In the Mirror (I Remember – Day 16)

This is my wild little princess.

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

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

I don’t feel old.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

horse

Bury

Rise to Your Standard, Not Theirs (Day 15)

mudflap

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

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

sexy mudflap guy results 2

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

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

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

magazines girls

vs.

magazines guys2

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

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

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

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

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

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

halloween women

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

Do we have this problem with our boys?

halloween men

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love and light always – Joanna

Grit

The Earworm and the Ripple Effect (Day 14)

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

earworm 1 - petrified

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

counter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light always dear ones!  Joanna

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

earworm - rick astley

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

Day 13 – Seeing the Extraordinary

Extraordinary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***Joanna***

Savage

Day 12 – Keep Going and Never Give Up

prayer

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

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

My three goals from yesterday were:

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

These were the results:

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

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

You are not broken.

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

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

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

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

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

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

never give up

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

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

***Joanna***

Savage

Day 11 – Open the Vault

Image result for vault

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love and light always.  Joanna

Day 10 – It’s Time to Shine

Born to Shine

I wrote the two lines above tonight because these words have been circling my mind more and more with each day that passes.  I feel the truth in them, and I sense them pushing me forward.  They tell me to get out of my own way.  To get out of my own shadow.  To shine.  The words are for me, and they are for you.

My challenge continues to evolve in ways I could have never predicted.  The tech turn off element is very much in effect and is extremely important, but this challenge is really about recognizing my priorities on all levels of my life.  It is about becoming my highest potential self by allowing me to embrace my authenticity.  It is about remembering who I really am and helping others rediscover their light as well.  I am being flooded with signs and revelations.  Undoubtedly they were always there, but I needed to open my eyes once more to be able to see them.

During this evening’s challenge, I unplugged for several hours to listen to a speaker discuss the topic of knowing your value and acting on it.  He talked about recognizing your priorities and gaining positive momentum as you allow your authentic self to take the lead.  For obvious reasons, my ears always perk up whenever I hear the word momentum, but the entire lecture could have been written in response to my unspoken fears and uncertainties.  His words challenged me yet again to reevaluate what I was putting first.  They reinforced the importance of honoring my own value and becoming who I am meant to be.

We cannot expect others to see our beauty if we refuse to see it in ourselves.  It’s time to leave the shadow.  It’s time to shine.

***Joanna***

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