Hey there, you lovely person. I'm Jo. Nice to meet you.

Jo in a nutshell

Jo is an adventurer and storyteller out to see the world, meet people, and experience loads and loads of life.

FOODS OF CHOICE: 

Chicken pot pie, cheese burgers, California burritos, chicken curry with naan, desserts of any sort but especially Tiramisu.

DRINKS OF CHOICE: 

Tap water, black coffee, champagne, whiskey, honeydew melon slush with large boba.

Cheesy Joke of Choice:

What do you get when you throw a grenade into a French kitchen? Linoleum Blownapart.

 

Jo as a writer

Joanna O'Hanlon -- That's my byline. And full name. It's a lot of syllables, I know. Just call me Jo.

BA in Journalism -- Point Loma Nazarene University 2011

Blogger --  www.storyofjo.com I write weekly about the beautiful and ugly parts of life -- and I try to be unabashedly honest about the whole shebang.

Published in: The Point Weekly, Asia Media America, The Mercury Register, The Enterprise Record, The Insurance Journal, Thought Catalog, The Abram Interstate Blog, and those books that we got bound each of my elementary school years (Thanks, mom.)

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About Jo (for real)

I grew up in a small town (45ish,000) in Northern California that I would describe as the midwest of California. I don't live there anymore, but as our homes tend to do, it has shaped me more than I can know, which is why I mention it. And I suppose when it boils down, there's three other things you should know about me.

1. I love stories.

I always have. One day when I was 5 years old, I was laying down beside my mom's recliner where she sat reading.

"Mom, I'm worried. I'm not going to be a good mom," I said to her in my voice of grave toddler concern. 

"What do you mean, Jo? Why do you think that?"

"I won't have any stories to tell my kids," I said, completely serious.

Because that's what made my mom a good mom in my eyes -- she always told us stories about her and her mischievous brothers when they were growing up. One of her brothers, my uncle Randy, had died before I was born. The only way I know him is through the stories. And that matters a great deal to me.

2. My story involves a lot of loss.

 My older sister died at 8:07 on a sunny Sunday morning in spring, three days after her 21st birthday. That was my first significant experience with loss. The years that followed held a staggering number of deaths, as if her death had somehow ushered in an era of grief. But since then, I have lost people, places, and calling, as well. As is the nature of loss -- with each one, I have lost the way life COULD have gone. Grief is a tricky bastard, and it is a large theme in my own personal writing. I say the things you aren't supposed to say out loud because I think it's healthy to tell the truth about pain. You won't catch me sprinkling glitter on the crap of life. There are other people who can do that.

3. I choose to love life. Again and again.

The loss in my life has given me great sink holes of grief and I have, and do make the decision to keep swimming toward the surface, even when it feels very definitively like I'm drowning. I live intentionally. I make lists of goals to accomplish by my birthday each year. I try new things often. I laugh loudly. I do a lot of personal introspection to examine those ugly places inside that need to see daylight to begin to heal. I love to travel and adventure and explore. And I almost think that as the ways that my capacity to grieve has deepened, so has my capacity to rekindle my childhood appreciation of everyday life.

As a part of this story project, I ventured to put my money where my mouth was, and I gave myself permission to admit that if everyone has a story and every story matters, that my story mattered too. It's a story that was hard to write, and made me want to vomit when I first made it public, but as I hope these stories will do for each of their owners, airing my story gave me a purpose and an encouragement that my story does not own me, I own it, and that I am not alone. So, I've included my story as the first of the Story Project stories. If I'm asking you to bear your most precious stories, I'll do it too. It's not easy, but it matters.

Jo's Story:

Part 1 ("Skeletons included") HERE 

Part 2 ("As we forgive our debtors...") HERE

Part 3 ("That sad mountain of forgiveness") HERE