Escaping An Abusive Relationship

I recently lost one of my closest friends to an abusive relationship. I’m obviously devastated, but more than that, I’m fucking irate that abusive relationships are so prevalent in our society and, even though the signs and symptoms of abusive relationships are readily known and available, so many people are still blindsided by abusers.

No matter how many times I reached out, no matter how many times I tried to get through to her—to let her know that I knew what was going on and that everyone around her could see that she was being controlled, manipulated, abused—she denied it and insisted she was fine or she just ignored me.

And there’s the glaring problem. Victims of abuse—be it emotional or physical or both—become brainwashed into believing that their relationships with their abusers are tolerable, normal even. Many feel their intuition tweak in the form of gut feelings, but they ignore their own inner warning system and convince themselves that it’s all good.

I know this because I’ve been there. TWICE. I’m a slow learner.

Fight or Flight Shuts Down Creative Thought

The most interesting thing about victims of abuse is that they live every day—often every moment—in a fight or flight state, always prepared for their abuser to erupt. It is a scientific fact that the human brain, when in a fight or flight state, shuts down the area of the brain that allows for creative thought. So while abuse victims are in fight or flight, their brains specifically remove their ability to see what’s actually happening, to recognize it for abuse, and plan their escape. If you ever talk to victims of abuse—the ones lucky enough to escape from their abusers by whatever means—it is very common for them to admit that they had NO IDEA they were being abused until AFTER they got away from their abuser and had time to decompress. Even then, it usually takes a few months, until their brains relax out of the FoF state, before they have that huge A-HA moment.

And it’s all because abusers are fucking skilled at manipulation, fear and guilt tactics, and controlling others. AND, many abusers don’t even have a clue that they are abusive. Whether it’s from childhood trauma or life bullshit or if they are just wired that way—they aren’t self-aware enough to see their behaviours as wrong or abnormal. Most abusers feel fully justified in their behaviours and convictions and it’s near impossible to convince them otherwise.

Abusive Behaviours

Abusers tend to exhibit a lot (if not all) of these behaviours:

  • they regularly lie or twist the truth, often believing their own delusions and becoming righteous about them.
  • they think twelve steps ahead of everyone.
  • they instinctively know how to twist situations to make everything seem like the victim (or someone else) is at fault. They seldom own their shit or admit to being wrong and are wizards at blaming everyone else for all the shitty things they do.
  • they always know how to guilt trip their victims.
  • they intrinsically understand how to constantly make their victims question their own worth until they conclude that they must, indeed, be useless and worthless—with comments like “you can’t make it without me” and “you’re pathetic” and “who else would even want you?” and “I’m smarter than you” and so much more.
  • they always present a likeable facade to the outside world. This is a huge reason SO MANY abusers get away with the shit they do. They are excellent actors and never show the outside world the person under the mask.
  • they use words or fists or both to beat their victims down, exhaust them and keep them constantly walking on eggshells and in fight or flight, so they lose their ability to try to (or even think about) escape. As an aside, this kind of constant stress also depletes the victim’s health and immune system, inviting in sickness. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they did a study on abuse victims and major illnesses, such as cancer and autoimmune disorders. I predict there would be a high correlation between them, but I digress…
  • they mix their abusive moments in with moments of kindness, humour, “normalcy” that give their victims hope that there is a good person in there somewhere who may emerge fully someday.
  • they control who the victim sees (often isolating them from friends and family, bit by bit), who the victim talks to (often monitoring their communication channels and preventing them from letting others know they are in trouble or need help), where the victim goes (often losing their shit or forbidding the victim to engage in certain activities if the abuser feels threatened or insecure about them), and so much more.
  • they threaten their victims with punishment or consequences if they try to leave, try to fight back, or try to express their belief that they are being treated poorly. They threaten to hurt or take away those their victim loves (or they actually DO take them away), claim the victim will not be able to make it in the world without them, threaten to say horrible things about the victim (which, of course, the victim believes because they regularly see others accept the abuser’s lies without so much as blinking), and all sorts of other bullshit that just isn’t true and has no merit.
  • they do everything in their power to control, manipulate, scare, and convince their victims that they are stuck in the relationship and can never escape.

And it’s all total bullshit.

None of those things make up a loving, respectful, healthy relationship.

None of those things are normal.

None of those things are even fucking acceptable.

People on the outside—the ones who love the victim and see everything so clearly and the ones who have been there, done that—end up feeling helpless and angry and infuriated that we can’t do anything to get through to the victim. Many of us try many times and fail repeatedly, either because the victim is so far gone or because the abuser catches on and shuts off all communication. We, too, end up burning out and giving up because all our efforts end in failure or disaster and we can no longer sustain the energy or the heartache associated with the situation. We can no longer condone the abuse and, by remaining in the victim’s life, we feel like we are doing exactly that. So we give up and back off because it’s not a healthy situation to be in, for anyone.

And then we lose the people we love and we have to mourn that loss while also wrestling with the guilt of not trying harder.

You CAN escape!

My only hope in writing this is for anyone who reads it and finds yourself checking off some or all of the behaviours I’ve listed, realize that this is NOT okay. Realize that you are being abused and that you are in an unhealthy, unstable relationship and you need to get help. If you feel you love your abuser and you think there is hope to get them help as well—that is certainly your choice—but you can’t do that if you stay in the relationship. The help can only come, for you or both of you, when you get some distance between you and have some time to process through the trauma you’ve sustained. My wish is that my words will somehow reach you, however far gone you are, and will bring you back to your senses and your heart center, where you will know it’s time to make a change.

And then, once you realize it, that you will find a way (no matter how scary it is or how many times it’s been drilled into your head that you can’t make it on your own) to reach out to family or friends or a helpline and ask for help to break free. Because it IS possible. You are not alone, even if you feel that you are, and you can find a way out. You just have to take that first step.

Microdosing LSD & Chronic Lyme Disease

Toxic people are like a bottle of poison we ingest slowly

Let’s talk about microdosing LSD and the effect it has on mental health issues caused by Chronic Lyme Disease! Hold onto your self-righteous, anti-drug hats, kids! I’m about to extol the virtues of psychedelics as therapeutics.

In April 2019, I was finally diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease after suffering through strange symptoms and unexplained illnesses, on and off, for 15 years. Back in 2004, I started having sporadic bouts of (what I believed to be) depression/extreme irritation (aka Bat Shit Crazy RAGE-O-HOLIC and crying episodes). As I’m not a fan of pharmaceuticals with a long list of side effects, I rejected my doctor’s suggestion that I take antidepressants and I did my best to try to control my crazy moods with healthy eating and regular exercise. However, now that I understand that my moods were a symptom of Lyme flare-ups, I realize that most of the time it didn’t matter how healthy I was eating or how hard I was trying to take care of my body. Most of it wasn’t making a difference.

After much research in the past few years (as many other symptoms began popping up in my body and mind), I decided to try to heal myself with food by trying to balance my gut flora. The brain is directly connected to the gut and if your gut flora gets all fucked up, so does your brain, so it made sense that if I healed my gut, my mood swings and down times would disappear. I worked with a nutritionist for months to heal and balance my gut microbiome, but once it was finally firing on all cylinders, I was still suffering from persistent brain fog and unexplained rages and malaise.

I’m kind of “persistent” (aka RELENTLESS), so when I didn’t get the results I expected, I kept searching for answers and a solution.

At the end of 2018, I stumbled upon a 14-part documentary called Psychedelica on Gaia.com and—Boom!—I had my answer.

The “magical” cure for my extreme moodiness and persistent brain fog that I’d been searching for came with microdosing. [As an aside, microdosing is taking tiny, therapeutic doses. The doses are so tiny (micro, in fact 🙄) that they usually have little to no effect on the body. Microdoses are also not to be confused with threshold doses, which open up your third eye and make you trip balls.] I first tried psilocybin (aka Magic Mushrooms) but even the smallest doses left me with a bit of a “body stone” and I couldn’t stand it. I don’t like the feeling of being fucked up or not in control of my faculties, so I gave up on the psilocybin and kept looking. A good friend introduced me to the idea of microdosing LSD and I figured I had nothing to lose so I gave it a try. The irony of using a synthesized drug (essentially, a pharmaceutical) to help my brain was not lost on me, but since all the side effects were actually beneficial, I said fuck it and tried it anyway.

