Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Little Artist Knows THE Artist

"God is an artist. We are all His art."

Zane, for a 6 (just about 7) year old, you have great wisdom.

Thank you for ministering to your Mommy. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Starbucks: I Guess I Don't Know All the Terms Going In

I love coffee.


You didn't know that, did you?

On Thanksgiving Day, we decided to stop at Starbuck's before heading to the movies. You should know, and probably already do, that I am not a frequent customer of "St. Arbucks" (coined by my friend, Melody). It's not that I don't like Starbuck's. I just prefer the independent guy. And gal.

So we pop in to get a drink.

George asks me to order him an Au Lait.

"Hi. Can I get an Au Lait, please?"

"A what?" is the answer I receive.

"An Au Lait."

"Well?! What do you want in it?"

"I'm sorry. I don't understand. Coffee, steamed milk . . ."

"No, I mean, how many shots?"

"Oh! Sorry. Do you make yours with espresso? Ok. Um, just one."

She leans over to the barista and says, "She says she wants an Au Lait."

Followed by "mumble, mumble", and then, YES, I kid you not: a visible eye roll.

Why? Did I do something wrong?

She turns back to me.

"By the way. What you ordered? It's actually called a Misto."

Hmmm, well, yes, it can be referred to as a Misto, (most notably at Starbuck's), but, actually, it's an Au Lait. Coffee and steamed milk. It was Thanksgiving. I didn't get into terminology with her. She was working on Thanksgiving - and probably not too happy about that. I gave her a pass and chose not to give her my husband's resume . . .

George returned.

"Here's your Misto."

"My what? I wanted an Au Lait."

Are there any other "fancy" newfangled terms I should know about? Either at Starbuck's or other establishments?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Facebook: We're On A Break

If you read my last post, you'll already be aware that I am in a "battening down the hatches" sort of mood. Which, admittedly, is difficult when so much of one's day is spent online.

I began blogging 10 years ago - almost 11 now. When Harper was about 3 months old. My posts at that time were all about being a new mother. Since then, my blog has morphed, and now, I just like to chat away. On a variety of topics.

I miss blogging. Sadly, I realized recently, that many of my thoughts/ideas, which I would have most certainly blogged in the past, have been reduced to "sound-bytes" on Facebook this year. Lazy writer.  And while I am grateful for social media in the respect that it has played an ENORMOUS role in building my Beachbody business, I am also finding myself getting progressively weary of the FB platform - and miss writing on my blog.

I know. Right?

Yes, you are reading Cuppa Jo. Do not adjust your settings. It is indeed Joline writing. And yes, I DID state that I'm not loving Facebook as I once did.

I began making some small changes this year:

  • I removed my personal page from being Public.
  • I have hidden friends who use offensive language, are continually snarky, or just have a negative spirit.
  • No posts, photos, or videos, etc. in which I am tagged can be posted unless I approve them.
  • People can not check me into places, and I don't do so either.
  • I moved the bulk of my business information to my Fit With Jo page, (while still having to post on my personal page from time to time to drive people over there to build the page.)

However, It was a few short weeks ago on the women's retreat to which I referred in Hula Hooping, that first clued me in to the fact that these changes weren't easing my FB tension.

Add to this a recent situation at church that produced a lot of statements and gossip on Facebook that I wish I hadn't seen, and the tension headache grew.

Then there was a nudge from God which taught me that Facebook seems to have become the way that many have chosen to start and maintain "friendships"- getting to know people solely through status updates or by what they post. Enter, migraine.

God has been known to speak to me in the "rule of three". Only this time, I'm not laughing.

So, in response to God's prodding, I attempted to make adjustments to my Facebook account over Thanksgiving, only to find myself more frustrated. In my desire to create "lists" so that not everyone was forced to see each and every post I write, I ended up dizzy.  I let "this" list see "this post" and "that" group see "that post", but forgot to put "this" person in "this" group, and forgot to remove "this" person" from seeing all "those" posts, and then, I basically gave up. It wasn't worth it. I didn't like the feeling of "categorizing" people, and at some point, someone's feelings were going to get hurt. (And yeah, I care about that kind of thing.) It was like inviting people to several different parties. Ridiculous.

My conclusions.

  • There is absolutely no way to have complete privacy on Facebook. 
  • The likely-hood of misinterpreting someone's written "sound-bytes" on Facebook is high.
  • While it is a great place to share statements, articles, links, and opinions, it is those very posts which drive people crazy and create weirdness. (But, yet, isn't that why we are all there?)

