my qualifications enough to let me keep or give me a job in that field.

In 2013, I decided to take another hobby I was doing - our personal website - and get a Certificate 4 in Web Based Technologies which includes creating websites. I finished the course in 2014, with a High Distinction based grade. I am currently waiting for my certificate to arrive in the mail. I'm now gearing up to go out and see if I can get a position in the business world doing this type of work.

So to answer the overall question, I guess I'm still trying to grow up and figure out what I want to be...

I cannot believe how hard it is to get into this field. I chose this field because I figured with the changing in technologies, it would be easier to get a position but I'm finding that its almost impossible.  It is a real let down, but I feel if I can get a start with a business who isn't going to sell half of its business or there's another financial crisis I will be fine in this type of employment.

  Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Feeding the Ducks (Animals)

The prompt for the week is:    
Feeding the Ducks (Animals)
The Brief:
    • Think back to your childhood. Did you feed the ducks? 
    • Do you remember the excitement of the event?
    • Were you scared of the ducks?
    • Who were you with?
    • Do you perhaps still feed the ducks?
    Of course you substitute the ducks for farm animals or pets
      Growing up I did have a range of pets. At first these were kittens, but then once my mother found she was allergic to them, we switched to dogs. I have to admit I love dogs and cats are ok but I would like a rabbit over a cat.

      When I was very tiny, I can remember my brother and father having a boxer and it having pups in my brothers closet of all places. I can also slightly remember a chihuahua named Midgie. Then there was a few years when my parents divorced and we didn't have any pets. 

      Once we got an apartment and settled a tiny bit, we had a few barn cats that came and went. They usually came because people dropped them off, but they went because they did things - an example was one cat that jumped up on the counters and ate an entire frozen turkey my mother took out for us to have for dinner. 

      After we found out about my mother's allergies, we switched to dogs and puppies. We had this one very young puppy and one of my mother's friends that came over decided to give it a beer. Well that poor puppy was so full and so drunk and passed out in its food dish. Funny at the time but no so funny now that I think about it. 

      In addition to the puppies, in the teens I also had a rabbit and guinea pigs. However, I found these died pretty quickly and regularly, so they got old pretty fast. 

      I did get to go to places like Catskill Game Farm, which has now closed. There would be all types of animals and we got to feed the babies they had there. 
      People feeding the babies at Catskill Game Farm when it was open.

      There was also a barn on the outside of Walden, NY which my mother always got us milk from. Once there, I was always able to help the farmer feed the cats he had on hand. I know the last time we went by this place, a grandchild was living there but there were no live stock and things looked horrible and it certainly wasn't used as a farm any longer.

      Then there were the trips to places like Space Farms Zoo and Museum which had just opened up when we went. 

      There was also another tiny feeding place for goats and such on one of the back roads on the way to Goshen, NY from Walden. Its now or was called Knolliewood Skatepark and has no animals any longer.I think my mother may still have pictures of these.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Comics and Annuals

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Comics and Annuals
      The Brief:
      • Like many children I whiled away hours reading comics and looking forward to the Christmas annuals that "Santa" bought with a degree of regularity.
      • So this week a trip down memory lane. 
      • Share the names of the comics and annuals - your favourites, special characters, memories
      • Pop along to a popular on-line auction site and see what the annuals and comics of yesteryear sell for!
      This might be another short but sweet article as I didn't have any of these growing up. When I was in my teens, I used to buy the magazines which talked about stars and their life outside of the TV and movies. This was fine until Princess Diana was so hounded by them that they basically ended up killing her to make money off of her.

      After that, I stopped buying those types of magazines and stayed away from them. I didn't even watch the TV shows about the stars like Entertainment Tonight. I figured anyone who didn't have enough guts to treat them with respect didn't need my money - they had their attitude to get them by.

      I was collecting stamps at this point, but it was very difficult to keep track of all the different things and keep them straight, so I stopped collecting in the late 1980s. Baseball cards were in the same field and I stopped collecting them as well. 

      Next, I subscribed to romance novels. It was something which didn't exploit anyone and most, if not all, had a happy ending. Who didn't need some happiness in their life and what a better way to get it. I used to have 3 month subscriptions sent to me - Silhouette Desire, Silhouette Special Edition, and Silhouette Romance. Sometimes I did change the subscription or pick up another type by the book in the store. 

      However, these got to be too expensive, so I had to stop them, but I found the local library had romances as well, so I went in and took them out there, so I still got my fix.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Do you have a safe place?

