I Feel Guilty About the Food I’ve Been Giving My Family

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A week ago, I would have done backflips to get my paws on the naughtylicious crepe in the pic above. My kids would have been right there with me, too. Now a few short days later, it actually does not look that appealing to me. Even though it has only been a few days, no  one in the world is more stunned about this change in approach than I.

But my kids aren’t riding the low carb / no sugar train with me. They continue to eat the prepackaged sugar-ridden everythings that have adorned the shelves of our fridge and pantry for years.

So over the last week, I have started to include a few better options along with their standard selections (a.k.a. the normal crapola). I’m doing this gradually to avoid being met with miniature yet effective torches and pitchforks.

The part that makes me feel extremely
guilty is that whenever I have offered healthy additions, they have gobbled those up, too. No complaints (other than the squash dry heaving incident). No significant gripes. They have just eaten them and asked for more. I didn’t even have to push.

I’m not telling you that my kids are raising their voices to the angels in praise for kale. No one in my house is going to have that religious experience. But baked chicken, almond flour pancakes, avocado chocolate mousse (sounds gross but it’s actually fantastic), and other grilled veggies are being polished off as they lift their plates and ask for more.

They have been getting chicken nuggets when they would have been just as happy with baked chicken. And they would have been exponentially healthier for it. For years.

It’s one of those heavy “feel like a terrible mom” kind of moments. I wasn’t intentionally cheating them of nutrition. I simply didn’t try many alternatives.

It’s spilt almond milk at this point, but it does make me feel sad. All I can do is do better tomorrow. And the day after that. But the day after that I plan to regress so additional better days will have to follow that one.

For me, true self-improvement initiatives are always coupled with epiphanies about the positive changes I can implement as I continue along my human journey. I can handle that it takes me years to stumble into some of these epiphanies. My only wish is that my children’s well-being is not left hanging in the balance in the meantime.

Oh well. A little better each day will turn into lots of wonderful in the long-run. I just have to keep trying. ❤️

 

The Serenity Prayer for Parents – Finding Laughter in the Mayhem

parent serenity prayer

The Serenity Prayer 2.0 actually applies to all of us, but I’m in mom mode at the moment. Consequently this one is for my kids as well as every other parent I know. If you can’t find laughter, you’ll never make it!  😉

Laughter

Parenting a Child in a World of Rapid Technological Changes

A long time ago in a house not so far, far away, I didn’t have children yet. Nevertheless I knew what I wouldn’t and wouldn’t allow them to do if I ever did. I would be a firm parent but always maintain a fun-loving atmosphere. My spouse and I would set rules and boundaries that would be agreed upon by all and we would avoid the obvious pitfalls that inevitably consumer Dr. Phil’s rotation of daily wailing families. Intelligence, consistency, and love would govern our family at all times.

Unsurprisingly to any parent in the universe, a flushing sound was heard in the background within seconds of the birth of my first child, and I watched every parenting certainty go swirling down the tubes out of sight never to be seen again. My former pre-parent list of “I would never … if those were my kids” items morphed into my actual parent list of “Questionable Choices Made Today” items. The only truism I now recognize without question is that before I had children, I didn’t have the slightest clue.

Parenting should be defined as the act of trying to make good choices while being faced with uncertain decisions, cloudy possibilities, and a heap of exhaustion. The one hour television shows that taught us how to parent with kindness and consistency didn’t cover the remaining twenty-three hours of the day nor did they detail the thousands of days to come after that.

And then you introduce technology onto the parenting scene. Bleh. These electronic wonders that were designed to make life easier and more entertaining are huge problems. The pre-parent me wouldn’t have seen that. That me put technology-saturated kids in the same category as fat dogs. Show me evidence that proves that your husky husky is opening up the fridge and making a butter and cream sandwich while the humans are sleeping. Perhaps he has a thyroid issue, or maybe he’s just big-boned. If not, he has likely become an adorable sausage with feet because the only resident individuals with thumbs happen to be overfeeding him. We’ve had a under-tall / over-fluffy canine of our own, so don’t start foaming at the mouth.

I saw the same dynamic with regard to kids and tech. A large part of me still agrees with the bulk of that assessment today. Very few children buy their own devices, and I have yet to meet a fifth grader who could give me cogent details regarding reasons that led them to a 24 month contract with their current internet service provider. Parents and caregivers almost exclusively hold the keys to the internet and cell phone kingdom, but much like everything else, it’s not that cut and dry.

Schools expect children to have technology in the classrooms for access to research and various apps. Outside of school, many children are also active on social media. My husband and I are social media buzzkills and therefore prohibit our children from having these kinds of accounts at this point in their young lives. We see too many adults behaving like means kids online, so we can’t imagine how far children would be willing to go. With that said, I did set up an Instagram account for my daughter’s photography work, but her contributions are sent to me and I post them. She has zero direct access. It’s not that I don’t trust her. It’s that I ABSOLUTELY DON’T TRUST HER. She’s brilliant and low on the trouble scale, but ultimately, she’s a kid! It is standard in the land of kid-dom to look to the “bonehead and no clue about the consequences” choices category when there are extensive other available alternate selections in the “obviously better and trouble-free” choices category.

