Monthly Archives: November 2013

“I just need a little more money.”

It’s a normal thought, right?  We’ve likely all said it to ourselves or others at one time or another.

We all know that just a little more money won’t solve anything but our bills (a worthy need, though!).  It won’t make our relationships better.  It won’t result in our kids behaving or listening to us.  And, it doesn’t change the frustrations we feel at work.

Some people (and I’m sure this has been me at times) believe that if they have more money, they would feel prosperous.   Yet, I believe it is the other way around.  When we feel prosperous, we see abundance all around us.  It’s not really tied to money.  When we recognize that our life has love in it, we are able to see the joy around us and we can recognize that we are worthy of abundance and happiness.

“When we seek money, or a good relationship, or a great job, what we are really seeking is happiness. The mistake we make is not going for happiness first.  If we did, everything else would follow.”  Deepak Chopra

It’s easy to look outside for happiness – for fulfillment.  But I believe that the key to happiness is GRATITUDE.  I think that this feeling of gratitude and abundance is the fastest way to go from negative to positive.

This is not to say that life is perfect all the time.  I’m struggling with life issues right now and I often find myself playing my negative tapes.  However, as soon as I remind myself to be grateful for the sunny day, a smile from someone or that warm cup of coffee in the morning, I realize how amazing my life really is.  I’m grateful for the place I’m at — struggles and all.

So, lets take a moment sometime today or this weekend to remind ourselves why we’re grateful.  Hold someone’s hand.  Kiss our children (if they’ll let us!).  Smile at a stranger.  And, watch how the smallest of things will actually fill our days and our lives with happiness and abundance.

Have a great weekend!

Title: Love and Sex or The Gift

I was thinking yesterday about my grandparents.  My father’s parents.  As a kid I thought they had the perfect marriage.  They spent all their time together, although my grandfather would do his morning prayers alone and they were very well read (another alone “sport”).  But, generally they were together.  By the time they got here to Minnesota (they were from the Bronx), they didn’t drive and took cabs or the bus everywhere – together.

When my grandfather was dying, my mother gave me some good advice:  “Ask him everything you want to know. Because once he’s gone, you won’t ever get another chance.”  So, I started going for dinner and afterwards, I would sit in the living room talking with the two of them.  I asked the usual questions: How did you meet?  What was your wedding like?  But, one day I decided to ask the big question:  “I know how much you love one another, but do you two still have sex?”

At this point,  they were in their 80’s.  When we chatted, he sat on the couch.  She sat in a nearby chair with her legs up close to her body — her arms hugging her knees to her chest.  As soon as I asked the question, I saw her blush and smile at him.  He looked at her with a smile on his face.

Before I give you his answer I want to say that their marriage wasn’t perfect.  In fact, I think she put up with more than her fair share. But, she loved him and back then … well, divorce was not like it is now.  I don’t think it was until they were older that he understand the importance of her in his life.  But, you could tell that once he figured that out, he treated her like a gift.

“Honey,” he said, “Love and sex aren’t separate things.  Love is about being in tune with someone’s needs, regardless of the form.  The thing about getting older is that you get smarter and you realize that should put their needs in front of yours.  So, my answer to your question is that I’m more conscious of and in tune with your grandma’s needs now, than I’ve ever been.”

She smiled at him.  He died about 6 months later.

I’ve never forgotten this discussion.  Here’s my takeaway:  In a marriage or partnership (which is never perfect), its about needs.  Whether it’s holding hands or something more.  It’s making the other person feel as if they are a gift in our life (not that we are a gift in theirs).   It’s just what we do with our kids … we put their needs in front of ours.  Why not do that with our partners too?

Now that’s the conversation starter of the day!  Enjoy this beautiful day.

The “whys” are killing me!

I remember the days when “why?” was so cute.  It would come from kids every time a life mystery arose.  And, I could explain the “why” away seeming so smart to them.   And, once they got the “answer” it was done.  That is totally not the deal now.  Now, their “whys” are driving me crazy.

