My soul has no fear of heights.

I sometimes imagine that my soul is another person who is separated from my body by an extremely thin, but ridiculously strong piece of porous glass. As I walk along on one side, my soul mirrors me on the other and mimics all of my actions. When I find the presence of mind to slow down enough to listen and feel for it, my soul presses its palms and forehead onto the glass, willing me to press my own against the glass too, so it can seep a little bit of itself back into me and re-establish our connection.

Sometimes when I least expect it, I crash headlong into that unbreakable glass and collide with my soul again, knocking us both on our collective asses.

Good thing there is more padding than usual on my ass right now because I ran into my soul so hard last Sunday that I must have bounced half way across the universe before I landed on it. It’s amazing what can happen when I go adventuring with a beautiful friend at my side, my camera on my hip and a smile in my heart.

I saw some areas of BC I’ve never seen before – Echo Lake, the scenery on the way to Cherryville, tiny little lakes here and there on the way- and I grabbed shots of some of them and couldn’t believe I’d never seen such hidden gems before. With each passing click of the odometer and each pristine lake we passed, I felt my stress level dropping and the dim awareness of the image in my soul mirror becoming sharper and beckoning me to come closer.

Lost Lake

untitled-516

untitled-513

Fall has come to Echo Lake

However, it wasn’t until we made our way up to the top of Mt. Scaia in Granby Provincial Park that my soul decided to knock me on my ass.

Somewhere along my life path, despite skydiving many times, I have developed a borderline phobia of heights. I have no idea where it came from because when I was younger, I would climb the tallest towers and trees I could find and I would dangle myself off branches over canyons and the like without so much as batting an eye. My friend Susie and I used to go to this place we called the Swinging Tree – a giant tree hanging over a steep gully where her brothers had tied a thick rope to the trunk. We would grab onto the rope and run as fast as we could off one side of the drop off and swing out and over it all the way to the other side. It was ridiculously dangerous and probably not the smartest extra curricular activity for a couple eight year-old girls, but it was SO FUN! The drop in the middle was probably around 50 or 60 feet to the bottom, but it didn’t even phase me as I was swinging out over the gully and hooting with delight. These days, if I get within 10 feet of a cliff edge, my knees soften, my heart rate spikes and I can hear the blood rushing in my ears. It makes me feel as though I will soon pass out, so I steer clear of anything high and just chock it up to something I can’t explain.

That is, until recently, when I decided that after dying for awhile, being afraid of something- anything really – is fucking ridiculous and I needed to start dealing with it. Who knows, someday I may have to climb something high to save a life and I’d hate to be paralyzed by fear with a life hanging in the balance. And so I’ve been adventuring in high places and trying to figure out how to get over the irrational fear they instil in me.

So there I was, standing on the top of Mt. Scaia and looking over the edge of a fairly high cliff. The old familiar feeling of weak knees and speedy pulse rate was in full force and I was about to just back up and head out into the flatter parts and rolling hills of the alpine-a safer and easier place to be. I stood there, taking deep breaths and willing my body to calm down and I sat down and closed my eyes and just listened to the world around me…and was met with pure silence.

No vehicle sounds. No animal sounds. No wind. No talking. No hustle and bustle of people in populated areas. Silence.

It was so unexpected and, well, HUGE, that it immediately penetrated all of me. I felt as though a warm and sure hand was washing me clean with a giant wet wipe. Cleaning out all the toxic crap that builds up when I don’t take time to listen to my inner happy being.

I stood up, walked to the rocks by the cliff edge and sat down. My heartbeat was calm again, my knees weren’t shaking anymore, my mind was focused and absolute. I picked up my camera and started shooting the vast expanse of mountains stretching out before me. I even shot the cliff below me, so I could remember how easy it felt to be there. It wasn’t entirely a cake walk, but it was the most calm I’d been at any height in many years. And as I sat there, shooting scenery and feeling everything inside me return to stillness, I realized just how out of touch with myself I have been lately. Springing to mind was the image of my soul and me running headlong into that ever-present window and sharing our light with explosive, freight train-like force.

And as I sat there, smiling, breathing, feeling so full of all-knowing emptiness, I knew that I wouldn’t have my fear of heights much longer and that something had changed inside me, yet again.

I love moments like this-sitting on top of a mountain in the sunshine, just breathing in the silence and stillness. They are so simple and seemingly insignificant on the outside, but so deeply profound within.

My friend said last night that the alpine = good medicine, but more than that, so is taking time to unplug, breathe, and appreciate the beauty around and within us. So is making the effort to listen to ourselves, to connect with our souls and stay grounded, clean of toxic energy and capable of dealing with anything life throws at us.

What a Thanksgiving that was. Grateful doesn’t even cut it.untitled-470

untitled-466

untitled-467

untitled-473-Edit

untitled-476

untitled-477

untitled-485

My life theme: Swimming Against The Current.

walking away from toxic people

Funny thing about life, it moves us forward, no matter how much we try to swim against the current.

