Fashion in Technology: What – No Whip?

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Even the expression on her face looks like she wants to smack you!

There is a not so fine line between being a supportive parent and allowing your young kid to have a game profile pic akin to a dominatrix.  Despite serious odds to the contrary, I was able to maintain my emotionless game face when my daughter gleefully showed me this “pretty new matching outfit” her avatar was wearing today.  Given that she typically opts for flowers and butterflies in the fashion world of gaming, I recognized that there must have been a specific reason for this choice.  I paused momentarily before responding to allow all of the “you forgot the leash” and “no self respecting s&m wench would wear that flower headband without a complementary spike collar” type of comments to exit my mind in lieu of exiting my mouth.  Not that she would have understood anyway, but even I have to draw the parental standards line somewhere.

Once the wise crack responses ceased running through my brain, I allowed my out loud voice to kick in.  I asked her nonchalantly, “So what is it about this dress that you like?”  She said that she wanted to look tougher because several people were teasing her about her babyish and girly profile name.

Boooooo!!!

At that point, I, too, wanted to bust out a tougher outfit and kick some avatar butt.  Nevertheless I couldn’t permit an S&M response as we aren’t going for Fifty Shades of MoJo in this house.  I calmly but directly explained that the dress and boots she had chosen were not appropriate for her age even if it was just a game.  I told her that she had to find another outfit that was more suitable.  She wasn’t pleased but it wasn’t earth shattering either, and she left to pick select something else.

And then returned with this little number…

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This pasty boxy babe is effectively a mannequin displaying the clothing one can select.

Nooooooo.

I’m not going to allow an avatar with a skirt cut up to her hoo-hah either.  Seriously Roblox.  Stop.  It.

I responded less nonchalantly this time.  I wasn’t angry, but I wasn’t playing anymore either.  There are other categories of clothing beyond frilly / girly and hoochie / biker wench.  Pick another outfit.

And this was her final choice…image000000_17

It struck me as rather unusual but perhaps she was aiming for a Richard Simmons kind of look.

richard simmonsI have always loved that guy.  I can’t help  but appreciate anyone who owns who he is through and through while also sharing humor and hope.  Not too shabby Richard. You go boy!  Ultimately that was the ensemble her character donned.

I know that this is a game, but are these really the kinds of options my kids are given?  Seriously?

I frequently wake my kids up on school days by cranking up “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys or “Hypnotize” by Notorious B.I.G..  They are the clean versions, but I do feel like Amazon and I have seriously different takes on what the word clean means.

At what point did I become the stuffy parent?  I typically don’t sweat the small stuff (nor do I Sweat to the Oldies even though I think that Richard Simmons seems like a sweetheart), but I’m not digging the hooker avatar option.  I don’t want to raise a princess (although she will always be one to me), but I’m not interested in this route either.  It was yet another reminder that I really have to keep a close eye on what the kids are doing on their phones.  It appears that I am going to have to whip them into shape before they start thinking that they need to do the same to someone else.  Yikes.

whip

 

Stormy Weather

I feel relatively grounded on average.  However there are times when I feel life piling up around me, and I lose sight of the sun.  My thoughts become cloudy, and I focus on an unrealistic desire to resolve all pending worries in the immediate moment or else.  When I get into this ultimatum frame of mind, I attempt to remind myself that there is no way that everything will be resolved immediately and seek to access my calmer analytical side.  I ask myself “What does ‘or else’ really mean?”

On 90% of the items, the plain truth is that if those things don’t happen, no biggie.  They just happen later or life goes on anyway.  The remaining 10% are almost exclusively highly improbable, and even if they do happen, will not be improved by torturing those around me.

Despite knowing this, I opted for the “free torture for all” approach yesterday.  Opted isn’t really the right word.  It was more like having my mind invaded by a frenetic wild-eyed doppelganger who looked like me in the mirror.  I needed the pragmatic rational me to kick the irrational “what did you mean by THAT comment” me out of the driver’s seat.  Frenetic doppelganger would still be hanging out in the vehicle, but at least she wouldn’t be driving the bus.

Work was in high gear (nothing new).  I need to have surgery on one of my hands (that is new), and due to various reasons, have to have the procedure done next week.  Thankfully it’s on my right hand, and I’m right-handed.  Also I can type with my toes and allow my young children to create complex spreadsheets whenever they need a break.  Wait.  No.  I’m thinking of the clever octopus in Finding Dory.  I do actually need my hands to type.  I started to worry about this yesterday, and the panic train began its exit from the station.

I wanted to write a post but there was no time.  I wanted to search for a low-key vacation spot in the area but again there was no time, no cash, and no freedom since we are chained here by the looming possibility of a house showing.  Thinking about the possible showings had me thinking about the house and the cleaning worries began.  The mental to do lists were already cycling.  Once more I remembered that I needed to work before any of that could be tackled.  So I worked as the panic increased and the noise in my mind grew.

Tech turn off time rolled around.  Those of you who live in an area with hurricanes have probably seen the way these storms can stall over water for a short period of time before moving along their paths.  It seems as though they are taking a leisurely respite, but in fact they are often building in strength and becoming disastrous destructive powerhouses.  Yesterday’s tech turn off was analogous to this storm stall period and ultimately led to a category 3 Hurricane MoJo.  Bless my poor kids and husband.  They all opted for duck and cover or just ran whenever I got within range.  I swear I heard one of them tell another, “Serpentine!!! Serpentine!!!”

Thankfully that particular storm blew through the area within a few hours, but all affected residents are still under watch for ongoing heavy emotional floodwaters and scattered hot messness.

I just get completely overwhelmed with it all sometimes.  Work worries, house worries, family worries, health worries, money worries, worry worries.  It can be incredibly hard to stop it all from circling my mind once it gets going.  Second verse…  Same as the first…

Tech turn off was hours behind me, and I was tethered to my laptop once more.  My tidbit teeny kid came in and wanted to help me work.  Language can be subjective, but I feel like she and I have widely divergent interpretations as to what the word help means.  To me, help means help.  To her, help means jack up my spreadsheet beyond repair.  Semantics are funny like that.

So when she offered to help, I said, “Don’t even think about it lady.”  Being her mother’s daughter, she had no interest in heeding my silly warning and climbed into my lap anyway.  Damn she was good.

Next plan.  Turn on music.  What can I say.  The kid likes to shake her bon bon and typically can’t resist a beat.  It is a solid deterrent to kid destroying behavior.  Cheese also works, but I had no cheese.  So music it was.  And then she started to sing.  She’s two.  She doesn’t always get her own name right.  I had no clue that she knew the song at all, but she absolutely did.  Admittedly it was totally her own version of the lyrics, but if you know the song, you know where she is going with it.

In a matter of seconds, she made me smile – really smile – that big fat make your cheeks hurt smile.  My heart sang with her as she sang into her flashlight (that had randomly appeared) and shredded the lyrics.  I turned off the work right then, parked her little hiney in my chair (at a safe distance from the aforementioned computer), and recorded a video of her in action.

