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…

Everyone’s dying to teach us lessons, especially the dead.

Today, I am feeling ALL the feelings and here’s why:

Back in September, a past Boudoir client of mine lost her life to the Big C (dirty little bastard that it is). She was young and she fought really fucking hard to stay alive so she wouldn’t leave her husband and two year old daughter behind, but sometimes, even though we don’t realize it, our time is up, we’ve learned all we need to learn, and it’s our time to go home. Even more often though, the minute our loved ones pass away, they leave a lesson for us to learn while we journey through our grief over their loss.

I’ve learned this lesson through my journey through grief for Cora. In fact, I’ve learned so many lessons from her death that some days I feel as though I know everything and nothing can surprise me.

Not today.

In September, a few days after Dana passed away, I woke up in the middle of the night with a strong urge to look at the photos I’d taken of her. I returned to sleep, but first thing in the morning, I sat down and pulled up her photos. I sat there, staring at her beautiful face and knowing that her family was just beginning to feel the all-consuming emptiness that grief fills us up with when the most important people in our lives pass away and someone or something whispered to me that the photos would be needed. Not just the photos she had chosen, but ALL of the photos I’d taken at her session. I gathered them all up, copied them to my desktop, and left them alone. I knew they would surface again.

A few days ago, Dana’s husband contacted me through Facebook and introduced himself. He explained who he was and asked if I had any more of the photos that I’d taken from our session together in 2010. I, of course, immediately felt that tug in my belly that, of late, lets me know my intuition is sharply honed, and I knew that it was probably Dana who had let me know I’d need the pics eventually. So, I sat down and imported her entire shoot into Lightroom and edited all of the pics that I had left untouched since her session. It took me all day and I had to periodically walk away from my computer because I couldn’t see her through my mask of tears.

I wasn’t crying for her. She is in the most amazing place, feeling a love that is all-consuming and all-knowing. I was crying for all of the people left behind who have to stay the course of loss and have to weather the turbulent sea of grief. The ones who haven’t died (like I did at the end of my grief journey) and had a Near Death Experience to set their hearts at ease and put them in constant touch with their deceased loved ones. The pain of that loss is so unbearable if you don’t experience the miracle of being able to reach out and feel your dearly departeds all around you.

I wept for them. For their pain. For their loss. For the uphill battle with grief that they are engaged in right now. I know that pain. I know that loss. I’ve been through that battle. And it sucks ass crackers of epic proportions.

But even through feeling all of the feelings, something else shone through for me – something profound and uplifting and beautiful. My job allows me to capture the essence of people and preserve it, for the rest of time. My easy relationships with clients allow me to catch all that is THEM and keep it frozen in time. And, best of all, when something tragic happens and one of these amazing people I am privileged to work with passes away, I can help their loved ones through their grief by giving them a huge piece of that person’s essence in a simple photograph.

A simple photograph.

How amazing is that? How blessed am I to do what I love and be able to help people at the same time!

Like I said, I am feeling all the feelings today, but mostly, I feel grounded and content and amazingly blessed to be able to help people- in any way I can – to get through their journey, whatever it may be.

Today is my last day in my 30’s and I could not have asked for a better lesson, better learning experience, better opportunity to learn and grow a little more.

RIP Dana Ranger and thank you, so much, for the lesson today. 🙂untitled-23

One love ya’ll. One love.

Had a visit from my long dead mom last night again!

I just returned from a pretty epic weekend of hanging out with some of my fave family members and shooting the BEST redneck wedding EVER! It was SO MUCH FUN, but I came home feeling a little off (as the climate change from desert to coast throws me off every time I travel there) and fell into an exhausted, but restless sleep.

Around 2:30 a.m., I woke up with the urge to vomit and I jumped out of bed (only to discover I was really dizzy) and promptly fell on my face. It was so loud, it even woke Greg up, but I told him I was fine and he went back to sleep. Face smushed into the floor, I lied there, breathing deeply, willing the room to stop spinning and contemplating waking Greg up to ask him for a bucket. I closed my eyes and just listened to myself breathing, waiting for my body to level out a bit so I could attempt to get up and make my way across the hall to the bathroom. I was covered in sweat, shivering, feeling generally miserable and, clear as day, my mom’s voice suddenly spoke into my right ear. “Get up, Jo.” My eyes shot open and I flipped my head to the side, expecting to see mama there beside me, but she wasn’t (of course), so I closed my eyes again and kept breathing, whispering, “No. No. No.” over and over again.

I eventually flipped over, bringing another wave of nausea and spins and, just as I was about to give up and puke on the floor, mom’s voice again, but much louder, “Get up, Jo. NOW!”

I did it without thinking. I pushed myself up, did the speed wobble (like I was walking down the hallway on a boat on rough seas…into one wall, into the other wall) across the hall with my hand clamped over my mouth and lunged the two steps to the toilet, where I happily emptied my guts and then collapsed on the bathroom floor once again. As I sat there, with my head resting back on the wall and panting a little, Mom’s voice came again, even clearer than the other two times. “Good girl!”.

They are always with us, but they show themselves when we need them most. I guess I really needed her last night.

This lasted about two more hours and then, when my body was purged of everything, I crawled back into bed with happy thoughts of my mama to send me off to sleep.

Despite the circumstances, I love these visits and always feel so grounded again afterward.

Blogs are always better with a pic, so here’s a pic that Ian grabbed, all stealthy-like, while I selfied with our Bride last Saturday.

T&R_Ian-742

Happy Monday ya’ll.

We are one. We are love. One love.

 

#ClassyNotSassy. A new derby (and life) movement!

I was chatting with my friend Lacey the other day about a little project she is working on and it has been spinning around in my brain ever since and I can’t help but want to write about it. Actually, I wouldn’t say she is starting a project so much as a kindness awareness campaign or movement-one that, when it catches on, has the potential to change the way people think and act with only three little words that are catchy and easy to remember.

Lacey said she was just tired of derby players being mean to each other, so she’d decided to try to do something about it. I commend her efforts because, let’s face it, it is 100% true. No matter how many nice people there are in the derbs, there are also derby peeps who are just plain mean. They go out of their way to knock others down with words and actions. They spread angst and create contention. They spark the fire of unkindness in others and then fuel it with their own insecurity and need to get back at people for perceived wrongs.

And it sucks. It sucks ass crackers.

I’ve been both the victim of this kind of thing and the perpetuator. Sometimes when people hurt your feelings, you lash out and try to hurt back. As the saying goes, “Hurt people hurt people”. It’s human nature and it takes a shitload of self-control to force that retaliatory reaction back down where it belongs and react with love. Love is the new weapon of the future. I’m proud to say that derby has been training me really well in how to react with love and kindness instead of giving in to the evil asshole on my shoulder. When I hear her whisper, “are you going to let that bitch get away with being such a douche?” I just simply say, “Shut up!”. The problem is that not everyone is self-aware and not everyone realizes that they are giving in to that little asshole on their shoulder. A lot of the time, people think it’s perfectly acceptable to fight fire with fire, but in truth, nothing good ever comes from fanning the flames of hatred and discontent. Both sides just end up more hurt and stupid shit happens like epic miscommunication and misunderstandings-often so harsh that it ends friendships, splits teams, creates more enemies, and ruins a person’s love of the sport and the game.

One of the hardest aspects of our human experience is learning to accept that others are going to say shitty stuff about us and we absolutely do not have to defend ourselves. I’ve said it a million times, but just to recap, people see what they want to see and they interpret it how they want to interpret it. We have to learn to control our own reaction to them.