It’s been nearly five months since Mr. LeFlufy and I called it quits. I now live an hour and a half away in a tiny 600 square foot suite with one of our cats, my mom’s fave blue chair, a sweet mountain bike, a shelf of my fave books, a few essentials and not much else. Gone is the big house, the fur family, the mountain of “stuff” that I used to have, the ease of a love that survived for 12 years through a shitload of ups, downs and one significantly enormous tragedy. Gone are the daily laughs that Greg and I shared when we lived together, the safe feeling of being snuggled at night by him and cuddling our fur babies-the comfort zone that we’d slid into at some point during our time together.

Even though it was my choice to end our marriage, I still have days where I feel decimated, lost, confused as to why I couldn’t just stick around and fight through my feelings of unhappiness and discontent. I question why the universe couldn’t just leave me the fuck alone, for once, and why it had to make me into an energy-guzzling crazy person who couldn’t handle living in close proximity with anyone anymore (even a guy who loved me implicitly and bent over backwards trying to make me feel loved) without feeling like I was losing my mind.

I am a sponge for energy these days and I can’t keep other people’s energy from seeping into me and changing my moods, energy levels, mindset. This grief over the end of my marriage has just compounded it. I can go from happy to raging, in a split second, after passing someone in a shitty mood on the street. I can switch from being energetic and full of zip to being completely exhausted and needing a nap after having a brief conversation with a friend who is upset about something. I can rub against a stranger in passing and instantly feel what they feel, but without any understanding as to why they feel it. This energy transfer issue started shortly after I died and it has become harder and harder to get a handle on ever since. It leaves me feeling crazy beans a lot of the time, so I spend a great deal of my time alone these days, avoiding other people’s energy.

When this all started, I reacted completely defensively because it felt like I was being invaded-violated almost. Rather than let energy just run through me and accept it, I started to lose my shit. It infuriated me that I had no control over my own reactions. When I realized I couldn’t control it, I just started throwing up walls against all energy, including Greg’s. If I blocked everybody out, I could keep myself level and feeling somewhat normal. I could continue to function, just with little to no feeling. It worked perfectly, but it had the dual (and completely negative) effect of morphing my romantic love for him into something different, something with a lot less feeling inside it and, by the time I finally caught on to it, it was too late to recover it again.

So I decided to no longer waste our time and I moved on. Greg knows this. We have discussed it, at length, but it doesn’t make either of us hurt any less about the outcome.

Time truly does heal. It also allows us to process, understand and find the strength to move forward.

The simple truth is that I’m happier being alone, where I can hang out in my bubble and have the time and space to work on learning to let energy flow through me when it comes, instead of freaking out and raging about it or just blocking everyone out (which is still my fail safe). I’m happier being independent and having to fend for myself, work shit out on my own, embrace the challenge of following my intuition. I am happier knowing that he doesn’t have to deal with the craziness that has been me for the last year and a half. I’m happier knowing that he no longer has to constantly wonder if I will love him or leave him every day and that he finally has some peace too.

But I’m also sad that we no longer have our life together, that I miss him and our animals, that we are hanging out less and less now that I live in a different town. I mourn what was, but I also accept that it’s healthy to go through this process.

Life happens the way it does because it’s meant to. I finally accepted that truth about four years ago when I was a year into grieving the loss of our daughter and realized I would never fully understand the reason for such a tragedy. Life experience happens because it is meant to-even when we don’t understand it, agree with it, or know what to do about it.

The more we fight against it-the more we try to change the inevitable outcome or struggle to try to control it-the longer and more painful and exhausting the journey becomes. I often day dream about just plunging myself into the current of life and letting it take me wherever it wants, without struggle or resistance, but, I am a strong swimmer, so this is just not my way. I have to dig in, resist, struggle against it all until I learn how to accept the limits of my strength and let go, a little bit at a time, enough to let the current sweep me a little farther downstream.

I’m still swimming against the current right now, but I think I’m nearly at the point where I’m almost spent with the struggle and will have to rest and relax enough to see where the flow takes me.

Ending a marriage is a grieving process, but don’t worry, it’ll buff out.

Greg’s favourite thing to say to me is, “Don’t worry babe, it’ll buff out!”

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 7.05.09 PM

In the last few years, whenever I’ve been hurt or sad or pissed off about anything, he has listened to me bitch about it, given me his take on it and then finished off with, “Don’t worry, Babe, it’ll buff out!” Sometimes, this has driven me absolutely crazy, while other times it has made me laugh out loud. Lately though, it seems to have become my mantra. I find myself saying it at least once a day and it always makes me smile.

I have to admit that I am struggling right now. Each day brings new challenges – learning to live alone and apart from Greg after 12 years of living together; still trying to figure out how to control the influx of other people’s energy that can overwhelm me so easily; moving my business to an entirely new location and beginning to build an entirely new clientele; having to leave my bubble and put myself out there for the first time in a very long time to make new friends and forge new relationships in this new community; etc.

There are days where I wake up incredibly sad about now having to navigate life without my bestie rock beside me and others where I wake up excited and filled with anticipation of what will come. Days where I feel empty because I miss Greg so much that my heart hurts and others where I feel grateful to be alone and not have to take in anyone’s energy. Even though he is only an hour and change away and we still talk almost every day, it still feels like our relationship has died and we are now going through a grieving process of sorts.

