Happy 4th Birthday JoyReturns!

It was 4 years ago today I published my first post. I was attending a job search seminar that night and needed something on my business card besides my name, email and phone number. An order was place from Vistaprint for cards with my blog name before I had this site up and running, that was motivation for getting the first post written.


The purpose of starting this blog was and is to:

  • share my adventures in hopes other widows will find support and encouragement
  • educate society about grief and life as a widow.
  • share my career transition story, since it was one year after Joe’s move to heaven that I got laid off from my collections job and other widows might be going through the same thing.

Never was this blog intended to make Joe out to be a god. He was not one, because he was human and therefore very imperfect. But now he resides with God and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So I choose to remember the good in him and the memories we shared. There is a reason the following is engraved on our marker:

“Think of me, think of me fondly, when we’ve said goodbye.”


Now how to celebrate this milestone?

The ideal way would be to get a job.

However odds are a job offer will not be presented to me today – although miracles still do occur.

So I decided to celebrate with a post about my bucket list. It was after reading Ann Voskamp I decided the only item on my bucket list is:

to live fully right where I am (Northeast Ohio) by experiencing all the wonders God puts into my life every day.

There are days where the adventures are rough and rugged and there are days that are smooth sailing.

If God never takes me outside Northeast Ohio again, I shall be content with all I will experience day in and day out while living here. I know this to be true because a peace has come over me since making this decision.

Living Fully

Living fully means:

  • enjoying each moment, even when those moments are filled with the mundane, routine and boring tasks such as dusting, sweeping and laundry.
  • embracing all that happens including nasty life events. Embracing the nasty events does not mean you like them, but means you’ve accepted what happened. Once you accept it, then you can work on walking through the “valley of the shadow of death” because through is the only way out.
  • appreciating the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches in this life.
  • using the good dishes, lighting the candles, and putting the good tablecloth on the dining room table.
  • Saying thanks to God for all his blessings; writing them down and putting them in a clear jar or vase so so I will see them piling up day by day.

To Do List

Every day I know what I have to do. There is nothing else to remember. My life became simpler when I decided to live fully right where I am.

Thank You

Thank you dear readers for your companionship and your continued support of JoyReturns.

I thank my God for you every time I think of you;

Philippians 1:3 (GNT)

And I think of you fondly even though we’ve not said goodbye.


Stay with me as I continue to share stories about my various adventures and perhaps along the way those stories will show you how I am living fully every day.

Now off to the store to get an angel food cake and a can (or two) of cream cheese frosting – for what is a celebration without cake?     🙂





“Love Never Dies”

Joe and I traveled to Toronto, Ontario in 1992 to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical masterpiece “Phantom of the Opera.”  Joe and I both loved it.  So much so that when time came to choose a song for our first dance we chose “Music of the Night.”  I figured it was long enough that after about a minute of us dancing, the DJ could introduce the bridal party.  Well the DJ still waited until the song was 3/4 over before doing the introductions.   Joe and I were not good slow dancers.

So “Phantom of the Opera” was always special to us.


Some time ago I heard that Andrew was working on a sequel to Phantom that took place in Coney Island.  My first thought was “Oh, Andrew WHAT are you doing?”  I am not a fan of most sequels as they usually do not live up to the original book, movie, musical etc…


Well, I have been chillin’ out today because I do not feel good.  So I turned on the TV.  I was trying to get to the ‘”Pay Per View” movie channel and typed something wrong.  Instead I got the list of local channels.  There was the listing for PBS and at 3 p.m. they where airing “Love Never Dies” as part of their pledge drive.   So I took a chance and watched it.

Andrew Delivers

Andrew does it once again.  I was skeptical about the original “Phantom”, after all how do you have a chandelier  crashing down night after night, and then there is the small item of the lake beneath the Paris Opera House.  He delivered then, and he delivered now.


For you Andrew Lloyd Webber fans, it is typical Andrew style – bold, lush, lavish, and powerful.  I know a lot of critics do not like Andrew because of his style, but that is precisely why I like him.  I love bold and powerful music.  Wimpy, winy songs, like the one by The Beatles “that MUST NOT be named,” have no place in my music collection.


The story line ties very well with “Phantom” as does the music.  Now I am not going to reveal what happens, you are just going to check your local PBS listings or buy the movie on  Amazon.  All I will say is if you remember how “Phantom” begins, then you know how “Love Never Dies” ends.

Song Catalog

I will share some lyrics from a few songs that resonated with me.

Have you ever yearned to go

Past the world you think you know?

Been enthralled to the call

Of the beauty underneath?

“The Beauty Underneath”

Look with your heart and not with your eyes

The heart understands, the heart never lies

Believe what it feels and trust what it shows

Look with your heart, the heart always knows. 

“Look With Your Heart”

Love never dies

Love never falters

Once it has spoken

Love is yours

“Love Never Dies”