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Do you have a safe place?
      The Brief:
      • This can be somewhere that you gravitate to, to make decisions or reflect
      • Somewhere you go to think
      • Somewhere you go to take time out
      • Somewhere you keep things you must not loose
      • Do you have more than one safe place?

      This topic made me stop and think - do I have one? I know growing up I didn't feel very safe and I was constantly going from one place to the next.However, since marrying, I think I do have a few safe places.

      Us in front of our house in 2012.
      Our Home
      The first one would probably be our home. Since I was born, I've never lived in a place more than 4 years in a row. However, since we married and bought our home, we've been here nearly 15 years and I think I'm starting to realize I don't have to worry about having to pack up all my belongings and moving them. I can put "roots" down and not have to worry about needing to pack up everything.

      This is a video my husband took of the day we have bush fires close to us and he went to help.
      Locked Briefcase
      We keep all of our most important papers in this locked briefcase. The reasons behind this are pretty easy to understand - they are in one area and locked and during the summer months, if we need to evacuate the house because of bush fires, all of our important documents are already together. This takes the worry about needing time to put everything together. That being said, I do have all the really important paperwork scanned in and uploaded to an internet drive just in case something happens to the house while were not here. In fact, one year we had bush fires up the road from us and I had to get everything together in case we needed to evacuate and it was very easy to do because I had already thought of this.

      Because of this, I always tell my IT classes, when we talk about internet drives, about how I had my paperwork together but was still worried about the actual documents because I hadn't scanned them in. However, now I have scanned them in and I don't have to worry about them because I can get to them anywhere if there is a fire and we loose the actual documents. That really sinks home as bush fires around us have been getting worse over the years.

      I'd have to say, these are my top 2 safe places. Do you have one or more?

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Where do you think?

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Where do you think?
      The Brief:
      • How do you record those thoughts?
      • Or don't you?
      • Does thinking happen when you are in the bath, on the settee?
      • Where do you go or what to you do when you need to seriously think of something?
      2013 sitting at my desk thinking about the next blog topic

      Where do I think... I actually have a bit of a scatter brain. Usually there's so much going on in my life that random thoughts pop into my head all of the time. Some examples are:

      I've been walking to bring down my weight and sugar levels, and sometimes when I am out there, I think about various things:
      • review some family history stuff and try and put facts together and try and figure out why my ancestors have done what they did
      • review classes or information sessions I've attended notes and think about how I can use them or figure out problems to do with activities associated with them
      • think of how I can get most of what I have to get done for the rest of the day and how I can get most of it done (example would be how to start dinner, bake dessert and do things around the house and I figure if I start dinner, then make the dessert then they can cook/bake while I do the other things around the house, so I'm able to get them all or most done)
      • think about things done in the past and how we can learn from them
      • think about how the classes I teach are going and how to better do things
      • think of how we design the extension onto the house and how we can decorate it so it takes advantage of all the room we can
      I've also been known to think about these things when I'm out getting stuff done for the house, banking, taking a bath, reading, watching a TV program, meeting up with friends, and the list goes on and on.

      As you can see these are very random and all over. It gets scary if I'm either by myself or others and I figure something out and start to mutter to myself and quickly write it down on my to do list to amend, add, or how to fix a problem.

      In fact, when I was studying for my Associates in Applied Science degree, I used to sleep and in my sleep I was writing computer code that was for homework. Many times, I got up, wrote the code, and with little changing it worked!

      I have tried to record thoughts in a book but getting them from the head into the computer or on paper sometimes frustrates me as I have a problem doing that. I know in school teachers did have us have a diary and we were to write in it nightly, weekly or some other time. I wrote in it but it didn't have much of a forethought about what to write. In fact, when I first started to blog, I did this same exact thing - I did dishes, laundry, cleaned, watched this program but gave no details!

      That being said, now I understand how people want others to blog and have started to pick a topic and write on that one topic alone. I have 2 blogs because one is what I call an everyday blog, which is this blog, and I write about anything happening around me and about family history. That being said, I'm thinking about starting up a blog which would hold all of my ancestors information. This is still something I'm thinking about and not actually happening.

      My other blog, is my IT blog and I talk about anything and everything happening with anything to do with computers and social media. In fact, I haven't really had a good topic for the blog in awhile, so I have written an article but I have to go searching for another topic.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    


      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Handwriting

      The prompt for the week is:    
      The Brief:
      • Add to your Book of Me an example of your handwriting.
      • Share some examples of your ancestors - parents, Grandparents, etc
      • Has your handwriting changed over time?
      • Perhaps include some samples of younger generations?
      • In this digital age our descendants will marvel at our handwriting for very different reasons when compared to us marvelling at our ancestors handwriting. We take for granted that we can probably write. That in the past was not a given right.
      Handwriting is something I find interesting. Upon starting to look into the family's history, I found many of my ancestors beyond my great grandparents did not actually know how to read or write. However, the later generations do know how to do this but most of the time our handwriting is really hard to read but this could because of our history - if someone cannot read or write how are they to teach the next generation?

