Bang, bang…and here we go again.

I’m struggling today. Another mass murder, another crazy gunman on a rampage and still nothing gets done. I’m stunned that the entire country isn’t just completely pissed off that this continues to happen on a weekly basis.  Yes, weekly.  The Oregon shooting is the 994th mass attack in the last 3 years and there has been one school shooting per week since Sandy Hook. Not all mass murders, but shootings nonetheless. Firearms are the cause of 33,000 deaths per year. Guns are the cause of more deaths every six hours than terrorists attacks were in 2014.  The President is right, it’s become routine, acceptable, and I can’t stand it.

I have a lot of friends who own guns and I don’t diminish their opinions about it even if I sometimes don’t agree with it. Most all of the people I know who own guns are responsible gun owners. Hunters and target shooters who love the sport and I personally believe they should be allowed to continue that.  I am not on the “let’s confiscate all the guns” bandwagon, but I do believe we need stricter gun laws in this country. Our right to bear arms by the Constitution did not give us the right to commit mass murder. The second amendment was written in the 17th century and it is just that, an amendment, which means that the Constitution was amended or changed, to include it. Think about the times they were living in.  In my humble opinion the Constitution was created as a guideline, and if amendments were made in the 17th century to take into account the times and circumstances they were living in, why can’t amendments be made now to include the same?   We very obviously do not live in the 17th century anymore. Almost half of all guns in civilian ownership on the planet are held by Americans. On the planet.  How many more guns do we need?

Since the constitution seemingly protects my right to own a gun, why don’t we add an amendment that protects my right to go to a movie, or send my child to school without fear of gun violence?  Without the fear that I may not see my family again because either I or my kids will be murdered by someone who was able to get his or her hands on an assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition?  What about those rights?  Granted, the Oregon shooter didn’t have an assault rifle on him that day but he did have five magazines of ammunition on him. He obtained every one of his guns legally, but had emotional issues that should have precluded him from ever being able to buy a gun in the first place.  We definitely need to address the problem we have in this country with the mentally unstable, but that is not the immediate issue. The immediate issue is to include gun laws that will weed the majority of unstable people out so that they can’t get their hands on a weapon.  Do I think it will stop the problem completely? No, but seat belt laws certainly lowered the death count even if it didn’t stop the problem entirely. The goal is to lower the death count by gun violence and that can be achieved by enacting stricter laws. If you are a responsible gun owner, why wouldn’t you want the same thing?  I don’t understand.

America is the only developed nation where this kind of violence happens. The research is very clear that more guns means more gun deaths and that’s not just by country but by state as well. The states that have more gun ownership have more gun deaths, period.  It really astounds me, this obsession with firearms. Gun violence costs tax payers over five hundred million dollars a year. Gun shops shriek with glee every time there is a mass shooting because it means their sales will triple in the week following. The NRA spends millions every year lobbying to make sure our politicians are in their back pocket. And all for what? The freedom that the Constitution gives us as Americans to bear arms?  If we as a nation believe our Constitutional rights are being infringed upon, as the NRA advertises, then we will rise up and continue to put millions in their coffers, as we continue to do year after year.

Don’t fool yourself. The gun issue is not about freedom, it’s about money and power. Nothing more, nothing less. We as a nation are being played.  And until we realize that and start enacting smart, responsible and more restrictive gun laws, we will continue to be played, and this kind of violence will continue to happen on a weekly basis. I wonder, if it were your Mom, or your 6 year old, or your high school senior, or your sophomore in college who didn’t come home today because they happened to go school or to a movie where a gunman unloaded his arsenal on them, would you be applauding his constitutional rights?  Think about it.

Your truth or mine?

I’ve been reading so much about the upcoming primaries and it really makes me wonder why people think they way they do, why they believe the things they believe in spite of evidence to the contrary and not only regarding politics but with everything.  The truth is really all in the believer’s perspective. Everyone has their own “truth”, no matter what the subject is. The only anomaly to this would be science, which is based on actual fact and even then there are people who will argue it.