Here’s just the last two times:

Me:  It’s 9:30 p.m. Can you wrap it up, pack up your back pack and get your teeth brushed?

Him:  Why?

Me: Why what?  What part of that don’t you understand?

Him:  Why do I have to brush my teeth now.  I want to eat more popcorn.

Me: Because I want to close the kitchen down – you’ve been eating for an hour now. I want to get ready for bed and frankly, if you want to stay up, go downstairs where I can’t hear the TV.

Him:  Why?

Me: WTF??!!!  Seriously, get the heck out of here now and go get your stuff together for tomorrow.

Him:  Geeze, why can’t you just explain to me what you want me to do.

Me: Are you kidding me?  I have to explain about brushing teeth, getting ready for tomorrow and finishing eating?

Him: Yea.  Plus, I just don’t understand why you are getting so upset.

Me: (wtfwtfwtfwtf!!!)

 

Me: Hey, let’s all go see a movie.

Him: Why?

Me: Because I want to see a movie and there are a ton out there that you all want to see.

Him: Why do we have to go to a movie?

Me: Let me get this straight.  I’m offering to pay for a movie and popcorn…a movie of your choice, and you want to know why?

Him: Yea.

Me: Let me give you a couple of reasons: (1) family time; (2) you’ve been inside all day and it’s good to at least walk out the door; (3) these are movies you’ve been saying you want to see; and (4) I said “popcorn!”

Him: Well, why do we need family time?  We had lunch together (I freaking made lunch while they ate!).  I also don’t know why I need to go outside.  These movies will eventually be on Netflix and we know you can make popcorn here.

Me: ….. (Honestly, there is absolutely nothing to say after this one…)

I think I’m going to start demanding rather than asking.  Wait, these are teenagers.  I think I’m just going to start every request with a “why.”

Why haven’t you brushed your teeth?

Why are there 30 pieces of laundry on your floor and two wet towels?

Why are you still eating at 10:00 pm when you started eating at 7?

Why can’t you put your books back in your backpack after you are done and they are spread out all over the floor and counters?

All great but likely ineffective.  Here’s one that will work:  Why don’t you all join me at JJ’s?  Sans kids. They’ve got popcorn!

Have a great day!!!

 

 

 

My not-so-great self (who visits regularly), really is me too.

I finally had a real night out.  A chance to relax with no kids, wine and dinner! 🙂  And, during the evening the topic turned to this question: Should we (or can we) be our best selves every day, whether with our kids, friends, at work or with a partner?  Can we be that “first date” person every day?

Let me be the first to admit that I’ve got a couple of selves. I’ve got one who is on time, considerate, loving, dresses (fairly) well, is not afraid to do for others and is (most often) transparent. I’ve got a second one who can be late, is not always nice, can be selfish, wears the most bizarre things to bed (don’t ask) and is a scaredy-cat.  I’m constantly moving between these two selves, trying to climb away from one toward another.

So, I wondered out loud at dinner, why can’t I be my best self all the time?  The answer is obvious.  We aren’t one or another – we’re both.  We have great days and not-so-great days.  We can be nice and generous and cranky and fearful.  It’s unrealistic to try to be a singular person.  Frankly, when my not-so-great self crashes, it’s not pretty or fun…but it’s me and those who love me don’t let my crashes change how they feel about me.  I hope that’s the same for you too.

One thing we discussed over dessert (I gave up giving up sugar!) was whether we had ever pretended to be something we’re not.  For many years I pretended to fit into, even when I didn’t.  Whether it was work, school or with a partner – I wanted to do it right all the time.  It resulted in my not feeling entirely happy with where I was.  It wasn’t until I stopped wearing “man” clothes at work,  stopped pretending that I could get it all done all of the time (without a mistake) and when I stopped being afraid of being afraid, that I found my true (ves).

I’ve not always chosen to be with people who accept both my selves.  Know what I’m talking about?  And, that’s the biggest mistake of all.  We must be with people who bring out our best selves and don’t mind our not good days and our fantastic days.  If you are with people like that – cherish the experience.  If not, then turn and walk away.