However, there’s something else we can do that is equally as effective-control our behaviour toward others. The saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” For the last couple of years, I have changed the wording of this in my head to, “If you can’t say something nicely, don’t say anything at all.” I accept that I am not going to love everyone who is involved in my league or who plays on my team, but I can sure as shit be kind to them and treat them with respect instead of attacking them because I don’t agree with who they are or what they do? I’m sure if you take a look at every single person you know, there will be things about them that bother you, get under your skin, drive you crazy, etc., but there will also be things about them that you like or admire or even feel grateful for. Focus on the good stuff and refuse to acknowledge their bullshit and, chances are, they will stop trying to throw it at you.

You don’t have to be a spiritual guru to figure out that kindness begets kindness. Even when you are dealing with conflict and angst, you can still make the decision to do it nicely. Use non-threatening words. Leave out name calling. Stay calm. And, as Lacey says, be Classy Not Sassy.

If you’d like to be part of this kick ass movement and pick up some stickers – for your helmet or water bottle…or forehead- you can find some at The Northwest Derby Summit this weekend in Tacoma, WA on her Getsome Athletics table! If you are far away or if she runs out (which she probably will because these are awesome), you can email her at getsomeathletics@gmail.com and she’ll send you some!

Be a part of the movement:

10668587_10154624699415094_1158892768_n

Somedays I’d rather just be dead again

Everything threw me for a loop this week and, even though I’m not a big fan of all this up and down and sideways, I understand that everything is a process.  Still though…OOOOPH!

After I came out of my NDE, I was euphoric. I felt that nothing could shake the feeling of complete peace and total understanding I had. I just GOT everything. I knew why I was meant to struggle through life. I knew why I’d been through so many tragic and traumatic experiences. I knew why life had never been easy. I understood why people committed murder, why people abused animals, why suffering existed. I knew why I had conflict with certain people. I knew why it was necessary to have a constant ebb and flow of emotion and life wasn’t meant to just be a constant rainbow shooting out of a unicorn’s ass. I knew it all.

And I accepted it all, even when I hated it.

Here I am, 5.5 months later, and I just can’t accept it all anymore. Here I am, once again finding myself crying uncontrollably or raging at animal cruelty. Here I am, once again finding myself thinking the worst of certain people based on their past tendencies or present conduct, even when I have NO IDEA WHAT THEY ARE GOING THROUGH. Here I am, sitting up on my pedestal, JUDGING certain people because their values conflict with mine or I disagree with choices they’ve made. In the past week, I’ve asked myself about a million times, “What does it matter to you? Why do you care what others do when it doesn’t directly affect you?” and EVERY SINGLE TIME, the answer has been that it should NOT matter to me what others do unless it directly affects me and, even then, it is my choice to react kindly or to remove myself from the situation if it’s causing me to war with my own psyche. But those rational answers did not stop me from letting negative bullshit fester within.

And through it all, I have been missing the peace and pure love that I felt during my NDE. The feeling that no matter what I’d done in life-no matter who I had helped or hurt or hindered-nothing else but love exists on the other side. And peace. A peace so pure and profound, it permeated my very being and lit it up with a light so warm that I could have stood in a snowstorm naked and never shivered.

The longer I’ve been away from the other side, the more I feel the inevitable emotions of life pulling me away from that feeling of peace and love and freedom. Even though I am destined to live a long life and learn and teach many more lessons, the thought of being dead again is, frankly, very appealing some days. Even one second of that peace and love can have a profound effect on a person. It resets you, recharges your batteries, gives you a new outlook and a new determination to live a good life. Now don’t go getting all worried that I’m planning to off myself, either. One, it’s not my style and two, I have a lot of shit to learn still and I don’t plan on leaving until I’ve learned it. Oh, and three, I’m a Scorpio…we are, ahem, slightly stubborn (understatement). All I’m saying is that it makes me sad that I am losing the euphoria and clarity that I had when I came back, but I understand that it can’t last forever because we would never continue to learn lessons and teach others if we weren’t sucked back into the human experience.

This week has been all about negative energy for me. It started with a carryover of anger and sadness that was sparked last weekend during a family function and it just carried on from there. I felt inferior and useless compared to the guys I work with (who are like machines that never stop or seem to tire) and I felt like I was in some sort of competition to prove myself worthy of keeping up, even though I am almost 40 and most of them are at least 10 years younger than I am. I felt angry at my husband for not spending enough quality time with me (which was a bit ridiculous…Sorry babe!!!). I felt guilty for being too sick to work and then again, useless, because I wasn’t super productive when I was actually at work (I shouldn’t have went to work feeling like crap…). I felt my heart constrict about three sizes with all the animal cruelty shit that has come through my news feed lately and ended up crying for over an hour about all the suffering animals endure at the hands of humans (I’m tearing up just writing about it right now. It affects me more profoundly than anything else ever does). And all of this has been permeated by a sense of sadness that comes from letting go of a good friend whose path is no longer entwined with mine. Somewhere along the way, I forgot to open my heart and breathe and let in all the beauty and good energy that is always there for balance. This is what happens to so many of us. We let one negative feeling snowball into a bazillion others until we shut out the light and invite sickness (yes, good job Jo) and angst into ourselves and forget about all the good.

It wasn’t until this morning that I clued in to how closed off I was being and how I was helping to keep myself unbalanced. The light bulb was my husband’s smiling and utterly joyous energy when he Facetimed me from somewhere in the States where he is riding his motorbike with buddies. A minute of talking to him and I could feel his infectious and excited energy surrounding me, reminding me to let in the good energy. The few minutes I talked to him shifted my focus and allowed me to reflect on something I’ve been ignoring (or maybe blocking out on purpose). My connectedness.

What I’ve taken away from my journey to the other side and back is a heightened sense of the universe. Unfortunately, it has left me with some gut feelings that I’d rather not be able to feel, but it has also given me some amazing gifts. I see things before they happen (either in my head or during dreams); I feel people’s truths faster than I ever hear or see them (so I am much better at relationships than I ever used to be and I have become much more sympathetic and understanding because of it); I can find lost items just by thinking about them (even other people’s); I can read a room in seconds and see everyone’s colours, so gauging moods has become easy and commonplace; I know when my phone is going to ring or someone is going to knock on my door (so I can put clothes on…because I’m fond of being naked or nearly naked at home! LOLOL)…

Like anything in life, you have to accept the highs and lows in order to have balance, but sometimes, when the balance seems to tip toward the low side of things, it’s tough to remember that it will raise up again. This week has definitely been on the low side-enough to make me wish for the peace and love of the other side-even for just a second-but the beauty of not being afraid to share my thoughts and feelings about it is that I’m already feeling the balance begin to work it’s way upward. It doesn’t matter if we are tuned in a little or enlightened beings, we all stumble from time to time and have to find our way back upright. I can already feel my sickness dissipating and my mood lightening.

When I was hanging out with my dearly departed mama, she kept telling me, “We are one and we are love” and what she meant is that every single being on this planet is connected to each other and we are all made up of the same whatever it is that you want to call it-God, soul, source, energy, etc., and that energy is based on love-pure and simple love. One love. Our energy affects each other, so the more kind and positive energy you put out into the community around you, the more kind and positive energy will carry on through all the people you contact. The same goes for negative energy. If you put it out there, it will affect others. My apologies to anyone I came into contact with this week who felt my negative energy and felt it affect them or snowball.

I’m a constant work in progress.

One love.

And a pic of me and the wonderdog. He could make anyone smile!

 

Juno The Wonderdog

 

Contrast. Assholes are necessary, even if WE are the assholes!

Contrast.