All I can say is WOWZAS!

Psychedelics have removed my moodiness and persistent brain fog and I experience ZERO side effects from them—no physical sensation at all, no strange hallucinations or really much of anything else, except a good feeling. My brain, quite simply, functions better. My moods are stable, I can get all sorts of shit done, stress seems much easier to handle, and I feel happier.

Let me say that again, I feel happier.

Even on extremely tough days—when Lyme is making my body hurt all over, I’m struggling to just move around without wincing in pain, I have a pounding headache, and I’m wrestling with a stressful day or something particularly challenging, I STILL FEEL HAPPY and calm. Where I used to get overwhelmed and anxious, causing Lyme to flare and my symptoms to worsen, my brain now whispers shit like, “Don’t sweat it, girl. It’s just one moment in a lifetime of moments. What you can’t do today, you can do another day or never. It simply doesn’t matter.” And, strangely, I believe my brain’s brilliant pep talks and just skip (often figuratively because it’s too painful to literally do it) through my day.

Microdosing also helps me keep an eye on the upside as I struggle through the painful and Cha Cha nature (one step forward, two steps back) of Lyme Disease.

I’ve been on a new treatment for Lyme for a few months (high doses of Vitamin D3…the subject of another blog I’m currently drating) and this, coupled with the microdosing, has upped my health and wellness factor by 1000. The combo of the two are, for lack of a better description, a GD miracle!

Life has become so much easier that I often can’t wrap my head around it. It boggles my mind that I can take a tiny amount of a drug (without experiencing any detrimental side effects) and it fills my world with rational butterflies and rainbows, productivity, and sense. How is that even legal?

Oh, right! It’s not! Please allow me to digress for a moment…

There’s the rub, right. Pharmaceuticals for ADHD, anxiety, depression, BiPolar Disorder and the like—with DEBILITATING side effects, including heightened thoughts of suicide and DEATH—are highly accepted by society, while truly helpful and life-changing, extremely affordable psychedelics (with no ill side effects from therapeutic doses), are considered “illicit” and “criminal”.

What, the fuck, ever.

Anyway, what was I talking about??? Ah, yes…

Life has changed astronomically for me, even on non-dosing days. The tiny amounts I take have rewired my brain to have better focus and a much better understanding of my thoughts. It helps me to look at all feelings and emotions with logic and easy understanding, so I spend less time overreacting and more time working through shit. It also helps me recognize the stuff I can’t work through and probably never will and allows me to accept it all with grace.

Even without all the shitty symptoms from Lyme disease, microdosing would still be helpful for balancing moods and increasing brain function and productivity. It’s like a friggin’ miracle in a 5 microgram, non-addictive dose. Did I mention that it’s proven that psychedelics are NOT ADDICTIVE…unlike antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. FFS, governments, get your shit together.

If you are looking for more information on microdosing, here are some good links:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-microdoses-of-lsd-change-your-mind/

Judgy McJudgerson Syndrome

Top view of Twin Lakes in the Okanagan of British Columbia from top peak.

Being judgemental stems from insecurity. No brainer, right? So, if social media feeds our insecurities, then it also magnifies and compounds our tendencies to judge each other. 
Therefore, it would make sense to take frequent breaks from social media to reclaim our confidence with real-world connections, to absorb good vibes with time outside (preferably in nature), and to reset with less technology overload. Yes?

This seems so obvious and necessary, yet so many of us ignore this innate need to recharge. To add insult, we also basically torture ourselves, endlessly consuming feeds of fake perfection. We habitually pick up our phones and start scrolling and the more we scroll, the more insecurity creeps in and judgement wakes again from its perpetually shallow sleep.

Regardless of how happy, comfortable, and satisfied I am with myself and my life, insecurities still exist within me. Doubts about my self-worth, creative abilities, and my appearance still catch me off guard. It doesn’t matter if I instantly recognize them and know I’m being ridiculous or that I, of course, conveniently forget that I usually don’t give a shit what others think of me. The cold, hard-to-swallow truth is that we have to be constantly tapped into our self-awareness or insecurities slip through our defences and start wreaking havoc on our psyches.

This is why I stopped managing social media for other people. It’s also why I barely put any effort into my own social media accounts anymore. By the end of every day, being constantly bombarded by incomplete glimpses of other people’s seemingly better, bigger, prettier, more-exciting lives, I ended up living my own coated by a distinct layer of filthy lack. 

And that feeling of lack leads to the beginning of judgement, which, if we are not aware or careful, spirals into a world filled with unbalanced assholes who spread negativity. 

If I’m feeling good, aware of my thoughts, grooving with my vibe, and focusing on myself and my own energy, I am never judgemental. The more time I spend laughing with my friends, adventuring in the wilderness, hanging with my animals, and quietly connecting with myself, the less likely I am to give a flying fuck what other people are doing.

But, Jesus H. Christ, saturate me with social media bullshit and suddenly I find myself wearing the asshole hat and handing out negative vibes likes hooker cards on the Vegas strip. Scoffing at people’s happiness. Ridiculing people. Downright shitting on the work of other creatives. Finding ways to convince myself I am better than others. 

It’s fucking ridonculous (it’s a word. Google it, bitches.) and not who I am. Not who I ever want to be. 

My point is that a huge part of maintaining a high vibe is recognizing negative patterns within ourselves and working hard to change them and, for me at least, social media saturation is a pattern I recognize and am working to change. 

So for the next few weeks, I’ll be outside soaking up nature’s cleansing energy, belly laughing with my people, and clearing out all the angst that the online collective can breed within me. 

Kids & Journaling

A photo of many coloured journals beside the words "Teach your kids to journal" as part of written therapy.

When I was in Grade 5 (10 years old), I wrote a short story and a poem and submitted them in a contest. As a result, I was invited to attend the Young Authors of Canada conference in Montreal later that year. When my radtastical teacher, Mrs. Kirwin, told me the news, I practically levitated with excitement the entire way home. Unfortunately, when I told my mom the news, even though she was truly proud of me, she told me I couldn’t go to the conference. 

I. was. pissed.

My 10-year-old brain could not even fathom the costs of flying a child and her mother across the entire country, so when mom told me that we just couldn’t afford it, I was less than gracious about it. I threw a tantrum. 

I remember this so clearly, in such detail, that it must be one of those defining milestones in a child’s life. I was mid-tantrum when my mom slapped me across the face. It wasn’t a hard slap (and shit like that was perfectly acceptable back then), but it sure as shit stopped me in my tracks. She told me she didn’t want to hear another word unless I could lose my attitude and be nicer. I stormed off to my room and stewed for hours, screaming in frustration every now and then. (Yes, I was a complete SHIT when I was a child…)

Just before bedtime, mom came into my room and sat on my bed, where I was still pouting, arms crossed and glaring out the window. She told me that she understood how upset I was about not being able to go to the conference and that she was extremely proud that I’d been invited because she knew how much I loved writing stories and poems. But, she said, despite the reasons for not being able to go, she wasn’t going to apologize about not being able to afford the trip and that my behaviour and treatment of her was totally unacceptable. She said that, from that point on, when if I became extremely angry, I was to come to my room and write down everything I was feeling and thinking instead of speaking out loud about it. She said that it would give me the chance to get all of my anger out and it would stop me from hurting someone’s feelings by speaking unkind words.  She also said that I didn’t have to apologize to her because she knew how upset I was, but she wanted me to really think about how I spoke to her from that point onward. 

She placed something on my bed and walked out of my room. I looked down to see a cute little notebook and a pack of ballpoint pens in assorted colours. It was one of those old Hilroy books with the top half of the page blank and bottom half lined and she’d written “Jo’s Anger Journal” on the front in her neat printing. 

Man alive, I was good at being a shithead.

Aside from the fact that I was THRILLED with the cool pens AND the gift of the new notebook, I immediately picked it up and wrote my mom an angry, assholish letter. I made sure to point out that she was a terrible mother, that she didn’t care about me, that if she really loved me she would find the money to make my dreams come true (hahaha, Jayzus, right!). One of the lines I wrote said, “My mom is such a bich. She is always trying to ruin my dreams. I don’t even like her at all.” 

I was 10. What in the actual fuck?

