The Wonder Years

Being a stepmom to a teenage boy has its moments. There is a fine line between your role of the primary mother and caregiver and the evil step-mother as you are often cast. Here is just one exchange that I could see being a comic strip that calls the humor out in being a mother and the things you have to go through with your kids.

Me: Zack, did you take a shower this morning?

Zack: No.

Me: Will you take a shower tomorrow morning? I have some clothes I want you to try on.

Zack: I took a shower last night!

Me: I heard you. Will you take a shower again tomorrow morning? I have some clothes I want you to try on.

Zack: But I took one last night!!!

Me: Did you put deodorant on after you took a shower last night?

Zack: No.

Me: Exactly.

 

 

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Our Hawaiian Adventure 2.1 – Beware of Wild Goats

We kept heading along the coast toward the Kona side of the island. My goal was to be there to photograph the sunset against the ocean and crashing waves upon black volcanic rocks that extend across the horizon. It wasn’t long before we came upon Punalu’u black sand beach and the small village of Kahiolo. Even though this was the same beach I had visited over 11 years ago, we somehow came upon a completely different part of it that I had not noticed during my last visit. As we parked and were walking towards the beach, we noticed an abandoned hut-like structure in the woods. It looked like some fancy 50’s beach house with large windows and concrete roof that was now overgrown with palms and vines. We soon realized that there was more; there were multiple buildings, all connected by wooden decks. Was this a resort? A shopping center? What happened to it? Google says it’s an abandoned tiki bar and restaurant. We explored the ruins for a bit. It was really a cool place. Watch out for broken glass and metal though and careful on the crumbling bridge. After exploring a while, we left the ruins behind for a look at the black sand beach.

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I was eager for some long exposure photography of the waves crashing against the black volcanic rocks and was ready to get myself all set up. I even was able to use my new neutral density filter. I took shot after shot of the different wave patterns. It wasn’t quite creating the effect I was looking for, but I was satisfied with my efforts and even managed to see a sea turtle while I was on the rocks. I also got the first-hand experience in just how salty sea water is as my gear was covered in it. And I left my detail cleaning kit back at the hotel. I was beginning to think that this landscape photography thing was for the birds as not only was I having a hard time finding that perfect location at the perfect time of day, but now I was realizing the effects on my equipment. I made do with some spray and a wipe to get my lenses cleaned enough for our next destination, Kona.

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We arrived at the lower part of Kona in the early afternoon and stopped at a coffee plantation just outside of town to pick up our first beans. We didn’t sample much of their coffee because of the time of day. Sometimes your just not in the mood. We trekked on and made another pit stop at a little sweet role bakery in South Kona. Then again went on until we neared the resort area where we would watch some beach volleyball and grab some food at one of the local fares. We even took a look at some of the other resorts we had considered to stay at and the one that I had stayed at during my last visit. It was very surreal to walk along the Oceanside restaurant that I had visited in a previous life.

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We decided to continue on and found an unkempt road that led to a secluded beach. We ventured down this very bumpy road over lava flows for the better part of an hour when we finally came upon a secluded beach full of black lava extending into the ocean along the horizon.

Reason 2 why you should get the extra insurance and rent a 4×4 vehicle on the Big Island. Very rough Roads… If you really want to call that a road.

It would have been a great place to set up for that sunset shot, but the sky was full of clouds in the distance and the road was so bumpy I didn’t think we should drive it in the dark with a compact rental car.

We headed back to Hilo, this time taking the northern path along the coast. I have to admit, much of the drive was a blur for me as I dozed in and our out of consciousness. I was jarred awake after Dave shouted “what the heck was that?!” and pulled over. Apparently, the vehicle in front of us hit something, something big enough to take off its front bumper. Dave said he thought it was a goat.

Reason 3 of why you should get the extra insurance and rent a 4×4 when renting a car on the Big Island of Hawaii. Wild goats.

After a somewhat strange and eventful night, we finally made it back to Arnott’s Lodge for a shower air conditioning and sleep a little after 11pm.

I was up again and ready to go by 4:30 am the following morning. At some point, I’m sure the time change would hit me like a ton of bricks, but for now falling asleep between destinations was becoming great filler rest for me. We ate breakfast again at Ken’s house of pancakes; mainly because they are open 24 hours a day and well the place is like stepping back in time.

Today we were headed north of Hilo to see some waterfalls. The first of which were Akaka Falls. I was excited to see this again and it was going to be my second personal photographic challenge, a long exposure of Akaka Falls. I had to admit, so far I had not really accomplished what I had set out to do in terms of photography. I have been having a hard time finding the right scene at the right time of day. I was a little discouraged. This is why I should have connected with local photographers while I was here. I really needed to detach from the outcome of this, so even though I did not find the photographic scenes I was looking for and appeared to always be at the right place at the wrong time to photograph them, my soul still connected with Dave and the spirit of Aloha in this wonderful place they call Hawaii. It knows what it’s looking for and maybe the perfect picture is not it.

As we drove up to the Akaka Falls parking, a rainbow filled the sky above the road sign to the entrance of the falls. “What a beautiful sight,” I thought as we went around the gate well before the park opened. I noticed right away that the paths were different and a section of the falls was closed off. By the looks of it, a giant jungle tree had fallen right on the path during a storm. This was a massive tree, hundreds of years old. The impact of this ancient marvel took out complete sections of railing and stairs. As we walked up to the part of the falls that was still open, I realized that I was yet again not going to get the shot I was looking for. By getting creative with the tripod and very carefully going just beyond the tape at a very safe spot on the normal path, I was able to capture these.

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This was one of those full circle moments for me. I have this same shot from over 11 years ago when I had decided to take control of my life. And here I am with the love of my life exploring everything in a whole new and wonderful light. What an amazing journey. It’s like a dream.

