Monday, May 11, 2015

Bob, Gwynnie, and Me

Today, while perusing Facebook, I was presented with a picture of Robert Redford and a wistful, time-gone-by quote about the simple pleasures of a quaint town in Mexico. Charmed and intrigued, I clicked on the link to his most recent Sundance Catalog. The first item displayed was a gauzy, plaid dish towel posing as a shirt on a beautiful, straw-hat clad woman. She looked effortlessly cool in the hot New Mexico sun. I'm not sure if she was actually in New Mexico, but I'm currently obsessing over Santa Fe, so it seemed correct. The shirt came in three colors: money, the view from my private jet, and vagina... I mean green, blue, and pink.

Naturally, I wanted it in pink. I look good in fleshy tones.

The dish towel shirt was $88, which is a bargain for something Robert Redford touches. For a moment, I hovered over the buttons on the page. Instead of "purchase", I clicked "save to favorites". Unfortunately, never having made an actual purchase through Sundance catalog, the site had absolutely no recollection of my existence on this planet, thus rejecting my attempts to save anything.

In the spirit of wealthy people selling overpriced goods, I typed GOOP into my search engine. Instead of being directed to Gywnnie and all her glory, my computer gave me an error code with a sad face that said "No Data Received". GOOP didn't compute. It's like my computer knows.

Defeated, I gathered myself up for a useful activity and untarped the lawn mower from the front of my garage. Obviously, our garage is stuffed full of useless crap and there is no room for said mower.

The beer fridge is in there, so it's not all useless.

I have a horrible habit of not changing my clothes for chores. On any given day, whatever is on my body at the moment something needs to be done is officially that day's "chore clothes." Sometimes I can be seen cleaning horse stalls in my pajamas, and other times I'm in wedges and a dress. I'm very fancy, you know.

Today, I happened to be wearing my black crocodile cowboy boots. The pair that retailed for $1,750.00 fourteen years ago when I served ten years in retail hell. I was a buyer for a small western wear store. Sometimes, I was even the manager and had "extra responsibilities", like firing my good friend or working on holidays, nights, and weekends.  Anyhoo, Nocona was offering a deal to buyers and store employees. For a mere $500.00, we could each have our very own pair of shiny, black crocodile boots!

I made roughly the wage of a part-time school marm in the backwoods of Arkansas during the Great Depression. Those boots would cost me more than a week's paycheck. Financially, it was a very bad decision.

Naturally, I had to have them.

The boots have been with me now for fourteen years. We've gone to concerts together. We've worked 12 hours on our feet on concrete together. We've cleaned toilets and horse pens together. And today, while thinking of Bob and Gywnnie and all their fabulous, overpriced crap that I would love to have in my closet (I would have to put some more crap in the garage to make room), we gassed up the mower and cut some grass together. That is, until I ran over the steaming pile of dog poo and couldn't evict the stench from my nostril hairs. Then I shut the mower off, walked into the garage, and grabbed a cold beer from the fridge.

I'm living the high life. Try not to be jealous.

In my fancy $1750.00 boots- that would go great with the Sundance dish towel shirt in coral- with the simple pleasures of the sharp tang of dog feces attacking my nostrils and the mower parked haphazardly over a half-mown lawn, I've never felt closer to Bob and Gwynnie.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Talented Peeps!

We are all put on this Earth to do our best with this life- part of that process is discovering and nurturing our talents, another part is positively affecting other's lives, and yet another part is bringing joy to my world- obviously. I am very fortunate to know many gifted people who are slaying this whole "good people doing good work and leading good lives" thingy. Today I want to showcase two particularly special and talented peeps, Koda and Rachel, whom I'm blessed to call my friends. Feel free to spread the love through buying and sharing their work!