I went to sleep that night with the book on the floor beside my bed and, when I woke up, I noticed the book was on my desk. Curious, I walked over and opened it to the entry I’d made the night before. My mom, with the rad sense of humour that she was famous for, had used a red pen to cross out “bich” and wrote “bitch” above it. 😂She’d also written, directly underneath the part where I’d said I didn’t like her, “Sometimes I don’t like your attitude or your smart mouth, but I always love you, am always be proud of you, and will always be here for you.”

I bolted out of my room to the kitchen, feeling a huge amount of remorse for being such an asshole and so childish, and wrapped my arms around her and told her how sorry I was. 

I have been journaling ever since and it has helped me get through some of the darkest times in my life. That first journal turned into a lifelong therapy tool and, knowing how much writing helps me to process my own shit and connect with others, I am eternally grateful for her motherly insight and the push to get me started. 

The Collective Vibe

Energy speaks.

Your energy has the power to change the world.

Think that bold statement is just a bunch of hooey?

Ever been cruising through your day in a jolly good mood only to suddenly find yourself pissed off after someone is rude to you or rude to someone else in front of you? 

Ever been dragging your feet and head around in a depressive fog only to experience an instant shift upward when someone smiles at your or makes you laugh? 

Such is the power of energy sensitivity; it’s built into our divine DNA and we all find ourselves affected by others. 

When something profound happens (such as the Amazon burning right now), people in other parts of the world, who may not even know it’s happening, will find themselves waking up full of unexplained positive or negative emotions. These feelings may plague them for days or weeks and, unless they get how energy works, they may not even notice how affected they are. If you get enough people feeling a certain emotion or vibrating at a certain frequency, the energy of it travels far and wide, one person at a time, like…well, like wildfire. 

Those people who are tuned in to the collective energy intuitively understand this. We instinctively feel when energy is not our own and we get that it’s our responsibility to keep raising the vibe by controlling how we project our own energy. 

Why? 

Because so many others aren’t tuned in, aren’t aware of their energy at all, have no idea how their energy can influence others, or simply aren’t equipped to choose the vibe they project. 

And that’s perfectly okay. Everyone in the world is here to experience life at their own pace and even though they may not be aware of the effect their energy has on others right now, eventually—in this lifetime or another—they’ll get there, just as we have.

Am I saying that we (who are tuned in) should strive to walk around all the time with sunshine and rainbows shooting out of our asses? As if. Impossible. 

I’m saying that we have a responsibility to choose—even on our darkest days—how we interact with and treat others and that choice will continue to raise the vibe and improve humankind’s outlook.

I love Mondays!

Picture of a woman in a purple hat standing in front of an alpine lake and smiling so hard her face hurts.

It’s Monday ya’ll! My FAVE day of the week lately. Most people dread Mondays because they mean “back to the grind”, but lately I’ve been thinking of Mondays as a chance to start fresh, with positive energy and determination. 

Admittedly, I’ve had some shit days in the past month because of the good fight against asshole Lyme bacteria and my beloved OJ cat MIA since the full moon, but I haven’t lost my spark. In fact, if anything I think my light has been a beacon that I’m continuously using as a guiding light. Somewhere along the way—through the constant weakness in my hands and the debilitating Lyme arthritis migrating through my joints and the gut feeling that my wandering shitten is gone for good—my outlook has shifted into excessive joy. 

Life can be so much worse than the shit I’m rolling through right now (and it has been for me, many times). I’m alive, still mostly mobile, still able to do some of the things I love most (like hiking through the mountains), still able to write and be creative, and still able to choose positivity and joy on the hardest days, even through tears of pain and sorrow.
So whatever you’re rolling through, remember that YOU have the ability to make it a good (or at least tolerable) experience or the worst experience ever. You. Your choice, no matter what it is.
So yah, #ilovemondays

This Too Shall Pass

Truth be told, I stay away from social media when my mental health goes for shit and, right now, it’s pretty brutal. I have been unable to get through a single day in the last two weeks without having a mini mental breakdown or losing my shit about something.

The Lyme struggle is real—not only physically (EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.), but also mentally…especially mentally. Right now I am in a downward spiral of extremely irrational irritation mixed with uncontrollable manic episodes.

Even LSD microdosing isn’t helping with this level of Jo Is Crazy AF.

It ain’t pretty.

I am not a pleasant person to be around at the moment.

I can’t even stand myself and I have always been able to take myself, even at my worst.

It’s actually that bad.

The only thing that keeps me somewhat chill and borderline happy for any length of time is hanging with my animals, by myself.

The rub here is that I know this will pass and that my treatment will progress. I’ll look back and think, “Phew. That was a doozy! So happy I weathered that shitstorm and I am feeling so much better.”

I know this, intrinsically, and yet, here I am slogging through the shit.

Despite knowing that everything passes and that every shitstorm can be weathered, we still have to feel our way through it WHILE it’s happening. We still have to ride the rollercoaster of bullshit irrationality and seemingly endless sadness in order to learn and grow and strengthen.

This is the entire point of life.

But sometimes—HOLY SHITSNACKS!—life sucks a giant bag of douche nozzles.

Right now, at this stage of my Lyme treatment, my psyche is in two pieces:

One side is rational and clinical. It sits back, observing the other side’s batshit crazy temper tantrums and full-on bullshit crying fits and says shit like, “Oooph. Jo must be killing off some serious bacteria and their toxic waste must be coursing through her system right now. She’s having a rough go of this one. It’s tough for her to stay happy and positive when her body hurts so much and she’s so frustrated and irrationally angry about stupid shit. It’s hard to watch her fall apart when she’s such a strong gal and she’s already made it through so much. Too bad she can’t accept that it’s okay to have crazy shit days like this and that, in the long run, it’s good for her because it gets it out rather than bottling it up.”

My crazy side just says shit like, “AHHHHHHHHHH! I AM SO ANNOYED BY EVERYTHING!”

My rational side sees my crazy side and gets a good giggle out of it, but in the meantime, my crazy side wreaks havoc on my attitude and relationships.

This, too, is something I have heard about Lyme time and again, but it doesn’t make the process easier. It doesn’t make me easily forgive myself when I lose my shit on Greg or others. It doesn’t help me work on self-love when I’m berating myself for not being able to be happy and cheerful and see the upside.

To put it bluntly, it fucking sucks and I feel like I’m flailing like a dandelion seed in the wind—never knowing where I’ll touch down next or if I’ll ruin a perfectly good lawn with my infectious and prolifically invasive roots.

For now, though, I’m sharing my crazy because I know so many others out there are going through similar shit and struggling with themselves. Maybe not because of Lyme Disease, but from other issues that beat you down regularly.

Take heart, kids! This, too, shall pass, and when it does, I’ll still be here, writing about it and high-fiving you for riding out your latest shitstorm too.

Buckle down. You got this!

Lyme Rage & Juxtaposition

Life with Lyme Disease is a constant juxtaposition with moments of pure joy mixed in with pure agony. Lyme Rage is a side effect of treament and it can really knock us on our asses.

Life. It’s all about juxtaposition.

Moments of pure joy filling up my heart while sadness simultaneously tries to empty it. This has been my daily lately—actually, since last October when the Lyme flared up and I started struggling healthwise again—but especially in the past three weeks since the Lyme treatments have really started kicking in.

HOLY TOXIC WASTE DUMP OF EMOTION, BATMAN!

As I’ve finally started to feel a shift in some of my symptoms (less overall skin pain and a reduction in joint pain), I’ve also started to become progressively crazier. I mean, ha ha, I’m always slightly crazy and I definitely have a temper sometimes, but I’m talking CRAZY. As the treatment is killing off massive swaths of bacteria and they are emptying into my system to be flushed out, I am turning into a full-on psycho.

For example, Greg and I were building the back fence last weekend and I tripped over some tomato cages that fell over while I was walking by them and I LOST MY SHIT. I threw down my tools, picked up the cages and LAUNCHED them across the yard with all my strength. If I’d had a sledgehammer handy, I probably would have smashed them into flat, unrecognizable lumps of wire. I may have also let out a guttural screech of pure stabby frustration as well.

Then I calmly picked up my tools and went back to work. What in the actual fuck?

Then, after a week of watching my orange fluffball, OJ, fight for his life after contracting some unknown illness, I lost my shit on my dad without meaning to. The conversation started out fine, we chatted for a bit and then he told me he would be dropping his cat off soon because he and my stepmama were going out of town. I told him that I couldn’t take Roger Flatface because OJ was too sick and it would be too much right now, to which my dad replied, “What did he do to himself now?”

