Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Category: Nostalgia (page 1 of 5)

Can You Really Have It All?

As you all know by now, every now and then I get the urge to sort through posts from my first blog. Usually, I’m looking for something I can update or expand upon when I’ve run out of ideas, but sometimes I run across a post that I love as is.  What’s amazing to me is how often the posts I find reflect something I’m currently going through. It seems that sometimes I just need to take a look at the past to get a clear sense of my present.
Lately, I’ve been questioning the notion of “having it all”. Sometimes it seems like an impossible order to fill when we all have so many hats we must wear on a daily basis. Life can easily become overwhelming when you try to take on everything, and it’s easy to wonder why we are working so hard.
As I read over the following post, I was reminded that “having it all” is relative. It is absolutely possible, so long as you have a clear and realistic vision of what “it all” means. The key is to watch your thoughts and know that it will all work out…which is something that is much easier said than done.
Below you will find a little story about how easy it can be, exactly as it appeared on “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” on November 18, 2015.
***This post contains an affiliate link. Although I do make a small profit on anything purchased through this link (at no cost to you), I was not compensated for the product described and all thoughts are purely my own.***

 

A fulfilling career. Financial stability. A happy homelife. Great health. Strong bonds with family and friends. Time for hobbies. Personal growth. All these things and more are sure to find themselves on your personal wish list. However, finding the time to devote to all of these things can be excruciatingly overwhelming and prompt you to wonder whether or not “having it all” is even remotely possible.

In fact, that’s a question I have agonized over many times myself. Over the span of my adult life, I have read more books on the subject than I can count. Everyone is striving to achieve some sort of balance and most of us feel as though we are failing in one area or another.

 

Lately, things have been pretty wonderfully for me, and I attribute it to two things:
  1. Changing my outlook from a lens of lack to a lens of abundance and gratefulness, and
  2. Changing my idea of what “it all” really means.
I’m not going to say it has been a perfectly smooth ride and that I don’t find myself slipping back into old habits and ways of thinking. I am only human. However, I have found that the process has been amazing and that I am finding myself ever closer to the life I want.
It’s amazing how much we take for granted in our lives and how much energy we spend wishing we had this or that. We put an extraordinary value on things that we believe will bring us happiness, instead of finding reasons to be happy right now, and never really question why. It’s a hard habit to break.

 

The thing is, when we focus on what we don’t have and ignore the things we do,  we’re inviting that situation to continue. We shut ourselves off from seeing new opportunities for happiness and growth that may be right in front of us. You get what you put out, if all you see is lack, lack is what you’ll get. Keep your thoughts on all the good things you do have, and you attract more good things.

 

The tricky part is knowing where to put your focus. You must do some serious soul-searching and figure out what it is that you really want. What is it that would truly make you happy? What kind of life do you want to live? A successful career doesn’t have to mean putting in 60 hours–although it may for some. A happy family life doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a career or hobbies. The key to finding balance is defining your parameters and trimming away anything that doesn’t serve you. Once you know what you want, you have to go after it with passion, an open mind, and an open heart. Do what you can do in the real world and believe that you can achieve that thing (whatever it may be). Look for new opportunities and creative solutions and then express gratitude when things fall in place.
Now, I’m far from a self-help guru, but these are the things that I have found to be true. I’m sure a lot of you have heard a similar message at some point in your life. Maybe you’ve even tried to apply these principles at one point or another, or maybe you’ve dismissed them as “new age nonsense”. However, in my experience, it works if you stay the course.
Back in August, I read a book called “Anything Can Be” by Jessica Dimas, which is all about applying the Law of Attraction (think “The Secret”). I love the way she approached this topic. I’ve read a lot of similar books, but she writes in easy to understand plain English and really breaks it down. I also love her personal accounts of how these principles have worked their magic in her life. You can purchase it via the image below, and I also recommend you check out her blog, Pig and Dac.
As far as how it has worked for me personally, I can only say that it has made a huge difference in my quality of life thus far. When I started putting it into action, I made a list of the things I wanted immediately that would change my life for the better. I wanted more money coming into our home, more time to spend with my family, the means to make our home more visually appealing, and to start making some sort of profit off of this blog.
Within weeks, things started changing. I got approached to do a review for Mighty Mug and received a free cup from them. I landed a job by chance, even though I hadn’t really been looking. The hours are perfect and allow me to still spend time on this blog. They changed Almost-Husband’s hours at work, moving him to days instead of nights, so we are now able to spend more time together. Our bills are paid up for once and we’ve been able to start working on some home-improvement projects. Things really started coming together, and I foresee many new positive changes in our future.
I could write so much more about how this has worked for me, but it could easily turn into a book all it’s own. Instead, I will continue to keep you updated on the amazing things happening here as they come and wish you all happiness and success as you continue your own journeys. Happiness is possible. But first we must look inside.