It was the smallest moment, but there was such tremendous magic in it for me.  I never cease to be amazed at the way life feels like it is hanging by a thread, but then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, reminds you that you are where you need to be.

Nothing had changed from one moment to the next.  I still had the same items on my list.  Work, surgery, house, family, etc.  But there was clarity around them.  I could even see unexpected blessings in some of them.  Knowing that I will likely be limited in what I can do for a week is forcing me to seek more help at work.  We have done a lot on cleaning the house, but some of it will just have to be whatever it is.  Oh well.  Maybe we can’t do a vacation away, but we can look at little day trips.  That’s totally doable.  And then there’s family.  They love me even when I’m certain that they can’t stand me.  I do the same when they form their own personal hurricanes.  Their love is boundless.  So is mine.

As much as I seek to avoid them, I learn so much about myself and those around me during and after these storms.  I am terrified of leaving a path of destruction instead of following a path of enlightenment.  So often we feel like we have to be on one road versus another.  We decide that there can be no shared space between the two.  No commonalities.  No crossover.  But what if there aren’t two paths at all?  Maybe the difference lies in recognizing that your choice isn’t about the path but rather how you let it shape you.  We are where we are supposed to be right now.  Sometimes it feels like we lose our way, but we are never lost.  Not really.  We get so focused on where we want to go that we forget where we are.

I pray that we see the benediction and grace along our paths even when they appear to be lined with anything but blessings.  Find the magic in the moment, and remember where you are and who you are.

Blessings to all of you.  Joanna

(Day 20)

Disastrous

Depression – Shifting Your Perception

Depression.  If you have ever worn that label, you probably felt a heaviness in your soul just reading the word.  It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue with a magical lightness, does it?

I wore that label on my heart and spirit since I was in elementary school.  I felt the weight of the diagnosis long before it was made.  It consumed me.  I would take flight only to be snapped back to the ground like there was a chain around my soul.  I barely scraped out of my college years with my life.

I hold no judgement toward anyone who has committed suicide.  None at all in the slightest.  Truly.  I remember believing with every fiber of my being that it would be better in the long run for everyone I cared about if I just died.  I understood that they would hurt in the short term, but overall, I believed that it would be a gift of true kindness from me to them.  They wouldn’t be stuck working through all the problems I brought into their lives each day.

I didn’t have a clue about how completely and utterly untrue that was.  If you ever tell yourself that others around you will be better off if you are dead, you are more wrong than you could possibly imagine.

The people who care about you – even the ones who may be angry with you – NEVER stop hurting.  The hollow aches in their chests don’t go away.  They will always feel a heartbreak that will never be mended.  They will cry every time someone new asks about you.  They will have to suffer thoughtless comments from others who don’t understand, and they will then have to go on the defense with searing pain or swallow the unkindness like broken glass.  They will ask themselves every single day what they could have done differently, and even though the clear answer is “absolutely nothing at all,” they will always wonder.  The part of their life that will be better off will never happen.  They may be able to forgive the choice, but they will never be able to be thankful for it.

I did not know this then, but I see it now.  If you have been impacted by suicide by a family member or a friend, my heart goes out to you more than I can tell you.  There are no words to explain the level of confusion and misunderstanding people stumble through when they are at that point. People who suffer depression feel like they are broken on the inside. Like something is wrong with them.  Like they are crazy.

But what if the crazy part wasn’t actually crazy at all.  What if instead of seeing yourself as being broken, you saw yourself as being made differently than the person beside you?  If you were to look at that person and compare them to any other on the planet, I assure you that you would find unique attributes of each one of those individuals – attributes you wanted to have and attributes that you were glad weren’t on your personal shame list.

What if instead of believing that you needed to be fixed, you recognized that the way you happen to think, feel, love and hurt in extremes actually allows you to experience the world itself from a wider emotional range?  When I was younger, my days were consumed by the highest highs and lowest lows.  My eyes were opened again and again to spectacular wonders as well as dark looming tragedy.  The incessant whipsaw of emotions made me tough on certain fronts and softened my heart on others.

I always find it amusing when I hear people say that this person is on “The Spectrum.”  I’m not implying that autism is comical to me.  I am saying is that the term “spectrum” is an interesting word to choose because it encompasses all the colors we can see with our human eyes, but it also refers to colors that are there yet remain invisible.

What if people with depression are able to see the invisible parts of the spectrum?  Perhaps in lieu of perceiving invisible light, they perceive an emotional range that is out of reach of most humans.

I would never wish a diagnosis of depression on anyone.  Never.  But I wouldn’t go back and change that part of myself or my life either.  I have a broader emotional view and intutive sense than many others around me.  I see people who have a complete inability to recognize the depth in another’s tone.  They can’t hear the unspoken message in the other person’s words, but it is crystal clear to me.  I have been in that emotional place, so I feel it with all the tangibility of a wave crashing into the rocks.  My ability to sense more has helped me to guard those I love, but it has also allowed me to see others who need a hand to prevent them from drowning.

You may feel like you are a stone sinking below the waves because of that label.  Just know that the label may be the broken part, not you.  Your perceived darkness may actually be a beacon of light to another.  It may be the very thing that allows you to shine.

Lose the label.  It doesn’t define you.  If you can’t release it now, know that it doesn’t get to steal your brilliance, passion, or ability to see with more depth and feeling than most will ever comprehend.  Take off the blinders when you look in the mirror, and recognize who you truly are.  Release the curse so you can find the gift.

We would never need light if we didn’t have darkness.  They go hand in hand.

 I write these words for those who suffer depression personally and those who have watched someone they care about be torn apart by it.  If you are reading these words, they are written for you.  Know that you are precious beyond measure.  You are dear and important and perfect just as you are.  You absolutely matter.

In love and light always.  Joanna

(Day 19)

Movies – The Terminator – How to Kill a Cyborg & a Classic at the Same Time (Day 18)

Who among us doesn’t think the words “family film” when remembering The Terminator.  Everyone you say?  Well there’s a reason for that, but it’s not the one you think.

Many would assume that this movie has yet to solidify it’s slot in the family film genre solely based on heavy violence, adult language, and visible nip / hiney action.  While those elements do have merit, I have no doubt that the key determining factor that ultimately locked up the R rating designation was that the movie makers had pre-teen / young teen kids of their own and knew that those almost adult humans would ask ten thousand questions during the whole film thus driving the surrounding full adults insane if they were allowed into the theater.

For other parents reading this, I have a few comments I would like to share.  First of all, my husband fell on his sword and hung out with our tidbit kid in the other room as she watched a painfully bad kid cartoon.  I have reached max capacity on my cartoon swine viewing limit and have determined that life is too uncertain to spend one more second of it with that freakin’ pig.  Take Peppa back England!!!