      On my mother's side, at the moment, I do not have any handwriting samples except for my mother's. However, I am looking into getting some paperwork (declaration of intention and deeds) which I am hoping that will have some handwriting after my great grandparents started to live in the US. This is because before this, my family, on both sides, was trying to survive rather than being killed because of the wars and having their countries be overrun by other countries. Education and writing was not high on their list of things to do. 

      This being said, so far I do have a copy of my Great Grandfather, Apolonius Jagodzinski, WW2 Registration card which he had to sign.

      Sample of my mother, Jo Ann Gauquie Schmitz, handwriting:
      My mother wrote this in 1989 on Jo Ann's schedule for school.
      On my father's side, I was able to so far obtain my great grandfather, Adam Wojtkowski, WW2 registration which has his signature on it.

      My grandmother, Jean Wojtkowska Schmitz, actually signed one of the Christmas cards a few years before her death.

      My father, Matthew Gerald Schmitz, signature on a recent Christmas card.

      My handwriting has changed over time. Please see the different years as examples.

      1982 or 1983 - Report on Space and Space Travel

      Mid 1980s - Report on immigration old and new
      1994 - Instructions during college for a presentation. Even today in 2014, my handwriting still looks the same.
      As you can see, I've had slight variations on my writing. When I was in 3rd grade, I had much neater handwriting, but the teacher told me I had to make my handwriting bigger and I had to be quicker. In doing that I ended up getting more sloppy and harder to read.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Blood Group

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Do you have a safe place?
      The Brief:
      • Do you know your blood group? Many people don't.
      • In fact here in the UK many General Practitioners (family doctors) do not even know or have it on record.
      • A simple and yet important snippet of information.
      • Do you have a popular blood group?
      • What about other members of your family?
      This topic is going to be a very short and sweet topic. No one in the family, that I know of, gave blood. I did when I was in high school because they were doing a blood drive, but I also wanted to know what blood group I was in.

      The information I got back was that I was O+.

      One of the receipts from when I first started to donate blood in 1991.

      After this point, I did give blood at least 3 times a year. However, since moving to Australia, I have gone in to donate only to be told the first time I needed to wait over 6 months after an IVF round in order to donate.

      However since then, I found that due to a medical issue, I have low iron stores and cannot donate any longer. I have to take iron tablets in order to keep be from becoming an anemic.

      However, I still do show my Red Cross blood card which states which blood type I have. I also carry it with me so if I ever get into an accident, the emergency persons know about my blood type.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Easter Memories

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Easter Memories
      The Brief:
      • What does Easter Mean to you?
      • A religious event? 
      • A more general Spring/Autumn event
      • Easter Bunnies
      • Eggs
      • Chocolate
      • Traditions
      Easter has to be one of the more religious meanings for Polish persons. This being said, when I was growing up, my mother didn't even encourage me to attend church let alone go every Sunday or even during religious times like Easter or Christmas. As we are Roman Catholics, this was basically blasphemy in our religion. 

      I think the major reason behind these feelings was due to how my grandmother forced my mother to go to church every week multiple times and go through all the religious instruction. Even today my mother can't understand why my grandmother Janet had her do the religious instruction and was so insistent on it. Because of doing the family's genealogy, I can say why now whereas before I couldn't. My grandmother Janet was first generation American, and her parents found their identities with the church. That being said, it was also the place where they would go for social functions as persons attending the same churches spoke the same languages and grew up with the same customs. It was a home away from home for them. 

      Anyhow, getting back to Easter, it means a rebirth of a new year and time to start something a new or renew something in your life if you so desire. 

      Growing up, Easter was time to color hard boiled eggs and then when you woke up you found the eggs and received chocolate. There was Easter egg hunts but they were for richer people I was told. If I was lucky, I might have heard "Here Comes Peter Cottontail" once but that was very rare. Sometimes if my father was around, I would either be taken over to spend time with him and family or, if he remembered, he would come and pick me up to spend Easter with him.
      Easter 1978 at my father's house with my Easter "basket" on the bear skinned rug
      Growing up I did try out different religions which was interesting, but still identify myself with being a Roman Catholic after going around and trying them. I also found by learning about the others, it opens your eyes and you respect all of the religions and not just your own.