Facebook is a petri-dish which breeds misunderstandings, hurt feelings, assumptions, perceptions, judgments, and lack of discretion. All without actually talking.

And lest you find me sounding full of myself, I am, as they say, preaching to the choir here. Guilty as charged.

As much as I actually enjoy or have enjoyed FB, I just don't want the Tylenol PM headache any longer.

I am not leaving completely. My Fit With Jo page is going great. So supportive. Those of us there have a common purpose and goal. As for my personal page?  I am going to step back for a season - how long, I don't know - until I reconcile some of these feelings I have developed, and realizing that the "custom list" option ain't gonna cut it for me.

What used to be so much fun has just gotten too complicated and confrontational, without proper confrontation. It's become a game. And within any "discussion" where tone, pitch, body language, and facial expressions can not be heard and seen (like in this post) there is the possibility of trouble.

Trouble that no amount of smile faces, LOLs, LMAOs, IMHOs, or HAHAHAs can cure.

I know I'm not the only one out there who has become increasingly frustrated. Perhaps you aren't one of them. If not, that's great. (Give me a call and we can talk about it.) But I have personally witnessed first-hand and heard from others over this past year how the luster seems to be fading on the FB gem.

So, respectfully, I'm bowing out for a bit.

See you on Fit With Jo. Or, email still works. So does the phone.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Hula Hooping

Recently, on a women's retreat with my church, I listened to a fantastic teaching on the importance of creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. It was a simple overview, to be sure, as the topic of boundaries actually warrants a week-long conference - but, even so, I found this hour-long entry level talk VERY eye-opening.

As the speaker began, I turned to a dear friend and asked, "Do you have a pen?"

She dug in her purse for one and went to hand it to me.

"No," I said. "I just wanted to make sure YOU had one."

(Don't freak-out over my directness towards her. We often discuss boundaries.)

Only, as the speaker got into the nitty-gritty of it, I realized that it was me, myself, and I who really needed this refresher course. I sat listening, while silently muttering, "Thank you, God" as she spoke life-giving truth into MY life, as well as my girlfriend with the purse full of pens.

As a blogger, internet marketer, and someone who has a presence on social media due to my online business, I. Am. Out. There.

I share opinions. Motivational tips. Bold statements. Links. Tough challenges. Products. Articles that I find informative and worthwhile. Seldom is there "gray matter" in my world. As this same friend of mine once stated, "I'm in my 40's, I have no interest in playing games any longer. You wanna know me? Here's who I am," I too, feel the same. I like what I like. I share what I share. Those who know me - KNOW ME. Those who think they know me - do not.

Here's where "hula hooping" comes into play.

I may have the ability to communicate with an enormous number of people via my blogs, twitter, and facebook, but the masses are not necessarily in my "sphere of influence": the people who love me unconditionally, challenge me, appreciate my honesty (and I theirs), celebrate with me, cry with me, pray with and for me, caution me, speak directly to me, fellowship with me (offline), show interest in my interests (even if they aren't personally interested for themselves), and are "lifers" - quite simply, those who have proven to me that they are trustworthy and know me well enough to have my best interests at heart.

It's a small group.

Until the recent boundaries talk at the retreat, I thought I had that area under control. I realized, however, that the opposite is true. My boundaries were fuzzy. Mainly, because, as my husband puts it, "You have a conscience."

I'm glad I'm more to him than just a pretty face.

Yes, I do have a conscience. I feel this moral imperative to insure that reconciliation be the goal between both God and human, AND human and human (which is VASTLY more difficult, IMHO.) Here's where my hula hoop gets crowded with people who, well, don't belong there.

Often, in my feeble attempt to help people get along, (or reconcile a relationship myself), I drag them into my hula hoop even though they shouldn't actually have access. When that happens, there is absolutely NO ability to move.

It's gotten awfully crowded in there. It gets loud in a crowd, and hot. There are misunderstandings about who said or did what, and assumptions about the meaning of those statements/actions. Nobody can really have a good face to face conversation. It's uncomfortable. Tight. Crowd-control is dangerous. Someone gets hurt. A foot gets stepped on. An elbow in the back. This is not the place to have a deep conversation. Period.

Well, friends, I recently made some very simple changes to protect the integrity of my personal sphere.

It was hard. Seriously difficult. Mainly because I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. But, after speaking with George and another friend, I finally took some steps that I've always known (deep down) would need to happen.

So I did what I needed to do.