And, even though it was my choice to end our marriage and uproot my life to start new and fresh in a different place, it is still a daily struggle and a challenge for me.

I’m not seeking sympathy.

I harbour no delusions that this will be easy. I am much too familiar with grief to believe that ending an entire chapter of my life would be as simple as shedding a few tears as he faded in my rearview mirror. I struggle. Often. I have nights where I lie awake for hours, pondering my prospects and wondering if I have the wherewithal and the chutzpah to keep my forward momentum and make it on my own. I have days where I am convinced there is a grey cloud of impending failure following me around, just waiting for my feet to stumble and trip me up, so it can swoop down and lock me in its greasy, gloomy grasp, causing me to doubt my choices, second guess my strength, give up on my abilities to kick ass. On these days, I set my shoulders and carry around the weight of sadness and self-doubt and I wait it out because I know it will eventually pass.

And, as grief allows, I also have many good days. Days where I wake up feeling like a shiny new quarter. Days where I practically skip out the door on my way to new adventures, new discoveries and new possibilities. I laugh until my abs hurt, smile until my cheeks get sore, and can think of nothing except how lucky I am to be alive again, to be motivated to get shit done, and to continue down the life path I’m on. On these days, I can’t wait to see who I will become, who I will inspire, who will inspire me, how far I will take myself. I vibrate with the energy of evolution and innovation. I buzz with the potency of potentiality.

Large life changes, even the expected ones, bring about a large shift in consciousness and that means a lot of processing of emotions – usually of the roller coaster variety. I guess it’s a good thing I enjoy a good roller coaster ride because, by now, I’m fairly adept at letting go of the Holy Shit Handles, letting gravity take over, and just riding the rails until the ride comes to a complete stop and my feet are once again on solid ground.

I know I have to go through this and that all of this emotional up and down is to be expected and that I will get through it, but that doesn’t make any of it easier. And, even though the ups and downs of this particular ride have been fairly significant lately, I know that in time, it’ll buff out…

Sometimes, love doesn’t win. Here’s to new beginnings.

For those of you who don’t already know, my husband Greg and I have separated. I know that many of you who know us are sitting here, reading this, in complete shock wondering how a couple who are so good together and who have made it through so much tragedy, can end up calling it quits.

Well, I could go into great detail how this happens – how much the death of a child changes people; how having a Near Death Experience changed me; etc., but there’s a song by the Eli Young Band called What Does? that nicely sums up our situation.

Sorry, you whispered, me too, I replied
As we both sat there at the end of the line
It’s not like either of us didn’t fight
When the bell was ringing
Yah we went down swinging, you know

I never thought we’d be one more tragedy
You and me, were supposed to beat the odds
When you stick it out or when you don’t give in
and when you give it everything you’ve got

When you hold on through thick and through thin
And when that kind of love doesn’t win, what does?
What does?

I think the hardest part of it all
Is that you won’t be there after we fall
You’ll just be a memory that hangs on my wall
Of a good thing gone
Of a right gone wrong, you know

I never thought we’d be one more tragedy
You and me, were supposed to beat the odds
When you stick it out or when you don’t give in
Or when you give it everything you’ve got

When you hold on through thick and through thin
And when that kind of love doesn’t win, what does?
Oh, what does?

I could say a million and one things about my life with Greg right now and talk about everything we’ve been through, are still going through and will probably go through for the rest of our lives, but this song is the essence of it all. Love changes. Sometimes it morphs into something less romantic than it was, and no one can ever predict how their love will stand up to the test of time.

We have been to hell and back and, often, the trip to hell was paved with a lot of life-sized, lava-filled potholes. While our relationship, our friendship and our understanding of each other has deepened immensely, somewhere along the way, I changed a bit too much to keep our marriage alive and kicking.

But I tried. I tried really hard and, while my reasons are not readily understandable to most people (for Greg is an amazing man who loves me deeply and wants to spend his life helping me figure out all these changes that have been taking place in me), they are completely logical to me and more than enough to spark this huge change to put me on this new path that, now that I’m on it, feels like home to me for reasons I haven’t yet discovered. It’s also a path that I just know I have to walk alone.

Screen Shot 2018-06-14 at 6.55.40 PM

I am devastated that Greg and I have split and I miss him and the life we had together all the time, but I am grateful for his ability to see and understand how different I am from that lady he hooked up with 12 years ago-before our daughter died; before I died; before so much shit happened. I’m thankful that he’s graciously accepted my decision to end our romantic relationship and ridiculously appreciative of him for his continuing friendship, support, ability to listen objectively to my sometimes crazy babbling and ideas, his faith that everything will work out, and for how easy he has made this transition for both of us. He is truly an amazing man-the best I’ve ever known-and he deserves so much more than I am capable of giving him, even though I love him so damn much. 

But like the song says, when that kind of love doesn’t win, what does?