Generally speaking when we listen to both sides of any story we come away with a belief for one side or the other when in reality both sides believe that their’s is the truth.  Taking one side or the other really comes from the listener’s perspective on the whole story. Where politics are concerned it baffles me that anyone who is a part of the middle class in today’s society would vote against their own best interests based on what the right-wing politicians are telling them and yet, don’t I do the same when I listen to the left-wing politicians?  Of course I do, and I choose to believe it because they appeal to the side of me that wants to see the kind of change they propose.  Putting that in perspective is something that I think we all need to do when it comes to politics. I used to argue with people and have even lost a few “friends” over it but the older I get the more I realize that it’s nothing more than whose truth we choose to believe. Not to say I won’t still argue, especially if the facts are clear, but I’m learning to give others the benefit of their freedom to believe as they see fit. Easy? No…but necessary if I want to stay connected to people I love regardless of their politics.

The same holds true for families.  Funny how families never turn out how we envision they should be. That’s because our vision of how they should be comes from our own perspective of course and everyone in the family has a different perspective. Families are bound together and torn apart by their individual perspectives no matter what the subject is. Our belief systems are shaped as we grow into adults by the people we meet along the way who shift our views and the life experiences that move and change us.  Losses can literally shift our consciousness in ways that we never imagined. Miracles can hold our hearts in places of love and light.  All of these things and more shape our own truths. Sometimes when I listen to the memories of people who are telling stories from the past that I’m involved in I wonder if I was even really there because I remember it so differently than they do.  Individual perspective.

I think we are closest to the people whose beliefs mirror our’s because it gives us common ground. What I’m working on is trying harder to see things from the perspective of people I’m not as close to, who don’t have the same belief system or “truths” that I do.  Some days I’m awesome at it….some days I don’t even want to try but my truth is, it’s worth the effort when I do.

Love and light, always.

Where is the magic?

I just watched a video that brought to me the realization of what life seems to become as we get older. Ironically it was a video about death and dying and how we perceive it as a whole and how the notion of living forever is ingrained into us very early on. Our logical selves know we’re going to die, but we try not to “believe” it. I would guess that is because we don’t really want to face the pain that comes with losing people we love, and in the case of our own death, don’t know what happens afterward and so we simply skip over it like it will never happen even as we prepare most of our lives for it. One of the most interesting things about this video was the concept of children and how we have them so that in a way, we do live forever through them and their children and so on.  I love that. I love the thought that my children will carry me on and their children will carry them on. But another concept in this video was about survival and profit. One sentence made me realize that I’ve been so busy working toward making a living and surviving that I’ve lost sight of just living my life.

I haven’t lost sight of the vision of living my life, but it occurs to me that it’s always just a vision. The consistent need, when I was in my 20’s to just pay the bills and buy the groceries has now morphed into this consistent need, in my 50’s, to do the same. I am still in survival mode despite the fact that I make more money now than I ever have. “That’s just life”.  I hear that all the time but is it?  Or maybe the question is, should it be?  The vision of enjoying each day, being around my friends and family, loving my work and not having boat loads of stress every minute of the day is a strong one. I have friends who are living this vision. I also have friends who are, like me, still stuck in survival mode. Time to break the cycle.

Not to say I didn’t choose this, of course I did. But I wonder when it became automatic. As I’m watching the video this morning I realized that I have ceased to see the magic somewhere along the way. The magic of everyday things, the magic of people I love and what they bring to the world, the magic of life as seen through the eyes of someone younger, all because I’ve been so focused on survival for most of my adult life that I’m stuck on repeat.  I do have an awareness of these things but I want to wallow in them. I want to stop, drop and roll so to speak. Put out the fire that has become my everyday existence. I want to make new choices and quit living for the almighty paycheck because the truth is, we are all going to die. I’m going to die at some point and I don’t want to do that without pure joy in my heart, surrounded by the people and places I want to be, having created more memories than I ever thought possible.

I took my youngest son on his graduation trip a few weeks back. It was his desire to go to the Rooster Teeth Expo in Austin. He’s been following this production company for a very long time and it has been a dream of his for years to attend the expo they host every year. It was the best weekend of his entire life thus far. It was also the best weekend of mine as well and the reason is that I was able to watch his dream come true. In real time, I saw this awakening, this beautiful expression of pure, unadulterated joy just radiate from him. He created a memory that will last his lifetime and I was there. The joy of watching his dream come true is hard to describe and yet, it’s the very thing I want to experience more often in my own life. I’m interested in a lot of different things and it’s high time I start exploring the possibilities.