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We wanted to look at some more falls in the area, but the rest of them involved some dangerous hiking or were on private property with no access. We decided to head back to the little town of Honokaa, where we found a delightful little café called Simply Natural where we stopped for a bite to eat. One of my favorite things to do in Hawaii or any place I travel to is to go into the shops and meet the local people. See what they do, find out their favorite place to eat. Most of them have really interesting stories and truly love living in Hawaii. This was a beautiful little town with interesting shops. We went into the Taro Patch and the Knickknackery as well as The hands of Tibet where they had some wonderful prayer bowls that made beautiful sounds. When we walked in, there was a woman playing them in no particular order. I have to admit, I was a bit jealous of her. I kind of wanted to try one out myself. By the time I had circled the shop once, I realized that the chick was still playing the prayer bowls and was really into it, though she had no particular rhythm going so the sound wasn’t so great. I looked at Dave and both us the shopkeepers who gave us a confirmation look of, “yes, this chick is crazy.” We chuckled a bit, bought a prayer scroll and were on our way. The lady at the Knickknackery was also very nice. It looked like she was moving and everything was 20% off. We found and purchased some renew lotion; crazy to run into another Melaleuca customer. After talking with her for only a brief while, she exploded into a whole story about her boyfriend getting into drugs and how sales had really been down since they built the new highway. She didn’t know what to do and you could feel the hopelessness in her. I comforted her and gave her my card. I told her a little bit about the course and how it had helped me. I told her there was a reason she told me her story and that I heard and felt her pain and that I knew it would get better for her. Even with her current situation, she loved it on the Island and fondly talked about how she moved when she was a teen. It seems like most people who come here and decided they want to stay get caught up in the rhythm and harmony of the Hawaiian Island. Time moves differently here and people’s priorities are different too. You don’t have to have great physical wealth to be rich.

There is something about this place; even the bums seem content and happy here. Seems like the hardest part is getting here. Once you’re here then Aloha will provide you with what you need. Could it really be that easy? Maybe, but check out the cost of real-estate in Hawaii before you make up your mind. Now I know why there are so many bums.

My Hawaiian Adventure 1.9 – Killer Cupcakes

The week before we were leaving for Hawaii was utter chaos. Getting everything planned for the kids, where they would stay and who would take care of the dog was a much larger feat than I gave it credit for. That’s a long way to say that I didn’t plan ahead. I did try, but my step son and recent U of M grad who was supposed to take care of the house, Zack and Piper while we were gone, but instead decided to go out and get a full time, great paying job! How could I be mad right? Check one off the list… Mason, now independent… check! 3 more to go and I can rest easy right?!

This wasn’t our first bump in the road before the trip. We had also recently been hacked and our banking information was stolen and used, which required us to close our account and reopen another. It sounds simple and quick, but I just ordered new checks yesterday and it happened like over 2 months ago. Huge inconvenience. Oh yeah and my laptop died from a known defect Apple was replacing until December… of last year. It’s 4 months past the expiration date of a recall… Come on Apple.

So, I’ve got the kids schedules covered. Now to plan Jackson’s 5th birthday party, which is only days before we leave. At this point, I’m kinda feeling guilty for not being the 100% mom I could be here, after all, Jackson just turns 5 and now I’m darting off on Dave’s birthday (the only reason he’s coming… joking) to spend mother’s day in Hawaii without the kids. Lily even told me, “if you love us, why wouldn’t you want to bring your kids?” in the most honest and flabbergasted tone.

IMG_4082So I’m trying to keep the birthday simple, but I’m kind of known for creating fun cupcakes for the kids birthdays, so I decided to continue the tradition and make cupcakes and try out a new chocolate chip cookie dough frosting recipe I saw on Facebook. The party was great; simple and fun with lots of family and friends. The cupcakes were a hit and a lot of people had 2… even my 84-year-old grandpa, who may even have had 3.

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See? He’s surrounded by them!

I was packing our suitcase when my mom called. Like usual I was annoyed when I answered because she usually has questions that I couldn’t or didn’t want to talk about at the time, like when special person day is for the 10th time. “It’s in the email I sent you mom, why did I take the time to type it all out if you are going to call and ask anyway?” I answered the phone with these thoughts running through my mind.

What!?

OMG, is Grandpa ok? A heart attack?

The room started to spin and I felt as if the floor were caving out from underneath me.

The next couple of days were the hardest. We simply had to wait. We didn’t know how bad the damage was or if he was even completely there. He was on a respirator stable, but unconscious. I went to go visit him at the hospital before we left. I remember feeling as though my cupcakes had somehow done him in. I knew the thought was preposterous, but I couldn’t help thinking that the doctor was going to pull me aside and ask me, “Are you the one who gave him 3 cupcakes?”

Despite these feelings, I went to go see him the day before I left. Guess what? No one stopped me. He didn’t even know that I was there, but it was hard for me to see him like this. Here lay the man who was always there for me. He has driven me to school countless times when I would miss the bus, was there every time I locked my keys in the car and who even had to give me a jump several times just last year when my alternator went out. He somehow seemed infallible, but there he lay.

I left for Hawaii with my head in a cloud. I was numb to the world, to my purpose of going, even my purpose in life. I had nothing left in me to fight, yet I wasn’t quitting either. I was merely suspended in my own thoughts or in shock of the situation at home, I’m not quite sure which. Either way, my vision was gone. I was simply a clean slate; Dorthy on her way to Oz.

I realized at the airport that I had forgotten to bring my cards, DMP and a few other MKMMA things as well as business cards etc. I embraced the numbness and thought, “You know what? I don’t care.” I wanted to redo my DMP anyway. I am open to the universe and am here for the journey.

I thought I might have some time on the plane to think on things a bit, but no thoughts came. I was numb and the pressure of the cabin put on my body made me feel even more stuck inside myself. We didn’t spend much time sitting around the airport either. By the time our plane landed, our connecting flight was doing final boarding call 20 terminals away.