 

For Those About To Rock

It should come as no surprise by now that music makes up a huge part of my life. In fact, I think I’ve mentioned it enough that it’s just a given by now. Hell, I’ve even released three books with music as a central theme!

The other night, I was sitting around listening to music with my daughter and we had some pretty great discussions about the different songs that played, like we always do. At four years old she is already full of little rock and roll factoids and it makes my heart smile.

As I was contemplating writing a post about it, I remembered that I had written about how important her musical education is to me. Today, I will be sharing that post exactly as it first appeared on my old blog on January 10, 2014.

***

 

Last night, Almost-Mother-In-Law and I were sitting at the dining room table discussing my concerns that my daughter has inherited insomnia. It runs high in both my family and Almost-Husband’s and we have been fighting numerous sleep issues with her since she came out of the womb. As the conversation progressed, she started talking about what worked for her and her kids when they were small.

“We used to play an alphabet game,” she tells me. “I’d say, for example, animals that start with the letter B and he’d name one, then he’d ask me and so on.”

“I know that game!” I enthused. “Except when we played it with my mom we did bands or songs!” I went on, explaining that it didn’t stop with the alphabet. We’d do bands with a color in their name or songs with love in the title, for example. The games could go on for hours, especially on road trips. I still try to start one up every now and then.

Almost-Mother-In-Law looked perplexed for a moment. I could see the thoughts churning in her head: what kind of weirdo of a mom does that? How is that educational? There’s really people that into music? No wonder Brandyn’s the way she is!

I laughed as I explained that this is the same woman who had all us kids able to name all the members of the Beatles and the Stones by the time we could speak. In fact, a lot of time was dedicated to our Rock and Roll education. We’d listen to the radio and mom would give us a fun fact about the artist or the song. A rocker’s birthday never passed without acknowledgment. The older we got, the more in-depth the discussion became. We’d talk about the meanings of a song, the use of metaphors in lyrics, how to look at things in context. If we were looking for something to read, she’d helpfully guide us to an autobiography of a rock legend.

She also would have bought us this bear.

When we developed our own tastes, she’d make sure we had all the books and magazines we could want about our favorite bands and that we always had the full discographies. She’d go out at midnight to be sure we had the new releases when they came out. She’d listen with patience and enthusiasm while we prattled on about our favorite artists, even if she didn’t particularly like them or already knew what we were saying. She’d take us to concerts and signings, even if it meant a 7 hour drive or going without sleep the night before her yearly trip to Beatlefest. She validated our rights to have our own likes and opinions, to question the world around us, and to be heard. She encouraged our fancies. She made an effort to know what we were into and use those things as a frame of reference for teachable moments. In short, my mom rocks.

Now that I’m a mother, I find myself doing many of the same things. For example, the other day we were in the car and “I Can’t Drive 55” came on the radio. “That’s Sammy Hagar,” I told her. “He’s the Red Rocker. We like him solo, but we don’t like him with Van Halen.” She’s heard things like this repeatedly throughout her 14 months of life. She’s learning that David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, that David Lee Roth is Diamond Dave, that Johnny Cash is the Man in Black, that Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness, Elvis is King and Lemmy is God. She hears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the Glimmer Twins and that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the Toxic Twins. I could go on with the nickname thing, but I think you get the point.

