Jumping For Joy Feed

Happy Birthday, Mom

MomGood morning, and happy Tuesday, August 13th! 

Today would have been my mom's **th birthday; it's been nearly 7 since she passed. 

I see her in so many parts of my life, and in so much of the world and although I used to feel as though she was hanging around, giving me a push now and then, I think she's finally moved on to other things. And that's a good thing. 

I have written about her a lot on this blog and will so again as I write the JOHNS AND MARYS entries, so I'll keep this short today. But I've posted one of my favorite pics of her. I'm standing next to her in a white t shirt (you can see a bit of it) but I wanted to spotlight just her.

You'll notice she's wearing two sets of glasses. I used to wonder about this until I got into my 50s. Now I understand. Time really is the great educator and our experience makes a lightbulb go off about our parents - ah!, we say, that's why they did that thing that seemed so strange back then! :) 

May we all have those epiphanies now and then! 

Happy Birthday, Mom! smooch. 

JOHNS AND MARYS chapters you might have missed:

1 The Lucy Show

2 The Things Before We Wake

3 The Gasoline

4 The Swing Set

5 Boys Don't Kiss Other Boys 


I Saw What You Did #Lyft

Good morning and Happy Friday!

CarrotcakeAbout a week ago I managed my first real onsite event for my new job. It was a dinner for retired members of the team and it took place at a beautiful venue in New Jersey. It was also storming pretty hard so it added an extra layer of worry. But, thankfully, it went brilliantly. Two retired members of the company even came up to me at the end of the dinner, shook my hand and said "we saw you working the dinner and we saw what you did - making sure everything was top notch for us. thank you!"  It's nice when that happens. :) 

Now, I just started this new job in late May and on top of the usual on-boarding and throwing myself into events, I also took a pre-planned trip to LA to reconnect with some people I love and then, later in June took a few days to go to a wedding in my hometown for a woman I have loved/adored for 50 years (which is funny since we are both perpetually 29 <wink>). I'd been planning this trip for a year and a half and it was the culmination of a lot of various threads of my life.

So you might say that it's been an intense past few weeks (to put it mildly! LOL). By the end of that evening, I was, understandably, cumulatively, mentally exhausted by the long haul of it all. Everything had turned out well, but, it was at that point, a matter of getting to a specific point in time to allow myself to exhale. 

I called a Lyft to get me back home to Manhattan and the guy showed up in less than 10 minutes. He lives in NYC and had just dropped someone off from NYC so the timing was perfect. I sat in the back of the car, the driver expertly handling traffic, the weather, etc which allowed me to begin the exhaling process. I was home before the next train on NJ Transit would have even left.

It routinely occurs to me that we don't really know the impact we have on others but this night illustrated it brilliantly for me:

To the Lyft driver, perhaps, I was just some guy getting picked up in the rain; a convenient fare.

To me, he was a golden ticket home, to the Mister, to an earlier bedtime than I had anticipated, and a welcome safe ride through tumultuous weather at the end of an emotionally charged sequence of events. 

As I exited the cab, I thought that I should say - "I saw what you did, making sure that the ride was safe and swift, thank you", but suddenly I felt a little foolish and overly emotional... but I think he sensed my relief as he jumped out of the car and grabbed my bag from the trunk and flashed me a warm smile, pausing slightly as I fumbled to get my keys out of the bag before driving off. 

Life is always difficult. We know this to be true. But it is the small, perhaps even theoretically insignificant, kindnesses that make the difference in this weary world. The kindnesses of the comments, the driver, meant a lot to me on a weary rainy evening. 

So the next time you think the little things you do don't make a differences, know that they do, even if you may never know it.

I see you. 

I see what you do. 

It's noticed. 

It's appreciated. 

I can think of no better note to end the work week with! 

Happy Friday! 



Finding Joy

GideA few weeks ago I started a new work adventure and so everything around me was suddenly rainbows and blue skies after a time when things have been... less so. 

I'm supremely grateful for this change and I know my friends are very happy (well, happy and relieved).

There were some days that were impossibly dark and it was in those days that I would find it hard to imagine when, how, or even IF things would change for the better. Some days, not too many, but a few, where I really couldn't see a future where I would find joy again. 

Through it all, there were people in my life who were really 'there' for me. Some of those that showed up were truly surprising not because I was surprised that they were caring people (I wouldn't have been friends with them in the first place if they weren't) but I was surprised because, aside from my couple closest friends, they came from a variety of corners of my past experience on this spinning ball of mud we affectionately call Earth: the Lutheran camp friend, the college roommate, the friend I made at the Gay Games in 1990, the childhood friends I hadn't seen in 40 years, a friend I hadn't been in touch with for a decade, a Canadian friend I made while judging a contest five years ago, the Chorus friend and so on.. ... they all sent messages of love, encouragement, and acceptance helping me pave a road to the future from the past. 

