JR: You're listening to the Vibrant Happy Women podcast episode number 166. I'm talking in this interview to my grandmother, Joanne, and she shares her wisdom about being kind. Stay tuned.
Hey, ladies, welcome back to Vibrant Happy Women. I was so excited to talk to my mom last week in episode 165, and today, I'll be talking with my grandmother, that's my mom's mom, and her name is Joanne Nottingham. She grew up on a farm in southwest Iowa. She married my grandpa, who was also a farm boy, and as you know, my mom was a farmer as well. We are a family of farmers on both sides, my dad's side and my mom's side. Well, my grandma has the special talent of being kind and you'll hear her talk about the importance of kindness in this interview. The fact is many of us get so caught up in our lives that we forget to connect, let alone to be kind to other people. So I love my grandma's wisdom in this interview because she talks about not expecting other people to adjust to us, but instead that we should adjust to them, to be kind. She also talked about doing more of the things that other people want rather than what we want and how that helps us to win them over. It's really cool to be in touch with a woman who is so excited about being kind and being happy. And you should know, my grandma is 88 years old, you'll never guess that when you hear her talking in this interview. She's amazing, just like my mom as well, she is amazing. So I want you to hear her wisdom, what does an 88 year old recommend for us? I love my grandma and I can't wait for you to hear, so let's go ahead and jump in.
Alright, everyone, I am here with my grandma, my mom's mom, and her name's Joanne Nottingham, and she is from southwest Iowa and works at the Adair County Aviation Museum. What she loves to do in her free time is visit her kids and her grandkids. She is known for her awesome bread and her cashew brittle and she has 4 kids, 7 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren. So welcome to my show, grandma.
JN: Hi, nice to be here, Jennifer…
JR: And so…
JN: … yeah.
JR: … my grandma 88 and she has just beautiful… she's one of the most beautiful women, she loves to keep up with her appearance, she always looks so fancy and likes to get her hair done. So grandma, tell us what is your favorite quote or motto that you want to share today or it kind of a rule of thumb you follow for your life.
JN: Always try to be happy, try to make other people happy, I think that really is… that's what I like to do. If people feel down I like to say something stupid (Laughs), it's a smile anyway.
JR: Yeah, yeah.
JN: Life is just short if you're happy as if you're sad, but then a lot of people can't help being sad, they have reasons and I don't… I don't guess I have any reason to be sad, so I'm happy.
JR: Yeah. So were there ever times that you were sad and how did you get through it or what was the saddest point of your life that you can remember? Not that I want to bring you down, but I think everyone likes to hear how other people get through their struggles.
JN: Well, I think so. I think if you have friends that will help, that'll get you through it quicker than anything in the world. Because to get through it by yourself, well, you can go to church and you can worship Jesus and all that, but you have a friend you can talk with, I think that'll help you get through your, you know, disappointing times in your life.
JN: So yeah. But usually, if I did something stupid in my life, it was something I did myself instead of waiting for Jesus to show me what to do. (Laughs)
JN: I don't wait.
JR: (Laughs) So what were some things that happened in life that you had no control of that were sad like hard times when you were raising your kids or when… in your grandkids lives or just things that you have memories of being hard?
JN: Well, when we first lived on our farm, well, that was when I was pregnant with Bob, my oldest child, and we had to redo the house because it was a mess. And the carpenters tore out the… they tore out the windows because they had to make… put new windows in, and there was a one pullet that kept sitting on the end of the couch, that's where she laid her eggs every day, she laid an egg. (Laughs)
JR: No, in her house; oh my gosh.
JN: Yeah, (Laughs) it was… you just couldn't break her. She’d get… if you’d push her out one window, she’d (Laughs)… she'd go around and go in the other way because that's where she laid her egg.
JR: Ah, that’s so funny.
JN: That’s the thing, I know, but, you know, it really irritated at the time that I was pregnant and I… you know, you don't adjust as easy and clear as you do when you're not pregnant. (Laughs)
JR: Yeah, yeah. Well, I know when your oldest turned maybe… sometime in high school, he had an accident and you didn't know if he was going to live or… tell us about that experience and what… what you had to do to get through it.
