Friday, April 27, 2012

Spice up your pics!

Fun with editing pictures!!!
So, you don't have an iPhone, iPad, Android, or Photoshop on your computer?
No worries my friend!

Check out Photobucket's brand new photo editor!!

Here's an example of just a few things you can do to spice up your pictures...and believe me, there are TONS of options (make sure to check out the Advanced Editor).

p.s. it's all FREE!!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My journey to the center of an onion...thanks to a piece of straw

*This blog is about my own personal experiences. I write them, 1) it's great therapy, lol 2) when you have to explain or teach something, in turn it forces you to research it even more, and 3) I hope that I can inspire others to look at themselves, life, and all that it offers, and maybe, just maybe, go out on their own tree limb, and to become the best they can be! It's not about being the World's Top Model, Top Athlete, or President (though, if that is your dream and goal, then go for it my friend!) What this is about is becoming the best YOU. For YOU. This, in turn, will help you to be the best person for your loved ones, pets, career, etc.
So...after saying all of that...going beyond is not just climbing Mt. Everest. One part of it is going deep inside yourself and figuring out what makes YOU tick. And maybe, along the way, you find something you'd like to fix.
Well, this is my journey into the onion.....*

My Acupuncturist says that happiness is like an onion. It has many layers. (Onions also sometimes bring on tears...and hopefully when we get to the middle, the core, it's happy tears!)

You  can be happy about waking up, a song, your dog excited to see you when you get home, a lover, your job, your hair, new shoes, a new hobby, a travel excursion, money in the bank, the fact that your car made it thru the light before it turned red, just plain-old having a car, an old friend, a new friend, a night on the town, a cup of coffee, the same coffee on a beautiful morning while relaxing on your porch swing.

Ok, you get my point. There are TONS of things to be happy about. Well, I recently realized that I haven't been truly happy in about 14 years. For many years now, I have repeatedly asked myself, "What happened to the girl who used to always smile?? Who was so easy-going? Where did she go? And WHY is she not HERE??!!" And you know those people who are ALWAYS happy and smiling? Yeah - you know who I'm talking about. I would get completely annoyed by them at first, then wonder "God, does she EVER have a bad day?? How can you be human and NOT have a bad day?!", and then finally, ask myself "How do I get what she has?". But just because you're NOT depressed, doesn't mean you're happy. You may be unmotivated for work, your health, working out, seeing friends, complaining and being negative about everything, etc....So happiness is something that really can affect every aspect of your life....

And I guess hindsight is 20/20. But we don't ever really look back at our lives and patterns when things are going well. Only when we fall.

Honesty is always the best policy. Unless it's easier to lie.

I will try to make this short and sweet (believe me, I could write a book!). Basically, ever since college, I have been on a career path that took me to other states, grad school, and eventually, to Nashville. After 2 years there, I developed depression (though I never was diagnosed with it, I'm sure I had it) and other health problems due to the stress of the job. I was numb with emotion. Nothing made me happy. Nothing mad me sad. I was just existing. I changed careers and got involved in music and songwriting. I remember finally coming up from my depressed state, thanks to a man I had the pleasure of spending time with (almost moved to Italy! yikes!). I give him the credit for bringing me out of that dark place. I finally felt strong again - somewhat. I remember having "down" moments after this, and though I would fall pretty low, I was able to get back out pretty quickly. Slowly, over the years, I didn't fall as low. Though I had my moments, they were shallow and short-lived.

But I had no need to worry! There was school, job, and a new-found hobby in music to keep my mind off of all of that silliness!! ...and my parents thought I was a good liar...HA! I was the BEST to myself! Avoidance was the key for me. Don't go there - me, that is - and so no dealing with it. Concentrate on everyone and everything else. Ask how THEY are. Hope they don't ask how YOU are. And well, I'm a workaholic, so this was perfect. This was EASY. "Going there" would be difficult. And probably not so much fun. Music DID provide an avenue for me to vent my feelings. And as time went on, and I learned how to be a better songwriter, I realized I had to be more open and honest about feelings, the heart, etc. Dammit. Talk about therapy. And slowly I became more comfortable with putting in to words, my own thoughts and feelings - into song form, of course. I look back now, and realize that before I became a songwriter, I continually lied to myself about my feelings, and pushed them away, or down, or anywhere else they would go...except to my head. No need to analyze me. I'm just fine! (wow, was I lying).

Anyway, my point is.....I covered up my true feelings - about everything - and just consumed myself with work, music, oh...and failed relationships. 

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I'll make this quick -
I dated a few, not too often, and for not a long period of time. I had the unfortunate luck of picking the wrong ones, I guess, or something (I'm still analyzing). Whatever the case was, they all went on to someone else, or back to someone else. (Side note funny story - one guy broke up with me, and I actually laughed! His reasons for leaving were exactly the same as the previous guy's. Wow.) And never once was I the "one" for them. I am now realizing that they weren't for me. But I guess I was looking to them to give me the attention, love, or something, that I was craving. And when they didn't, I gave more - thinking they would show their appreciation by giving back. And when that didn't happen, I would hide my sadness - because I didn't want to be "that girl" - complaining and bitching about everything, etc. In other words - I avoided the problem - and lied to myself, and in essence, them as well! I also am acknowledging that I may not have been the best girlfriend for them. I'm not putting myself down. I mean, I get the whole don't-cheat-on-your-boyfriend thing. Loyalty has never been my problem. But I think, because I wasn't completely open with myself, I was not open to them, had low self-confidence, etc. Hey, it takes 2 to tango. So we both did things wrong.  But I digress....anyway...this failure on the relationship boat had me sinking lower and lower and lower with each one. Each heartache got worse and worse....(if you don't believe me, ask my friends!).

