Why yesterday was the absolutely perfect day.

The weather was nice and then rainy – very rainy. It was warm and then cold and windy. I didn’t get a chance to shower until 1. I had to go to the dentist. My dog was fussy and I spent 45 minutes trying to get her in the house (I cried at the 30 minute mark until I found a way to get her in). Then I spent another 20 minutes watching a video on how to teach your dog to “come.” I didn’t get enough work done but I did get some of what I wanted to get done. I had a great cup of coffee in the morning. I helped someone at the grocery store reach a bunch of items that were too difficult to reach. And, I talked with two of my kids.

It was a perfect day because it was not. I’m taking the position that every thing that happens to me in a day, is exciting and new. That’s how I think we can truly start living – when we romanticize our day and our life and look at everything we do through a different lens.

I understand that life isn’t perfect and that it cannot always be just fun (clearly by my day listed above!). But everything I experience (even the f***ing 45 minutes chasing the dog — I know, I know, don’t chase the dog …) takes me to the next experience. In one day, I got to cry and be happy. I had a dance party with the dog in the living room (sorry to my neighbor!) and I laid on the floor trying to clean a dog’s face. I was productive but not as much as I wanted. I lived yesterday as I want to live everyday — experiencing it all.

I’m sure you can find something today that’s new and exciting. Or, look at something mundane (like making lunch or getting gas) and see it as a cool opportunity to try something a little different or connect with someone new.

I’m not sure what today will bring. It already brought me a trip over a chair and breaking my glass. 🙂 So, clearly another of the same – great and not great stuff! But, I’m here. I’m alive. And, I’m grateful.

XOXO

Jessica

“Yup! My Mom Does Swear A Lot.”

I heard that one of my boys acknowledged this fact to someone recently that yes, his mom does swear that much all the time. The. Real. Truth.

There are three kinds of moms: The moms who were always together and never picked up their kids in sweatpants and flip flops (not me); the moms who were smart and capable, whose kids never used the word “like” or less than full sentences (totally not me); and moms who mostly had a baseball cap on to deal with crazy hair and swore like a sailor (ME!).

I think moms who swear are the shit! I remember one time when there was a song or something like, going around in lower school, where the song had a lot of words with different endings. One was *uck. As you could expect, one of the boys said, “Mom – your favorite word could be in this song – F***!” Yup. True dat.

I’m not trying to be cool or edgy. If you know me, you know I’m not cool or edgy. I just swear. It’s more work for me to not swear these days – especially when I’m giving a training seminar for work – then to just be myself.

I loved the study The Science of Swearing where the researchers found that swearing did little (if anything) to harm children or people. In fact, it was the way it was used, rather than it being used. Obviously, using it in an abusive way is wrong. But when I spill my wet coffee grounds all over the floor at 5 am (like TODAY!) and I yell, FUUUCCCK …well that’s ok. 🙂

My favorite swear words rhyme with duck and include, for duck’s sake, what the duck, duck that, and— well, you get the picture. My other favorite swear word rhymes with hit and include variations on this word. Sometimes I put them together — duck that *hit!

People that swear are my people. They make the best storytellers. They don’t take things too seriously. They are fierce defenders of their friends and families. And (in my f***ing opinion) are more open minded. Swearing is how I add emphasis to life. It’s like “very” or “really” but with more truth and punch!

Do my kids swear? For sure. Do I care. No. They know when it’s ok and when it’s not. I guess the only thing I worry about is this: That my kids will keep my grandkids away from me because “GM swears too much.” That better not f***ing happen. 🙂

Have a freaking great day everyone!

XOXO

Jessica

Life is like a traffic light.

Yesterday I ran across the street (with the dog) when the light was going against us. I always feel a bit guilty when I don’t wait for the light to change. As a kid, I was conditioned to behave and act in a way that was socially approved. But as I’ve gotten old(er), I’ve been challenged by the voices of others telling me what is best for me. I find myself doing that for my kids too. But the truth is, we need to listen to our own voice first.

So, how do I try to listen to myself, rather than others (hence, that gaslighting post), by thinking of my life like a traffic light. There are three ways for me to move, stop, wait (or slow down) and go.

Right now, in my life, there are things I need to start doing, slow down doing, and stop doing. I’ve been thinking a lot about what moves me and what holds me back. For many years, I’ve focused on being a parent, lawyer and friend. But there are other aspects to me and I’ve been wondering how can I move in those directions? Are there other things I need to stop so I can start something new? What I need to do is silence my thoughts and listen to what’s inside me in order to know which of the lights I should follow.

After running through that light yesterday, Lily (of course) wanted to sniff the next stop light pole. I forced myself to just stand there, to not run across, but just to listen and look around. I ended up just smiling at the person walking across the street and reaching down and petting Lily. It was the most peaceful 2 minutes I’ve had in a long time.