Am I having a midlife crises?  Eh, maybe…but I would like to think that I’m just waking up.

Love and light your way, always.

Angel Visits

Those who I am closest to know that I talk to dead people. No, really…I communicate with people who have passed.  I don’t advertise that because it’s not something I do for money or for any other reason, it’s just something that happens sort of randomly. I don’t channel them, and in fact, I wouldn’t know how to do that. They come to me in dreams.  There are people out there who believe that it’s “just” a dream but I don’t think that’s true.  I think there are people in the world who just have an energy and an understanding that is just a little higher in its vibration at times and therefore more receptive to what I call “angel visits”.

The first visit was from a friend’s dad.  My friend Roseann’s dad had passed and although I don’t remember the details now, but I know that he was in the hospital with many complications from what I believe was lung cancer.  If it wasn’t cancer I do know that his lungs were affected in a big way. I can’t remember how long after he passed but I had this dream. I was in McGaffey, (for those who don’t know where that is, it’s in the mountains close to Gallup, NM). There were a lot of people there and we were all gathered on someone’s property. It had a cabin on it, and as I remember it seems like it was my friend Wyatt’s family property. Everyone was roaming around with cups in their hands, visiting with each other when I see this figure sort of floating toward me. He wasn’t walking, just sort of floating, dressed in white. His eyes were a little glassy but he was smiling and I recognized him as he got closer. He never spoke and in fact just slowly floated by me but as he passed I asked him, “Can you breathe now?”.  He nodded his head as if to say yes and went by.  I woke up thinking I really needed to call Roseann and tell her he was okay and of course I did, for which I think her and her Mom were grateful. I don’t know how much of an impact that had on them but it sure had an impact on me.  Bear with me here, because this isn’t the only time this has happened.

About six years ago I was having day surgery to have my gall bladder removed. My Dad had passed the September before and he came to me three nights in a row. The three nights immediately preceding the surgery to be exact. The one I remember most vividly was the one where I was standing in my kitchen and he was there. I was so excited to see him my heart jumped. “Dad!” I said. “You’re here!”  I was talking a mile a minute but he never said anything, just listened, and then suddenly I realized why he was there and I panicked. I said to him, “Dad, I can’t go with you now, I have the boys!”  He sort of shrugged his shoulders and went to sit at the table as if to say, “Okay, I’ll wait.”   I didn’t wake up afraid, and in fact was comforted by the knowledge that he really is there, on the other side and that I had nothing to worry about.  He showed up two more times in my dreams prior to the surgery but I don’t remember the dreams, just his presence. It was truly awesome to me that I was communicating with him in a way that I understood, in a way that my tiny pea brain could process and that was through my dreams. Make no mistake however, his presence was real. He was there and as real as if he were standing here today. He understood me and I understood him. This particular visit was big and something I think about often because ever since my Dad passed I’ve felt his presence in a very real way.  I feel his spirit very close to me, I talk to him all the time like he never left.

It wasn’t long after that, maybe a year later,  when someone my Mom and I were very close to committed suicide. Her and I are very good friends with this young man and his family, especially his mother. As with all suicides it is a long and complicated story and as devastating as you can imagine. He was disabled and he was being bullied and manipulated by someone he trusted for money, which made it worse. He was functional, he could drive, walk, talk, etc…but he had cerebral palsy and was slightly crippled, for lack of a better word. His Mom said he was in pain a lot but I would not have known that. He never complained about his physical ailments. No one really knows the true reason he killed himself. He didn’t leave a note, but I think he just got to a point where he didn’t feel like he had any sort of options, no escape from the utter torture and manipulation of these people and one day he locked himself in his truck in the garage and took his own life.  His family’s anguish was beyond words. The devastation left in his wake was palpable. Disbelief, questions, discovery of the people who were doing this to him…all of it leaving heartbreak, anger, confusion and deep sadness.  About a week later he came to me in a dream.  He was driving east on Route 66 in Gallup and we were at the East Y. I was in the passenger seat. He looked a little strange, his eyes were a bit odd. He never actually spoke but I asked him point blank, “Do you feel better now?”…and he nodded yes.  That’s all I needed to know.  I made sure his family knew that he was okay. I told them about his visit and as much as they would have liked it to be them instead, I think it gave them some measure of comfort.  Was it “just a dream?”  Maybe, but I don’t believe so.