So it was just the bigs (the older kids) and me watching The Terminator.  Once again take a deep breath judgy parental pants because we are actually pretty strict on what we let our kids see.  There is a high lame factor present on their shows.  However the Terminator and Alien were the first R rated films my parents let me see two hundred years ago, I didn’t die or go on a killing spree (yet…), and I am following the tradition.  These movies are kind of like R light.

I don’t sweat some bad language here and there.  Although my husband and I weave in and out of our own personal mine field of F bombs, we are careful to keep the verbal arsenal under lockdown until the kids aren’t around.  But these kids do go to school with lots of other kids, and we recognize that they hear the words daily.  I’m not indifferent to it, but there comes a point as a parent when you have to wake up and smell the fochaccino.  I think of it like someone talking smack about me behind my back.  If I never catch them, then I don’t know and I will remain peacefully oblivious.  But if I do…

Watch.  Your.  Back.

On the sexuality front(al), my kids know where babies come from (adult humans obviously pollinate), but we still steer them away from anything super steamy or laced with heavy innuendo.  I had already seen the movie multiple times before and therefore knew when the film was going to get all nudey booty.  Miraculously there just happened to be freshly baked cookies exiting the oven in the kitchen at the same time!  It was as if a mystical force knew what was about to happen and planned it that way.  And by mystical force, I mean me.

As for the violence, The Terminator was hard core violent in it’s day.  However it would barely scratch a PG-13 rating nowadays.  So that’s the dish.  If you are still annoyed, why are you continuing to read this?  Look away!

And now, after all that, I’m going to give you a small sense of what it was like to watch this action classic with them.  I will walk through the key scenes of the film, but this will be done via telling you the questions they asked  me and the answers I gave in return.  I’m only going to share a teeny fraction of these as I don’t have the patience to type them all, and the internet isn’t big enough to encompass that much data anyway.  This is a novella of a post, but I want to document this now.  I need to know exactly what to teach my grandchildren to say as payback years down the road.

***Spoiler alert – If you haven’t seen this movie, what is up with that?  Also I will be loosely telling the tale, but I’m absolutely going to ruin the whole thing for you if you keep reading.  Given that this is exactly what my kids did to this movie for me, it only seems fair.***

I didn’t write that text.  It was part of the shot.

(Opening scene – intro shot)

KID 1 – Is this in the future?
ME – It says 2029 A.D. on the screen.  You know what that means.
KID 1 – So yes?
ME – Seriously?
KID 1 – So yes?
MY HUSBAND (We are one minute into the movie yet he clearly can’t take it anymore and thus sticks his head around the corner) – It’s 2017 now!  Yes – it’s in the future!!!

(Fast forward to present day which happens to be the 1980s at that point – naked Arnold a.k.a the Terminator appears, flashes his hiney, and goes on the hunt for some threads)

Because of course Arnold would definitely wear the same size clothes as any of these string beans.

KID 2 – Where are his clothes?
ME – He’s from the future.  I guess he lost them in time travel.
KID 2 – They don’t wear clothes in the future?
ME – I can’t go into the delicate nature of time travel right now.  Please just watch the movie.
KID 2 – But he’s from the future?
ME – Yes.
KID 2 – Why is he there?
ME – Please just watch.

(Other naked guy soon to be known as Kyle Reese appears)

And in another lucky happenstance, he meets a homeless guy with perfect sized pants just waiting to be stolen – praise be!

KID 1 – Another naked guy?  Is he from the future, too?
ME – Yes.
KID 1 – Are there going to be more naked future people?
ME – No.
KID 2 – So he’s from the future?
ME – I just said that he’s from the future.
KID 2 – But why doesn’t he have clothes.
(Beats the heck out of me kid but I will say anything to make this stop.)
ME – They burn up in time travel.
Kid 2 – Oh….

(***Addendum to post – My husband read this entry after I wrote it.  He said that they explain in the movie that you can’t take anything with you when you time travel, so that’s why they are sans underoos.  I probably would have heard this explanation as well had I been watching it in a kid-free zone.)

(Both men have donned their totally tubular 80s fashion, and it’s time to search for Sarah Connor.  Lucky for Sarah, she is already fully integrated into the 80s look as can be evidenced by that hair.)

And this, kids, is what we call the feathered look.

KID 2 – Is she from the future?
ME – No.
KID 2 – But he is from the future?
ME – … (staring blankly and locking the words from my mind in my mouth)

Hey baby. You come here often??

(More movie stuff as the Terminator methodically tracks down every Sarah Connor he can find in the phone book and pops a cap as needed.  Meanwhile I get to explain the mysterious “phone book” concept to my kids, and their reaction is one of shock, awe, and palpable embarrassment for all that once was.  More movie stuff.  We see Kyle Reese is also Desperately Seeking Sarah.)

KID 2 – Why are they looking for her?

(Kid 2 broke me at last.  I could no longer endure the endless questions while I waited for her to see what was going to happen.)

ME – Okaaaay so the big guy is a dangerous robot from the future who is trying to kill that lady.  The other guy is trying to save her.  In the future, the robots take over the planet.  She will have a kid that will help save the humans.  The big robot guy goes back in time to try to kill her before that happens, and the other guy is trying to stop him.
KID 1 & 2 – He’s a robot!?!?
ME – Yes.
KID 2 (in regard to Arnold on screen) – Is he a robot?
ME – Yes.
KID 2 (in regard to Kyle Reese) – Is he a robot?
ME – No.
KID 2 (every few seconds for the next 15 minutes whenever any guy appears on the screen) – Is he a robot?  Is he a robot?  Is he a robot?  Is he a robot?  Is he a robot?  Is he a robot?
ME (in response back every few seconds) – Yes.  No.  Yes.  No.  Yes.  No.  Stop asking.  Pleeeaaase.  I’m begging you.

(Fight scene in club.)

Watch me whip…Now watch me nae nae…

Excuse me but did you just pull a “stop short” move?

(Escape.  Car chase.  Escape.)

I’ve got my eye on you!

(I’m not even going to begin to run through the eyeball removal questions. Needless to say, there were no further inquiries regarding the Terminator’s robot status after that.)

I’LL BE BACK

(A few minutes later, Arnold delivered his famous “I’ll be back” line.  I explained the significance to the kids.  Now the only people who have used the words “I’ll be back” more than Arnold would be my children. Throughout the rest of the film. End. Less. Ly.)

Used homeless guy sweatpants AND a tie-dyed top? Save some sexy for the rest of us!

(More escaping amidst many more painful questions.  Sarah and Reese hideout in a swanky roach motel.  As he starts to reach for her cookies, the timer goes off and we head to the kitchen for a few minutes to get ours.)

(We return from our brief cookie hiatus to find the couple running from the Terminator yet again.  I run through the “robot from future going after girl from present as guy from future attempts to save her” dynamic for the twentieth time.)

(More running…  More escaping…  More running…)

KID 2 – Is he ever going to die?
(Seconds later)
KID 2 (again) – He’s never going to die.

(At least she asked and answered both parts of that one.)

(Cue the countless “why won’t this thing die already” scenes.)

Arnold had to lose a lot of weight for these last few scenes.

