Connected To All

In Avatar, there is a Tree of Souls that connects Eywa to all life on Pandora. It is a beautiful willow-tree style, that has the ability to see all, and hear all, according to the Na’vi. This tree also allows the Na’vi to have contact with Eywa. More or less in a nutshell. The movie is slightly confusing.

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Tree of Souls, Avatar 

In our lives, we are connected to the news as it happens via the Internet.  One no longer has to wait until the 6:00 PM news to find out what happened in the world.  Rather, we are able to see events as they unfold.  Often times, this can be uncensored, yet it is how the world has progressed.

We are all connected to so many things, but that is just it. They are things. We love our cellphones, gaming systems, iPods, ect. They provide us with a world outside of our world.  Panic sets in if one of the devices is missing. Did I lose it? Where did I put it? Oh my gosh! I ran over it in the snow… The list goes on.

While I do appreciate the things that technology has given us, sometimes I wonder why?  Sure, my family is spread out throughout the United States.  Facebook has given us a way to be connected in the moment, even though we cannot physically be there.  I have been able to watch my younger family members grow up, go to band concerts, dances, etc.  It is something that I would not trade for the world!

But social media, and technology, also has its disadvantages.  Cyber bullying is at an all time high.  Messages can be sent and then disappear thanks to SnapChat.  Through all of the interconnectedness (not sure if that is a word) it appears we are also growing farther apart.  I do miss the days of receiving a handwritten letter.  Instead, I will settle for a text message from a friend saying I miss you.  Why? Because even though it isn’t written by hand, it is written with the thought of letting me know that I matter to them.

How about you? Has the advancement in technology allowed you to become closer to those you love, or has it driven you farther apart?

~J.J.~

 

 

Do-Over or Do-Again?

Staples has the “easy button”, where you just push it and everything happens in an instant.  If there was a button in life that did that, I would use it as a Do-Over, maybe? When I sit down to think about it, not just in passing, but actually ponder, would I do events in my life over? I’m not sure.

A Chance to Do OverI have had my share of moments that I used to think I would love to forget.  However, as I have grown older, these are the moments that I now know helped build me into the person I am.  Sure there were the many nights of parties, breaking curfew (sorry mom and dad!), and shenanigans that followed.  Nothing was ever harmed, nor was property destroyed.  It ended up being a bunch of friends, beer, and a bonfire.  The memories made have lasted and brought friends closer.  Some decisions, well, let me just say that they did not turn out so well.

How about the time that I thought I was the “worst mom in the world”? Despite the fact that my son was 4, it is still something that has stuck with me.  I am pretty sure he was upset because I wouldn’t go to the pet the store and get a baby dinosaur.  I mean, I would if I could get them, but it just wasn’t in the budget to find a baby dinosaur.

Or the time that I thought it would be a wonderful idea to have two large dogs, and a medium one, for “house” dogs.  Yes, they are outside most of the day, but they live inside at night.  They bring in their share of muddy feet, yet they are loved regardless.

While these may seem like trivial events, they are part of my life.  Yes, I do have events that have happened that could have turned out differently.  I apologize for not sharing them, yet.  In my heart, I know that there is nothing in my life I would want to do over, except for one thing.

The only thing that I would change if I could would be to have one more moment with my father.  To record his voice telling my son how proud he is of him.  To hear him say “I Love You” one more time. To tell him, I love you, one more time. My Do-Over option would not be to erase anything, but to have one more moment of life’s blessing that one can never get back.  For all the other events, it is part of life.  We live. We make mistakes. We learn. We grow from our experiences. But most of all, we live.

If you could “Do-Over” any moment, would you change it, or just ask for one more moment?

~J.J.~

 

The Measure of a Man

Growing up, my father was my biggest influence.  He was there through the tears, the laughter, the jokes, and the milestones.  I would not say that my child was perfect, nor would I say it was not.  It was my childhood, which is going to be different from yours.  What I do know looking back, is that my father taught me what a husband would be.