I’m not staying accepting “that” part of me is easy.   In fact, I’ve often failed at accepting my flaws.  But, quite honestly, from my flaws I’ve found some of my most instructive and interesting experiences (and I’m only 51!).

So, as I start the week (and a 21 day meditation project!), I’m going to work on accepting who I am … flaws and all.  I challenge you to do the same.

Have a wonderful Monday!

It’s done.

Sometimes it’s hard to say something is done.  You know what I mean?  I’m not a hoarder … I don’t hang on to stuff too long (in fact the opposite is true).  But I do hang on to situations (of any kind) too long and it’s often hard for me to say, “It’s done.”  I’d like to think it’s because I’m loyal, forgiving or maybe just not a lover of change (as we all know).  Yet, maybe it’s more  than that.  Maybe I don’t like to say something is done because it represents, what I deem, a failure on my part.

Yet, I constantly forget that failure creates success.  We can’t regret anything, because every little detail of our life, including our mistakes, are what make us who we are.  Here are my reminders as I swim (maybe wallow) in my recent “failures:”

  1. It’s okay. Take time to heal from mistakes.  Moving on from any mistake takes more than a day.  Be ok with that.
  2. There is no success without failure.  I’d rather have a life with failures than a lifetime of regret in not trying.
  3. Positive thinking creates positive results.  This goes without saying.  Things always turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
  4. I am not my mistakes.  Life didn’t come with instructions and I’ve got to accept that mistakes will happen.  No matter how chaotic the past has been, the future is a clean … it’s a wide open slate.
  5. Life’s best lessons are learned at unexpected times.   Sometimes the most unexpected situations turn into the best “mistakes.”
  6. Not getting what you want can be a blessing.  Some things in life fall apart so that better things can fall together.
  7. We create our own happiness.  We can’t make the mistake of waiting on someone or something to come along and make us happy.  I’ve been known to not say it’s done because I fear that my happiness is tied up in the situation.  Untrue – happiness comes from within.
  8. Life goes on.  My collection of mistakes will turn out to be my life.  And, I’m certain that where I end up will be no mistake at all!

Given that I made the “mistake” of missing a post this week, I’ve corrected that on this fantastic Friday night.  Now, I’m going to head out for a glass of wine to drown out my “mistakes” of the week.

Have a great weekend! XO

You can do whatever you want when you believe you can. (Wizard of Oz?)

There’s a reason why people say, “The truth will set you free!”  It’s because every lie, not matter how small, or who it’s to, has a consequence.

In my profession, I hear people saying things that become their truth, their reality, even when it is not actually what happened.  But they believe it!   And, just because we’ve convinced ourselves that something is the truth doesn’t mean it is the truth.  Think about those people you know who find ways to blame others for situations that they really should take responsibility for (another form of not seeing the truth).  Or people who make decisions for themselves pretending like they won’t hurt someone else, just so they can get what they want (a lie to themselves).   Often, right?

Now, I’m in no way saying that the consequences of all lies are bad.  For example, maybe you say to yourself, “Oh, I’m so obese.  I’ve got to lose weight.”  You’re really not obese, but maybe it does push you to lose weight or exercise a bit more.  Or, you tell yourself, you are so over some person in your life, when you really may not be, but eventually the words will become reality.  Yet, in the end, almost all sorts of dishonesty get in the way of us being happy with our respective lives.

Here’s the truth: You can do whatever it is you want when you believe you can.  You don’t need to follow these false beliefs you’ve been feeding yourself about who you are because you are so much more than you have given yourself credit to be.  Be honest with what you want and go get it.  You can move past the lies and negativity of those around you and the tapes in your own head and move to something better.  You are who you want to be!

So, let’s be honest.  We may not love where we are right now – today – or in life but that doesn’t mean that we can’t change things.  This life of ours is a journey and it’s all about enjoying the truth of where we are, thinking about the life we want and then creating it.  A life with love, happiness, honesty (and a glass of wine or two).

