Stop Waiting for Heaven

I am not one to push my faith on anyone. Simply put, it’s not my style. Furthermore, I believe that we are all given a chance to have our own journey and that includes our walks (stumbles / face-splats) of faith.

However I have no reticence about sharing my belief that you do not have to wait for heaven to experience it. My halo has yet to exit the angelic assembly line nor have all those harp lessons paid off to date (probably because I never attended or signed up for any). But I know when I’m in a moment that is so surreal and spectacular that I can sense I beautiful imprint of that moment on my soul.

This can happen when I see something extremely special to me like watching my husband and children walk onto the same little island that I visited as a child and that my father visited when he was young. More often than not, it will happen in the most insignificant and unlikely of times. Being together for a low rent meal. Laughing hysterically during family game day. Being collectively thrilled at watching the raccoons squabble over peanuts outside our window at night.

It’s the smallest of the small stuff, but the magic is immeasurably great. I want to bottle up those feelings so I can access them whenever I forget. And I do forget. Constantly. By the hour kind of constantly. Probably more often than that.

But when I get out of my way and can see the beauty of the moment, I can recognize that it’s there all the time. Clearly I don’t have the full deets on what will happen once I discard this sweet meat suit o’ mine, but I sincerely believe that any version of heaven would have to incorporate these moments of tremendous wonder and feelings of boundless love.

Feel free to plan to take up permanent residence in heaven after you are gone. Just don’t forget to notice the divine perfection that is all around you while you are here, too. You don’t have to live a life of perfection to be able to find the celestial magnificence that fills every corner of our existence. I’m a prime example of utter imperfection in action yet moments of paradise reveal themselves every day nonetheless.

Notice them. Appreciate them. Allow them to remind you if the spectacular soul who you truly are. And if along the way you do happen to find a way to bottle them up, please drop me a line. We could all use a little more Heaven ready and waiting in the wings. 😇🐆

Much love to you.

Jo

Learning to Accept What I Can’t Control

As one who has minor (ginormous) challenges with slight (immeasurably large) control issues, I have yet to find a way to master my emotional response to situations that don’t turn out according to plan (that I created in my mind regardless of anyone else’s plan or reality). While I am aware of this flaw in my thought process, I struggle deeply with disentangling my personal feelings from the scenarios that upset me even when I recognize that I can’t change them.

A few months ago, we moved to a unique suburban area that offered over-sized lots with a small forest of trees blanketing the back of the yards. My oldest daughter and I discovered a shared passion for wildlife photography (especially of the feathered variety). We have always loved birds, but we were clueless about the vast array of species that would appear when we shared a little space with a grove of native trees.

In addition we have since found countless animal tracks trotting across our yard (inside our entirely enclosed fence). Our family and friends have been entertained over and over again with photos from our game camera as well as our evening animal stakeouts (a.k.a. sitting together in the dark in my room while we all stare out the windows with binoculars in hand and wait for our eyes to adjust and the nocturnal zoo to reveal itself).

game cam1

This level of nature may not be for everyone, but it’s an absolute paradise to my crew.

So when I woke a few mornings ago to the sickening crack of massive trees being felled a few feet behind our home, I felt an indescribable sadness. Our lot backs up to a tiny creek that separates our property from the lots behind us. Despite having a massive lot and a huge amount of space available for any castle / pool / soccer field the a new resident might need, the builders bulldozed tree after tree to the ground. The birds flew madly and many pairs could be heard wailing madly for hours as their nests and chicks were stolen away from them.

trees1

This was the view from our lot a few days prior. We were upset with our own builder for clearing the back of our lot, but we were confident that the green space would be maintained.

To be clear, I’m not an unrealistic person nor do I live in a tree house of my own. I understand that even if it isn’t exactly what I want, many trees may have to come down to make room for a home, pool, and significant yard. But if you buy a massive wooded lot, why in the world would you ever destroy such natural beauty that took decades (or longer) to grow? Why come here at all? In addition, it was a clear violation of everything that we had been told about maintaining the larger trees. Although we rallied with the other neighbors beside us to get the builder involved and stop further mindless clearing, the damage was already done. The builder feigned confusion about the excess of clearing, and the destroyed trees were piled into an 18 wheeler and hauled away.

trees2
This quickly became our view as the bulldozer began to tear through the trees. They did significant additional clearing after this photo was taken, but I couldn’t stomach taking another picture of the decimated habitat.