During this time, the Mister helped me re-discover my art and thus I have produced work again - sporadically, but given that it had been nearly 30 years since I last had been at a drawing table, not too shabby. :) We also have an Instagram (@jacobandrewaltenburg) where "we're cookin grub in our tiny place" - a great source of joy for us. As ex theater people, he and I could see doing an online cooking show specifically geared for people in New York apartments with little counter space (and living on a budget! some of these cooking show assume that you can spend 90% of your income on food.. that is not how 99% of the human population lives). 

But the matter of how to find joy in our world even during dark times is one I've come back to again and again. 

A few weeks ago I was at a party and a young woman expressed to me how hard it was for her to be happy even on Christmas when, as a Christian, she should be the most joyful. "It's everything in the world", she said, "how do I get to be happy when so many are miserable?"

From out of nowhere, I heard myself respond - "we have to find joy in our day to day life; and we can't turn down chances to be joyful.... because, as you are saying, there's so little of it left in the world. When we find it, we have to appreciate and experience it and maybe, giving it attention, we'll help our collective joy grow."

Her face sort of changed but was it due to doubt or it was a new idea she hadn't considered?  I have to admit that I suddenly questioned myself - it was a typically Pollyannish thing that I would say, but.... did I really believe it? I mean, can I honestly find joy in the world, especially when things have been rough both personally and.. .well <gesturing broadly>? 

And the answer is: Yes. Surprisingly, yes.

The evidence is before me - the past three years have been challenging, but I have found joy. Joy in those friends that reached out - joy in the creations (the comic strip, the cooking) - and joy in the simple beauty of every day. 

It IS easy to find things to be upset/sad/bummed out about... but it seems as though when I started looking for things to be happy about, I found them... and I found that it practically became imperative for survival that I find things to be joyful about. 

So, I will try, on as regular basis as I can, to continue to jump for joy here on this blog. It's not somewhere you'll find me going on and on about things in the world that are awful although I certainly reserve the right to do so should I need to, but my focus will be the comic strips, my Johns and Marys bio entries, uplifting quotes, funny things I find on the internet, and little stories and thoughts. I will never win any bloggy awards, but I'm not here to do that. But I'm here to create a fun space for me that helps keep me on track that you might enjoy and might help you as well. Hope you join me. :) 

On A Day Like This, I Need The Lord to HEP Me

So, yesterday, Tuesday, I had a bad day. It wasn't the worst day I've ever had, but it was the worst day I'd had in awhile. 

It was the kind of day where nothing goes right and people decide to be grumpy to you for really no reason at all. And once it starts, it just seems to cascade. 

BlogwednesdayI got up early and out of the house earlier than usual and was confronted by a subway rider whose butt was, plainly put, too big to squeeze between me and the person on the other side of him. Then, he had the never to get mad at me. As if he was being forced to sit down rather than, say, maybe decide he couldn't fit. 

When I got to work, I spent the day fighting with my computer over multiple issues. I've had problems with this since the beginning. The IT guy shook his head and said "we've had more trouble with your computer than anyone else's ever". Glad that I could be here to take that prize. I missed an important training that I was required to take all because I didn't have the right version of Word. 

Then I called my tax guy, who seemed to be avoiding me since I took my taxes in to him a month ago. I asked what had been done on the two years he was supposed to be working on and he weakly said that he'd have the 2017 done soon. Dude, tax day is six days away, I told him. The conversation got heated and I decided that I didn't trust him to take care of this and so I fired him and walked over to his office and picked up the forms from various jobs that I'm supposed to file. 

I went to the gym to blow off some steam, but it was incredibly crowded and so I eeked out 15 minutes on the treadmill before giving up any hope of finding a free spot to work out in. 

Finally, towards the end of the afternoon, I treated myself to a late lunch (I had forgotten to take lunch from home) of a can of beefaroni, which promptly splattered on a clean shirt I was wearing. 

I went home sulking and hoping that I could just get home without further incident. 

Throughout all of this, a song from my Lutheran camp counselor days kept running through my head: "On a Day Like This, I Need to Lord to Help (pronounced "HEP" because, we were, after all, in Texas) Me". 

That cheered me up abit. And then something happened.

I started to look at it all in a different way. 

So I spilled some sauce on my shirt. I have ten others in the closet. I have an abundance of clean, available shirts to wear. I have the money to take the one I spilled on to the cleaners. 

I can afford to go to the gym and, despite being 55, I still go regularly and do great workouts and am in fairly good shape (although, perhaps I could work on my beer belly a little harder!) 

Having taxes means that I earned money. I have been scrambling for the past couple years for work but I have had work. It may not be a lot but it is something and I'm grateful. 

Speaking of which, the most significant word in the sentence "having trouble with a work computer" is "work". After the time I've been through, to have trouble with a 'work' computer feels like a luxury. 

and that subway guy? Well, first he must be in some serious pain for him to go off on a stranger as he did and I forgive him. And although I, like many New Yorkers, complain about the mess that is the subway, it existing means I don't have to walk 60 blocks each way to work. I can do it (and have done it) but taking the subway is, of course, faster. 

A job, public transit, a shirt; I found some gratitude in the midst of a stressful day. 

And when I look at things that way, it doesn't seem to me to have been such a bad day after all.


The Saturday in April

Good morning and Happy Saturday!