According to the Google machine, it is “the state of being strikingly different from something else, typically something in juxtaposition or close association”. Last night, my beautiful and spiritually rooted friend, Angela, and I had an interesting conversation about contrast and it has sparked a theme for this entire day.

We were talking about a situation where someone was spewing negative energy, complaining about everything, spreading discourse and why there are always people around who are like that. “They provide contrast,” Angela said. “They’re here to teach us how to navigate through life.”

When I was about to fall asleep last night, after a stellar day of visiting with friends, being productive, and spending some quality time with Greg, Angela’s words kept running through my mind. I fell asleep feeling something shift in my awareness and, when I woke up this morning, it was as though a window I had been looking through-the frosted glass kind that you find in bathrooms- had suddenly been opened and I could suddenly see clearly what lay beyond.

How many times in your life have you found yourself in a situation where the majority of people surrounding you – be it your work place, a group of friends, a volunteer group, etc. – are happy and positive and like-minded, but one or two people are die hard energy vampires who constantly complain, look at the glass as half empty, create angst, or spew negativity like lava? In my life, these people pop up everywhere and, until this morning, I have always wondered, aloud and in my head, why these people can’t just fuck off and go make someone else miserable. I have always lamented having to put up with these kinds of people and resented the fact that they are in my space, treating me and other people like shit or just plain bitching about anything and everything.

I finally understand it.

Contrast.

As I worked outside this morning thinking about this and feeling the sweet warmth of comprehension flowing through me, something else popped into my awareness. Just as these types exist to help us grow as people, so does the contrast within us. We can’t be all kind, loving, caring, giving, super compassionate beings 24/7. We need all of those things to be balanced out by a little darkness, a little asshole, a little apathy. Balance is a huge part of learning and spiritual growth and the contrast within all of us is a valuable tool to use to keep ourselves balanced.

I giggled when, later in the day, Ang posted a link to a podcast called Heart of Gold, Soul of Steel by Derek Rydall. It was, of course, all about contrast and learning to accept, rather than fight and feel ashamed of the darkness we all have within us. Spiritual warriors get that there needs to be a yin and yang to all things, especially ourselves.

What this day long journey has made me realize is that, for all the striving to improve my awareness of the world and my self-awareness, without contrast, I wouldn’t learn a gosh darn thing. We just can’t learn or grow without contrast-in ourselves and from others.

As an aside, I always find it funny when something so obvious can be lost on me until someone actually points it out in passing. It just goes to show that even the most tuned in people often miss what is right in front of us and we all need the help of others to see clearly. I am always humbled by the means in which the universe brings me enlightenment and tonight I am really grateful for all of my connectedness.

We are one and we are love.

One love, people. One love.

Sometimes you have to protect your own energy, even if you have to distance yourself from those you love.

Sometimes, when we go through something really traumatic (such as having to unplug your newborn from life support after only 30 hours of her being alive…or other, equally tragic stuff), we become toxic. When we are hit by life’s curve balls-ones in which we have zero control over and can’t change the outcome of-it makes us feel helpless. Helplessness make us feel angry
and, when we realize our anger won’t change the outcome of the situation, we become bitter and toxic.

This is exactly how I felt during my grieving process after we lost Cora. I was stuck in an angry, bitter state for the better part of a year and, well, it caused all sorts of shit in my life. I lost friends. I got into arguments with my husband and derby mates over issues that weren’t important. I resented people for reasons I both understood and didn’t understand at all. Basically, regardless of how hard I was trying to put on a brave face and remember to enjoy the little things in life, I was one giant toxic waste dump of helpless anger and frustration. And, despite the fact that almost everyone who knew me knew of what I was going through, it didn’t make it any less easy to be around me and people started to disappear.

At the time, I couldn’t see what was happening with me and when friends stopped coming around, I felt that they had ditched me because they didn’t understand what I was going through. I felt that all my friends with kids spent their time gushing about how awesome their kids were when they were around me and, even though they were just being proud parents and had every right to be so, I resented that they would dare to be happy about their kids in front of me. I felt they were being insensitive to my loss, so I became really cranky around them. And, surprise, surprise, they started dropping like flies. It wasn’t until about a year ago, when I spoke in depth with one of my long time friends who had decided to vamoose about a year after Cora died, that I realized how my toxic energy drove her away.

And, when I looked back, I realized that I had been stuck in that toxicity for a long while. I asked her why she hadn’t just pointed out to me that I was letting my negativity and sadness and anger infect everyone around me and, to my surprise, she said that she did tell me. In fact, she tried to tell me on several occasions and I wasn’t receptive to her words at all. I was the opposite. I denied that I was toxic and insisted that I was staying positive, working through my grief and carrying on with life. And, while my friend (who has reunited with me again, thank goodness) loved me and wanted to help me get through my grief, she just got to the point where it was too hard for her to be around me and my negative energy infected her too much. So, very wisely, she chose to stop participating in our friendship while I was all crazy beans and, after enough time had passed, she reconnected with me. Our friendship is stronger because of it and I don’t begrudge her having to step away from me until I worked through that stage of grief. We should always take steps to protect our energy and, if that means walking away from someone you love because their negative energy is infecting yours, so be it.

Interestingly enough, I am on the other end of this right now while one of my loved ones is working through a traumatic event and his energy is all dark and toxic and super tough to be around. It is especially hard for me because of my new abilities to feel energy so strongly that I can almost reach out and grab it. And, wouldn’t you know it, he doesn’t see the effect his energy is having on the people around him either, even though it’s really obvious. I tried to talk to him about it and he basically told me that I don’t know what I’m talking about. He’s toxic and angry and clearly doesn’t want or need my help or insight so, even though I love him dearly, I have to protect my own energy with distance.

This sort of thing hurts a lot, especially when you love someone and hate to see them hurting, but sometimes it’s the only choice.

So, I am feeling grateful tonight, to my friend who chose to walk away and give me time to work through my toxicity and for my own newly developed insight that allows me to recognize when it’s time to protect my own energy.

My fondest hope is that my loved one will develop the ability to recognize and feel his own energy and how it affects others and that, somewhere along his journey, he finds peace and the ability to forgive both himself and the others who have hurt him.

I wish you all enough.

One love.

I’m an insecure crocodile! Fuck Yeah!

You know that song by Bruno Mars where he just wants to lay around all day in his PJs and have really nice sex? That’s me today. I am literally wearing PJs and just had sex. Then I drank a beer and surfed some FB and now I am blogging because it’s been awhile since I’ve heard the sound of my own voice…so-to-speak…and we all know how much this girl likes the sound of her own voice! 😉

So, yahhhhh, did ya’ll know Mercury is in retrograde right now? Are you all feeling the effects of it as much as I am? Have you all misinterpreted someone’s words, actions, or writing in the last couple weeks and really let it get to you? Is shit breaking around your house or in your vehicle? Are you feeling “off”? Are you spending your time wondering, “What the FUCK is next, universe? Do you have it in for me right now?”? Well, if you have, trust me, you are not alone, homie!

The world is all out of whack right now, but on some level, I am actually enjoying the upheaval because it is making me acutely aware of my gut reactions to everything. Did he mean that the way I think he did? Was that person really ignoring me or giving me the cold shoulder? Basically, Is my gut on right now or way out there in left field? The result of being hyper-aware is that I have learned a few things about myself in the last two weeks that I’ve never caught on to before.

