Day 11 – Open the Vault

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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. 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

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.


Wisdom can be found in the most random of places.


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

<a href="">Bridge</a>

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


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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.

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And it wasn’t even Halloween.



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!  🙂

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