Sunday, January 28, 2018


by Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

have you ever stopped - just stopped - and looked around
let the world stand still as you saw a sound

have ever just stopped to see with your ears
to listen to the wisdom of the trees - to know your own fears

have you ever just stood with your face to the sun 
your feet in the sand, connecting as one

have you ever looked out from your haze of great haste
to notice yourself - your thoughts - a life not to waste

have you ever quit thinking... and worrying... and fretting
to just feel with your heart, the majestic sun setting

have you ever looked down to the ground where you walk
to notice your feet near a perfectly heart shaped rock

have you ever just known that you are watched over
then noticed a hawk fly out of the clover

have you ever turned off your daily task list
to notice yourself clenched up in a fist

if you plan to move on, without worry and strife
please stop, look around, and notice your life

the signals are there, in nature, your friend
you are loved and watched over, and safe 'round each bend

but first you must see what you're being shown
and be open and thankful and willing to own

all the patterns you've made, within your own life
that are helpful or not, causing joy or great strife

if you are willing to notice, simply notice indeed
you are already heading down the path which you need

to notice more miracles, more helpers each day
to help grow more love, so that LOVE paves your way

so STOP for a moment.
notice what's being shown.
it's you.
you are loved.
we're all ONE.
you're never alone.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Birds of Peace and A-hole Cats

Last summer at this time I was reading to the kids in the brand new Zen Den, gardening, spending time with my family in the mountains, and riding/grooming/bathing our horses and ponies. It was the first time in years I had felt... at peace. It was shaping up to be one of the best summers of my life. And, best of all, I was loving the ages of my kids and the time we were getting to spend together.

This year is a different story. I find myself in a constant state of stress. I am scrambling to meet timelines, madly trying to keep the house and property in good condition and feeling guilty about not spending enough time reading, riding horses or in the mountains, which in turns means I am not relaxing with my family... or relaxing at all for that matter. In fact, I haven't spend more than five minutes in the Zen Den, and that was just to clean it. Not so Zen after all.

You may wonder why this dramatic change. There are multiple factors. No. Actually there is probably one main factor...

Did I mention that our house is for sale? Oh, yeah. That. The same house that Brock is still remodeling. BECAUSE HAVING A HOUSE ON THE MARKET IN THE MIDDLE OF A BATHROOM REMODEL AND SHARING IT WITH TWO KIDS AND FOUR PETS AND 5,908 TOYS IS SUPER AWESOME. Oh, you say the client wants to see it in 30 minutes? NO PROBLEM.

It takes me 30 minutes to load two rambunctious kids and two idiot dogs into the truck, much less clean the entire house and straighten the yard. Yes, I said "straighten the yard". If you don't understand this term, you clearly do not have boys. I have to untie shit strung across from the playhouse to the Ash tree to the patio, then I have to clear a minimum of ten Tonka trucks and other plastic "outdoor" vehicles, as well as remove scraps of paper, nerf bullets, catfood and dirty socks from the lawn furniture. Yes, dirty socks live on the outside tables too, not one penis in this house limits his dirty socks to just the kitchen island or the the coffee table. Then I have to deconstruct the fort, which was created from the lawn furniture not containing dirty socks. Then I remove the 47 sticks, tennis balls and large pieces of mulch that Red Dog has dropped that morning on the stoop, waiting for something to throw it. Lastly, I do a dog poo sweep, pull a few stray weeds, and say a prayer.

I won't go into more details for now. I plan on crying my way through this process then telling you all about it afterwards. Because I like to tell myself that after enough time has passed, I can make anything funny and lighthearted. For now, I will take any positive thoughts and well wishes, because after you read the rest of this post, you will realize that we need more good stuff and less bullshit. Thanks.

Yesterday, after a struggle with a loved one, my Mom told me about something she had heard on television regarding gifts in your life. It was one of the uplifting programs she watches to keep her friendly and helpful at her job. (She works with the general public, need I say more?) It was complicated, but essentially, the TV told her that you should invite the dove of peace to rest on your windowsill instead of chasing it away.

Well, I like birds. In fact, my wedding cake was covered in them. And my friend even gave me a bird book for my birthday last year. So this bird of peace analogy struck a chord with me.

This morning, after yet again being awoken far too early by my spouse, I opened the door for Red Dog's early morning pee and saw a grey dove (some may say pigeon, I say dove) sitting on the landscaping off the stoop. It was no more than two feet from me. I froze for a minute and absorbed the deep meaning of this bird. It was clearly my dove of peace. As I was watching it, I caught movement from the corner of my eye. In a flash of golden fur, Captain Fluffernutter leaping through the air towards my fucking dove of peace, which took off in a violent flurry of grey feathers.

Damn cat.

No more than two hours later I found myself searching boxes in our vintage camper for something that used to be in the bathroom that is under reconstruction. It was nail polish remover and it's been there for over two months, which should tell you about both my current level of self-care and also how effing crazy this effing slow remodel is making me. Anyhoo, I was digging through a bin in the camper and heard a fluttering. I looked up to see a precious little brown bird (I'll consult my bird book another day) trapped in the trailer. It was clearly another bird of peace. I helpfully leaned forward, away from the open door and said, "Go on out the door."