      Since getting married and moving to Australia, I do not hard boil and color eggs anymore - just too expensive and I'd end up eating them all anyway. However, if we ever do get lucky enough I would bring back the tradition for the kids. I do still go out and get rabbits and other Easter candy for us to eat with the provision that at least one bunny per person stays in the "basket" until Easter morning.

      Easter morning we get up and its one of the two days a year where you are allowed to have chocolate before noon. The dog usually gets liver treats, which looks like our chocolate to eat for the morning as well. Sometimes I do make a cake and shape in an Easter bunny face as well.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      Book Review: My Secret Fantasies By Joanne Rock

      Review by: Jo Ann J. Fitzgerald
      Dated: 2014

      My Secret Fantasies
      By Joanne Rock

      Genre: Contemporary Romance
      Age category: Adult
      Release Date: December 17, 2013

      My Review of "My Secret Fantasies" by Joanne Rock. Reviewed: July 2014

      Joanne Rock takes you into Miranda’s life and conscience of someone who has lived her life feeling as she comes in second and how no one actually loves herself. The story begins with Miranda involving readers her personal and inside experiences and struggles. The author transports Miranda to a level where every reader can identify themselves with her and you feel she is a friend you want in your life. 

       Miranda is the younger of two children of farmers. However, throughout her life, she’s felt like the outsider at home. After a confrontation, she leaves for a career in LA. Once there, she finds she enjoys working in a tearoom rather than the career she chose. She started to take care of herself and move on with her life and had decided to do one more call out the career in LA – a reality show – which she wins but now has to deal with how others and the press see her. It’s gotten to a point where she just wants to run a tearoom and see if writing is for her and in order to do this she decides to go to the country where people won’t be expecting her to be. 

      Damien has a tiny shack which he wants to sell. However, it’s got to be to the right business so it compliments his breeding of racing stock and farm. Being the son of a Hollywood producer, he wants to stay away from anything Hollywood and a friend and supporter has let him buy his farm to do so. He works on the farm almost day and night to make it the biggest and best around. 

      The main influences with both of the main characters are family and the media. With Damien, his father and mother had always basically ignored him while the media exploited him and “he was finished with the movie business and he was done with his high-profile parents”. Similarity, Miranda was always overshadowed by her older sister and has “been the afterthought daughter my [her] whole life”. And, like Damien, finally one day she had enough and walked away from her family. With the media, her family and so called friends used her to try and make themselves newsworthy by telling the media about her past. Neither family ever realized they were forcing their children to walk away from them. 

      Besides Miranda’s family, the other main influence in her life is her ex, Rick. Rick is a person who believes life should be about him and no one else. After they break up, Rick thinks he can have Miranda’s sister, by marriage, and yet still be with Miranda by backing her into corners to start things or to make comments to her about their past, it really takes a toll on Miranda’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Also, her sister blamed Miranda for these times and “blamed me for trying to seduce him, and warned me I’d better stay away from her man”. However, now that the sister’s marriage was over, Rick was on his way to see her according to his message. 

      Everything comes together towards the end when Rick does catch up with Miranda and she realizes time has not been good to Rick and how he’s changed since she left home. Looking at Rick, she realizes just how much she’s changed and how reliant and strong she now is. She also realizes how much Damien has helped her with some of the struggles she was still having. Moreover she’s obtained some skills which help her with “not finishing last” and “score one for the good girls”. I know myself growing up, if you were labelled a “good girl” or doing things by the books, you were thought to either have come last or at least lagging in something. This goes to show, that sometimes girls who do good, do come in first or at least towards the top. 

      Damien realizes he needs her and when he is talking to his brother, he knows he needs her more than what could happen to his business, and his brother encourages him to go after Miranda. However, when he finally meets up with Miranda, he assures her his needing her far outweighs his fear of the media limelight. 

      I can see many people today having the same problems with being in many of the reality TV shows, and all the media attention that goes along with them. However, the media attention will die down it just takes months before it does and hopefully people’s relationships are strong enough to outlast the spotlight these relationship toxic programs. 

      I do recommend this book as you can see both main characters go through soul searching and realize you can do anything as long as you love yourself and respect yourself and others. I did not know about these being part of a miniseries, but its  a great book to read by itself. However, communication is the key in any relationship, but if you don’t have this then the relationship will or could die like with this couple’s relationships with their parents. Please read the about the book below.
      Joanne Rock’s MY SECRET FANTASIES is her second “Forbidden Fantasies” release for Harlequin’s Blaze miniseries. MY DOUBLE LIFE (Harlequin Blaze 5/13), her first, is a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nominee. Both books are told from a first-person heroine perspective, while the hero’s point of view remains in the more traditional third person. We fall in love with the hero right along with the heroine! The heroes of the two books are brothers, but the stories read well as stand-alones.

