Monthly Archives: May 2014

What we will do for comfort.

This is a guest blog from my daughter.  It is portions of her final essay on Kushner’s Angels in America.  I loved it!

People orbit around a central force, mainly our own comforts. These comforts can consist of our religion, our beliefs about what protects us, and in some cases, our addictions. We feel a gravitational pull toward each one of these things, and to venture away from them is terrifying, so when we do leave our orbits of comfort we need thick skins in order to protect us from the world.

Life changes us whether we like it or not, but what Kushner pushes us to understand is that realizing when to accept change is crucial to physical and emotional growth.  Via Harper’s line “people are like planets, [they] need a thick skin,” Kushner suggests that a person’s protection can be damaging if it doesn’t allow for them to grow. [I agree.]

[Kushner’s book] illustrates how a person’s refusal to change can be damaging to personal growth and development in relationships. [Louis,] someone who runs away from adversity, is unwilling to change himself when his life is falling apart; instead, he blames others and his surroundings.

Change is hard, and looking to the past for the feeling of comfort is so appealing because no one wants to give up safety. But Kushner [allows us to see] that when you look primarily to the past, to what is known, you are not open to new ideas; however, if you turn to the future, to what is unknown, you allow yourself to grow and look for new ideas.

Harper, especially, exemplifies this because her life is damaged by her addiction and loveless marriage, but she realizes that in order to be saved she must change herself rather than try to fix her surroundings.  Although her loveless marriage and addiction are comforting in a way, we see that they are harmful to her growth as a person and damaging to her health, so she is willing to fly away from her old self and life to salvage hope for a healthy life.

Prior, like Harper, is willing to accept change because he knows that it will be better for him in the long term, and even in adversity and facing the threat of death, he teaches us to always choose more life, even when it involves completely altering our mindsets.

[So, lets] embrace life for what it is, which is hard, painful, annoying and difficult, but [also] beautiful, exciting and magnificent. This is something that each character in this play moves towards realizing. Through each character Kushner tries to teach us different lessons like accepting change or realizing when our skin, our established comfort, becomes suffocating.  Inevitably these lessons tie back to choosing more life [than comfort.]

XOXO Lovie – thanks for letting me share this.

Have a great weekend everyone!

A boy and his mom’s … what? Drug dealer?

I don’t want to say that life was better when I was growing up, but maybe it was simpler.  Back then we could be out at night without much of a worry — there weren’t the same dangers and fears.

A few weeks back I was coming home late from work.  My drive goes through the same not-so-great neighborhood each time. A few times I’ve seen the same young boy – walking alone with a back pack in this neighborhood.  One time I saw a truck pull up next to him, give him something and drive away.  Last week I saw him and the truck again but this time I was not ready to drive home.

Let me back up: this is a cute boy 10-12 years old.  He’s still got that baby look.  When I’ve seen him before, I’ve wondered how his mom let him be alone in that neighborhood, at that time of day.

This last time, after the truck drove away, I slowly drove up next to him.  I rolled down the window.  He looked in at me and kept walking.  He looked so young.  I told him that I often come home from work this same way and that I would be nervous if my kids were walking home this same time and same location.  No response and kept walking (good … don’t talk to strangers, I’m thinking).

I keep slowing driving next to him and ask if he needs a ride.  It’s now starting to drizzle.  He says “No, thanks.”  I ask him if that “truck” will be coming back to get him, and he says “No.” I ask if his backpack needed to stay dry.  He said it’s just “stuff” for his mom.  It’s “fine,” he says.  (“Fine” is the universal teenage word for “back off!”).

The rain is really starting to come down now but he won’t get in the car.  I ask him if he will please take my umbrella. He stops and nods his head yes.  I give him the umbrella, the bag of popcorn in my car (I’m Italian and always have food with me!) and $20.00.  He looks suspicious but takes it all anyway.  I tell him to remember that he can make something of himself some day.  No response.  He walks away with my umbrella.  I’m left to drive home.

My heart still feels sad.  When I arrived I got my usual greeting and “how was your day,” from my kids.  I realized at that moment that the boy didn’t choose where he was born and neither did mine … yet, look how different (unfairly so) their worlds are.  I don’t know if the truck was a drug dealer or he was delivering groceries (likely not).  Maybe I’m making a huge assumption – I hope so.  But – no matter – it seems to me that life is a bit more complicated now. Deep sigh. 