Now I’m not much into organized religion, although I don’t fault people who are. I do believe there are many ways to manifest your faith and I do believe in God.  Or rather, I believe in an energy that vibrates on a much higher plane than we do whether you call that God, or the Universe or whatever you call it personally. I call it God AND the Universe and when I pray, which I do on a daily basis, I always pray to God, the Universe and all of my guides and angels. I think we have many guides and angels that watch over us and I see them as the people who have gone before us. I’ve recently been visited by two of my angels, two people who I was very close to before they passed. Anyone who knows me knows how crazy my life has been this past year.  Right now, because of a job change,  I’m living a thousand miles away from my kids, Mom, family and friends and although it’s not a terrible experience, it’s not exactly my vision and so I pray about it every day.  The week before last on two different nights I had angel visits that helped me to realize that they are here, they are listening.  The first angel was my Grandma Jennie. My Mom’s mom.  We were in a house, her and my son Chris and I and we were getting ready for bed. I was in the bathroom washing my face when I saw in my peripheral vision, my Grandma walking by in the hallway. I went into the room that her and Chris were sharing. It looked much like her bedroom in her old house, with the two twin beds, but our luggage was there. I was talking to Chris and I could see her outline in the bed on the right where she was sleeping. I never spoke to her and never actually looked her in the eye, but I knew it was her. Her presence was very real.  The second visit that week was from my Aunt Fern. My Dad’s sister who I was very close to in the years before she passed. I don’t remember the dream, but I woke up remembering that she was there and again, her presence was very real.

I have to say that since then, since those two visits, I feel a lot better about my life and what is happening at the moment. I just feel a calmness that I haven’t really felt up until now and I think it’s because I know they are watching out for me. I know they are here, making sure it all works out and I believe their visits were intended to let me know that I could stop stressing over it.  People always say life has a way of working things out and I believe it’s because God, the Universe and our guides and angels have a way of helping us along.

I’ve had dreams of others who have passed as well but these are the ones that have had the most impact on me so far. These are the angel visits that made a difference in either my life or someone else’s life so far. It doesn’t spook me, in fact, I welcome them because it reaffirms my faith, my belief in the afterlife and it makes me feel better to know that we really aren’t in this alone.  I love that angels come to me. I love that they feel safe enough to communicate through me, and I hope I receive many, many more visits in the future.

Much love and light your way,


The X-Factor

Hello all and happy Sunday!  I love weekends. I spend most of the week wishing my life away, waiting for the weekend and when it gets here, I seriously enjoy every single minute.

It was an interesting week to say the least. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very happily divorced, and have been for 13 years. I love being single, truly love it. That’s not to say it’s been an easy ride. I have two kids. Two very awesome human beings that I have to say, amaze me. They are smart, independent, stubborn, outspoken, honest, loving, emotionally intelligent, wonderful people and I am grateful that I had the honor of helping to create them.

There is the other side to the DNA of course.  I often wonder what attracted me in the first place, but deep down and 12 years of therapy later, I know that it had to do with me, and not him. I was wife number two and we were married for eleven years.  About three years of that were decently happy years. I probably should have gotten divorced eight years before I did, but as anyone who’s ever gone through a bad marriage/divorce, you hang on for many, many reasons. In my case, and I’m sure in many others, it was “for the kids”, because I didn’t think I could make it financially, thought that maybe one of what turned out to be nine jobs he had during the course of that eleven years would make him happy, kept hoping that the kids and I would eventually come first, as opposed to second or even third to the things he wanted, his threatening to leave the state if we broke it up…yada, yada, yada.  Many reasons, all of which culminated eventually into, “it just doesn’t matter, I cannot do it for another second”.  I had a tremendous amount of support by my parents for which I will always be grateful. I never for a second raised my kids on my own because my parents were there every step of the way. Helping when I went back to school, teaching them to fish, shuffling ball practice, showing up to every game, you name it.