Firstly, I don’t spend 1/10th as much time overthinking as I used to before I got sick and had an NDE. Now if my gut causes me to ask myself a critical question, my mind answers decisively and quickly. I no longer doubt what my gut is telling me. It has freed up a lot of the time I used to spend overthinking, well, everything, and constantly second guessing myself and imagining new and more inventive dialogues with people in my head (ie. I should have said this or that). This whole Mercury sitch has helped me to hone my gut and mind connection. Woo freakin’ hoooooo! For example, today I had a vibe from someone that I just couldn’t accept, but when I asked myself if I was feeling what my gut said I was, there was an immediate and resounding YES. Well, alrighty then.

Secondly, since my gut is overly sensitive right now, I am spending more time introspecting. Last week, my brother told me that ALL of my Facebook posts make me seem really insecure. While I wholeheartedly disagreed with him, I still listened and I still gave his opinion some thought after we talked about it. Let’s face it, NOBODY wants to be told something negative about themselves. NOBODY wants to hear shit like, “You’re insecure, so you post on Facebook all the time to make yourself shiny, so everyone will look at you and think you have a perfect life.” And, no, those were not his words, but that is the gist of what he was saying.

I actually contemplated sitting down and reading through my last year of posts, just to see if they “scream insecurity” as Mike told me they do. The contemplation lasted about 5 minutes and then my extremely loud inner voice (it’s even louder than my outer voice!) yelled, “BITCH, PLEAAAAASE!” and I came to my senses. It seemed to me that someone who deems that ALL of my FB posts show my insecurities: A) Has WAY too much time on his hands and B) Is being really fucking judgemental.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

What I suspect I would see if I looked back through the last year of my posts is a gal on a journey-spiritual and otherwise-who was wearing her heart on her sleeve, not pretending things were awesome when they weren’t, working hard to be more positive, more accepting, less judgemental, and more understanding…and sometimes failing miserably at all those things, and posting regularly to maintain a connection to the world.

After all, I do spend an inordinate amount of time in front of a computer/ipad/phone screen due to the nature of my business, so connecting with real live people – especially if I’m smack dab in the middle of a giant edit – isn’t always possible. Sometimes, FB is the only connection I have with people, other than my husband, for days at a time. And, also, as much as FB can feel like a brutal addiction, it is also my saving grace and reminds me that I’m not alone in the world and there hasn’t been some sort of apocalyptic catastrophe while I’ve been removing the dark hair above a woman’s lip or the razor burn along her bikini line. Really, FB is just a really handy bonding tool for other people in the world who are also stuck in a technology loop.

I feel your pain, FB friends, and I will keep posting to let you know I’m alive and well, even if my 8 bazillion insecurities show in every single post I make.

Also, my life is perfect and I really post on FB so everyone will think I’m the coolest and will want to be just like me. My numerous and incessant posts are basically creating a “Jo is Awesome” fanclub without the awkward extra step of having one of my friends secretly create it for me to throw people off the truth of my need for a fanclub in the first place.

So, to wrap this up, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of this blog:
1) Mercury in Retrograde has been a bitch to deal with, but has made me more intuitive and more decisive;
2) My brother thinks I’m insecure and that I post on FB a lot to bring attention to myself. The truth is, I am just making it easy for Joe Public to join my “Jo is Awesome” fanclub without going through the trouble of embarrassing myself by asking my friends to create a fanclub for me;
3) I clearly don’t have any “real” friends because I spend a lot of time posting on FB. Therefore, having a friend start a fanclub for me is probably moot anyway.
4) This fact doesn’t make me any less cool;
5) This message was approved by my dog, some pretty sweet wheat beer (sorry Celiac friends. None for you.) and a stubborn refusal by part of my brain to get off my ass and make a delicious beet salad out of the stuffs from my garden.

In the words of a famous reptile I once met, “I’m an insecure crocodile. Fuck yeah!” Well, it went something like that, anyway!

Just to reinforce this concept, I am including a pic of a sign that was created for me by the hilarious and talented Kelly Norwood of Kelly’s Kustoms Pinstriping…and a picture of my MVP trophy from a month ago…because I am insecure and need you all to know just how awesome I really am.

A.W.E.S.O.M.E.

Enjoy the long weekend.

One love.

The Shift of The Shit and other happy thoughts!

NOTE: I wrote this on Friday the 13th, but forgot to publish it. Just found in my blog folder when I opened it to finish writing something else! Ooopsy!

Do you feel it?

Forget for a second that Mercury is in retrograde (which it is) and that I just smoked a fatty (which I did) annnnnd that it’s a full moon tonight (which it also is). Even if you didn’t know any of that, I’m betting you would still feel it!

The shift.

In the universe.

I didn’t truly understand what I was feeling until this afternoon when I was contemplating…

The SHIT.

In the universe.

I was in my garden and feeling lousy – frustrated, on edge, totally defeated and just plain blah and this feeling NEVER happens to me while I’m in my sanctuary. I was overwhelmed with all the shit that goes on in the universe and all the apathy out there. I was feeling that nobody truly gives a shit about all the shit anyway. We see it, it horrifies us, we share it on social media (or recount it in horrific detail to our friends and family), and then we move on to the next shit and do nothing about the shit that had us horrified only moments before. It’s cyclic and it’s never ending because there is so much shit out there.

If a girl’s not careful, she can really find herself surrounded by a giant pile of shit.

I’m not always careful, apparently.

I have been through some crazy shit of my own. Shit that makes me resilient, more sympathetic, more understanding, and one helluva lot smarter with my energy than I’ve ever been before, but it hasn’t happened overnight.

Five years ago, I would not have recognized the shit vibes floating through the air, making me feel crazy beans and sad. I would have thought it was probably my hormones getting the better of me.

Three years ago, I would have recognized the vibes, but not understood how to do anything about them.

Three months ago (give or take a week), I would have recognized them, tried to do something about them and failed miserably. Now…I have my shit dialled in, so-to-speak.

I see it all now. I feel it all and know immediately that I’m feeling it, but my new challenge is how to read or interpret it and, once I do understand where it’s coming from, what to do with it.

This afternoon, I recognized the shit vibe right away, but couldn’t immediately pinpoint where it was coming from. It took me from a chill, happy, peaceful mood into an angry, frustrated, defeated mess in the span of around 10 minutes. As soon as I realized what was happening, I dropped my current weeding tool and bolted inside to escape the energy. It helped a little because I have my house protected from outside influences, but I still felt it coming at me like a freight train, trying really hard to smash through the walls I’d thrown up against it.

(As an aside, BOOM, after weeks of practice, my metaphorical walls are stronger than that imaginary train! Either I’m completely bat shit crazy or all this energy in the universe that is connected to my soul is real and I am finally figuring out how to work with it and around it. I feel fairly sane…well, most of the time. 🙂 )

So, back to the shift. It is really happening. People are becoming so much more aware of what’s going on in the world and what’s going on around them, especially the younger generation. I was in line at Nature’s Fare yesterday and a little girl-maybe six-was in front of me chatting with her mom. Her mom was talking about the meat industry (a subject that deeply concerns me and used to keep me awake at night before I had my NDE) and how important it is to shop for local meat that’s ethically raised. (No, she didn’t use those words, she used words a six year-old could understand, but that was the gist of it). The kid looked up at her and said, “Don’t worry mom, by the time I’m grown up, me and my friends will make sure that all animals are happy, even the ones we are gonna eat.”

I gave a whoop whoop and high fived the girl and all three of us giggled. Imagine the kind of awareness a little kid has to have at that age to understand that something has to be done to change things and make the world a more humane and better place! This kid not only knew that she liked to eat meat, but that she could do something to make sure the animal who provides it is happy before it is slaughtered.

She also told her mom that the “internet makes it really easy to reach people all over the world and ask them to make sure they start making their animals happy too”.

See! The shift!