KID 1 – What!?!?
KID 2 – I toooold you.

(More running and then we enter the factory with other big machines.  The irony hangs out just waiting to do its part.)

Don’t leave me future sweatpants guy!

(Kyle kicks the bucket in a last ditch effort to blow up the cyborg.  Fail!  Half a cyborg body remains and drags it’s torso after Sarah.  Since captain sweatpants didn’t finish the job and managed to leave her with shrapnel in her leg (as well as one other parting gift she won’t soon forget), she can’t run and therefore crawls away in turn.  She pulls herself through a huge machine clearly used to press large somethings (I believe that mechanical engineers refer to these giant pieces of industrial equipment as “those really big thingies that smoosh other not quite as big but still really big thingies.”).

KID 1 & 2 – Noooo!
KID 1 – Oh come ooooon.
KID 2 – Oh yeah.  She’s gonna smash him!

(Sarah climbs out of the mega smoosher.  As the torso of the cyborg reaches toward Sarah, she pushes her body back from his clawing hand.  She desperately feels (blindly) around a wall (that she cannot see at all in the slightest) because that’s (naturally what you do when you are terrified out of your mind and have access to a massive piece of industrial machinery that only two people on the planet have a clue how to use and that’s) where she locates…

My bet is that he was just trying to style her bangs differently.

…and presses the button.  The smoosher smooshes away the last of his scrappiness.)

(Get it?  Because he is now scrap metal and before he was scrappy.  <— This is what it would have been like if we had watched a comedy instead.  Nothing says humor quite like a five minute joke explanation to break out why a two second line is funny.)

KID 1 – That hand is gonna be like Thing from The Adams Family.
KID 2 – Yay!
KID 1 – So there is no more future now?
ME – … (dead pan stare as my jaw hangs slack)  (I had explained it too many times already.  Here we were at the very end, and they still missed the whole damn story.)

(Final scene – a few months down the road)

KID 2 – She has a doggie!
KID 1 – Awww.  Wait.  Why is she pregnant?
ME – Hmmm.  I don’t know, but the movie is over.  Who wants the last of the cookies?

How to Reactivate Your Brain (Day 17)

pencil and paperPerhaps you read the title and thought to yourself, “I’m going to read this post because I could definitely use a few mental reboot techniques.”  If so, click elsewhere because this is not the post for you.  It was more of a question than an exciting opportunity for neuro rejuvenation.

This question is the direct result of my own clear mental deactivation as evidenced by the recent brain bumbling and stumbling during one of my tech turn off challenges (now a.k.a. family time) (because it sounds a little less daunting) (and it also sounds like you’re a weasel if you tell other family members that you don’t want to participate).

pencil and paper1At some point during our no technology family time, I decided that I want to run a calculation on something.  The conundrum I faced was that I was not allowed to use my phones or computers.  Hmmm.  How was I going to do this.  I sat contemplating other possible options that would be at my disposal yet not explicitly in violation of the challenge rules.

pencil and paper2A-ha!  I devised a plan!  I could use one of my old business calculators.  So I searched.  And I searched.  And I searched.  There was no business calculator to be found.  But a-ha once more because I could use one of my kids’ calculators from school!  Surely that would do the trick!  Irritatingly once more I failed to find a calculator after a few more minutes of searching.

I want to be making this nonsense up, and I want the story to end there.  But I’m not and it doesn’t.  Keep in mind, there was no impending meteor I needed to redirect and these numbers would be the key to Earth’s salvation.  I just reeeally wanted to run this calculation.  Also keep in mind that the calculation involved very basic math and that I do mathematics for a living (but via spreadsheets).

So I crept into my office and stared at my phone…  There it was on my desk.  Dark and quiet and oh so beautiful.  Just sitting there.  Waiting for me.  Calling to me.  “Joanna…I can do that basic math that your small human mind cannot comprehend…”  Yes I hear you phone…

I turned it on.  My heart was racing.  I was so stressed about this because I was nanoseconds away from complete tech challenge anarchy.  The phone was on and ready.  I just stood there.  I knew how disappointed I would be with myself if I used the phone.  I was already thoroughly dismayed at witnessing the crazy I had achieved up to that moment.  Would I completely blow past the line and full out break the rules for basic math that could wait?

Maybe.  I might have.  But then I remember an old set of tools I once used in my youth when I was faced a with mathematical question.  I have a suspicion that you know what I am going to say, but no, it wasn’t an abacus.  It was a frickin’ pencil and paper.

pencil and paper3

You cannot make this insanity up.  I had literally forgotten that I could solve the math myself.  I am a mathematician, and I am more than a little intelligent (or so I thought at some point prior to that moment).  I had become so grossly accustomed to accessing my technological assistants whenever I needed an answer that I didn’t remember to use my own mental assistants.  Based on the wildly embarrassing amount of time it took for me to recall such complex tools as “pencil and paper,” I’m thinking that those mental assistants of mine were either sleeping, picketing, or (most likely) assumed that they had been fired long ago based on lack of work.

The problem took twenty seconds to solve.  Maybe less.  I don’t know how long it had taken me to solve the problem of how I was going to solve the problem, but it was exponentially greater than twenty seconds.

We need to wake our brains back up!  We have to stop leaning on our tech and allowing it to think for us.

Given that it is called the tech turn off challenge, it’s pretty clear that I did not operate entirely within the intended boundaries.  Thankfully I did not access any of the tech functionality, and I learned a serious(-ly embarrassing yet eye-opening) lesson.  I avoided using the phone.  I also avoided admitting any of this to my family, as I learned that particular lesson years ago.  Some things are best left unsaid (and posted to the internet because no one there sees anything ever???)…

In hindsight I have full confidence that the Universe was watching the whole scene while shaking its head back and forth and eating popcorn.  You’re welcome Universe for the entertainment, and I thank you for the reminder in return.

Love, light and logic always – Joanna

Bumble

In the Mirror

This is my wild little princess.

***I wrote this post almost five years ago.  At that point, I had been creating entries frequently for about a year.  Soon thereafter, life body checked me and certain parts of my mind and heart became closed.  In lieu of getting the wind knocked out of me, I lost my voice.  I am thankful that, on most days, it seems to have found its way back to me now.  I don’t know why so many of us feel the need to hide.  We attempt to bury our feelings.  To shield our hearts.  To minimize our place in the world.  We have a brilliant light within each of us that no tarnish can dull and a beautiful fire that no darkness can suffocate.  I remember that now, and I feel it’s truth growing daily within me.  I see the girl below more and more as I scrape away the layers I mistakenly tried to bury her beneath. Although a great deal has happened over the past five years, my song is still the same.***

I have a confession to make, and I fear that it may make me a bit unpopular.  Although I feel great trepidation about sharing this, I still sense the need to tell you this…

I don’t feel old.