Koda arrived in my life during a particularly dark time. I was fortunate to work with him; he was my daily ray of sunshine. It's always a treat to be around a fellow creative spirit and Koda is most certainly that. Years passed and I was thrilled to reconnect with Koda on social media, where I discovered that he was a talented writer and poet! His diverse and unbiased perspective on life lends a unique, multifaceted voice which covers a wide range of emotions and subject matter. Check out his wonderful book of poetry, Walking Here and There




Koda's bio:
I'm a poet by nature and aspiring novelist and story-teller. I was born in Colorado in 1984, and raised in central Texas, and have been writing as long as I can remember (around 20 years). I am now back on the western slope of Colorado (and have been since 2002), and live with my roommate, Ashley, and her two children (Ethan and Jane), who I have the esteemed pleasure of getting to help raise as my own. I currently am in the roles of "housewife" and "stay-at-home parent", which has given me the much-needed time to work on my writing passion in between preparing meals and helping with homework.

When I'm not writing and spending time with my family, I spend my time with my many friends, in-person or online, reading books, and enjoying quality television and film. I also have recently become an activist for the end of Cannabis prohibition, focusing mainly on its many medicinal benefits and bad reputation (caused mostly by false propaganda) by sharing opinion-free science-based facts and articles on Facebook, intended to educate (rather than endorse) this mislabeled plant. Find and follow the real me on Facebook as well, where I also run pages for Koda and K. Michael, or find me on Writing.com, where I will occasionally highlight some of my work. Peace and love to all!




Rachel is another one of those special people who spreads goodness and sunshine wherever she goes. She's gifted in almost every area of life- from people skills to dancing. Rachel always brings beauty to her surrounding with her kind spirit and stunning presence. Everyone adores her and I've never met anyone better with children. I'm always a bit surprised that bluebirds aren't constantly following her, tweeting out songs of adoration. Rachel has recently started an Etsy shop, The White Room Boutique, which showcases her many creative talents. Check out her artwork and wares!


Rachel's Bio:
Hello, my name is Rachel and I am originally from beautiful Colorado.  Back in 2010 I decided to turn my love of crafting into a small side business.  I made anything and everything for my friends and family, but I specialized in the skills that my grandma taught me growing up. (Sewing, drawing/painting, paper crafting, and crocheting.)  I did this on the side as a fun way to make a little extra money.  Back then I was working full time as an Exercise Specialist.  In 2013 I got married and due to my husband’s job, we moved to Florida and will continue to move here there and everywhere.  That being the case, it was and is hard for me to find jobs in my field.  I struggled with the fact that I felt like had no true purpose.  What was I supposed to be doing? What did I want to do? Most importantly, what would make me happy?  Naturally, over the years my small side business started to grow and it started to spread via word of mouth and get bigger.  I decided at the beginning of 2015 that my goal was to revamp my little business.  I wanted to make it more professional and see just where I could take it.  I decided then and there that I was going to make that my full time “job.”  That is when “White Room Boutique” was born and in February, I opened my very own online Etsy Shop!  I have had great success thus far due to the support I have received along the way.  I hope it continues to grow and I hope to put smiles on many people’s faces with my creations.  Please visit and like my Facebook page and check out my Etsy shop online.   No matter where I live or how often I move, I can take my “White Room Boutique” with me wherever I go.  



Pay it forward!
Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Chivalry is not dead.

When I was in my twenties, I dated a boy who insisted on holding doors for me. Admittedly, his noble gestures were lost on this girl, the one who was raised like a farm hand.

I found myself sitting impatient and irritated as he held up a finger-instructing me to stay seated- and walked around the front of the vehicle to open my door. 

I found myself slightly agitated when he abruptly stepped into my path to grab the door handle for which I was reaching.

I found myself ungrateful for his "gallantry"; probably because it didn't feel authentic. It didn't feel at all like it was for me. Instead, it felt like a blatant chivalry display (like something at a museum), one which I was required to admire and enrich with praise and noises of ladylike astonishment. Clearly, that relationship failed to work for either of us.

Through the remainder of my 20's, I didn't have any further struggles with excessive or forced gallantry. In fact, it was quite the opposite. I had managed to cut all the gentlemen from my world. Go me. Until I met Brock...