I don't need to share the details here. BUT, I can encourage YOU to take a look around at who you are allowing into the small space of your hula hoop. You can't control others, but you CAN control who has major influence in your life. Do you feel stuck? Can't move? Unable to turn and get some awesome life-momentum going?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hot Metal Thanksgiving

She sat stroking the fur of the stuffed toy. A sea lion. A sea lion wearing a baby-blue dog coat.

"Ouch! He bit me! I can't blame him. Really. He's 4 months old and teething."

And thus began our Thanksgiving as volunteers with the Hot Metal Bridge Church community on the South Side.

I paused. It took me a minute to register what was happening.

"I'm so sorry he bit you. Does it hurt?"

"No. You know how puppies are."

"I do. Well, you are doing a great job snuggling him. I can tell he loves you very much."

As I glanced down at the table where she had placed a few of her personal belongings, having removed them from the basket on her walker, I noticed Barry.

Barry Gibb.

A 5x7 color cut-out of Mr. Gibb, in his signature white, polyester suit, was sitting beside her plate.

I smiled. And got her some pie.

When we first entered Hot Metal Bridge Church earlier today, my ultimate concern was for Harper. She had communicated for days how nervous she was to be with "strangers". Translation: homeless folk. She clung to me, visibly shaken, as if she might cry at any moment, her eyes frozen wide as if she'd just seen a ghost.

To assist her, we had made "welcome cards" over breakfast - each with a handwritten word/scripture reference, as I thought that perhaps having something to offer to our guests would be helpful. While Zane took to our designated role of Welcome Wagon like white on rice, bouncing around to everyone while handing out our cards with with a cheerful "Happy Thanksgiving! This is for you!" - Harper? Not so much.

She needed more of a "chore" role. Something to scoop, or cut, or . . . WHIPPED CREAM!

As a volunteer vacancy opened up at the dessert table, I knew we'd found her place.

Harper LOVES whipped cream. Eating it. Squirting it. Making designs with it.

She quickly took up the uber-important job of offering everyone whipped cream on their dessert. Within minutes, her demeanor had gone from terrified to, "Don't you want whipped cream with that?! Yes?! WOOT!" Suddenly, those "strangers" she was so worried about had names. And needed pie. And whipped cream. She seriously turned her tiny job into a party. Hive-fives. Fist-bumps. Even a squirt directly into one of our guest's hands, to which she responded with, "Ok. That was awesome!"

I stepped away and she took over with another adult volunteer, while Zane continued handing out cards and prepared "to go" desserts in small boxes.

I realized we had truly turned a corner upon hearing her exclaim, "When we come back next year, I'm totally working this table again!"

So, what did I notice from our afternoon?

That those who have nothing are so much more gracious and loving than I am. I was hugged. Kissed. And there is no drama-Jo here when I say that EVERY person with whom I personally came in contact, when offered a "to-go" box, first DECLINED, (saying they didn't want to be wasteful) and only after some prodding, answered with, "Ok. I'll take a couple of boxes. I'm going to give them to _______________."

They planned to GIVE THEM AWAY.

You know, this was the FIRST Thanksgiving in YEARS which hasn't found me in a post food-orgy coma. I didn't over-indulge - and no . . . it wasn't a choice because of the whole Beachbody health and fitness thing . . . but because today I learned a lesson about being wasteful.

These folks, some of whom walked in wearing every piece of clothing they had (one gentleman had 6 coats to remove before he could take his seat) DID NOT WASTE A THING. Including food. I had one small plate. Seriously? Did I REALLY need any more than that? No. I didn't. (Most Americans don't . . .)

Will we volunteer again?

In a heartbeat.

Am I rethinking our Thanksgiving tradition from here on out?


After all, I can't wait to see that cute little sea lion/puppy a year from now, as I'm sure it will have grown so much.

Hot Metal Bridge Church. Muppet Movie. After-hours gathering at Cafe Kolache.

A VERY Happy Thanksgiving. Don't you think?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Working From Home: What Does It Look Like?

Before we moved to Pittsburgh, I worked part-time teaching music at a local pre-school and taught classes and private lessons to young acting hopefuls after school and most evenings. I enjoyed both. But times, seasons, interests and locations/states change, and well, I left both behind.

Since moving to Beaver, I have thrown myself into building a home business with Team Beachbody. I've immersed myself in training on how to use social media to build my business - for truly, any independent business owner must embrace the electronic age. I've also actively sought out writing gigs and now write monthly for and the Hero Program. And, after rekindling my love of performing, and hopping back on stage twice this year, I am planning, in 2012, to reactivate the old SAG card, dust off the on-camera acting chops and have at my new city.