We watch music videos and I point out each of the band members and tell her what their name is and what instrument they play. We work on pumping our fists, flipping the horns, and banging our heads. We dance, we sing. If she responds strongly to a certain song, we make sure we play it often for her. All because I feel that music is just as important to her education as colors, shapes, or the ABCs. It’s a wonderful medium that provides rich ground for all sorts of learning possibilities, regardless of what type it is and I can’t wait to see where this part of our journey will take us.

Now, the funny thing about all this is that not even an hour after having this conversation with Almost-Mother-In-Law, I ran across this. Funny how life can sync up sometimes. For those of you who aren’t going to click the link, it’s a freakin’ hilarious piece about talking to your kids about Ozzy. It’s done in the style of a bit about talking to your kids about sex or drugs, and it just so perfectly captures how my family does things that I couldn’t help but to share.

Maybe your family’s thing isn’t music, or maybe it’s a different type of music. Maybe it’s baseball or it’s larping or something. Maybe your family has many “things”. Maybe your family hasn’t found its thing, yet. Whatever the case, I think shared interests serves to unify a family and strengthen it’s bond. They can provide a starting point for engaging conversations. The more you’re able to communicate, the more chances you have to impart your lessons and values. The more often these come up organically as part of a mutually enjoyable conversation, the better the chances are that those little nuggets of information will really sink in.

Music is how my mom got through to me and I’m grateful that I had such an amazing teacher. I hope that I am able to use the same template to serve my daughter as she learns, develops, and grows, whatever her “thing” may be.

The Inner Workings Of A Flake

I’ve always been a flakey person. I get big ideas and get excited about them, only to shelve them immediately when something new pops into my head. I change hobbies faster than some people change their underwear, and am constantly re-evaluating my opinions on just about everything. I overbook my weekends and cancel plans. I forget to return borrowed items, leave birthday gifts sitting by my front door for months before actually getting them to the giftee, and somehow manage to forget that my phone has the ability to dial out.

I’ve always been this way, and I’ve made some great strides in learning to keep my head down, but it’s tough.

The other day I ran across this old post I had written for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I explored the perpetually distracted nature of my mind.

I laughed as I read through it, realizing that I could just as easily write the same post today. I’m still just taking this thing one day at a time and learning to implement more mindfulness to combat the flakiness.

Today, I would like to share that post as it ran on January 3, 2014.

***

A few days ago I noticed a picture on the wall in my Almost-In-Laws’ den (which is currently serving as our bedroom). It’s a picture of the 3 Stooges on a firetruck with a caption that reads, “When disaster strikes, don’t send a stooge…send three!”. I’m sure it’s always been there, but somehow I never saw it. This isn’t a rare occurrence. For some reason, my brain just flat-out ignores most of my surroundings.

This malfunction of gray matter annoys the living daylights out of Almost-Husband, as he feels it is a detriment to my personal safety. Now that we have a little one, it worries him even more.

I’ve never seen it as a hindrance to my safety, as I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t miss a raving lunatic heading my way or anything that drastic. It is, however, a trait I wish I could get rid of. Mostly I think my brain is too focused on itself and providing me a constant stream of ideas, worries, and insights for me to truly focus on much else. Maybe it’s a product of my unmanaged anxiety disorder, maybe it’s due to my (also unmanaged,) ADD, I’m not really sure. What I am sure of is that I hated the way meds make me feel and this is the way I’ve been for as long as I can remember.

I’d love to be able to be truly present. I strive to better myself in that direction and try hard to make it happen, but it exhausts me. While I’m washing dishes, I’m writing a new song. While I’m playing with my daughter, I’m mentally preparing my to-do list. While I’m watching a movie, I’m analyzing how and why I came to be who I am now. I’m constantly dreaming, thinking, and scheming. I’m imagining a future conversation or mentally revising an old one, contemplating how different things would be if I’d said something different. My mind just never shuts off.

