How Are You?

(Author’s Note: I am late in getting this inaugural Wellness category post published but life, death, job search and a giraffe named April interrupted my plans. This week there will be posts about how I am doing in each area of my life. Hopefully my posts will encourage you to work on the areas of your life. Or after you find out about my life, maybe you will gain a new appreciation for your life. This series will end on March 29th.) 

Just Trying To Be Nice? 

One of life’s most over used and insincere greetings is

“How are you?”

People ask that question but really do not want to know the answer. All they want to hear is “fine.” They usually are asking the question just to be nice.

8 Key Areas Of Life


However, today we need to get serious about the question “How are you?”

How is your physical health? Physical health is one of the 8 key areas of life according to J.T. O’Donnell

Here is the full list:

  • Mental Self
  • Physical Self
  • Finances
  • Family, Friends & Children
  • Career
  • Hobbies/Recreation
  • Physical Environment/Surroundings
  • Romance/Significant Other

I put them in the order of importance for me as of today. The bottom six fluctuate but Mental and Physical self are always the top two.

Physical Self

Darren Rowse spoke about his physical self in episode #38 of his ProBlogger Podcast. He talks about changes he made and how they impacted his life and blog.

What he has to say applies to everyone and not to just us bloggers. I’ve made a change as a result (there are times my laptop sits on an empty milk crate, so I have to stand).

Must Do This

The condition of your physical self becomes more important after losing a spouse. You need to see your doctor as soon as possible so you have a starting point from which to improve or maintain depending upon your results. When making your appointment inform them your spouse passed away, odds are they will get you in quickly.

One Of The Best Uses Of Your Time

Aside from reading  your Bible and doing a daily devotion, the best use of your time today is to listen to Episode 38 of Problogger Podcast. 

Once  you are done ask yourself


“How Am I – Really?” 


Bio: Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© (Hope Unites Globally) Award-Winner of JoyReturns. She shares her widowhood adventures hoping to encourage widows to move through grief and rebuild their lives by seizing new opportunities. A graduate of Kent State University with a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she’s used those skills while working as a call center team leader, facilitating a grief support group and helping small businesses with various writing and administrative assignments. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can view her photographs at OgleOhio.com because one blog is not enough





31 Days of Joy: Day 6 – In Celebration of My 1,000th Post

It’s party time as today is post # 1,000!  Here is a brief history of JoyReturns and it takes more than 5 minutes to write.

Early One Morning

“Widow’s Website.”  Those are the words I heard whispered in my ear as I was waking up one morning. I had not even opened my eyes yet. Now I have not been a morning person every since the moment of conception. (Mom will testify to this fact.) There is no way I could put an intelligent thought like “widows website” together early in the morning.

Once I heard those words, I opened my eyes and said “Huh? Are you crazy God? I do not know anything about websites. Joe did not teach me that before he passed.”  Then I did what any good Christian does – I blew God off.

Oh, but God does not stand for being blown off. He will accomplish His will even if He has to drag you kicking and screaming through the muck and mire. He kept after me. Till one day I decided to Google “widow’s website.” I was disgusted by what I found.  The sites were 3D – dark, dreary and depressing. One person purposely made the site dark as the light had gone out of this person’s life. Most sites were very “woe is me.” I wondered how these sites could lift people up. I knew I had to do something.

To The Rescue

At the time I was co-facilitating a GriefShare support group and their tagline is “From Mourning To Joy”, which is based on Psalm 30:5

“Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.”

I knew my site had to be cheery looking, my posts had to encourage other widows and educate those not grieving about grief and what widowhood is like, so JoyReturns seemed like a good name, after all my joy returned.

But I still hesitated launching a blog because I had no confidence in my writing skills .I have always written like I talk and thought that was a sucky way to write. The only acceptable way to write was with a formal and business tone like my friend Jeff Nischwitz. But he is a former attorney so you would expect him to be formal in his writing. (f.y.i. I toyed with the idea of law school but banging my head against my dorm room wall one quarter while attempting to write a non-legal brief, killed that idea.)

Launch Date: January 13th, 2011

That was the day I was attending a job search seminar and knew I needed something on my business card besides my name, phone number and title. So I ordered business cards from Vistaprint a week before the seminar and listed my blog JoyReturns.

Now I HAD to go live.

I signed up for my site on WordPress and my first post went live at 3:15 p.m. on January 13th, 2011. I have not looked back since. After the first post went live, I got ready to go to the seminar. My adrenaline was through the roof. At the seminar I gladly passed out those business cards and a lot of people were impressed but the topic freaked out people as well.

Oh well, too bad.

That night I told Jeff I had launched the blog and he asked me if I was outside my comfort zone. Now I wanted to say “Well duh!, I’ve been outside my comfort zone since March 29th, 2008 when Joe passed.”  But I did not. I simply said “Yes.” Jeff said “Good!”

He is right, you can not learn and grow unless you are outside your comfort zone.

My Blogging Experience

I have met many wonderful people through blogging. Some of whom have become near and dear friends.

My blog has opened the eyes of people who had little or no experience with grief or widows. Then one day I got an email from a woman in the mid-west who not only became a widow at a young age but then became unemployed just like me. And just like me she searched the web for help and found nothing but 3D websites. However, in among those 3D sites was a little one called JoyReturns and she fell in love with it. There were days she got out of bed just to read what I had written.

