Coffee, tears and laughter

I met someone for coffee recently. We’d not seen each other for a long time. We spent the short hour or so catching up and talking about the changes, joys and trials in our lives.

The back story is that I’d not seen this person for many years. That was partly my doing. I put up some pretty strict boundaries. It was the right thing to do at the time. And, it was right for me to hold it for as long as I did. But, for some reason, my gut told me it was time to get coffee and just examine that boundary.

It was an enjoyable hour and I received some wisdom—which was completely unexpected. When I got into my car I heard myself say out loud, “Check.” I said it not in a bad way, but just in a clearing cobwebs sort of way. A taking down of a boundary so I could gently close the door rather than the slam of the door when I first put the boundary up. Am I making any freaking sense here?

When we put up boundaries, we do it to shift the power. Often to take back our power. We do it when people are not respectful toward us and do not deserve to be in our life space. Sometimes, we must keep some form of a boundary up forever. Sometimes the boundaries change. Sometimes, I wonder if the boundary itself begins to hold so much power that it prevents us from moving forward. I think that’s what I’m trying to get at here; maybe what was once healthy (the boundary) becomes unnecessary because we have changed. In other words, it takes up more life space than is necessary.

I’m in the middle of a life shift. I’ve begun writing. I am going to move from my home of 23 years. My relationship with my kids is changing, in a really awesome and freeing way. And I generally feel change is in my airspace. The process can be bumpy and painful at times, but that’s life, right? I wonder if maybe to get to that next place, we need to clear out the unnecessary energy, people and situations and other holds on our lives, so we can open up door number one, two or even three?

Yesterday, I was waiting for an appointment and I saw a deck of cards. I pulled a card and flipped it over. It read, “The Universe Has Your Back.” Ahhhh. Yes, it had my back on this one.

As you move through your life and make decisions that you may or may not be sure about, know that that the “universe” has your back. Or, at the very least, your loved ones do. 🙂

For those of moving into a new holiday period, I wish you peace and time for contemplation. For my other wonderful friends and readers of this blog, yes, the universe has your back, and so do I.

XOXO

Jessica

Death on a road

When I was walking Lily on Friday, we were on a road that is fairly busy. Cars go by rather quickly. As we stopped (she stopped!) to sniff yet another blade of grass, we heard a loud smack!

I looked up to see a flock of geese fly above us. I remember thinking that I hoped they didn’t poop on us. And then I realized that the smack was a goose. One of them had been killed. It was instantly dead in the road and the car that hit it just kept going.

A lone goose seemed to know what was happening and didn’t fly away. It stayed behind. Just standing there on the curb. Maybe it was their partner. It stood there like it wanted the dead goose to wake up so they could fly away together. It seemed distressed and wanted to go over and check on its mate but the cars just kept going and it could not go over to it. It was heartbreaking.

I dropped to the ground and sobbed. I mean lost it. Poor Lily had no idea what was happening but she knew something was wrong and just sat next to me. All I could say in my mind to the one left there was “I’m sorry. I am so, so sorry.”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t love or even like these geese. But this was not just a goose. It was life and death. I could not move myself from that spot. It felt like the world had stopped.

It took what seemed like an eternity for the lone goose to fly away – the opposite direction from the rest. I cried the whole way home.

During the Queen’s funeral (I’m up early anyway) there was a moment of silence. I wondered if the world would be silent—to stop and pray or think or remember.

But the world didn’t stop. I could hear the birds outside my window. The crickets kept going. The cars. It was the same as when that goose died. The world stopped for its partner (and me) but everything else kept going.

I guess that’s what life and death is all about. There is a constant marching of time even when it sometimes stops for others.

My take way that day and today is to be grateful. Thank You. Thank you for yet another day. Thank you for those of you I will speak with today and for those of you I won’t speak with but will think about. I will pray for the angry and lost people in my space. And, I will send healing energy to those who need healing.

Life keeps going and while we have the opportunity to be here, and maybe we’ll just remember it for a moment today, let’s make sure we don’t take it for granted.

XOXO

When you look in the mirror …

When you look in the mirror, you see each individual flaw. Those flaws are the things we fear and we worry about when the light shines too brightly. But even though every scar is illuminated in the mirror, we should just take a minute to pause, to breathe and see the beauty in the whole of these things that have marked us.