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

Cancer-go-away hair.

I meant to tell you about this woman I met last week but I got caught up in life and I also think I just needed to process the “meeting.”

So, last week I went to my favorite “quiet” place (Target) to pick up a few things.  As usual, I really didn’t want to talk with anyone other than listen to the chatter in my brain.  I had no kids and no time constraints.  I needed to pick up a prescription and as I pushed my cart over there I saw a woman in line waiting to walk up to the counter.  Shoot.  I didn’t want to wait but I knew if I didn’t, it could be worse later.  But at the same time, I really wanted to get closer to her to check out her red hair.

She was a beautiful young woman who looked like she should have blond hair.  But instead her hair was a bright, bright red … and short.   As I got in line, she turned to me and smiled.  I just could not take my eyes off her hair and I (not being able to restrain myself) said, “Wow, you’ve got cool red hair.”   “Thanks,”  she said, “It was a gift from my best friend.”   She went on to explain that she had just finished her last chemo session when her friend surprised her with this red wig.  It represented the bright red sun which comes up to start a beautiful new summer morning.  And, now that she was recently done with treatments, every morning was a new and bright day of strength and beauty.  She said that the doctors were not sure how successful the treatments would be, given the aggressiveness of the cancer, but she felt it was good luck to wear it.

Just at that moment a cute blond girl (maybe 5) ran up to us and hugged the woman’s legs (behind her, a nanny brought up the rear).    She introduced me to her daughter who gently shook my hand.  I bent down and told her that I loved her mom’s hair.  She smiled and said, “That’s the cancer-go-away hair.  My mom won’t die if she wears that hair!”  At once I felt sick to my stomach and also immediately full of love for this cute little girl.  I wanted to cry.

Just then I heard the word, “Next,” and the woman went up to get her prescription.  The little girl waved and smiled at me as they left, holding her mom’s hand as they walked away.

I don’t know what to say about this.  It’s the tragedy of life.  It’s the privilege of being here for as long as we get.  It’s the joy and wonder of a 5-year-old girl who believes in miracles.  It’s a reminder to never, ever take even one day for granted.

Have a wonderful day.  XO

XX Shades of Gray.

There are so many things in my world that seem black and white (seem is the operative word).  Even my clothes choices.  I think nothing of wearing all black every day.  It’s easy and decisive.  But if I were to look at my life that way – just one color – it would be boring, cold and I would miss most, if not all of the nuances of the world around me.

The truth is, nothing is more beautiful in life than the different shades of gray.

My boys asked me the other day how I felt about the Hiroshima bomb — “Was it right or wrong?”  I was stunned by such a black and white question.   Yes, I have feelings about that issue but how could there really be no shades of gray?

It’s the grayness of life that allows us to avoid judging a situation or person with the bold hammer of one view.  It’s the grayness that allows us to see the beautiful details so much clearer.   I might even say that seeing the world or even a situation as black or white precludes us from feeling or understanding the emotion behind a problem.

Politics is a perfect example (this is not a political statement, however).  So many people get stuck on one side.  They’re too busy trying to paint their color over everything that they color right over the finer points, which we all have in common.

Or, how about your relationships or arguments with your partner?  Don’t we (me) tend to dig in, to think our (my) position is “right?”  But, by doing so don’t we (me) completely shut out the possibility of the gray? The spot where we have commonality and the place from which we can work toward a mutually beneficial solution?  I gotta work on this one!

Life, love, relationships, politics, business, religion — everything has shades of gray.  When we look at life with shades rather than hard colors, we find that we get closer to the collective emotions of whatever it is we are dealing with (and in particular, those we love) and it’s only at that point can we really move the ball forward.   In fact, looking at the world with grayness really does allow us to experience compassion for those who see the world differently than us.

So, maybe add a few shades of gray to your world today.  I’m definitely going to try it when I get in a fight with my loved ones.   Maybe it will help me see the argument (or the solution) in a whole new light (or at least not in my black and white light!).