I will never forget the first time Brock heaved my heavy purple Walmart bike into the bed of my pickup truck for me. I was shocked. No one had ever loaded anything heavy for this girl who grew up lifting haybales that equaled her in weight. I wasn't accustomed to people thinking I couldn't do something physical. I mowed a five acre lawn with a push mower when I was 12. I used to challenge myself to load the full grain buckets over the side of the truck bed with ONE ARM. For fun. I was the only girl in my 6th grade class that could climb the peg wall. I could do 10 chin ups (past tense- who do you think I am, Wonder Woman?). I certainly could load a freaking bike in the bed of my own freaking truck! How dare he! So I froze, unsure of what to do. Then I remembered my manners and grunted out an insincere, "Thanks", after which I waited for him to fall into a well-rehearsed diatribe about his mama raising him to be a gentleman or some shit like that. I was poised with my eyeballs ready to roll behind their lids.

Instead, he looked at me in confusion and asked, "For what?"

Suddenly a light dawned upon me. Maybe it wasn't so bad having someone to lift all the heavy things. After all, I did suffer from chronic back pain. Maybe this new way of life would allow a manicure to last more than two hours.

I laughed and realized that this guy was probably honestly courteous. So I married him. From that day forward, he has continued to randomly surprise me with gestures that are authentically for me: throwing my giant man-saddle on my giant man-horse here, crafting a handmade trunk there, delivering a cup of hot coffee to me when I silently prayed for it, and building me a freaking awesome Zen Den.

No, my friends, true chivalry is not dead. I found it! But maybe that's because I married outside of my own generation. Those AARP benefits and early bird specials are pretty sweet, too.

Fast forward to Spring Break 2015. Brock, the boys and I were headed back from Iowa, hauling two horses that we will be using for the summer. After six hours in the vehicle, we stopped for lunch, pulling into a large empty parking lot across a divided road from a busy burger joint. I carried two new five gallon water buckets to the establishment to fetch water for the horses. Once they were filled, they needed to be lugged back across the divided road, which was a 150 meter obstacle course of cars, curbs and slopes.

Brock was at the table with the boys as I  carried the full buckets out the door. He met me outside.

I heard his voice behind me, "You can't do that."

I looked up at my husband's mocking face and said, "What are you talking about? Of course I can."

He clearly had forgotten my entire childhood history.

"I'm not going to let you do that, you silly woman " He said, incredulously. "I'll do it," he insisted.

I raised an eyebrow and calmly suggested, "Let's just leave the buckets here and finish eating. We'll talk about it after lunch."

"Fine."

"Fine."

After the greasy burgers were consumed, I announced, "I'm going to take those buckets. You bring the kids and my purse, mkay?"

Brock started up again, "Oh my Gawd, you cannot carry those buckets! You'll spill it all over everything, then I'll be listening to you whine about me not helping you. You'll soak your jeans and your boots. You'll whine about being wet. You'll never make it all that way. Do you think I would even let you do that?"

"You're mocking me. Now I have to do it," I concluded stubbornly.

I added, "Don't worry about my purse. I'll come back for it."

Then I carried those freaking buckets across that obstacle course and NEVER SPILLED A DROP.

BAM!

Once I arrived at the trailer, I looked up at the horses heads, which were far above my own 5'6" frame and decided that Brock could lift them high to offer the water to the steeds.


I walked back to the restaurant, grabbed my purse and the boys and told Brock that he could come too, if he desired.

I then instructed him to inspect my jeans and boots for water, which there WAS NONE.

HAHA!

I win.

When we got back to the trailer, Brock lifted the buckets as I loaded the kids in their car seats. I sized up the bucket and the window height and decided to take the challenge. I heaved that water up and held it at my nose to let the dun horse drink. 

Naturally, after all that work and strife, both horses declined the water.

I set my bucket down carefully, still never spilling a drop.

But Brock's experience was a little different. You see, Brock's bucket caught on his shirt pocket and he doused himself, from pecs to piggies, in water.

I took pictures, because evidence.










Water buckets of shame. So much well deserved shame.

"You're going to blog about this, aren't you?" he asked.

"Duh," I said.

No friends, chivalry is not dead, but neither is mockery... nor karma.


Peace, Love and Girl Power,
Johi

P.S. Speaking of karma and mockery, a little story I wrote, titled "What You Mock, You Become", which was published in a fun little humor anthology titled, I Just Want to Pee Alone, is now a New York Times Best Seller- making me and 35 of my friends a New York Times Best Selling Author! Hells yeah!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

So This is 40

I woke up this morning, 40 and irritated. I was not bothered to be 40, I was annoyed because I had one of those dreams where my husband was being inappropriate and belligerent. (No one who read my last post will be shocked by this. #10 speaks volumes.)