Just like all the penises in this house, the daft bird didn't listen to me. Instead, he kept wildly throwing himself against the glass.

I sighed and crept into the back of the trailer. I tried to open a window with no luck (the word "vintage" is code for "old and in need of massive repair") As I went for the second window, I saw the birdie flap over to the  corner on the floor. Thinking he was safe, I continued to crank open the window. I turned around to a slamming noise just in time to see Smelly Cat capture the tiny tweeter in his massive saber teeth. Then he carried my bird of peace out the open trailer door where, like a seasoned killer, he swiftly and violently broke the bird's neck. Then he casually spit out my peace bird and sauntered away.

Shocked, I returned inside to my family. Not having a firm plan on the day, I stuffed myself with an array of meats and cheeses, then topped myself off with a blueberry muffin. I was satisfied, but realized the error in my meal planning when I gave into the boys incessant pleading to got to the pool, which required me to wear a bathing suit. Regretting the muffin, I sighed and resigned myself to have fun.

While driving the boys to the pool, my brake light came on. Puzzled because I never set the parking brake, I checked to see if it was on. I was relieved until I entered a roundabout and realized I basically had no brakes.

So, home we went. Peace.

(This post is from August 2016)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Give Elves a Chance

Dear People of the Internet,

Recently, I've witnessed something tragic. It's hate. Elf hate. Now, I'm not one to be divisive (as far as you know), but I would like to take a minute to gently persuade all of the Elf on the Shelf haters to calm your freaking shorts.

First, let me acknowledge that Christmas is often a season of stress for parents: more money to spend, more activities to facilitate, more obligatory time spent with people you may or may not like, more plastic crap that no one really needs flowing into your house... it's a yearly opportunity to balloon up five to eleven pounds on nothing more than sugar, flour, butter and some amazing food product referred to as 'sprinkles'. Christmas brings the added daily struggle of keeping your cat out of an awesome, sparkly climbing tree that you installed in the house and decorated with awesome, dangly, sparkly cat toys.

Christmas is a time when trying to keep the focus on a tiny baby born in a humble stable feels almost impossible, because when the first decorations are displayed in stores (as soon as Halloween is over), the 'Christmas Crack'* comes alive.
*For those of you who've yet to spring fruit from your loins, "Christmas Crack' is a behavior that manically excited children display when the season of magic begins, up until Christmas morning when the floor is littered with wrapping paper and legos and your entire month's salary.

I get it. I really do. Christmas, a season celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, often feels overindulgent, commercialized, overblown, and full of fallacy. Expectations on parents to facilitate that kind of high level magic trick can be not only exhausting, but also utterly ridiculous and unattainable. For this, I blame the Internet. And Pinterest. And Martha Stewart. And the election, of course.

That is exactly why our family is filled with gratitude for our Elf on the Shelf, Ellis. In the chaos of Christmas, Ellis has one job: to sit in the house as a reminder to contain the Christmas Crack and remember to embrace true Christmas Spirit. He sits in the tree and my kids are reminded that they need to practice patience and kindness when they disagree over a game of Pick Up Sticks. He sits on the bookshelf and my kids are reminded to help Dad the first time he asks. He sits on the garland and my kids are reminded to help mom clean the kitchen... and their bedroom... and the prolific amount of toothpaste from their bathroom sink. That's it! He helps! Unlike some peoples' elves, who choose naughty activities, our elf is a mere sitter. A steadfast introvert. He just quietly watches the kids from his position (which sometimes doesn't change when he spares himself a flight to the North Pole, which he does a few times a week). He's a second pair of eyes. And he keeps secrets for the kids, who talk to him and write him letters.

In essence, the arrival of our elf Ellis is truly one of the most exciting parts of Christmas for my kids. They look forward to his post-Thanksgiving flight to our house more than almost anything. He represents kindness, respect, hope, sharing, and the sweetest magic of Christmas. He's helping my kids verbalize their feelings and develop their writing skills. And best of all, he's helping me parent at a time of year when I could use an extra pair of eyes because I'm extra busy with an extra set of tasks. And he is doing all of it with his mere presence. I'm not expected to feed him or compliment him or understand his love language or deal with his passive aggressive BS or any of that relationship burden crap. That's more than I can say for most people.

So the next time you want to sit your angry self down at your computer and really sock it to someone, lay off the Elves, man. They're kind, easy keepers who help people like me and bring a little extra magic and wonderment to kids at Christmas. Yeah... you're right, that's really terrible. So terrible that we adopted another elf this year so that when my kids are grown, both boys could take one of their favorite parts of childhood with them and someday share it with their own families. The kids named him "Junier", as well as choosing the spelling. Shame on us! Down with elves! Down with Christmas! Down with children! Ba Humbug!

Get a grip, people of the Internet. Get off your stupid phones and computers and make some freaking cookies with your kids. Get your head our of your Scroogy behind and sing a flippin' Christmas carol. Stop your sanctimonious judgment and write a note to someone you appreciate. Recognize that hate is born of ignorance, because you clearly have never seen an adorable, innocent child's face light up at the discovery of their own family scout elf. And for the love of elves, stop demonizing other peoples' fun family traditions. Keep the disdain pointed where it belongs... at the clowns, man. At the clowns.