The Walls Are Closing In

In my former life – pre-kids, pre-marriage, pre-adulting – I would decide that I wanted to go somewhere on a whim and be headed that way within a few days or less. I love to see new places and experience new cultures, so traveling has always been great fun for me. In my current life, experiencing new cultures consists of visiting the latest Vietnamese restaurant that recently opened in an area strip center. You know. It’s the one by the 40th nail shop, dry cleaners, and Subway that can be found littered on every corner of Suburbia U.S.A.

I have an innate sense of wanderlust and have always wanted to visit a million different places on the planet. Unfortunately, there are two million reasons that stop that from happening. Work, school, schedules. Obligations, family, money. Reality. The other problem is that I work out of the house. While this is a huge blessing, it can also be very tough. While the rest of the family spends the day at the office or school, I remain here. Working out of your house can be extremely helpful, but it also means I spend almost all of my time here. I work long hours and don’t run out for long lunches. I don’t have time to go shopping or hangout with other moms in the area. Sometimes it’s can be very lonely. And when my work day ends, all I want to do is see my family and go out somewhere away from the house with them. However as they have been away all day, they naturally look forward to unwinding at home after their school and work days are over. I feel guilty if I go out without them, but I feel stir crazy if I stay home.

I want to jump in my car and drive for hours and hours to anywhere different and interesting. I want to plan trips to every corner of the (cornerless) globe. I have yet to see the Egyptian Pyramids, climb Machu Picchu, swim the Great Barrier Reef, or twirl in dizzy circles like a nun soon to be nanny on the slopes of the Alps. I still dream of photographing the incredible wildlife of Galapagos, making faces at the big noggins attached to submerged bodies at Easter Island, see the Northern Lights in person, or sit on the ocean floor as huge manta rays swim around me at a night dive in Hawaii. Seeing the beauties of the world through my phone screen is not enough for me. I want to breathe it all in. To take those journeys. To experience those wonders. To do more everything. And I want my family by my side the whole way.

But they usually want to stay close to home. And beyond that, short of having a long-lost unknown relative who has recently opted to pop a random massive check in the mail, that’s simply not possible in my life today nor will it be happening tomorrow either. It will be back to work, school, schedules. More obligations, family, money. Life as usual within these walls.

I’m blessed. Truly. I do know this. I love my family beyond measure, and I’m genuinely grateful for all of the realities that we are required to tend to each day. I just wish that I could either find a way to break out of the walls every now and then or learn how to fully accept living the vast majority of my hours within them.

I don’t believe that anyone should discard their dreams based on a moment’s perceived reality, but I can’t see how to surmount the realities at this point in my life either. The good news is that I know that life never moves in a straight line and incredible and wonderful surprises can appear when we least expect them.

Although I am feeling constricted in this moment, I ultimately choose to trust that the universe has bad ass plans in the works for my crew and me. I remind myself to breathe in the good in all of the moments and seek the magic in the smallest of our experiences.

Anything can happen and there are countless impossible possibilities that become spectacular realities every day. So this is my official shout out to the universal miracle request line. Bring it on baby because we are here and ready whenever you are!

Another Sexy-time Fun Mom Weekend

I pulled my head out from under the covers a few minutes ago. I wanted to stay there, but who has time for that kind of shutdown?

Please note that I wasn’t there because I was sleeping nor was sexy-time on the books. I actually got out of bed hours ago because I needed to make breakfast, do some cleaning, and ideally have a little family time. Unfortunately the family that decided to join me for that time (my own) was irritating the crap out of me, so I ended up extricating myself from the area due to safety concerns for all within my range.

Upon returning to my own room, I immediately found myself dealing with unexpected calls and texts from the outside world regarding outside world craziness. Apparently madness knows no bounds. My husband and I barked at each other momentarily in response to all that (which never ceases to be ironic because we are rarely truly mad at each other about the outside insanity but rather just stressed in general about scenarios neither of us can fix). Following our scrappy moment, he left the room and I proceeded to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head like I was hiding from a vampire (that has lived under my bed for decades waiting to strike if I mistakenly happen to leave a toe exposed outside of my blanket as I fall asleep) (because apparently this vampire has a thing about toes but not actual heads / necks) (yes it’s weird, okay???).

