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

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.

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.

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 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…

Because of Cora…More on infant loss and grieving through the pain and happiness.

Infant loss. Baby girl Cora Jane LeFlufy. June 2, 2010.
June 2, 2018.
Infant loss. Baby girl Cora Jane LeFlufy. June 2, 2010.
Today would be Cora’s 8th birthday. Eight years ago today, she lit up our souls with her unexpected arrival. Eight years ago tomorrow, she plunged us into the abyss of grief and darkness with her untimely departure.
Eight years-some of them in a blink and some of them with the endless, painful ticking seconds on a clock composed of grief and despair.
Every year, these two days come and go and I power through a gauntlet of emotions-sadness, anger, loneliness, wonder, awe, gratitude-
but the journey always takes me to the same place: peace.
All that we went through-before, during, and after Cora-was a gift. Yes, you read that right. A gift.
It seems strange to think of it that way, but death (especially the death of a child) has this uncanny ability to trigger growth of our self-awareness and understanding. Grief shows us who we really are-good, bad, ugly-and, if we’re lucky enough (like I was) it shows us how to accept all aspects of ourselves and how to make changes that make us feel better about ourselves and our life’s purpose.
Because of Cora, I now understand all my shit and I know how to deal with myself.
Because of Cora, I no longer waste time on shit that doesn’t matter to me nor do I languish over anything that makes my heart hurt or causes me to question my feelings. If it makes me feel sucky, I feel through it and move the fuck on.
Because of her, I give less fucks. If something doesn’t directly affect my life or cause injustice for someone or something I believe in, I simply don’t give a fuck about it. Don’t take this the wrong way, I still give fucks, just about the things that matter most to me. I don’t care what people think/say/do about me unless it physically hurts me. I don’t care what people think/say/do about you unless it physically hurts you. But I still care about all the animals…they are one fuck I will always give. 🙂
Because of Cora, I’m both more compassionate and less tolerant (more about this in my next blog).
Because of Cora I don’t beat myself up over my mistakes and I’m faster to forgive myself and others.
Because of Cora, I’ve tapped into the power and presence of Source energy-where I can feel her and my other babies and my mom and so many others.
Because of Cora, I’m a much better human than I ever was without her (even though I am much less kind to whiners and complainers than I used to be).
How can a gal not feel grateful for that kind of gift? She was worth every second of the 30 hours we had with her.
Happy 8th Birthday, Cora Jane. 🤸🏼‍♂️👼🏼🤸🏼‍♂️

June 3, 2018

unplugging a baby from life support

Up to this point, it has been too painful to look at this pic, let alone share it.

It seems fairly boring unless you know that this is a pic of Cora’s BC Children’s caregivers unplugging her from life support. Now that I’ve told you that, it has a lot more impact, yes?

It was the first and last time I held her and she died in my arms almost immediately after they stopped her machines.
They wanted me to hold her for awhile while the machines were keeping her body alive, but I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t handle one more second of knowing she was already gone while machines kept her blood pumping and heart beating.

I brought her into the world and I was determined to hold her when she left it again.
After all, it was the least I could do for her after allowing people to poke and prod her for 24 hours.

Born healthy and thriving only one day before and braindead 30 hours later.

It’s hard to wrap my brain around, even eight years later.  Even knowing the sequence of events and the tragic mistakes that led to it, and regardless of how happy I am in my life right now, it still hurts if I think about it.

This pic is a painful reminder that love is a gift and we never know how long we have with our loved ones. It’s a reminder to love harder, laugh larger, give less fucks about the small annoyances and what others think of you (as I may have already mentioned a few times above…). None of that crap matters. Remind yourself regularly how blessed you are to have your fave people in your life (even when they annoy you so much you sometimes want to hit them upside the head with a plastic shovel…). As surreal as it sounds, they could be gone in a blink.

8 years ago today. RIP Cora Jane.

Fuck the Box! Listen to your gut.

IMG_6764

Gut instinct. So often we ignore it and do what others tell us we should be doing, molding ourselves into a box we just don’t fit inside. I say fuck the box. Get out there, listen to your gut, and breathe it all in.

So many business experts preach that, in order to be successful in running a business, you have to specialize in one area. I call bullshit!

When I was hip deep in running a photography business, every business class I took (with extremely successful photographers turned business coaches) repeated the same mantra “you must specialize to be successful”. I wasn’t nearly as successful as they were, but I wanted to be, so I ignored my gut instinct and followed their advice.