JN: They didn't think that he would live and they were in a car wreck, there was ice on the road. Anyway, well, a young man that he went with, his friend, he was killed and Bob went through the… the top of the car and he was scalped all but just about an inch of the hair in his scalp in the back. And then we had to take him to Council Bluffs and he didn't know anything for quite a few while. And they had to run so many tests and so many things. And he was… the 2 girls, Lynda and Wanda were… you know, they were there, too, but they had to stay home because they had to go to school. It was… well, Jennifer, I’ll tell you, I think we prayed a lot then and we got him through it and he seemed to be get alright, but I think that's all that got us through. We just, you know, you… to lose your first child. Well, and then when Rick's Christian was… you know, he drowned, then he was my oldest….
JR: Oldest grandson, okay, yeah.
JN: Firstborn grandchild and he died in a flood. So I don't know whether, but you get through, you just have to, you just have to be strong and just go on life. You just don't stop because something terrible happened, you just try to adjust to it and go on from there.
JR: Yeah. Do you feel like getting through those things got easier with time or is it always just as hard each time?
JN: Just difficult all the time.
JR: (Laughs) Yeah.
JN: You know, if I hear something that… now, even now, as my grandchildren are outgrown and I… it just still affects me real bad, it just hits you, you know, you just… you just love them. They're just… you're part of so much of your life that you just… and, you know, we've been there and had all experiences ourselves, well now those kids are going through it. And we hate to see them have all those problems and things that they have, but that's life, you just have them and you adjust and go on.
JR: Yeah, I like that. Well, so tell us more about your top priorities in life, the things that are most important to you, the things that you wanted to make sure to teach your kids.
JN: I think I liked to teach, you know, that they should be kind to everyone. I mean, you know, some people you just… they kind of clash with you and you just really get… but you… I would try to teach him that they… you adjust to them, you don't expect them to adjust you and try to make it better, I just feel that way. I feel like that was myself now. I just feel like, “Well, if somebody offends me, then I just better say a prayer and go on and try to make it better with them.” And a lot of times, you can win people over. They just… you know, you judge them too quickly and they… that's the problem.
JR: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. And what's your favorite way to spend your morning when you first wake up? What's your morning routine like?
JN: Get up and make a smoothie. I've (Laughs)… they have blueberries and yogurt and I just love to do that. Well, then I'll get up make that. I’m supposed to have it done before a half hour after I get up and then I make a cup of coffee and take my smoothie and my coffee, sit down and read… I have 2 books that I read, I have Bible verses in and I read them. And I love… best part of my morning…
JN: … my whole day.
JR: Yeah, yeah. And tell us a time when you felt to do something that didn't necessarily make sense, maybe it was from God for example where you listened to your heart but your… your mind didn't know it was going to work; when you had to have faith to make a choice.
JN: Well, the most… and my kids think it's ridiculous, and they still think, I think. When I went with Bruce, he was a Mormon and I completely went away from my kids. It was a bad time, I know it was for my kids, but I loved Bruce and he was an alcoholic and I thought I could get him over. Well then I did, but then he… his son came and they… they did the same thing all over again. And I'm sorry for that really for that time, I’m really… for that time of my life. But I did… I got him to go to the church and he was a… in the bishopric. I was so glad that I was strong enough to get him there and then we went there all the time. Every time he was supposed to be there, we went but I was… but I did love him at the time, you know, but I don't know whether that makes any sense at all, but I guess we don't always control who we fall in love with, I guess. (Laughs)
JR: Yeah, yeah. Well, so when he went back to the alcohol the second time, when did you decide enough is enough or how did you decide that? Because some people listening, sometimes they have to draw lines and make a choice that's hard.
JN: It is, it's so hard. You know, he was such a talented man, he could do anything. He was a carpenter, he was an excellent carpenter. And he did work for the bishop while… when he was sober and he seemed to enjoy it, but then his son came from California and he went with him and they started drinking again, and it got too much for me, I just couldn't handle it. I mean, they’d get, you know, really drunk and then they'd be rude and I just couldn't handle it all the time. And Aaron was there and it was… it was bad. I don't know why I decided or when I decided, I just told him, I said, he's… “You've got to go back to that place in Carolyn's and stay sober again or I just… I can't handle it here anymore.” So that's what I did.
JR: Yeah. Well, shifting topics, how do you try to make the world a better place?