Does anyone else do this? Something childish and ridiculous like literally putting the covers and pillows over your head in a futile attempt to turn it all off for a few minutes? Truth be told, I would greatly prefer blasting music to literally drown out the noise with a louder better rhythmic beat. Unfortunately that would simply call the aforementioned housemates (a.k.a. my children) to me like rump shakin’ rats to an inappropriate hip-hop and 90s rap playing pied piper.

I. Need. Space.

But too bad for me. There’s crap to do, and times a-wastin’.

So here I am. Newly emerged from the covers once more and tapping away to write this post on my phone in a desperate attempt to syphon off some of my excessive irritation and overall overwhelmed everything that is circling furiously around my brain. But even that has to stop because, as I said previously, I got shiznet to handle.

Hopefully you, too, will find your way out of the covers. Best of luck on your own sexy-time weekend plans. Peace out.

Jo

Parenting Reality – Back to School Photo Fails

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality1 - what you see

I love it when I meet a parent who owns the reality that comes with raising kids. There’s the family life that we typically display on social media (image above).  And then there’s every other minute of the day that we constantly attempt to keep tucked away along with the rest of the crazy we are sporting (every other photo).

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality2 - what you DONT see

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality3 - what you DONT see

MOJO - 2018 - first day reality4 - what you DONT see

Are my kids the only ones who balk annually at first day of school and Xmas card pics? Where are everyone else’s crappy kid attitude photos? Let’s just go ahead and be honest with each other. Those are the ones most of us secretly want to see anyway.

Or again, maybe not. Perhaps I’m a twisted sister, and it’s just me and my photographically belligerent crew who can’t see to figure out a happy approach to these yearly rituals.

(But I don’t think so…)

😉  Jo

Is Our Parenting Style a Model of Dysfunction or a Reflection of a Normal Family?

We parent loudly. To be more clear, we yell. A lot. While I imagine that it would be wonderful to have more patience, I also know that my kids can be stinkers and oh em gee how many times did I already ask you to put away your personal mountain o’ laundry???

I’m not sure if it’s good or bad to be mostly okay with your personal family dysfunction, and what’s even worse is that I’m not fully confident that it actually is full-out dysfunction. Sometimes I think that we are raising our children to be permanent residents of Crazy town but then I get a peek into other people’s family lives. Based on those glimpses, it seems to me that everyone has their own version of weird.

My husband is from a family of master artists in the media of quiet anger coupled with overt passive aggression. My own family has always opted for outright hostility and total overreaction. Our approach is to get furiously mad but then get over it fairly quickly and move on down the road. As I won the parenting style debate, the screamy mom and dad approach in our household was adopted and has been in place for years.

At times I have worried that our open lack of patience would damage our children’s psyche as well as their hearing, but I have since recognized that public school and the local news will mess with their them far more effectively that we ever could.

We always try to become better, wiser, and more patient with each day that passes, and when we screw up, we say sorry and we mean it. Although I have no qualms with embarrassing my kids (in fact, I believe that you are leaving some major parent artillery in the discipline safe if embarrassment isn’t on your options list), but we would never physically harm our children. We aren’t perfect parents, but noise aside, I honestly feel like we do try. I have only had one “wire hangers!!!” meltdown this week, so life can’t be all bad here. We tell our kids that we love them constantly and we do as much as we can to show them that we mean it.

I wonder if this the way it goes in most of the families out there. I wonder if we are building stronger adults who are going to be more responsible or if we are just ensuring that therapists of the world will always have a job as long as my grown kids are around. Only time will tell.

But for now, my kids are asleep in an indoor tent in the living room. Maybe they are dreaming about the fireworks we took then to see this evening, or maybe they are just passed out into oblivion since we let them stay up waaaay too frickin late. All I know is that as much stuff as we get wrong, I think that we often get a lot of that right, too.

You can be critical of some of your shortcomings, but it’s healing to look for the positive side of that story, too. We aren’t perfect at anything, but we don’t tend to be all bad either. Release the guilt for the mistakes and focus on making more of the good stuff the main stuff. When you put more emphasis the positive side of your story, your tale will play out with a brighter tone altogether. Do better whenever you can and celebrate the good always.