As parents, we want to believe that our children would neeeeever make a poor decision like XYZ because we repeatedly taught them not to do anything like that ever ever ever. The problem is that those well-educated children still believe that we are the real boneheads feeding them made up stories and that ultimately we don’t know what we are talking about. So when my husband was scanning the kids’ phones a few days ago and discovered that our daughter did XYZ the other day, it was another monster parental wake up call. Her XYZ du jour happened to be creating a Twitter account without our knowledge. Thankfully she only set it up with her email address. And photo. And full name. And birthday. Aaaand frickin’ home address. Oh yes. She so did.  I’m only surprised that she didn’t come to me to request her social security number for her bio deets.

Do I really believe that she was intentionally trying to put her info out there for anyone in the world to see? Not in the slightest. A friend of hers already had a Twitter account, and our daughter wanted one, too. She had set up the account with her full information because those were the standard blanks (that most internet aware individuals would either skip or flag as private data).

Had we previously spoken with her on numerous occasions about information sharing and the dangers of giving out her personal data? Of course. Had we explained repeatedly that she would need to provide an opener for the can o’ whoop ass that we would be accessing if she were ever to set up an online account without our permission? Naturally. Did my child know better? Yes.

And no.

She clearly knew that she was not allowed to set up any accounts on the computer without our permission. That part made me mad. However she didn’t have the slightest comprehension about what someone else could do with that level of data. And that part terrified me. Hasta la never kid Twitter account.

Admittedly her move was not quite as fab as that of my friend’s young daughter. This precocious internet rockstar decided to set up her dad with a Match.com account without his knowledge. She keyed in his actual personal information and noted that he was looking to date senior citizen gay men. They promptly deleted the account as soon as they were notified about its existence via a signup confirmation email. While neither parent has issues with senior citizen gay men, they aren’t quite ready to go the open relationship route nor are they looking to post their personal information online.

Maybe their daughter simply believed that her dad had worked too hard for too long and was merely trying to find him a short-term sugar daddy with a long-term payout option. Speaking personally, I strongly disagree with the parents’ decision to delete the account. What if Elton John had been online moments later and feeling frisky??? NO ONE SHOULD RISK MISSING THAT CALL. But alas, the account is now gone forever like a candle in the wind.

You can’t make this crap up. While one might be tempted to give them props for initiative, creativity, and true comedic style, neither their daughter nor ours saw the dangers in their actions. What if Elton had called? That girl could be left fatherless now. Or maybe she would have multiple fathers (one of whom would have a far better wardrobe than she could ever imagine – imagine the years of insecurity she would have to survive). And then there’s the whole “extensive personal data that doesn’t belong on the internet” thing.

At least I have another darling who is a few years older and would never make those poor choices. He prefers alternate poor choices including an ongoing penchant for circumventing or outright breaking the app lock I have on his phone (it keeps them from downloading, deleting, or accessing various applications). I don’t know how this mini-hacker does what he does, but I strongly suspect that I purchased an app designed by a five-year old. (I call quality apps such as these crapplications.) So when we discovered that he did his own magical app lock unlock feat yet again, I went on a wide-reaching tech raid at home. Both phones are resting snugly on my nightstand as I type and the power cords to the game systems have gone into hiding.

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Somehow there are other parents who are even more clueless than I. Thank you for displaying your tech noob-ness online and at Best Buy. Take heart though. It’s been years yet I still can’t get used to the word pnw.

The problem is that banishing the tech quickly goes from general punishment to making your child a social pariah. When we were kids, we did wild and crazy things like play outside and talking to each other about anything at all. This might still be possible with the littles, but it isn’t as common for the bigs and even more unlikely if are not within walking or biking distance of their pals.

On a temporary basis, I’m all good with rule breaking resulting in no game playing. It’s back to the “your dog is a chunk, so put less food in his bowl” approach. It seems obvious, right? But literally within days, they can become extremely isolated from their peers.

Recent studies have shown that ten zillion and three kids play games like Fortnite (or Fork Knife for you nerd-challenged parents whom I adore). When they do this, most play via online interactive teams with their friends who are also playing from their own homes. If children aren’t part of the specific teams, they don’t have that shared experience. If they don’t have the shared experience, they don’t have anything to talk about at school the next day. Or the next day. Or the next. The same goes for lack of access to YouTube or social media. If you have ever attempted having a conversation with a techie kid about anything offline, you may find that it’s short but probably not too sweet. They no longer know how to converse with adults or comfortably connect with their peers at a personal level without an intermediary – technology.

I do recognize that this problem is in no way applicable to every child, but this is a pervasive problem for countless our families. Too many brilliant teenagers struggle with basic writing and are unable to have face to face conversations. Meals are spent with a fork in one hand and a phone in the other. I saw an article detailing the extreme loneliness the younger generations are currently experiencing. No surprise there. Even when they are together, they might as well be in a room by themselves with a phone or remote. Everything circles around moment to moment entertainment and stimulation. Video to video to video and game to game to game and site to site to site. We see it everywhere we go.