I wonder if our external mirror reflects our internal mirror. And does the way we judge ourselves, color how we judge others?

There is beauty in the scars that have marked us. Whether seen or unseen. We really are the only ones who notice them and, as such, we are free to cast them away and to fix our gaze on the wholeness of who we are rather than our parts.

But of course, that is not easy. The world is full of “mirrors.” So, be patient with yourself. Remember, seeing the parts of you as a whole, is simply you getting to know who you are … even if you just start with one moment, today.

XOXO

Jessica

Waiting …

I know someone who is waiting for a health-related test result. Seems like something I would worry about, because, of course, I’m a Jewish/Italian worrier. But this person is really working on remaining present—A tough but important job.

This made me think about how far forward we often look. Excited for our kid’s wedding? We count the days. Looking forward to vacation? It’s all we can think about until we get on the plane and collapse. I do this on my dog walks. We walk fast because I want Lily to get her exercise, but I also want to get “started” on my day (as if my walk is not starting my day—clearly another post).

Racing, pushing, trying to force things forward doesn’t work. Hurrying will not speed up the process, or the journey, or the result. In fact, when we race ahead of ourselves, we often find that we have to go back, to return to the parts we skipped over and go through it all over again.

For sure there are times when we need to press on. We need to get answers. But that just keeps us tense and out of step. If we really want to speed up a process, we need to fully immerse ourselves in the moment and then focus our energy, our presence, our emotions, our thoughts and our hearts. So, I guess the lesson is that when we push forward the an immersed way, it really ends up requiring us to be present in the moment.

How often do we hold our breath and worry about the next thing? I have learned that time will move at the time it’s meant to move. Sometimes fast and sometimes agonizingly slow. For those (read: me) driven by, g-d knows what, it can be really hard to slow down and take in the minutes and moments. We can push forward but we should not let time be the thing that goes unanswered.

I feel like I’m entering the dessert phase of life! What do I want to put into this phase? It’s easy to feel anxious wondering and waiting for what will happen next. But if we trust our inner wisdom to organically show herself and reveal direction … to sit patiently … we will move right past the worrying and experience every beautiful minute of the “waiting.”

Enjoy the day my lovely friends.

XOXO

Just pivot (you idiot!)

When we find something that brings us joy, we have a tendency to do the same thing over and over again in order to get that same feeling. But often, whatever it is we’re doing, becomes more routine than joyful.

There’s a story of a woman who walked into a church one evening at a quiet time and sat down. She was feeling very low and she felt this immediate sense of peace and comfort as she sat there. She thought it was the church that gave her those feelings. So, she kept going … every single night. At some point, going to church became so routine that she lost the joy. So, she went back to wearing the same clothes and the same shoes as she had that first night. That same feeling did not come back. Then she tried eating the same food as the first day and walking the same way into the church … well you get the picture. The same exact feelings didn’t come back. Why? Because those feelings were really inside her, not the church, and she was looking outward, not inward.

Why do we think we can’t pivot and feel the same great feelings? Is that my Italian superstition?

For two months now, I have been doing morning sun salutations. At first, it brought me a sense of peace (it still does at times). I did a certain number and each one was for a particular reason. Then one day I realized I was not feeling the same peace in doing them. I was lamenting this to a good friend who looked at me as if she couldn’t believe I was complaining and said “Just pivot. Do something different.” I didn’t know what to say. Wouldn’t I be a failure if I pivoted. So many of my friends, including her, meditated religiously each day. Why couldn’t I do these stupid freaking sun salutations and have one life routine like everyone else I know? 🙂

Then one morning I got up and made my coffee first, before my sun salutations. It was a slow start to my morning, and it was glorious! Then another day I skipped my sun salutations, made my coffee and watched Lily sleep. That was amazing too! I had pivoted and it was totally fine (in fact, better than fine!). Just letting myself off the “hook” was far from the failure I feared, and I still had that same feeling of peace.

Transitions are universal, inevitable and important. As we get old(er), we’re constantly evolving. And while change can, at times, feel messy and uncomfortable, it’s through these metamorphoses that we learn new things. My greatest lessons have (and continue to come) when I pivot. Even when pivoting brings some initial pain or fear.

So, my loving friends, find a little different path today. And know that peace and comfort will find you there too.

XOXO

Things are working out.