Depending on where you are in the world the cultures are different.  In my lovely small town in Minnesota, we do not do arranged marriages. I guess you could say that the pool is small, unless you venture and attend college elsewhere. A common thread is that the father’s have taught their son’s how to treat their future spouse/spouse.  One holds the door, helps with what is needed, etc.  The concept that a mom can stay home is still here, but let’s face it: In today’s world, both need to work… At least for us, that is how it is. Hockey is expensive, plain and simple.

But, back to my point.  My father taught me how to measure my future husband in terms of traits.  He should be able to laugh with me, not at me (which does happen); he should be there for the good and the bad.  Just because something is hard, it is not over.  He also taught me that one should never, NEVER, raise a hand to a female.  Regardless of the circumstances, there IS ALWAYS another option.  I know that I might receive some backlash for my feelings, but please remember that our life events are influenced by what we have seen growing up.

To often we hold people to unobtainable standards.  I mean, have we not see Deadpool? 🙂  Yet, what I can measure is the fact that my husband and I have been together 10 years.  It is has been difficult, it has been dark.  But there has been laughter, memories, tears, children, and challenges.  At the end of the day, we may not like each other.  But regardless, we still love each other.  That is something that does not need to be measured, because it can be seen.

~J.J.~

Nothin’ But A Good Time

Poisons’ lyrics go:

I’m always workin’ slavin’ every day
Gotta get a break from that same old same old
I need a chance just to get away
If you could hear me think this is what I’d say

Work is a part of life, it is something that as adults, it is part of life. Work can be fun, it can be challenging, it can be mundane.  I wonder if it is really Nothin’ But A Good Time?

DSCN0704Sure, it can be a good time, but for me, a good time can take many forms.

 A family trip to the ocean, can lead to many memories. Some I treasure forever, as it was our last family vacation with my father.  Other good times involve the many hours in a car during hockey season.  The days can be long, the roads treacherous at times, but as always, we make it a good time.  A dedicated playlist to hockey road trips can keep it fun.

Other times, it is watching the sunset after a day IMG_4116of working outside. Fishing with friends, off the boat landing.  Simply watching the bobber float in the current.  The water can be still or rolling waves.  Slowly a dragonfly lands on the line and life is peaceful.  Just a good time.  The only care is if the fish, or turtle, ate the bait.

A good time can be a party with lots of friends.  Loud music, lots of alcohol, well, you get the picture.  Or, it is a small gather around a bonfire.  The cool summer nights, light breeze, and hopefully no mosquitoes.  It provides the perfect chance to unwind and get lost in the flame.  The quiet, yet loud, crackle of the logs slowly burning. Many stories have been shared with others over the traditional summer bonfire.  One can also gain valuable revelations about themselves by simply sitting and being.

Depending on what stage of live someone is in, a good time can take many forms.  For me, I would rather relax with a fishing line in a stream or watching a fire burn with close friends.  Life is what you make it.  A good time can be found anywhere, as long as your heart is happy.

How about you? What do you feel is Nothin’ but a Good Time?

~J.J.~

Live in Harmony

Today is Earth Day in United States! For some cities, there are parades planned, along with numerous clean up events. Some cities have a 5K walk/run planned, and others are simply acknowledging that today is Earth Day. Untitled design Regardless of where we call home, Earth is OUR home.  It is the only place, that we know of, that can support the human and animal race.  It provides us with air, water, and sunlight.  But are we living in harmony with this wonderful planet, or are we just living?

Some question if Global Warming is really happening, which I am not going to debate here.  Many cities have to alter the citizens of air quality and when it might not be safe to go outside.  For the record, I am not advocating one or another. I am simply writing what is on my mind.

One of the “spokes” on the Eight Fold Path is Mindfulness.  Essentially, Mindfulness means being aware of the present moment at all times.  With today being Earth Day, I feel it would be best to see how one can be mindful of their life in terms of Earth day.