When I was six, I didn’t have a clue about how animals were treated prior to ending up on my plate. I was already a bleeding heart animal lover by then, but the connection between a cow in a field and the steak on my plate wasn’t even registering on my radar. That kid in the line up was obviously light years ahead of where I was at that age, and she’s not the only one.

Kids these days, even though they are spending an inordinate amount of time with their faces in electronic devices, are exposed to so much more of the world than I was when I was young. They see so much of the positive side of life-good stories about helping others, saving animals, people working to save the damage being done to the planet. They also see the negative side of life-horrid stories about people suppressing and abusing others, animal abuse and neglect, polluting of the earth, loss of wildlife habitat, etc..These kids have everything at their fingertips to learn about the world and learn many different sides and arguments for everything they are exposed to. They will be the ones who learn to look at issues objectively because they get to see all of the sides.

When I was growing up, I had a very limited perspective of the world. I saw what my parents wanted me to see and heard what they wanted me to hear. I grew up being taught that certain things were a certain way “because that’s the way it’s always been” and, because I didn’t know any better, I believed them. Kids these days (in our part of the world, anyway) don’t have to accept their parents’ view of the world and then pass that view of it onto their own children. The interconnectedness of the globe, through technology, has ensured that.

Sure, technology can be a shittastic thing if we allow ourselves to become sedentary beings who sit on our asses for too many hours a day, neglecting our health and depleting our social skills, but it can be a vast and effective learning tool as well. It can be the tool that catalyzes change-really positive and lasting change. A large portion of the last couple generations may have lost their collective way and lost sight of how important it is to teach children to grow up compassionate, passionate and sympathetic, but the world’s awareness is shifting and I (and lots of others) can feel the energy of it.

The energy I felt this afternoon when I was outside was full of frustration and pigheadedness. It took me the rest of the day to pinpoint where it was coming from and, because Mercury is in retrograde and communication can be totally skewed, it took me hours to nail where that frustration was coming from. Change.

The shift is happening and people who are resistant to change are digging in and fighting against it. All those people who have grown up ignoring the state of the rest of the world (and even the state of their own neighbourhoods) are waking up and really starting to see what is happening. It’s a hard thing to accept that the world needs help because we’ve contributed to the state that it is in with our greed, neglect, apathy, etc.. It’s even harder to accept that we all need help and that we all need to help each other in order to fix all the shit that’s out there. So people resist and the air gets charged with frustrated energy filled with a pigheaded refusal to flow with the change and I pick up on all of it. The lesson here: Stop resisting. Let change come and roll with it.

On that note, it’s time to strap on my skates and go for a boot around the city.

Enjoy the changes that Mercury is bringing in right now and work on letting go of your resistance.

One love, people. One love.

I’m a human hummingbird and off the charts crazy beans right now

For a few weeks, I thought and felt that being so much more aware and connected, since I had my NDE in March, was the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. Well, the irony of it all is that life has become exceedingly more difficult since I came back with a new perspective.

Now that the initial euphoria of all that I experienced has started to wear off, I’m feeling more and more off. I constantly feel “scrambled”, for lack of a better way to describe what is going on within me. I feel everything – all of the energy around me; all of the emotions pouring out of people; all of the unspoken feelings that people hide with their happy faces and completely fake words. I am overwhelmed with all of the feelings, the energy, the vibes, the everything that is constantly swarming around me. I actually feel completely exhausted and super cranky today because I have been spending weeks protecting myself from other people’s energy vibrations and it takes a lot out of me.

I am trying my best to just let it all flow through me without paying too much attention to it, but sometimes it grabs me so quickly and with so much strength that I don’t stand a snowball’s chance. It can take a split second for me to switch from a great mood to feeling like I want to dragon kick someone right in the teeth. Then, without anything seeming to change, I switch back to feeling great again. At first, I thought I was having some ridiculous hormone thing going on, but after a few weeks, I realized it was energy vibes and not anything physical.

I spent some time with some of my derby girls over the weekend -people I absolutely LOVE to pieces-and I had to set a timer to buzz on my cell phone every five minutes to remind me to strengthen and fortify the imaginary protective bubble around myself to ward off the energy pouring out of a couple of them. The worst part was that they were all smiles and happiness and enthusiasm on the outside, but their energy was the complete opposite. It was all angst and resentment and exhaustion and annoyance and blah. After a couple hours, it was too much and it started getting through my defences and I found myself thinking shitty things and feeling sad and gross. It took me the 1.5 hour drive home to chillax myself and even then, I had a doozy of a headache and missed my Father-In-Law’s birthday dinner because I was totally spent and just wanted to lie down.

While I am still in awe of what I went through and amazed at the way I now view the world from a much less judgemental and more loving and accepting standpoint, I spend most days feeling completely lost, scatter-brained, overwhelmed and completely without motivation. I’ve lost my focus and passion for so many of my usual goals and motivations. Some days, I just want to laze about the house and let my mind drift so I don’t have to deal with work, people, energy or anything outside my easy-to-maintain house bubble. I am completely aware of this and am doing my best to just let it pass through me, in hopes that it will spend itself and I will once again feel the zest for life that I’ve always had, but I have to say that, at this point, being a hermit feels comfortable.

I have no idea how super intuitive psychic/medium peeps even function from day to day without going completely crazy. It’s ridiculous that someone like me – someone who loves being with people, making people laugh, being creative, being helpful, etc.- suddenly dreads leaving the house because the thought of having to protect my energy, yet again, drains me of all of my oomph.

Oh yah, and while I’m ranting, let me tell you about my latest quirk – a super sensitive, built in bullshit detector. Those vibrations that I’ve been feeling, since I came back, start to hum like a thousand bees under my skin when people are lying to me. The bigger the lie, the more my body vibrates. A couple people lately have made me feel like I’m wired for sound, all jumpy and twitchy and flitty – my arms, especially, vibrate like I’m a human-sized humming bird. Not only that, but I can think back on conversations I’ve had with people and the same sensation happens if someone has lied to me. It is really annoying. Why? Because I can hardly say to someone, “You, sir, are a stone cold liar. I know this because my body feels like I’m sitting in the electric chair while I’m talking to you.” I have conversations now, knowing I’m being lied to – even if it’s only a small lie meant to protect my feelings – and I have to grin and bear it because I don’t know how to explain this to people.

My intuition and understanding of things is also really sharp right now. A “friend” of mine told me the other day that I’m a “small doses” kind of person. As in, she can only handle being around me in small doses because I’m just too much sometimes and I never stop and it’s “hard to put up with”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this, so it didn’t bother me at all. I am friends with many people who are small dose kind of people. I enjoy the shit out of them when I’m with them, as long as it’s not for too long! I also think everyone needs a break from each other now and then. Spending too much time with any one person, no matter how much you love them, can wear away at your nerves. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder…mostly because it makes us forget each other’s annoying traits. Bahahaha!

However, when I sat quietly and thought about this person and her words, my vibrations flew off the charts and, in only a few seconds, everything became clear to me.