So of course I told him all about it and said he could make it up to me with a latte from Starbucks. And a pastry. And bacon.

I checked my phone to see a text from my sister.

She wrote:

"It is 40:-) !!! Here comes your first mammogram!"

Wow, this day is getting better by the minute.


While sipping my black coffee that is decidedly not a Starbucks' latte, I reflected on my life and the things I have learned about myself, others and the world in general. While sadly, I still have much to figure out, I have gained some valuable wisdom in my time that I will now share with you.

I sound like I should be wistfully stroking my white beard while smoking a corncob pipe, don't I?

So This is 40 - A list of things I now know from three solid decades of learning (mostly the hard way):

1. I enjoy being waited on.

For me, nothing is more of a killjoy than an 'order your food at the counter' establishment. I want someone to walk up to me while I'm comfortably seated and ask me what I want and need. And then this beautiful thing happens; they bring me what I ordered. That right there is the good stuff, folks.

Clearly I was meant to have servants.


2. My passion for country life, nature and horses is actually a necessity.

I found this out when my horses where gone for three years. I was left with a deep chasm in my soul- one I filled with shoes, scarves and handbags. I need grass, trees, chirping birds and horse slobber; those things all make me a better human.



3. My family means the world to me.

Yes, I realize I wrote about my horses first. Whoops. 

This world means nothing without connection to others. My children, husband and extended family are all shining stars in my life. Our relationships may not be perfect, but they are braided tightly from time, shared experiences and love. I wouldn't trade my people for the world. Not even for an obscenely large sum of money.



4. My close friends are like family.

It's all about the people; it's all about the love. My friends are the bee's knees. They support me, they protect me, they listen to me, they care about me, and those things are reciprocated. They enrich my life in immeasurable ways. Find those people and keep them close. 


5. Wrinkles. So what?

I have them. I like some of them... and others, not so much. In fact, I have gained a variety of things from aging: kids, a husband, a house, successes, failures, a great career, wisdom, life experience and a killer cowboy boot collection. A bit of lined skin doesn't scare me- as Edie Brickell said, "Wear with pride the scars on your skin. They're a map of things you've done and places you've been." She forgot to mention how kids cause wrinkles, but other than that, I like her take on skin marks. I'm kind of proud of my path and therefore, I embrace my wrinkles (except for the really deep ones under my eyes- those could go away.)



6. Living comfortably outside of my comfort zone.

This is a big one and took me years to figure out - in fact, I'm still working on it. But it has been a game changer and I like the direction it's taken me.



7. It is easier to truly see people.

Nothing is more humbling than aging while being a parent. You are challenged- sometimes daily- past your breaking point and pushed beyond reasonable physical and mental limitations. Yet you love those little people beyond measure. You accept them. Then you realize that every person on this planet was once one of them and that their experiences -good and bad- formed them. Then you feel a bit more forgiveness, acceptance and kindness toward people in general. And you embrace them, flaws and all. And you also realize that some of them are so broken that in order to protect yourself and your loved ones, you can't allow them inside your circle, and that's okay too.



8. I know my tastes, style and preferences.

These are great things to have a firm grasp of and - at 40 - I finally do. Hells yeah.




9. Being surrounded by a life I created.

We manifest everything, every experience and everyone around us. It's pretty cool, and also a little scary, if you think about it. So plant those flowers, paint that fence, read that book, engage in that conversation, write that story and spend that time. We're driving the car- let's steer it somewhere amazing.




10. Love.

Isn't love the best? Sure, it's frightening and uncertain, but what isn't? I think that there's no better risk than love. If you don't remove your armour you'll never feel the true agony and delight of love. It's probably like never drinking caffeine, which is sad.





Feel free to celebrate my birthday with me today. Hell, I'll be celebrating for a least two weeks, so join in the fun. There will be cake, wine and laughter. 
So, pretty much the same as every other day.

Bring it, 40.

Peace, Love and Unicorns,
Johi


P.S. I did eventually get my latte and a blueberry muffin. I'm still waiting on the bacon...