As soon as we exit, I’m frantically looking for gate and concourse information while Dave is behind me checking out possible restaurants. “Do you have no sense of urgency man?!” I say as they call “final boarding for Flight …. To Hawaii” over the intercom. If you wanted to eat, you should have left a couple of hour layover! Is what I was thinking as I power walk down the moving platform to save time. Finally, we are on our way to paradise. No more connecting flights, just the ocean and then we are there.

I tried to distract myself with a movie, but I spent most of my time in the in-between. Neither here nor there; somewhere between conscious and subconscious, deep within myself, which was connected to the universal at the most primal of levels. I awoke from my cocoon of numbness and introspect as we descended upon paradise.

By the time we land on the Big Island, I get a text saying that Grandpa woke up and is going to be ok. Praise God!

Our minds are amazing aren’t they?. They have so much power that they can convince us of almost anything. Like even though I knew rationally my cupcakes didn’t give him the heart attack. It was the biscuits and gravy he had for breakfast! (Haha I’m kidding)

It didn’t matter what my logical mind was saying. Emotion took over and subby was trying to back up the hysterical claim and convince me regardless of what the truth was. It doesn’t know truth. It only knows what I tell it. I told it I caused Grandpa’s heart attack with my cupcakes and it accepted that as truth and it would have fought to defend that point of view. Wow. That’s some deep stuff right there.

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For those of you who are still thinking about the cookie dough frosting… I didn’t forget you. 😉

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/236552/chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-frosting/

Our Hawaiin Adventure 2.0

Coming back to Hawaii meant so much to me on so many levels. There was much that needed to be peeled off. First there was the coming full circle in my relationship and personal development, then there was the physical challenge of hiking to places we wanted to see and lastly, I was on a mission to grow as a photographer. I had it all set in my mind that this trip was going to be spectacular on every level.

We landed and started to explore Hawaii’s Big Island first. This was also my first destination when I was here with my ex-husband over 11 years ago and I was greatly looking forward to seeing more and being there with the right person. I was coming full circle and it was time to rediscover myself and this magical place. I let Dave take the reigns and make the reservations with a few insider tips on what was the best side of the island to stay and where we would likely be spending most of our time.

We landed in Kona around sunset and still had to trek all the way to the other side of the island where we were staying in Hilo. I had warned Dave before we left that it was going to be a difficult drive, but he swore he was up for the challenge. We got in our little compact car and took off through the center of the island. The ever winding roads were dark and treacherous with sudden cliffs and one lane bridges, yet still, I somehow managed to sleep through most of the 2hour long drive to the other side. We would later take the same route during the day to find that it took you 10,000 ft above sea level between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa mountains where there is a space observatory. I was amazed at the new development of this road, which was little more than a dirt path last time I was there.

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We finally pulled into Arnott’s Lodge a little after 11pm to check in for the night. We were going a new route with our lodging and booked an Airbnb style place vs the all-inclusive experience the big hotels had to offer. All we needed was a clean bed, air conditioning, and a shower and that is exactly what we got. To be fair, there was also an attached shared kitchen and living/lounge area. My only complaint is that the room was so small there was hardly any room to maneuver around the bed or to store our suitcase. Chin up; we weren’t there to be in the hotel, so it was exactly what we needed and the cost was fair.

We were up and ready to eat at 4:30 am local time. Good thing Ken’s House of Pancakes was open 24 hrs! You walk in the door and you’ve stepped back in time to 1972. Everything is the same and original to the historic diner. They serve everything from eggs and spam to the Sumo! We found the Just Nuff menu to have just the right amount of food for us. Oh and you can even order your eggs with rice, but don’t ask to substitute your bacon for ham. That is No Buenos unless you order off the side menu. My advice is to just forget the ham. It comes as a giant thick ham steak that is far too much to eat for my entire family let alone me in a diner at 4:30 in the morning.

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After leaving Ken’s, one of the first places we went to see was Volcano National Park. We got there just as the sun was rising behind the misting clouds. It was so early that the gates were left open and no one was there. It was surprisingly cold this morning as a weather pattern came through the area. I was a little bummed that I had already missed the opportunity to photograph my fist sunrise, but that feeling quickly subsided once we drove into the park and saw the steam vents rising along the sides of the road and among the ancient lava fields and vegetation that has started to reclaim its soil from the rocks that surrounded us from all sides. It was like we had stepped back into prehistoric time.

Despite being exhausted from traveling the day before, Dave’s face lite up with wonderment at our surroundings. We stopped and got out to get a closer look at two giant steam vents rising from a crack in the earth. The steam vents were warm and smelled of minerals, earth, and steam. Standing in it was like a welcome sauna in the unusual 50-degree misting cloud we found ourselves in. I could have stayed in those steam vents for a good while longer, but there was so much more to see. After hiking around the lava flows we decided to head further into the park.

We moved on to the Kailua caldera where there was smoke coming from the center of it. It was awe-striking to see the massive scale of this volcano. It looked as if you are on another planet with lava fields as far as the eye could see with the crater itself taking up over ½ our viewing area. We pressed on to the lava look out center, where we could visibly see the molten lava rhythmically bubbling up from a crack with in the caldera; seemingly to some type of hypnotic hula that left you transfixed on Pele herself dancing among the ring of fire.

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This was an amazing sight to see and one that I was experiencing for the first time as well. The last time I was here, we didn’t make it down this road. We went to the lava tube and then for the hike that would do me in for the remainder of my adventure here on the Big Isle. The best part of the experience was Dave. He had finally understood why this place was so special to me and it was like we were first dating again and had the freedom to have fun and explore without the worry and responsibility of the kids or the bills. We would stand in wonderment, taking it all in and follow the moment up by saying how much the kids would think this was cool… and then laughing at the cost to bring them all.