There were some glaring issues with their teachings (that I won’t even get into here because, seriously, there are too many to even touch on), but at the time I ignored my intuitive doubts in my hungry pursuit to be great.

I just wanted to be like them, so I followed their models and narrowed my focus from a wide range of photography to Wedding, Family, and Boudoir and, eventually, to just Boudoir. I trusted that if I specialized like they advised, I would find extreme success. After too many years of struggling (and still ignoring my gut instinct) to make the specialization work and being ridiculously bored and stagnant because of such a narrow focus, I couldn’t breathe anymore. I was forced to give myself a harsh reality check and completely revamp my career goals, but it was during this much-needed revamp that I had a huge epiphany.

Why should a person, like me (who has developed such a wide variety of skills in my 42 years and has such a huge amount of creative energy), have to narrow down anything in order to be successful? Why should I limit myself to only one kind of photography or, even better, to ONLY photography, just because others say that is the only way I will find success?

I finally just said fuck it to that line of thinking. It certainly wasn’t working for me and it was stifling, so I decided to toss it out and start from scratch. I took stock of all my skills and choose the ones I was both best at and enjoyed the most and allowed a business to naturally develop around them.

The way I saw it, if I wanted to be a photographer and a writer and an editor and many other things (because I was good at all of them), that’s exactly what I was going to be.

I’m just not made to fit into any kind of box.

It’s now April and I am currently still shooting (weddings, families, boudoir, commercial…whatever I fancy), writing (blogs and articles for other businesses and myself), editing (two novels), AND marketing social media for some local businesses in the Health & Wellness industry.

And guess what? I’m killing it! I’m not even remotely specialized now. In fact, I’m all over the fucking map and I have never felt so strong and confident in my work or so motivated and challenged.

  • My brain is happy with the constant stimulation;
  • I am still shooting hilarious and interesting people;
  • I am constantly increasing my knowledge of all things social media marketing (and understanding how much easier it is to market someone else’s business than my own);
  • I have learned how to build effective, kick ass websites;
  • I can read Google Analytics and Facebook/IG insights like a boss (and apply them to my marketing campaigns and Ads);
  • I am learning how to adjust my editing from the proper English of my youth to the modern English we are now immersed in (and, trust me, this is a tough but satisfying experience for me); and
  • I am earning money doing a bunch of different jobs, all of which I thoroughly enjoy.

Basically, I’m following my gut and heart and pursuing ALL of the things I love the most and I’m finally able to let my creative lungs fully expand.

So my message to all of you peeps out there–who are feeling stuffed into a box that just doesn’t quite fit–is to listen to your gut, not the so-called experts, to be able to take a fully freeing, creative breath again.

Fuck the box. Get out there and breathe it all in.

Joy Should Never Have Guilt Attached To It.

NOTE: Originally posted in January 2017

ritchie-valens-43343I’ve been mostly MIA on my blog for nearly two years, but up until a week ago, I really didn’t know how to explain my absence to anyone. I wasn’t ready…until now.

Let me backtrack a bit:

On June 3, 2010, our beloved newborn, Cora Jane, died after picking up nosocomial pneumonia in the hospital and my life was turned upside down and sideways. The road of grief was long and winding and lasted years for both my husband and me. It fundamentally changed both of us but we eventually found solace on different paths – me in roller derby, he in motorcycle adventures. We lost each other somewhere in the meleeand I never quite found my way back.

On March 14, 2014, nearly four years after losing Cora, the stress of grief and life got to me and became really sick. I died a little bit and had one hell of a wickedly, wickedly, wickedly, awesome Near Death Experience (NDE) where I hung out with my dearly departed mom for an entire day and we chatted about the meaning of life and soul contracts. I learned more about myself in that brief blip in time than I had learned in nearly 40 years.

During that experience, mama told me something that I inherently knew but didn’t want to admit to myself: I was not in love with my husband any longer and our relationship was no longer viable. When she said it, I knew it as truth.

However, when I awoke in the hospital and my husband welcomed me back with a floodgate of tears and love, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept my mom’s revelation.

I was full to the brim with love and peace. My experience had opened up my soul so completely that I couldn’t fathom not loving my husband (and everyone else in my life), so I put those thoughts to the very back of my mind and got to work on loving everything. I spent the following six or seven months living life in a bubble of pure bliss, loving everyone and everything and understanding everything about the world. I was in a state of euphoria and it was the most magical feeling, aside from being dead, that I have ever known.

