Jo Ann Jaacks: Becoming my own hero

Jo Ann Jaacks at artist Heather Neilson's studio

I have been waiting until I lose 25 pounds before I post a new “selfie” on Facebook. I’m doing daily exercises, a combined hour-and-a-half of fast walking in two venues, eating veggie burgers and, Lord help me, kale salads. Nevertheless, it’s painfully slow, albeit measurable, progress. Then I decided, the hell with it. I began handing off my camera to others to take my picture NOW, where I am, what I am doing, who I am with, and who I am NOW. It’s all about making new memories, going in new directions, and feeling good about it.

I have been living alone for five months now, after I had to make the heart wrenching decision that neither my husband nor I was secure and I was lucky to find the perfect place for him. I love where I live, although my cat still tries to escape every chance she gets. I attribute that to her independent nature, rather than a dislike of her surroundings. We are both free spirits. I’ve been living here for nearly a year, and do NOT want to pick up and move again. I am determined to make this work, whatever it takes. I recently added a dog-walking gig and a new client to the long list that supports a freelancer who lives mailbox to mailbox.

In the past five months of living here alone, I have re-adjusted the attitude of my printer, which, after 10 years of faithful service, abruptly decided to stop printing, fixed my own toilet, killed my own snake (he advanced on me — it was him or me), and walked on my own path. Yes, I literally created a new path at my favorite outdoor destination by wearing hiking boots and stomping the grass down day-by-day. It dawned on me: Hey, I’ve got this!

Of course, I am very grateful for the support of family and friends — from providing curtains, wine-on-the-porch and being my wingman, installing air-conditioning and listening to me vent, assembling a fabulous, but daunting, LED lamp, making my free spirit cat insanely happy with her up-close connection with the outside world, joining me in support for my weekly trek to Geer Nursing Home, and helping maintain my sanity while struggling through the mountain of paperwork.

Unfortunately, not everyone is copacetic when someone in their circle takes a wide turn. I know, I know, I’m standing up for myself — what a bitch! Sometimes you just have to apply the Marie Kondo system to your life, except with people, instead of inanimate objects — keeping only what “sparks joy.”

I no longer want to cling to the old memories and methods, stuck in the past; I want new beginnings, adventures and challenges. Isn’t that what life is all about?

Connecticut Media Group