      Fantasy come to life...
      All I wanted was to escape the media frenzy I left behind in L.A. and open a cute little shop on the Sonoma Coast. Simple, right? But Damien Fraser—the hunky property owner—isn’t exactly thrilled about my reality-TV-star status. Still, I’m pretty sure that all he needs is a little creative convincing...and I’ve learned I can be very creative.
      I started writing a naughty novel, and with every sexy scene I write, things between me and Damien get really hot. Now the hero in my book is starting to look more and more like Damien, and I’m well on my way to becoming my brazen sexpot heroine. But when my real life and my fictional life collide, my fantasies just might cost me all of my dreams....

      You can find My Secret Fantasies on Goodreads

      You can buy My Secret Fantasies here:
      - Amazon
      - Barnes & Noble
      - Kobo

      ….So when the door of the oversized pickup opened with a squeak, I looked.
      And saw the hottest guy ever emerge.
      Now, maybe it was the heat that seemed to spotlight this hunky slab of muscle and manhood as he stood beside the open door of the truck. He glistened with sweat despite a temperature that probably only reached the mid sixties. He took the tail of a well-worn t-shirt and used it to mop his forehead.
      In that moment, his abs were exposed to my dazed, spellbound eye. He was pin-up sexy. Lean and taut, he looked like he’d pulled about two million inverted push-ups to achieve so much delicious definition in that six-pack. Better yet, he was tanned bronze and I felt like I’d been given a VIP pass to the hottest show on earth.
      What a gift in an otherwise hellacious day. My heroine Shaelynn couldn’t have done any better.
      “Are you Miranda Cortland?”
      I shook my head to clear it of fantasies that grew more explicit by the minute. The demi-god across the road did not just talk to me.
      I realized I’d stopped to stare and felt just the slightest twinge of embarrassment to be caught in the act.
      Giving him a lopsided smile, I told myself to get moving. Then realized he’d somehow known my name.
      “Excuse me?” I had to shout since two cars barreled by in either direction.
      “Are you Miranda?” he asked, his deep voice carrying easily over the distance. He slammed his door shut and jogged closer.
      To me.
      I blinked. Confused. Dry-mouthed.
      Because now that I saw the guy’s face, he was a whole lot more than just hot abs. Streaked with sweat and a light coating of dust, he looked like a local laborer in his t-shirt and jeans. Although- knowing good clothes when I saw them from years of shopping vintage- I realized he wore very good clothes. Those boots and jeans were both out of my price range.
      “Lady, are you okay?” He was now just a few feet away.
      Hazel eyes narrowed in concern, he stood a good six inches taller than me. His dark hair was close cropped and matched the dark stubble sprinkled along his jaw. Wicked cheekbones made him look a bit Native American. A prominent blade of a nose and full lips only added to his appeal.
      I remembered the words I’d written to describe the hero of my book. An arresting face. Strong. Handsome.
      “I’m fine,” I said with a bit too much enthusiasm. What I meant to say, actually, is “you’re fine.” But he stared at me like I might have mental health issues, so I struggled to pull myself out of the sexy-man-induced delirium. He looked like the hero I’d dreamed up before I even laid eyes on this guy. “That is, I broke down a few miles back, but I don’t think I’m far from my destination.”
      Belatedly, I realized I should have asked to borrow his cell phone. Or truck. Or his body. Then again, maybe I’d been spending too much time daydreaming up plot points for my sexy secret novel…

      About the Author:
      Joanne Rock fell in love with reading at a young age and stayed out of trouble- mostly- as a teen thanks to long stints at her local library where she routinely checked out as many books as a bicycle basket would carry. She still pronounces all the names of the Greek gods incorrectly because she learned them through reading- a small price to pay for the vast amount of knowledge she gained from books! She started writing when the voices in her head kept her awake at night, demanding she tell their stories. A successful romance author and former Golden Heart winner, she’s penned dozens of books for a variety of Harlequin series and has been nominated for the prestigious RITA award three times. Her work is reprinted around the globe and has been translated into twenty different languages. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s cheering on her three sons in sporting endeavors of every variety.

