Jojo’s Photography Dream

There’s this young woman I know who has inspired me to write this post and share her work with you all. I am thankful to say I know her and am getting to learn more about her everyday. She has given permission for me to share her photos and interview her on her love, photography.



Her name is Jojo Anderson and I know her because she dates my youngest son. They both attend the same college and have been dating for a year. There’s something special and loving about this lady…she’s kind, thoughtful and honest and has taken lovely photos, so it’s a pleasure to share her story and photography with you!



Jojo started taking photos when she bought her first camera in the sixth grade. Her photos were of everything with no rhyme or purpose, just for fun! Suddenly one day the camera broke and she stopped taking photos for a while. Years later, just before her senior year,  her parents encouraged her to buy a new camera. Jojo says that the more photos she snapped the more the she fell in love with the power of it.


Isn’t this photo of captured nature beautiful?

This talented young woman always had an interest in old cameras but she really doesn’t know why. She was attracted to how things were made, which lead to an intention to pursue engineering after high school. Jojo applied to colleges with this major in mind. While taking photos and exploring photography, Jojo realized that she loved it! With the change of heart and majors, she applied to Mount Ida College majoring in photography with a back up of being a vet tech.



Jojo started posting her work on social media and received attention from professional photographers. Her dad taught her some basic principles of art/ photography fundamentals such as the rule of thirds and the rule of odds. Her parents were a big influence on her goals, especially her dad.



One of Jojo’s favorite subjects is of people she loves. A few months ago this young lady snapped this gem of my son and he loved it so much that he used it for his social media profile. She values the fact that the photo highlights who Branden is as a person, a genuine capture of him without being fake. His smile is real and not posed for the shot. Jojo thinks it’s special that she captured  his essence, as if the camera wasn’t there. Sometimes Branden changes or freezes up when a camera focuses on him,( as most people do)  so this picture shows that he can relax for the camera. I do love this pose, spoken from a proud mama!


Jojo also took this great portrait of her younger sister. I love the outside backgrounds of these photos! She loves using photography to tell a story and enjoys taking photos that capture the moment in nature.





In class Jojo had an assignment of taking photos of food in an arrangement.

If you’re interested in viewing Jojo’s photos, you can sign up free on She also sells prints, cards and posters on under her artist name Jojo Anderson. I ordered a beautiful card of a mesmerizing sunset recently. I was thrilled with its beauty and it was shipped to me within days.

Here’s my photo card I ordered from Jojo. I love it!


As I wrap up this post I’m encouraged of Jojo’s promising photography career. I believe she will succeed in what she sets her mind to. She wishes to work freelance eventually but may pursue a job in the industry, just starting out. Whatever this young lady achieves, it will be great because she has heart and guts to reach her dreams. I’m happy she’s dating my son and proud to know her and call her a friend.


All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤













Year Two Drop Off

An installment of Empty Nest Notes


I’m so proud of this guy! He’s a happy guy back at college!


About three weeks ago my husband, son and I ventured south to our son’s college. It’s Branden’s sophomore year, an easier move than last.  This year we all knew what to expect and thankfully there were no tears as we moved and dropped off.




Imagine a squished family wedged in a jam packed car. Heaping clothes were piled high in baskets and a microwave, mini fridge and crates of supplies were stacked upon each other. My husband is an expert car packer from years of caretaking and chaffeuring, so he was up for the task. By the time all was loaded, a small seat in the back remained where Branden had to squeeze in for the ride. Thankfully Tom could still see in the side mirrors for a safe drive.




Upon arriving, we saw cars with families like ours everywhere. People scurried around with crates, small pieces of furniture and all the college essentials. It was comforting to greet some student helpers with huge laundry wagons to transport Branden’s belongings. It was as simple as signing up and while we waited and ate a quick snack, Branden went to sign in and receive his room key.

This photo is a vivid memory of last year, Branden’s first year at college.




