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

Liquid

A Place in the World Away From It All

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One mile over. It’s such a small distance, but it might as well be a million miles away. We moved here to get away from the standard suburban neighborhood. We had great neighbors, but we were in need of more space so we could scream at our kids in peace and quiet. We were so close that we could hear conversations happening on the other side of the fence while we were inside our home. From the back of our home, we looked across a pond at a dozen other homes. There was no sense of privacy if you weren’t hidden behind closed shades. I could never allow the girls to run free on the weekend mornings whenever I had a few precious minutes to sit quietly on the back patio while drinking my coffee (and when I say the girls, I’m not referring to my daughters). We needed more elbow room, and we were desperate for trees.

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So we moved a mere mile down the road. In case word has not gotten out, allow me to be the first to tell you that trees are immeasurably awesome. If you have them, keep them, and if you don’t, put some in if you can. Why in the world builders and developers continue to mow them down is truly beyond me. Perhaps our friends are all closet tree-huggers, but we have yet to have anyone comment about how terrible it must be to have our view mucked up by all that nature.

Although we have lived here for several months now, I still find myself in awe of it. I have never been surrounded by so much green. There is life everywhere I look, and I feel like I’m breathing it all in (but don’t worry – I take Zyrtec as needed).

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I lie in bed at night and watch fireflies flickering around our yard. Over the past month, I have seen more colorful birds behind my home than I have ever seen in my life. We see owls in the trees in the evenings and hear their calls at night. And when a storm rolls in and the wind blows through the leaves, the sound is magical.

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Life continues to have its ups and downs, but the setting inherently leads us to moments of calm in the chaos. We can’t help but encourage nature to come even closer. We have set up so many birdhouses that we are contemplating implementing some kind of aviary taxation system to help us pay for them. I’m afraid to run the numbers, but I’m fairly confident that our funds going toward bird food purchases are about to lap those designated for our people food purchases. Not that my husband would complain, but I’m still thankful that I handle the bills.

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We have played with hummingbirds, spent time adding raised garden boxes, planted vines and flowers, and set up impromptu extra beds in our room so we can watch the lightning storms brighten the sky through the silhouette of the trees together. Even my hydrangeas do better here. This may seem trivial, but those who have also led countless hydrangeas to their death will appreciate that gardening miracle. Life thrives here despite my questionable botanical track record.

On the animal front, we spent several weeks trying to decipher the various tracks we would find each morning in our yard. This was especially surprising given that the tracks were inside our enclosed fence. Ultimately we turned in our Indian guide badges and bought a game cam (best $50 I spent EVER).

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The pics above are from two separate evenings. The other one hundred plus evenings that the game cam has been in place has revealed even more animal species, and that did not include the wild hogs, deer, bobcats, or snakes (bleh) that have been seen here, too. We have since further enclosed our formerly thought to be enclosed but not as enclosed as we initially believed fence. While we still find tracks regularly in our yard, I now point the game cam outside of our fence line to the adjacent thicket of trees. I need to believe that the wild kingdom within our fence has slowed a bit and refuse to acknowledge the reality that we definitely still have a serious nocturnal zoo living in our yard.

As a side note, I would like to mention that I have discovered that raccoons and armadillos are the jerks of the nocturnal animal world. Thanks to Ranger Rick, all of my bird feeders have to be placed five hundred feet off the ground or very literally chained to their branches. If you are in need of large carabiners, don’t bother going to Amazon. I already bought their entire stock. In addition, we now have to put huge stones around all new plants to keep the leprosy kings from digging them up (Nine-banded armadillos are carriers of leprosy and are native to our area. These cootie factories with claws have been wreaking havoc in our yard every night as visions of sugar plums dance in our heads). Are these cute from a distance? Yes! Are they about to become a hat and a weird kitchy Texas-themed lamp? Even bigger yes! But once we move past the jerk animals of the night drama, it still fascinates me to know that they are so close at all times.

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That’s just how it is here. We are minutes from our previous home, but we are light years from our previous life there. I feel infinitely blessed here, and it makes me want to talk to people about the wonders that they could see if they would leave or replant a few native trees and bushes. Maybe our little plot of magic will inspire someone around us to invite the wilderness back into their yard, too.

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On that note, I will leave you with the final words of a book I have adored since my childhood. We read it to our own children now, and the words feel more important than ever before.

“Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It’s a Truffula Seed.
It’s the last one of all!
You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back.”
― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Place in the World

The Things We Don’t Say

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My husband took this picture of my daughter looking back at him from my car rear view mirror layered with dust. At that moment, we were lost on a country road in New Mexico. The scenery was amazing and the adventure unforgettable. I love everything about this photo.

Several years ago, I started a blog called Momentum of Joy. Almost no one knew about it, and I was adamant about keeping it that way. I didn’t write for long, and I was never comfortable with the idea that someone who knew me might read about my struggles. It got to the point where I felt like I could no longer find my voice. The words just disappeared. I allowed the domain to expire, and my desire to write faded away.

The stress of this past Mother’s Day led me (and my family) to the brink of ending up on the 5 o’clock news, so I decided to blog about it. I supposed that I did it for grins as well as self therapy, but that post unexpectedly reopened a part of my life that I had assumed was long gone until that very moment (https://momentumofjo.com/2017/05/20/mothers-day-a-day-of-relaxation-unless-of-course-youre-an-actual-mother/).  When I went to reactivate the site, I discovered that someone had nabbed my old domain and was effectively holding it for cyber ransom (Yeah – I’m looking at you China!), so Momentum of Jo was born (basically because it was available and close-ish to the original name).

Most of my initial posts were primarily comical or satirical in nature, but I still refrained from sharing it in a broader format with those in my life.  As I wrote more posts, I began to dig deeper, to delve beneath the surface layers, and to get more personal. There was no reason not to because so few people even knew about the blog. It was safe.

When the hurricane hit a few weeks ago, many of us became instantly connected in a way that I can’t adequately articulate. We shared extreme anxiety and fear for our families and homes for days, and we were deeply saddened at the losses that followed. We wept with friends and strangers, and we united to help those whose lives were devastated by the storm. That continues even now. Even though life will progressively fall back into the old patterns, something extraordinary happened in those days that changed me.

The protective walls I had been holding firm for years started to crumble, and to my own complete shock, I began to share my posts with family and friends. I recognize that this may seem inconsequential, but countless bloggers can confirm the freedom that comes with anonymity. No judgement. No questions. No explanations. Or at least none of that from anyone in your daily world. You can share the raw parts of yourself without having to worry about harsh whispers a few blocks over.

But after everything I have seen over the past few weeks, I’m tired of residing in the shadows. I see too many people hurting.

The more honest I become, the more people reach out and tell me that they have been or are in that emotional place as well. We all struggle with the nuances of being a human, but we rarely talk about the parts that hurt us the most – the fears, the losses, the despair. We paint over the pain as we cover social media with platitudes and plastic smiles.

I live a life that is overflowing with blessings. My children are wild and crazy and incredible. My husband is an amazing father, a wonderful husband, and a true partner in my life. I love all of my family more than they could ever imagine. I have genuine friends that have been at my side in my best moments and my darkest hours. I have a great job, and I sincerely love my colleagues. Our dogs are goofballs, but they are our goofballs. It’s the American Dream at it’s finest.

Except when it wasn’t and except when it isn’t.

I struggled desperately with depression when I was younger and almost did not make it out of my college years with my life. I still catch myself reeling from unexpected panic attacks, I feel consumed by loneliness at times, and I must work constantly to mitigate the irrational fears and behavior patterns that go hand in hand with anxiety disorders and expressions of OCD. As a bonus, I currently have split ends coupled with a serious mani / pedi deficiency. I’m a reflection of reality.

Most days are pretty good, but sometimes, I just get knocked on my emotional ass.  We all do. But we don’t talk about it.

So often, those raw and real aspects of ourselves and our lives are not reflected in the things we say.  Those can only be found buried within the things we don’t say.

If one person receives a minuscule level of validation or healing from something that is difficult for me to share, it’s worth my facing my own insecurities. If someone is in a dark place, and they can find a spark of light or a gleam of hope in my words in that heavy moment, I can handle judgement from those who don’t understand. I don’t need or ask for their approval or validation anyway.

Our struggles forge our characters and bind us together, and our lives are too important to be lived disingenuously. Life is like my family’s journey down that dusty country road. We get lost at times, but we are never alone. It may take us a good while to figure it out, but we will find adventure along the way, we will always have each other other, and ultimately, we will find our way back home. This journey is meant to be shared, and all of our experiences happen to help us to grow. If we can stop hiding so much of our true selves from the world around us, perhaps we can embrace more parts of this human experience we are having.

Hopefully my truth will resonate with another who still can’t find the words. I’ve found my voice again. Maybe I can help someone else find theirs, too.

Love and light always – Joanna

Layered

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