So here I find myself, walking a new path in Vernon, BC, discovering new things about myself every day, meeting new people, hanging out with friends, booking new photography clients, falling in the love with this area and all its killer scenery, and feeling more at peace than I’ve been in what feels like a long while.

I’m ready for this change.

I’m amped for this challenge.

I’m slapping on all the elbow grease I’ll need to rock it out.

I’m ready to take on the world again and do some epic shit.

Most of all, though, I’m happy to be spending some quality time with myself, getting to know who Jo has become since she briefly bit it and then made her way back to the land of the living. I don’t really understand a lot about New Jo, but I look forward to getting to know her inside and out.

So if you see on FB or hear through the grapevine that Greg and I have split, please understand that we don’t really want to have to go into detail with others or explain ourselves. Instead, we want you to know that we are both taking it day by day and adjusting to life without each other’s constant presence, but also finding our way along together, as friends who used to be lovers who went through something that makes everything else pale in comparison. And we’ll get through it eventually, leaning on each other, until we do.

One love, my friends.

My child died to awaken my soul and my gratitude knows no bounds.

Five years ago today, at around this time, Greg and I were sitting in a room with a bunch of doctors, listening to them explain to us that our baby girl’s brain activity was nearly non-existent and she would never survive if she were removed from life support.

I remember thinking that it was a pretty fucked up world to have a healthy baby progress to a brain dead baby within a span of 24 hours.

I remember sitting there on the loveseat in the family room, holding Greg’s hand and staring at the doctors in numb disbelief, trying to process what they were telling us, but also knowing on some level that I knew the outcome of our daughter’s life the moment they first told us that she had become sick.

“So, what you’re saying, is that our baby is brain dead and you want us to make the choice to remove her from life support?”

I remember asking that question three times before one of the doctors finally looked me in the eye and told me that, yes, that is exactly what they were asking us to do -unplug our daughter from life support and end her already too short life.

I remember them leaving the room to give us time to discuss things and Greg and I both taking all of five seconds to make our decision and end our daughter’s life without any hesitation. Neither of us was willing to let her suffer one-second longer.

I remember returning to Cora’s room to begin the process of not only ending her life, but also holding her for the first time since she was born.

It should be a blur, but I remember every detail down to the sound of the tape ripping as the nurse, Susan, taped Cora’s lifelines to Greg’s shirt so he could hold her while she was still somewhat alive.

And then it was my turn and, when they started to prepare to transfer all of her lines over to my side of the room so I could hold her, I refused. I thought that if I was going to hold my daughter, I was going to hold her while she left the world peacefully, with the woman who brought her into it- without a bazillion tubes coming out of her and machines beeping in the background. They kept everything on and running until the last moment and then they placed her in my arms and, one by one, turned off all of her life-giving machines. Greg sat across from me, with his hand on my leg and holding Cora’s tiny feet and I stared down at our child as silence filled the room at last and she began to grow cold in my arms.

I didn’t cry. I didn’t shift in my chair. I barely breathed as I felt her leave us, but I knew that later there would be enough tears to fill up years of our lives over the loss of this beautiful child that we had waited six years to meet. I remember watching the pink drain from her skin to be replaced by a faded yellow and I held onto her hands, willing them to warm up, even though I knew they never would again.

As Greg sobbed beside me, still holding her feet, I stared at my daughter’s beautiful lips and felt myself fall down the rabbit hole of grief, so deep and so dark, I wondered if I would ever be able to see any light ever again.

I remember lying in my hospital bed a few hours later, Greg’s arms wrapped tightly around me, and the tears finally coming uncontrolled and unstoppable as we sobbed in each other’s arms for all that we had just lost-both past and future.

I remember driving home from BC Children’s Hospital later that evening, in a daze of exhaustion, disbelief, and mind-blowing sadness, barely talking to each other and just crying a never-ending river of tears, asking each other how we would ever survive this.

I remember…

I remember everything as though it happened yesterday and all I need do is close my eyes to see the movie of the memory playing in my mind.

However, instead of that unbreakable sadness that always used to haunt me on the anniversary of her death, I now feel wonder at how I can relive those moments and not feel the darkness anymore. I marvel at how I can look back at the most tragic and life-changing moment in my life and feel strength and light and pride in how far we have come and how much we have learned and grown from our child’s death.

I am grateful that she has taught us how to take life as it comes – good or bad – and forgive ourselves when we fuck things up. I’m grateful that her death reminds us everyday that we are human and that we make mistakes and have to continue to forgive ourselves and keep learning, rather than beat ourselves up. I’m grateful for all the love she has spread, the new friends I have met through her loss, the strength she continues to help me find inside myself, and the lifelong connection that Greg and I will always have, regardless of where our relationship takes us.

I am grateful that her death puts everything else into perspective for me and makes me realize that nothing that happens in life will ever be as awful or as difficult to get through as losing a miracle baby.

Mostly though, I am grateful for her constant connection to me through her signs, her whispers, her visits in my dreams and the messages she delivers in my quietest moments. She’s always here, always helping, always loving, always lifting me up and always keeping my awareness of my soul in tune with the other side.