This year our son lives on the second floor, a floor down from last year. The room is much smaller facing the back side of the building with two windows letting in the lovely light. He shares his room with a friend of his, one person less from last year. Last year’s room was big but needed to fit three grown men.





Tom helped Bran haul the mini fridge in and placed it under his bed. It’s cool that the bed is on risers so we raised it, with enough room to fit a few crates and the fridge. His bed was placed on the right side of the wall parallel to his buddy’s bed on the left. He has a desk and chair and a bureau which we placed at the foot of his bed to save space. His closet is good sized, enough to house all his clothes and essentials.





We stayed about an hour and then was on our way but not without hugs and spoken well wishes for a great school year. Riding home we talked about Bran’s happy disposition and how this college really is the perfect fit for him. He set his mind on it early in the college search and just knew in his heart that it was home. I can only wish this for any college freshmen, to know what place speaks to them as a second home. As proud parents, Tom and I are blessed that he made the right choice for him without pressures from outside sources.




In a few weeks I plan to bake one of Bran’s favorite cookies, peanut butter chocolate chips to send in a care package. I figure it’s a package of home for him to enjoy and relish in. I talked to my mother in law and she plans to bake when it cools down in Florida. We are setting up a system that we let each other know when we send our packages so that it doesn’t arrive the same week.



I want to wrap up this post with a small prayer for college students and their families.

Dear God,

Please allow these students to adjust to college life, especially freshman. Give them strength to harbor the change and courage to withstand any obstacle. Help them study hard and make good friends, friends that last a lifetime. Bless them as they live the college life and ease their parents’ minds that all will be well.

In the Lord’s name,


God Bless you all as you go about your day. I’m spending some time writing today and hope to tackle a few more posts for the coming days.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul











Looking Back and Ahead



Recently I was rummaging through old digital images and found these keepers from 2014. Surprisingly I have never shared them and forgot them in this busy whirlwind of life. It was an emotional time as our family was getting ready to say good luck to our oldest son, Dylan as he made his way to college in Maine. Branden was still in high school and entering his junior year. 




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This October trip was our last one as a family and I could already feel significant differences. Our boys weren’t boys anymore but strong young men with dreams and hopes for their futures. As they walked the path to the ocean, I couldn’t help compare it to their new lives. Looking out upon the vast and open ocean, perhaps my sons thought of their uncertain but exciting future! The never ending water symbolized their journey into the unknown real world. No more mom and dad holding their hands or life in a small town as they knew all their lives. 








The few family vacations we ventured on were to the beach at Ogunquit, Maine. Years ago, as little active boys they would run and kick the sand and chase after the seagulls. Wading in and out of the rushing in tide could entertain them for hours. We would laugh and play and soak in the sun. Those memories will live with me forever. 




This trip they gazed at the ocean, sat in the sand and walked up to the approaching tide. It was a chilly but bright October day with few crowds. Most people were bundled in coats or sweatshirts and merely walked the ocean’s edge unlike the brave summer swimmers from months before. 






I feel grateful beyond belief that Tom and I had all this God given time with our sons. Now, as they start their new lives, we welcome all their stories and life experiences and offer wise advice when they ask for it. This is a happy and joyful time of our lives where we look forward to our family expanding and being grandparents someday!




What a blessing to find these pictures during a time I feel nostalgic of family times. This wasn’t the best of trips but just as meaningful and I’m so happy that we did it that weekend and enjoyed our sons as grown men!




All My Best,

Heart and Soul >3



The Life I Imagined

Have you ever listened to a song and wondered about the words? Maybe fantasize for a split second…what if things had been different? Don’t we all ask ourselves at one moment or another, how different life would be if we had taken alternate paths?
Years ago I was a busy housewife and mother of two busy sons when I heard Mary Chapin Carpenter’s song He thinks he’ll keep her. I really listened to the lyrics and tried to empathize with this woman’s feelings as a distraught housewife and mother. It was easy to relate to her plight for like any mother, there were times I was overwhelmed with all the responsibility. Although I understood the woman’s feelings in the song, I know deep within me I am happy for the choices I’ve made in my life. The woman in the song walked away from her marriage and never looked back. That’s what she had to do to survive but her story is different than mine.