I know.  You are unfriending me immediately.  But it’s true.  I just don’t feel old.  I recognize that I am in the minority-est of the minorities, but I can’t help it.  I just don’t feel like I am getting older and creakier by the minute.  I don’t feel like I am withering into nothingness and needing to order a rascal.  And if I did order a rascal, I would totally have it tricked out with streamers and wicked paint and a crazy horn – Honk hoooonk!  Move over kids!  Mama needs to get to the corn flakes!

And if I die tomorrow, I want my funeral to be a party.  Not like a “ding dong the witch is dead” kinda shindig.  I’m thinking of something along the lines of dance music, crazy funny pictures, colorful clothing, my family telling embarrassing stories of what a goof I was, ice cream, ponies (oh yes there will be more than one pony), and piñatas (because what kid doesn’t love those??)!  Also I think cheesecake and macaroni should be present as they have been two of my great loves.  And there should be prizes (like you could win a mani/pedi for having the kid that throws the first genuine meltdown or barfs on the pony).  Maybe it could be a pajama party!  Who doesn’t love jammies?  Or a toga funeral!!!  How awesome would that be???  Yes – I am completely serious. My funeral will be THE event of the year!

But as I said earlier, I don’t feel old so I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

Why do so many people seem so fixated on how old they feel?  I have heard people of all ages say this for as long as I can remember.  It seems to start in the 20’s (why would you ever feel old in your 20’s) and then gains steam from there.  I don’t even understand when someone in their 70’s feels old. They usually look and sound pretty good to me!

I am not saying that my body has not changed. I can very much assure you that it has. I am literally two inches shorter than I was a few years ago (disc thang – long story but I don’t buy into it anymore anyway).  My body doesn’t seem to be able to find an easy way to ride horses nowadays (a bit sad as that was my passion).  And I don’t even think about jumping or sneezing but I won’t go into details there – thanks a lot kids! 😉

When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a small child, and I do wonder when the heck yet another line showed up on my face.  However those are physical changes.  The me inside of me hasn’t changed.  Well hopefully she is a little better at moving through life.  But overall I still feel like that kid I once was.  I still love to play!  I adore games, the zoo is a place filled with wonder, puppies and kittens are like furry magic, and I can barely sleep the night before Christmas (which is significantly ironic as I typically purchase 95% of the gifts…but that does leave the mysterious 5% and maybe one day it will be the pony I always wanted!).

Hold on tight to the kid in you.  Empower that person, not the old cranky “You kids get off my lawn!” fellow.  When you look in the mirror, look for that childlike spirit and energy you can never lose.  And when you find that little person again, call me because I am always ready to come out and play. 🙂

horse

Bury

Rise to Your Standard, Not Theirs (Day 15)

mudflap

Thank you Amazon.  I could stop writing now, and an insanely obvious point would have already been made.

I combined my search results from earlier today into a comparison pic, because that image is worth exponentially more than a thousand words.  Go to Amazon and replicate the search if you doubt me.  It’s pretty stunning stuff (and I’m not referring to those highway hoochies).

sexy mudflap guy results 2

As I am certain that you absolutely must know what all four of your “sexy mudflap guy” purchase options are, here you go.  Please note that two of the four mudflap guy options aren’t even guys but actually more highway hoochies.

A few days ago I was searching for a funny vinyl sticker for the back of my car and happened to stumble across Mr. Mudflap.  It was so ridiculously funny to me that I almost bought it for my car.  Ultimately I came to the conclusion that Suburbia would have torches a blazin’ and pitchforks a stabbin’ before I would even be able to remove it from the backing.  I opted for an alternate funny (a post for another day) but didn’t forget Mr. Mudflap. (He’s pretty freakin’ great, no?)  (YES!)

A few more days went by, and my elementary aged daughter and I found ourselves at the magazine isle at the grocery store.  I was searching for some Mad Libs kinds of game magazines that we could play as a family during tech turn off.  Apparently Mad Libs aren’t a normal thing in stores anymore.  SO.  SAD.  But do you know what is a normal thing?  This….

magazines girls

vs.

magazines guys2

The sad truth is that I wasn’t the person who noticed the stark differences in the magazine section.  My young daughter smacked me to attention when she asked, “Mom, why are all of the women in these magazines dressed like that and why do they all talk about sex?”

We started looking at the magazines together and basically couldn’t stop finding scantily clad babes who looked like they desperately needed a good chicken fried steak.  We moved to the magazines right next to them that were clearly aimed at guys.  Notice all the man nips, shiny sweaty abs, and advice on how they can stay gorgeous and younger looking??  Yeah.  Me neither.  Even the dog magazine was free of tips on “how to stay attractive for your bitches.”

I was thinking about those images earlier today, and my daughter’s questions continued to haunt me.  I was also quite annoyed at the strong possibility that I probably had more in common with the hunting dog than I did with the beach blanket bingo contestants.  Thankfully I remembered my beloved mudflap man.  The memory alone made me smile.  But then I started to wonder how bad it might be, and thus the mudflap search on Amazon.  Admittedly mudflap girl is a pretty specific hoochie, but the disparity in perceived norms for women versus men can be found in countless places.

To be clear, I have no beef at all with sex or sexy.  On the contrary, I’m a fan, and I also completely appreciate wanting to feel attractive and be healthy.  My issue is that feeling attractive and being healthy don’t have the slightest thing in common with the oversexualized plastic pinup that is being marketed as the standard.  I am at a point in my life where I can recognize that the pictures been photoshopped and the sultry silhouette images are merely cartoons.  However my young daughter sees these over and over again in stores and magazines and movies and TV shows.  Although we teach her that this is not normal or real, mass marketing and the world of glamour and fashion tell her that this is exactly what she should see in her mirror.

Physical beauty is most certainly worthy of celebration, but brilliance, bold achievements, and true grit should be the aim.  Those should be the covers we seek.

I don’t fault the magazine companies or stores.  Not in the slightest.  They create and stock what sells.  The part that I can’t reconcile is why does it sell?  Why are these markets thriving?  Why are women so hell bent on achieving a standard that is anything but standard.  Why don’t we address the problem while women are still young?  Ask any parents with pre-teen daughters how much fun it isn’t to go shopping for Halloween costumes.  This is the kind of crap we get to sift through…

halloween women

“I’m sorry baby, but please remind me again which theme of ho you said you wanted to go with this year.”

Do we have this problem with our boys?

halloween men

“Son, I think there’s something wrong with all of these boy costumes.  Based on the girls’ section, these ones must have accidentally been made with three times the appropriate amount of fabric.  Also they are all missing the thigh highs,” said No Mom EVER.

The two pics above were screenshots from my Google searches for costumes for women and costumes for men.  Each group of costumes represents the leading items suggested for the specific gender.

There is a striking disparity in the expectations for achievements and physical attributes for men and women.  I was incredibly blessed to be raised by parents who didn’t ever lead me to believe that my being a woman would be a detriment to me on any level.  As a matter of a fact, my father went out of his way to make it abundantly clear that I should never forget that nothing could stop a smart and fierce woman from achieving anything she wanted.  Decades have passed and yet those words resound in my ears constantly.  I knew that he meant what he said, and that was the greatest gift he could have possibly given me.  Every girl should hear this from the important people in her life, and if at all possible, she should hear it from the important men in her life.