How do I get in front of this now? How can I keep my children from falling into the electronic rabbit hole? I could choose to trust my children and recognize that they are inherently good people with caring involved parents. Yes they will make mistakes, but ultimately, they will learn from those errors in judgement in the long run.

ERRRRR – Wrong! They are too young, too naive, and way too accessible.

Well I guess could banish the phones forever, turn the game console power cords into wreaths that I could then be sold on Etsy, and smash the laptops thus firmly committing the family to smoke signals and paper. That feels closer to right but still no dice.

The honest truth is that I don’t have a solid answer. The approach that feels like the best option for our family in this moment is to learn from other parents who have been there done that and research alternate security apps. We are also setting heavier restrictions in the device security options, tossing the crapplications, paying for a service through our cell provider that will send us detailed phone and web activity, and setting router limits that will throttle their internet and game time whenever we become too distracted or exhausted to notice that it is needed.

We can’t afford to become complacent nor can we ever turn a blind eye to the need to protect our darlings from the very real dangers who are actively trying to find them. If you think I’m being dramatic, take a glance at the lovely emails that were sent straight to your spam folder. Now imagine that they are being sent to directly to your child instead and that your kid decides to read and respond to them. Are you okay with that? Are you comfortable with those people speaking with your children, knowing where they live, and establishing a friendly relationship with them? If you are, not only are we on different pages, but I’m pretty sure that we aren’t even in the same book.

We must continue to educate our children and keep this conversation active with them. They need to hear the words, and their vocal cords could probably use the practice in return. Stay involved, keep your eyes open, and stop calling it Fork Knife (unless I am within earshot because I can always use a good laugh).

Best wishes to you always – Jo

Rapid

Taking Back Your Self-Worth – Releasing Another’s Unkindness

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Sticks and stones have yet to break my bones, but words have left me reeling on countless occasions.  Many of us were raised to speak kindly and ignore harsh comments from others, but as we all know, it’s not quite that cut and dry.

I’m going to share a personal story that very few people in my life have heard.  Congratulations internet – you are now part of The Circle of Secrecy.  (Apparently The Circle is quite large.)  (Also I feel like it would be disingenuous if I didn’t clarify that there are actually additional Circles within The Circle.)

When I was in high school, I participated in a program that allowed several students and teachers to spend a couple of weeks with various families in Asia.  It was incredible, eye-opening, and beautiful beyond words.  Experiences like that change you forever in ways that you couldn’t imagine.  Sadly, the trip also left me with a memory that I can’t forget either.  It may seem small, but it had a tremendous impact on me.

The flight from Texas to Japan took about 500 hours (give or take about 485 hours).  We were antsy teenagers, and while we were excited to be going, it took foreeeeveeeer to get there.  100 or so hours into the flight, I started talking to the guys sitting on either side of me.  I wasn’t looking for love in all the wrong places.  I was just bored, so I chatted with the adjacent humans.  Unfortunately they were also bored and got trashed with the adjacent liquor bottles.  It wasn’t my favorite spot to be in, but I didn’t know what else to do.  It was an exchange program, but the exchange option did extend to my seat number.

Eventually the men became extremely rowdy, so one of the head administrators of the school called me over to sit in a seat in the row in front of him and his wife.  Another staff member moved to take my seat instead.  That was 100% fine by me.  I re-seated my seat, buckled my buckle, and the plane kept plane-ing.  Nothing could have been worse than their obnoxious behavior, so I was incredibly relieved to be elsewhere.

Until I heard this spoken softly by the administrator to his wife in the row behind me…

“That Joanna is a total slut.”

I can’t tell you how much it hurts me to repeat such base words of intense unkindness spoken about me by a leading administrator of my school.  There was zero truth in them.  I may have been brash and loud, but I truly was an innocent child.  Overhearing those poisonous words from this respected person of authority made me feel like trash.

I have kept this story close because it is something I have wanted so badly to forget.  It’s one small utterance, but it scratches my heart raw.  Someone who knew absolutely nothing about me saw that when he looked my way.  He thought I was low.

My mistake was not speaking to the two faceless men.  My mistake was listening the one whose face I can’t forget.

In his defense, he was not a bad man at all.  On the contrary, he was a very good man who did countless wonderful things to help many students.  While he was utterly wrong about me, I don’t know of any other student that he failed over the years.  I want to believe that he was stressed while watching the whole scene from several rows over.  He misunderstood my not being able to deflect those inebriated jackasses as an invitation on my part.  He misunderstood the situation, but more than anything, he misunderstood me.  I never called him out on those words, but I have often wished that I had for my own sake.  In truth though, it doesn’t matter.

Even though I knew then that what he said was not true, it still tore down my self-image.  That poison has coursed through my spirit for years.  I should have never given such power to the thoughtless words of that man.  The unkind words and acts of another do not deserve the authority to govern my self-worth.  Self-worth should always remain an inside job.

