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. 

An Airing of Grievances for Goodness’ Sake!

It all started about three hours after my surgery. I ran my tongue along the gums of my bottom jaw and felt the telltale peel-back of skin. For some reason, I’m “difficult to intubate” resulting in getting scraped clear to the bone with the intubation tube somewhere in the process. It’s happened once before, during a finger surgery, nine years ago. I felt the hole in my gum and mentally began preparing for battle.

Week One – no problem. I was down for the count with Mom and Mark on the home front caring for Miller while I cocooned in my sweet bedroom suite.

Week Two – Here comes the mouth pain, which is far worse than my recovering belly. I called the dentist for a sample of Orabase – a paste that dries to the gum creating a type of Band-Aid. It worked last time. Unfortunately, this time the scrape was low enough that my tongue kept dislodging the paste, even after I waited the recommended drying time. Fail. So I try to chew only on the left side of my mouth and stop eating once the pain reaches my temple.

Week Three – Post-op appointment at which my surgeon says the word you never want to hear: “Infection.” Followed by week-long doses of antibiotic. Good news: my mouth stops hurting.

Week Four – I get a weird taste in my mouth that won’t go away – well you did just change toothpaste –  and my throat feels slightly cotton-ball like – you know, one step before scratchy. Corn pollen, Jamie. That’s the corn pollen.

Week Five – I take a selfie with my niece to discover this weird alien appendage, formerly known as a tongue, protruding from my mouth.

Wtf. I get home and use a tongue scraper on it, and then a straw on the way back stuff, and then my toothbrush making me retch like a fur-ball laden cat.

Finally, I cave and mention it to Dr. Mark. “Jamie, that’s Thrush. Side effect from the antibiotic.”

COME ON MAN!!! No wonder my mouth had a funny taste and my throat felt funny.

Thrush Selfie

Thrush tongue tinged green from veggie straws.

This whole debacle reminds me of a pesky sibling who irritates you for the sheer pleasure of getting a reaction. My brother used to stick his finger within inches of my face sending me to shrieking.

“What, I’m not touching you,” he’d say making a poking gesture.

“Jamie, just ignore him for goodness’ sake” mom intoned.

Sometimes siblings can’t be ignored. They keep jabbing at you with a mocking, “I know you are but what am I?” comeback.

The past five weeks have been an annoying sibling. Each new surgical setback is another jab with the finger, another mocking response.

So here’s my retaliation – a good ole fashioned airing of grievances. This isn’t whining, and it isn’t tattling. It’s a simple acknowledgment. Yes I see you, I hear you, and I’m done being affected by you. Are you finished now?

You know what doesn’t help an airing of grievances? Any type of reply, either self-imposed or from others, that begins with “at least”.

At least you had the surgery.

At least you feel better.

At least you didn’t die!

(For the record, no one besides Snarky has actually said these things to me.)

You know what “at leasts” are? Guilt trips disguised as perspective. Negativity guised as a glass-half full reaction. In other words, they’re bullshit.

At least nothing. My mouth hurt, antibiotics made my bowels a mess, everything tasted bad, and then I got Thrush. Fact, fact, fact, fact. No at least. Just fact.

But in the meantime, here’s what else has been going on in my life. I’ve been working nearly every day on the Light Series that launches here tomorrow, and I’m beyond excited about it. It has single-handedly been the biggest, most welcome distraction through all of this. My brother-in-law stayed with us for a few nights this past week (he’s cool), and we spent time with family whom we don’t see often yesterday (they’re fun). I’ve had playdates and lunch dates and Skype dates with girlfriends (girlfriends are lifesavers). I started incorporating bright colors into my wardrobe (and love it). Oh, and my fingernails look amazing. Oh! AND I CAN START WORKING OUT AGAIN NEXT WEEK!!!

That’s the good stuff. That’s where my focus goes. I’m not ignoring the facts; I’m acknowledging them.

Yep, my tongue still feels weird. And yep, it’s really not that interesting at all. But writing this installment?

Now that’s worth my time and attention, for goodness’ sake.

Drop the Disclaiming “W” in Women’s Sports Leagues

I’m reading Abby Wambach’s memoir Forward, and one word – more specifically, one letter – flares up a long time personal irritation: The disclaiming “W” in front of WUSA.

“W” precedes sports leagues as if warning the viewers they’re about to watch women play. It suggests that men are the sport and women are the subs. The others. Either drop the “W” or take cues from soccer’s U.S. National Teams who designate teams equally using MNT and WNT.

I hear Chicago and know the Cubs and White Sox are baseball, the Bears are football, the Blackhawks are hockey, the Bulls and the Sky are basketball, and the Fire and the Red Stars are soccer.

Let city names and mascots differentiate teams for all sports regardless of gender.

Let women’s sports be enough without subcategorizing them.

Let women be enough.

Forward

Thank you to Abby Wambach for being a true leader, not just in soccer, not just in sports, but for all females, women and girls alike.

___________________________________________

Normally Sundays on Commode To Joy are reserved for Human Highlights. This installment takes precedence today.

Keeping Project Overwhelm At Bay

Overwhelm. It can elicit different reactions – walking away, anxious overdrive, fuming fury.

When things start piling up – keeping up with the house, keeping up with work demands, or tackling an undesirable but necessary project such as moving – just start. Pick a place, and start.

Baby Boomers know how to put their noses down and work, keeping responsibility at the forefront. Millennials know how to enjoy themselves along the way by prioritizing pleasure.

Take notes from both.

If you look ahead at all that’s left to do and feel overwhelm’s grip tightening, take a minute to look at all you’ve accomplished. Even if it’s as simple as you finally folded the laundry, you responded to that nagging email, or you packed (or unpacked) one box, congratulate yourself. The tiniest bit of progress is in fact progress.

Stop and celebrate to add in a splash of fun like Millennials. And then? Back at it, nose down, Baby Boomer style.

That’s how meals get made, fundraising campaigns get accomplished, and houses get built. One ingredient, one mailer, one nail at a time.

Wanna keep project overwhelm at bay? Keep plugging away, one step at a time.

Villas

Pictured: a lakeside villa that a crew of just a few men including my dad built
one board, screw, and drywall panel at a time.