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We explored the park until our stomachs told us that it was time to go. As we were leaving the park, I saw a sign for the Lava House and decided to see what they had cooking. When we walked in it smelled of fire and breakfast. We walked across a large room with an old fireplace to a seating area in front of a large window that looked on toward the smoking caldera. The sight was awesome! After finding out the breakfast was buffet only, we left in search of smaller portions.

We found ourselves biding the park farewell and backtracked a couple of miles to the small town of Volcano Village where we came across Eagles Lighthouse Café, an outdoor pit stop for coffee and sandwiches. This place was perfect for the local and explorer alike, family owned and full of the Aloha spirit. The owner talked with us about where we are from and what we have seen while his son made our sandwich and his wife was prepping food in the back. He even joyfully gave me a sample of his favorite soup, which consisted of Spanish sausage, pork, cooked potatoes, onions carrots and celery in a red-orange broth. I love this beautiful place full of genuine and beautiful people. I feel so at peace here.

Stay tuned. Our next stop on this epic adventure includes some no so ancient, but still awesome jungle ruins and black sand beaches where I saw a sea turtle!

My Epic Easter Fiasco

I know that Easter is about so much more than a bunny who hides eggs, but this is my easter story.

You see, I really dropped the ball this Easter and waited until the last minute again to get everything in order. I’ve never really done too much for the holiday; we color six eggs each and each kid gets a simple and useful basket with a toy, chocolate bunny and a few pieces of candy.  I had already purchased the candy, but put off buying the basket and the toys because I just wasn’t sure what to get. Time got away with me and I found myself the night before Easter and nothing but candy. This is so backward to how I want to do things guys seriously.

On top of that, I waited until the day before Easter to color the eggs and did it a new way. We tried using shaving cream and food coloring to make tie die like eggs. Let’s just say that it did not go over well. Lily freaked out when she got some on her because she didn’t like how it felt, how it smelled and that the color wouldn’t come off her fingers. Jackson also disapproved of this method and Zack, who saw what I was doing, reminded me that he did not like that texture and didn’t want to use it. (I don’t know what the kid is going to do when he starts shaving). So I had made a couple of traditional colors as a backup just in case. I was disappointed that the color from the shaving cream didn’t stay in the eggs better. Maybe we were supposed to leave them in longer. I ended up dipping them in the other colors I created, which created some neat looking effects. Jackson was also quite upset that the color would not come off his hands and said that he doesn’t like to color the eggs, only find them. Ok buddy, I will take that into account next year.

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Before I knew it the day was done and I still needed to go to the store and get baskets. So finally at 9pm on the day before Easter, I headed to the store for some baskets. To my dismay, they were about all sold out of empty Easter baskets. I then went to the home/craft department where I found some handy natural looking wire/rope baskets that could later be used for storage. Score! I also found a sequin pillow and mermaid ball for Jackson and Lily as well as a bunch of gum and snacks for Zack.

The kids were still awake when I got home, so I left everything in the car. I should also note that I had already purchased the candy days ago and had left it in the car as well. I remembered in the middle of the hot day yesterday that all that chocolate was in the sun and immediately put them in the freezer. They were mostly fine, but the ears on the chocolate bunnies were a little floppy this year.

After making sure the kids were sleeping, I went out to the car and brought the stuff in. By this time I was too tired to make the baskets and decided to do it early in the morning. Well, I bet you can guess what happened…

I slept in! I get up around 5-5:30 am EVERY morning, how could I sleep in?! I burst out of bed and try to quietly scramble everything together in the dark, desperately trying not to make too much noise. My little Jackson is not only an early bird, but a light sleeper too. I located the items purchased from the store the previous night and gently lifted the plastic grocery bags from the ground and carry them to my office where I could be hidden to make the baskets. I then realized that I left the candy in the freezer! So then I had to try and lift the big squeaky lid to the chest freezer to get to the candy. After what felt like defusing a bomb, I finally got the contents (more plastic store bags…) out of the freezer and the lid back down reasonably quietly. I then quickly made and hid both Lily and Jackson’s baskets. I also was even able to hide all but two of their eggs when nature suddenly called.

As I am doing my business, I hear Jackson’s little footsteps going down the stairs. I realized in that moment that I was going to be busted. You see, every morning he knows to find me in my office, where I am usually on my computer. However, today I had left all the leftover candy and packaging for making the Easter baskets all spread out on my desk. There were sixlets, jelly beans, cream filled cakes and smarties all just laying out in the open and waiting for his angelic little eyes that don’t miss a thing to spot them. I tried to finish as quickly as I could, but as you know, there is no rushing that type of thing. Once I was done, I rushed down the stairs to see my office door open and the shadow of my four-year-old son peeking into the room murmuring softly, “Mommy?”

I tried to call out to him to distract him away from what was inside, but it was too late. He had started to shut the door but paused when he saw what was inside. By the time I made it all the way down the stairs, he was walking out of the room with a box of opened Little Debbie’s against his chest and the bag of Smarties and Sixlets in his arms.

He looked up and saw me and said with a big grin, “Mommy! I think the Easter Hider was here! Look at all of this stuff!”

I had to laugh at the whole situation and his cuteness. Then he asked, “But why is all of this stuff in your office, Mommy?”

Uh oh!

 

Week – 24 Wasted Emotion

I find it interesting that my life has already some how forced me to address the very subject of the next scroll or week’s assignment days before we we start it.

A couple of weeks ago we had to spend three days disconnected from social media. I thought to myself that it was going to be impossible, but then I got the flu. Once I was sick, I had no problem with it and getting on the computer was the last thing on my mind.