This contributes greatly to my extreme clumsiness, as I’m too preoccupied to look where I’m going. It causes frustrations with others when I have to ask them to repeat what they’ve just said…often numerous times, as my mind drifts off. I lose things constantly. I forget things easily (which might have something to do with my over-reliance on lists).  But nowhere does this state of constant distraction cause more chaos than when I’m driving.

Not only is it presumably dangerous to be driving while distracted, but my lack of observation skills means that I’m pretty much always lost. Even though I’ve lived in the same small, Iowa town for the entirety of my 26 year existence, I never know where I’m going.

 

flakey person, easily lost, confused all the time, space case, Adult ADHD

If it wasn’t for GPS I’d never get anywhere…ever.

It doesn’t matter if I’ve driven the same route a hundred times. I somehow manage to get myself completely lost and confused. This stresses me out, as I know I should be able to get around on my own, and that stress causes more stress to those who have to deal with my stress (which is a task most often reserved for Almost-Husband). Their stress adds to my stress and well, I’m sure you can see the infinite stress magnification that occurs and the melt-downs that can ensue.

I don’t know how to fix this problem beyond trying to force my brain to listen to me and focus, which hasn’t yielded many results thus far. I do, however, have a theory as to where my sub-par directional skills originated.

I think that at least in that particular instance, it comes down to this: as I kid, I didn’t have to pay attention to where we were going, so I didn’t. Some adult (usually Mom) was driving and I trusted that they would get us to our destination, so I busied myself with other things. I focused intently on the music playing on the radio or I contemplated life’s mysteries or thought about which Barbie I was going to play with when I got home. You know, kid stuff. I never once tried to memorize landmarks or took any notice of what was going on outside of my own head. Once I learned to drive, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where anything was. I still don’t really have much of a clue. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve gotten lost in my own home at least once.

Luckily for all of you (I hope), a good portion of my zoning out now leads to amazing blog posts like these. You’re welcome, by the way. For your sake, I hope I never get a hold of my runaway imagination. For the sake of my sanity and that of my family, however, I hope someday I’ll be able to reign it in enough to give people the attention they truly deserve and really be in the moment during those special bonding moments. Additionally, I get pretty tired of being known as the flighty, space cadet blonde who couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag. I guess until I find a solution, I just have to embrace it or drive myself nuts.

The Princess And The Fish

A couple months ago, my daughter and I joined my mother for a trip to my aunt’s house for mother’s day. The weekend away was a fantastic break from reality. Love and laughter filled our time as we made new memories that we will all cherish forever.

One of those memories, however, revolves around disaster.

You see, my little cousin has an aquarium in her room. On Friday, my daughter came running into the living room, telling me how she fed the fish. Since they’d already been fed, the excess food had to be scooped out and we told The Princess not to do it again.

Of course, being 4 years old and bent on helping whenever she can, she did it again the next day. The family gathered around, cleaning up the mess. Unfortunately, this ended with the passing of one of the fish.

When I told my friend about it the next day, she laughed, stating, “I can’t believe she did it again!”

Despite being sad for the poor fish, I laughed, too.

The thing is, two years ago I wrote a post for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I detailed another fish related tragedy.

Today, I’d like to share that story exactly as it appeared on my old blog on April 1, 2015. Let this tale be a warning: toddlers and fish don’t mix.

 

the princess and the fish, funny story, the dangers of combing kids and pets, fish safety, fish and kids, fish and toddlers don't mix, poor fish

 

Last Saturday started like any other Saturday. After loading the little one into the car, we drove the 30 minutes to our hometown to look at what feels like our millionth house. We couldn’t find the place right off, which honestly was a bit of a plus for us. We’re the kind of people who like privacy, and this place definitely offers that.

As we made our way to the door, we spotted a black cat sleeping in a potted plant on the porch, which seemed like a good omen. The house has a lot to offer and I’d really like to make it our own, but that’s not what this story is really about. No, this story is about fish.

poor fish, fish and toddlers don't mix
This poor guy had no idea what he was getting into.