Unkindness does not define me.  Unkindness does not define you.

People say and do things that are strikingly hurtful.  They lash out and lose control and make mistakes.  Sometimes hurting you is intentional, and sometimes they don’t even know that they are doing it.  Your hurt becomes invisible collateral damage.  Most can’t see, but you can’t avoid.  It gnaws at us and steals our happiness.  But their unkindness is about them – not you.

I now see the paper tiger in his untruth.  I forgive a kind man who mistakenly whispered callous words with zero understanding of their impact.  I release that ghost of my past.  I take back all power I once gave it, and I bring yet another part of my soul back out of the shadows.

We have sacrificed pieces of ourselves to others who never deserved them.  No one should ever be given the power to make you feel substandard or less than.  You are never less than.  You are meant to excel and grow and dream and learn and soar.  Let go of another’s false perceptions, and discover who you really are.

Release the unkindness.  Take back your self-worth.

You were born to shine!

In love and light always – Joanna

***This is one of my favorite posts from an awesome lady and fellow outcast / badass who also had to brush off hollow unkindness thrown her direction.  High five from me to you girl!  😉
Too Good for Wal-Mart

Substandard

Day 12 – Keep Going and Never Give Up

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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

Recognizing the Invisible Tether

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These tethers are anything but invisible, but even the wireless world needs juice.

Although I have easily maintained my title of Clueless Hot Mess Champion for many years, my parents still talk to me at times about various issues that frustrate them in their own lives.  Recently, technology entered the issue arena, and I don’t mean the ‘Hey will you see why my router isn’t working?’ kind of problem.  I’m referring to their individual affairs with the internet.  Not with people on the internet.  Just The Internet.

My mother gets her feelings hurt whenever she and my dad are hanging out together and he gets lost in the world of Facebook.  My father, on the other hand, feels like my mother can’t be around him without having to bring Google into the conversation.

They don’t use these words, but what I hear them both saying is that they feel sad when the other person in the room might as well be anywhere else since they certainly aren’t focused on each other.  They are hurt and mad when that happens.  But more than anything, they feel lonely.

So I suggested to my father that maybe it would be nice for them to carve out a couple of hours once a week for a date night just for the two of them.  No friends.  No kids.  No phones.  He was very supportive of the idea of a date night, but responded with a serious hard pass when I added that they should leave the phones at home during those dates.  “What if … called???”  (… represents a list of people but only one warrants a must answer call and that would be my sister who is 11 months pregnant – possibly a little less than 11 months given that she is not growing a llama)

Never being one to accept no as a final response. I countered that they could leave their phones in the car and just let us know the restaurant name in case we needed to track them down if there was in fact an emergency or imminent baby human / baby llama birth.  Seems reasonable, yes?  Well I guess not because he adamantly refused any possibility of leaving the phone behind in any fashion.  On the contrary, he became pretty fired up at the mere mention of it.  It was like I was telling him to leave his life line to the world behind. Or his oxygen tank (that he does not have but probably could have used given that he was basically hyperventilating at the idea).

His excessively emotional reaction stopped me in my tracks.  I started to contemplate my own need to keep close my phones (plural), laptops (plural again), and other endless technological devices (innumerable).  I thought about how we (I) have become too accessible and too plugged in.

When my husband and I were hanging out later that evening, I noticed that we were two feet apart, but it might as well have been two miles.  We were “watching” a show on TV while we both tapped away on our phones.  TV, texting, news, games.  We went on and on like rats trained to endlessly meander a maze in searching for more cheese around the next corner.  It made me sad, and instantly I felt the loneliness, too.  I got up to look around the corner at my children in the neighboring room.  They were doing the exact same thing.  TV yammering away.  Tablets and phones in hand.  Actual human interaction nowhere to be found.

They were zombies, and I was the source of the infection.  I was Technology Zombie Patient Zero.  (But only in my house so don’t bother trying to drum up a class action medical malpractice suit.)

All of our wireless wonders were actually invisible tethers.  They were choking off our opportunities to connect with each other.  We were so busy staying connected that we became utterly disconnected.

I want to tell you that this had only happened once or that it was a very rare event.  I want to be the mother who didn’t let her kids zone out on tech while my husband and I did the same.

But I can’t say that.  Not honestly.

I have to forgive myself for that though.  I am tired.  A lot.  Tired to my bones kind of tired.  Life never stops and trying to keep up with it all wears me down.  Sometimes I  want to turn my brain off.  I want a few minutes of quiet.  A few minutes to not think.  A few minutes to not worry.  A few minutes to not do.

But that one moment truly jarred me.  How many minutes were we actually sacrificing to the tech zombie gods each day?  How many chances to enjoy being a family and being together were we losing?  The idea of the Tech Turn Off Challenge was born.  Thank you divine intervention.