For me, it means being careful with that I do. I do not litter, nor do I let it sit on the road.  I try my hardest to eliminate my carbon footprint.  But, I am a flawed human.  Mistakes happen; life happens.  Basically, I have one planet that I call home.  I share it will billions of others.  This is the only place that we all call home.  It is all that we have.  While Avatar had the planet of Pandora, we have not found that yet.

So today, and in the following days, I challenge each member of the human race to be more mindful of how we can protect this place that we all call home.  Pick up litter, recycle more, and genuinely enjoy the beautiful sunrise and sunset each day.  Since it means that we have enjoyed one more rotation on the axis.

Happy Earth Day!

~J.J.~

Waiting for an Absolution

There is a quote from the movie Titanic “Waiting for an absolution that would never come.”  Granted, I do watch many movies (no cable, just Netflix) but this quote has stuck with me since I first saw the movie.  Absolution means a freeing of blame, guilt.  It is also part of numerous church doctrines:

Roman Catholic Theologya remission of sin or of the punishment for sin, made by a priest in the sacrament of penance on the ground of authority received from Christ.Protestant Theology: a declaration or assurance of divine forgiveness to penitent believers, made after confession of sins.

 

Waiting for the abolution that might never happen. It can feel as if the world is always watching. Just remember, there is peace in acceptance..pngThroughout my life there have been many events that I have sought forgiveness for.  Some where my fault, others were based on the situation where my heart broke for others.  There have been times where things were either said or done that have hurt me deeply.  For many years I sought and wished a person would apologize.  It hurt me that the person would not apologize. My mind would argue with itself wondering how they did not feel guilty for the actions that have caused me pain.

As time has progressed, my thinking has changed.  I can only control how I react to a situation, not how others react.  It doesn’t matter if the person would apologize to me.  What matters is that I can accept what happened, forgive them, and subsequently move on with my life.  Holding onto the feelings of being “owed” something were only making me more upset.  It was time to let them go, and be accepting of that fact.

That is where the hard part comes in. Waiting is difficult. Waiting to be okay with how a situation turned out can be difficult.  Forgiving someone who might not deserve just makes waiting harder.

Basically, I have realized it is easier to let it be, then try to change.  To be accepting of how things turn out.  Every situation is different. Each individual might feel something different.  However, knowing that I was eventually able to forgive, despite how long I waited to be a place to do that, has helped. My reactions are ultimately my own.  I am able to control how I react. I cannot control others, but that is fine.

How about you? Do you let others influence how you react to a situation? If not, have you found it easier to forgive, let be, and move forward?

 

Humanity

Let me be honest for a moment: I live in scary times.  Yes, I said it. It is a scary time in the world.  Regardless of which news channel you turn to, there is another explosion, bombing, murder, well you can see where I am going with this.  The world is not a safe place, nor are our states, towns, or countries.  There is a great deal of unrest.

But, there are times when one can find a ray of hope.  A small gesture that can turn the world around. Whether it is a smile, a laugh, or simply holding the door open for someone behind you.

I see a great deal of hate, anger, and fear around many issues on social media.  It does not mean that one should not be worried.  It does mean that one should not be angry at the things they cannot control.  I am not saying that we cannot be angry for events that happened.  One could be angry because of innocent lives lost.  Children that will never know the joy of walking down the aisle at their wedding; families who will say goodbye to a loved one to soon.  Those are the things to be angry at.  If someone takes up two (2) parking spots in a lot, why be angry? No one was harmed. Or the cook at a restaurant screwed up your order: you were able to afford to go out to eat.

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Fry = Destroy

While there are dictionaries online, I still prefer to use the bound copy of one in my office.  Fry can be either: food cooked in oil or something is destroyed.  I have attempted to fry food, on a few occasions. I measured carefully, made sure the pan wasn’t scorching with fire, and that I had everything lined up. *For the record, it needs to be noted that I am a horrible cook*

Watching my grandmother growing up, chicken was a favorite that was fried.  Since so many people make it, how hard could it be? As smoked billowed from the pan, eventually setting off the smoke alarm; a burnt hand; and a very unfortunate piece of chicken.