Keep your eyes open today.  And, be thankful.

 

He said, “I can’t change the world. I can only change my world.”

We all want to change the world, right?  To make a difference that people remember?

Last week a friend said to me that we can’t change the world, but we can change our world.  I didn’t really understand that  …. why can’t we change the world?  Yet, as I thought about it, he’s partially right.  It’s true that a few people can change the world (look at your iPhone), and certainly the people we celebrated yesterday, changed the world.

But for most of us pedestrians, we won’t invent the next big thing … but, can we change the world in a different way?

When I was a kid, my grandfather told me a story about two men walking on the beach. They both saw a whole bunch of fish washed ashore. The fish kept trying to get back to the water. There were too many to save so one man just kept walking, figuring it was a lost cause. The other man began to throw them back one at a time because he realized that while he couldn’t change the whole problem, he could make a difference for a few.  This is what I’m talking about!

But, its overwhelming … so how do we get started?

1. “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa  Making a difference doesn’t have to be an enormous task.  It can be one small contribution at a time.  The key is having the desire to make a difference.

2. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank   At any moment you can do something … what counts is your effort.

3. “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” Buddha  Happiness and love are two of the greatest gifts you can give to the world.  Share them without thinking and you will change the world.

4. “Abilities wither under criticism; they blossom under encouragement.” Dale Carnegie  Love this!  Support others to do changing.

5. “If you have time to whine and complain about something then you have the time to do something about it.” – Anthony J. D’Angelo  Agreed.

Mahatma Gandhi said in his famous quote — “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  This is so true.  You need to change yourself first. Be the person that forgives first.  Treat yourself (and others) with love and care.  Have you ever noticed that when you change yourself in a positive way, the world around you changes?  When you are happy, those around you are happy?

I think it really can be just that easy ….

Have a great day!

 

She had regrets.

Yesterday I was standing in line at yet another grocery store and was chatting with a woman.  She just turned 78 and she was widowed (don’t even ask me how we got to that level of conversation!).  She said that she had a few regrets in life.  One was not going to law school … she wanted to but her husband wanted her to raise children.  The second, was that she stayed married to a man who loved her but didn’t really respect her.  She said she didn’t realize it would be a regret until he died a few years back.  Sad.

It got me thinking: we can all have regrets about “things” we don’t do in life but are there things I can change now to avoid a regret later?  Yes.

1. Worrying about what others think: We all have different masks we wear.  I get that.  But sometimes we spend too much time worrying about impressing others or looking a certain way.  We should not fear judgment by others if we know in our hearts who we really are.

2. Not choosing your own dreams:  The woman I met – she had this regret.  She let her husband pick his dream not hers.  A big life challenge is to figure out who we are, what we want and then to go get it.

3. Being with angry people:  Being with angry people is a choice, not an obligation.  Remember that.

4. Being selfish:  The ones we admire the most are the ones who shared themselves.  This is a struggle because on the one hand we need to do for ourselves. But on the other hand, what we do for ourselves, dies with us. What we do for others, remains forever. Give when you can.

5. Avoiding change and growth: I wonder if this will be a regret of mine.  I don’t love change, but it’s constantly happening to me.  Someone once told me that if I want to know what my future will look like, look at my present choices.  Likely true.

6. Micromanaging:  This is also tough for me.  Some times I have so much going on that it’s easier to manage it than just let it be.  But, I need to let the dust kick up and settle all on its own.  I need to remember that it will all work out, no matter how we get there.

7. Thinking you deserve less than you do: It is easy to settle for less.  But, don’t do it.  Look around you and if it doesn’t look right, rub your eyes and look at it again.  Make a change.

8. Waiting for tomorrow: We do this all the time when we’re younger.  And at that point in life there’s a lot of time in front of us.  But we eventually get older and realize that waiting is not living.  I wish I could help my kids see that now.

Friends, lets deal with our potential regrets now.  It’s a lot easier! 🙂

Have a great holiday weekend!

She said goodbye to her husband yesterday.

Some things are inevitable.  Death is one of them.  Yet, it is the thing we are least prepared for in life.  With any change, we wonder how we will get there, how it will look, how we will feel.

My good friend said goodbye to her husband yesterday and my heart breaks just thinking about it.  We all find a way to move forward yet sometimes it’s incredibly bumpy.  I have no wisdom here only love for all of us who have and will go through this inevitable process.

