Pause a Moment to Take a Closer Look

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

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I believe that landing a lovely photograph is strikingly similar to getting to know the people around us. There is such spectacular beauty to be found if only we are willing to pause a moment and take a closer look. We constantly seek to be shown the wonders of the world, but they are already at our fingertips.

bumble bee - IGTake the smallest amount of time to notice the magic that is woven into each day that you live. Look for the beauty everywhere you go and in everyone you meet. Every shot you take may not be what you hoped for, but every now and then, your willingness to give a little extra effort will leave you absolutely awestruck.

Big hugs to all.  Jo

 

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***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

How Deep is the Water – A Flood of Anxiety

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com/.

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A dear friend of mine has a daughter who just began her new life at college. It’s not in Houston, but it’s only about an hour’s drive away. No biggie. She’s a good kid, a strong student, and the type of person whom you know will be successful. Although life has dealt her some very hard kicks, she is strong and has always found her way back up again.

But she is drowning in this new world of college. The days have barely begun, and all she can focus on is getting back home. Her separation anxiety is off the charts, and she is missing her family to the point of being locked in place and inconsolable. She feels like she is going under and utter panic has taken hold.

I understand this feeling far too well. My husband and I went on a trip overseas many years ago. While we were there, I badgered him into taking the hotel Cliff’s Notes version of scuba a.k.a “How Not to Die in the Ocean (Hopefully).” They gave us the ten minute speech (that in reality should have been explained over multiple days of training) slapped some tanks on our backs, and plopped us into the resort pool.

I. Freaked. Out.

Complete and total meltdown. Massive claustrophobia. Sheer terror about being unable to get enough oxygen. Horrific fear about drowning. All of it. I was hyperventilating into my regulator and tears were streaming down my face inside my mask. It was absolutely terrible.

My husband was swimming a few feet away from me and quickly realized that I was having a full on meltdown. He then did something that saved me. He grabbed my shoulders, pushed me up out of the water, and said with a seriously annoyed tone, “Dude – stand up.”

In my terror (a.k.a. complete doofus attack), I had literally forgotten that we were in the most shallow of shallow ends. Of a frickin pool. At a hotel.

The water was maybe 4 feet deep. Probably more like 3.

Embarrassing. So so embarrassing.

The anxiety attack was immediately gone only to be replaced by an “I’m a dumbass” attack. As I was too humiliated to continue showing my face above water, I dropped into the pool once more and of course knew from that point on that I was a-okay. Later that day I did a 40 foot dive without batting an eye. A couple of years and multiple certifications later, I went to almost 140 feet. But this isn’t about that kind of depth.

We sometimes feel like we are drowning in the flood of debilitating fear when we are in unfamiliar surroundings. We lose our sense of safety and control, and we begin to spiral quickly. The trick is recognizing when the depth of terror is of our own making. Sometimes it takes another person to jar us our of our anti-fantasy, and sometimes we need to find a way to recognize the delusion so we can snap ourselves out of it.

Change is terrifying and staring into the unknown rattles us all. But more often than not, the water is nowhere near as deep as we imagine it to be. In most cases, we truly just need to remember to stand up.

The floodwaters of anxiety cannot be allowed to overpower you or steal your hope and joy. Stand up so you can see who is standing by your side in support. Stand up and be willing to distinguish what is a true threat versus what is simply unknown. Stand up and realize that you are okay in this moment and that you can release the panic that distracts your mind and obscures your purpose.

And after you have regained your confidence and maybe even laughed at the comedy of your overreaction, you can dive in once more and at last begin to see the world of wonders just waiting to be discovered by you. ❤️

Big hugs to you all.  Jo

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com/.

Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

Don’t believe this first pic. The rest all looked like my kids were about to go torch and pitchfork shopping. Hope these photos are more fun to see than they were to take!  😉

(post below)

 

I love it when I meet a parent who owns the reality that comes with raising kids. There’s the family life that we typically display on social media (image above). And then there’s every other minute of the day that we constantly attempt to keep tucked away along with the rest of the crazy we […]

via Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails — Life in the Spectrum

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Back to School Anxiety (Mine, Not Theirs)

It all begins once more tomorrow. We went through the various outfit options, prepped the lunches and backpacks, and multiple kids got in big trouble before it was over. So all in all, it was a standard school night kind of evening. I already know that I will be terribly sad in the morning when I drop them off, and then I will be even sadder when I come home to the deafening silence of an empty home. Thankfully that pile o’ dishes and crumbs that will greet me upon my return will most definitely be awaiting me will remind me of their close proximity. Part of me is being sacrcastic, but a bigger part of me is genuinely grateful for everything they leave scattered in their collective kid wake.

