That’s No Moon – Change the Scale and Change Your Perspective

If I had a dollar for each time someone said “Wow Jo! You are so cool!” to me, I would have a dollar. (Thanks for the $1 Mom!) Alas, I am the reigning queen of the local nerd herd.

Being fully committed to the #nerd4lyf way of living, I was embarrassingly jazzed to discover a set of Death Star ice cube molds for sale. (That’s a “Star Wars” thing for all of you cool people.) In my mind, they were going to be a fun little extra Christmas present for my husband (who also happens to be a serious geek). In reality, I was so excited when they arrived that I – errr I mean we opened the box up right then and there. We have had baseball-sized Death Stars floating around in our Yetis since that day.

One of my greatest joys is annoying my husband whenever possible by asking him questions that I genuinely want to know the answer to but also fully recognize that neither of us is qualified to answer. I can tell that he loves this habit of mine by the way he cups his hands together and stares intensely at them (he used to add the words “let me look into my crystal ball” whenever he did this, but he’s said that so often in response to my innumerable unanswerable inquiries over the years that it is now implied in the gesture).

So in true Joanna fashion, I started formulating an experiment in my head this weekend and felt the need to ask him what he thought would happen if we froze the molds in different freezers. He responded immediately with crystal ball hands / annoying gaze. Not to be defeated by his sarcastic and scientifically unsupportive paws, I cleverly retorted with an eye roll and nabbed his early Christmas presents so I could refill them once more. Experiment underway!

A few days later, I remembered my – ahem – his new ice molds in the freezers. I popped one of the frozen globes out of the mold and into my glass. Immediately I found myself in awe of the spherical wonder bobbing around my glass.

It was spectacular. Naturally I felt the need to ask my husband why it looked that way. He took Crystalline Ice Formations 101 in grad school in between his accounting and finance classes, so naturally it made sense to ask him this. He must have been somewhat impressed as well because he never busted out the crystal ball mits, but less surprisingly, he didn’t have a solid answer either. I took close up pictures and asked my kids to guess what they thought that it was. I have since asked the same of my friends on Facebook. Only one person has nailed the answer on the first try. The pictures I have shared have been close-ups, so it’s not obvious at a glance.

An ice cube. So ordinary and simple from a distance. But when you get closer, you can see that it is actually extremely intricate and beautiful.

These small frozen spheres are beautiful reflections of the intricacy of those around you. When you first see them, you may be amused. You may be bored. You may not give them any thought at all. They are just there. Ultimately they seem rather inconsequential in the mass scale of all things.

However when you look closer, you get a fantastically different perspective. You find something stunning and incredible. Something unexpectedly beautiful. Look deeper at those around you. Search for the spectacular parts that may not be evident at first glance.

Despite the surface that we see, these incredible intricacies can be found within each of us. Search for the cool within the nerdy, the uncommon in the common, and the beauty within the plain. Find the magic in the mundane. We often miss the details, and we fail to see the incredible art of the design until we look closer. Take a moment and gain a different perspective. You may find wonder in the most unexpected of places.

Love and light always – Joanna

Scale

Have Faith in Yourself – Remove the Mask

mask.jpg

I often tell my children that no one gives as much thought to their insecurities as they do. No other people are panicking about a blemish on someone else’s face. Nobody else stresses if another person gets a stain on their shirt during the day. Those moments of imperfection make my children feel like they are under the magnifying glass of their peers, but the reality is that those incidences are quickly replaced by alternate distractions and concerns of other people. I tell my kids all of this, and I remind them that no one is perfect. We all have embarrassing stuff, and we all carry insecurities. They don’t have to hide who they are ever. It’s solid mom advice, and I genuinely believe those words. But do I heed this wisdom in my own life?

The really short answer is no. The still short but not quite as short as the latter answer answer is not entirely, but I’m working very hard to change that. Putting my own challenges out there for public review isn’t the easiest task for me. Frankly, it’s extremely difficult, but I believe that it’s important. We share our lives with each other, and we should never feel isolated in our struggles. I have survived dark days, and I want others who are hurting to know that they aren’t the only ones to have ever felt that way.