This is where the anger sparked a little. He didn’t even offer sympathy or express concern for the cat, he just acted annoyed, like it was my fault the cat was sick. So I told him that OJ had just stopped eating and drinking and I’d had him back and forth to the vet all week trying to figure out what was going on with him. To which he then said, “Why don’t you just put the cat down and get another one.”

Again, spark spark, sparkity spark spark. I think my face actually started twitching at this point. Caveat: This is my dad. He may actually feel compassion and sympathy, but I’ve seldom seen it because, for whatever reason, he simply does not show it to me. His way with me is to be gruff or disapproving and to offer advice that he thinks will solve the issue. Most of the time I just roll with it and let him say whatever he feels like he needs to say, even though it is usually kind of hurtful and often makes me feel like I’m completely failing at life. Also, I know my dad loves me and I know he means well, so I usually just roll with it.

At this point though, I was starting to feel extremely agitated that my dad would be so callous and just tell me to basically discard one of my kids and replace him with a new model. I’m positive he didn’t see it that way, but I sure as shit did. I told him that I wasn’t going to kill my cat just because he was sick and also pointed out that he wouldn’t do that to his pets either. And, again, for whatever reason and because dad is dad, he got pissed off, told me I couldn’t afford to pay for all these vet visits and then he hung up on me. (Ironically, my eldest brother who has Schizophrenia gets angry and hangs up on my dad ALL THE TIME and dad gets really annoyed by it, but apparently, it’s totally acceptable for dad to do it to people.)

Normally, when my dad says or does things that are extremely hurtful, I let it go. It may annoy me, but it doesn’t make me see red or feel the need to retaliate. As Greg always tells me, “Water off a duck’s back.”

This particular day, however, my body was flushing hot with all the dead bacteria flowing through me and I was completely exhausted. In my head, I thought, “Oh well. There I go doing the wrong thing again by trying to save my furchild with medical attention. What a disappointment I am.”

And then I simply snapped. If I were observing from across the room, I would have seen the top of my head explode with such force it hit the ceiling and my face would have turned a pretty shade of vermillion.

In less than 30 seconds, my thoughts turned extremely dark and spiralled down the shithole. These aren’t even thoughts I normally entertain, so it was just SO out of character. I have been to A LOT of counselling over the years to deal with my shit and I have learned many techniques to calm myself down, let shit go, and keep moving forward (even before my daughter died I had been to many counselling sessions). No. This is a whole different ballgame—one I have no idea how to play. This is Lyme Rage and, from what I hear from so many people, it’s a giant mind fuck. It takes your brain to places that you would never normally even go and on this day, it was instant and overwhelming. It drowned me in a wave of bullshit.

…How DARE he tell me to kill one of my children. The only fucking children I will ever have. How DARE he get pissed off at me because I won’t watch his fucking cat and I’ve been trying to save my cat’s life with medical treatment. Who the FUCK does he think he is, always trying to dictate my life and telling me what to do with my money? Always making me feel like I’m a giant fucking disappointment who has never accomplished anything or done anything in my life worthy of his acceptance or respect? Where the fuck was he when I was growing up? Oh, that’s right, he was ignoring me and tending to his other four children. Me he simply left behind to be raised by a crazy person. In his eyes, I’m the shitty child. I’ve always been the shitty child. I’m the child who always fucks up everything and has never been worthy of his love. That’s why he left when I was five. That’s why he’s always telling me how proud he is of my sister and how she always finishes things she puts her mind to (even though HE never finishes anything and almost never follows through with the plans he makes). My sister who basically lived at home, when she wasn’t away at school, until she was nearly 30 and has never struggled for money or food or to keep a roof over her head. Proud of the sister who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth and has no clue what real struggle is like while my dad left me to be raised by a woman who was shitty with money and taught me nothing about living out in the real world, had mental issues, and yelled at me all the fucking time. Not proud of the daughter who got straight As all through school, has two degrees, has fought her way through a lot of death and loss and still manages to keep smiling and loving through all of it. Nope, I’m somehow a burden, a disappointment and an asshole because I refuse to give up on a cat I love more than life…Why do I even let this bother me? Why does his opinion even matter? Why am I always hanging around, seeking his praise when I know it will never come, never has. Fuck this. I’m done. I’m done with allowing myself to be hurt by his words and actions. I’m done with letting him dictate to me or tell me what’s best. He is mean. He is judgemental. He kicks me when I’m down because he doesn’t know how to love. I don’t need this in my life. It is hurting me. It is slowing down my healing. Enough is enough…

And then…I picked up my phone and spewed out a bunch of nasty words, calling my dad out on being cold and cruel and heartless, telling him that I am done with him and telling him to stay out of my life.

Even though my gut was SCREAMING at me to let it go, to walk away, to just take a deep breath and it would pass…I hit SEND.

I HIT SEND. Jesus H. Christ. I HIT SEND.

And then I just sat there wondering what the hell was happening to me, breathing heavily, torrents of tears pouring down my face, gasping for breath, staring at my phone.

For 10 minutes I stayed this way, sobbing, feeling my heart rip open and simultaneously feeling totally justified and like a complete asshole. It didn’t matter that Rational Jo knew that dad did the best he could when we were kids and did what he felt he had to do. It didn’t matter that Rational Jo had already been to counselling for years to deal with all the hurt and resentment she’d felt surrounding her parents and her mom’s death. It didn’t matter that Rational Jo LOVES her siblings and is much too intelligent to blame any of them for any of her shit. It didn’t matter that Rational Jo knew her dad loves her and would never intentionally hurt her feelings or deliberately set out to make her feel like a loser. None of it mattered because Rational Jo wasn’t even present. Rational Jo was pinned into a corner by a thick wall of zombie Lyme bacteria while the rest of the zombie army was penetrating her brain, tapdancing all over her sensibilities.

10 minutes of all-consuming, completely irrational rage and then, like a switch was flicked, back to totally calm and rational.

I was filled with regret, but too tired and too “Johnson Proud” (we have a thing with stubborn pride in our genes that is tough to admit to ourselves…) to do anything about it. I could have picked up the phone, profusely apologized to my Pops and explained what had happened and how much I’ve been struggling with the side effects of treatment, but I just sat there. I could have called him and told him how much I love and appreciate him for all the good things he does and says, but I just sat there. For another hour.
Eventually, I got up and got on with my day and just shoved the episode out of my mind to deal with another day.

Incidentally, I did end up apologizing, after losing sleep for a couple nights and agonizing over all of it. But, really, hurtful words are just that and sometimes even an apology—no matter how sincere—really sounds empty when the words were cruel. So I really have no idea if he will forgive me or not and I’m totally fine if he doesn’t because I’ve forgiven myself. I’ve also forgiven him for his hurtful words. They don’t matter anyway. Kitty has made a full recovery and it was worth every penny.

The point of all this, though, isn’t my baggage or the struggles that relationships go through, it’s about juxtaposition and the fact that there is always going to be a yin and yang flow to life. We are on this earthly plane to learn and grow and we do that with periods of struggle and bliss and everything in between. We are also human and we ALL fuck up, we ALL do shitty things that we regret, we ALL bring light and joy into the world, and we ALL have the capacity to accept this, accept our shit, work to improve ourselves and keep moving forward.

The past two weeks have been a constant juxtaposition for me—fighting the massive bacterial bitch that is Lyme disease, nursing a sick cat back from the brink, and adopting a small bundle of Meximutt craziness who fills my heart with ecstatic joy. I’ve had moments that bring me to tears, both from sheer happiness and utter frustration. Moments that make me belly laugh, both from genuine mirth and stark irony. And moments of quiet, euphoric stillness that remind me that we have to drop in and relish those good times so we have something to boost us and get us through the shitty ones.

Surrender Is The Key To Happiness

Jo Johnson writing on her living room floor, pen in hand, contemplating life.