She spends a lot of her time pretending to be someone she is not and she is worried that I will out her to others by saying or doing something that contradicts with the picture she has painted of herself. Growing up, I never presented my true self to anyone because I so strongly wanted to fit in and be cool, so I totally understand why she acts this way. She is insecure in herself and simply hasn’t grown out of that need to have everyone think she is the coolest, funniest, most caring, giving, loving person ever. Maybe she never will. She expends a lot of energy trying to always present only the best aspects of herself to anyone who is popular, influential, etc., so they would never believe that she has a nasty, mean side or that she intentionally hurts people to knock them down a notch on a regular basis-which she does. We all have a less than desirable side. It’s called being human. The irony of all of this is that I don’t give a flying fuck what she does or how she acts as long as she presents all of her true self to me, which she does…as long as the cool kids aren’t around. The nature of pretending, though, is that it makes you paranoid that others will find out you’re deceiving them. We have all lied and we all know the feeling of, “Oh shit! How am I going to get myself out of this one?” It’s an awful feeling and it can suck your energy dry faster than any energy vampire can. This gal spends so much of her time carefully spinning her web that when I’m around her, the effort to maintain constant vigilance and try to avoid being found out is too much effort and it probably drains her dry. And, since she is not the type of person to recognize what she is doing, she most likely sees me as the source of the energy drain and feels that she has to keep her distance. In reality, she’s draining her own energy by living in a partial truth. That is some super deep shit, but it makes perfect sense to me and it all came to me as one blip moment of complete understanding, along with the hummingbird in my veins effect. I am definitely a small dose kind of person for some people, but for others, the reason behind it has little to do with me.

So, to recap: These days I’m a walking, vibrating, energy receptacle who also happens to be a human bullshit detector. On the one hand, it is a genuine gift that has been opened up to me through a traumatic and life altering experience, but on the other, it’s completely exhausting trying to learn how to deal with it and control it or shut it off when it gets to be too much. I’m figuring it out, but I’m also spending a lot of my time staying away from people and crowds. Hopefully, it won’t take me eons to figure out how to balance it and use it on a daily basis. Then maybe I’ll be able to get back to working and living without feeling the need to turn tail and run from all the vibes I’m picking up on.

Or maybe I’ll hang up a shingle as a human lie detector…

One love ya’ll.

 

Conversations with Mom: aka My Near Death Adventure Part 4. Negativity and adversity are necessary for learning lessons and making us less whiny…

My house teams bouted against two other Okanagan teams last night and it was amazing. Before the game, I did a visualization to protect my energy from anything negative and to only allow love and light into my bubble and to only let love and light out of my bubble. I imagined every person on my team surrounded by a giant white bubble of awesome energy and within that bubble, I added my power color – pink- to everyone, so they would all have the strength and oomph they needed to keep going, no matter what.

The game was AMAZING. The final score was 152 to 149 for my team and the entire game was close, hard fought, and seriously happy. Both teams were smiling throughout the game and the energy was so crazy good. I loved every moment of it and felt totally energized throughout. I jammed the whole game and there weren’t any moments where I felt too tired to keep going. It just felt like magic.

It wasn’t until afterward, when Greg and I were driving home and I had time to think on it in the quiet, that I realized that I’d kept that bubble of good energy surrounding all of my teammates for the entire game. Two things amazed me about that. The first was that I was able to hold it around people for so long and the second was how much energy return I got from holding it. This energy and connection stuff is amazing if we learn how to harness it.

I will be doing this to my team from now on, just to see what happens. 🙂

All this good energy stuff, though, reminded me that I wanted to blog about negative energy and continue with the conversations I had with my dearly departed mama while I was near death.

For years, I have been an advocate of saying that “happiness is a choice”, but because of my opportunity to hang out with my mom, I now realize that even though it is a choice, it is still totally alright to let negative emotions run through me. It’s okay to be upset or sad or angry or to feel any other emotion that can be perceived as negative. Contrary to what many people believe (including me up until a month ago) allowing negativity to flow through us doesn’t attract more negativity and it doesn’t make us sick or break down our soul’s protective cushion. It’s our reactions to this kind of emotion that causes the problems, both physical and mental. When we spend our time letting negativity fester or allowing ourselves to get stuck on feeling guilty about being negative or trying to suppress our negative emotions and force ourselves to feel positive, that is when we break down the cushion and make ourselves susceptible to sickness and death. If we do what Bhuddists do and just allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling without rebelling against it or fight the feelings, it all just passes through us and leaves behind positive emotions-motivation, determination, peace, happiness, etc.. Getting stuck on any emotion for too long is detrimental to us, even excessive happiness (as my friend Jen calls it).

So I used to believe that allowing myself to feel negativity was scary and bad for me and that, somehow, I would attract more scary and bad things into my life if I kept holding onto negative emotions. I thought I had to always choose happiness and just forget about my negative feelings to stay happy and healthy. This actually allowed negative feelings to stick around and wear me down. I now know that I have to feel everything that I feel fully to stay balanced and keep my connection to source energy strong, but there is a huge difference between feeling and reacting. This has everything to do with the fact that I have contracted to learn lessons in this life and I can’t learn compassion, sympathy, or any of the other “growth” emotions if I don’t allow negativity to teach me about them. I still feel negative emotions, although not as intensely as I used to (since all this happened), and I no longer force myself to “get over” them or move past them as soon as they surface. I just acknowledge to myself that I’m feeling them and try to pinpoint why they have cropped up and trust that, once I understand them, they will pass quickly as long as I don’t react to or buy into them.

It’s kind of like being downwind of a grizzly bear – you can see it there and you know it can do a lot of damage to you if you make yourself known to it, but as long as you stay quiet and just observe it from a distance, chances are it will eventually move away and you will have an entirely new appreciation for your ability to stay calm in the face of danger or adversity.

So, the take away from this part of my conversations with mom was that all emotions can benefit us if we don’t put too much energy or stock into our reaction to them. Emotions are just different frequencies of energy and we are all energy, connected to each other. Let the emotions come and pay attention to them without allowing yourself to react too strongly. Happiness isn’t the choice, how we react to our own emotions is.

It’s sad that it took me almost biting it to understand this concept, but I am grateful for this new outlook every day and I’m loving the calmer, more contemplative and less reactive me.

Have the best Sunday ever, my friends.

One love.

Conversations With Mom: (AKA My Near Death Adventure) Part 3: Let the Epidemic of Unicorns Shitting Rainbows begin!

I have finally finished writing down everything I can remember about this experience and I’ve separated it into a few themes so it will be easier to read through and process.

Life has been very strange for me this past month. I have yet to feel “worked up” about anything that comes across my path and, for me, this is as foreign as the concept of addiction. I just can’t quite comprehend it.

Since I last blogged, I’ve been learning to “read”  the humming that I feel inside me all the time. Mostly, it feels as though there is an electrical current running through my veins. If someone close to me is excited or agitated or upset, the intensity of the vibrations increases until I feel as though pins and needles are moving up and down my spine. If I concentrate on the energy around me, I can not only pinpoint the source of the person who is spiking the vibrations, but I can also pick up the reason or emotion behind it. At first, when I realized what was happening, I thought it was the coolest thing ever, but after a week of constantly feeling the intensity of this energy ebbing and flowing, I started to feel frazzled, bombarded by vibes and totally reluctant to leave my house for fear that I would encounter too much of it all at once. I imagine that my eldest brother, who has schizophrenia, often feels just as overwhelmed by the voices he hears and, for the first time in my entire life, I finally have an inkling of understanding of what he goes through on a daily basis. For him, it’s voices; for me, energy.

I asked a psychic friend to help me learn to cut off the energy radar when I don’t want to feel it and she gave me a plethora of ideas of how I can contain it. The best, though, is to imagine everyone around me in a hamster bubble that contains them and their energy. It is super easy to do and it makes me laugh all the time to imagine people hanging out in an invisible hamster bubble. I have also started imagining myself surrounded by really strong, but lightweight bubble wrap with reflective material on the outside to push people’s energy back toward them and keep it away from me. Both methods work, depending on what state of mind I’m in and I’m grateful for the advice that Donna gave me! Thanks homie!