Could I do what I had asked my father to do?  Could I pick a few hours a week and just walk away from the phones, the laptops, the work, and the noise?  And could I really push myself and do it for a couple of hours a day for a whole week?  It may be small potatoes to many, but to me, it was akin to asking me to remove my bra before I headed to the grocery store.  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.  I have yet to institute the Grocery Store Bra Removal Challenge, and I don’t sense that it is on the horizon either.  But I figured I could give the Tech Turn Off Challenge a go.

Honestly I wasn’t sure if I would be able to meet the challenge requirements (doubly ironic since I created the challenge myself), and even more honestly, I didn’t think that I would succeed.  Yet here I am.  I have survived a little more than a week with over twenty deliberately chosen prime time tech free hours.

redblue_pill

I believe that we are each face critical life changing opportunities in lives.  We reach these forks in the road, and we can go one way or another.  The choice you make will set you on a course that could impact your entire life.  It’s the red pill vs the blue pill scenario.  Are you willing to wake up to your reality or is it more comfortable to stay oblivious?

I pray that I am waking up again.  I can’t unsee the virtual world I have been lost in.  I keep replaying the zombie tech epiphany in my mind.  I don’t want to replay it in my reality, too.  I was wireless most of the time, but I was more tied down than I ever knew.

I love the way we can connect with anyone on the globe in an instant.  I enjoy seeing the countless fantastic everythings we can find in this wireless world – covfefe and all.  I am amazed at the wonders the internet reveals.  But I don’t want to see that while I inadvertently miss the amazing everythings that are in the same room with me.  That’s where the magic is.  That’s what I want to experience.  That’s what matters.  They are my original wireless wonders.  They are my world.

***MoJo***

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/tether/”>Tether</a&gt;

Movie Recap – The Devil is in the Details

Sometimes it isn’t about what you say but rather what you don’t say.  We tell our stories, but what critical details do we choose to exclude?

This movie is a classic that is amazing and worthy of a revisit.  From the onset, the film offers stunning views coupled with brilliant dialogue and colorful photography.  It captivates the eye and the emotions.

We learn that a young family has suffered some trouble and is looking to spend time away together to start anew.  They travel to a new residence that is large but well kept. The child is quiet but manages to make a new friend in a matter of minutes. Their immediate connection is unmistakable, but sadly the other has to leave.  The child is left to create his own entertainment while the parents perform their duties.  We learn that the father is a struggling artist who has grappled with rage and addiction. The mother is kind but unaware.

Time passes, and the boy soon meets other children in the area.  Unfortunately they are strange children and make him very uncomfortable.  The boy has no interest in their friendship or in playing with them.  The boy’s isolation grows, and we sense that the parents’ relationship is crumbling as well.

The father begins to struggle once more with addiction, and he can’t get unstuck from the same repetitive idea for his art.  Eventually his frustration and confusion send him into the arms of another woman. She disappears quickly from the movie but is unforgettable nonetheless.

Although the mother never discovers her husband’s terrible tryst, their marriage is on the edge of a knife.  Their relationship has now become physically abusive, and she has to make a new change for the better.  Despite their arguments, the husband does not want her or their son to leave. He makes every attempt to keep them close.

Ultimately the mother and son must leave and again find themselves as passengers on the road to a new beginning.  The husband stays behind.  It’s as if he is frozen in time.

As I said before, the devil is in the details.  A couple of the minor points I failed to include above were:

– the boy sees ghosts

– the father sees ghosts

– the father turns into a homicidal maniac

– the residence is a hotel that apparently caters to furries

– and (of course) the movie is “The Shining”

I’m not suggesting that these are the details most of us omit from our tales.  And if they do happen to apply to you, there’s sure to be an “Unfollow Me” button somewhere in this page that you can click now.

My point is that people share their stories through filters.  You may not have the full story.  Be kind to others. Know that more may be going on than they can or will share. And above all else, don’t ever agree to be the caretaker for the Overlook Hotel.

Passenger

The Bridge

Picture_20170624_135949042The heavy rain finally made its appearance today and with it came the perfect excuse to stay home and take it easy. To be clear, I would have done this had it been sunny instead, but the rain provided a plausible reason for my plan of inaction.

I’m sitting here listening to the rain and having one of those “So now what?” kind of moments.  These seem to be appearing with greater frequency lately. It’s as though something is calling to me, but I can’t quite make out what it is saying.

Unexpected opportunities appear at different times in our lives.  Sometimes you jump on the train, and sometimes you get thrown in kicking and screaming the whole way.  I feel like I’m standing by the tracks, but I can’t locate the train and I don’t have a clue where to look.

I reflect on my life and the different trains I have sought at varying times.  School, job, marriage, children.  They all came and each one had its own special gifts as well as its own special baggage compartment. Lucky for them, I brought matching luggage. But I knew that I wanted those. There was never a question and never a doubt.

I have always been able to believe my way into making life happen. If you aren’t into belief shaping your reality (which I very much am), think of it as being fiercely tenacious.  If you want something enough and you are willing to trust, honor your intuition, and dive in with everything you’ve got, I don’t doubt that you can have it – whatever that may be.  Truly.