Creature of habit.
Even though I am not a planner, I am definitely a creature of habit in the mornings. If I vary from my usual routine, I just can’t get my shit together and my productivity and purpose plummet drastically.
I do the same thing every morning, in the same order and
if I stray from that routine, even a little bit, I’m fuckered. I never realized how habitual I was nor how much I depended on my routine until my Lyme symptoms became so debilitating that they bounced me out of it and I was constantly flailing, scrambling to get shit done, and feeling quite lost and despondent about it.
It’s taken me months to accept that I can only expect to be my usual energetic, productive, intelligent self around 50% of the time right now. 🤷🏻‍♀️I take heart that on the days when I DO feel good, I speed around like a hummingbird, crossing tasks off my list, writing up a storm, getting outdoors to ride or hike or whatever else I feel up for.
My point, once again, is that surrendering is the only way to find true happiness. The moment we start rebelling against our circumstances, hating them, longing for something different, we up our anxiety level, trigger sadness and depression, and actually take ourselves farther from where we want to be.
If we struggle against our circumstances and refuse to accept them, we make it harder to deal with them because we take ourselves out of the present, out of the moment. The trick is to BE here, in the moment, looking at it and saying, “Okay, self, this is happening right now and we can handle it.”
Capiche? On the days when I wake up with too much pain to function or a brain too stupid to think properly, I surrender. I accept. I find ways to do whatever I can and stay relaxed and rested so that my body will heal and I don’t waste time stressing that I’m not at my best or lamenting that I won’t cross much off my list.
Having that mindset makes those days much easier than spending the day pissed off that I can’t function.

Haters Gonna Hate. A word about accepting this and moving on.

Last week, “someone” made a comment on my blog claiming that I exaggerate aspects of my life (namely my roller derby “career” and my “retirement” from professional photography) and advising me to be more honest with my clients about my writing and editing abilities. The comment was, of course, “anonymous” and tied to a fake Gmail address. When I saw the comment, I was surprised by it, but I immediately replied with a message of my own, thanking them for visiting my blog and congratulating them for having the courage to message me from behind the anonymity of their keyboard and screen. #keyboardwarriors #amiright

At first, I assumed that this person wasn’t someone I knew, but as I mulled over their comment, curiosity took hold of me and I wondered why someone I didn’t know would so personally and publicly attack me. My gut tweaked, so I asked a techy friend of mine to trace the IP address attached to the comment. I wasn’t surprised when the IP traced back to an address in Kamloops—one I recognized. Someone I DO know. [People just don’t realize how difficult it is to truly be anonymous these days. I mean, if you’re gonna say nasty shit about people on a public site without having the balls to show your face or name, at least use a VPN…details, details…]

Having discovered who sent the message and being both a bit shocked and also flabbergasted as to why this person would feel the need to throw shade on me, I still did nothing. My curiosity had been satisfied and, even knowing who it was, I still didn’t feel the need to react to it.

And then I sat back and had a huge A-ha moment about my progress in controlling my reactions. Five years ago, I would have lost my shit and felt an immediate need to defend myself and prove my worth or my truth or whatever else. Now, I recognize the futility of that kind of behaviour. There is simply no need to hang onto somebody else’s bullshit. It’s none of my GD business.

My point is this:

In life, you are always going to run into people who throw negative vibes like poisoned spears at your heart. Let them. Your shield is the knowledge that you have the choice to either let that spear pierce and infect you or bounce off you harmlessly because your skin is bullshit proof.

Everything Happens For A Reason – Jo Johnson Writer

Writing prompt from the weekend. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Admittedly, at first, 64,000 thoughts came to mind, but after 30-45 seconds, only one remained: nothing.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Even if I could, I wouldn’t change anything. Not the deaths of my babies nor anyone else I’ve lost. None of the struggles, the triumphs, nor the challenges. The fact is, every moment of my life—the good, the bad, and the three-ringed shitshow moments—have shaped me and grown me into who I am.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

And I love who I am. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

I love all of my light and my shadow, my ever-present sense of humour, and the way I feel too much about certain things and nothing about others. I love my strength and resilience and my vulnerability. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

As much as life has hurt at times, it has always been balanced by periods of growth, usually followed by joy. It’s been a perfect balance and I wouldn’t change any of it.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

The Dragonfly is my Spirit Animal

When I was a little girl, my mom told me that when a dragonfly lands on us it is always one of our deceased loved ones or spirit guides checking in and letting us know they’re around and watching over us. I grew up obsessed with dragonflies—always wondering who was stopping in to say hello when one perched delicately on my hand or shoulder. It wasn’t until I was regularly swarmed by dragonflies after my mom’s death that her story and my obsession really started to wake me up. After a few years of dragonflies following me around and landing on me all the time, I finally figured out that my energy changes with their visits.

After my daughter Cora died, a little blue beauty landed on my leg and hung out for hours through periods of ugly sobbing and total numbness. Lightly perched on my knee, it would look at me, turning its head from side to side like a dog who is trying to figure out what its human is saying. When my sobs shook me too hard, it would flutter up and land on a different part of my body, always looking at me, turning its head. It even rode around on my dog Juno for a little while. On some level, I knew that the moment was significant and that I should pay attention, but I was too exhausted from grief to acknowledge it. Months later, when some of the haze of grief cleared, I remembered the little blue dragonfly and finally recognized it as the first sign Cora had sent me to let me know she was still with me.

Now, nearly nine years after losing Cora (and 20 years after losing my mom), I always recognize the significance of dragonflies. I giggle when they only land on me and follow me, even though there are other people around. I recognize that my vibe jumps instantly when I even see a dragonfly flit by, let alone when one lands on me.

Yesterday while I was outside in the yard, attempting to finish up the ties on our new chain link fence and cursing the pain and lack of strength in my fingers and wrists, I had a quick visit. It’s very early in the season, but a small red dragonfly flew by my face and landed briefly on my gloved hand. The shift was instantaneous. The pain in my joints lessened, my frustration with my body’s limitations right now eased, and I felt sunshine fill my darkest places again.

Believe what you will, but I am 159.6% convinced that dragonflies are my spirit animal…bug…spirit bug? LOL

Consciously Disconnecting

Yesterday, I listened to Dr. Adam Alter’s Calm Masterclass on Social Media & Screen Addiction. I cannot recommend it to ya’ll enough. It will open your peepers wide, even if you think you are already quite savvy about screen addiction.

The doc covered a lot of info in three short classes, but my biggest takeaway was that we don’t allow ourselves to be bored anymore. If we have a lull in activity, such as when we’re riding in an elevator or waiting for an appointment, we pick up our phones. Boredom is the gateway to creativity. When our brains relax and begin to wander, we generate ideas and solve problems. In this way, meditation is incredibly beneficial to us because it leads to regeneration of ideas and inspiration. It allows us to be mindfully “bored” and gives our brains a much-needed technology rest, which leads to an increase in creativity and innovation.

Since I’ve been using the Calm App to meditate nearly every day, I have grown quite conscious of this boredom trap, but I still have to fight the urge to pick up my phone when I have a lull in activity. The thing that stops me from doing it is looking around and seeing 95% of people on their phones or knowing that my brain needs to refresh to be as creative as possible. Plus, walking into a room and seeing nearly everyone on devices disturbs me, especially when I see entire families glued to their screens while out for dinner together. Screen time is killing our ability to form communities and forge strong relationships. More connected while also more distant than ever before.

Listening to the doc explain how screen time removes our creativity, I was startled to realize that I have begun to struggle while writing. Where I used to be able to spit out original, descriptive language naturally and quickly, I have become sluggish and lazy. Can’t think of something unique? No worries, just throw in something boring and predictable. Can’t think of a suitable word? No prob, just fire up thesaurus.com and choose one. It’s so easy to “cheat” when we have unlimited access to technology that can take the thought process out of everything we do.

All of this has inspired me to change up my patterns. I tried to cut off my screen time, cold turkey, last year, and it did not work—the addiction and convenience were too strong to resist. So this time, I’m trying Dr. Alter’s approach. I’ve set up time slots for screen time and I’m going to do my best to stick to them. When I’m writing, I’ll be shutting off internet access and my phone to focus on writing and using my own brilliant brain (because I know it’s still in there, somewhere).

Lastly, and perhaps BEST of all, I’ve set aside an hour each day to grab a journal and brainstorm words in an attempt to revive my formerly extensive vocabulary. I did it this morning and it was SO DANG FUN!!! I chose the word “miffed” and then wrote down every synonym that came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I still have many words lurking in the depths of my lazy-ass brain.

What do you do to cut down on screen time and resist the addiction?