The divorce was heartbreaking of course. For me, and for my kids especially.  By the time we finally split I had been so ready for so long that missing him never happened. I could tell many, many stories of the years before the divorce that would curl your toe nails and make you laugh all at the same time, and not once have I missed his presence in my house, or my life. It was nice to have a fairly functional household after all those years of massive dysfunction. My kids had a hard time for a while but eventually learned to live with the new normal. He made true on his threat to leave the state and for the first two years actually made an attempt about every six months to see the kids. It wasn’t long before he met and married wife number three (W3) and that’s when the dysfunction started up again full force. I tried to like her, as did my kids. She made it about as impossible as she could and the drama never stopped. The kids went to visit and my youngest was about eight years old. It was this trip where she refused to allow the kids to call me because she thought since the kids were with their Dad, they “shouldn’t” be missing me. Never mind that they were young and away from home. I finally had to get the kids their own cell phones just so that they wouldn’t have to ask permission to call if they wanted to. Of course W3 hated that and at one point took my youngest son into a room and ripped him up one side and down the other for calling me, telling him what a terrible son he was, taking his phone away from him, and that was just the beginning. One Christmas my oldest son received seven gifts from his Dad and their step mother and my youngest son received a pair of shoes. It was heartbreaking how they treated him, all because he missed his Mom. I could tell horror story after horror story about the emotional abuse my kids suffered by her, and it finally came to a point where, because I had full custody, I made it clear that he could see his kids anytime he wanted to, but he would have to come to them and without his wife. It took a turn for the worse however, when his lovely Grandmother, whom I had been very close to, left me some money in her will. You would have thought I had personally tackled the woman and ripped that money out of her very hand.  Long story short is that I spent a lot of money and time in court just trying to hang on to the little amount of child support he was paying because the two of them fought tooth and nail to have it reduced and I believe it was all over the inheritance.  It didn’t work, but they continued to fight until their lawyer finally “fired” them, thank God. I did hear through the grapevine that they were telling people that his child support was “putting me through school”, which was truly hysterical to me. They very obviously did not know what it costs to raise a child. Regardless, the fight finally eased somewhat.

My ex did show up for my oldest sons high school graduation two years ago, but I believe it was only because he had to file in the court system in our state to get the child support re-figured for only one child, sadly. He showed up the afternoon of graduation, spent about four hours with the kids, attended the ceremony and left early the next morning. This, after he hadn’t even seen the kids in three and a half years. I was truly disappointed for my boys and could feel the hurt, although they both said they wouldn’t have expected much more. My youngest graduated this year.  Neither had seen their dad since the graduation two years earlier. I thought he might make an attempt to show up but he didn’t.  When I asked my son if he was disappointed he said he was, a little, but that the people who really mattered would be there.

I would honestly admit if I thought I was a horrible ex-wife. I tried to make the whole thing work, I really did. My main concern was my kids and I truly made a concentrated effort to help and not hurt the situation for their sake. The kids tried too. We had long conversations about the way things were, about W3, about their dad and why he allowed her to treat them badly. In the end they just wanted a relationship with their dad so they tolerated it until they just couldn’t anymore. Of course there is always two sides to every story but from my perspective I did try.

A little less than a year ago we got news that W3 had died. She wasn’t in the greatest health when he met her, auto-immune disease, heavy smoker, drank a lot, etc…and apparently it finally took it’s toll. I can’t say any of us were heartbroken but the kids felt badly for their father and so they called him to tell him they were sorry. I didn’t call, but didn’t tell the kids they shouldn’t.  They have always been aware of how I feel about their dad and have always respected me when I told them that their feelings about him were theirs and mine were mine. I never had a problem with them loving their dad despite himself and they have never had a problem with the fact that I didn’t love him anymore. The truth is, although the kids have every right to a relationship with him, if I never heard from the man again in my lifetime I would be just fine.