I decided to talk about judging ourselves and others in this part of the series because the conversations I had with mom and the feeling I had of being wholly unjudged while I was with her is a feeling that I have hung on to since. I want everyone to be able to feel the freedom and peace that letting go of judgement gives me.

Society, in the broad spectrum, is judgemental. We compare ourselves to others – their looks, beliefs, standards, morals, practices, etc. – and, if they somehow don’t measure up to our own system of values and beliefs, then we judge them lacking or, just as bad, we try to knock them down because we don’t want to believe that anyone is “better” than we are. It is a universal epidemic and it not only causes conflict, but wars and genocide over our differences. I could go on and on about how damaging judging others is, but I don’t have to because EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS TRUE – whether or not people choose to admit it as a truth is their lesson to learn, not mine to teach. Judgement is the worst plague on our planet as it leads to the breakdown and destruction of love and love has the limitless potential to make the world the most beautiful and harmonious place in the cosmos.

Before I got sick, people judging each other over everything used to get under my skin, so deep that I would lose sleep over it. I would hear the things other people were saying about me or that I had said about them – things that were just simply not true or taken out of context or twisted – and I would lose sleep over the possibility that other people would believe what they were hearing about me. It would spark all sorts of fear inside me that people would believe I was not kind or good or that I didn’t go out of my way to do nice things for people all the time. It would start a vicious downward spiral – I would worry that others would believe the worst of me, which would make me start wondering if maybe people thought I really was a terrible person, which would lead me to second guess my thoughts and actions and question if I were a good person, which would leave me feeling all tangled up and self-doubting, which would cause me to start feeling judgemental toward the people who were saying shit about me. It happened much too often and, despite being the type of person who felt fairly confident most of the time, I often let myself get caught in the web of guilt and doubt that judgement causes.

My NDE made me realize something I had never caught on to before and that is that I spent too much time judging myself too harshly, based on other people’s judgements of me, and not loving myself unconditionally-as Source does. When I was floating in white mist, all spread out as a bunch of particles, all I felt was pure acceptance and love. There was no doubt, no negativity, no accusations, no judgement. There was only peace and love and acceptance. I knew that no matter what I had done while alive, I would NEVER be judged for it in this place or ever.

When I woke up, I instantly understood that, before that moment, I hadn’t been able to completely love and accept myself for who I was, so I hadn’t been able to completely love and accept others for who they were. But then I went where I went (somewhere between time or within all of time) and I felt what I felt (the most deeply potent love and pure connection I have ever experienced) and now I know what I know (no matter what we learn or don’t learn here on earth, we are not being judged for any of it by Source). Since this happened, my previous need to judge others and myself has been rapidly disappearing. I know now that I don’t have to waste my energy trying to defend myself when others talk shit or lie about me or assume I’ve done or said things that I haven’t. I don’t have to lose sleep over the possibility that people will believe the hype they hear. I just have to remember to carry on, guided by the love that is filling me up and trust that I’m following the path I’m meant to follow without letting fear guide my footsteps. If I love and accept myself, then it’s easy to love and accept others and, ironically, this love for myself will be contagious until soon the people who judge me will begin to judge themselves less and thereby judge others, including me, less. My lack of judgement will create a beautiful epidemic of unicorns shitting rainbows. Who wouldn’t want that to happen?

I have already felt the epic shift that has started within me. It seems such a small thing, but the absence of judgement is HUGE and profound and mind boggling. It changes perspective on everything. I no longer rage at the injustice of animal cruelty and wish harm upon the people who hurt or abuse animals. Instead, I immediately feel joy when these animals are rescued or when their suffering ends and they can return to the place where I went, where they will feel the all-consuming peace and love that I felt. I no longer immediately judge criminals who commit unspeakable acts of cruelty on other people or murder others. Instead, I wonder what lessons they chose to learn during this lifetime and whether they are learning them. I no longer get upset when people say nasty things about me or lie to others about me or shoot me down to build themselves up. I just tell myself all that matters is how I feel about myself and that I learn the lessons I am supposed to be learning. I am positive that one of those lessons is letting shit go and forgiving the people who do and say things on purpose to hurt others, including me. And the really cool thing is, once you start judging yourself and others less, the letting go and forgiving part comes naturally.

So, give it a try if you want to see how good it feels. The next time you look at someone, choose to tune out the little asshat voice in your head that picks them apart and compares yourself to them. Instead, just really take a good look at them and will yourself to just see them for them – just a person who is totally unique and connected to you and everyone else. The next time you do something and then immediately feel the need to beat yourself up about it, choose not to. Instead, remind yourself that you are supposed to make mistakes and learn the lessons from them and that not everything you think is a mistake is actually a mistake. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. If you can’t love and accept yourself the way you are, you will never be able to love and accept others for who they are.

One Love.

wonderdog, juno, jo leflufy photography pets

Conversations With Mom (aka My Near Death Adventure) Part 2 – One love.

This shit is DEEP. As I said in Part 1, I have been writing down the memories of my NDE as they come to me and struggling to put into words what happened. I am going to write this part as a conversation that I had with my mom, but to save time on the next ones, I’ll just recap the gist of what was said. For now, I want people to understand what this experience was like and, for the most part, it was just a conversation I had with my long-departed mama while we lounged poolside in Mexico (at least I feel like it was Mexico).

This part is all about energy – of the universe and inside us. It is deep, but to me it makes more sense than anything else ever has before.

This is the first thing I wrote about when I got out of the hospital:

I remember feeling the hot sun on my face and opening my eyes to see a beautiful pool in front of me, palm trees everywhere, the sound of Conway Twitty singing in the distance. I am lying on a lounge chair, in a bikini and my toenails are painted a beautiful shade of purple that is almost iridescent when the sun sparkles off them.  A pink martini sits on the table beside me, maraschino cherry in the bottom of the glass and beads of condensation running down the glass from the lip to the stem.

I think to myself, Conway Twitty? Martini’s are gross. Then, against my better judgement, I reach out and take a sip and, to my surprise, the drink is just the perfect amount of delicious and refreshing. I guess they aren’t so bad after all. Returning the drink to the table, I lean back and take a deep breath. I feel amazing. My body is almost humming, but so faintly that I can barely detect it. I don’t understand why, but I just know it’s there – the hum – and it feels energizing and warm and rejuvenating.

Even though I feel amazing and completely full to the brim with love and warmth, I know that there is something more to this moment.

I feel as though I am not only in that place as myself, but as everything else too. I feel sort of spread out, as though I am my body, but also the trees, chairs, water, sky, birds, music, etc.. The pool is two things at once – a pool and a movie screen that I can watch and slide into at will. There is a scene playing in the pool and it’s all about me. I’m with Greg and I’m in a hospital and I am very sick, but strangely, I feel no alarm or stress about what’s unfolding there in the pool. Instead, I feel completely wonderful and full of peace and stillness. There are others there with me as well, but I feel them more than see them and it feels as though I’m surrounded by people, yet the pool area is deserted. I lie there, soaking in the warmth of the sun and find myself humming along to a song playing in the background.

“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?”

I look over to my left and see my mom stretched out beside me, wearing a one-piece, black strapless bathing suit and a big – gigantic actually – wide brimmed hat and large, black sunglasses. She is tanned and slim and her hair is long and shines when the sun hits it. She looks like pictures of her that I have seen from when she was 20 or so and she is absolutely beautiful.  I stare at her in awe and a strange sensation comes over me – like waves of warmth running from the tip of my head to my feet – and the humming inside me grows stronger. I feel one thing so strongly that it overpowers every other sensation I’ve ever felt. Love. It wraps around me and settles into my warm skin and I somehow know that it’s not only coming from my mom, but from all those I can’t quite see. I can’t describe how strong it is or how perfect it feels. It just is and I know that it doesn’t matter what I have ever done or said in my entire life, this love knows no judgement. It fills me up and hums within me, like a low grade electrical current running through my being.