This month’s scroll VI talks about mastering control of our emotions. I must admit, this is a struggle of mine. I am an emotional being and my emotions often times will take over. Sometimes this can be a great strength and is where I derive a lot of my passion, creativity and vision from, but it can also be my undoing and is hard to keep in check and balanced.

I like how Og Mandino starts scroll VI out explaining,

“The tides advance; the tides recede. Winter goes and summer comes. Summer wanes and the cold increases. The sun rises; the sun sets. The moon is full; the moon is black. Birds arrive; the birds depart. Flowers bloom; flowers fade. Seeds are sown; harvests are reaped. All nature is a circle of moods and I am part of nature so, like the tides, my mood will rise; my moods will fall.”

I can certainly relate; and I’m sure that every other female who has a cycle can too. Don’t worry guys, men aren’t immune to this either. I see my husband go through a cycle of moods through out the month as well and have noticed it from bosses and co-workers in the work place also. We are part of nature and in nature everything has a cycle. I just never really considered moods to have a cycle too until now.

As a creative, it’s east to get emotionally attached to your work. Creativity it’s self is emotional, primal and taps into the sub conscious, then translates that raw energy and thought into a physical form via the artists preferred medium.

It’s a raw, powerful and enlightening moment when the divine spark flows through you. It somehow connects your conscious and sub conscious minds together in a singular moment of harmony. Once that harmony is achieved, you have reached the frequency and alignment of the universal. In the universal you are the connection that brings manifestation, the messenger of divine vision. This is why I often refer to myself as a Muse.

When you use your creativity as your business, however, that raw emotion gets more complicated and sometimes in the way when your client doesn’t see eye to eye with your concepts. When that happens, it’s easy to let your emotions take over, but now that I have learned to be mindful of my thoughts and how to become the observer, I have found it much easier to disconnect from the emotion of it.

I know that I am the expert in my field. I have the accreditation, awards and portfolio to prove it. When I speak about my genre, it is the compiled experience of the ages speaking through me and thus is truth. I know that I am honest, genuine and conduct my business with integrity. The key is to get the client on the same line of thinking as me. They must also view me as the expert and value my input, other wise they will only waste my precious time.

See more of my work at www.jade-turtle.com

In order to accomplish this, I must again become the observer. I need to know and understand my client just as much as I know and understand their business. I need to understand their personality and let them be part of the creative process. It’s great when they are excited to share and get involved. This is what every sales person wants and every Artist fears. I am both; and also a psychologist. You see, I know they need to see it their ideas come to life and it often times this gives me insight into them and their business that simply can not be attained otherwise. Some designers get frustrated and stressed at their client involvement; instead I use their excitement and involvement as an outlet for them to explore their creativity and get them emotionally attached to an idea. I find that once they get involved and agree on a concept, I am able to have more creative freedom than if I didn’t involve them in the process.This of coarse also depends on personality and moods.

When it comes down to it, all I can do is provide them with the best supporting facts to the design I created and cross my fingers that they choose the best one. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. Either way, I’m much happier if I stay emotionally detached. I also know that there are better days than others to schedule heavy workloads based on my moods and cycles. When you step outside to become the observer, it’s easy to marvel at how mechanical it all is; every part is connected to the whole. Each doing their job to make the magic called life happen. The same is for manifestation.

Week 23 – Falling through

As if I haven’t been through enough. What am I pretending now to know? Am I torturing myself and this is the physical manifestation of it all? These are the questions I asked myself as I vomited yet again. I haven’t been this sick in a long time, in fact, I hardly ever get sick at all, but this bug got me good. I feel like my defenses were weakened in the beginning of February just before we went to great Wolf Lodge when a virus came through the household, wiping everyone out but me.

I remained vigilant.

Then came my birthday on the 19th. I was feeling a bit off. I was stuffy and my glands were swollen. I felt as though I might be fighting a sinus infection and I experienced a day with a splitting headache, yet I still managed not to fully succumb.

However, soon after that, my daughter came home with the stomach flu.

As a parent, I didn’t know whether to stick both kids right next to her so they would all get it at once or try to keep her as quarantined as possible, which with young children is a laughable notion at best. I decided to not have an opinion and let nature take it’s course. Sure enough, Zack was the next to get it and before I knew it, so had I.

I found myself suddenly dry heaving violently. Unfortunately, this happens every time I get nauseous. It’s just something about not having a normal stomach anymore I guess. It was so loud, that it sent the kids running upstairs to see what was the matter.

Lily and Jackson came bursting into the bathroom asking, “What is that noise Mommy? Are you sick Mommy?” All I could do was nod yes and gesture for them to leave, but they were far too curious about the loud sounds I was making and why nothing was coming up. They came in for a closer look and asked many questions that I could not answer. They discussed the possibilities of what was wring among each other as I crawled back into bed.

Oh Murphy? Have you gone so low as to come and poison me in the silence of the night. I expected more from you. Did I somehow manifest this as a way to keep myself off social media for a few days as instructed in last weeks class? Is this make up for the times I have not done my sits? I am indeed more powerful than I thought. Maybe the illness is what I needed for a new perspective? What am I pretending not to know and what would the hero in my journey do next?

I know there is a lesson to be learned. This illness has forced me to so slow down, to rest. This is something I haven’t done in a long time and really needed regardless of illness or injury. In some way I was happy for it and embraced becoming the observer into my thoughts as I went through the fever, sweats and chills. I was on another journey to be the observer into the depths of my subconscious, which was now more vivid than before.

Illness is never fun, but often times it puts us in a unique mental state where we are riding the line of conscious and subconscious thought. It gives us a unique window into ourselves. Normally the conscious mind is unable to comprehend the subconscious, but in this state of illness and becoming the observer, I was able to see both and it was enlightening.