Release the belief that achieving an unrealistic airbrushed standard is the ultimate goal.  There are higher mountains to climb and greater missions to accomplish.  If you want to make those climbs while sporting a string bikini and thigh highs, I say rock on my friend.  If I had the bod and the confidence, I would do the same.

Just don’t confuse the wrapping for the real gift inside.

Know your true beauty.  Own every single inch of it.  And rise to your standard, not theirs.

With love and light always – Joanna

Grit

The Earworm and the Ripple Effect (Day 14)

earworm 2 - mickey***Earworm (noun):  a song that gets stuck in your head and makes you go frickin’ bananas to the point that you have to blog about it or you brain will explode

earworm 1 - petrified

This is not the earworm I am battling, but it was too funny not to share.

I’ve got one of those maddening earworm situations happening at the moment.  Although I only saw the rock musical play Rent one time on TV many years ago, I still remember all of the lyrics to the song “Seasons of Love” with absolute precision.  This is what keeps replaying again and again in my mind:

“Five thousand twenty-four hundred thirty-six second miiiinutes…
Five thousand twenty-four hundred thirty-six minutes are there…
Five thousand twenty-four hundred thirty-six second miiiinutes…
Five thousand twenty-four hundred thirty-six minutes somewhere…”

I’ll spare the fact checkers and list the purported lyrics per the vast majority of the rest of the internet (and possibly the Screen Writers Guild as well):

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…
Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear…
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…
How do you measure…measure a year?”

The internet just couldn’t stop there, so it felt compelled to add even more lines (below).  As with all good music, I can assure you that there are only four lines in this song and that they are meant to be sung ten thousand times in a row exactly as I originally wrote them above.

“In daylights…  In sunsets…
In midnights…  In cups of coffee…
In inches…  In miles…
In laughter…  In strife…
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes…
How do you measure a year in the life…
How about love?
How about love?
How about love?
Measure in love.”

Well clearly my version is the right one, so pay no attention to any naysayers who might attempt to throw out frivolous comments like “But Joanna, your words aren’t actual numbers…” or “That isn’t how telling time works…” or even “No seriously.  I’ve seen the play and your version is in no way representative of the lyrics.”  Pshaw!  I won’t fall for your tomfoolery!

However I am a kind person and would never want to dismiss others even when they are clearly out of touch with reality.  So just for the sake of giving the little guy (the entire internet) a chance, let’s pretend that their version of the lyrics was an actual indicator of the way one could break out the number of minutes in a year.

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.  That’s a monster boatload of minutes.

counter

And in contemplating that daunting number, I started thinking about the hit counter on my own little blog.  It isn’t a drop in the ocean compared to the stats of innumerable sites out there, but the number still amazes me nonetheless.

As of this moment, the counter has almost reached forty thousand hits.  In Internet-landia, it’s almost approaching amoebic status!  Perhaps I will achieve paramecium-ic status by year end!  Smallest of the small potatoes.  I know.  But that still represents forty thousand interactions of some kind.  Forty thousand opportunities to share something with another person.

In the last few days in particular, I have read several incredible people’s blogs and comments that mention how they often see no value in their words.  The self criticisms have ranged from “I just gripe and whine” to “I’m spinning my wheels.”  I have heard “What I say isn’t important” or “I just ramble.  My posts don’t matter.”

The wild part to me is that they absolutely matter.  I know because they matter to me.  I can’t begin to articulate how much I receive from their words.  I need their emotions, their realities, and their perspectives on their journeys (even if they don’t call them that).  I see the amazing wonderful everythings that they add to this world.

Personally (and this is just me) (but I’m thinking that leading the sentence with the word “Personally” should have cleared that up already), I don’t buy into the idea that you should only write or say something that you know is helpful, happy, thoughtful or uplifting.  I love me some good inspiration, and I want to feel bliss and joy for at least twenty-five of the available twenty-four hours in a day.

But I still get my feelings hurt by people I love.  I frequently handle situations in ways that are so beyond terribly poor.  Sometimes I feel lonely and sad and angry and frustrated.  I hurt physically and emotionally.  My thoughts become cloudy and my path unclear.  I become disappointed in myself for making sad choices so often that the number could be used as part of the lyrics of a song in a rock musical play on TV.  Thankfully the person who heard it would probably hose up the number in those lyrics beyond recognition anyway.

Every day isn’t like that.  Yes I do make mistakes aaaaaaall the time, and I definitely make them on a daily basis.  But I am always hoping for better.  I am always wanting more for myself and, more importantly, from myself.  I will have the life I dream of because I am tenacious as hell and refuse to go quietly.

It helps me to feel like I’m not the only person meandering the expansive “Human Under Construction” zone.  Pardon our dust, but the lady of the house was busy blogging and also she hates dusting more than pantyhose.  But she hates sporks even more…that freaky mutant plasticware…  Bleh!

Our words and interactions sing to countless people around us.  Although those people may not get every detail right, some part of what we say and who we really are sticks with them.  Those parts then ripple out to others as well.

If you know without question that you approach the world from a treacherous place of cruelty,  pure meanness, or blatant dishonesty, take these words as a serious call to reevaluate what you are doing.  We all stand at crossroads at different times in our life, and when that happens, you have a chance to pick another path.  Choose a better way.  This is your moment to change everything.

But if you are human and raw and just doing the best you can, I speak your language.  If you stumble and want to get up but simply can’t figure out how, I am a frequent traveler on that road, too.  If you don’t know if you will be able to hold on another day, I call to you from my heart and plead with you now – just wait it out a little longer.  The dark clouds will clear.  The importance of your place in this world is beyond measure.  You matter to more people than you fathom and you affect innumerable lives throughout the five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes of each year.

Sing your song – whatever the lyrics may be – and I will gladly sing along.  I have a decent voice.  Just ask my shower.  But not my kids.  Their reviews of my shower singing are not to be trusted.  (With that said, you should anticipate that I will probably eff up the words so apologies in advance.)

Love and light always dear ones!  Joanna

And just like me –>>earworm 6 - rick astley

earworm - rick astley

Rick-rolling will never cease to be hysterical to me.  It is utterly stupid and truly one of my most favorite things ever ever ever.  So boo-yah!

Seeing the Extraordinary

Extraordinary

I was so excited to see this passion flower in my garden and had to take this pic.  Admittedly my amusement hurdle has a pretty low bar, but it’s a seriously cool flower, no?  It has a raw savage beauty and fierceness all its own.  And of course as fate would have it, this led me to contemplation on a completely different level.

Just because you can’t see it in yourself doesn’t change the truth that you are beautiful and extraordinary.

We often fail to recognize the amazing beauty around us, but the real tragedy is when we fail to recognize the incredible beauty within us.  We are weird and magical and funky and unique and wonderful, and we should own every bit of it.