To be abundantly clear, I don’t believe that being honest about yourself means that you have to share every heavy detail of your existence. Not at all. I also recognize that we reveal different parts of ourselves to various groups of people in our lives. But that is about discretion, not dishonesty about who we really are.

If you can’t own the reality that your life is not perfect, you aren’t alone. Sometimes I feel like I am walking around in a giant suburban masquerade ball. Fancy clothes and jewelry. Made up faces and unnaturally wide smiles. Peals of raucous laughter and endless bottles of wine always a-flowin’.

Maybe balls aren’t your style. Perhaps you would prefer the idea that we are all playing a giant game of strip poker. If you don’t play your hand correctly, you may find yourself peeling off those thin layers of protection that hide all of your unmentionables. Then again, if you aren’t into balls, strip poker is probably an even worse scenario for you, so back to the masquerade analogy we go.

We all wear masks. They shield others from seeing what is really underneath. Removing the mask would leave us exposed. The fairy tale would vanish, and a normal human would be revealed. The facade of perfection would vanish.

The problem with masks is that they aren’t really part of us. They may serve to shield us at times, but the clock will strike twelve and all of our coaches will turn back into pumpkins eventually.

We all have blemishes – imperfect marriages, parenting problems, body image issues, health challenges. We all have stains – choices that you shouldn’t have made, friendships that you lost, jobs that didn’t work out, addiction, mistakes. Everyone has experienced some version of that. If anyone needs you to be the kind of person who doesn’t have that kind of reality in their life, recognize that they are wearing a serious mask as well.

We have a path, and we are here to learn how to walk it. It wouldn’t be much of an experience if we arrived on the scene, already knew everything, didn’t have any ups or downs, and then left the planet again. What would be the point of that journey?

Choose to find the learning opportunities in your experiences. Know that you are allowed to be perfectly imperfect. Do good and be well as often as you can. Forgive yourself whenever that doesn’t happen as planned, and tackle the good / well dynamic once more with the next step you take.

And do all of that with honesty. Own who you are. It’s alright for others to know that you move to your own beat and that sometimes you miss a step (or if you are cool and graceful like me, you fall flat on your face). I can assure you that everyone else stumbles, too.

You don’t have to pretend to be someone else. You may need to work on your choices – we all do – but you must remember that you are an intentional and important part of the divine plan. You are a stunning piece of this beautiful design, and you are where you should be right now. If another person doesn’t get that, or more accurately, if they don’t get you, set their expectations free.

Your true light lies cloaked beneath those false layers. Release the fear of judgement and of not being accepted as you are. Have faith in yourself. Remove the mask, and reveal the raw beauty that lies within you.

Love and light always – Joanna

 

Cloaked

Brave

The Patchwork Soul – Recognizing Our Divine Beauty

I have noticed that I am being drawn with greater regularity to writing about releasing fear, owning all parts of our journey, and learning to love ourselves as perfectly imperfect people. It’s amusing to me that I ever questioned my focus given that I wrote the post below years ago. This was the first blog entry I ever created. So much has happened since I wrote these words, yet the message remains.

***

When you look at yourself, what do you see?  Does it all make sense to you, and do you like every part of that picture?  When I look deep within, I sometimes find that I have questions.  I see parts that are beautiful, bright and fun.  I see elements of joy, moments of unshakeable faith, and acts of kindness that make me smile.  I love these pieces of me.  But then I notice other parts that don’t appear to continue that wonderful trend.  There are remnants of doubt, frustration and sometimes anger.  At times, there are places that seem dark and cold.  I see colors that clash and mismatched patterns.

How do these fit into the same package?  I cannot fathom how this mix of light patches and dark patches will possibly come together to become something worth keeping and definitely can’t see them fitting together to become something spectacular.

But then I remember the one thing that matters more than anything else.  I am not the creator of the artwork being molded.  While I strongly believe that I have creative input via free will and the choices this allows me to make, I know that it is not my hand that guides the design of my soul.

