I Mustache You What You Are Eating

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I’m cutting out carbs. Aaaaagain. My track record on this surpassed “not good” long ago. To put it mildly, my healthy eatibg conviction and follow through has been at “stanky to the max” level for quite some time.

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I prefer fruits, but even fruits are loaded with sugars. Some fruits are great, but the emphasis should be on the veggies. Bleh.

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I’ve tried the liquid route – protein shakes, blends of veggies and fruits, etc. – but I just don’t feel satiated with those.

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Clearly I need to up my protein intake, but even that can problematic for me. I can be extremely picky, and my getting burnt out and grossed out with the meat overload doesn’t help. Whenever someone throws out the word “tofu” as a possible protein solution, I find myself thinking about how it’s ironic that “tofu” is a four letter word that I associate with multiple other four letter words. I would provide examples, but this is a family show so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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Maybe I’m nuts to go this route yet again, but I don’t feel good in my body. That makes me feel sad, so I have to try. And as I read that last sentence, I hear Yoda in my mind… “Do or do not. There is no try.” I’m guessing that Yoda never struggled with being a sugar addict.

If you have any websites or tips on low-carb, no sugar, paleo-esque, or other similar options, I would genuinely appreciate the advice. Please note that intelligent / common sense recommendations with regard to overall health are lovely, but they don’t sustain long-term commitment to low carb eating for this girl. I know what I should do, but somehow that’s not enough.

Thanks in advance.  😉  Jo

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Take a Moment to Observe the Beauty and Embrace the Magic Around You

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These painted buntings seem surreal to me yet they spent several days over the past week transforming our backyard into a wonderland. They are little feathered miracles that lift my worries and make my heart smile.

So many of us live and breathe by our endless schedules. Our lists of activities go on and on, and we often forget to take a few moments to observe the beauty in the world around us.

Birds. Wildflowers. Clouds. Our children.

All are in plain sight yet we fail to notice them.

I’ve had another long day of my own and am finally finishing up today’s work at this ridiculously late hour once more. Although I am in dire need of a few solid hours of sleep, I wanted to take a brief moment to celebrate the beauty that has blessed my life this week.

I feel tremendous gratitude for the innumerable gifts that fill my world and move around me at all times. I am pausing to remind myself of the importance of reserving a few minutes of each day to simply be. To look around. To breathe in the wonder. To embrace the magic. I pray that you can do the same.

Miracles surround us always. We just have to remember to notice them.

Love, light and magic to all of you.  Joanna

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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.  🙂

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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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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.

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Landing the Chopper


Being accused of being a helicopter mother (one who perpetually hovers) is irritating beyond words and doubly so when you know that it’s true.  I prefer to think of myself as more of a Millennium Falcon kind of mom who swoops in to save the day with swagger and a tall hairy guy by my side.  In my version, the hairy copilot is my husband, we don’t ever have to hide out in a giant trash compactor, and my kid refrains from delivering me a swift death a few years down the road.

Earlier today I was walking through the house and heard a high pitched “cheep cheep cheep!” out one of the back windows.  Alarmed at the sound of distress, I rushed over to look and confirmed that there was a baby bird flailing around one of the plants in my garden. What was I to do?  I hadn’t hunted for worms and grubs since the local Wal-Mart had opened, and despite my newly acquired upper arm wings, I had yet to master the fine art of flying.  I’m not a licensed ornithologist (thank heavens because I’m sure that people would comment on that ID photo as well), but extensive reading has led me to suspect that my inability to fly may have something to do with the combined effects of gravity and my being a human.  So I stood there worrying immensely for three whole seconds.

And then the mama bird made her appearance. She looked about as worried as Snoop Dogg in a smoke shop.  That bird was chill fo’ shizzle.  She dropped off a bug and headed right back out.  Immediately thereafter the chick checked himself (before he wrecked himself) and got situated on a branch.

The baby bird was fine.  He was fine the whole damn time!  He was just testing out something new, and, unsurprisingly, it was unnerving for the little guy.

I keep replaying that scene in my mind and find myself heavily contemplating the clear lesson with respect to my own parenting choices.  I have come to the only logical conclusion one can reach after experiencing such a simple yet profound occurrence.  I’m going to have to hire the mama bird to raise my children as soon as she boots her bird kid out for good.  Between the two of us, it is obvious that she is the only mother that has figured this parenting thing out.

I, on the other hand, am immeasurably less chillax about my own children and their attempts to spread their wings.  Every inch of my soul wants for them to take flight, but it often feels like I’m screaming “Fly fly fly!!” while maintaining a death grip on their ankles whenever they attempt to do so.  They say, “I want to do XYZ,” and my immediate reaction is to steer them back toward ABC in an attempt to protect them from potential disappointment.  The bitter irony is that their efforts are rewarded with disappointment right out of the gate, because I never really allowed them to try.

So as I said previously, I’m going to have to hire the bird mom.  Or maybe…just maybe…I can learn a little something from the wisdom I saw today and give my own little chicks a chance to spread their wings while I release my grip (veeeery sloooowly).  Perhaps I can tie a string to their ankles and let it out millimeter by millimeter (like kid kites).  Clearly I don’t have the details worked out.  I just know that my kids are ready to soar, and I need to summon the strength within myself to allow them to do it.

***MoJo***

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