Until "Raoul"....... (no, this is not his real name, I just like it lol)

The straw that broke my camel

Raoul and I dated almost a year. The longest relationship I had had in 16 years. And then it happened....

He broke up with me. Well, to be honest, it was more like a year and a half, long, drawn out, tormenting breakup.

I.      LOST it.     COMPLETELY.

I won't bore you with the gory details. But it was not pretty. I questioned EVERYTHING. Him. Me. How could someone breakup with ME?? How could he not like ME?? He said I was the best gf! So, what that hell does that mean?? What did I do wrong?? Was I not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, thin enough. You name it, I asked it. And I even had answers to most of the questions! (yes, typically, at this point, the answers were all the same - I didn't feel I was much of anything - to be honest). As the year and a half lingered on, I went further down, and around, and everywhere but up. I traveled thru every stage of grief - shock, denial, pain, guilt, anger, bargaining, depression..and finally acceptance. I think I even made up some of my own stages. I couldn't understand how a person (who, supposedly cared for me at one point) could treat another human being the way he treated me. How he took advantage of my feelings for him. And didn't even see what he had done to me. And on top of it, I ALLOWED him to do this. This new-found fact made this whole experience even worse and harder for me to handle. I became someone I didn't like, didn't even know, and surely didn't want to be around. But I was stuck with me.

I'm a believer that whatever you're feeling - sad, happy, excitement, depressed, indifferent, sympathy, etc. - you should go there. And LET yourself go there. Know that it's OK to go there. Well, I went there all right! And by going there completely, I was able to get it all out of my system, so the only way to go at that point was UP! I hit a point where I couldn't go any lower (emotionally and mentally). I sat there one night and realized - "Well, shoot. Now what??"

And this is where my healing hour at a time, one day at a time. (Again, I could write a book on this, but I'll keep it short. haha! I just realized how loooooong this post is...oops! Believe me, this IS the Cliff's Notes version). I do want to point out that the one thing that truly helped me was acupuncture. I'm addicted! It has helped me so much! I see her for lots of different things, but as far as my emotional state, before acupuncture, I would have good days - I'd be positive, happy, motivated to keep working on myself to make ME better. And then I'd have a bad day, and throw all my progress out the window. I didn't care at that point. But thanks to my weekly visits with Judy (my acupuncturist), I slowly became more stable. More even-keeled. I wasn't bouncing off the walls, all happy-go-lucky, but at least steady enough to FINALLY make progress.

Avoidance is the an imaginary lock.

I have learned that avoiding problems only makes them worse. It doesn't "unlock" anything. I can say now, I hope, whenever there is a problem at work, with friends, family, etc., that I feel strong enough to speak up and address the situation. No matter how big or small. Communication is the key. Especially with yourself. I think the hardest thing in life is to be completely, and utterly, open and honest with yourself. No one else has to know your thoughts. But having a "come-to-Jesus" meeting with me, myself, and I is crucial in figuring out what you want in life, and how you plan on getting it. Then, slowly, you can share your newly-found feelings with those close to you. I took time away from everyone (except for the fact that I had to work). It wasn't out of depression that I secluded myself. No. Not this time. I, I NEEDED to be alone for a little to figure out what I want. I'm too easily swayed by those around me. I had to find this on my own.

I then tried to only surround myself with positive people and ideas. I made a conscious effort to avoid negativity. It's amazing how that simple thing made all the difference in the world! I started noticing things I hadn't in years! I noticed the sun, the stars, the moon, every flower I passed, every road sign, every person. I started seeing the colors all around me - from the gray highway, to the green grass on the side of the road, a lone yellow flower in the yard, a red bird in the tree, to all the colors in a supermarket. I painted my toenails a fun sparkly green! I started buying clothes that were bright colors - not blacks and grays. Again, it's amazing when you surround yourself with color, how your world TRULY becomes even MORE colorful!!!!!

I am continuing to try to see the positive in everything, and it has changed my whole outlook on life. I wondered, at the time, why the break up happened to me? I mean, I'm a good person. But maybe I HAD to go thru this in order to come back out on top...finally. Raoul was my piece of straw. I had to go to the lowest point to know where I NEVER want to be again, and be forced to become happy once more! I work every day at remaining happy. I take time for myself - closing the world out and just be. I stop and take a deep breath when I feel the negativity coming back - and find the sunny side to stay on. I am learning and growing more every day! I know I have so much more to do in this world...and very I'm excited to stay on this bright, shiny, sparkly path!

I hope that my personal story can help inspire someone else, who fights their own demons every day, to find their own path to happiness. Every person is different. You have to find what works for YOU. And be honest with yourself...and you'll make wonderful strides!!!
This blog is just a small part of my path back to ME. The old Johanna. The HAPPY girl!!!

p.s. Check out the widget on the sidebar of this blog for some great books to check out!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stone Door

(Oh no....I've figured out how to make a slideshow on my out!)

I got the chance to go hiking at Stone Door in Beersheba, TN! There are a TON of trails and camping sites in this area...and I can't wait to get back...especially for some camping!
But until are some pics of the hike....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Wish, Hope, Dream

This was painted on the wall of the Safe Haven Family Shelter where I volunteer....
I love it!