We (read: me) can be the worst critic of ourselves. We need to listen to our own internal stop light and use it to guide our lives. Take a moment today look at your options. Is there something you need to stop, slow down or move on? Every day is a new day!!

XOXO

Jessica

Letting go of our kids decisions.

I’m sure my kids think all their decisions are great (mine sometimes suck too so – pot/kettle here) but being a parent and watching our kids make some not-so-great decisions is difficult. I’m guessing I’m not the only one with this issue.

I remember when one of my guys was in lower school, he found some candy on the ground at school and picked it up and put it in his pocket. He figured it was lost. The school thought he was taking something that was not his. While I thought the whole freaking thing was a bit overblown by the school (it was a Starburst!), I still felt bad and my first instinct was to blame or question myself:

  • Would this have happened if I’d been a better parent?
  • Or had been more focused on them or talked with them more?
  • Would this have happened if I wasn’t divorced?
  • What about if I had been a stay-at-home parent?
  • What if we had more money. Money was tight at that time and maybe he knew it and felt like he just wanted something we didn’t have?

I get the lesson that the school was trying to make here but what I mostly recall was really looking at myself to find the reason for what happened. Over the course of their lives, I’ve done that again and again, thinking I have some part in the bad decisions they make (of course, why not take the credit for the good freaking decisions they make?!)

Look, we all want what’s best for our kids. I remember buying so many parenting books. They all promised to show me new ways to raise my kids. But, the one theme in all the books which was, if you try XYZ, that will help your parenting. In other words, you, the parent, held the key.

Yet, the science (which is a freaking political word now!) supports a totally different and empowering message, which is – it’s not all about you, the parent. In fact, trying to predict how a child will turn out or make decisions is like trying to predict which way a butterfly will fly when you walk up to it! Our kids are individuals with their own brains and their own experiences.

So, if that’s the case, then we can’t (and should not) blame ourselves for those not-so-great decisions or directions our kids take (easier said than done!).

Now, my kids are making bigger and bigger decisions and I don’t agree with all of them. But, I’ve been working on new ways to manage not only my own emotions, but also to help them in this new stage (the stage where they’re “smarter” (their view :)) than me!):

  1. Keep the lines of communication open. I really try to make every effort to be open and transparent with my kids. Many of you know me as that kind of person and I try to keep the same openness with them. I think they know they can come to me with anything. Even the shit I will be pissed about. Nothing is too big for us as a team.
  2. Understand their point of view. I also want to understand their point of view, as best I can. I’m not perfect and don’t live in their shoes. But I try to help them think of their options. Because, I believe there are always options, including not doing anything when you feel compelled to do something. That’s often fear talking and understanding how to sit and wait with fear is an acquired skill.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say if you think they’re wrong. I think it is important to let your kids know when you think they need to make a different decision or if they have made decision that was not a good one. My kids know I will speak my mind, but that I do it out of love. Don’t be afraid to show them that you have strong views. It will help them do the same thing when they are a parent. And, I believe if you’ve set the framework, they will respect you (but may not be happy in the moment!) in the long run.

My kids know the things I worry about and they also know when I think they’re going too far one way or another. But I’m also learning to give them space to grow, take risks and make (good and not-so-good) decisions of their own. We are learning together. Two steps forward. One (sometimes big and sometimes me!) step back!

XOXO

Have a great day everyone!

Jessica

This dog trait is driving me crazy!

It really doesn’t matter what I put in my mouth, my dog wants it. I actually have started to feel guilty eating when she is sitting there staring at me – as if she’s been starved and the last food on the planet is going into my mouth.

I read recently that there are a few reasons as to why my dog may be trying to eat my food:

  1. The first reason is the obvious one, not getting enough food in their diet. This is NOT the case.
  2. Medical reasons. Nope.
  3. My food smells good. Really? Does she really know when I am having lemon crusted tilapia verses a fake cheese sandwich? I highly doubt it.
  4. My dog sees that I am enjoying my food and wants to partake because if it looks delicious to me, she trusts me and wants to partake. WTF?

The thing is, she’s not barking or making noises. She’s just looking at me. With those eyes. My neighbor told me that in the wild, dogs stare at the pack leader as he eats. This is how they let him know they are hungry and hope to get his scraps. You’re the pack leader, and they are hoping you’ll share your meal. Ahh, I’m a pack leader. I’m liking this more and more.

Still, it’s a pain in the ass and I find myself trying to think of ways to keep her busy so I can eat without that guilt. I remember doing this when my three were under three. I went through a lot of Cheerios as they were thrown, eaten and smashed so I could have five minutes to eat my food!