Letting Go of Photography

“You’re a really good photographer! Why did you stop shooting Boudoir? ”
A good friend of ours asked me that yesterday and I had a really hard time framing my answer. I sputtered out, “After trying to convince women of their beauty for 11 years, I just kind of gave up.”


And, since the first answer that comes to mind is usually the real answer, I realized this is my truth. 

I gave up. It lost its lustre and I lost my passion for it.
However, I didn’t give up in the sense that I failed, more that I realized that in a world where 90% of people we see on social media and in print are filtered, what the fuck is point? Women have to have the presence of mind (or find it through life experience) to realize that they are comparing themselves to bullshit. 

I would often do a shoot with a gal, show her the final result, she would oooh and ahhh and say things like, “I can’t believe that’s me!” or, “I feel so beautiful and more confident than I ever have.” But then I would get, “Can you just tuck in my rolls a bit?” or, “ I don’t like the way my ass looks. Can you lift it up a bit?” Uhm, no. If you want your ass lifted, get off it and go to the gym. Boudoir is not supposed to be about digital nipping and tucking, it’s about seeing your body in a new light and learning accept it and love it, even if you are working hard to change it. Then she would start posting photos on IG or FB that were filtered AF and all I could think was, “Do you actually think that people don’t see that you’ve completely changed your appearance? Why are you so terrified of letting people see the real you? Why isn’t the real you good enough?”

Exerting futile effort is never a good feeling.

I know I did make a difference for some of my clients and it is a beautiful thing, but after so many just reverted to that place of insecurity that has existed for so long within them, I eventually just said, “Fuck it!”
I wanted to feel the passion and satisfaction of creativity running through my veins again, so I moved on to the one thing that has never left me feeling disappointed or burnt out—writing. 

I figure if I can’t reach women with photographic proof of their innate beauty, I’ll reach them with my words.

I Have a Love Hate Relationship With Humanity.

husky and dachsunds playing in the snow. A blog about animal abuse and neglect.
I may wrestle with loving people, but I will ALWAYS give my love, time, and heart to animals.

Every morning I wake up simultaneously grateful to still be alive and disgusted with roughly 80% of the human race. I live in a constant state of duality and, even though it is ridiculous on the surface, deep inside me, it takes me to places I would never get to without it.

I recently devoured Ainslie MacLeod’s brilliant book about the soul called The Instruction. When I say devoured, I mean I sat down on the couch at around 7:30 a.m. with my coffee and flipped it open with the intention of having a quick boo…only to look up six hours later to realize I’d read it cover to cover and had barely moved. (This ability to completely withdraw and focus on nothing else ONLY ever happens to me when I’m reading a fascinating book.)

That book REALLY opened my eyes wider than any other spiritual book I’ve read (and there are…uhm…a few…LOL). It left me with a much deeper understanding of humanity and the reasons people do the shit they do. It also gave me a much better understanding of myself and why I am the way I am. Up until reading The Instruction, I had only been able to feel a person’s energy and try to puzzle them out based on that. I was often completely flabbergasted by the behaviours exhibited by those around me because of constantly fluctuating energy.

A quick rundown before I go any further:
According to Mr. MacLeod, the human race is comprised of younger souls (Levels 1-5) and older souls (Levels 6-10). The younger souls haven’t learned how to be introspective, think for themselves, see the connectedness of the world, or seek change for injustice and inhumanity. Older souls are introspective, see the connectedness of the world and advocate for change through all sorts of avenues (including protests, art, caregiving, or, interestingly, pacifism).

I can now sit back and see the whole of every person I have a connection with. I now understand people better than I ever have. I see the reasons behind their actions and words and I finally just get people.

However, this doesn’t help me to like people or feel more compassionate toward them. Understanding, I’ve learned, does not equate tolerance or love. Both of those involve a conscious choice.

After doing all the meditations in his book to figure out what I am, I believe I’m a Level 6 Soul (just making the switch after many lifetimes into a greater awareness of connection and figuring out that change begins within) with a Thinker influence (spend a lot of time within my own head just trying to puzzle everything out) punctuated by a Creator influence (writing, photography, art, etc) and some leadership tendencies. So, as soul ages go, I’m somewhere in the middle.

Hence why I’m living in a constant state of gratitude and disgust. I feel that connection of all of us together, but I still can’t quite let go of my judgement of others—most specifically, anybody out there who believes abusing or neglecting animals is, in any way, acceptable.

Here’s a fine example of how I wrestle with my thoughts and emotions each minute of each day. A few weeks ago, I opened up my Instagram and there was video playing in my feed that instantly enraged me. I wanted blood and my mind immediately ran through about 29,000 scenarios that would bring about vengeance.

The video was about a litter of puppies, in a third world country, who were living in a pile of garbage. One of the puppies—perhaps 8-10 weeks old—had a broken leg and was yipping in pain and trying to hobble away to hide. The man who rescued the puppies (and helped all of them find homes) explained that the puppy had been stepped on, ON PURPOSE, by a young boy around the age of 10. When the man interviewed the boy on camera and asked him why he did it, the boy just shrugged and said, “Because I could.”

As I was watching this, tears streaming down my face, chest constricted with disgusted disbelief and totally fighting the compulsion to throw my phone across the room and collapse in a heap of sobbing blubbery, I was instantly filled with rage. I HATED THAT BOY. HATED HIM. I wanted to pin him down and smash the fuck out of his leg and then throw him in a pile of garbage and stand around laughing while he screeched in pain and cried out for help.

However, at the same time that part of me was wrapped up in this retaliatory fantasy, the other part of me was also chatting away, working out the reasons behind this kid’s brutality…The boy is poor. He is a young soul. He lives in a shithole in the middle of a third world country that has never known peace. He is malnourished and his brain has never been given a chance to properly develop. He is most likely surrounded by other malnourished, angry people who take out their frustrations about life on everyone around them. Malnourishment and improper brain development perpetuate feelings of anger, resentment, apathy. No one has ever taught him to respect himself, let alone the lives and well-being of others. He cannot possibly understand why he has acted this way nor would his mind even try to understand why it is wrong to hurt others. Perhaps this man who is saving the puppies—with his obvious compassion and higher level soul—can help this kid’s soul to evolve faster. Perhaps their connection is exactly what the boy needs to progress and learn to love himself and others.

So, even though I get it and even though my soul intuitively understands the what and why of everything happening in the world right now, it’s still a constant struggle to accept it. It’s still a struggle to stop wishing that anyone who subjects another being to intentional harm or neglect should be given a good dose of their own medicine before being obliterated from this plane. I know that to keep learning and growing we have to have all levels of souls existing together in a big ball of turmoil punctuated with moments of peace. But even so, my heart and logic wrestle with each other all the time. One feeling, the other reasoning, but both working together to make sense of it all. My soul still, clearly, has a lot of learning and growing to do, but I know I’ll get there eventually.

20-30 more lifetimes oughta do the trick. 😉

Letting Go Is Always The Best Choice, For Me.

I’m into writing really terrible haikus lately because, well, they MAKE ME BELLY LAUGH like Buddha! This morning, I woke up with this one in my head:

Standing in the storm.
The choice is here before me.
Resist or let go?

Deep in the core of my soul, I knew it was time. Just as I knew it was time to end my marriage years before I actually admitted it to myself, I’ve known for years that I must let go of photography if I want to be a successful full-time writer and editor. If I hadn’t known this, I wouldn’t have returned to university in 2017 to work on my Masters in Publishing. I wouldn’t have completed a Certificate in Editing, despite how time-consuming it was on top of my regular life schedule.

Sure, being a professional photographer is sexy…on the surface. People ask me, “What do you do?” and when I tell them I’m a photographer, their eyebrows shoot up and they say things like, “Oh! Wow!” and “That’s so cool!” The reality of being a photographer though is that there are thousands of us everywhere you look and the old model of “just be you and your ideal clients will find you” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Nowadays, it consists of keeping up with the never-ending demands of social media and keywords and SEO—staying in the spotlight, posting great content, engaging with your fans, posting a few times a week, keeping up with the changes in rules and regulations and WHAT THE FUCK, Facebook! STOP CHANGING YOUR GODDAMNED ALGORITHMS EVERY 10 SECONDS. Da fuck? Who has the time or the mental capacity for that kind of constant upkeep? I certainly don’t. Plus, there is also the totally unglamorous (and physically painful) aspect of the job that is EDITING ENDLESS PHOTOS.