I’m going a bit out of order today and writing this before my daily tech turn off challenge occurs.  The technology turn off rule has become a standard expectation by all in the house, so we are sans tech for 2.5 hours every evening.  Although there have been a couple of debates regarding what should and shouldn’t fall into the challenge restrictions, the change has been received with overwhelming support by every family member here.  I would have never believed it, but I’m a big time fan of the results and am perpetually awed by everyone’s commitment.

So here are my goals for today.  I’m starting to add a few more to the list, but my minimum personal daily requirement is 3 goals.  Again that means that I have to write 3 goals that I can actually do today to improve my health, happiness, well-being, world, and / or personal joy.  I’m on a mission to be happy dammit, and my intention is to bring others along with me.  😉

  • Write a post to keep my momentum momentum-ing and hopefully speak to someone’s heart in the process.
  • Take a walk (and not just to the fridge).
  • Finish the quarter end files I need to submit by tomorrow.  I’m not excited about doing these spreadsheets, but I will be able to relax more once I have them off my plate.  This task will have to happen before or after tech turn off time.
  • Tackle at least 5 items in the laundry basket of shame looming behind me…  This is an ever-changing pile of papers that once resided on my desk.  Later the pile moved beside my desk.  At some point I think it was even under my desk.  It ended up in a laundry basket so we could stuff it in the car when we had a house showing a few weeks ago.  From that day forward, they stayed in the basket behind my desk chair.  I’m pretty confident that the pile has now started to reproduce as I see other pile children in there (little pilettes).  I don’t know why I have been stalling on going through these.  I started avoiding eye contact with the basket several days ago and have continued to refuse to address our ongoing lack of interaction.  Please note that I really wanted to type “Deal with everything in the laundry basket” at beginning of this bullet point, but I didn’t think that it sounded realistic.

The point is to set goals that I will do today.  These goals need to be important enough to mandate completion on the same day or small enough to eliminate any excuses I could create to avoid them.  It does me no good to set a goal I can’t honestly 100% commit myself to doing.  So those are my goals, and that’s going to be how I finish out my lucky 13th day.

It doesn’t require much effort, but you still have to be willing to go after your happiness.  Create your joy, and stop waiting for your life to come to you.  Go get it!

I hope that you have a beautiful Sunday and an amazing week!  🙂

***Joanna***

(Day 13)

Savage

Day 12 – Keep Going and Never Give Up

prayer

This is a little snippet of a text conversation I had with my mom a few weeks ago.  Clearly I was ribbing her, but sometimes it feels true.  We pray and beg and cry, but we stay trapped in an emotional whirlpool where we can barely keep our heads above water.  I fully believe that our cries are heard, but we may still have to ride out the waves a little longer.  The key is to keep going and to just hold on a bit more.  Never stop hoping and never give up.

Thankfully I was able to spend yesterday out of the whirlpool.  I didn’t have to ride any major emotional roller coasters.  I wasn’t subjected to any blindsiding life events.  And I continued to take initiative to keep the good momentum going.

My three goals from yesterday were:

  • Assess and go into more detail on the division of labor on the home management scene (a.k.a. sharing the chores).
  • Take a little walk beyond the boundaries of my home and yard.
  • Write something honest that makes me uncomfortable to share but likely needs to be read by someone who could be helped by it.

These were the results:

  • Chore chat – On a scale of “Bleh!” to “Fabulous!” I would give this one a high “Meh.”  We talked about it.  We split up chores.  No big epiphanies, but no big meltdowns either.  Chores were knocked out with minimal drama by anyone.  That’s actually probably closer to a “Yay!” than a high “Meh.”
  • Take a walk – I circled the block to check the mail.  That was probably somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of a mile.  Task complete.
    • This seems like really small potatoes, right?  But allow me to add these deets for the numbers nerds out there.  If you walk 1/3 of a mile every day for one year, that comes to 122 miles.  In ten years, you are at 1,217 miles.  If if really committed and did this for fifty years, that would mean an extra 6,100 miles.  Bumping it to 1/2 a mile a day would mean an extra 183 miles in a year, 1,825 miles in a decade, and 9,125 miles over fifty years.  Dat’s a lotta meat-a-balls!
    • If I went totally bananas and walked 1 & 1/3 miles daily for fifty years (51.17 years for you fact checkers), I would walk the same distance as the circumference of the Earth (again allow me to save you the lookup time – 24,901 miles).  Amazing!
  • Write something raw – I wrote about problems, labels, and disorders I have wrestled with my entire life.  I wrote about what I am doing to work toward booting any remaining freeloaders off my train for good.  I don’t like putting this stuff on paper (electronic or otherwise), but I believe that it’s important that we recognize any negativity we have been empowering, and at times, embracing.  We wear our labels like they are fresh off the rack.  Even if I can’t fully extricate them from my emotions and my behaviors, I can stop allowing them to define me.  I have to be willing to see them for what they are, and hopefully in doing that, I can recognize that they are not who I am but rather attributes and experiences I have meandered and learned from.  Taking that a step further, my prayer is that my revealing my own struggles and successes may help someone else keep swimming through their emotional whirlpool until their waters subside.  They always do.  Just keep swimming.  (Now imagine Dory singing those words in “Finding Nemo” – it’s catchy!  A bit annoying but catchy nonetheless.)

We are not designed to be “perfect” people (“perfect” per our subjective human standards, definitions and expectations).  We are going to be sorely disappointed if we require that of ourselves.  I believe that the real game at hand is figuring out that we are the way we are for a reason.  We always discover our greatest strengths whenever we overcome our greatest weaknesses.  And sometimes it isn’t even about overcoming those weaknesses or shortcomings.  Sometimes the actual truth (Truth) is that we have to recognize that they aren’t shortcomings at all.  These so called disorders and perceived personality aberrations are an intentional part of who we are.  They have a purpose in our lives.  We are not broken.

You are not broken.

With that said, I would like to highlight a few of the people who have deeply inspired me to keep going at various times this week.  There are so many amazing writers out there, but these individuals have a special kind of style when it comes to sharing their own experiences with adversity and how they tell their struggles to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.  The word du jour per the Daily Post is savage, and that is the perfect adjective for these writers.  They are honest and real and raw.  They speak from their hearts and are perfect just as they are.  I don’t share these with you for my benefit.  I share them for yours.

https://wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ – Where to begin when describing this jewel?  She is absolutely wonderful on so many more levels than I could ever articulate.  Truly.  Amusing, heart warming, eclectic, and inspiring.  (Hello future me!  I utterly adore you!)

https://knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com/ – Bad assness at this level needs no introduction, but I will say that my world is infinitely better because she is part of it.  (Also I’m dying to see that giant feather!)

https://insidetherainbow.blog/ – She makes me laugh and cry and laugh again every single time, and she speaks to my heart whenever she writes. (I would gladly stand in a line for 4 hours to see “Grease” with this rockstar!)

https://carolrolke.com/blog/ – Introspective, clever, witty, and fierce – I appreciate her words on so many levels.  (I’m pickin’ up what you are puttin’ down.  Keep sharing all that awesomeness!)

https://authentically50.wordpress.com/ – We face different issues at this point in our lives, but her words transcend the individual scenarios.  (I’m truly thankful that I stumbled across your blog.  Such divine providence!  You are a blessing.)

never give up

My father gave me this little sign for my desk years ago.  Such powerful words.  Thanks for the reminder Pop.