Big hugs to you! Jo

*Thank you Janie at https://authentically50.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/7-day-bw-photo-challenge-day-four/ for tagging me to participate in the 7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge (7 days / 7 b&w photos / no people / no explanation / challenge a new person daily)

For day 4 of the challenge, I am tagging my partner in blogging friendship crime Maria at https://renewedhealingarts.wordpress.com. Maria and I have been blogging friends for years and began our new blogs simultaneously earlier this week. It was unplanned as always but that’s how Maria and I have always been on our coinciding random life choices. LLet’ see what you’ve got Maria!  😉

**The photo above was inspired by Cee’s Black & White Photography Challenge specific to birds. https://ceenphotography.com/

Depression is Not Black and White

chickadee - soft (greys)

The use of black and white filters can be striking in the world of photography, but in the world of depression, black and white is nowhere to be found. Everything is shaded with countless shades of grey. I have spent decades attempting to figure out the right way to handle this or respond to that. Hoping to learn how to be more likable and more normal. Searching for a better approach to maintaining fulfilling relationships. Trying desperately to just be okay.

However it isn’t that cut and dry. Life is unpredictable and has a fierce habit of jerking the emotional rug out from under us when we least expect it. And when that happens, we hit the ground. Hard.

For someone with depression, an emotional takedown can be utterly debilitating. Maybe your energy drains to nonexistence and you find yourself unable to move or leave your bed. Perhaps you become enraged and begin to actively push away anyone who cares enough to try to offer support. Some people physically hurt themselves or try to anesthetize the pain away with alcohol or drugs. Others lose hope, give in to the pain and the lies their minds tell them, and give up altogether.

I genuinely understand the indescribable heaviness you feel when you are facing that dark night of the soul. I promise that I truly do. But I also know that no matter how dark it is in that moment – even if that moment feels like it has gone on and on – it does not stay like that. It always get better. Ironically it will go back to crappy again, too, but the good news is that the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth. As always, just remember to wait it out whenever that happens.

The truth is that this is how life goes for everyone. You don’t need to be a card-carrying member of the mental health diagnosis club to feel like an outsider, to believe that you are lost, or to be in a place of tremendous sadness or hurt.

We may focus on our weaknesses, but the heaviest of times often reveal our greatest strengths, too. If you can’t get out of bed today, that’s okay. The weight of that kind of emotional exhaustion can be suffocating, but the world will keep spinning for now. But get out of bed tomorrow.

If you are being offered genuine help from someone who loves and wants to be there for you, open the door instead of slamming it closed.

Avoid trying to mask to pain with alcohol or drugs. I get that it feels good in the moment, but those will tear you down on so many levels. The numbness won’t last, and you are left with a deeper emotional hole with every further attempt to hide from your life.

Open up to others in your life who will help you find your footing again, and seek professional help.

Above all, don’t ever give in to the pain, and don’t ever lose hope.

I don’t believe on any level that suicide is an indication of cowardice. Rather I see it as an act of absolute desperation and total confusion. People who take their lives become tremendously lost regarding what seems real versus what actually is real. They can recognize the absolute truth that every new day holds a promise of something better. Now I’ll admit that that doesn’t mean that the better whatever will come along today. But then again, it definitely could. If not, that greatly improves the odds for an even better tomorrow, so it makes practical sense to keep sticking around.

Although it might simplify our days, a world of black and white would be tedious and dull. We may perceive endless shades of grey in our lives, but we are also blessed with an endless array of other colors to brighten our days. Don’t forget to notice them in their innumerable forms, and don’t ever hide your own colors, your brilliance, or your beauty in an effort to blend in or be normal. You are so much better than normal, and you are so much more than mere black and white.

Much love to you always.  Jo

chickadee - soft (color)
Life is much more beautiful with a splash of color.

***Thank you to my darling friend https://authentically50.wordpress.com/2018/06/27/7-day-bw-photo-challenge-day-four/ for tagging me to participate in the 7 Day Black & White Photo Challenge. The rules are straightforward. Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day.

For day 1, I am tagging Kim at https://itrippedoverastone.com/.  Kim is a light in the dark to so many, and I am so incredibly blessed to call her my friend.

For those who have known me via my primary blog https://momentumofjo.com/, you won’t be stunned to hear that I am not particularly interested in rules of any kind (thus my black & white-ish photo) nor will you be shocked to read that those whom I tag should feel zero pressure from me to participate or follow the requirements as written. Although I would love to see your photos and read your posts, I fully understand that we all have plenty on our to do lists. Participate if you would like. Don’t if you would rather not. Whatever you do, just do it in your own style. Much love! 🙂