That was the title of my meditation today and it’s fitting. As I intentionally close one chapter and open new one, I’ve been thinking about the faith I have in where I am right now. Steve Jobs once said, “You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

Right now, at this moment, things are working out for all of us. We try to control, shape, and form. We try to manage and keep everything together. We worry. But things are working out. Even if they seem painful at times. Things are working out.

How many times do you worry about something happening (or not) and then when you finally get there you realize that it worked out as it should. Why are we so tied to knowing what’s coming and whether it will work out? Why can’t we assume it will?

If you google “things will work out as planned” there are way more hits about what to do when something is not working out. The internet reflects our algorithm of searches … so are we all searching about things not working out?

Granted, things may not always work out the way we originally thought or envisioned, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work out. Often, they’re far better than originally expected.

Let’s stop beating ourselves up and hurting on the inside because we think that we’ve not done enough. I believe that no matter what we do, we have given it our all. We have made our best efforts. We can’t go crazy worrying about how to do it better. Trust and allow yourself to give things up to faith or the universe.

Let’s believe in our lives. Frankly, let’s reclaim our lives. Let’s stop worrying about whether it will work out and instead have faith that it will.

Even when things seem imperfect, painful or just plain scary, let’s remind ourselves that we’re ok and that things are working out just as they should.

XOXO

Jessica

They scared the sh** out of my dog.

I recently went for a walk with a friend. She has two big dogs (maybe Huskies?) and at some point midway through the walk, they wanted to play with Lily but somehow they scared the s*** out of her. I mean scared her to the point that I literally had to drag her, because by the time this happened we were a good 1/2 mile from the car.

All the while, when we were walking, my friend’s dogs were pulling her and yanking and wanting to “visit” with Lily and the entire scene seemed so chaotic! But my friend, was so calm. She was not apologetic (and she didn’t need to be!). She just kept on walking and smiling and talking. I would have apologized a million times—but why? These were just dogs being dogs!

It was the most calming, chaotic experience I’ve had in a long time!

It made me think about how we, as westerners, (read: me) say “I’m sorry” way too much. I know for sure that I over-apologize, and often for things that aren’t my fault. I once said sorry to a trash can after walking into it. I mean really, Jessica?

I think we say sorry so often as a way to ease our mind because we’re often worried about other people’s opinions of us. The word now slips out of my mouth for every perceived slight I think I may have caused. But I’m coming to realize that so many apologies affects our view of ourselves.

As we were walking and talking about life, we both recognized that in different situations we are being held responsible for s*** that’s not our fault. In those situations (and for many of us) my initial reaction is to say “I’m sorry.” But maybe the better way to respond is to say “Thanks for telling me,” or “Good catch” or “Time to do better.” These words are more empowering and take the away pressure we put on ourselves for things we can’t control.

While we can and should apologize for past mistakes (and who defines mistakes as opposed to “best we could do at the time”?)—the past is the past. It cannot be changed and we each own our own process for moving forward and letting go. Either we choose to point fingers or we take a look at whether the narrative is really serving any good in our lives.

I think this new year I’m going to focus on my own opinion of myself, rather than how others perceive me. Consciously and immediately forgiving ourselves over everyday and past mistakes is a way to improve our state of mind and takes back control over our lives, which of course we all deserve to have. So today, instead of saying “I’m sorry” say, “I really do appreciate the feedback. It’s duly noted and I can do better.”

Enjoy your day everyone!

XOXO

Her skirt was inside out (and backwards, I think).

I was out for a run on Saturday and when I got close to a corner, I noticed a woman sitting there with a sign “I need help and Money.” As I got closer, I saw she had a skirt on with tall socks and her skirt was clearly not on “correctly.”

I stopped at the corner (because, I’m always looking for an excuse to stop) and asked if I could help her. She told me that she needed money. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I didn’t have any money with me. What I did have was a bottle of water, which I had not yet used. I offered it to her.

She asked why I was running and where was I going. Great questions! I told her I was just going to run around the area and I was running to relieve stress. She looked at me for a second and then asked me the most important question of my life: What was I stressed about?

I felt like crying.

How could I possibly compare any stress in my life to hers? What kind of narrative have I been telling myself all these running years. I have so much in my life, what the F*** am I stressed about?

She told me that she never gets stressed out. She said that she needs money and sometimes needs food but she isn’t ever stressed out (she also said she’s not sure what stressed out really is so she didn’t think she had it – so sweet!)