“Yes!” I reply, finally. “It’s perfect. Just what I needed to get away from it all for awhile.”

As I’m talking, a slight movement catches my eye on the other side of my mom’s chair and I sit up suddenly.

“Is that Lasha?” I ask my mom. I feel almost bubbly with excitement.

She looks down absent-mindedly and strokes the dog beside her.

“Yes, of course, and others.”

I almost screech in delight and call the dog over. She comes and puts her head on my leg and I scratch her ears and under her chin. I run my hands through her thick fur and hug her. I don’t understand how she can be so unbothered by such a hot climate, but the sun doesn’t seem to bother her at all and she lies down between our chairs and promptly returns to her nap.

I marvel at how my body has no aches or pains and how there seems to be nothing wrong with it at all. My mind is sharply focused and it notes every sensation – from the slight breeze along the hairs on my arms, to the birds playing in the wind high above us, singing as they dive and then ride up the air currents again and again. I am also aware that my mom is more than she appears to be. I can’t explain it, but I just know that she is more than just herself. I wonder, in my mind, how she got here.

“I’m always with you. I always have been. We are all with you. You sometimes see us or feel us, but most of the time, you are unaware that we’re with you.”

I think on this for some time and then I ask her, “What do you mean you are all with me? Who?”

Mom looks at me and chuckles. “You already know. All of us. All of the energy you’ve ever been touched by before we returned to rejoin with ourselves. This is how it works. We are all here with you all the time. We are all a part of you and each other and we are one. We are love.”

I laugh too, shaking my head. This somehow makes perfect sense.

Mom smiles and take a sip of her drink, another pink martini. “Now you don’t have to doubt anymore. We are always with you and you are a part of us as surely as we are a part of you.”

I wonder about that. Why do I have doubts if I already know that we are one?

Mom laughs her amazing, ringing, hilarious laugh (which makes me giggle too). She finds this really funny and throws back her head and laughs really loudly and I feel infected by her laughter and soon we are both laughing loudly. I, once again, understand somehow that doubt is a necessary part of the life we choose to live on earth (or in any plane we inhabit a body). We can’t learn without it. I don’t understand why, but this fills me up with joy and we go on laughing and laughing.

I ask mom if she protects me while I’m in physical form.

“We all do, but your energy is part of ours, so you are, in essence, protecting yourself. We just reinforce your belief.”

“Belief?”

“Call it belief, faith, whatever. You have strong faith and you are protected by the connection of your energy to ours because we are one.  You’ve always been very good at believing in yourself and in your own energy.”

“Is my body dying?”

“We’ll see.”

I continue to feel amazing and feel zero alarm at the prospect my body might die. In fact, I continue to feel full of peace and love and nothing troubles me, but I am filled with curiosity about everything.

I wonder why I am so sick. Mom immediately starts explaining it to me.

“Open your mind and feel the truth in this. When we are in a body, we all have a protective barrier around our energy or our soul or whatever you want to think of it as. That cushion is what allows us to protect our energy and keep it strong. In the end, everything is energy and we are everything. We are eternal, but in our bodies we are vulnerable. Our energy is connected to our body as well as to everything else, so all of it is affected by what our bodies go through in life. We have to be careful with ourselves while we live in our bodies. If we spend too much of our time allowing fear and negativity to control us or giving too much of our energy away, our connection shifts toward the part of our energy that is not contained in our bodies – the Source that we are all made up of -and, as a result, our bodies weaken and allow sickness in to wreak havoc. When we refuse to see the lessons we have set out to learn during the life of our body, it causes our protective cushion to break down and our source energy is allowed to seep back toward the Source where we are all joined in it’s effort to gain strength. When this happens, our bodies defences break down and allow disease, sickness and injury into our bodies. The more we ignore the lessons, the more our bodies break down and the less chance our bodies have of continuing on.”

I split in half at this point and find myself floating into the pool to check in on myself at the hospital (which I have already blogged about) and, while I’m floating around in the hospital, I can still see and hear mom talking by the pool.

“Our energy needs to be balanced, allowing for both positive and negative input, so we can make choices. Before we choose a life, we choose the lessons we want to learn and our choices allow us to learn them. When we put our energy into things that don’t re-energize our souls or continue to strengthen our energy, we are choosing to ignore lessons and depleting our energy by breaking down our cushion. It creates unbalance. If balance isn’t restored, our bodies break down and die off so we can let go and reconnect to our source energy. If this happens, we can look back on the life and see which lessons we learned and which ones we didn’t.

You are in this situation right now as your body fights to live while your source energy seeks to regain its balance.”

I still feel no sense of alarm or urgency to fix my body or return to it. I am filled with questions about balancing energy and I ask my mom how we return balance to our energy.

“You make different choices. You choose to stop putting too much of yourself into the things that don’t keep you balanced and energized and start putting more time and energy into the things that do,

You already know what changes need to be made. You have known for awhile, but have been too worried about letting people down, feeling like a failure, not being worthy in your own eyes or others’. You have been letting fear control you instead of relying on  faith in your own energy. Your fear has caused you to make choices that are leading you away from your intended lessons.”

“What are my intended lessons?”

(I have tried so many times to remember anything she said here, but cannot remember any of it. I can see us having a conversation, but none of it is clear and only a word or two comes to me. I remember a sense of realization, as though I’ve discovered my purpose in life.)

My mom is talking again, about the one energy she keeps mentioning. She is calling is Source or sometimes, she calls it Soul. I’ll just use Source to keep it simple.

“We are all Source and we are all a part of each other, always. Even when we are living, we are still a part of each other. Connected. One.”

“Is that what this humming feeling inside me is?”

“Yes. Source. Everything.”

“Are you really my mom?”

“I am everything, including you. We are everything together. One. Love. We are love and we are one.”

The humming inside me grows so strong that I can literally feel every single particle of whatever it is that is inside me, bumping against each other, joining together, splitting apart. It’s deafening but completely silent all at once. And I totally get it. I completely understand what she’s saying because I can feel everything, both within and all around me.

We are everything. Together and one. Love. Where I am right now, nothing else exists but love. And it feels like home.

Sidenote: Every day since this went down, I feel the hum inside me. Sometimes it is overwhelming -like thousands of people are humming around me without speaking – and sometimes it is comforting (like the buzz of bees flying from flower to flower), but it NEVER goes away and I love it. I can feel it ebb and flow at certain times of the day and it’s quietest or less noticeable between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. (when it starts back up again). I realized, just yesterday, that it is the energy that my mom was talking about. Everything. All of us. I’m not sure why I feel it and, honestly, I’m not going to over-analyze it or go out of my way to try to understand it. I’m just rolling with it. Not only that, but I can “feel” people from far away too. I can look at someone who I don’t know and have never met and I can “feel” them – what their emotions are, if their bodies are healthy or sick, etc.. It is as though the humming that is constantly with me separates itself until a vibrating thread comes out to greet me and it is the energy of the person I’m looking at. It doesn’t happen with everyone, but each day it happens more often and I am getting better at honing in on the people who hum the loudest. I know, this makes me sound like a complete whack job and Greg’s probably going to want to check me into the Funny Farm soon, but it is what it is.

I’ve already started to write the next part of this blog series and hope to publish it sometime this weekend, but who knows what adventures I’ll get up to from now until then.

Enjoy Thursday.

One Love. (just like Bob Marley said!)