Have a fantastic day!

Marriage isn’t for you.

Lately, I’ve been having many different conversations about marriage.  This weekend someone asked me why I wasn’t married yet.  I told her I was scared.  Scared of making a mistake.  Scared about change.  Scared how it would affect me and my children.  Then, the next day, a friend posted a blog post by Seth Smith.  I want to share excerpts of it here for you.  It left me speechless.

“Having been married only a year and a half, I’ve recently come to the conclusion that marriage isn’t for me.

Now before you start making assumptions, keep reading.

I met my wife in high school when we were 15 years old. We were friends for ten years until…until we decided no longer wanted to be just friends. 🙂 I strongly recommend that best friends fall in love. Good times will be had by all.

Nevertheless, falling in love with my best friend did not prevent me from having certain fears and anxieties about getting married. The nearer Kim and I approached the decision to marry, the more I was filled with a paralyzing fear. Was I ready? Was I making the right choice? Was Kim the right person to marry? Would she make me happy?

Then, one fateful night, I shared these thoughts and concerns with my dad.

My dad giving his response to my concerns was such a moment for me. With a knowing smile he said, “Seth, you’re being totally selfish. So I’m going to make this really simple: marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It was in that very moment that I knew that Kim was the right person to marry. I realized that I wanted to make her happy; to see her smile every day, to make her laugh every day. I wanted to be a part of her family, and my family wanted her to be a part of ours. And thinking back on all the times I had seen her play with my nieces, I knew that she was the one with whom I wanted to build our own family.

My father’s advice was both shocking and revelatory. It went against the grain of today’s “Walmart philosophy”, which is if it doesn’t make you happy, you can take it back and get a new one.

No, a true marriage (and true love) is never about you. It’s about the person you love—their wants, their needs, their hopes, and their dreams. Selfishness demands, “What’s in it for me?”, while Love asks, “What can I give?”

To all who are reading this article—married, almost married, single, or even the sworn bachelor or bachelorette—I want you to know that marriage isn’t for you. No true relationship of love is for you. Love is about the person you love.

And, paradoxically, the more you truly love that person, the more love you receive. And not just from your significant other, but from their friends and their family and thousands of others you never would have met had your love remained self-centered.”

Food for thought.  Have a wonderful day!

Are you who you want to be?

I was with some of my favorite people this weekend: my running partners, my dad, a couple of my favorite friends, my former nanny (and her fantastic kids) and my own kids.  With each “group,”  I felt totally myself.  No pretense, no thinking about who I needed to be, what I should say or how I was going to argue a case — I was just me.

This made me think about the person I am and the person I want to be … are they the same?  Am I who I want to be?

It’s occurred to me that the people we miss the most in life are those who are just themselves with us … the ones who it feels good to be around. And the reverse is true: those who really miss us are the people we’re transparent and vulnerable with.

This made me think about how do I go about being transparent and the person I want to be.  Maybe a better way to say it is: How can I live my life such that it results in people feeling good to be me?  And, can I do it in a way that feels good to me too?

The kids and I were talking yesterday about being “good” (I’m not sure I like that word … maybe “positive”) stewards in their respective worlds, but to do it in a way that feels ok to them and is not just for the people around them.  Here’s the list of things we came up with:

  • Smile like you mean it (it’s contagious).
  • Be encouraging (of yourself and others).
  • Share your gifts.
  • Be yourself.
  • Show people you care.
  • Be positive but don’t be afraid to not feel positive.
  • Help others be their best and you will end up being at your best too.
  • Make memories that feel good to you.

I don’t know if any of this resonates with you.  And, you’ve probably got a list of your own.  However, you do it make sure you live in a way that is true to you.  Don’t be afraid of the not-so-good feelings.  They’re normal and are there to be shared with your close friends.   One of my boys loves this quote from Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  To me, this means … Only when you are being you, can you make a difference in your life and the ones around you.

Have a fantastic start to your week!