About a month ago, I got a text from a strange number. Turns out it was my ex. “Thinking of you.”  “How are you?”   Four words:  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?   WTF???  Where in the holy hell did this come from?  Surely he’s been drinking. I texted back, “Fine”  just to see where this was heading and sure enough, he wanted to have a friendly chat. A friendly chat. Needless to say I’m floored by this. I was not mean, but kept my answers short. Of all the people in the world, he would not be someone I would seek out for a friendly chat.  I mentioned it to my Mom later, who laughed and laughed. In fact, anyone who knows me and knows my story who heard about his texts, laughed and laughed, after they got over the shock, all of us asking what the hell is he thinking?  Is he delusional?  Two weeks later, it happens again, only this time he’s saying things like, “…wanted to make you smile, hope that happened”…and “I care about you and I want to see you happy.”   ~SMH~

I cannot imagine what is going through his mind. In my head I’m thinking, ok…so W3 is gone so now he’s back tracking? I don’t get it, I really don’t. The man helped to try and make my life a miserable nightmare for years, does he not remember that?  Now, mind you, I am not angry anymore, I simply don’t care. I gave up caring a very long time ago and I moved on. In fact, I moved on the day he moved out and I never, EVER looked back except for my kids.  It baffles me to think that he would entertain the thought that I still care about him, but in the wise, wise words of my therapist years ago…”with a narcissist Joanna, it’s always about them, never about you.”

I will not look back, not for a second. My life isn’t perfect right now but it’s good. I have awesome kids, family who loves me and friends I wouldn’t trade for anything. I will say it again, I love being single. I love not having to compromise on anything, clean up after someone else, deal with emotional stuff that isn’t mine. It took me a very long time to learn to love myself, flaws and all. It took a divorce, therapy, college at 40, raising kids without a partner, working my way up the ladder, being able to support myself and a tremendous amount of emotional and spiritual reflection to be able to say I am an awesome human being. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever give a relationship a chance, but if it never comes along, I am surely going to be just fine.

Sunday morning musings

Hello and welcome to Life, Laughter and the next big thing!  Happy to have you hear reading my humble little blog. (probably won’t stay humble for long)  This is my virgin run….yes, it’s my first so be gentle.

My name is Joanna and I was born and raised in New Mexico.  Due to an unfortunate shift in my job situation I’ve been living in Houston, TX for the last 9 months but all in all I’m still a New Mexico girl.  The town I grew up in is a small town on Route 66 and years ago was a big coal mining town. It drew my grandparents from Slovenia on my Mom’s side and from Missouri on my Dad’s side and we’ve been there ever since. I’m a fifty something, happily divorced, left leaning, halfway hippie throwback who loves really great conversation, laughter, good margaritas, NFL football, animals and their causes, classic rock, a great country two step, the Foo Fighters and there is nothing like awesome polka music!  I like a lot of things and we’ll get into those one at a time, but my two greatest loves are my family and friends.  I have 2 grown boys who  have turned out pretty damn awesome despite their crazy mother and absent father and a tight knit group of friends who I would do anything for. That goes for the groups of friends I have in various parts of the country as well.  I have a good job, but I do wish it was in New Mexico.

That being said, I ended up here in Houston because the fractionator where I was working back home closed down. The company offered jobs but all were relocation only and the one they offered me was a huge step backward. Through connections I took a job with another company but of course it was in Houston, so I’ve been living here since last November.  I have yet to move my household because last fall I had a son who was entering his senior year in high school and I didn’t have the heart to pull him away from the friends he had gone to school with his entire life. There have been good things about living here but the hardest part of course, is being away from my family.  I find myself with a lot of time on my hands, hence this blog.

I’ve always wanted to write, and I have a great story to tell eventually. The thing that occurs to me is nothing ever happens without a backstory.  I used to muse on Facebook but of course that didn’t work.  Facebook is the place for connections and fluff because it’s great to connect with people, and especially like minded people, but the majority of them don’t really what to hear your thoughts on political issues, religion, or the time you fell up the stairs. They really only want fluff…stuff they don’t have to think about for any length of time.  I have a really quirky sense of humor…I find the strangest things funny and I’m well known for being honest. I have a big mouth, I’m not afraid to tell you how I really feel.  What I find however is that most people who tell you they admire that trait, also don’t like it if you’re honest with THEM.  So, be warned…I won’t hold back but I won’t be cruel either. My blog, my thoughts and feelings.  I welcome honest feedback but won’t tolerate mean people. There’s no room for that…not here, not anywhere.

Until next time!