Yesterday I tried a new plan – ghosting! I just ignored her while I was eating. I didn’t look at her or acknowledge her. I tried to turn my back on her but she got up and came to my other side, sat down and stared. That s***! But in the end, she put her head down and slept until I was done. Good lord – this is a lot of work. Wonder what she’ll do when I open up that bottle of wine!

Have a great day everyone!

Jessica

How she lost almost 100 pounds!

I was pool jogging today when a woman got in with some things around her ankles and water gloves. She had a visor with sparkles (we were inside but I thought the visor was a nice touch!) and one of those Apple Nano’s attached to her visor with plug in headphones. As she started moving I could tell she was totally jamming to her music.

While I didn’t want to bother her, I also wanted to know what was around her ankles! I jog without a belt and I wondered if she had weights to increase her exercise time. There is no way I could jog with weights and I felt super impressed by her situation. She looked to be in her early 70’s.

She eventually “danced” her way over to me and smiled. She introduced herself and asked how long I had been in the pool (I was at 50 minutes and ready to get out!). She told me that the ankle “things” were little flotation devices to help her stay upright

We started talking about why I was in the pool and not running outside. She told me the pool was her “special place” and that she had pool jogged her way out of about 100 pounds!

She explained that the weight loss wasn’t because she went on a special diet. Nor, was it the hour of exercising in the pool every single day. It was deciding that she loved herself enough to make a change. She was quick to suggest that some people might have been happy at her prior weight and that’s ok. But for her – she was not happy and that started her on a path to a different life. She had been divorced when she gained all the weight. And, once the weight was off, she felt more confident, she met someone on-line … and … she lifted her hand out of the water to show me her wedding ring.

As I got out of the pool I was reminded how it all starts and stops with love. The love we feel for who we are and where we are going (or want to go). You can try all the surgeries, diets, expensive clothes … but if you are not happy in your current situation and you don’t love yourself, nothing is going to do it for you.

I live by one major theme (other than love) and that’s no regrets.

It could be a the wrong job, an unhappy relationship or even just the need for something new. If you are not feeling happy in your current situation, access your love for you and consider what you can do now, so that when you look back, you have no regrets. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

XOXO

Jessica

When your day is s*** what do you do?

What advice do you give when your friend texts you and says, “When you just want to cry and don’t want to deal with people, everything is going wrong and your day is s***, what do you do?”

Ahh, I know that kind of day. Yesterday, within the first hour of being awake, I dropped and broke an entire jar of jam, I spilled my coffee on the counter, I dropped a bucket of water (don’t ask!) and it spilled all around the kitchen, including the windows, and the dog refused to give me back my shoe. I generally don’t tell anyone when I’m having a bad day because I think it sounds like I’m complaining. But, I think it’s high time I allowed myself to be honest about these days — with myself and others.

As a business owner, I tend to be the always up, energized, ready to change the world person. But it’s taken me decades as a human being to learn that it’s ok to be open about how I’m feeling. Frankly, I think the first step to feeling better about my day is to accept that I’m having a bad day and allow myself to have one.

I suppose this post could be about creating a list of all the things I try to do when I’m having a s*** day: breathing, slowing the f*** down (which is usually the problem in the first place!), taking a walk – outside, but the most important thing to do is to be extra nice to yourself. That’s just what you would tell a friend to do (that’s what I told my friend!). I also told her to eat something she really enjoyed, look at photos on her phone that made her smile, buy her favorite coffee drink and to sip it slowly.

So, on your next s*** day, give yourself the same love you would give a friend. Or call me, I’ll give you some!

XOXO

Jessica

My expectation hangover.

My daughter came home for the weekend. Ostensibly to hang with her dog. Of course, I had my own motivations. I was looking for some time with her, to talk about life and school and … But, that did not happen. Neither Lily nor I spent any significant time with her. She was out and about (which honestly makes sense for a 24 year old). It left me with an expectation hangover.

Apparently the universe helped me understand and manage what happened this weekend because last month I read the book Expectation Hangover by Christine Hassler.

In her book Hassler says, what we likely already know, that when our expectations are met and things go according to plan, we feel great with a sense of accomplishment and pride! But when life does not live up to our plan, we end up with an expectation hangover. This particular feeling is sobering and uncomfortable.

Life is like this (life being a parent is for sure like this!). Maybe you took on a project that was supposed to be fulfilling, but it wasn’t. Maybe you poured your energy into a race, only to not meet your goal. Or, you planned a family vacation and s*** happened that you didn’t plan! If there’s something I know a lot about (raising three kids as a single parent, practicing law, etc.), things (with kids) almost never go as planned.