There was a pair of great horned owls that lived in one of the trees behind us that is now gone. We used to see a thick forest when we looked across our back fence but now see power lines and electrical boxes running along the other street several hundred feet behind our lot. I feel so sad and I don’t know how to let that go. I can’t control their choices nor can I fix the damage they caused.

All I can do is pray that the sadness will fade and that hope will find a way in the end.

I can’t change what has been done, but I humbly ask that you please consider planting a very small native tree or shrub near your home, school, or park. Any home improvement or garden store should be able to offer basic advice regarding appropriate plant species. If not, google might have one or two (thousand) suggestions. People constantly asking us how we get these beautiful species in our yard, and the answer is truly so simple. They just need a little bit of help.

We can’t control the situations around us nor can we go back in time to undo a hurt once it has happened. But we can make better choices when others can’t or won’t. We can rise above the pain. We can recognize that anger may be warranted but cannot define our existence. And we can choose hope and prove that it’s more than an idea.

As Willy Wonka beautifully said, “We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of the dreams.”

And it’s true. Regardless of what is occurring around you, find your song and celebrate your dreams. Never forget that the smallest light can brighten the darkest room. Don’t let fear, hurt, or anger extinguish your brilliant glow. Find that beautiful spark that is an innate part of who you truly are, take positive action of your own whenever you can, and show the world what it’s like to shine.

Hugs to you all. Jo

Meditation Distraction – Anything But Zen

unzen post - IG

Meditation is a beautiful way to rediscover the zen within for a great many people (and sometimes, that group includes me, too). I listen to soft music as soothing wisdom reminds me to find the stillness within. To let the noise float away as I recenter myself. I seek to allow the calm to quiet my thoughts as the divine inspiration reveals my purpose. And at times, that is precisely what happens.

But at other times… not so much.

My mind spirals out of control via a tangled web of critical questions like…

Why do people often say, “Can I just ask you a question?”

Well, you just did. Furthermore you didn’t even give me a chance to decide my thoughts on the whole question matter before you went there. I’m not sure if I’m more annoyed with the violation of the premise or the mathematical inaccuracy of the initial inquiry. However I do know that is definitely is not worthy of violating my mental meditation space.

I also sometimes get caught up on other important issues like the confusing wording in the song ‘Bust a Move” by Young MC. It’s an oldie but a serious goodie. With that said, I have struggled for years with these lyrics:

“…Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry.
In five days from now he’s gonna marry.
He’s hopin’ you can make it there if you can
Cause in the ceremony you’ll be the best man…”

Why in the world are you the best man at Larry’s wedding? Shouldn’t Harry be the best man given that he is Larry’s brother? It’s probably just a wording issue, but what if Harry also misunderstands and suddenly the wedding is left best-manless or, even worse, with a battle of the best men??? Weddings are stressful enough. The last thing you need is a best man brawl! Hopefully the hot bridesmaid will be enough of a distraction to keep the ceremony on track, but I still feel like the less Young than he once was MC should think about the situation he could be causing with this linguistic complication.

Yes folks. Clearly these are mental cogitations of an intellectual giant.

Seriously. Why does this crapfest of irrelevant contemplations bust a move straight into my noggin at the most ridiculous of times or when I am trying my hardest to be chill? ***Please note that I do recognize that the words “trying my hardest” and “to be chill” ideally should never be paired together and thus give a significant hint regarding the real issue at hand.

Alas some days are just this way. Erratic thinking, distractions galore, endless diversions from the task at hand, and an overall feeling of being out of focus. And given that the last couple of days have been rife with those moments, you are now getting this post, my not-so-subtle effort to weed out some of the noise in my mind. Hopefully I will find myself a little more on track come tomorrow, but be warned. If the next post begins with something pertaining to sporks (the cutlery bane of my existence), you can feel certain that this attempt at written therapy was less than effective.

Fingers and toes, knives and forks crossed for calmer days to come.

Hugs to all.  Jo

Shout out to RDP for the inspiration!  😉  https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/

Feeling Lost – Destination Unknown

balloon - IG

I have serious trust issues. If I am going somewhere with other people, I insist on driving my own car. I struggle with surprises of any kind unless I am on the planning side of the equation. I share my deepest hurts with a very select group of people. And I am most comfortable when I can keep the majority of the world at arm’s length (or ideally much more) despite my surface smile and boisterous laughter. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and frankly, I’m comfortable with those boundaries.