      You can find and contact Joanne here:
      - Website
      - Facebook
      - Twitter
      - Goodreads
      - Pinterest
      - Tumblr
      - Amazon author page


      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Your Year

      The prompt for the week is:    
      Your Year
      The Brief:
      • Think back over your life. Which year was “your year” in terms of happy, special and treasured events?
      • Think back over your life. Which year was absolutely not “your year”
      • Thing in terms of health, wealth, happiness or a degree of sadness, back luck and years when you simply wish you could go back and relive or redo something.
      Good Year/s verus Bad Year/s
      This is an interesting topic for this post. I've had a few "your years" which were times of happy and good things that happened. When good years happen, I usually try and make the most of them, because these have been pretty rare in my life.When bad years happen, there is always more of them in my life unfortunately. However, that's why savoring the good years is all that more important.

      Good Year - My birth
      A good year, was the year I was born. I wasn't a wanted baby, but the drama that my birth caused, as people have told me over the years, seems pretty funny. It was a cold and rainy night and my mother
      goes into labor in Newburgh, NY. My father is in active service and is out to sea in the US Navy. My sisters and brother stay home and my older sister watches the others. My mother then calls my grandmother, Jean, to come pick her up and drive her to West Point because she was in labor.

      My grandmother who was all of 4 foot 10 inches arrives in her bright blue charger type of car. My mother gets into the passenger seat and my grandmother in the driver seat and away they go. Apparently, the trip was very eventful from what I've been told.

      I was born just after 11pm that night.

      Bad Years - My birth & early years
      Of course, when I was born, they found I had birth defects. One of the main problems was my heart murmur, which I was shuffled in and out of various doctor offices for the first 4 years of my life. Between my heart murmur, I also was pigeon toed and needed various braces over my early years. I also had a malformed ear.

      Between getting shuffled around to see heart doctors, I also had to deal with the various braces and metal inserts in my shoes. Talk about being looked at differently by many outsiders.

      Bad Years - Learning Disability and Vision
      As if being looked at differently to the start of your life wasn't the only thing, but then when things settle down, you are one of the few that are of divorced parents and people judged me on that, but then during tests when I was in grade 1, they noticed I had a comprehension problem.

      Each year I would be taken away from all the other kids at school, kept in a room with a few others, retested and be made to do different activities to the other kids. After about 3 years, the school then split up kids based upon their levels, and I was always put with the "slower" and subjects that were not as complex as the other kids. I always felt different and like I had a huge scarlet X on my back or something. People and kids even got to call me names - slow and stupid being just a few of the nicer ones.

      Then in the 5th grade, the teacher, Mr McGinnis, noticed I was squinting my eyes to read the
      chalkboard (yes we had chalkboards back then!). He then wrote a note home to my mother about it and off we went to Vision City in Newburgh. They told me I needed glasses for distance and that's how I had to wear them. However, I was told by both the teacher and then the next doctor at Vision City that no matter what I MUST wear them all the time. In doing this, I screwed up my eyes and need bifocals now. For years, it just added to the names and being so different. Again, I was even further distanced by people.

      Bad Year - Paternal Grandmother's death in 1988
      I hadn't seen my grandmother since Christmas in 1987, and missed her. However, I do know she was then living with my uncle and aunt, so I couldn't go and stay like I normally would with her. What I would normally do, would be to spend about 2 weeks of the summer holidays with her and we would do things together. However, since she moved into my uncle and aunt's house, we all just felt really weird going there to spend time overnight, and my mother could never find the time to take me over for the day, so I "lost" the last few years with her.

      Before she passed, she had some health problems I was told. I did go and visit her when she was in the hospital, even though my mother didn't want to take me and I forced the issue, and it was interesting. She would skip from one language to another. The only one I spoke was English and felt bad. Soon thereafter, she passed away.

      I wasn't allowed to go to the viewings, but was able to go to the church and grave site ceremony.  It was a hot and rainy day. I remember standing there by myself as everyone else was at the grave and no one spoke to me, offered a hand - nothing. After the service was done, I turned and walked away. I was almost at the car where my mother's boyfriend was waiting, when I was called to by my stepmother. She told me that she thought my grandmother would want me to have this and handed me an umbrella. Then ran back to the rest of the people. I then went home as I didn't know about families getting together afterwards and I was never asked to come along. I went home and dealt with it by myself as no one asked me about it or talked about it afterwards.

      Bad Year -1989
      Eventually I found a boyfriend, or what I considered to be a boyfriend. It was great - we had many same interests, hung out with the same friends, and enjoyed being together. However, what I found out was he was also a friend's boyfriend too. I found out after I heard one friend tell another one about her boyfriend and how they were expecting a child together. This not only hurt because of him being unfaithful, but he was sleeping with me as well, and they had a child on the way. Needless to say, I broke it off with him and stayed away as much as I could (basically isolated myself) and never let his other girlfriend know. True, he wrote me a letter about how he was using me and never cared for me, but that was just the topping on what I overheard. There was no way I was going to break up a "family", so I had to let it go. To this day, the other girlfriend doesn't know and I've only just reestablished contact although its a very distant type of relationship compared to when we were growing up.