I am happy to report that her joy returned and so did a new job.

Where My Blogging Help Came From

It was the Holy Spirit that whispered “widows website” in my ear that morning. This site would not exist without God’s help. He was true to his word and equipped me to blog and put good people in my path that helped me – J.T. O’Donnell, and Chris Brogan, plus wonderful blogs such as Copyblogger and Problogger. I’ve learned a lot but know I have a lot more to learn.

One Blog Is Not Enough

I had so much fun blogging I decided to launch another one, this one would be my photography and the focus would be Ohio. On January 13th, 2013 OgleOhio was born. Publishing consistently on OgleOhio has been my greatest weakness but I am upping the game this month as it too is part of the 31 Days of 5 Minute Freewrite challenge. Only it is 31 days of Autumn in Ohio pictures.

To The Next 1,000!

So here’s to the next 1,000 posts.  May people learn about joy, grief and widowhood through my me and my adventures.

I do have plans for this site but would like to get my income stabilized first. My seasonal job should be ending this month if the past is any indication.

I leave you with a link to my second most popular post – a story about how God used a little book to get me out of my grief funk after Dad #1 passed – Garlic, Grief and Hemorrhoids. 



40 Days of Joy, grief, Unemployment

“40 Days Of Joy” Black Friday Book Shopping List

Here is your Black Friday Book Shopping List. There is something on it for everyone.

All links (blue) are non-affiliate links, which means I do not receive any compensation. They will take you directly to the author’s website.  The others can be found on Amazon.com


“Postcards from the Widows’ Path”  (Ferree Hardy) (widowschrisitanplace.com) –  I bought this book earlier this year and found myself having a hard time putting it down.  Each chapter begins with a postcard written by Naomi, Ruth, or Orpah. Then Ferree tells the tale of the three women, while weaving in her own experiences as a widow.  For example, in Chapter 5 she explains the 2 needs of widows – “kindness and rest.”  This chapter resonated with me the most. As a widow, these quickly became short in supply – especially “kindness.”

The book of Ruth affirms that God is with widows and cares for us even though at times it does not feel like it.

Thank you Ferree for this wonderful book.

“Healing After Loss, Daily Meditations on Working Through Grief”   (Martha Whitmore Hickman)

This is the book Joe’s Aunt, who is a nun, gave me at the funeral home.  April 17th, is the day I started reading it and the devotion for that day really spoke to me.  I began to have hope of surviving my grief journey.

“Through A Season of Grief, devotions for your journey from mourning to joy”   (Bill Dunn and Kathy Leonard)

A devotional based on GriefShare, a Biblically based world-wide grief support group.  I was a participant for a year and then co-facilitated the group for 4 years.  I have lots of sticky and handwritten notes in the margins.

“Finding Hope In Times of Grief”   (Preston and Glenda Parrish)

A moving story of how hope in Christ got Preston and Glenda through their son’s unexpected passing, and how they discovered Jesus is enough.  It is not just for parents whose child has moved to heaven as there are lessons for everyone in this book.

Thank you Preston and Glenda for sharing your story.

Job Seekers

“The Character of Leadership, An Ancient Model for a Quantum Age”  (Philip H. Eastman II) LeadershipAdvisors.com

The only book on leadership you will ever need.  Mr. Eastman’s model for leadership is based on 7 character elements. Read and put into practice this model and you will distinguish yourself from other employees once you land a job.  Use this model while volunteering during your career transition and you will stand out from other job seekers.  Don’t let the title fool you, it is a brief and easy read.  One of my all-time favorite quotes is from Mr. Eastman and can be found at the bottom of the link to his website.

“The challenges we face today are not economic, environmental, social, or legal; they are challenges of character and leadership.”

 “Careerealism, the smart approach to a satisfying career”  (J. T. O’Donnell )

Want a satisfying career? Start here.  J.T.’s methodology will help you figure out if you are on the right path or if you need to switch careers.  The book is great alone but better if used with Careerealism.com and/or CareerHMO.com


“Positive Living Day by Day” (Norman Vincent Peale) – Short one page devotions designed to lift your spirits. There is no year to the dates, so you can use this book every year.

“Positive Thinking Every Day” (Norman Vincent Peale)  – Inspirational one or two liners for every day.

November 17th – “Be bold, and mighty powers will come to your aid.”

How will you be bold today?  (Standing in line at Walmart for Black Friday deals does not count.)

“Choose Joy Because Happiness Isn’t Enough”  (Kay Warren)

This is a book I have marked up a lot with hi-liter, pen and sticky-notes.  It is very uplifting and heart-warming.  It affirms the thought I had of joy being a deeper emotion than happiness.

“Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” 

(pg 31)

Here is scripture from the beginning of Chapter 6 “Believing Even In Darkness.” May it speak to you today and every day.  

“Through the heartfelt mercies of our God, God’s Sunrise will break in upon us, shining on those in the darkness, those sitting in the shadow of death, then showing us the way, one foot at a time, down the path of peace. 

Luke 1:78-79 (“The Message” version)

There you have it, my list of books to buy for those on your shopping list. And remember to add one or more for yourself as well.