These types of things used to rule and ruin my life. They would compound and pile up until I could carry the weight no more. I am happy that I have the tools to make the best of a not great situation and am amazed at how I can see purpose and learning in any obstacle. The Master Keys is so much more than becoming a successful person; it is the path to self-awareness and ultimate harmony with in. I do not like being sick, but am thankful for the insights it has provided. I am also thankful for having such a loving and caring family and even found joy in their concern and taking care of me.

 

Week 22 – Birthday Blessings

There was something else in our last conversation that lingered with me. She emphasized that she was coming the day before my birthday like that was intentional. She’s never really done much for my birthday since I was 16, especially not since I’ve been older. As I let this thought resonate a bit more, I realized that I had not planned anything for my birthday. Not that I normally would, but the kids like to celebrate it. I was planning on making cupcakes with them and calling it good. The last six of my birthdays have been a blur with the craziness of having kids and all the other Birthday’s to make special. My husband has done a good job at getting me some awesome gifts along the way too, but all in all the day has been more of a check off the to do list than an actual celebration.

When my mom got back, she asked what I was doing for my birthday. When I told her my simple plans, she sounded disappointed. She emphasized that my birthday wasn’t about just me. Ha! No kidding. That’s my mom the “Rooster” in the Chinese Zodiac. She always liked a grand celebration. I don’t know if she heard the defeat in my voice or what, but yeah. I was tired, bloody and bruised from my month long Murphy experience and I just wanted to go outside and soak up the sun. Seriously, it’s never been this warm and sunny in February in Michigan and I was due for a major recharge. I didn’t feel like doing anything but center.

She asked me what kind of cake I liked. I told her not to make a fuss and reminded her that I didn’t eat much cake and that I was going to make cupcakes with the kids, even though I really didn’t feel like making cupcakes at all. She again sounded disappointed. Here she was, trying to make an effort and I was stuck in don’t bother for me mode. Why wouldn’t I let her help or be involved?

She was right. Our birthdays were not always about us; and this time it was about her. It was about her making an effort and showing that she cared. It was about her getting the kids involved in making my birthday a celebration that ended up being so much more for me. It was about her giving the kids an experience and setting the example of how to celebrate the ones we love.

She took the kids the morning of my birthday. I still hadn’t made those cupcakes, but eh whatever, by this time, I could sense her determination and decided to let her do her thing. I enjoyed the day to myself, but also admit that I missed the kids 20 minutes after they were gone. I did everything I had wanted to get done in the shed and even got out and set up a hammock where I laid in the sun for a while. My husband, who was abnormally bummed he couldn’t come to my mom’s house, had left to go get Zack, who was at his Mother’s. It was now time for me to go pick up the kids and see what they and my mom had come up with.

When I got there, I knew something was up with the amount of cars in the driveway. I was greeted at the door with smiles and excitement from my sister and my kids. I rounded the corner and walked into the kitchen to find my Grand Parents, Aunt, Dad and Step-Mom all there to celebrate my birthday. Lily picked out a big cake with purple and pink frosting flowers at the store and matching plates, while Jackson chose what the cake would say. “Happy Birthday Kajean” “Because that’s Mommy’s real name,” chimed in Lily.

Gratitude filled my heart as I was beyond touched at the display of love and kindness in the room; especially from my mom. She really did make my day special by giving me that little party. It restored so much with in me and it made my heart sing to see how excited the kids were to participate in it all. They do love a good party. It was like a dream or an old childhood memory relived in present time, and everything I would have hoped my adult life to be as a child. I felt important, accepted and loved by everyone and realize that that love has always been there. All this time it was I that was stuck in a rut. Thanks mom for helping me to remember the importance to celebrate life and that we are always teaching as well as learning. 16683866_10208278838550312_6481152868043942604_n

I have so much to write about and be thankful for as my life bursts into abundance from all directions. I’m so very thankful for the tools I have learned through out this course. Now I have planted my seed and watching it grow. I’ve always had a green thumb… 😉

Week 21 – The Saga Continues…

For the record, I really don’t like Valentine’s Day. It’s just never been a great day for me. It reminds me of disappointments, loneliness and overall some really bad memories. My not so favorite Valentine’s Day ended up in me breaking my leg in two places, requiring three surgeries and would inevitably lay me up for over six months while I was attending college and about to get my Associate’s Degree. It wasn’t THAT bad, after all, I did make it out of the hospital in time to spend my 21st birthday on the couch passed out while my friends played the Star Wars Monopoly game they bought me. Believe it or not, this was not the worst Valentine’s Day I have had either; just saying.

I’ve learned not to set any special expectation for the day and to treat it like any other. I don’t really buy into the commercialism of it anyway. Now that I am a Mom, however, I am finding it hard to escape this. My kids are in grade school and Valentine’s Day has become 2nd to Halloween in treats and treasures. The last few years, I’ve been that mom that skims by, that didn’t get really into it. This year, I thought I would embrace it a bit more and use it as an opportunity to give gratitude to the kids and their teachers. So, we went to the Dollar Store and picked out some Sixlets, suckers and small toys to put in little gift bags for their friends. I then brought in supplies and helped the class decorate their mailboxes.

The next day we smelled and picked out flowers at the grocery store for their teachers and arranged them each in their own red or pink vase. We were ready for the big festivities the following day. Everything was going so smoothly… Wait, where’s Murphy? I haven’t seen her since last week. Shit. I mean, what am I pretending not to know? Despite my well-fought victory at The Great Wolf Lodge, I knew the war with myself was not over yet. That was just one head of many on a beast that only legends speak of.

Ok, now for the big V-day. I’ve got the kids’ treat bags ready to go. Let me just point out here that I am never doing that one again! Ever try to get a 4yr old to write their name 20 times. Next year I am scanning in their name and printing it out on stickers. I’ve got all heart clothing washed, special treats for breakfast. I go to wake Zack up…. and he’s still not feeling better. Not only that,  he is now complaining of popping in his ears. Really? Today? Come on Murphy, I am tired, bloodied and bruised from our last encounter. Do we have to do this all over again? Do you know how much I have going on today? I have 2 parties to go to then have to go visit my grand parents and now I have to try to get Zack into the doctor, which is an hour travel time round trip. I am only one person.