      Bad Years - 1990/1991
      My sister and nieces all had problems in these years. My mother and I were trying to keep things pretty much somewhat normal as much as we could. However, things happened with my nieces which should never have happened and my sister had plenty of problems on her own. I was trying to keep my grades up, drive up to upstate (near the Canadian border) every weekend to see my nieces and spend time with them and then back down to where we lived in time for school. Add to that, I was working, trying to hang out with my friends, go to trade school and keep my grades up and I was one very busy person.

      Add this to 1991 being the year my mother kicked her boyfriend out after about 10 years and that meant things just got that much harder for us with bills and such. There was nothing extra there for anything. We had to scrape and stretch the money to make it, but we did end up getting that done but we didn't have anything left over.

      Good Year - 1991
      I did end up graduating from high school and trade school. It was also great to find out I made honor societies in both school's as well. I made honor roll for most of my high school years, but I never
      heard of an honor society at all. I didn't know what they were and for the most part I still don't understand them because I was only inducted right before graduation. Then when I graduated I was handed cords so I could wear them at graduation too. One of the biggest fights was because of the levels I as in because of my learning disability and if I should still be able to be on them because of it. Talk about kicking someone when they are down...

      I won an award for 5th in State of NY for Financial Information Processing. A group of us through the trade school went away and competed against others within NY state in various testing. I was shocked because I actually won something. It was the first time anyone my trade school had ever won an award at one of these things.

      I did end up going to my senior prom with my boyfriend. Being together without his mother and nieces/nephew was very rare so I was looking forward to it. Only to spend the night with him sitting there like a lump.

      I also one an award at my trade school for Outstanding Student for the whole course. I was shocked because I never knew about this award before.

      After graduation, I was able to go and get office work so I could help bring in some much needed money into the house. 

      Good Year 1994
      I then went to Orange County Community College (OCCC) and graduated in 1994. It was the first time anyone in my immediate family ever did this. My uncle and aunt graduated, but they were the only ones.

      I finally felt like I was on my way and I could finally go out and get a good job and we could get ahead instead of just making it.

      Bad Year 1994
      After graduation from OCCC, I could get temporary jobs, but nothing beyond basics like reception and filing and things along that line. I wanted something I studied in - programming was a real goal but I was finding that no one wanted to hire me because I didn't have even a higher degree, which was disappointing.

      I also broke up with my boyfriend because I couldn't handle where he classified our relationship compared to everyone else, so I eventually had enough and moved on.

      Good Year 1995
      I met my husband online and we started to talk and get to know each other. We talked on the phone, talked over the internet, and sent emails and snail mail. We later, in 1996, met in real life, spent physical time together, got engaged and I visited Australia.

      Good Year 1997
      I migrated to Australia and married my husband. True we had a fire which we needed to regroup and go forward, but we did and we are stronger because of it.

      Good Year 2000
      We bought our home where we are now living.

      Good & Bad Year 2004
      After trying for over 5 years, we finally became pregnant. However, it was short lived and later we "lost" the baby due to it being in my tube. In fact, I was told I was lucky because I could have died before it was discovered.

      Since I met my husband, its been more good years than bad as you can see. The way I live life is you can sit there and be upset because something didn't work or you can say well that didn't work or doesn't work and go a different direction. Most of the time, you can look at things and if you try hard enough you can find something positive about what's happened.

        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    

      "The Book of Me, Written by You" - Regrets

      This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
      This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
      This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
      The prompt for the week is:    
      The Brief:
        • Big Regrets  - I should (or not) have bought that large purchase 
        • Small Regrets - I should (or not) have had that thick shake at MacDonalds
        • Miscellaneous Regrets
          • Relationships
          • Jobs
          • Friends
        Regrets are something I try and avoid by doing the right thing and telling the truth. I figure if I can look myself in the mirror then I'm happy because usually that means I'm doing fine.

        I've been looking at what I've done throughout my life, and conscientiously made the decision to live life in a way that I can look into the mirror and think that I've done my best in life. Further, I know, within myself, if I can make decisions which back up what I know my rights and values are in life, then if I was to leave the earth tomorrow, I could leave peacefully without any regrets from that point onwards. This is how I've lived my life since I made this decision.

