From Finding Joy to Finding Perspective: Two Years of Blogging

Two years ago I started a blog. I felt nudged to do it, so I did.

First, I researched naming a blog – dos, don’ts, cautions, and considerations – but I wasn’t coming up with the perfect name. I threw caution to the wind, ignored the do’s and don’ts, and told perfection to kiss it. I squished my name – Jamie Muscato – together and named my blog jamuscat.

It wasn’t easy to pronounce, it would need spelled for everyone, and what does it mean anyway? I didn’t care. The nudge was to start a blog, not to find a perfect name and then start a blog.

My tagline was “Finding Joy”. That kind of sucked too because another woman out there had taken claim to the name. Again, I didn’t care. I was coming out of a dark period and was slowly emerging by finding joy. It was fitting, so I used it. Next.

Once I committed to finding joy, I started noticing it in simple, unexpected ways, like in a book that I wrote in the second grade.

EPSON MFP image

Buried in a box of my old stuff that Mom snuck over to the house, this book brought back fond memories and prompted my very first blog post – Sometimes I Think.

I kept looking for joy. I found it while playing with sidewalk chalk alongside my then one-and-a-half year old.

Sidewalk Masterpiece

August 2015

The shirts I had made for our “Moose-Cat-Oh” family Halloween costume brought lots of joy.

Moose-Cat-Oh

October 2015

So did taking the time to document my and Miller’s matching Chuck Taylors (made even better by the matching red lips we acquired in the process).

Chucks

December 2015

In December, after four months of blogging on my old site, I came up with Commode To Joy.

It didn’t quite fit the old theme. Rather than finding obvious joy, I’d be sifting through the pieces of something less than desirable to find the good, the ode, the joy.

The name change made sense to me, because in finding joy, a second phenomenon happened: My perspective shifted. CTJ is reflective of taking a shift.

The goal of Commode To Joy is to make you think or to make you feel. I want you to feel good. Joyful even. Need relief? Lighten up. In other words, take the lessons and the good stuff with you, and move on. Grab your version of sidewalk chalk, and enjoy.

Think of it as an antidepressant using words.

None of this would have been discovered had I not first started a poorly named blog. Had I striven for perfection, I’d probably still be deciding a name. Instead, I went for it.

In two years I’ve organically increased views, viewers, and followers. I’ve gotten paid writing gigs and have been featured on larger blog sites. I’ve written a book (to be published), and I’ve adapted and grown both as a writer and personally.

It all started with a nudge. Even though my stack of fearful what-ifs was taller than me, I decided I was greater than my fears. You are too.

Whatever it is you’re thinking about doing? Less thinking. More doing. Stop questioning. Just do.

If it sucks, it sucks. You can either walk away or tweak it.

If it’s mediocre, so be it. You can walk away or tweak it.

If it’s off the charts outstanding right from the start? Well, good for you, and let me know what that’s like!

The point isn’t to be perfect. The point is that you’re listening to the nudge.

So here I am, once again following a nudge to write about a post commemorating two years of blogging.

Finding joy was the was the warm up. Commode To Joy is the main event.

If you’ve been here since the beginning, thank you. If you’re just joining the fun? Welcome.

Always,
Jamie

T.G.I.F.

It’s a Thursday, with the energy of a Friday.

Mark’s been worn out the last couple of nights. The guy doesn’t usually wear out.

It’s a Thursday, but it feels like Friday.

Friday.

Date nights.

Way before we were parents, one Friday afternoon, I remember thinking, I wish Mark would make dinner reservations somewhere and surprise me with a date night.

Then I thought, Well duh, if that’s what you want to happen, make it happen. Give Mark the surprise date night that you’d like.

So I did.

I booked a reservation out of town, called Mark telling him I’d be taking him to dinner and what time I’d pick him up from work/working out.

It became somewhat of a tradition. When a Friday felt particularly Friday-esque, I’d make a surprise dinner reservation.

Today’s a Thursday, with the energy of a Friday.

Mark’s been worn out the last couple of nights. The guy doesn’t usually wear out. He could use a break.

It’s a Thursday, but it feels like Friday. I could go for some fun. 

There’s only one extra step these days to make my impromptu date nights happen: Find a babysitter.

Thank God for Grandma.