So grateful, in so many ways, for our Cora Jane. 045_DSC_0067-123-Edit

Mexico 2015: More life lessons and impending liver failure.

I love Tequila.

Out of all the boozes out there, Big T is the only one that doesn’t make me too drunk to speak or draped over the toilet the following day rueing its existence (except for that one time in Mexico a couple years ago when I may have bet Shannon that I could “drink all the Mexicans under the table” – the glass table that I was dancing on. Admittedly, that did NOT end well.).

I also love sunshine.

Given the choice between sunshine and warmth or snow and cold, it’s a no brainer for me – even though I love skiing and winter sports.

Put the two of them together and Tequila and Sunshine = Jo’s Happy Place.

untitled-161T

See how happy I am!! It could be a combo of the sunshine, Tequila and a husband who is hilarious, but I’ll take it.

I have only just returned from my happy place (this time it was the Crown Paradise Golden in Puerto Vallarta) and I’m already lamenting the snow and cold, dreaming of warmer times and a good, clean all-day buzz. Some may think that being buzzed all day is unproductive and lackadaisical, but I beg to differ. I get a lot of smiling, dancing, laughing and body healing accomplished by being buzzed all day. I am a great problem solver while buzzed (hmmm…I can’t seem to fit this entire drink in my big cup, so what will I do with the left over? I know, I will drink them both!); I can handle more stimuli; I can think of clever retorts quickly and easily; and I can learn other languages without struggling.

During this trip I learned so many new spanish phrases, for example:

1. If I’ve had enough of silver vendors harassing me to buy from them, I simply say, “No more silver, please!” or “No más plata, por favor!” When the vendors come by for the third or fourth time and just keep asking me, I change it to, “No more silver, for fuck’s sake!” or “No más plata, para joder amor!”. That seemed to really help.

2. If I am shopping and I want to know how much something is, I ask, “Cuánto Cuesta?” And, when they give me an astronomically high price, I say, “Es muy caro!!!!!” or “That’s too expensive.” I just keep saying that until I get the price I’m willing to pay or I walk away and do the same with the next vendor. If it’s really ridiculous (like the dude at the resort who tried to tell me a silver ring that looked almost exactly like the silver ring Greg bought me in the Mayan two years ago -for a mere 300 pesos-was worth $250 USD), I say, “Debes pensar que estoy loco.” or “You must think I’m crazy.” That, too, seemed to make people laugh and drop their prices by a couple hundred bucks. That or make the universal “She’s crazy” signal by making a circular motion with their index finger pointed at their head. Bahahaah…

3. This was my fave expression of the entire trip and is our version of What The Fuck? “Que Mierda?” or the more vulgar version of “Chinga tu madre”, which literally translates to “Fuck your mother.” I’m not sure why this made me laugh so hard, but I sure know it well after a week of saying it a lot.

We hit Mexico around every two years and every time I go, I learn new words, new customs and make new friends. I met a fantastic couple named Beth and Ken from Wisconsin. I picked up on Beth’s energy from across the pool and realized she was sitting near my posse. When I got closer, I saw she was wearing a dragonfly on her necklace and the floodgates of intuition opened up for me. Maybe it was because I was drunk, but maybe it was also just meant to be. Once I started talking to Beth, I couldn’t stop the flow and I loved her and her hubs instantly. What a life they have led! So much adversity and they’ve come through it beautifully. I will keep in touch with them forever.  People laugh at me and my fetish for everything dragonfly all the time, but I’m pretty sure the dragonfly is my spirit animal…spirit bug, maybe? Whatever it is, the littel critters connect me in all sorts of ways to all sorts of people and I am grateful for them and all the connections they make for me. Here’s a sweet pic of me, Beth and Ken. Love them!

IMG_9924

While we usually stick to the Mayan area, where there are less tourists and it’s a bit quieter, this time we chose to go to the bustling hub of Puerto Vallarta. Probably not the best idea for a gal who is an empath and absorbs everything from everyone.

Life Lesson #4235: Jo LeFlufy does not do well with any kind of bustling hub. This includes large resorts packed full of people, beaches with a bazillion vendors trying to sell me something every two minutes, or crowded downtown areas with crazy drivers, loud music and people moving in all directions at once. To put it lightly, I was overfuckingwelmed and, despite the perfect combo of sunshine and Tequila, I was feeling stretched a bit thin by around Day 5 and I hid in our room and slept for a few hours with earplugs in, trying to ground myself again. I also escaped from everyone after dinner that night and hung out at the beach, by myself, just listening to the sound of the waves…and the couple banging on a palapa under a palm tree behind me. Ah, yes, the beautiful sound of the ocean and drunken carnal desire!

All in all, though, this trip, aside from the overwhelming number of peeps, was super fly fun.

I hung out on the beach with my friends and got a sweet henna tattoo on my arm to cover up a huge derby bruise!