The good news is that if history is any indicative of future performance (which it is NOT in finance – please see attached disclosures), I may be luxuriating in the quiet after I get past my initial adjustment period. Although my favorite part of the day will always be when we are all together once more, maybe a few minutes of solitude won’t be the worst thing either.

Back to school Monday feels like a pretty crappy week starter at the moment, but I have a stockpile of work spreadsheets and truckloads of laundry that are betting otherwise. I guess we shall see.

Whetheryou are back to school, over school, past school, or just rejoicing in an endless  summer, I send you wishes for a lovely Monday and a beautiful week ahead.

Big hugs to all.  Jo

Parenting Struggle – Is Conformity Helpful or Harmful?

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

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This photo comparison cracks me up. It’s a perfect reflection of both sides of the coin that make up this funny beautiful awesome girl of mine.

As one who tends to preach owning your individuality, I find myself feeling more than a hair hypocritical that I struggle with the concept of conformity when it applies to my children. On the one hand I genuinely want them to stay away from running with the herd and just focus on being themselves whatever that may mean. However the other parenting part of me – the part that (likely incorrectly) assumes that their childhood challenges will be the same as those I faced – worries that their exclusion from that group will lead them to being trampled by it.

In my mind, the word “conformity” has always taken on a shadowy pejorative connotation, but LA at wakinguponthewrongsideof50.wordpress.com/ at wrote a post that got me thinking (her posts have a fantastic way of doing just that). Is conformity really as bad as I have made it out to be?

Are there times when we should encourage some level of conformity for the sake of finding a moderate level of acceptance and comfort within one’s peer group? Could this be particularly true in the case of my comical kid (photos above) as she heads to middle school? If I said nothing, she would probably head of to school in full 80’s gym / wolf cub chic style. ***Please refer to this ridiculous yet true post on my primary blog for wolf cub reference clarification  —> so-i-just-waxed-my-daughters-leg.

The honest truth is that I believe that my daughter would be more than okay with either photo opp kind of look because she would never be a conformist no matter what she might be wearing. The perception of others has never defined my kids, and ultimately, the issue is not theirs. It’s mine.

Quite ironically, I really do recognize the error in my thought process. I just can’t seem to get that mama bear protection instinct to go gentle into that good night. I look for in style clothes that they like but that they also find as cool as the mismatched hole-riddled outfits that they already had in their drawers. I try to get them to fix their hair in moderately non-dorky ways and bug them about taking care of their teeth so they won’t reek of monkey butt breath. The non-monkey butt breath mandate is one subject that leaves me with zero mom guilt because seriously – nobody wants in on your stank breath action. No. Body.

Breath funk aside, I do want my kids to feel free to be themselves fully. I just fear the pain that comes with their not being accepted and the hurt that is inevitable when you are ridiculed or excluded. Many of us still wrestle with these same social challenges as adults, but we also have greater control over whom we will allow into our world. We get to decide who we want to spend the bulk of our days with and release those who are hopelessly toxic (or let go of the icky as Mer the rockstar extraordinaire might say – merbearsworld.wordpress.com/).

But you don’t get to pick the kids who surround your children in middle school, and more often that not, a handful of big-mouthed self-designated mob bosses run that show like lord of the frickin’ flies. I am saddened by my own memories of that time period in my life, and I want desperately to keep my children from carrying those painful experiences throughout their own lives long after their school years have passed.

So I push more than I should. I nag about their needing to change their look instead of smiling and snapping another pic for the embarrassing wedding video down the road. I search for ways to help them blend in or try to direct them toward focusing on their unique characteristics that would be appealing en masse. My intentions are good, but I don’t know about the actual execution.