Don’t wait for your partner to initiate the date night you’re secretly hoping for. Love on them the way you’d like to be loved once in a while.

As for me? I like to dote on Mark with words and gestures.

As for Mark? He does things for me – acts of service – a lot.

Like when we approached the restaurant and I remembered they don’t have Splenda and I didn’t have any in my clutch. He walked over to the neighboring restaurant and took a few packets off of their outdoor condiment cart for me.

Yeah, we have each other’s backs. It’s love. Expressed differently. Received the same.


Heaping someone with love is immensely better than harboring resentment for not receiving the kind of love you’d like.

It’s Thursday, but it feels like a Friday.

It’s a Thursday, and it feels like love. 

Skunk or Skunk Weed: “What’s That Smell?!”

Skunks. They appear in many a children’s book and television show.

“Mommy, what does a skunk smell like?” Miller asked a few weeks ago during an episode of Paw Patrol featuring a skunk.

“Stinky.” I answered. “The next time we’re in the car and I smell one, I’ll point it out to you.”

One week later…

We were in Milwaukee, in a parking lot after playing at a park. My friend Molly asked, “Do you smell that?”

“Yep,” I answered.

Weed. Pot. Reefer. Cannabis. Marijuana. Mary Jane. Wacky Tobaccy. The Ganja.
Take your pick.

The stink intensified as we walked to our cars.

“Mommy, what’s that smell?” Miller asked with a stank face.

*lightbulb*

“That’s skunk Miller. That’s what a skunk smells like.”

“Mommy, that’s terrible!”

His eyes were watering from the stench by the time we reached the car. “Mommy, I want to get in,” he pleaded.

Turns out a group of teenagers was hotboxing two parking spots down from us.

Turns out Miller doesn’t like the smell of skunk. Or weed for that matter.

That’s right folks, in one swift decision I taught the smell of a skunk and turned him off from weed. Let’s hope he remembers this when he’s in college.

In the meantime, I’m ready for that Mom of the Year award.

One week later…

Skunk

Miller picked out this Mother’s Day card for me.

Yes, that’s a skunk.
Yes, I bought it for myself.
Yes, he colored inside of it for me.

And yes, I accept it as my Mom of the Year award.

Are You Green with Envy or Tickled Pink?

What if every time you catch yourself thinking “Well that must be nice,” you intentionally correct yourself and say, “Well good for them.”

What if, instead of saying, “I’m so jealous!” even if you’re saying it with a smile, you deliberately change your words to, “I’m so happy for you!”

The snide scoffs imply grudges, that your life is harder or unfair. It’s a holding on to what isn’t good for you. Let go. Let go of begrudging others. It helps no one, least of all you.

Delight for another – acknowledging what you like, even if it’s happening to someone else – is expansive. It opens up room for more. It’s a signal, a green light, a go ahead. Proceed with that fabulousness. Yes!

It’s a subtle, simple shift from bitter undertones to celebratory overtures. After awhile, you don’t even have to think about it. Your automatic reaction becomes genuine happiness…and that feels a heck of a lot better for all parties involved, yourself included.

The next time you catch yourself in that crotchety, crusty, curmudgeon space, make a conscious effort to shift to applauding, wide-smiled enthusiasm.

selfie

My Someday Boobs

I’ve always been a boob person. Sounds funny, but it’s true. Growing up, I was forever stuffing anything round up my top. I’d knot my shirt in back to hold my make-believe girls in place. Tennis balls were my favorite indoor selection. Apples that had fallen from the tree in our backyard worked for outdoor play. Once, I made the unfortunate mistake of picking up two peaches that had grounded from Grandma Alice’s tree. Peach fuzz on soft skin is the equivalent of improperly handling insulation. Ouch.

With mounds in place, I’d strut around excited about having my own real pair. Someday, I thought. Except someday never came. Unlike the apple and peach trees, my chest never blossomed.

By 16, I decided that I’d get a boob job. Someday.

In my twenties, I kicked someday down the road. My practical side insisted I wait until after I was finished having kids. I didn’t want to have the surgery, breastfeed, and then have a second surgery to fix misshapen droops.