Before I read this book, I didn’t have a great word to put on these feelings. But, I have tried to use these expectation hangovers to my advantage. They have often led me to new ways to look at situations, change how I am living, parenting or planning. I leads me to laugh (after swearing) at the insanity that is typically my planning and expectations!

So, this weekend didn’t turn out as I “planned.” But it was still so awesome to see my daughter and it led me to a conversation with her, which was real and transparent. Unplanned but powerful for our relationship.

I love you honey bunny!! Thanks for the visit and for allowing me to cry (yet again) at the airport when I said good-bye.

XOXO

Mom (Jessica)

Love is a choice we make on a daily basis.

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Sam Keen

A friend of mine is struggling in her marriage. She loves her partner but is not sure she wants to stay married. She asked what I thought (which is crazy since I’ve been divorced 1000 years!). Our conversation caused me to think more about how love works in general – especially when the tough part of life gets in the way!

I think love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion. It’s a decision we make every day of our lives. Even when your partner doesn’t pick up after the kids, or spends too much time running, or when they don’t notice something new about you, or when the finances are not going well—you can still decide to choose love.

It sounds simple, but I think that we can all agree that choosing love is anything but simple. In fact, it can be very difficult at times. Here are some ways that I use to try to choose love on a daily basis: 

  1. Let go of the little things. At the end of our lives (or even in the middle) we have to admit that most of the things we worry about really are little things. This is a work in progress for me.
  2. Give more than you take in your relationship.
  3. Look at the world through someone else’s eyes. Seeing from their perspective helps you understand their motivations and actions.
  4. Pay attention. Listen to what those that you love are saying. I mean really listen – especially when they’re saying they’re hurt.
  5. Before you blame, examine yourself first.
  6. Accept and embrace differences.
  7. Validate the feelings of those that you love.
  8. Hold hands or hug anyone and whenever you can. (Italian issue and post COVID-19 of course!)
  9. It’s ok if you don’t see eye-to-eye. Disagreeing can help you see another point of view.
  10. Be transparent. When you are, those around you will be transparent with you.
  11. Put your trust in someone. Trust is fragile. Handle it with care.
  12. Laugh with someone.
  13. Be and speak respectfully.
  14. Say you’re sorry. And, really mean it.
  15. Forgive. And, really mean it.
  16. Appreciate the inner beauty of life.
  17. Love yourself. And, mean it. Really mean it.

Love is definitely not the easiest choice. But, it has the most value and feels so incredibly great! Try smiling through your mask at a stranger today and you will have chosen love.

XOXO

Jessica

Gaslighting.

The term gaslighting comes from the 1938 play by Patrick Hamiltion, known in America as “Angel Street.” It was later developed into the film “Gas Light” by Alfred Hitchcock.

In the suspense film, a manipulative husband tries to make his wife think she is losing her mind by making subtle changes in her environment, including slowly and steadily dimming the flame on a gas lamp. Not only does he disrupt her environment and make her believe she is insane, but he also abuses and controls her, cutting her off from family and friends. Because this film was an accurate portrayal of the controlling and toxic actions that manipulative people use, psychologists began to label this type of emotionally abusive behavior “gaslighting.”

Over the years I would hear this word, but never thought much about how it would work in my own life. Or maybe I just didn’t want to understand how it would work in my own life. I’ve seen it happen to loved ones and recently, two people tried to gaslight me. One, from someone I fully expect it from and the other caught me totally off guard.

People who gaslight, are habitual and pathological liars – there is no “truth.” They will blatantly lie to your face and never back down or change their stories. They find a way to claim (and sometimes convince you) that you’re wrong. You start apologizing just to keep the peace. It’s a horrible way to interact. These people minimize your thoughts, they blame, they discredit you and interestingly enough … they often use compassionate words as weapons.

I have no idea who is reading my blog posts. But if you are being gaslighted or if this resonates for you, remember that you are not to blame for what you’re experiencing. The person gaslighting you is making a choice to behave this way. Nothing you did caused them to make this choice and you won’t be able to change what they’re doing. This is key. It almost never stops until you pull yourself away from the situation or relationship.

In Gas Light, the wife, realized that her husband has been manipulating her and turns the tables on him. In the final scene, he has been tied to a chair by police. When she enters the room, he instructs her to get a knife and cut him loose. But she turns the tables on him and gaslights him back by pretending that she is too mentally ill — a reality that he has constructed for her — to carry out his instructions. Love this vindication!

To the most recent person who is gaslighting me: I don’t care. As I’ve gotten a bit wiser (bit is the operative word here!), I realize that healthy interactions are literally the most important part of life (other than food, water, a long outdoor swim and chocolate). So, I’m not stepping in (she says with a smile 🙂 ). I’m too busy walking my dog, being a mom and friend, and practicing law.

XOXO

Jessica