September 5, 2013

And This Month's Interviewee Is....

The main objective of my blog is to inspire and be inspired.  I love searching and finding inspiration in the simplest of things, in places unexpected and then writing stories about them provoking a chain reaction of inspiration, self-awareness, love, acceptance, spiritual awakening and empowerment!   Sometimes those stories can be our very own, that is why I also love sharing my personal stories, experiences, triumphs, challenges, tears and laughter in hope to touching and enriching someone's life for the better.
I believe that something magical and miraculous happens when we share our light with others.  It just may very well brighten someone's darkness.  I love the way spiritual activist and author Marianne Williamson puts it better.  She states that "as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  It is through this personal belief that my monthly feature of And This Month's Interviewee is....emerged!  My goal is to feature every month, a story in hopes that it touches and enriches someone's life for the better.  We are not alone people, we all intertwine in the mysterious and magical energy of life!  

Without further ado this month's energetic, loving, bright and witty interviewee is...

What is your name & age?  My name is Jo (which is short for Joanna) and I'm in my late 20's. 

Are you married? Children?  I just recently married my best friend in July!

Where did you grow up?  I grew up in Central PA on a farm. My neighbors were cornfields and cows. No, really. I could see cows across the street from my bedroom window.

What is the extent of your family? Parents? Any siblings?  
I have two amazing parents and two younger sisters (who are also my dual maids of honor)!

As a little girl, what did you dream/aspire to be?  
As a kid, I was very into politics, and so I seriously dreamed about being the first female president, or a senator, or working for the UN. I also wanted to be a teacher. No matter what other aspirations rotated while I was a child, I always wanted to be a writer, and I started "publishing" my own books before I was in elementary school.

What were you like when you were a kid?  
I was definitely nerdy, even as a little kid. I loved reading and history. My mom had to bribe me with a spiral-bound notebook to get me to make a friend at recess during first grade. I've always been a little on the quiet side, but I'm not THAT quiet anymore. (I'm just as nerdy, however.) 
What was your favorite toy, game or pass-time as a child?   When I was in first grade, Santa gave my middle sister and I American Girl dolls for Christmas. I loved Kirsten and was absolutely enamored with all of the accessories, books, and doo-dads until (at least) middle school. 

How would you describe your childhood memories?  My childhood memories are the greatest. My parents really tried to make childhood special (and in my opinion, succeeded).  It's not that they spent a lot of money or did extravagant things.

Ever had an imaginary friend as a child?  If yes, please tell a little about it.  Surprisingly, I didn't. Or I can't remember having one, at least.

Did you enjoy your high school years?  
I enjoyed my junior and senior year. Ninth and tenth grade were awkward. Very awkward.

Did your dream/aspiration as a child changed in high school?  If yes, how so?  Generally speaking, no. I still wanted -- and continued to want-- to be a novelist and a teacher. Some of the details changed-- like knowing that I wanted to teach high school English-- but the basics stayed the same.

A wedding in July, congratulations!  Sharing your life with someone special is a true blessing! Planning your wedding while your fiance is off in Afghanistan must have its ups and downs.  How did you handle and deal with this challenge?  Planning the wedding in a very long distance relationship was both a blessing and a curse. It was hardest emotionally-- I wanted John to be there to help me make decisions and to attend meetings with different people. We made it work by being organized and planning out everything. For example, during John's R&R (which was 15 days), we took dance lessons for our first dance, met with our pastor, bought our wedding bands, met with the reception hall, did a food tasting with the caterer, did a cake tasting with the baker, picked out the tuxes and got John fitted for one. We constantly emailed each other about other details-- music, scripture, invitation wording. However, the deployment helped (and continues to help) me keep things in perspective: who cares if the invitations aren't worded perfectly as long as John gets home safely? 

Wow!  Publishing your own books before you were in elementary is a grand accomplishment!  What were the titles of the books you publish?   What were they about?  I am so sorry-- I didn't mean to deceive you! When I say "published" I mean in the very rudimentary way that little kids "publish" books at school. I made my own copies of my "books". When I was 17, I was featured in a "Best of" compilation of short stories and creative writing from the winners of the Scholastic Writing Awards and I've been published twice in local magazines. But that's as close to being legitimately published as I've gotten! 

It is always endearing when someone holds the greatest of childhood memories.  You mentioned it wasn't because your parents spent a lot of money or did extravagant things.  What special things do you remember that made your childhood great?  My parents are very good at celebrating life, and it's a trait that they instilled in my sisters and me. Both of my parents have a sense of humor and my family can sit at our kitchen table talking and goofing around for hours. (That's not hyperbole at all!) My folks took us on road trips, watched movies with us, played games, and read (probably) thousands of books to us. They were very diligent about making sure our  accomplishments-- both small and large-- were recognized and appreciated. Usually Mom would make a special dessert or we would eat dinner on plates that said "You are Special" to celebrate Spring concerts or awards at school or a caught fly ball at a Little League game. At the very base of my childhood is my parents' insistence that we function as a family instead of individuals who lived under the same roof.

What factors contributed to your awkward...very awkward freshman and sophomore years of high school?  I was a late bloomer. A very, very late bloomer. With glasses. And a love of very bright clothing. And a love of Hemingway and Steinbeck. 'Nuff said.

So tell me Jo, is your novel in the works?  If so, what genre of novel is it?  If no, will you pursue your dreams of being a novelist?  My novel isn't in the works. In fact, other than my blog, I haven't really written much of anything since I've been an English teacher. I'm too busy reading and correcting my students' writings! However, I am resigning and moving to be with John at the end of the month.

What inspired Jo My Gosh!?  My fiance (now, husband) was in Afghanistan for a year-long deployment. I started my blog to share the care packages and recipes I sent him, as well as to connect with the wider military spouse/significant other community.

What was the most memorable moment of your wedding day?  That's a tricky one! There were so many fantastic moments, and as lame and cliche as it sounds, they're all my favorite. When I think of the day, a few memories pop out first:

1) Walking down the aisle with my dad, seeing my fiance at the end of the aisle, and being able to smile and look at so many of my friends and family as I walked to the the front of the church.
2) Saying our vows... and not being able to get my ring on my finger. My hand was so warm, the knuckle had swelled, and it would... not... go... on! 
3) Realizing that my sisters' maids-of-honor speech was actually a flash-mob that included my friends and family and husband! 
4) Playing trumpet with my husband's and my marching band mates from college. 
5) Standing in a corner of the reception hall for a few minutes and watching all of the people I love most in the world dancing, laughing, and having fun. 

What is Jo's passion?  Life! I enjoy all of the wonderful moments-- large and small-- that go into life.

Bonus question I ask all interviewees:  If we lived in a world where money was non-existent and all our commodities and personal necessities were provided to live a healthy and happy life, how would you spend the rest of your living days?  I'd spend them reading, writing, cross stitching, travelling, and spending time with my family and friends. Oh, and going to Penn State football games!

There she is folks.  The beautiful, energetic, loving, bright and witty soul of Jo at Jo My Gosh!  I am sure she would love it if you'd stop by and take a peek into more of her fantabulous world!

Jo, I want to thank you for allowing us into your heart, mind and soul.  Also, for your kind willingness and desire to inspire and be inspired.  I wish you the best in all of your endeavors and adventures!    



  1. Thank you so much for having me, Mayra! It was fantastic! :)

  2. I would definitely spend my days reading, writing and traveling to!! (Bonus question). Just stumbled upon your blog Mayra and I absolutely love it! Its so inviting!



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