You see, the people who currently occupy the home had a fish tank in the living room. The Princess was instantly drawn to it and we could barely pull her away to look at the rest of the house. Every now and then she’d run off and stand in front of the aquarium, gazing at the fish with excitement.

As we were preparing to leave it became apparent that we were not going to get her away from the fish without a fight. Knowing we needed to go to Wal-Mart anyway, I resorted to bribery. “If you get in the car we can get you your own fish.”

Now, when I made this offer I was planning on just grabbing a cheap bowl and a goldfish. However, Almost-Husband became just as excited as The Princess as they looked at the fish. Before I knew it, he’s talking about an aquarium and getting a lot more than just the goldfish. Ultimately, we wound up going to another store and purchasing 2 fish, a rainbow shark and a betta. We got a bowl to get them by until we got a nice tank. Seriously, I think we were there for about an hour while we decided what we were going to get, with the plan of getting more fish down the line.

If you know anything about toddlers (particularly mine), you know that this was a disaster waiting to happen.

Don’t let her cuteness fool you. This is the face of Chaos.

As we set up their bowl, Almost-Husband lectured The Princess on important matters such as not trying to touch the fish, not putting anything into the water, and not taking water out. She managed to break the first rule within a matter of minutes.

The next day, we sat around watching documentaries on the ocean and researching fish. I know that Almost-Husband and I learned a lot, but I’m not sure how much The Princess actually absorbed. I’d like to think some of it stuck. At any rate, we noticed that one of the fish had fin-rot, so we began looking up it’s causes and how to treat it.

It turns out, grubby toddler hands are a big cause of fin-rot. Seriously, this should have alerted us to the importance of ensuring the fish bowl was out of reach. However, we were foolish enough to think we could teach her to stay out of it.

Monday morning, I stopped by the table to feed the fish. One of them, the one who had gotten fin-rot, had passed away. The other one seemed to be doing just fine though. We decided not to replace him until we got our big tank set up.

That night, as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I heard a big splash. I ran into the dining room to see The Princess standing on a chair, throwing rocks into the bowl. Big, decorative rocks that we keep in a mason jar that is usually out of reach. We had forgotten to put it away after we selected a few to put in the bowl. Oops.

Not only did the rocks scare the bejeezus out of the poor fish, but I’m fairly certain she hit him with at least one of them. After scarring her with my cries of “No! You’ll kill the fish!” and pulling her off the chair, we had a long talk about not throwing things in the water and how it could hurt the fish. She said sorry to him and we went about our evening.

A few hours later I was again summoned from the other room by the sound of splashing. She was reaching into the water. Again, Mom The Yeller reared her ugly head and we had another long talk about not touching the fish.

As I started writing this, I was pretty sure the poor fish was dead. However, a quick glance into the other room proved me wrong. He was swimming happily around his bowl and I relaxed. I wouldn’t have to explain death to a 2-year old after all!

However, when Almost-Husband came home from work the poor thing had passed away. What appears to have happened is that one of the rocks The Princess tossed in there was actually not a rock at all. Whatever it was, it disintegrated, leaving weird fibers in the bowl and making the water dark and goopy. Ultimately, this is what killed the poor thing.

In searching for the moral of this story I’ve come up with a few vital lessons we’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Toddlers are much to curious to trust around fish.
  2. If you’re going to ignore lesson #1, be sure to get a container with some sort of lid.
  3. Don’t spend money on fish for your little one. Go with a little goldfish. I should have gone with my instinct on this one!
  4. Don’t let yourself get excited over a pet that most likely won’t last more than a few days.
  5. Speak up well in advance if you don’t want your partner to use your kitchen utensils to scoop up dead fish. Seriously, I now need to replace my pasta grabber and my colander because, EW!
Maybe one day we will be able to try this experiment again with a better outcome. Until then, I think we’ll just stick with our cat. At least he has the ability to get away from The Princess!

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