The issue I face is that I don’t know what I am seeking now.  It’s as though I’m being “mostly authentic” to the person I really am, but that’s like saying it’s “mostly a real diamond.” There’s no middle ground to be found.

I feel like the bridge hidden beneath the water.  The key elements are below the surface.  Although the timing is beyond my control, the clouds will fade and the waters will recede.  My inability to discern its presence at this moment does not change the reality that it is there.  I am certain of it.

Picture_20170624_202809842

Wisdom can be found in the most random of places.

Picture_20170624_202714042

But that’s not a rule. Sometimes you just have to be glad that you got a cookie.

***MoJo***
<a href="https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/bridge/">Bridge</a>

The Paragon of Purchasers – Get Out of My House Goldilocks

a white cabinets.jpg

“Doesn’t want white kitchen cabinets” – So sorry about the misleading photo.  I should have explained that these are NOT those fancy color-changing cabinets that look white in pictures but are actually dark brown in person.

Having your house on the market is a monster headache.  People keep their shoes on, but they leave their reasonable standards of decorum and general sanity at the door.

Shoes on?  No sweat.  You may enter.

Basic consideration and sanity off?  No way.  You may bite me.

***Quick note of clarification – In our area, the seller’s realtor is NOT typically present at the showings.  This means that potential buyers will view a house accompanied by their own realtor only.  Consequently we have to rely on those other realtors to monitor their clients who are unable to behave like adults.  Sadly that doesn’t happen as often as we would like.

a map

“Wants to be on a cul-de-sac” – We mistakenly believed that the map on the listing showing that there was zero possibility of our home actually being on a cul-de-sac would have clarified that in advance.

I would like to highlight and respond to certain feedback left by a handful of memorable prospective buyers AFTER they viewed our house.  These paragons of home buying madness serve as the model reason for never wanting to go through this crapola again.

If you are a home buyer with eyeballs (and based on security footage, they have all had them so far), I know that you viewed the detailed photos available online before you scheduled the showing.  Every realtor and buyer within a zillion miles does this.  Many of these same shoppers also had lengthy conversations with our realtor about our home prior to their appointments.  They could have asked her about their specific requirements if they were in fact subject to ocular limitations.

a roof

“No upstairs patio.” – Let me start by thanking you for the few minutes of notice you gave us before demanding that we leave our home with our 2 giant dogs and 3 young kids because you HAD to see it right then or never.  Although the online photos (the ones you mentioned you had reviewed extensively before the showing) clearly displayed that the back of our home did not have an upstairs patio (the requirement you mentioned after the showing), it was good to know that you felt compelled to verify that it was true from the inside of the home.  From 8-9pm.  On a school night.

Certain things seem rather obvious, but I have personally confirmed that being obvious means nothing in the world of realty.  People leave useless feedback and ask our realtor questions that are so crazy that I wonder if they realized that they were using their out loud voices when they said them.

a patio edge

“There was no pool.” – Only one sly buyer was clever enough to recognize that the grass in our backyard was not an actual aquatic feature.  This savvy shopper refused to be tricked into thinking that the large community pond located outside of our enclosed iron fence and backing up to two dozen other homes was actually a gigantic private pool we had built for our own use.  This ruse was brazen on my part, but my cunning nature could not be suppressed.  Most people who want to buy a home with a pool will be unable to comprehend the “No Pool” statement on the listing nor will they understand that the absence of a pool in all photos means that we don’t have one.

a lake

“Would they be willing to build us a pool?” – I’m not making this up folks.  One bold prospect contacted our realtor to ask her if we would be willing to build them a pool.  Naturally we said yes.  We had just been waiting for someone outside of our family and income stream to ask.  Please refer the photo (above) of the lake we told our realtor she could ask them to jump in.

And then there are comments like this…

a pink

“Whole house is green.” – Green like this pink room?

a blue 2

Or green like this blue room?

a aqua

Maybe green like this aqua room?

a rust

Or probably green like this rusty-red room?

Despite my photographic evidence to the contrary, I would have been unaffected by the color comment if that was where it had ended with those people.  The whole house isn’t green, but I will concede that a large portion of the house has grey green walls.  Most people love it and we receive tons of compliments on it, but paint preference is subject to personal taste.  The magic of these buyers was not in their feedback.  It was the way they pushed their appointment back a full hour after we were 45 minutes into their original time slot.  That meant an additional full hour of sitting in my car in a parking lot, being unable to work, being unable to go to the bathroom, and being unable to take my hungry kids home or anywhere else because we had the dogs with us since they can’t stay home either.  I could have dealt with the rescheduling request, but they upped the ante and showed up at the second half of their appointment window and stayed to the very end even though they didn’t like the house.