11423_10153165645322784_5562417170036332310_n

I watched a Disney show at the nightclub at our resort and sang ALL THE SONGS!

untitled-8

I soaked up all the sun, wore a sweet fedora all week, and drank all the Tequila I could handle!

untitled-139T

My hubs caught a big, pretty fish (Mahi Mahi) that smelled really awful but tasted delicious!

untitled-240

I bought two pairs of sweet, hand made shoes from a dude named Hugo. All of us bought them and we chose our own colours and patterns. He was really fast and skilled at making all sorts of patterns and easy to chat with because he spoke English really well. The shoes are ridiculously comfy and I can’t wait for summer here so I can wear them all the time! Here’s a pic of each kind he made me!

IMG_7868

We also ordered “Sexy Coffee” every night. I’m not sure why it was sexy, but the fact that they lit the booze on fire and did really cool things with it was pretty entertaining. It was also delicious.

untitled-65untitled-181

That was not the best pic, but I was drunk and my hands were not steady. Pfffft.

We headed downtown one night to grab some authentic tacos from the street vendors and it was so much fun. I ordered Marlin Tacos for about $2.50 each and they were SO DAMN GOOD that I kind of wanted to eat 15 of them instead of only two. So spicy and tasty – like spicy fish bacon. I am in love with Marlin tacos and, despite the number of people in PV, I would go back just to eat at that guy’s taco stand again. Nom nom nom.

untitled-335 untitled-339 untitled-340

Part of the “fun” of this night, was dropping my wallet in the cab that brought us downtown. When I looked in my bag to grab my wallet and pay for our tacos, my wallet was not in it, even though I had pulled it out to pay the cab driver. ER MER GERRRRRRRRRD. I had a momentary panic attack until Greg (aka The Smartest Husband On The Planet) pulled out his camera and showed me this:

untitled-330

Yes! That’s me, in cab #161. It took a couple hours of me phoning our hotel and them tracking down our cab driver, but I eventually recovered said wallet…a few hundred pesos short, but whatever. The first couple of times I phoned, I was told that they couldn’t find the wallet. However, when I explained that we had a photo of the cab and the driver and the cab number time stamped for when I lost my wallet, the tune changed and it found it’s way back to me. It’s a miracle! Maybe the cabby thought he needed to help himself to a Finder’s Fee? Whatever the case, I was just happy to get it back with all my ID and cards. Of course, I had to call and cancel all of my cards that night because, these days, all it takes is snapping a pic of the number and the CCV on the back and boom, there goes my identity. All is good now. I have new cards, still have my licence and learned a really valuable lesson about travelling – leave your cards in the safe in your room. DUH!

The highlights of this trip were finding Pomegranate Tequila (that shit is the BEST) in the market and unplugging for an entire week. I thought I would suffer from Technology Withdrawal, but it was the opposite for me. I relaxed more than I have in years and my brain slowed down so much that I had to regularly poke it to make sure it was still working. It was amazing – so much so that I came back and plugged back in only to find myself tense, stressed and annoyed about being tied to technology. This makes me wonder if perhaps it’s time to start farming out even more of my business to others so I can just shoot, hand over the pics to my people and walk away. Something I definitely need to think on some more.

Mexico, in a nutshell, is pretty rad for forcing a gal to relax, teaching some fairly good life lessons and, of course, making impending liver failure a good possibility. You should consider going. Your stress level will plummet drastically and your liver will thank you for the workout.

As always, One Love, peeps. One Love.

Resolutions lead to disappointment. I’ll just keep being human instead.

It’s 11:34 p.m. and, of course, my brain refuses to shut down for the evening. In celebration of my cerebral dance party, I’ve decided that pretty much everyone who is awake right now most likely wants to read my thoughts (not, like, telepathically…here, on my blog. Sheesh.).

This time of year everyone is posting their New Year’s Resolutions – lose weight, exercise more, be kinder, be more loving, clean up the dog poop in the yard every day instead of every two weeks (What? That is actually a legit and doable resolution.), etc.. I have never been crazy about resolutions. In fact, I’ve never been crazy about setting any kind of goals because, honestly, I’m not a goal reacher kind of girl.

I’m more of a “Hey! I have two days to get this wedding edited and I haven’t started yet, so I had better get at ‘er” kind of girl. (Disclaimer: If you are one of my clients, that statement was purely for comic relief. I always start my edits at least five days before the final product is due…#kiddingnotkidding…or am I? You’ll never know.) The truth is that, as I age, I realize more and more about myself and one of the biggest things I have learned in the past few years is that I don’t do well with goals, but if someone challenges me by telling me I can’t accomplish something or dares me to do something, I will complete said task every dang time (Dude, I’m a SCORPIO. ‘Nuf said).

Deadlines? I can rock those because they are necessary, but goals and resolutions? Pffffft. Goals are for people who don’t understand how defeated we can be by our own expectations. You’re better off to just say, “Yah, maybe someday I’ll do that.” Expectations lead to disappointment when they aren’t met, so if you don’t allow yourself to have expectations, you seldom end up disappointed. Plain and simple logic.

Hence, my refusal to make a list of Resolutions at the beginning of a new year…or, well, ever.

