Curve Balls and Vodka

The traditional dream follows this pattern:

  1. Go to college
  2. Find the love of your life
  3. Plan the perfect princess fairy-tale wedding
  4. Go on a Honeymoon to some exotic location
  5. Start your life together in a gorgeous house with a white picket fence
  6. Have a job that you love more than you thought and the pay is out of this world
  7. Have children who never fight
  8. Get a dog (or a cat)
  9. Repeat

Sure, that is perfect! Except that I do live in a reality of the curve balls. It is the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. The game is so close, only separated by one point. I’m the pitcher and it is up to me to strike the batter out. First pitch and it’s a home run. ¬†We lose. Now apply it to life and you seem to have mine ūüôā

I am not complaining though! If life was perfect, there would be no chance to grow and improve. To discover you are stronger than you thought.  However, sometimes the curve balls come at the most inopportune time.  Say, you have just purchased a vehicle and find out your job is no longer needed. Panic right?

For some, and myself, yes! The first few days after letting the news sink in that I did not have a job to return to after almost five years were difficult. ¬†There were tears, lots of tears! I was able to take some time to really think about things and approach the curve ball with a new perspective. ¬†I was calmer. ¬†Sleep was a something I enjoyed. ¬†I did NOT need to set an alarm clock. ¬†Well, I should say physically set one. ¬†I do have three dogs who make up the puppy brigade. They are very persistent that 5:00AM is the ONLY time that they can go to the bathroom. ¬†After that many years, old habits die-hard ūüôā But that is not the point.

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No Control

Do you ever feel like your life is spinning out of control? For me, I am there. Not even in orbit of how life was “supposed” to go. ¬†Instead, I am grasping for a rope to pull me out… Or so I thought.

I have found that there are to many things beyond my control.  I cannot control how others feel, nor can I control their actions.  I cannot control what happens to me, per say.  But I can control how I react to the events around me.  If I chose to focus on the bad, that is all I see. By shifting my focus to something that is positive, I can also see that.  Right now, life is a little chaotic.  It is not predictable.  It also does not fit into my pre-designed plan.  But, it is my life to plan.  One that I do enjoy and one that I hope will work out for the better.

Control is something we all seek.  But by being able to walk away from the desire to dictate ever moment, one can experience a sense of freedom.  By letting things happen simply as they will, life is not as difficult.  There might be set backs, yet it is a small stone in a much larger river.

How about you? Do you let the setbacks stop you from crossing the river, or do you find a way across?

~J.J.~

Root[ed] Deep

Looking out my window, I am greeted by an old Oak tree.  It has been here for years, this I am certain.  The stories it could tell, the people it has seen, are more than I can fathom.  This tree has withstood the brutal Minnesota winters.  It has seen harsh windstorms and straight-line winds.  It has handled a vehicle running into it, horses, and everything else life has thrown at it.  But through it all, it still stands strong.

The reason for the strength of this incredibly old tree: its roots.  These roots must travel many feet into the ground, through a complex network.  It is able to take a firm hold, without given away.  The roots can be intertwined with one another, yet separate in their identity.

For me, my roots run deep.  Yes, I have my beginning with my parents. But from there, my roots have been mine to grow.  I have a small, yet close extended family.  While we may be hundreds of miles apart, we are also close together.  Another factor for my roots can be found within my friends. I have made friends who have lasted a lifetime. Some came into my life through work, some from being a mom, and some from happen-stance.  But, what does it mean to have roots?

Image result for tree of lifePersonally, it means I know that I have a solid foundation on which to stand.  Regardless of what I need, I know that they will be there.  If I did not have roots, how would I know who I am? I guess that is the universal question we are all trying to answer.  So, who am I?

I am a mother, wife, daughter, friend, and a unique individual.  I know that I love cupcakes more than cake.  I know that I have a belief in something higher than myself, yet have not decided what it is.  I know that I feel all life is sacred.  I have a respect for those who are older than myself. For their life experiences and wisdom is something I can always learn from.  I know that I have work to do to improve and be a better version of myself.  I know that when the struggle is hard, my roots will bring me towards the right decision.  They also allow for me to know and trust myself.

How about you? Do you value your roots run deep? Do you know where the foundation of your being lies?

~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? ūüôā ¬†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.~

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.~

A Jolt of impermanence

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Photo Credit: NOAA

On my path, one of the core teachings that I have struggled with is the concept of impermanence. ¬†Everything is changing, thus any moment that one has had will never be repeated. ¬†I have had that feeling on Tuesday of last week. ¬†I was jolted back to reality and reminded that life, and careers, are impermanent. For almost five years I had went to work as scheduled. ¬†I performed my normal tasks, along with any others the managers requested. ¬†The sudden “normal” was taken from me. ¬†Instead, I was jolted back to the fact that I would not longer have a career as of 1:00 PM CST. ¬†A jolt is defined as “a push or shake (something or someone) abruptly or roughly. ¬†I was abruptly shaken by feelings that I did not know I could possess towards my career.

For numerous years, I was semi-defined by the position I held.  I was not a manager, per-say simply for the fact that I had no direct reports.  I did however, see make sure that the day to day operations ran smoothly, paperwork was completed, and any other task that they felt I could handle.  Now, I am embarking on a new path.  One I started before the jolt of internal company-wide restructuring happened.  Life is what you make it. It is impermanent.  It is ever-changing.  Yet, who knows what is good and what is bad?
Simple take each day, one at a time, and follow the gentle (somethings harsh) ebb and flow of events as they come.

~J.J.~

The 8th Dwarf was named Cranky

Cranky is a word that can mean many things.  For one, it is a name of an engine on Thomas the Train.  Cranky can also refer to a machine working poorly.  More commonly, crankyCranky refers to a state of being if one becomes irritated with a situation.

I have learned on this “quest” of mine that becoming cranky is a result of how one reacts to the situations around us. ¬†We cannot control situations, but we CAN control how we react to the events as they appear around us/ happen to us. ¬†If one makes the decision to react with anger because they were reprimanded, that is the reaction to the action. ¬†Or, if a chaotic day at work carries over into the home environment, that is also a reaction.

I would love to say that I am never cranky, irritated, or upset.  However, that would be the farthest thing from the truth.  I have become more mindful of my actions and how I react to situations around me.  Comparing myself to now to where I was at the beginning of the year, there is a change.  I process things more internally before I react outwardly.  Cranky is a part of the human nature, yet it is also a part of our nature that we can seek to tamper.

Have any of you sought to tamper the reaction of the 8th Dwarf: Cranky?

 

~J. J. ~