        Big Regrets
        The big regrets I don't really have. I have concerns about children and if we can't have them. I do regret that we might not be able to, but its due to infertility. I know my losing weight would help, but I've done what most women have done and they've successfully lost weight, so I know its the infertility issues helping the weight issues in this problem. And I know as much as I might regret it, I've done everything within my power (and other people's powers) to become pregnant. As we're still going through this whirlwind of conceiving - this is to remain in questions for a few years yet. 

        However, within the last few years I found this point of view was getting sorely tested because of what was happening in my business life. I didn't like it and what it was turning me into. At the time, it was really tough to act according to my morals and beliefs, but I didn't want to leave because of the support I was giving to the organizations and community and the belief I had the work that was being done was important and not just paper shuffling. However, by the organization forcing retrenchments, and that was hard in itself as we all have bills and need money, this tug of war came to an end. It took a bit to redirect my thinking and doing, but now everything is back in balance and I'm much happier.

        I do regret not being able to find a stable job. I know when I was in the US, once I got into working, I always had an abundance of places looking to hire me. True, it wasn't within the IT sector, but at least it was using my skills in different areas. However, since I've moved to Australia, something happens and I ended retrenched and out of a job. There is no clue why this is the case in both times I've been retrenched, as managers have always praised the job I do and how well I do my job. I do hope I find employment that keeps me longer than 6 years this time around. 

        I am proud to say that I've had some of my friends since I was in first grade at Walden Elementary School which is well over 35 years now. We have gone through a lot in that time but we all still can get together and act like we're our younger selves. I've been told many times that I have NOT changed. This means that I am living truthfully and I cannot regret that. A smaller regret is not being there at times from family and friends, but if I can possibly be there, I am there and they know this. Its tougher living so far away at times, but we do try and keep up with each other with the phone, Facebook and Skype. Harder is not necessarily meaning NOT there - you just have to try that little bit harder if you really want it.
        Friends from school in 2010

        Friends from school in 1991

        Family has always been a subject that's more love and hate than anything. I love them all, but at times I hate them as well.

        I do regret, for what its worth, not taking more time out just to talk and ask questions to and with my paternal grandmother, Jean. That being said, when she passed I was only in my early teens, so every child isn't so keen on doing this, but hindsight is a great thing. I do know I would have loved to get my camera and take a  picture of my maternal, and namesake, grandmother, Janet. If nothing else, we would have a picture to remember her by. Further, I would have written down the last place she lived and would have fought NY to have them tell me where she was living, so I could have developed more of a relationship with her. Again hindsight is a great thing, but I am looking for places I can go to get her records released...its just taking me time to track it down, but I will prevail.
                                                Some immediate & extended family at my Uncle's funeral (2002)                                        Immediate family missing are sister's Jean and Theresa

        I don't regret anything I've done, but I do wish my whole immediate family were closer - it would be great to have a family reunion where everyone comes along and has a huge picnic and plays games for the day. The reality of this would be if we even tried it, we would need bodyguards for certain family members and/or murders would be committed, others would be so distanced from the other it would like they were on another planet, and there are a few that would get along but the fear is always how long would they get along for?

        I guess one of the bigger regrets is when a dear family member was hurt by someone, I wasn't there the one time she needed someone to protect her. However, no one, not even myself, could see what was happening, so nothing was done. However, once it was brought to our whole family's attention, we banded together. Everyone was scared that I would go after the person who hurt the family member, and so they watched me. I wouldn't regret what I would do if I EVER got my hands on him, but I know, from the one time I had seen that person and the way he ran, that he will always keep a wide berth of me because he knows what I WOULD do if I ever did get that close to him.

        That being said, if things go on within families and others do not know, they they cannot act. However, its how you handle the knowledge of those things once you know about them. I do know that I've ALWAYS acted once I had knowledge of goings-on. In fact, one of these goings-on, I didn't speak to one of my sisters for years because of it. We have made up, to a point, but the relationship is forever ruined by what she did.

        Families are precious and if anyone decided to abuse or hurt any of them, and I found out about it, even now, keep looking over that shoulder because I will never stop looking for them. Would I regret this, no, because these types of people bring this stuff onto themselves. I wouldn't go looking for them, but if our paths ever crossed, I would serious warn them to run and get as far as they could from me.
        In conclusion, as you can see, I don't have many regrets compared to some. Protection is something we all think we are able to do for those we love, but hurting others is just wrong unless you are provoked. I do try and see things from all points of view and make the best decision based upon that. I know, within myself, I've done the best I can do, with what I've got to work with, and if I die tomorrow, I've done the best I could have and, I believe, my ancestors would support me with the decisions I've made. That's all anyone can ever expect to do with their life.


        Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.