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!

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.  😉

 

Travel Anxiety Overload – Don’t Panic

I could be scheduled for a flight to the moon, and I would be happy as a clam as long as my family was by my side. But the moment I have to take a trip by myself, I’m basically purchasing a first class ticket to Crazyville (because one should never book economy class when flying into insanity).

I blame my kids. I was normal before they came along. Clarification – I was normal-ish specifically with regard to travel (but absolutely nothing else at all). The moment the mini-Jos appeared – boom – separation anxiety mania. Again with the clarification – my separation anxiety, not theirs. My children are annoyingly chill when I’m away. Although my husband vehemently denies it, I firmly believe that he intravenously supplements their diets with a chocolate drip while I’m away. (Lucky kids.) There is also a strong possibility that’s he’s just an amazing father. (Lucky all of us.)

But I have no chocolate I.V. and am therefore significantly less copacetic about the situation. I just worry about… (insert any random / statistically improbable / impossible occurrence that your brain can conjur here). Burglaries (I can walk to the police station from my house), plane crash (stats don’t support that), car crash (my being there won’t change those stats), pool accidents (we have no pool), illness (and on the 8th day God created pediatricians), flash hurricanes preventing me from returning home (yeah so that’s not a thing in the Gulf of Mexico but there was a tropical storm that actually did appear overnight in Houston several years ago – Tropical Storm Allison – huge mess!), or alien invasions (of the off planet kind that will probably necessitate a space wall courtesy of our new space army).

And then there’s the whole general social anxiety thing. I fake it damn well, but I am actually completely overwhelmed when I am out of my personal zone and away from my people. The littlest thing will send me into an internal panic, and I become particularly nervous when I have to go into the office for the first time in months. As an embarrassing example, I typically try to fly in the evening before I need to be there because I dread having a ton of faces turn my way when I walk onto the work floor unexpectedly mid workday. I feel like Norm in that old show “Cheers” when everyone greets me except I have zero comfort with finding myself in the spotlight and wish that I could do a sneaky army crawl and pop up unnoticed behind my computer screens. But even that spotlight doesn’t hold a candle to the discomfort I feel with regard to the hug gauntlet I must traverse if I’m not there before most of the team arrives.

There are ten thousand people en route to my desk (give or take about ten thousand people), and I feel obligated to hug them all. It started years ago with a small group of people and has since grown to comical proportions as the team has become very large. Ironically I actually am a total hugger and genuinely love my team members, so it’s not the actual hug part of the show that unnerves me. I just have no interest in perfunctory hugs for the whole work floor and get seriously weirded out when I feel like everyone is watching (which in reality is not actually happening). In addition I am acutely aware that some people don’t like to be hugged ever but then they will look weird, too, if they don’t join in on the team lovin’ so bring it on in here big guy! Eck.

As I have made it to town already, I should be there early enough to evade the excessive team P.D.A. lovefest. There will be a hug here and there, but I will be able to skip out on the over-thinking of my emotions and whatever additional emotional story I create in my mind for the non-huggers. Crisis aversion TBA.

The world will keep spinning. It will be fine. I will be fine. And so will my kids and my husband. We always are.

Hugs to all! Jo

**I will update you on my wacky Jo work trip tales because they always happen regardless of my plans to the contrary. They work out every time, but I never seem to have bland travels. If you have any funny travel tales of your own, I would love to read them. Feel free to tag me and post a link to it the comments here. 🙂

*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 6 of the challenge, I am tagging https://insidetherainbow.blog/. If anyone in the world can get why the hug gauntlet would make me shudder, I know that it’s you!!! 😉 Hugs to you sweet friend.