Then, one day in October 2014, it all crashed down around me when I opened the front door and was blasted by a shock wave of negativity that left me sitting on the floor, panting and panicked. It was the first time in my life I had what would later be described to me as a major anxiety attack, and so began the boomerang of the NDE survivor spectrum, extreme empathy. I began sucking up all the energy around me, especially the negativity.

For months, negativity plagued me. I would feel it everywhere I went and it would just keep building up inside. Anger would “jump ship” from someone else to me as I passed them on the street. Frustration would creep up on me if someone in the vicinity was frustrated about something. Despair, antagonism, fear, worry, stress, anxiety…you name it, I absorbed it. I was a Sham Wow for any kind of crappy feeling or emotion and just kept pulling it all in with no means of wringing it out until I was nearly bursting. It was debilitating. I started staying in the house for long periods of time (sometimes up to two weeks), shutting out the world and completely at a loss as to how to stop it.

I stopped working. I stopped hanging out with my friends. I basically stopped living. I was stressed out and afraid all the time. I couldn’t sleep more than an hour or two each night and I was so moody that I would erupt like a volcano over nothing on a regular basis.

I actually thought I might be going crazy and I thought I needed meds to bring me back to sanity.

Through all of it, my husband was really understanding and took care of me —working all day and then stopping for groceries, cleaning the house, making excuses for our friends and family for my constantly skipping functions —and the entire time, I felt resentful of him. I resented him for being so nice and kind to me. I resented him for loving me so much. I resented him for being so nice when I was being such a stone cold bitch and didn’t really appreciate any effort he was putting into our relationship. Nothing he did was good enough or, well…enough, period. I couldn’t understand why he was such a huge source of my anger when he was doing everything he could to make me happy. The guilt of it was all-consuming.

I was more despondent than I have ever been in my entire life, even after Cora died, and everything became a downward spiral. I started losing friends because I couldn’t keep up relationships. I lost business because I couldn’t find the energy to shoot anymore. I alienated my husband and kept him at arm’s length at all times. I just shut down.

At the time, I didn’t understand anything that was happening to me and I didn’t know how to clear the energy out of me or block it from getting in, so I just retreated into myself and grew more miserable every day. I was stuck in a dead end and I felt like I was constantly beating my head against a wall.

One night while my husband was on a motorcycle trip to Mexico, I was laying in bed asking my soul guides for help and my mom’s voice came through loud and clear. “Jo, remember what I said? It’s time to stop pretending and get moving.”

And just like that, something clicked. During my NDE, my mom had also told me that those moments in life when we feel like we are at a dead end and are beating our head against a wall are moments when our soul guides are trying to steer our feet onto a new path and we are resisting. She said that when this happens and we continue to resist, life gets harder and harder until our vibration gets so low, nothing but pain and misery get in. Sometimes we find our way back—if we realize what we’re doing and trust our guides to help us out of it—and sometimes we don’t. Laying there, in that moment, I realized that everything I was feeling and experiencing was coming from my own resistance to the truth —I was no longer in love with my husband. I loved him, yes, but only as a friend. I had been forcing my heart, in vain, to find its way back to something that no longer existed. I had denied the truth in my heart and it had finally caught up with me and kicked my ass. My own resistance had backed me into a corner and forced me to face up to my fears or stay lost forever.

And just like that, I knew I couldn’t pretend anymore. When he called me the following day, even though I knew I was going to hurt him so much, I told him that I was leaving him.

Not only was it an awful feeling, but it was also, remarkably, a great feeling too. The moment I got the words out, I felt the weight of all of that negativity shift and begin to dissipate and I knew that I was doing what I needed to do to save my own sanity. The entire situation sucked moldy ass crackers, but for the first time in a few years, being honest with myself, and him, felt so liberating.

And, suddenly, the world came back to life for me. My vibrations started to rise and I started surfacing from the mire.

Fast forward 20 months to where I’ve gone through some hugely significant changes, all good for me.

I have moved to another city and slowly begun to establish myself here. I have learned how to control the way I take in or block other people’s energy and I no longer get bogged down with it. I also pay close attention to thoughts and feelings that come up within me and I honor and acknowledge all of them.

But up until last week, I wasn’t ready to let go of the guilt I’ve been carrying around for so long.