All right Murphy; I got this. You’ve got more to show me huh? Here we go again.

Game on. I called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened and got Zack an appointment before both of the school parties, though I would be cutting it close. We went to the appointment and confirmed my suspicions of an ear infection, then were on our way. I decided to take the back way home in hopes of less traffic, but found myself stuck behind several cars going a less than desired speed. I felt myself getting anxious as the tasked grew in my head and I felt the clock counting down to Jackson’s school time. Did I remember everything? I asked myself as the last slow car in the line finally turned. I kept checking off all the items in my head until a good song came on the radio and I turned it up a bit. Finally, this is nice. My head cleared and my spirit started to soar as did my speed. I let my angst out in the form of a poorly sung 80’s rock balled (I can normally sing pretty well, but my throat hurts now a little too). If felt so good to be in the moment and let go of all that was holding me back… I lingered in this moment of purity until I realized that I was going too fast. “Whoa Kajean back to earth,” I tell myself as I let off the gas and start to slow down. I come over a small hill to see a cop sitting in an empty drive. I think to myself, “Crap! Please don’t pull me over. Please don’t pull me over. It’s Valentine’s Day; that’s a good reason not to pull me… Ok, we’re getting pulled over”. “F bomb! Sorry kids. Don’t say that word.”

I quickly realize my charm would get me nowhere as the officer walked up to my car with his radar gun in hand, which seemed to be shining my clocked speed like a big scarlet letter A for the world to see. His whole stance and demeanor said that he meant business; he was Murphy in the flesh. He asked for my license, barely giving me a chance to explain myself after mentioning my speed as the primary factor in why he pulled me over. So many emotions were boiling up as Murphy, or now more like Agent Smith, stood just outside my window telling me that he was still giving me a ticket, but that he was really giving me a break and only writing me up for 5 mph over.

As he spoke, I flashed back to every other time I have heard those words. Apparently I have been pulled over enough in my lifetime to notice a pattern in their speech according to how far over the speed limit you are and what kind of mood they are in. I knew I was out of luck; all I could do was accept this ticket as a thank you for not making it worse. He sent me on my way and we rode home in complete silence as I fought back emotions beyond expression. I was about to break. I seriously felt like I was just dealt a bad hand and that cop was in bad form for picking on a stressed out mom in a mini van. Aren’t we supposed to have a free pass? It’s Valentine’s Day! I deserve a medal, not an infraction. “He was just a jerk,” I would tell myself as I had to make a very conscious effort not to speed again. I felt like I was reaching for the finish line and in my mind this cop was symbolic of the institution that keeps holding me back, of my old blue print that keeps trying to foil my greatness. Why are they trying to stop me from flying? The real question is why am I stopping myself? It’s all of that cement, that old blue print rearing it’s old ways in my face saying, see what happens when you stray from comfort?

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Taking a step back to be the observer, I feel like there are so many lessons here, besides the obvious, slow down. This simple and obvious conclusion comes in more than one form.  Yes, slow down your speed and live in the moment. Duality. Be warned though to remember balance. I let myself get swept up in a feeling; good, bad or even fleeting, it was so extreme that it affected the physical world by breaking a law and thus resulting in a consequence. This principal can be applied to all manners of life in that if we focus our attention and thoughts too much on any one thing, we will lose balance and spin out of control. Though, I have to admit that I am a lead foot and tickets have never really been a good deterrent for me. I could/should have been a race car driver. I love an open country road. I have to try very hard to follow the rules so I choose to look at the ticket as my coin in the swear jar. Simply a price I have to pay to think and do things the way I want, even if the blue print isn’t quite ready yet. I’ll also note that the speeding in itself could be seen as a bad habit that has yet to be replaced by a good one or could be a way for my subconscious get a thrill that it seems to so desperately seek.

Another is that duality is everywhere; there are two sides to every story and opinion just as plainly as there is to every coin. The officer could have a very different experience and feeling about the interaction and represent the polar opposite in all of us. I can choose to be upset about it or choose to turn it into a learning experience with payment beyond measure. It’s easy to get consumed by a situation or an idea, but it’s being able to balance that keeps us steady on our course.

All and all my day wasn’t all that bad. I made it to the parties, had fun with the kids and was surprised with flowers from the husband. Not really, I told him to pick some up as an example for the kids. Not that he wouldn’t, but he knows how I feel about this day. I am grateful for all that I have, even that ticket. How’s that for a change in perspective?

Week 20 – Murphy and The Ultimate Test

We were on our way to a spontaneous surprise mini vacation with the kids to Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, MI, which was in part a thoughtful gift from my parents. We stayed up late one night to book the date and noticed the clause about a fee when canceling or rescheduling less than a week before the arrival date. I told Dave that was kind of hard to predict in the wintertime because of illness and allergies. I felt a knot at the pit of my stomach as I said it. Have I just jinxed the whole thing? Good old’ Murphy is going to have a field day with this.

When traveling with small children, it’s been my experience that if something can go wrong…it will. Our family vacations are often filled with a series of unfortunate events, mishaps and miserable circumstances that leave us, (maybe more me) never wanting the leave the house again. Each one is unique in its ability to test what I am made of and feels more like some type of mom warrior dash or basic training than making fun memories for me. Zack doesn’t even remember half the cool stuff I did for him. Do you remember that time when we had an under the sea themed birthday? Nope.

Despite this feeling I had, this time was going to be different. The kids were a little older now and I was in a better mental state.