The problem that I face is that my trust issues have a terrible tendency of extending to my comfort with the unknown plans of the Universe. Although I feel an extreme aversion to pushing my faith on others (unless you share my bed or carry 50% of my genes and then you are going to get an earful regularly), I don’t question the existence of God (Holy Trinity / Divine Spirit / Universe / Higher Power / Your Preferred Term Here). Divine plans have consistently blown my own ideas out of the water despite my incessant trepidation, and I have always been cared for even in the darkest of times. I know that there is no need to worry about what will happen in my life.

Yet I do worry. Constantly.

I question what will happen next. What move I should make. What plans I should follow. What direction I should go.

I constantly seek control of this spiritual experience we refer to as being human. A huge part of me recognizes the ironic humor in my futile attempts to control the uncontrollable while the other part fails to recognize the joke. I may aim my ship in one direction or another, yet I will never have any control over the wind that will carry me forward.

Nevertheless, I will find solid ground. Even though I might not be able to read the map of my future, I will be given direction. There is a path for me even though I can’t perceive it at this point in my journey. I have a purpose. A big important and wonderfully special purpose. We all do.

The Universe’s plan for us is not dependent on our willingness to trust that it’s there. However, it sure would make the trip more fun if we could remember to always enjoy the ride, to never forget to take in the scenery, and to be aware of appreciating the smallest of beautiful moments along the way.

Though we may feel like we are hopelessly adrift, we are never lost. We are on the path during each day that we live, and every moment is a new destination waiting to be recognized and adored. You are already where you are supposed to be, and so am I.

Perhaps instead of asking ourselves what our lives will be like once we get to wherever we are going, we need to ask ourselves what we want our lives to be like at this point in the journey right now. The moment is here.

So what’s your next move? What should you be celebrating in your life and in your spirit right now?

Hugs and hope, love and light always.  Jo

Another Jo Project – A Daughter’s Room Makeover Surprise with Ocean and Beach Themed Design and Decor

***Originally posted on https://anotherjoproject.com/.

1hannah after - window and desk - ocean and beach decor IG

I struggle with a tremendous amount of anxiety when my kids are away. It’s a long-standing pattern within my persona, and my therapy of choice for stress relief is to tackle another self-created project. To my husband’s great dismay, it’s an endless task, but I do turn out some fun results at times. So when my children went away to camp this past week, I channeled that nervous energy into decorating my daughter’s room.

She had been asking me to create an ocean and beach themed room for her since we moved into this home several months ago. Her walls remained bare because I had yet to put her room at the top of the design agenda. I didn’t have a design plan in mind, but I typically don’t until I get to work on a specific space. Regardless I was certain that it was going to be a monster project. Consequently it was perpetually hanging at the caboose end of the “Rooms Still Pending Design Work” list.

3hannah before - window wall

Although her room was bland, she kept it lively with random and ever-changing mountains o’ crap. As the mountains weren’t her optimal theme, she patiently waited her turn. To her sincere credit, she never complained nor did she make the slightest fuss when multiple other rooms were completed long before her own. As she had no idea that I was going to do anything to her room (likely because I came up with the plan minutes before her departure), it was a tremendous surprise for her (and an excellent time crunch motivator for me).

1hannah before - bed wall

To put it mildly, this room was a serious beast to knock out in under a week but I had been stockpiling a few ocean and beachy knick-knacks here and there. Thankfully Amazon Prime and Hobby Lobby were able to fill in a substantial amount of the gaping holes of my unplanned approach.

4hannah after - desk wall - ocean and beach decor IG

5hannah after - window wall - ocean and beach decor IG

 We also created several large display pieces with some unused distressed wood that we still had on hand from an office wall project I put together several months ago (that’s a separate post for another day). The pieces included a unique picture frame holder, a wreath display, and a name board. From a skill perspective, these weren’t difficult to complete. However from a time and pain in the butt-ness perspective, they were projects I would not recommend one do in a limited timeframe. I will write a post with DIY tips on how to create these for those who are interested.