I've entertained many questions about my set up, and thought I'd write this post to share some thoughts about working from home.

1. Facebook much?
"You seem to be on FB a lot." I hear this. Often. I immediately cringe and feel this awful need to explain my actions - for the statement feels weighted and dripping with a bit of judgement. Maybe I'm reading it wrong. While I realize I shouldn't have to explain, it's hard not to want to launch into an explanation about the amount of time I spend online. Quite simply: I run an INTERNET business. As in, on the internet.

I hope this doesn't sound like I'm patting myself on the back, but part of my business training this year was time management and goal setting - how to run both a home and a home-business effectively while working towards some personal bench marks I've set for myself.

Facebook, has been the ULTIMATE tool to win new business, connect with new customers immediately, and hold myself accountable for sticking to my goals. For me, Facebook is my cubicle. My office. It is where I connect with total strangers about my business ("ooh, that's scary" - no, it's not, if you ran a shop, you wouldn't know everyone who walks in . . .). It's also where I run private groups (think, traditional conference rooms) with customers, coaches, and my team. It's where I connect with my CEO. Where some drive to the office? I login.

And here's an interesting tid-bit. If you see an owl underneath something I've posted, you can be pretty sure that I am not currently online and that the post you are reading was scheduled a day in advance. Where for many Facebook is a time-waster, for me, it's a money-maker and essential to my business. Time-management. It's beautiful thing.

2. Busy much?
I think this is one of the BIGGEST misunderstandings about those of us who work at home and are unavailable during the day. Why are we? Because WE ARE AT WORK! There is a reason that I make a steady weekly paycheck with Beachbody. Because I "clock in" every day at 9:00 and put in the hours at my JOB. In between phone calls, coach training, social media updates, and even creating video posts to share my enthusiasm for my company, I also exercise, run errands, do laundry, straighten rooms, prep dinner, and attend school functions.  Believe it or not, there is a sense of "rest" in my home. We can not escape the calendar. Our life must take on a schedule in order to avoid chaos. And avoid it we do. George and I are thankful that I can stay home and work ('cause the paycheck doesn't just fall in my lap), while unloading the dishwasher or folding laundry.

Yes, this arrangement is definitely easier to manage than the one experienced by Moms who work outside the home (God bless you) BUT, that doesn't mean I'm out shopping or having lunch with the girls. (Although, I certainly could if I chose to do so.) No, I work. From home. Or from a coffee shop (if I don't need to be on the phone).

I don't like to "be at work" when my kids are home, so I have from 9-3 to accomplish my list for the day. Some may view that as "busy". I view that as focused.

3. Workout much?
No, I don't teach exercise classes. But, yes, I DO get paid to workout. Actually, I DO NOT get paid if I fail to do so. Sure, that may sound silly, but I put that plan in place to insure that I would remain consistent and committed to the personal health and fitness goals I have fought to create as a habit over this past 1.5 years. It worked. I now workout. And get paid to do so.

4. Scheduled much?
Yes, I keep a VERY detailed calendar. Complete with color-coding for each member of the family.  I even plan meals (gasp!). Now, let's not confuse using and sticking to the calendar (and the "to-do" list) as being "rigid". Seeing as I DO work at home, I am completely responsible for my own schedule. No one is giving me orders to telling me what to do. And, actually, that can be dangerous. For without a set schedule, or a manager, I could waste a lot of time. Instead, making the effort to keep "order", actually frees me up to do more! What? Being scheduled actually creates FREEDOM?


2011 has been simply amazing.

I began the year taking a great goal-setting course and learning how to create a Daily To-Do list that would actually help me reach some yearly goals.

Due, in part, to this focus, I was able to:
  • Return to acting and win an award for doing so (a total bucket-list BONUS goal)
  • Earn a trip for George and me through Beachbody (we've not been away ALONE since before Harper was born)
  • Pay off half of our debt (don't knock network marketing - Beachbody has SURPASSED my expectations)
  • Start Daily Fast Fuel with some great writers/friends (want work? CREATE your own!)
These were all items written down in January of 2011. 

Listen, our family life is pretty faced-paced with my gig, my husband's, and the kids. But, it is certainly not chaotic, by any means. But that is something I have FOUGHT to combat. 

I know others who work from home, and their arrangement looks incredibly different than mine. This is MY adopted plan. I'm thankful to have the opportunity to create what my day looks like, and truly, it's taken over a year to figure out HOW to be the most effective I can be for my husband, my children, my friends, and my customers/coaches.

Do you work from home? What does you day look like?