Truth be told, I’m tired of the game. I’m tired of the constant hustle to bring in new clients and maintain relationships with past clients. I’m tired of being on my social media all the time and I’m tired of having to spend time on all that stuff when all I want to do is read, write, and edit. When all I have ever truly wanted to be is a writer and editor. When my guides tell me EVERY DAMN DAY that writing is my life’s purpose and I need to get on it.

The way of life is that shit eventually runs its course and we have to learn to recognize it and let go of it before we waste years beating our heads against a wall and filling up with needless regret. Why didn’t I recognize how unhappy I was? Why did I wait so long to make this change? What am I hanging onto when I know there is nothing left here for me? When I know this no longer feeds my soul?

So, I’m outta here, so-to-speak!

From now on, my “spare” time will be spent hanging out with my family and friends “engaging” in real life relationships with people in my immediate bubble. My days will be filled with a glorious plethora of words and corrections, as well as blushing sheepishly over my own missed typos and grammar faux pas (even great writers have shit moments). And, the best part, is that I can’t wait to write so much and about so many different things that I fly through shit so fast, I make really silly mistakes so others can send me “helpful” emails letting me know of my erroneous ways. LOL.

Bring it on, writing world. I’m so fucking ready for you!

Soul Guides, Channeling & Change

Do you know that anyone can access their soul guides? All you have to do is practice listening until you get really good at hearing them!

And, Holy Shitsnacks! Do you feel all the turmoil and upheaval and change floating around in the air these days? The energy in the world is swirling and, although it can be heavy and difficult to process at times, it’s also being caused by a major collective shift in consciousness that is leading us all to better times.

At least, that’s what everyone keeps telling me!

A lot of my energy work lately has been consciously calming my tits and constantly reminding myself to breathe through all the crap that I’m feeling – from within and without. It has been a struggle in the past two months, but a productive struggle. Each time I stay calm through a shitty situation and force myself to look at it from more than one angle, I learn something new and add a new coping tool to the ole spiritual toolbox.

And, even though I understand that consciously connecting with universal energy will lead to a deeper connection and strengthen my intuition, I am STILL surprised at how tuned in I am lately and how non-reactive I’m becoming, all due to spending more time connecting to my energy and opening myself to Source. More and more often I feel like I’m letting everything flow through me and allowing myself to sit with it until it passes, rather than freaking out and reacting with primal emotion.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m still a hot-headed cunt sometimes, just not as often as usual! Ha!

The BEST thing about all this conscious energy work is that my connection to my soul guides has amped up and my channeling has progressed so far that I’m sitting back in awe every time it comes through with ease.

Lately, it has been almost daily and all I have to do is close my eyes and breathe for their messages to start flowing. 

After struggling with my Masters for 15 months and fighting the constant stress of an ADHD brain that makes it nearly impossible to handle the pressure of intense courses, I chose to walk away from the program with only six months left. I did enough courses to allow me to take the exam to be a Professional Copy Editor and pass, but after that, it was a daily struggle to get my brain to function, remember, and assimilate all the info being thrown at it. I was always feeling stressed, wrestling with huge feelings of inadequacy (which is NOT like me), and feeling like a failure getting mediocre marks. Yes, I have always been brilliant at English and I was getting passing grades in courses that were all about English. It came down to a choice between struggling every day (to work full-time, find time to fit in my courses AND get my sluggish brain to work for me) or letting it go and finding something that didn’t drain my life away and allowed me room to breathe.

So, I took a deep breath and let it go. Hard as fuck.

Hard as fuck.

This morning, I woke up feeling sad and lost (as I have every day for the past month). I sat and meditated, asking my guides why I’m feeling this way and what I can do to perk myself up.

Here’s what they sent me:

The change of seasons always brings some sadness with it. It is an ending and endings usually cause us to feel somewhat empty. However, they also usher in new energy and growth. You are at another crossroads where big change stands before you and awaits your decision and action. Understandably, you are wary. You are fearful that you won’t be able to make change work for you based on recent events, but you are dwelling on past outcomes and forgetting that every new change is a chance to improve and learn. To grow and develop. Even if this change scares you, there is an opportunity for growth and freedom that comes with it. Remember, as you prepare to step down this new path, we are with you and all you need do is listen to us and follow our signs and we will help. You need to accept and realize you are capable of succeeding at anything. The only thing holding you back is your fear and holding on to past beliefs and outcomes. Let go. Fill yourself with new hope and possibility, and step forward with an open heart.

Wanting to solidify this message, I also pulled out my Ancient Animal Wisdom tarot deck and asked the same question.

tarot cards, labradorite rock, channelingI pulled Wildebeest. Here’s what the message that goes with the card says:

Wildebeest says it’s time to go! It’s time for a clean break, a fresh start or a change in location because abundance and renewal are just around the corner. Perhaps you’ve reached your peak or exhausted your resources in your current position and it’s time to embrace something new. Wildebeest encourages new beginnings on your journey ahead toward renewal. Use your intuition and life desires to guide you on this divine exploration. Your future glows with the potential of the bright days that lie ahead.

Everything I ask from them lately is spot on and makes perfect sense. It’s time for a change and I have the power to make that change work, whatever it is.

It’s funny how we allow fear and shit that has happened in the past to freeze us in place and keep us rooted in situations that are no longer healthy for us. This is a repeating theme in my life and, even though I try to recognize it and consciously work to stop it from happening again, it still sometimes mind fucks me and sets me back a step or two. All part of the dance of life, yo!

In this case, I’m going to listen to my wise ones and trust that the latest big change is going to be exactly what I need. I’m going to trust that it’ll work out and that I’ll continue to learn and grow with the experience.

Enjoy this coming change in season, peeps. Embrace the feelings that come with the change and sit with them until they flow through you and show you what you’re meant to see. Then tell your fear to get bent and take that first step into the unknown. It’s the only way.

Winter Solstice 2018

winter solstice 2018 soap bubble frosted with sunlight behind it

Happy Winter Solstice 2018! Bring on the change to lighter days, I say! This is what solstice represents to so many—change—and lately, it’s all I’ve been focussing on.

I recently completed the Gratitude Masterclass with Tamara Leavitt on the Calm App (check it out at https://www.calm.com/) and, I have to say, things are shifting at a rapid pace for me again.

I had been practising gratitude for years and truly believed I was doing well at it.

I wasn’t.

As Tamara says, it’s easy to feel grateful when things are going well (which is when I’ve always been best at feeling grateful), but it’s the days when life turns into a three-ring shitshow (I’m clearly paraphrasing that last part) that a solid gratitude practice is the most difficult.

It’s the days when everything feels heavy and difficult that gratitude exercises can lift us up and bring us back to the important aspects of our lives.

I’ve been jumping over some health hurdles lately and a couple days ago my orange fluffball cat decided it would be a great idea to try to get carried off by a giant ass owl (who promptly punched him full of holes and then dropped his heavy, fat ass to the ground and busted up his face). #owlscanbeassholes

It was a kick I wasn’t expecting (a very expensive kick) and my stress level immediately exploded, to the point where I got light headed and felt dizzy. Normally, I would get into a bit of a funk over this and it would take me a few days to process it and find my way back to happy times. This time, however, I sat down and immediately did an exercise called Gratitude Countdown, where you list 10 things you’re grateful for, in detail, to bring back the warm and happy feelings you felt while experiencing items on the list.

It worked. My body and mind calmed down and, by the time I put my pen down, I was ready to tackle this new challenge.

I sat there, IN TOTAL AWE and WONDER, that such a simple exercise in a hella stressful moment could have such a profound effect on my stress level.

And then I realized the true impact of this gift I’ve received from Tamara Leavitt and the Calm peeps. This is a new growth tool that has the power to change every aspect of my life. A simple tool to help me shed my stress-perpetuating, destructive habit of festering thoughts.

Hallelujah! 😉

If you haven’t checked out the Calm App, get on it. I’ve downloaded many apps over the years for meditation and awareness growth, but this one is a game changer. It wasn’t voted Best App of 2017 for nothing. It’s the best $60 I’ve ever spent…even better than blowing money on delicious craft beer!

 

Hitting the Spiritual Wall [Building Self-Awareness]. Part 2.

No! Wait!