Incredibly, we completed the room and put on the finishing touches right before we ran out the door to pick the kids up at the end of their camp week. It was exhausting beyond words, but her wonderfully shocked and ecstatic reaction made it all worth while.

2hannah after - bed and dresser - ocean and beach decor IG

More often than not, my life fails to look like the stuff of Hallmark movies. We mess up constantly. Lose our tempers. Get it wrong and then find a way to make it even worse.

But every now and then, we really get it right. And when that happens, it’s an immense gift to all of us.

I believe strongly in the value of creating a personal space that makes a person feel good, and it is extremely important to me that my family feels that their home is warm, inviting, and special. I love that I was able to create this room for my daughter because her elation with calling it her own is palpable.

Rejoice in the big parenting wins when they happen, but find joy in the smallest of good moments as well. It doesn’t have to be a room redo or a massive surprise. A simple “I love you” in the morning or a sweet note in a lunchbox is a world changer for children.

It’s not about the presents. It’s about your presence. Be there, see them, and let them know that no ocean in the world is anywhere near as deep as your love for them.

If you would like help with your kids’ rooms, drop me a line. If you have fun posts on your child room decor, I would love to hear about that, too!

I wish the very best to you all!  🙂

Jo Price

***Originally posted on https://anotherjoproject.com/.

The Storms That We Endure Shape Our Beauty and Strengthen Us

la jolla - IG

We judge ourselves with the harshest of filters when we are struggling within. We often feel like we are battered by our situations and our emotions. In those times of severe self-critical examination, we fail to notice the beautiful revelations in those moments. We can’t see that the storms that we are enduring will never define us yet they will give us definition.

Our cracked facade is never a sign of our being hopelessly broken but rather proof of our indomitable strength. The perceived faults are our true beauty and the scars are evidence of the roads upon which we have traversed and triumphed. Our lives are miraculous wonders and our stories are anything but happenstance.

Celebrate the rough patches. The sharp edges. The broken corners. The rugged beauty of our human existence is a true wonder to behold.

Don’t ever let the wind or water take you down. You can survive any storm that heads your way, and your being able to read these words proves how far you have already come.

Never give up, never give in, and always always always keep going. You have important things to do, and it’s time to let your true beauty shine.

Much love to you all.  Jo

Turn the Focus to Nature Photography and Turn Down the Travel Anxiety

black skimmer - IG

It’s no secret that I don’t do well when I have to travel solo. Despite my issues, my company is located out of state, so solo travel lands on my calendar multiple times a year. In order to redirect my nervous energy this past week, I opted for a series of random after workday adventures. A couple of those days included the coolest of activities. Happy hour? Chillin’ with my team at the bars? Dancing the night away?

snowy egret seafood - IG with logoOooooh nooooo. Think cooler. Much much cooler. That’s right.

Nature. Photography.

Aaaaaah yes. Haters gonna hate, but I couldn’t stop the unmitigated badassness that came with lugging around a lens so ridiculous that it made my forearms ache to hold it. As an added bonus, I was able to respond to inquiries from curious passersby who repeatedly asked, “Do you get incredible photos with that camera?” with my sly response of “It’s a hit and miss given that my limited camera knowledge is derived from the patient people at Canon customer support and Google.”

landing - IG

I told you. Mad. Skills. My anxiety faded away as my native nerdiness returned to the forefront. But it made me happy, and it did calm me down. I send heartfelt thank yous to the many California locals who suggested several beautiful places for capturing lovely nature shots and to those who pointed me in the right direction once I arrived.

seal in la jolla - IGKindness is so very powerful. We often don’t realize that the people around us are struggling deeply, and the smallest of benevolent gestures can mean more than we could ever know.

As is the norm, I actually had a wonderful week. Despite a few questionable moments (to be discussed later), I survived relatively unscathed. And now I’m home once more. Back to Texas. Back to my people.

Back to me.

osprey - IG

Big hugs to you all!  Jo

*My instagram ID is @texasbirdnerd for any other nature photo nerds. Find me so I can see your pics, too. Those always make me smile.  🙂

acorn woodpeckers - IG

***I would love to know what you do to take down the stress level when you are feeling overwhelmed. Feel free to tag your relevant posts in the comments, but keep in mind that this is a family show. Please keep it G / PG rated. Sorry, but I don’t need to read any of your PG-13 and above ideas.  😉