I couldn’t shake the guilt of not being able to love my ex the way he wanted me to and of disrupting both of our lives to follow my heart. I knew we were both better off because it is so unfair to pretend you feel something for someone that you don’t, but it was still eating me up inside.

Last week, Greg (my new guy) and I had a conversation about how I seem to keep my life with him on the down low. He also said he thought it was because I was trying really hard to be sensitive to my ex’s feelings. Even though I didn’t actually realize that I was doing that, as soon as he said it, I knew it for truth and I acknowledged and sat with it for a couple days.

I, indeed, stopped blogging about most things in my life because they have involved Greg and I was being sensitive to my ex’s feelings and didn’t want him to think I was throwing my happy moments in his face. It had been 20 months since we officially separated and I was still trying to censor my life to avoid hurting his feelings. I was, in essence, subconsciously suppressing myself because I was unsure if my ex was happy and I didn’t want to hurt him more by admitting to my own happiness.

My ex is a good man and I want him to be happy too, but his happiness isn’t my or anyone else’s responsibility. His happiness depends solely on his outlook. I have been burdening myself with too much guilt for following my heart, something that has brought me great joy and anything that causes a person joy should never have guilt attached to it.

So 
I have only just chosen to forgive myself and embrace my new life and all that it is.

I feel like I am home, in all ways, since I moved to the Okanagan. Back in a small town, living with the guy I fell in love with the moment I laid eyes on him when I was 17 (true story), and happily struggling through the ups and downs of the day-to-day.

Chugging forward with an open heart full of gratitude and newly lightened shoulders, I can’t wait to see what amazing things this year will bring for me, my life, and my relationship with my new guy.

I wish you all dragonflies and let the blogging begin again!

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Change your thoughts now! Your 40-year-old boobs will thank you!

NOTE: Repost from 2016.

40 somethingIn a video I posted last week (which you can watch here) I spoke about how our thoughts affect our lives and I wholeheartedly believe that if you change your thoughts, you can change your life.

Today, as I stood naked in the bathroom mirror, lamenting the altered state of my 41-year old boobs, a memory popped up from childhood.

I must have been about 12 or 13, and I was sitting on the edge of my mom’s bed, chatting with her as she stood naked, applying makeup, in the big mirror above her dresser. I don’t remember the full conversation, but I remember her laying down her eyelash curler, grabbing her boobs, smiling and saying, “I may not be crazy about the way my ass looks right now, but at least I have nice boobs and a beautiful smile.” She was around 34 or 35 at the time and she did have both of those things! At that time, though, I didn’t realize how profound her words were, but years later, after hearing her say stuff like that on a regular basis, I know how blessed I was to grow up with a mom who kept it real. She didn’t always love every part of her body or all of who she was as a person, but she made damn sure she could always find something she loved about herself (and me) and always made it known.

I should probably disclose that my mama had implants. She was diagnosed with Fibrocystic disease in her early 30’s and, as mammograms weren’t popular then, the recommended treatment was to remove breast tissue and get implants. That’s exactly what she did. Not only did it alleviate her fears of developing Breast Cancer, but it also made for one fantastic set of Ta Ta’s! When she died suddenly in 1999, I joked with one of my friends that mom would have been super jacked that she’d still had a great rack, at 47, when she died. LOL. Using humor while grieving is a legit coping mechanism!

All this came to me this morning, as I stood looking at my boobs and struggling to find anything appealing about them. I, too, used to have a great rack when I was younger. However, after 41 years, an invasive breast reduction surgery that left them heavily scarred, a noticeable drop after my milk dried up after pregnancy, and well, the old boobies ain’t looking 20 anymore. They aren’t awful, but they are most definitely my least favorite part of my anatomy. For the first time in my life, I can completely understand why so many women feel the need to have their breasts done – be it with implants or lifting or whatever else.

However, I understand something else so much more: I am NEVER going to love every aspect of my body or myself, so it’s critically important that I make time to focus on those parts of myself that I do love- like my arms or my ass or my great smile!

When we spend time picking ourselves apart, it eats away at our souls – it kills our confidence, depresses us, make us feel ugly and undesirable, causes us to compare ourselves to others because we don’t feel comfortable in our skins. I was BLESSED to have a kick-ass mom who ALWAYS found something to love about herself and her body (even on days when she wasn’t crazy about the whole package), but, even with her positive influence, I still struggle with self-love sometimes.