It turns out that the METAL frying pan handle can get extremely hot! The pot holder you were using, which became covered in grease splatter was of no use.  If the heat is too high, the chicken burns, and smokes; which results in the smoke alarms going off.

I can say honestly say that I tried to make fried food. It was subsequently destroyed in the process. But from that experience, I did learn a valuable lesson: Fried food is best left to the masters!

~J.J.~

Chicken Chuckles

There is a difference between laughter and a chuckle.  A laugh comes from the heart; a chuckle can be done quietly.  There have been many times that I have laughed until I cried. But when animals enter your life, one can only help but chuckle most of the time.

See, we already have 3 dogs (puppy brigade) 2 cats now ( 1 still a kitten), 2 hamsters, and numerous fish.

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Hydra, Twizzlers, Mulan, Jack, Sally

Our “zoo” now consists of 4 chickens and 4 ducks. Additional ducks and chickens will also be arriving in the next few weeks. Our little hobby farm has affectionately been named “Cluckingham Palace” by the youngest member of the household.  Who knew that poultry could make life interesting? When we first adopted the ducks and chickens, they were kept in the same bin. Quite quickly the ducks became larger than the chickens and we separated them. We have one chicken, Hyrda, who does not believe that she is a chicken.  Rather, she feels that she is a duck! Regardless of how many times we separate them, she is back with the ducks. Lids are no match for her as she will find a way to escape them.

Will she play in the water? Sadly, she tries, but it does not go so well.  The ducks have adopted her as one of their ducks. As for the other chickens, well, they know they are most definitely not ducks.

It is safe to say that with my “zoo” there is not a day that goes by that I do not chuckle to myself at the shenanigans of the animals.

What about you? Have your pets make you chuckle lately?

~J. J.~

Life as Opaque?

Opaque is defined as “not able to be seen through; not transparent.” Often this term is used to define a style of tight or leggings.  They are not sheer, yet they are not solid.  They are somewhere in the middle.  Just enough to obscure what is beneath it; yet still letting the substance be seen.

In the world today, some have taken to having an opaque sense about them.  With a group of friends, at work, and with family; three different personas arise.  But underneath it all, there is the truth.  I know that I can be guilty of being opaque in life also.  I do not always want what is real to be seen by the world.

Case in point: My father passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.  The morning he passed, I held his hand, told him I loved him and that we will see each otherWedding soon.  Twenty minutes later I was at home brushing my teeth and loading up the car for an all day long hockey tournament.  For 15 hours I was the happy, funny, loving goalie mom.  Inside, my heart was breaking.  The amount of strength it took to keep it together is not something I would ever like to repeat.  15 hours later we were home. I broke the news to my son that his best friend and hero had passed away.  While my son fell apart in my lap, I remained calm and reassuring.  After he was in bed, I finally let myself fall apart. I was a puddle of emotions. Fear, anger, sadness, and a sense of loss that cannot be described in words followed.

To those on the outside looking at me on that day, I was the same.  Inside, I was a mess.  I made the decision to become Opaque for the world.  My son needed me to be strong, my husband was helping on the bench.  He knew, yet we were the only ones.  Instead, why did I not make the decision to become transparent? Even though my pain was real, the support of friends would have helped ease the burden that day.  I would have been allowed to feel the pain, yet knowing I was surrounded by friends would have helped.

My example might not be the best, yet I do feel that it illustrates how many of us do cover up our fears, sadness, and pain. We hide behind masks of happiness, fun, and the general “life is good” feeling.  One thing that I have accepted since his passing is that I am not as strong as I thought.  I need my family and friends. I need to know that it is perfectly acceptable to fall apart. Tears are part of life. The passing of a loved one is never easy.  Yet, it is through the heartache that we learn that we can be transparent, not opaque.  It is fine to allow myself to be me, flawed and imperfect.

My question to you is thus: what would happen if we became more transparent and less opaque?

~J.J.~