So, go ahead, you neurotic goal chasers! Pull out your List Pads right now and detail new goals and resolutions under the heading “How NOT to end up like Jo LeFlufy”. I’m okay with that and, snicker if you must, but I’ll be the gal drinking a beer and enjoying it (because I surprised myself by accomplishing things I didn’t know I would accomplish today) while you cry in yours (and stuff your face full of french fries because your resolution to eat more healthfully and hit the gym every day come January 1st only lasted six hours and you just yelled at the old bitty who cut you off after you vowed to give up your road rage tendencies). (p.s. You’re totally welcome for that last, run-on, sentence, which was the BEST I’ve ever written. I didn’t even know I would write such a great run-on sentence today, so to celebrate my feat, I’ll probably kick back and enjoy some french fries with my beer.) Cheers, mate!

My suggestion (because you’re totally asking for my advice, right!): Be human. Enjoy the moments. Forgive yourself when you don’t accomplish herculean tasks every day and celebrate the things you do get through. Keep moving forward and learn to let go of your expectations. You will never be disappointed by anyone or anything if you don’t expect anything from them.

Oh, and remember that we are all connected and we are all love. One love, people. One Love!

Pets 2

Forgiveness. What the f$@k does that even mean?

I am on a spiritual journey. Cliché, I know, but true nonetheless.

Part of this experience has been a seemingly endless uphill climb toward learning to live from a place of love and remembering that my actions and words affect more than just the person immediately receiving them because we are all connected through energy.

When you become aware of the oneness of the universe and you start to literally feel (not just figuratively feel) that connection to all things, like-minded people somehow find their way to you. And when they do, common themes keep popping up and challenging the way you think, act and interpret the world around you.

I’m now very aware. I now have so many connections with other spiritual people that I feel as though I have a whole new section to my family. I am now being challenged, more so than ever before, to think about my effect on the rest of the soul pool.

But there are days – OH! There are DAYS!!!!- when I question the meaning of things I hear all the time because I really have no fucking idea what they mean.

Days where I discuss being hurt by someone whom I believed to be a friend and my spiritual friends say, “Just forgive her and let it go.” Or days when I see somewhere that a guy beat his puppy to death because it wouldn’t stop barking and my spiritual friends say, “It’s his lesson to learn, not yours. Forgive him and let it go.” Or days when the odd client slips through my usually keen sense of “this is a gooder” radar and turns into someone fighting a huge battle against the world and probably herself and she goes out of her way to make me feel like a shitty photographer because she’s not happy with herself. And, once again, my spiritual friends (which make up most of my close friend pool these days) say, “Forgive her and let it go.”.

Have you ever tried to forgive someone and let it go? How do you go about it? Do you just say to yourself, “Hey self! That person has not been very nice to you and has done some nasty things and really hurt your feelings, but it’s all okay. Today, you choose to just forgive them for doing such shitty things to you and let go of all the hurt and unhappiness that they have caused you.”? Does this work for you? Because I have tried this technique many times and the next time I see that particular person, I immediately feel shitty, remember all the hurt they have caused and also immediately wish that someone causes them the pain that they caused me. Then I immediately check myself and remember that I have already supposedly forgiven them and let it go. And then I beat myself up a bit for not truly forgiving them or letting anything go. Clearly, this technique doesn’t work for me. If I never see the person again, it might, but what if that person is in my life on a regular basis?

I’ve tried other techniques too. Contacting the person to let them know I forgive them for whatever I feel they’ve done and also letting them know I’m forgiving myself for any part I had in it. Nope. Doesn’t work. I still feel instant angst when I see them or hear their name in conversation.

I’ve tried blogging about how I’m forgiving them and hoping that since I launched it to the universe, I can let it go and get over it. Nope. No dice, homies.

I’ve poured out all my anger and frustration and nasty scum hatred feelings to my counsellor or my girlfriends and hoped that it will be enough to get it out of my system and move on. Nu-uh.

Basically, up until the last couple days, I had no friggin’ idea what forgiveness actually was. Nor did I understand how NOT to hold a grudge (even though I foolishly tell myself that I’m not holding them). When people hurt me-whether it’s intentional or not-forgiving them for the pain they cause is not as easy as just saying, “Abracadabra! I forgive you for being a Grade A Asshole and I’m letting it all go.” and shrugging it off. Once you let the pain in, it takes work and a shit ton of effort to actually get rid of it. And, if you’re not on top of it, ALL THE TIME, it seeps back in and infects you time and again.

Today, I had an epiphany and I, not a word of a lie, hit my knees at the beach in a completely stunned moment of pure awareness. I stayed there on my knees for a full five minutes, with my eyes closed, grasping the full meaning of what forgiveness truly is.

Forgiveness can never be given if it’s accompanied by fear and fear is what wounds us the most, not other people’s actions or words.

For example, if someone says or does something to me that I interpret as nasty or painful or hurtful, I can guarantee that the pain stems from fear. If I think this person’s words or actions will make others think less of me or think that I am someone who I am not, I am coming from a place of fear. Our ego always wants everyone to know that we are awesome and how hard we work at being awesome. It foolishly tells us that one person, out of the hundreds we have contact with, will ruin us with their words and actions, so we go into overdrive-defending ourselves to anyone who will listen and trying to prove that we are not who this other person says we are. Even when we are extremely on top of this part of ourselves and we recognize it easily, the ego can still take over and mess up our heads.