Well apparently they wanted to be thorough to make absolutely sure that they didn’t like it because there were multiple drawers left slightly open.  My OCD would never permit me to leave any drawer open at all ever, but this would be especially true if a possible buyer was coming.  It would look unkempt in my OCD eyes.  I arrange my Keurig cups, remember??  And on that note, they actually moved some of those cups around.  I couldn’t believe it, but I laughed when I found it, because hey – at least they noticed the effort!  I could also tell that they had tested the sofas both downstairs and upstairs because the pillows and blankets were smooshed and out of place.  That wasn’t a big deal to me because I understand that people need to sit down.  It’s when you opt to pull a Goldilocks move and SIT ON MY BED that I have to push the eject button.  At what point will this mama bear be okay with total strangers parking their happy butts on my bed?  If you responded “never ever ever ever ever,” you were correct!  At least their comments didn’t say, “Sheets not soft enough.”  But that’s silly.  Of course my sheets are soft enough.  Shout out to microfiber!

We have seen all sorts of wacky and tacky behavior over the past few months of living in a house on the market.  There was the guy who tracked muddy footprints throughout the home, messed up all of my window treatments, and broke some blinds.  He didn’t like the layout of the house, but I guess he needed to shred the house to confirm it.  And then there was the local realtor (who also happened to be a neighbor) who scheduled an appointment so she and her husband could take a private tour.  Not too long after that, she became the official realtor for another seller a few doors down.  The sad part is that if she had just asked me if she could look at my house, I would have said yes.  Instead she booked an appointment as if she was working on behalf of a potential buyer.  We were forced to turn our Sunday upside down in order to prepare our home.  While we were doing this, she was busy displaying her faithful devotion in Sunday school.  Maybe it helps to cleanse prior to casing one’s competition (us).  I guess they weren’t studying “Thou shalt not behave like a behind.” that day.

Here are a few other comments we have heard that are clear as day on the listing:

  • too expensive (maybe don’t come here if you don’t like the price?)
  • too big
  • too small
  • too many bedrooms upstairs
  • not enough bedrooms upstairs

It’s exhausting.

This post is not directed at every prospective buyer who has entered our home.  Most buyers and realtors have behaved like normal decent people in a stranger’s home.  Some have put our home on their “maybe” list, and others were looking for something that we couldn’t offer.  Maybe they disliked the layout or it just wasn’t they were looking for.  I don’t mind that, and I really do get it if this isn’t your jam.  House hunting is personal, and my prayer is that this house will be purchased by someone who feels like they are stepping into their new home, not taking a tour of someone else’s house.

a fairy highrise

“Fairy highrise is incomplete, and there are insufficient ladders.” – This is the one annoying comment I haven’t received, but the day is still young.  I’ll finish it soon, but then I’ll probably get a comment about the need for a fairy elevator instead.

We aren’t on the local historical register, we don’t make money selling entry tickets, and we aren’t offering a design tour.  This is where we live, and every showing disrupts our family immensely.  Our children are tired of being pushed out of their space by careless people whom they have never met.  We don’t allow strangers to test-drive our furniture and track mud throughout our freshly cleaned home because it’s fun for us.  We want and need to sell this house.  This is about courtesy and common sense.

It’s also about removing one’s head from sphincter prior to scheduling an appointment to enter another person’s home.  If you are a perspective home buyer, please do that and do it in that order – not the other way around.

Thanks in advance!

***MoJo***

Paragon
A Paragon of Love
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/9418777/posts/56319
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/100921263/posts/32880

 

Daily Prompt: Triumph – She has Her Father’s Eyes

 

dog eyes1

She has her father’s eyes.  Disclosure – father’s eyes not represented above. 

Few things capture the magic of aging like the moment when a fertility doctor tells you that your baby making kit is fraught with cobwebs and is so old and creaky that you may want to buy stock in WD-40.  Maybe I’m paraphrasing just a smidge.  Perhaps he said something more along the lines of “your hormonal levels are below the range required to conceive and you are going to probably need a donor egg as well waah waah waah waaaaah” (imagine the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher).  As science is merely a suggestion and not something one could ever prove (errr yes you can) or quantify (again yes…you absolutely can do this), I scoffed at his trivial little test results and agreed to shell out cash that we didn’t have to burn.

I’m going to tone down the satire momentarily because I want to speak honestly about why an intelligent, analytical, and pragmatic woman would go down an ill-advised path despite the clear medical advice to the contrary.  My reason had absolutely nothing to do with pragmatism.  It’s incredibly hard to articulate (even for a yappy verbose girl like yours truly).  Despite the mountain of clinical evidence from multiple specialists “proving” why we could never conceive another child, I knew with every fiber of my being that there was a beautiful face waiting to appear at my family table.  I wasn’t unhappy with my husband or children.  Don’t get me wrong.  Those people were (are) ushered into MoJo’s Magical Doghouse – a place one cannot leave until the sentencer has calmed down – on a regular basis.  However that’s just day to day reality.  I love them more than life itself.  Truly.  But there was another soul whose small fingers would be holding mine one day.  It wasn’t about hope or wishful  dreaming.  It was set in stone.  I knew it.  I felt it.