JN: I try to help people as much as I can. I mean, you know, at my age, I can't help very much. But, you know, if you're happy and you kind of lead them that way, then I think that's helping in the world, I mean, it's helping the people just to their misery that they're having. They seem like they like… they want to be happy. I think most everybody wants to be happy.
JN: They just got to adjust to it. (Laughs)
JR: Yeah. Well, I've talked about this before, but one of my favorite memories of growing up was staying overnight with you because I think you did want to make us happy as your grandkids. And so you always called us Sugar Love and then you would make sausage links and grape juice, you would buy Oreos, all the things that parents don't buy for their kids and we loved it. (Laughs)
JN: I know. You know, though that's called spoiling your grandchildren.
JN: And I get… I like to make you happy. I guess that's probably my big thing in life is I love to make, not only my grandchildren, but everybody I’m around, I make them happy.
JR: It's true, I think that about you, I love that.
JN: I hope so.
JR: Yeah. Well, let's have a quick break for our sponsor and then we'll come back and talk about a few of your favorite things.
Alright, welcome back, grandma, we're going to talk about your favorite things. So what is your favorite book?
JN: The Bible. (Laughs)
JN: I’ve got… I don’t know, I have a thing that comes from the church every day and I just… that's my book, that's just what I use. I brought it along down here too but it's just… that's part of it.
JN: I think that’s what keeps me going a lot of times.
JR: Yeah. And if there's someone out there listening who struggles to be happy and energized, you know, what advice would you have for them? What's your favorite happiness too,l for example?
JN: I don't know, just being friendly with people, you know, they… because, you know, it's so funny because I volunteer and I… the people that work with me, they always act like they're glad when I come to work. Well, it's because I like to be… do what they want to do, you know, that’s within reason.
JN: And they make… yeah, it's just… I know when Jim Stalder, he said… he's the same age as, or he’s a little younger but he tells me how much older I am me. And we are at each other all the time, but everybody laughs, they think we're crazy, but I mean, you know, they're happy anyway.
JR: Yeah, you’re making people laugh, yeah.
JN: Yeah, there's nothing difficult about it at all, it's just, you know, you just say something and then he says it back or says something stupid it's just… just the way that… he and I are compatible, I should say because he… he likes to, you know, tease me just as much… well, he said Amelia Earhart, you know, how old that old lady is, and he said… he tells the people that come tour, he said, “If you don't understand about Amelia Earhart, you just ask for Joanne because she was there.”
JR: Oh, wow! (Laughs)
JN: It's a funny thing and usually I have something to say back.
JN: And you just… if you enjoy life and you're fun, people like to be around you I guess.
JR: Yeah, for sure. Well, I remember growing up, we would go to your house after church quite often and have beef and noodles; so good.
JR: What's your favorite easy meal these days?
JN: Easy meal?
JR: Mm-hmm, because beef and noodles isn't easy. (Laughs)
JN: Yeah, it's not hard, you know, after I've done it for so many years, it's not hard to do. You know, If somebody likes it and that's what they want, that's what they'll get.
JN: (Laughs) A lot of times, I'll make bread, I love to break bread too with… I don't do it now because I'm alone and I just, you know, you can't make just a whole 4 loaves of bread for no… when nobody's around to eat it with you.
JR: Unless you freeze it, yeah.
JN: Yeah. Well, I live in an apartment, I don’t have a freezer.
JR: Yeah, that’s true. What is your favorite kitchen gadget? Is it your blender for the smoothies?
JN: Yeah, I love my blender because it does… it's so wonderful. And I use whole blueberries so then you've got to chop them up good. So if you use a blender, then it works great.
JR: And what would you say is your formula to be a happy woman?
JN: I think if something upsets me and I'm not happy, if I go read my Bible verses that have… you know, the for the day then it raises me up, yeah, it helps me get stronger and my happy parts run high.
JN: And then, Jennifer, really, honestly, I do not have anything that makes me unhappy, really, I don't; I mean, I can raise myself up. People talked about depression and I cannot understand that because I'm never depressed, never really. I just go be with people and then I'm fine, never bothers me really.
JR: So you're an extrovert, would you say?
JN: I think so.
JR: I think so too. (Laughs)
JN: I have lived this long, probably just go with the flow, you know? (Laughs)
JR: Yeah, for sure. Well, thinking back, what are a couple of the happiest, all-time happiest points of your life so far?