If, on the other hand, the same situation happens and, instead of reacting with fear, I simply choose to react with love, the pain never enters me in the first place. It can be something as simple as telling myself that sometimes, no matter what I do or say or how kind I try to be to others, it just won’t be enough for some people. And, you know what, that’s okay.

That was just one example of the effect that fear can have on us. Fear comes in many shapes and sizes and it causes a whole host of negative emotions and actions – hatred, anger, revenge, phobias, frustrations, etc..

The thing about forgiveness is that you are never really forgiving others, you are actually forgiving yourself for letting fear get the best of you. If your shittastic ego gets the better of you and catapults you into a place of fear, the mere act of recognizing is forgiveness enough. In the above situation, if I recognize my fear and tell myself that I’m afraid of how others will see me or what they’ll think of me, just admitting my fear dissolves it and helps me remember that what other people think of me is none of my business.

If there’s no fear, there’s nothing to forgive.

[Let me digress here for a moment and talk about forgiveness of heinous acts such as rape, murder, abuse and other appalling acts of violence. I can’t even begin to understand the fear that these types of trauma would cause, nor can I say that it would easy in any of these situations to recognize the fear and learn to forgive by recognizing it, but I do believe it’s possible, with time, to come to terms with any kind of brutal act of violence or loss. I believe that we choose our path before we come to live our human existence and some of us choose to go through awful shit in order to learn the strongest lessons our souls can handle and to teach compassion to others and ourselves. So, most of the forgiveness I’m writing about here is small beans in comparison to, for example, forgiving the guy who stabbed your mother to death in a home invasion or recognizing and conquering the fear that lingers from being brutally raped.]

While I’ve been writing this, words have appeared before me, as they often do:

“She is who she is, but I don’t have to like who she is or keep her in my life.”

Basically, let people be themselves. Let them fumble along their own path, in search of the lessons they are meant to be learning and they are most likely struggling with their own fear. However, if people make you feel shitty about yourself or as though you are incomplete and always striving to meet their expectations or that you are never good enough, loved enough, cool enough, liked enough, wanted enough, etc., get away from them. Do everything you can to distance yourself from them. Do everything you can to ensure your paths don’t cross often. If that means giving up time with people you really enjoy, so be it. Those people will find a way to you if they are meant to still be in your life. If you can’t avoid the people who drag you down, guard yourself against them when you are near them by reminding yourself that they are struggling with their own journeys and they aren’t as aware as you of how their behaviour can affect others. Remind yourself that love, not fear, directed at them, may not have an immediate result and may feel like a useless effort, but every little bit they get from you will help them figure out how to come from the same place (or closer to it) someday in the future. And, if all else fails, you can always hit them upside the head with a shovel and casually dump them into the holes you’ve dug in your garden for “excess compost”…Just kidding. Seeing if anyone is actually still reading this.

And, in case you haven’t figure this one out yet (because sometimes it takes us many, many years of living to get to the point where this becomes second nature), do everything you can to surround yourself ONLY with the people who lift you up, make you feel loved, make you feel whole, accept you for who you are and respect the journey you are on.

No fear means no need to struggle to forgive. It really is as simple as my spiritual friends make it out to be.

After all this, I’m hoping tomorrow’s beach excursion will bring an epiphany of being less judgemental, another aspect of life I struggle with every damn day.

Enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas and all that jazz.
One Love, peeps. One Love!

p.s. I did not even remotely proofread this, so if my grammar sucks and my punctuation is misplaced, I don’t really give a…

Let go of that baggage and embrace your life experience. And, also, bums.

I’m totally off the grid these days – still finishing this year’s two final weddings and editing, oh, 14 Boudoir sessions to get them out in time for Christmas, so I don’t have a lot of time to bloggity. However, this happened and I feel it’s worth sharing.

Had a text convo with a friend last night and they said they have a lot of baggage and it was suggested in a negative way. I slept on it and woke up with it still on my brain. I just sent them this and I’m posting it here because I believe everyone can benefit with a change in their outlook on their so-called “issues”:
“There’s really no such thing as baggage. We are what we are and anything we carry with us is life experience, not baggage. If something from our past makes us believe we are damaged in some way-incapable of something for whatever reason – then we perceive it as negative and we call it baggage. In reality, it’s just part and parcel of our life experience thus far. The trick is to use it to improve upon ourselves and not repeat mistakes. You don’t have baggage anymore than I do. You have life experience. Everything you’ve lived up to this point has shaped you into who you are today and that is not negative or damaging in any way. You are who you are because of that so-called baggage and I love who you are and who you’ve become BECAUSE of that life experience. Embrace it. Use it. Learn from it.”…unless you are actually carrying suitcases. Then, well…
Jo’s words of wisdom #259. 

And also, this, because it’s one of my fave poses to put my clients in lately!

untitled-302T

One love ya’ll. One love.