Once in awhile I think what if? What if I had made different life choices such as joining the Air Force, which I thought of momentarily in my twenties or finished college in Boston 28 years ago? What if I had chosen a career other than a grocery deli worker that I did for 12 years? If I had made any different decisions,  I wouldn’t be where I’m at today! I wouldn’t have met the people I have, especially my mother in law at our workplace at Butsons Supermarket or my husband shortly after. I wouldn’t have my beautiful grown sons or be living in the small town I call home. Dreaming of what if only brings a split second of curiosity but mostly an assurance that the choices I made were perfect for me!





If I had a retry and a chance to change any circumstance of my adult life, I wouldn’t! I feel like my nature would be different and with different experiences brings pain and sorrow at times. If I harbor any ill feelings about my past, it would only be for my low self esteem. I wish I could back up fifteen or twenty years and really work at being confident then instead of now, so much later. Maybe my life would be even richer if I had just told myself, “ You know what, you are okay. More than okay!”



If you’re a teenager or in your twenties and you aren’t sure of what direction to take, trust yourself. Go out on a limb and take chances. Believe in yourself and trust your gut. If your choice feels right, do it and don’t even think about it. Sometimes the pressure of life’s direction is all the thinking we do.


The life I imagined wasn’t even close to as sweet and rich it really is! My dreams were surpassed and I’m living everyday with a grateful attitude and love for this life. It truly is a blessing and gift and with everyday I continue to unwrap it!


I hope YOU are living your dream and that your expectations have been surpassed. Sending many blessings to you all! Embrace your life and all the gifts and even hardships, for that’s how we grow and learn.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul❤️
Mary B.

The Road Ahead








It was a peaceful and beautiful ride home. The sky above us was a stunning shade of blue, coaxing me to snap its portrait. Thick fingers of puffy white and gray clouds spread across the sky. Staunch rock mountains bordered the road, enclosing us in. Perfect pine trees stood as erect as can be, like guarding soldiers lining the way.Our beautiful mountains welcomed us to New Hampshire, one of our favorite landscapes and sign that home was near.


We had just dropped off our youngest son to college, so exciting and new to him. As we drove through Lincoln and then Franconia Notch, profound thoughts came to life. Not only was Branden starting a unique journey in his life, where he  had never trod before….but Tom and I were as well.


As the road stretched before us in the light of this day, I felt strange yet exhilarated. The interstate ahead ( nestled in the valley of magnificent mountains) represented our journey in coming years. It’s a time of reconnecting as husband and wife. There will be no more homework sessions, baseball games with late hurried meals and no more drama performances with camera in tow. No more piled up stinky teenaged laundry, pleads for the car keys or staying up late waiting for him to come home. ( Not for now anyway, school breaks I’ll probably revisit this).


With the slow motion ride, I thought maybe this time was a gift. A remarkable present of alone time, peace and quiet, spontaneous trips and certainty. This certainty would be that we, as devout parents, completed our tremendous job with so many memories along the way! I think I’ll treasure them and put them in my pocket to bring out from time to time to cherish and reflect on.




Great times are ahead and as we see our sons, most of the unsettling and exciting child raising is caput. What remains is simply enjoying them and watching them go about their adult lives. There will be times they need or want us and that’s something to hold on to.





Coming home that night, the house was quiet and it seemed odd. We were here together in this space without our sons. A road lies ahead of us and our experiences are yet to be determined. This uncertain journey may be scary with bumps along the way and we may not know what to do at first, but I have confidence that it will be as wonderful as our last 22 years.



Here’s a BIG shout out to all my readers! Thank you for reading my material and responding with love and friendship. I have not posted as often as I like lately but intend to write more and post  few times a week. Future posts I’m working on include A Father and Son story ( one close to my heart) and my garden in its ending stage.

All my Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️