Living Outside of the Lines When You Don’t Blend In

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I just want to be normal.

My heart aches deeply whenever I hear my son say this. I understand this feeling more than he can fathom. I faced the same struggles at his age, and speaking honestly, I often still do.

So many of us dream of blending in. Of feeling accepted. Of being another regular face in the crowd.

Instead we become fluent in the nuance of the dismissive body language of others. We try to join the herd only to find that we are met with annoyed looks, caustic comments, or the cold shoulder. We feign strength and indifference on the surface, but we are aching and crumbling on the inside.

Why don’t they like us? What are we doing wrong? What can I do to change myself?

Well I have a few suggestions that I believe hold merit:

  1. Refrain from acting like a jerk in return.
  2. Use deodorant, brush your teeth, and shower every now and then.
  3. Don’t change a damn thing.

If other people treat you with tremendous unkindness, it speaks to the faults in their character, not yours. No one races to buy a book or jumps on the internet to search for a story about someone normal. We don’t clamor for more movies about the bland life. The world is not changed by people who live life inside the lines.

The people who shake things up are anything but average. They are the unathletic types. The nerds. The misfits. The weirdos. The losers. They are made to feel less than because they don’t fit the mold.

People who are secure in themselves don’t need to step on someone else to build self worth. Never allow others to make you feel small because they can’t see their own value. Your light will always shine even when another tries to keep you in their shadow. Their ugliness does not detract from your beauty nor does their unkindness reflect on your truth.

We are better because of our differences, not in spite of them. We each have unique roles to play, and the divine colors we bring to our part in the scene are not there by chance. You my precious darling are so far beyond the standard. You were never meant to blend in, and no matter how hard you may try, you never will. You are spectacular, you are miraculous, and you are a world changer.

Own your beauty and your uniqueness. Forget trying to blend in, tell the status quo where to stick it, and embrace life outside of the lines. You never have to run with the herd. You were made to soar!

Love and light always – Joanna

This post is dedicated to all of the incredible misfits of the world, especially the ones who call me Mom.

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***For the bird nerds in training (like me), the beauty in this photo is a painted bunting. The solid blue birds in the top picture are indigo buntings. I was beyond thrilled to see these stunning birds outside my window last weekend.  🙂

Lines

Inspiration in Focus

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Inspiration often presents itself when I least expect it. Having the ability to capture a unique moment in a photograph can kickstart writing creativity while also potentially adding a little visual swag to a post.

I have found myself in a multitude of photo-worthy situations since moving to our new home a few months ago. Unfortunately I must have left my camera’s ability to focus at the old house as I no could no longer snap a quality shot. The incessant appearance of blurry unusable pictures sent me into a creative tailspin as my irritation heightened.

I looked into repair but was told that I might as well replace it given the cost. Consequently my artsiest of children became the proud owner of an art-generating machine and instantly began to work that fuzzy angle like the creative boss she is.

That left me to I consult the magical world of Google in search of a replacement and immediately became overwhelmed. Being one who refers to the dials on the camera as “these thingies right here” and the buttons as “those doodads on that side,” I was clearly in need of a device that could compliment and possibly improve on my own my unique photographic approach. If I had to describe it, I would say that my style draws heavily on a total lack of skill combined with a penchant for taking photos with hands so unsteady that they seem to be driving down a road comprised of boulders.

As I already owned a couple of decent Canon lenses, it made sense to start there. I contacted camera stores for feedback and was ultimately pointed to the Canon ESO ADD. It seemed like a poor marketing approach on Canon’s part to call it an A-D-D, but it also felt like a comically divine sign that it was right up my alley. I post frequently about my own struggles with ADD and felt like it would be ironic to have a camera that was dealing with the same label. Of course it became exponentially funnier when I went to pick the camera up and saw that the name was actually 80D – not ADD.

Regardless of the name, I immediately found myself smitten with the camera. My photos are far from perfect, but the overall quality has improved. In addition, I have taken more time to learn about a few more elements of photography to be able to speak with greater confidence about the aforementioned thingies and doodads whenever I have to contact Canon customer service. That doesn’t mean that I use those dials and buttons correctly on any level, but I feel cooler and that’s the most important part.

I’m thankful that the renewed focus in my camera equipment appears to have renewed my inner focus as well. Please be warned that you are about to be assaulted with inspiration in the form of countless bird photos, home and decor images, step by step walkthroughs of DIY madness, and other miscellaneous subjects. Apologies in advance if the relevance seems unclear, but the good news is that the photos shouldn’t be. 😉

Joanna

***Please note that I’m not saying that my photos are particularly good or that the pics included in this post are my favorites. I just love the camera relative to what I was working with previously. 🙂
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Using Your Authentic Voice

Feeling like something is standing in your way is extremely frustrating. Realizing that that something is you is a major bonus.

I’ve been cycling through an ongoing list of excuses in an attempt to justify (to myself) my lack of writing for the past few months. Somewhere along the way, I psyched myself out. I began to worry about needing to adhere to “best blogging practices” that I read about in other posts by large scale bloggers and found myself in a holding pattern I could not escape.