You know what that is? That’s fear and the ego trying to make me forget my self-awareness and talk me back into my comfort zone, disguised as a namaste nicety. “Seriously Jo, you should slow down and smell the flowers. You work too hard. You are just fine here, sitting in the grass, holding Greg’s hand and feeling the sun on your face.”

And, yes, it is 100% true that I need to slow down and breathe. We all do. Regularly.

But is that what my life is really about? Have I ever been that person who puts a little effort it and then sits back and says, “Ooooh, I did a great job! Time to just chill for a few years.”?

Uhm, no thanks.

I’ve never been content to just sit and watch the world do its thing. That’s not me. That will NEVER be me. I want more – I will ALWAYS want more – and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with wanting more, wanting to learn and grow, wanting to improve myself and my surroundings.

I don’t give a shit what spiritual teachings say about letting go of material things and not attaching to anything.

Fuck that noise.

I like my shit and I love my lifestyle and I’m not giving that shit up so I can be more enlightened by breaking my attachments.

What’s NOT okay is burning myself out because I think that I can do it all and have it all in a short time. It’s important to remember that this incarnation – any incarnation, anywhere – is about finding balance and when shit gets unbalanced, everything starts to unravel.

I’ve lost my balance and I’m experiencing that unravelling full force right now and, of course, this is NOT the first time this has happened. My life has been a fairly consistent succession of falling apart and piecing myself back together. It’s my thing. It’s how I learn and grow, how I build my self-awareness. I’ve learned that this is my pattern – periods of pure joy interspersed with periods of kaka, tragedy, pain, and huge spiritual growth spurts.

However, recognizing, accepting, and finally embracing my pattern was not easy (and still isn’t sometimes), but I had help – in fact, I ALWAYS have help. This is where spirit guides and dearly departeds come in. They are our greatest teachers and all we have to do is listen to their guidance.

When I died and hung out with my dearly departed mama, we had a very animated conversation about self-awareness. She said that during those moments in life when we find ourselves figuratively beating our heads against a wall, our guides have been trying to steer us down a different path but we’ve simply been ignoring them – deliberately or subconsciously. We are ignoring our gut instinct (aka our guides) and being stubborn AF, just trying to “power through” or ignoring our well-being.

During these times, when our guides are knocking on our door (aka our intuition is kicking in) and we’re ignoring them, shit starts to unravel. If our self-awareness is present and/or developing, we usually start paying attention before we spiral down too far and really fuck our shit up.

And this happens to all of us. Some of us recognize it quickly enough to learn and grow and become more tuned in to ourselves…and some of us are slow learners and wallow down there in the shit for much too long.

Apparently, I used to just LOVE wallowing down there in the shit, but as the years go by, I’m spending less time down there. Sometimes – during my most aware moments – I’m not reaching the shitpile at all and just the smell of it is enough to snap me into awareness.

Think of a time in your life when you were absolutely miserable, but then you made a change and everything righted itself again.

Perhaps you were in a relationship that was bringing you down or a job that felt like it was sucking your soul away. How long did you stay in that situation? How miserable did you get before you lost your mind and got out of it? Or perhaps you’re still in this situation, waiting for a miracle to get you out of it? (Sorry, kids, that’s a whole ‘nother blog topic for a different day, but I hope this blog might help you a little anyway).

And, when you did get out of it, did you notice that, even though that change created some difficulties and new struggles, it STILL felt better and easier than staying in that situation? When you look back on that, do you feel like smacking yourself in the forehead for staying in that situation for so long?

If the same feelings started cropping up in your life tomorrow, do you think you would stick it out as long as you did last time?

If not, you’re learning and growing your self-awareness. Feels nice, doesn’t it!

My unravelings used to be a lot more epic and knitting myself back together used to be a long, tedious task. Now, each time the threads start to get yanked out of my soul fabric, I notice them quickly and gently tuck them back in before I end up naked, exposed, and covered in the kaka.

This time around, it’s taken me only two months to become aware that I was beginning to fall apart and, once I became aware of it, only a few weeks to evaluate my thoughts, emotions and physical manifestations and make a plan to restore balance.

What I marvel at most these days is how much easier it is for me to take a step back and pinpoint the areas that need to change. I used to get caught up and deeply overwhelmed by the big picture and I could never pinpoint the shit that was causing the issues. Now when it happens, I step back, breathe, focus on the main emotion that keeps cropping up and trace it back to all the areas that cause it. If it’s a negative emotion, I know that I need to make changes in those areas. If it’s positive, I know that I need to keep that shit up. This is what self-awareness is all about to me.

So, yes, I’m unravelling a bit right now because I’m unbalanced – too much work and not enough downtime, exercise, meditation, and activities that fire up my soul – but I see it and I’ve already made a plan to change it up and restore that balance. It will definitely involve more time to just hang out and do the things I love with the people I love, but it will also include a healthy dose of continual learning and growth, work, and ambition.

Balance.

Everything is about balance.

TO READ PART 1 of this post, click here

Hitting the Spiritual Wall [Building Spiritual Self-Awareness]. Part 1

Last night, while trying to center myself enough to connect with my guide, Linc, without success, I became extremely frustrated my thoughts immediately began to spiral down the rabbit hole…

With all that I do to work toward growing and strengthening my spiritual connection – the meditation; the self awareness; the trust and belief that I can get whatever I want just by believing it already exists for me; the faith in something I cannot see or touch; the hours of visualizing; the readings I do for others; the years of overcoming; and the sheer scope of effort I have put in to take all the tragedy in my life and create something good out of it – what the fuck gives, here? When does this get easier?

When does LIFE get easier?

All I have ever wanted to do is write and reach people with my words, so why, after nearly 40 years of having this goal, am I farther away from it now than I have ever been? Why am I working two jobs (actually, four if I count my one remaining social media client and the editing I’m doing on the side) and NONE of them are full-time writing? Why am I seemingly making choices that are steering me farther away from the one thing my soul has had a lady boner for since I was in 4th grade?

Maybe I’m not supposed to be something greater or different than I am right now. Maybe I’m exactly what I’m supposed to be and letting go of wanting to be more than I am is the key to happiness? What if the idea of manifesting and connecting with Source is all just mumbo-jumbo and all this work to connect with my highest self and my guides and others is just pure bullshit?

What if this moment, right now in my life, is simply as good as it gets and all I have to do to find some peace is to accept it and stop chasing something that keeps leading me in circles?

How would it feel to just work one job with good people – even though it’s not really feeding my creative soul – and then come home to Greg each day and just enjoy his company?

Does it matter that I’m not making a ton of money or that I no longer have the freedom I used to have working for myself? Do we really need more than what we already have? Is it worth this constant, seemingly exhaustive effort to always improve myself in some way and to always keep learning and growing?

Lately, when I try to trust that the universe will bring me what I want by steering me in the right direction and placing my feet on the right path, it feels like I end up walking farther away. It’s a constant battle between my heart and head to trust that what I’m asking for will find its way to me. It’s a constant fight against complete exhaustion as I remind myself that all these extra directions I’m being pulled in are totally necessary to reach my end goal – becoming a well-known, published writer.

But how long do I wait for my guides to help me reach the end game? How long can I stretch myself before I snap into pieces? I’m constantly beating myself up for not getting enough done – not writing enough, not editing photos for clients fast enough, not editing manuscripts for clients fast enough, not getting enough done at work; not working fast enough; not living up to the expectations of others.

And while battling all that, I’m losing the part of myself that shines the brightest – the dreamer with a head full of truth and fiction; the essence of who I have always been – the writer who moves people and feeds her soul with words.

But what can I do? Something’s gotta give.

What if…

What if I just let it all that pressure go?

What if I let go of all those expectations (self-imposed and otherwise) and I just set out to just accept simplicity?

Let go of the idea that I need to create a better life and just enjoy this one.
Let go of the idea that I’m more than this and just be happy with what I am now.
Let go fo the pressure to grow spiritually and just roll with any connection that comes…or doesn’t.
Let go of the constant effort to trust and believe.
Let go of the idea that I need to be anything more than I already am.

What if I just let all that shit go and slowed everything down?

To relish each breath and heartbeat.
To immerse myself in nature.
To enjoy the feeling of Greg’s hand in mine.
To laugh with him and drink him in with the sun on our faces.
To let love flow, if I feel like it, and keep it to myself if I don’t.

What if…