This is why I dig shooting Boudoir so much; it gives me a great opportunity to teach someone else how to start focusing on the parts of herself that are radtastical. It’s so easy to show a woman what a superbabe she is when she’s standing naked before me and I’m truthfully expressing admiration for her beautiful legs or her to-die-for hair or her smooth skin or her killer ass or, well, you get the picture…pun intended!

Growing up with a mom who could see all sides of herself taught me that it’s important to check your thoughts when you’re, for example, standing naked in front of the mirror, wishing your boobs were perkier and prettier. It’s important to learn how to smack yourself upside the head as soon as you start to fall into that rabbit hole of negativity. It’s important to develop the presence of mind to regularly tell yourself to snap the fuck out of it and take a closer look at the superbabe who stands before you. Maybe you have pretty, toned arms or a beautiful curve in your waist or a perky ass. Perhaps you have naturally white teeth or gorgeous hazel eyes with a wicked pattern of greens and golds in them. Whatever you have, it sure as shit is more than the not-so-perky boobs you’re focusing on and whining about. 🙂

Changing our negative thoughts about ourselves, both inwardly and outwardly, is a tough habit to break, but the effort is so worth it. If you aren’t happy with something about yourself, it’s up to you to either find a way to change it or, if you can’t change it, to find a way to accept it and focus on the things that do make you happy.

But how, Jo? How do I change my thoughts???

Start by taking one minute out of your day, every day, to talk yourself up. If you can’t find one thing every day that you love about yourself, I believe you are simply not trying hard enough. Finding ONE thing to appreciate about yourself every day is easy peasy- maybe it’s the shape of your toes, your ability to get shit done, being kind to people, how awesomely loud your farts are…whatevs.

If you have to put a sticky note on the mirror to remind you to look for the good stuff, then do it. If you have to ask your friends or significant other to smack you every time you say something negative about yourself, then do it (I’m sure they would be happy to do this for you…haha). Whatever you do, find a way to recognize and brag to yourself about the parts that you like or admire.

I may not be over the top about my boobs today, but I’m pretty in love with my lips, my muscular legs and arms, my ability to look for humor in any situation, my knack for not giving a fuck about things that aren’t vitally important, and my innate ability to see when I’m being a douche to myself (and others) and snap myself out of it. That’s a lot of good stuff to make me happy.

Change your thoughts, change your life.

Get on it.

Oh, and speaking of 40 something superbabes…
superbabe

Celebrate the Journey: Learning to Love Your Body!

NOTE: Repost from 2016untitled-29

How often in our lives – especially in this age of being constantly bombarded by fake, photoshopped BS ads in the media – do girls or women look in the mirror and say, “Damn, girl! You got it going on!”? Do you know how to love your body and yourself in general?

When is the last time you looked in the mirror and just accepted yourself for who you are – even if you are on a physical or mental journey to improve yourself and learn and grow?

It’s a tough question for a lot of us women because we tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of our personalities or the flaws we see in our bodies. Many of us don’t know how to accept where we are at this moment in our journey through life (even when we’re working hard to improve aspects of ourselves) and instead of going with the present flow, we concentrate on the future, not the here and now.

And it’s so easy to do – ignore who we are right now because we’re so focused on who we want to be later (after we do the work to improve ourselves). I grew up with a beautiful and ridiculously outspoken mom who constantly told me to love and accept myself for who I am – even when I didn’t like who I was at the moment – and I STILL fall down that steep slope of comparing myself to others. It’s so easy to conveniently forget that to learn and grow ourselves (and our souls), we MUST learn to love the process, the entire process, including the downright shitty parts.

We conveniently forget that we are all different and multi-layered for a reason. We forget to celebrate the beauty that shines from our unique characteristics that develop as we learn and grow through life. We forget to celebrate all that we are and all that we will become while we focus on the end game instead of the journey.

Accepting where you are right now is as simple as waking up in the morning and telling yourself that you probably won’t do or say all the right things and you may not look exactly how you want to look or behave in the best possible manner, but no matter what comes with the day, you love and accept yourself and where you’re at in your journey.

I declare that from this point onward, I will help all the women I already know, and all those I will meet, learn how to celebrate their journeys through this life. Of course, I would love to do this by using my camera to capture all that you are at this moment, but I promise to do it any way I can, camera or not.

Don’t you think it’s time that you learn how to celebrate your journey?