Pick a theme, know you brand, and stick to it. Tailor your words to a specific audience. At this point in my life, I can’t even decide which apple I like best. Is it gala? Honey crisp? Caramel? Cinnamon? My preferences shift by the hour. I have been so caught up with trying to decide on a platform and have repeatedly found myself staring at the screen with hands locked motionless over the keyboard. Opportunities to write have transformed into mental and emotional wrestling matches. What should or shouldn’t I write? In return I have been left with a stockpile of incomplete posts about topics including mental health issues, parenting struggles, design and decor / DIY overload, travel, rockhounding, birding, and other extremely cool un-nerdy subjects.

Write on a regular schedule and with high frequency. Again with the self-inflicted pressure. I’ve always believed that I work well in a high stress environment, and (on a clearly unrelated note) often find myself writing about my struggles with OCD, depression, and feeling overwhelmed by it all. Beating yourself up about failing to write only serves to fatten up the stress monster while simultaneously adding to writer’s block. Write when you can. Don’t when you can’t. End of story.

When you write, ask yourself, “How would a publisher view this?” Given some of the others works I have seen on the literal and figurative shelves, I would say that the view depends on the publisher. Clean up your writing so it will reflect quality, but don’t remove your voice in the process. If you are constantly choosing your words for someone else, you lose that authentic element that does make you truly unique. People are always searching for something different and something new. Stop aiming to run with the herd. Unless there are lions. In that case, ALWAYS PICK THE HERD.

Make your posts visually appealing. In a comical twist of photographic irony, I have been seriously hyper-focused on the severe lack of focus I have been experiencing with my pre-Jurassic camera. If I was to classify the quality of photos I have been generating, I feel like the term “janky” would be most accurate. Or maybe crapola. Regardless I have been extremely annoyed with my perceived lack of usable photos and again have been at a productive stalemate with my mind on this issue. As I have finally purchase a new camera, I am hopeful that this will leave my mental excuses list.

Ultimately I’ve realized that I should write about whatever speaks to me at that time. This site may be all over the place, and it may diverge from the standard. That’s okay by me. It’s my style of writing as well as my style of living. I do plan on cross-posting some of the entries on alternate topic specific blogs, and those sites will be tagged whenever that occurs. If someone needs a tailored site, perhaps that will work better for them. But I will not lose me or my voice in the process.  I can’t feed into the concerns of an electronic audience, a mercurial publisher, or any number of apples.

Move with honesty within your life, and seek success through your inner truth. Speak with your own voice, and be authentic. Always.

🙂  Joanna

Authentic

A Prolific Bird and Mirror of Self

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The hummingbird migration is in full swing in Texas, but in our own yard, it is more akin to an invasion. They race from flower to flower and feeder to feeder throughout the day as they weave in and out of the trees like water rushing through stones. Their high pitch squabbles can be heard from every direction of the yard. We catch them hovering in front of our windows and look for their return whenever they dart away leaving only a hint of their frenetic magic in their wake.

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The migration goes by in a flash, and I can’t resist taking a short break in the evening to photograph these breath-taking beauties from my bedroom window. To my endless amusement, the birds seem equally intrigued with me. They readily park themselves inches away from the glass and observe me in return as they pose happily for the camera. Maybe they sense our shared delirious approach to life, or perhaps they, too, just want to quiet the noise for a few brief moments. It is also highly likely that they are contemplating pulling a Hitchcock move with me if I continue to refuse to buy more feeders. I may never know, but I prefer the idea of their finding an affinity with a kindred wild spirit.

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Even if these little birds don’t recognize our similarities, the parallels are striking to me. Racing madly from task to task only to realize that the activity list never appears to get any shorter. Getting my feathers ruffled unnecessarily by those around me who happen to invade my space. Perpetually finding myself in search of more sugar. Clearly these birds and I have been taking notes from the same Questionable Life Choices manual.

Although I see much of myself mirrored in these avian maniacs, we do appear to have a few notable differences. For example I am doubtful that they frequently catch themselves working until 2, 3 or 4 in the morning to get the job done. I, on the other hand, have been in that position multiple times this week alone. With that said it only feels fair for me to disclose that I have yet to use my arms to fly hundreds of miles across country on multiple occasions throughout this year, so the birds appear to have bested me in the extreme modes of travel category. We also diverge in the whole “bird” / “human” distinction, but clearly the working hours and arm flap vs. plane mode of travel are the key disparities.

But differences aside, I still see so much of myself mirrored in their madness. Their uniqueness. Their ferocity. I can’t help but smile when I see them in action, but there is also something indescribably calming about watching them at rest. It’s just so unexpected and their beauty truly shines when they reflect that momentary stillness.

Sitting for a moment. Taking a few breaths. Finding the calm inside the chaos. And when it’s time again, diving into the hustle of life again.

Perhaps that’s the real lesson they are sharing and that’s the moment I should seek to mirror. I imagine that we could all use a little more of that in our lives.

Take a moment and take a breath. Find the quiet in the noise. And when you are truly ready, spread those wings once more.

Love and light always. Joanna

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*All written and photographic works are the sole property of yours truly and written permission must be obtained for their use. Please respect copyright laws, and more importantly, please respect the laws of not behaving like a bonehead.

Prolific

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