I thanked her for the advice. She looked at me as if she had no idea why I had just thanked her. She thanked me for the water. And, I walked (not ran) away.

Life perspective. I needed it.

XOXO

Jessica

He told me to “shut up” and I wondered, how should I respond to that?

Someone screamed at me recently to shut up. Now, for sure I was trying to make a point at that very moment. But someone screaming those words at me really made me stop and think: is this their issue or mine?

Interestingly, these words came at a time when I’ve been thinking a lot about respect.

In my business life, I try (most times—not always!) to find a way to show respect for those on the other side of my cases. But, one of the things I have found to be most difficult in life is being around people for whom I feel little respect. More specifically, I find it difficult to control my own behavior around those I don’t respect.

There are many reasons why I might find it hard to respect someone. But, whatever the reason, at some point it’s fairly likely that this person will say something that pisses me off (or vice versa). Then, after I’ve lost my s***, I ruminate about the interaction and wish over and over again I had kept my cool.

Yes, this person’s words or actions upset me. But, how I respond to my emotions is my responsibility. It’s how I show myself respect.

When we lose our “cool” we are more focused on our own physical reaction (anger, tears, etc) and their stupid words, rather than controlling our own emotions. Because the truth is, when we let someone get to us, we often feel shame. Focusing on managing our own emotions and how we want to leave the conversation should be paramount.

Also, what does “winning” look like in those conversations? Putting the other person down, saying mean things to them or to others about them, only feels good in the moment. It does not advance my own life ball and that’s all I have control over. Again, respect, compassion and love for me means I don’t have to “win” because I’m good … I’m ok in my space, and it frees me from the impulse to compete or “say back” with others.

Finally, I’m also learning (and you can learn at my ripe old age!), that we can’t change anyone’s mind about us. And, I don’t need to. But I also have no interest (nor the energy) to change someone’s negative narrative about me. I will always be there for people. I will always try (operative word) to do the right thing, and I will always make mistakes. But, I will also always respect and love myself. If others jump on the bandwagon, great. If not, then not.

I know it’s cliche, but life is short. Don’t spend it looking back. Respect yourself, and all other good things will follow (and try not to say “shut up” to other people! LOL)

XOXO

Jessica

Thailand: The Elegance of Simplicity

We recently went to Thailand, and I was struck many things, the heat, the food, the motorcycles and importantly, the simplicity of life. I wondered if I could find that same simplicity at home—in the middle of the craziness of my world. There were so many people we met there who were happy and felt successful. But in the US, would they be seen as successful? Maybe not and that seems a bit screwed up.

Over the course of our lives, we’ve measured success differently. When we were younger, we measured success by the number of our friends, or our being in sports, the college or grad school we got into. Then there was the period of time where we measured success by our choice in partners, our jobs, money and how well our kids did in school or in life (this is a topic for an entire post!).

But since Thailand (and I guess even before), I’ve been considering my measure of success. John Wooden, one of the of the most successful basketball coaches of all-time, took an approach to measuring success that I love: “Don’t measure yourself by what you’ve accomplished, but rather by what you should have accomplished with your abilities.” His book, Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, was an incredible reminder to me of something I’ve known all along: focus on what you can control.

The book inspired me to relook at how I measure my success and allowed me to develop some new “lane lines” for my life:

  1. Compare yourself only to yourself. According to Wooden “True success is attained only through the satisfaction of knowing you did everything within the limits of your ability to become the very best that you are capable of being.” Love it.
  2. Measure success by what’s hard to measure. Money, trips, things, etc. are easy to measure. I want to measure my life by what’s hard to measure: mental and physical health, relationships, passion and joy.
  3. Measure success over the long haul. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens overnight.
  4. Measure the “right” outcomes. The number of books I read means nothing. The number of books I read where I retain something, and share it with others, means something.
  5. Finally, and most importantly, measure success by values. Highly motivated people often focus too much on execution without spending enough time to think about what (and really why) to execute in the first place. I want to measure my success by doing what fits my life values.

Thailand was beautiful, amazing and inspiring. I learned so much about myself and the positive and not-so-helpful things in my life that I need to shed, in order to enjoy this cool new phase of life. Thailand also helped me find a more robust (and frankly more elegant) way of measuring my success!

XOXO

Jessica