A week before the vacation… Lily got sick with a head cold. This doesn’t sound like a big deal. I have time right? No. This sucks on multiple levels because Miss Lily has bad indoor and outdoor allergies and is currently on allergy shots. If she is sick, she can’t get her shot, which was about to expire. Not only that but because of those allergies, a cold often times would send her into a sinus infection. And it doesn’t stop there… A cold isn’t just a cold; it’s a Trojan horse that takes out the whole family for a month. Sure enough, a couple of days after Lily got sick, Jackson, who also has those pesky allergies, started showing symptoms too. Great two down, two to go and less than a week to Vacation day. This is going according to Murphy’s plan indeed.

With only three days left, my husband comes to me with a problem. He has had a cyst on his tailbone for some time. He was told by a doctor to leave it alone unless it really started bothering him. One look at this thing and I could tell it was infected. As if this mom gig wasn’t hard enough; now I have become the local Practicing Physician, Nurse and now wife to the most stubborn man I have ever met.

So, I told him my recommendation to go to the doctor ASAP, which he immediately dismissed as expected. I gave him supporting facts for my case, he still said no. Finally, with only 3 days left until Vacation, I called the doctor myself. I really hate it when it comes to this, but I’ve already saved the man from blood poisoning once. This doesn’t inspire much confidence that he will take care of himself and I’d like to keep him around for a bit; preferably in good condition. After talking to the nurse, she tells me that it has been over three years since he has been seen and that he had to go through as a new patient again. Great, now our only option is urgent care.

After pleading my case one last time, he still dismissed me yet again. He left me no choice. I just stood there looking at him with my hands on my hips and a glare that only a mother can reproduce. He turned around in his office chair and met my mom gaze head-on. At that moment, he knew what he had to do. It was the only way out without it without me losing my shit. He quietly went to Urgent Care where they lanced and drained the cyst, then gave him a prescription for some antibiotics and sent him painfully on his way.

For the record, I can see why he wanted to wait until after the trip, but the risk of the infection spreading was too great. I didn’t tell him to get it lanced; he let them do that on his own. I can only imagine how much that hurt. Here we are, two days out from a vacation at a water park and he can’t go in the water. Touché Murphy. Touché. I didn’t expect that one.

You see, I actually detest water parks. I think they are gross. Think about how many kids and people are in the same little bit of water. Gross. My husband feels the same way, but we are doing this for the kids and I was going to make him go in the water, citing my very sensitive skin to chlorine as the reason. I also don’t like to wear a bathing suit. I am very proud of my weight loss, but losing 210lbs and having 2 kids does a toll on one’s body and thinking about it triggers memories of being body shamed publicly. However, instead of looking at this like a tragedy that would affect my entire trip, I decided to be the observer and see the opportunities for growth and understanding. I’m through letting myself get in the way of enjoying that which is already mine.

The day before the trip, I see Zack in the morning as he leaves for school and I can tell in an instant that he now has the beginning signs of the head cold. Great. No surprise here, I already knew it was coming. Bring it on Murphy! Let’s see what you got.

Four hours later, Dave finally gets up with the same cold and a very sore rear end. Awesome. It’s working out just how I expected. Well, mines the whole sore rear end. That one was new, I must admit. I can only let out a laugh at the sheer comedic tragedy unfolding before me. Luckily being as the observer has given me a different perspective. For aren’t I lucky that I get to live a family comedy?

Despite the illnesses, we trudged on… Not because we wanted to infect other people. No, the chlorine takes care of that. Because there was a charge if we had to reschedule and you know what? Something like this would have happened no matter what. If it wasn’t illnesses and cysts, it would have just been something else. There are important lessons and experiences to be observed here and when life throws you a challenge you embrace what it has to offer as a mean of personal growth and well, to simply know that you are truly alive and can overcome any obstacle.

Once we finally reached our destination, we headed straight for the water park. I sent Dave ahead with the kids while took a moment to get my swimsuit on. It was time to bite the bullet. I had brought 2 different suits just in case I felt horrible in one. The first one I tried on actually fit pretty good. Now there was the problem with my legs. That is where I carry my excess skin and weight. I stepped out of my emotions to become the observer again. From there, I decided there was nothing I could do about my skin so my only real option was to accept and embrace it. This is my body. It is all I have. Might as well walk with pride and go join my kids’ right. Besides, it wasn’t THAT bad. I had suspected that perhaps I had been magnifying my fears and even reliving the trauma every time I thought about putting the bathing suit on. I searched deep inside for what it was that really bothered me and then I told myself the likely hood of getting public ridicule again would be low, especially in a family setting.

I could feel my leg skin swaying and jiggling as I walked down the hallway to the water park. Even though I was covered by a thigh length sweater, I felt naked as I entered the bustling main lobby where guests checked in and out. I made it to the elevators and down to the park, I was in. I found my family and now was the moment of truth. I had to take the sweater off. Lily squealed with excitement when she saw my bathing suit. She said, “Mommy, are you are wearing a dress in the pool?” I explained that it was just a type of bathing suit and she smiled back in approval. Meanwhile, Jackson has waddled up and hugged me around my thighs, then kissed my skin. He loves my excess skin and plays with it whenever he gets a chance. Bless their hearts, it’s like they somehow knew that I needed a little reinforcement. I went on to have fun going down slides and playing in the water. No one said a thing. I even noticed an approving glance from my husband.

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This trip would indeed be a test of my courage, strength, and perseverance and I’m proud that I embraced it head-on. It’s amazing how powerful the mind can be. It’s up to us what we plant in our head. This is why positive and mindful thinking is so important.

I might not have embraced if this crazy set of circumstances didn’t happen. Thanks, Murphy; maybe all this time you’ve been trying to show me something instead of ruining my life. I never thought about it from that perspective. As the observer, I was able to detach from some of the emotion of it and embrace it as an opportunity to learn and grow. I know this was long. Thanks for reading.