Then I met Mark who, thankfully, isn’t a boob guy. “Why do you want to change?” he’ll ask. I’ll think of the shirts I’ve passed up because they gap at the neckline. Of the dresses I’ve put back because the darts hit my armpits. Of the bikini tops that fit but don’t flatter, making me look like a 12-year-old boy. Why wouldn’t you want to change? counters my Snarky side.

At 31, my post-breastfeeding girls were even more shrunken than before motherhood; a feat that I didn’t believe possible.

After wearing gaping A-cups a while, I decided it time to get professionally measured. The store only had a few bras in my size. Or, at least, they were supposedly “my size”, but even they were too big. “Perhaps you should try the training bras,” suggested the sales associate. “I bet a 30C would work.” It didn’t. My small chest sits atop a normal sized ribcage. I couldn’t get the silly little trainer fastened.

Too small for the smallest A-cup in town and too big for training bras, I walked out of the store empty-handed. My ego was as deflated as my negative As. When I got home, I promptly washed and dried my bras on hot. I hoped I could get them to shrink like my boobs. My bras still gap.

No matter how discouraged I get, Mark insists that I look fine the way I am. Bless him. I know he believes it, but I don’t believe it for myself.

In other areas, not only have I accepted my body as is, I’ve completely embraced it. I don’t color my hair, I don’t get Botox, and I don’t ever plan on doing either. I often ask myself, “If you can be okay with your body in every other way, can you be okay with your boobs too?” I don’t respond to that question.

While preparing for our trip to Mexico, I decided to buy some new bikini tops to replace my ill-fitting ones. The last time I bought tops, they were small enough and flattering enough for the girls, but turned out to be too small through the shoulders. Apparently underboob exists even for the small-chested.

When Mark and I take warm weather vacations, we spend a lot of time poolside. Last year, in Phoenix, while lounging in the sun, I remember thinking, “I’m surrounded by Botox, blowouts, and boob jobs, and then there’s me.” While the women were poised and plastic, the men sat around pompously, as if deciding whether to compare penis size or bank accounts.

It was a particularly snobbish resort that I’ve no interest in revisiting. Stuffy to the max. No one dared to ruin themselves by getting in the water. Please. It’s there for looks only, just like the women. So what did I do? A cannonball. I went in screaming like a banshee and came up laughing like a hyena. Heads turned. Brows furrowed. Mark stood in the pool smiling at me.

There was one woman there, younger than me, and equally flat chested. She was wearing a (gasp!) non-padded bikini top. I stared – when she wasn’t looking, of course – in complete awe. I couldn’t believe how brave she was for showing her true figure, and I thought her all the more beautiful for it. No way will you ever be that brave, chided Snarky. Not even someday.

Fast forward to today. I’m 32 years old. For over half of my life I’ve been unhappy about and self-conscious of my chest size. And once again, I find myself poolside, surrounded by implants rising perfectly in thin-fabric tops.

Then there’s me. Also in a (gasp!) non-padded bikini top. It fits well – no underboob – and I like the print. I brought a plain black one too that is strappy in front and was modeled online with a lovely set of Cs filling it out. Whatever.

I’ve decided something on this trip. I’m done listening to society’s opinions of how a woman should look. I’m done passing over a bikini top because I can’t fill it out like the women in ads.

I think of older women I’ve seen over the years. The ones who don’t color their hair letting whites and silvers add their own form of natural highlights. I think of the ones who have let their skin age naturally. I especially think of those who are small-chested, relaxed, and smiling, even in bikini tops. Those are the women I look to for encouragement. Those are the women I want to emulate.

There will continue to be little girls in this world imagining what they’ll look like someday and teenagers who will come to realize that their bodies are different from what they’d imagined. Twenty-somethings will grapple with their womanhood. And petite, self-conscious women might struggle with being a little too small for societal norms.

While walking to the pool yesterday, I asked myself again, “If you can be okay with your body in every other way, can you be okay with your boobs too?”

For the first time, I responded to the question. “You’re damn right I can.”

For all of those females struggling with not being enough, especially in cup size, I will be there – wearing the confidence I had as a little girl with tennis ball boobs and a bikini top that shows how flat-chested I really am.

bikini

My someday boob job will never come – I was wrong in that regard. Snarky was wrong, too, when he said that not even someday will you be that brave.

It turns out I am.

It turns out that someday is today.