Spring 2019bI know some of you have been sniffling and sneezing this week due catching a cold in the 'fake spring' of Wednesday when I, like many people, got caught up in the joy of a warmish day and wore a lighter jacket instead of bundling up like an adult. What can I say? I had taken the day off of to enjoy a kind of day of nothing and found myself in Riverside Park mid afternoon listening to music from "Game of Thrones" and "The Lego Movie 2" (no one can accuse me of not having range) while sitting on my favorite park bench overlooking empty baseball fields.

All around me spring was making itself known and I got in some good photos. I freely admit that I could have allergies rather than a cold, but the end result is the same - I'm a kind of slobbery mess. I did do the smart thing and avoided an event planner networking thing Thursday night. I'm pretty sure everyone appreciated not having to shake a germy hand and listen to me, the serial sniffler, all night long. I missed seeing my pals from NYC & Co and others from the biz, but, as we all know, there are always other events (that's kind of what an event planner DOES).  I ended up going to bed early and having a recurring, ongoing dream that I was a campaign event organizer for Presidential hopeful, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Up until this week I hadn't really paid that much attention to him, but the other day I watched a short video and was very impressed. He's definitely someone to watch out for (and I look forward to creating a lot of his events lol).  

As for the rest of the weekend, I'm going to hydrate, rest, and let my sinuses drain. Have a great weekend everyone! 




The Wednesday Morning Blog

Good morning all - and happy Wednesday. 

A few things today - First, hello, what a great day it is to be alive, right? So, if you're even reading this, you're ahead of the game. Never forget that. 

Second, later today I'll be hanging out and schlepping around New York's big Event Planner Expo. I'll be handing out my card and schmoozing. Maybe you're here for the first time because of that - welcome fellow events people! Please leave a comment below on how we met! 

Or maybe you were someone I've talked to at my 'temp' job about my cartooning skills. Scroll down and you'll run into the most recent strip - MEMO 60 - wherein I pay homage to Cher with "Moooostruck". I'd like to say that I consciously thought to do this strip just when Cher is releasing her big ABBA album, but no. Unless it makes me look better to say that I planned it. OK yeah, I planned it. There. Anyway, welcome work friends! Feel free to leave a comment as well. But the direction I give to you is this: please list the favorite free thing in the company kitchen. :) For the record, I like the weird Yoda like granola bar and the bottle of apple juice as a breakfast combo. 

Third, or is it Fourth?, here's something (above) that made me laugh when I saw on teh internets recently. 

I figured you might need a little laugh as well. Cuz, hey, some days these days there isn't much to laugh about. But I here on the Jumping for Joy blog, try to, as often as I can, post something that gives me ... well, joy. My art gives me joy. Quotations give me joy. Telling little stories and being a little silly gives me joy. So, if you need a little joy, please come back and hang with me here for a second or two. And tell your pals. 

Oh, and also, I think there's a feature above where you can get notified every time I post something but if you're really feeling the Andrew-ness, I'm starting a little weekly newsletter. My thought about this is it's a chance to send the week's worth of links and strips and do a quick check in with my peeps. My peeps, btw, come from all over and sometimes I like to promote my peeps here on this blog and will do so in the newsletter too. It's kinda important to me to spread the joys that my friends are having. You can drop me a note at my gmail address or leave a comment with your email address. I have to moderate it so I'll get the address and then delete the post so your privacy is insured. 

I had a career counselor that said to me "no one reads anymore". Gosh, I hope that's not true. 

OK this is long enough. That's enough for this morning! 

Tuesday Morning - the Mom Blog

Good morning all - today, September 18th it's been 6 years since my mom, Joan, passed away after a long illness.

My plans today are generally to do what I do every day - job hunt and create comics ... but on this day I'll also listen to The Lawrence Welk Theme "Goodnight" song (a kind of "our song" thing) and, of course "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" song (which is the basis for The Joan Project). Mom also liked a lot of 1940s standards. My favorite, although I don't know if she liked it (although I suspect she did) is "I'll Be Seeing You".

Mom used to sing to herself while taking the curlers out of her hair in the bathroom - she standing there singing in her gorgeous voice while a cigarette smoldered in an ashtray teetering on the bathroom sink. The bathroom was tiny but had good acoustics and her quiet sound filled the room with joy. On occasion, I would sit in there with her and we'd talk about things. While strange, I suppose, those times are among those that I cherish, and the ones I miss most. 

Here's a pic from last year's remembrance of her - I went down to Riverside Park and enjoyed a little "mom and me" time. I was feeling particularly hopeless about a lot of things as I had, at that point, just finished some things in my life and was feeling a little bummed out about my life. To my surprise, Mom arranged for The Yellow to be presented to me in a way that was as big so that I couldn't possibly ignore it or write it off as 'coincidence'. No, I'm convinced that my mom chose to show me that she was looking out for me. And that mattered. 

Anyway, if your mom is still alive, consider honoring her with a phone call or note or even a visit. If she's not around any longer, I challenge you to make a list of all the ways in which she influenced your life. I will bet, in either case, you will be happy with the results. :) 

Have a great Tuesday!