Parenting is an endless learning process, and you never really know if you get it right until you are past the moment when you get to pick your move. No matter what you read or whom you try to emulate, there is no conformity when it comes to being a mom or dad to your kids. We all do the best we can in our own funky individual ways just like our parents did with us. We found our way and our kids will, too.

As far as I’m concerned, the herd can stick it. My sweet-breathed kids are incredible individuals who are meant to shine in their own ways. No matter how much I worry, my well-meaning but off-kilter advice will never be able to hide their light. With that said, I still believe that the proper use of a hairbrush does go a long way. I’m just sayin’.

😉  Jo

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

Winks from the Universe

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

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Do you ever get the feeling that the universe is sending you little divine winks to confirm that you are heading in the right direction? I think that I often miss them, but I suspect that this is not indicative of their absence.

I don’t believe in an inherently right or wrong path as there are innumerable choices we can make in every minute of each day. But even within those countless shades of possibilities that endlessly color our moments, I do experience times when I feel like I’m truly resonating with something important – like I’m making contact with the part of my soul that is so much bigger than my day to day life. I feel like I’m following a course that will allow me to spread the wings I innately have that are uniquely my own. The moments come and go in a flash, but when they happen, they leave a beautiful imprint on my spirit.

When I’m in that place, I find myself noticing funny little happenstances that only I would recognize. It can be a friendly text coming in from a person dancing around my thoughts. Sometimes it’s a surprisingly well-timed song on the radio. And this evening, it was bumping into a friend and having him unexpectedly share with me that he enjoys reading my writing – a surprising confession and a beautiful compliment.

Please note that I’ll be the first person to tell you that this isn’t earth-shattering stuff. Nevertheless those little unexpected moments reinforce the significance of the positive thoughts and actions we enact. They remind us that although we may be surrounded by a boundless universe and are mere specks of matter in the grand cosmic equation, what we do matters and who we are matters. These winks confirm in the most personal of ways that no moment of our existence is inconsequential.

So this is my little wink back to the universe. A hat tip if you will. Thank you for encouraging me forward. Thank you for reminding me once more to release more of the fear and place more of my energy in trust.

Thank you also to my friend for his kind words. I appreciated them more than he could possibly know and needed to hear them more than I could have realized. Truly – thank you.

Big hugs to all. Jo

***Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

Spreading Your Wings

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

I fall down when I walk. All. The. Time. Either my feet are mysteriously surrounded by unusually dense air or there is some kind of invisible trip wire system perpetually in my midst. These are the only viable possibilities as there appear to be no other culprits for my non-existent level of grace. Yes – having the inability to walk normally is yet another fabulous piece of the rockstar package that is Jo.

Given that the whole “one foot in front of the other” gig has proven to be a strangely complicated task for me, the idea of spreading my wings to give the wind a try is more than a little daunting. Admittedly I’m speaking metaphorically here, but I fall flat on my face in the figurative walk of life, too.

I worry about failure. About rejection. About judgement. I’m afraid that my time and effort will be wasted. That my words will fall flat. That I will flop. That I will crash.

These concerns afflict countless people. We focus heavily on endless negative “what if” scenarios that we conjure in our minds. Taking it a step further, let’s actually imagine what would happen if those worrisome maybes actually did turn into realities?

In the vast majority of cases, the world would keep turning, and life would go on anyway. Our personal anxiety or embarrassment would be a mere blip on other people’s radars and would quickly be forgotten. In the meantime, we would likely learn a lesson or two (or five), and we would then be that much wiser when taking a revised approach in another attempt down the road.

So what’s your worst case scenario? What if it (whatever your “it” might be) doesn’t work out the way you hope? What if you don’t succeed? Can you keep going? Does life go on for the rest of the world?

If we can say yes to those questions, (and in the universe of chasing your dreams, we almost always can), then we are our own obstacle.

You must overcome your fear of falling if you ever want to soar. Maybe we will find ourselves flopping back to the ground if we attempt to fly, but we definitely won’t be able to rise up if we aren’t even willing to try.

If you fall, you fall. But then you get up, you keep going, and you never ever stop trying.

Don’t allow fear to chain you down or keep you from sharing the beautiful gifts you were given. We are compelled to spread our wings for a reason, whatever those wings may be.

It’s time to release the fear, look to the skies, and give those divine beauties a run. ❤️

Big hugs to you all. Jo

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

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