Be fierce.  Be yourself.  Never give up.  Never give in.

***Joanna***

Savage

Day 11 – Open the Vault

Image result for vault

I love lofty ideals, but I’m definitely more of a brass tacks kind of girl.  With that in mind, my challenge continues to reveal that I have a mission and a purpose.  I want to change my life in amazing ways by taking basic actionable steps each day in the actual world of reality.  My dream is to help others discover how to change their lives for the better, and I am my own guinea pig (cue “Man in the Mirror” background music).  Hopefully my words will speak to someone who needs to hear them.  And if that doesn’t happen, maybe I can at least make someone giggle.

In case you haven’t noticed, my communication style is all over the place. (Thank you James J. Cudney IV for your wonderful post that made me contemplate this.   https://thisismytruthnow.com/2017/07/08/365-challenge-day-118-perceptive/) Although I sometimes take a softer approach, I can’t maintain that lane forever.  At times I am extremely direct and even overtly coarse, but it’s not intended to be offensive or hurtful.

For example, my husband might say, “Head to the bathroom to brush your teeth,” whereas I might opt for something along the lines of, “It’s time to get that monkey butt of those choppers!”  I think we can all agree that my version has an unrivaled level of finesse.

And on that note, I’m going to lead with the statement below, but please read a little further before deleting me from your life forever and ordering your own personal MoJo voodoo doll from Amazon.

We all have serious crap, we all have major hurt, and we all have terrible stories.

With that said, it’s most definitely a beast of a sliding scale.  I have experienced horrific things at different moments in my life, but I’m not going to pretend that I have a clue about the kinds of nightmares other people live with in their lives.  I will not say to you that I know where you are or how you feel.

But I do know that waiting for change to happen to you will keep you down.  Waiting for others around you to become the people you need them to be will keep you disappointed.  And waiting for life to stop and notice you when you stay hidden will keep you in the shadows.

Stop waiting.  Start doing something to get the life you actually want.

Below are some of the personal reasons I have leaned on to justify why I have remained in a holding pattern and hidden my light.  Speaking very honestly, I am extremely uncomfortable about listing these as I genuinely dislike admitting them.  However you can’t get to the goods unless you are willing to open the vault.

  • manic depression
  • OCD
  • anxiety disorder
  • ADHD
  • chronic pain
  • infertility
  • feeling less than
  • inability to see my own value
  • overwhelming work schedule
  • inability to be the kind of parent, wife, daughter, friend, employee and overall wonderful human I believe many others to be
  • debt
  • exhaustion
  • heartbreak
  • loneliness
  • feeling not good enough, smart enough, thin enough, etc.
  • uncertainty
  • fear

These are a handful of the treacherous battle flags I have flown against myself.  Thankfully I have taken several of those down but not all.  I am tired of hearing the remaining harbingers of hurt whipping around me.  I want to fly victory colors only.

I’m not saying that the cartoon birds are now taking flight around me as I sing sweetly and choose to pretend that reality isn’t kicking sand into my ice cream throughout the day.  I’m just saying that I want to find a way to turn all that sand into a beach instead of an unwanted mouthful of grit.

So here I am again.  Lofty ideals above.  Brass tacks / reality below.

Yesterday’s challenge period was spent watching a movie with my family, but I found myself thinking about the talk I had heard a couple of days prior.  I kept coming back to his recommendations and these questions:

  • What can I actually do today to change something for the better in my life?
  • What positive realistic step can I take?
  • What can I plan that I will be willing to do each day?

Ultimately I decided that I wanted to set at least three firm goals to complete each day.  They could be repetitive, but ideally, they would change and grow as the days passed.  Yesterday I chose the following:

  • Compile a file detailing specific metrics of my daily workload taks to help my manager understand why I feel inundated so much of the time
  • Examine last month’s spending activity and determine if there are areas that could be trimmed back
  • Have chore delegation conversation and discuss creation of family chore schedule

Those three items were actually quite significant, but they were all things I could either finish or initiate in earnest yesterday.  This is how they shook out.

I put together my workload task list to share with my manager.  He hasn’t seen it yet as I sent it last night, but it boggled my own eyes.  Even I was impressed with me.  Apparently he and I had both been in the dark about how much I was doing each day.  How could he possibly be expected to see my worth if I didn’t recognize it myself?

I exported one month’s financial activity to an excel file and classified them based on must pay for this or would like to pay for this.  I also looked at some of the bills that might have wiggle room (items like plan and equipment options or possible promotions for cable or cell service).  There absolutely were savings to be had.  I won’t be getting a boat anytime soon with those savings, but it’s still money I was not allotting effectively.  Also I adore the ocean, but I get terribly seasick.  Don’t be offended if you don’t ever receive an invite to sail on my future boat.  Because I won’t ever buy one.

And last but never least – the chore conversation and schedule.  I have developed a fantastic habit of being terribly angry at my family when they don’t do chores unless I ask them to do so.  To add to the joy, I have the additional tendency to burst into flames as my head spins madly while I scream in my best Exorcist voice “Just forget it!”  I then proceed to run them out of my fallout zone, and I do the chore(s) myself.  Must.  Stop.  That.  Madness.  NOW!  All of it.  So my husband, the older kids, and I each came up with ideas of how to put together a fair schedule to share and take turns on various chores.  The schedule we created only governed the next day (today), so one of my new goals (for today) consists of having another conversation with them to evaluate today’s results and take it several days forward.  It’s unreasonable to be angry with them if I am unwilling to break the pattern.  It will be a work in progress, but the point is that it is in progress.

What are three small things YOU can write down as goals to do today?  If your mind goes blank at the mere idea of this, feel free to test drive mine.  Here are a few other ideas:

Write something that brings you joy.  Read about a topic that interests you.  Make a list of what you do want.  Make a list to help you understand what you dream of having, doing, being.  Think of one small step you can take to get you a hair closer to whatever that may be.  Walk to the end of your block and back or even just walk to the mailbox.  Sit for three minutes and think of three things that are good about you – no matter how small they may seem.  If you have small kids, maybe you can try this when you take a bathroom break.  (Although if your children are anything like my own, you may find that heading to the toilet is akin to turning on an invisible but powerful kid magnet.  Why must they always find it critical to talk to me right then but scatter the moment I am actually available?)  Take a breath and be thankful that you can do that.  Pray for guidance.

Baby steps and small goals add up to big changes and major shifts.  Open the vault and find your treasure.  It’s there, and it’s up to you to unlock it.

Love and light always.  Joanna

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