I have spent so much time trying to unbreak and fix those parts that I don’t understand, don’t want to recognize, and don’t want to be – but these are part of me and part of my design.  I may not understand the dark patches, but I don’t think that my comprehension is required on this journey.  Maybe the moments of darkness act as contrasts to allow the beautiful light parts to really shine.

I believe that it is time to let go of the idea that we are broken and need to be fixed.  The light and the dark fragments come together to form a masterpiece of God’s creation.  When I look at myself with this in mind, I’m not sure how it could get any more awesome and spectacular than that.  And that’s what I see when at look at you, too.

If we want to add to the creative mix, let’s use that wonderful free will to make choices that make us feel light and wonderful.  Maybe we can go with choices that help others feel the same way, too.  In the meantime, let’s embrace all the colors, all the moments and all the blessings because we are patchwork souls with a heavenly designer.

Breaking Free

butterfly4aYou wouldn’t think much to look at it.  And of course that assumes that you would have even noticed it in the first place.  Many people would walk right by and yet it would remain unseen.  They don’t recognize the magic.  The wonder.  The amazing.  It’s all within view if they can simply look a little harder.

I feel this way sometimes.  I am invisible.  Hidden in the roles I play.  Camouflaged in a daily routine.  Surrounded by a beautiful facade.  At times I want to fault others for their failure to see what I have to offer, but then the realization slams into me.

The others aren’t the ones who are missing it.  I am.

I am the one who can’t see who I truly am, and I am the one who can’t recognize what I have to offer.

butterfly3aHow often do we degrade our perceptions of ourselves based on where we are in the moment?  We criticize our physical appearances.  We curse our life circumstances.  We replay our sad choices and moments of humanity in our minds and declare ourselves unworthy or unlovable.  We twist reality to meet our misconceptions and insecurities.  We assume that the world sees us this way as well.

But that doesn’t make any of those judgements true.

It is human nature to seek validation from every external source we can find.  The irony is that the wonder and mystery of our lives is not what happens on the outside.  It is without question that the experiences and individuals outside of our physical and spiritual selves are there to be enjoyed, loved, and appreciated.  They complement our human experience and allow us to grow on countless levels.  We develop with these external elements, but the true miracle that is embedded inside us was there long before they came along.

Something deep and beautiful and mysterious lies dormant within us.  It waits to break free of all that we create to keep it locked away.  We must push past our fears if we are to know our true beauty and purpose.  We are so much more than we allow others and ourselves to see.  Wake up.  Reveal your beauty to the world.  And break free!butterfly1a

Love to all of the beautiful miracles out there!  Joanna

Dormant

***pic 1 – monarch chrysalis hanging on a lemon plant on our patio
***pic 2 – monarch caterpillar having a nap before chewing up more milkweed
***pic 3 – monarch butterfly that had just emerged from another chrysalis on our patio this morning

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

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***

Fuzzy Around the Edges – Pixel Pix

I’m typically speaking about myself when I use the phrase fuzzy around the edges but not this time. While I have a wonderful eye for quality photo opps, my actual talent at executing said shots could be put on level with that of the Blair Witch Project.  Probably less.

Although I am photographically challenged, I’ve playing around with the camera on my new(ish) Google Pixel XL phone to see if it can overcome my human limitations.  I have been rather wowed with the results and wanted to share for any other shakey-handed Sallies out there who might be in the market for a phone in the near future.

Picture_20170617_122202087

I am intrigued with the mixed levels of focus in this shot.  The only areas in focus are the ones that were actually moving.  This spinner was turning wildly when I took the picture.

 

Picture_20170617_123039148

The front was rolling in very quickly, and it was almost totally dark.

I took this picture while looking up at the branch that was 20+ feet above me.  I was standing in its shadow, and the sun was shining from behind it (because getting the sun to shine from beneath the branch seemed to be definitive no as the sun doesn’t work like that).  The camera still picked up the detail of the bark.

IMG_20170314_200019

It’s a lovely shot (if I may say so myself), but the truly impressive detail is that it was taken from a car window while bumping down a little highway at 70 miles per hour.

This week’s photo challenge is to show your favorite in-focus and out-of-focus moments. Click below for instructions on how to share your awesomeness with your fellow WordPeeps.
Focus

***MoJo***

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