JN: Was when I was with Leo, he was always… I don't know, he was an extrovert too probably and he… I don't know, we just enjoyed life. We lived on the farm and I went out… I loved going out and helping him and doing things with him. And I don't know, that was a real happy time of my life when Leo and I were together, yeah, for all those years. I wouldn't change my life… that part of my life, even if I could, I wouldn’t.
JR: What did your kids do for fun while you were raising them? That would have been in like the what, 50s, 40s and 50s?
JN: Yeah. The kids always had animals. Your mom had a goat.
JN: She had a goat. I mean, they just had animals and, you know, they just did thing. What… we always had big snows then. Seemed like we had a lot more snow than we do now until this year, but they’d make caves and then they’d go in those caves and they’d play. And just… they didn't have to have machines or things like that, they just made their own fun with animals, they played with the animals. And then they had horses of course, they loved the horses, but (Laughs) I don’t know. We just did what everybody did on the farm, I guess.
JR: Yeah, yeah, oh, sounds awesome; well, cool. And what about friends you had while you were raising your kids, who were your close friends?
JN: Who was our close friends, oh I don't know. We had a lot of friends. We lived quite a ways from town, 9 miles was the closest town. And I don't know, like they just the Clawosns, they had 3 girls and they… they just up the hill from us. And we all went together and we ate meals together and had picnics, and I don't know, just the neighbors was what was really the fun part of it.
JR: Yeah, oh that's great.
JN: We went country school and so all the parents, you know, it's a country school, we all would go down to the schoolhouse and have supper together or have just, you know, make a picnic (Laughs) or something. We just made fun for ourselves.
JN: And we enjoyed life.
JR: Yeah, yeah, cool. Well, let's imagine that all your kids and grandkids and great-grandkids, and let's say it's 30 or 40 years from now or 50 years from now, what advice would you want to give to all of them?
JN: Oh, to me… now, this is real selfish probably, stay close, stay close to your siblings and your… you know, and their families. I just… you know, that's what's so nice. It seems like when we used to have a picnic up there Springbrook and you came down with your family and… and it was just so much fun. There was… everybody just enjoyed it so much and that was one thing I really enjoy. Now, we can't do that. (Laughs)
JN: But now, you know, as I hope the kids all stay close, I really do. I think they're all good kids and they all can help teach each other different things, you know, that they don't see in their life that the other one does. So I just think… I hope they all stay close and loving to each other, always.
JR: Awesome. And what about some advice for those listening and then we'll say goodbye; just any advice for the people listening to us talking.
JN: Just be happy. Just enjoy life as much as you can with be… doing it right. It's just as easy to be happy as it is to be sad, so work at it.
JR: That's great. Well, thanks so much, grandma, I appreciate this.
JN: Oh, I love you, dear. You take care.
JR: Love you too. Bye.
JN: Bye, hun.
JR: So that's my grandma, isn't she fun. I loved interviewing my mom and then this week my grandma because it got me thinking about family and traits and characteristics and genetics and all the good things that get passed down from generation to generation. Even if you're a person who struggled with things your parents did or your grandparents did or said, I think we all have those moments, the best thing we can do is focus on the good things and celebrate all the awesome things that they have and that they pass on to us; what a blessing. So I had a lot of fun talking with her and I hope you enjoyed it as well. Well, I will be back later this week with a Happy Bit, and I'm going to share 20 fun and easy ways we can have more time playing outdoors. Why am I doing this? Well, both my mom and my grandma talked about outdoor play. My mom and her siblings they were outside all day with their animals, walking for miles around their rural county roads section to see all their other neighbors who also had animals; it sounded like a complete blast. Well, my mom kind of perpetuated that style and would kick my brothers and I out of the house and we had a lot of creative fun things. So I've compiled a list that I'm going to share with you on our Happy Bit later this week. So I'm excited for that because it's getting me back out of my box to lock my kids out of the house so they can play outside too, to push my kids out the door so they can play outside too. There's mosquito repellent, right (Laughs)? There's sunscreen, we're going to be okay. So if you want your kids to play outside more, you'll be loving that Happy Bit later this week. Well, I'm so grateful that you listened and spent some time with me today, and I wish you a very fun, vibrant, happy, and kind week; to pass on some of my grandma's legacy. I'll see you again soon, and until then, take care.