And we’re back to hyperbole and sarcasm.  So like any good Uno player, I took out my wallet, reviewed my five card options, and picked the one that would allow me the widest range of moves.  I should have selected the “Skip” card, but where would the lesson be if I had done that?  Fast forward a few months.  We had spent ten of thousands of dollars that we did not have to lose but desperation demanded that I charge.  I had met with the specialist over and over again, and one of those appointments included a conversation I can tell you with zero exaggeration on my part.  Keep in mind that I had already been required to run countless tests and had met with the doctor and techs repeatedly.  I had become inordinately familiar with ultrasounds and the mad science of creating a mini human.  This is literally how our discussion went.

Doc – “Hey how are we doing today?”  (I didn’t know about him, but personally, I was feeling broke, depressed, and packed with hormones to the point that “Fatal Attraction” was jealous of my level of unpredictability.)

Me – “Honestly I’m very concerned.  These injections are so expensive, and I am going through them like water.  How do people pay for these?  I’ve spent so much on the medicine this month, and I’m really worried that it isn’t working.”

Doc – “Hmmmm.”

Me – “When the tech was running my ultrasound a few minutes ago, it didn’t look like I was where I should be.”

Doc – “Let’s check it out.” (Opens ultrasound files on the screen in front of us.  Pauses momentarily.) “Well it looks pretty good to me.”

Me – “Uh yeah, but look at that.”  (Pointing at exact spot on screen.)  “It doesn’t look a follicle is forming.  It looks like a cyst.”  (Quick clarification for the infertility uninitiated:  follicles – good & baby possible, cysts – hormonal thing & no baby for you)

Doc – “No. I think it’s a follicle.”

Me – “But look at the striations and the density.  It looks like a cyst.”

Doc – “I think it’s fine, but it’s up to you.”  (WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?)

Me – “What does that even mean?”

Doc – “It means that you can stop now or we can keep going.”

Me (big fat tears welling up in my eyes) – “But I have spent ten thousand dollars on these medicines over the past two weeks.  Do you really think that I should stop?”

Doc – “These work on 90% of people, and it looks fine to me.”

Me – “…”

Doc – “…”

Me – more “…”

Me – “Well…I’m in this far on the cycle, and this is what you do.  If you think it’s a follicle, then it only makes sense for me to keep going.”

Doc – “Okay great!  I’ll see you next week.”

Another five thousand dollars whooshed out of my credit line to pay for the next round of prescribed injections, and I returned one week later to get that cycle’s final ultrasound.  The second the images appeared on the screen, I already knew the results.  I didn’t need to be told what they displayed, but I had to hear the words.  I wanted him to say them to me.

Doc – “Well.  That was a cyst.  I guess you were right.  That medicine didn’t work on you after all.”

I’m not being facetious.  This was a prominent fertility specialist who had been recommended to me by multiple other providers and Yelp!  If we can’t trust Yelp, what can we trust?  If only we were blessed with something amazing and awesome and inexplicable like intuition.  (Spoiler alert – WE ARE.)  Needless to say, I did not donate any further funds to that guy or his prominent practice.

A year and a half went by, and the test results from my normal hoo-hah-ologist continued to show an increase in uterine cobwebs.  My heartache grew exponentially, and I begged God to take away the heavy homesick feeling I got whenever I caught myself staring at the empty space where a high chair should have been.  I cried enough tears to turn Las Vegas into a rainforest.

And then one day, that darling little soul decided that I had waited long enough.  She made an appearance in a way that was so her style, but that’s a story for another day.

frog prince 2

To be clear, she isn’t kissing the frog in search of a prince.  The frog is actually kissing her because he hopes to turn into a rockstar, too.

Ultimately this post is about triumph.  Although I wish that I could take the credit, the truth is that the triumph was not my own.  Despite my prayers, I could never release my sense of knowing that she would be there.  As the years passed and my longing for her grew, my knowing was plagued with questions and doubts.  I listened to the facts and the stats, but the main voice I needed to honor was much much deeper.  The triumph belongs to genuine loving intuition and to forces beyond definition.  It belongs to miracles and joy and the importance of never allowing your fears to defeat you.  Most of all, it belongs to my daughter and her insistence on claiming her seat at my table.

Thank you for always believing in me little soul even when I prayed to release the hurt and longing.  You, my precious darling, are fierce and brave and strong, and I know that you were that way long before I ever held you.  Thank you for your triumph.

dragon dinner1

And it wasn’t even Halloween.

 

***MoJo***

This post was inspired by the WordPress daily challenge.  Today’s topic is triumph.  Details are below if you would like to participate as well.  Please let me know if you do.  I would love to read your take on it.

via Daily Prompt: Triumph

These are a few of the sites that also took part in the challenge.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do.  I’m trying to highlight different writers to spread the love, so please do NOT think that I am skunking you if you wrote one for this challenge, too.  You are amazing!  🙂

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/93551440/posts/1421
https://northumbrianlight.wordpress.com/2017/06/08/distant-relatives/
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/38054961/posts/23580
https://ferencepoems.wordpress.com/2017/03/28/lightness-of-being/
https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/120927887/posts/405

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