Change of this magnitude always reminds me of this poem”Autobiography In Five Short Chapters” by Portia Nelson:

I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V

I walk down another street.

To my darling friend: Take your time walking down the street.  We are all here for you.

XO

I sat in the car, in the rain, by myself.

For those of you who live here in Minneapolis, it rained all day yesterday.  I don’t usually mind the rain, but it was cold and I have transitioned to my summer clothes — which made yesterday a bit chilly.

I had a meeting in St. Paul in the morning and drove over there.  No radio.  No talking to anyone.  Just the sound of the wipers and the rain beating on my car.  Here’s what I was thinking about:

Someday, I will hear my last rain fall.  I have no idea when it will be.  I hope it’s a long time from now.  But even if it isn’t, I enjoyed yesterday’s rain.  It was difficult to see at times and I had to concentrate, but it was, in a way, peaceful. It was washing away the dirt from the melting of the snow.  It was washing the dust from my car after a weekend at the ball field.  And, it felt like it was washing over me.

When I got to my destination, I sat in my car for a bit.  No radio.  No talking to anyone.  No wipers.  Just the sound of the rain beating on my car.  Here’s what I thought this time:

Thank you.  Thanks for the chance to hear the rain.  Thanks for the quiet moment.  Yes, just plain, Thank You.

I don’t say that enough.  And, I’m not sure who I’m saying it to.  I guess there will come a day, after my last rainfall, when I’ll know if I’m saying it to anyone but me.  But, until that time, I’m going to say it more often – if for no other reason than it’s a good reminder to be thankful.

Even a dark and rainy day can be an inspiration.

Have a peaceful day.

 

Welcome to Monday!

Here’s my crinkled up note in myself (in my wallet) that I thought I’d share with you today.  I try to replace these once every few months.  This one’s been there longer than that!

Today is a new day.

A fresh start.

Smile – and mean it.

Replace negativity with positivity.

Think happy thoughts.

Run (or Walk)

Drink lots of water.

Fill your body with good fuel.

Be open.

Be transparent.

Inspire yourself and others.

Laugh.

Love.

Learn.

Give someone a compliment.

Make a new friend.

Love an old one.

Do a random act of kindness.

Take a chance on something you are afraid of.

Live your day to the fullest.

But no matter what’s thrown at you today, smile and remember, there’s always tomorrow. 🙂

Have a great start to your week!

Was it my fault?

I may have mentioned that a long time friend did something that really hurt my feelings.  It was pretty bad.  And at that time I was in this process of gently learning to keep personal boundaries. So, I said to him “I felt bad when you did XYZ.”  He immediately got angry, defensive and I’ve not heard from him since.  I’ve left messages, sent emails, but he’s just not going to respond.  It has been a struggle for me to sort through this.  What did I do wrong?

I had a drink with a friend who gave me some insight.  His theory — deep down, we all want to think of ourselves as good people. That we wouldn’t hurt anyone or do anything bad. So in order to maintain that we are good people, we have to create a story in our mind that the other person deserved our bad treatment.  We have to convince ourselves that there was something bad about the other person that made us treat them badly.

Using this theory, I can see how treating people is more about our own internal feelings than how we feel about the other person.  In fact, treating people well helps us like others more and cultivates compassionate treatment of others and of continuing to treat them well – no matter how they treat us.

How about this:

Our feeling of love and support doesn’t come from how others treat us, but from how we treat others, and why we treat others that way.

The “why” is important. When we try to treat others well to get them to like us, it fails and sets up a feeling of being unappreciated and used.  What works better is setting our boundaries and not allowing others to treat us badly. If they continue to treat us badly even after setting our boundaries, then it’s not about us. If they treat us better after we set our boundaries, then we’ve made a potential friend based not on us trying to appease them or doing what we think they want from us, but based on two people who are treating each other well because they like themselves.

This was like a light bulb for me. When other people treat us badly, it’s about them, not us.  They are simply treating us badly.  And, the great thing is that we can continue to treat people well for our own reasons, rather than trying to be a peace maker or trying to “get” people to like or appreciate us.  

Whew!  Needed that one! 🙂

Have a great weekend!

 

Why is it so hard to love our bodies?

I’ve met very few women who liked their bodies. In fact, I can actually think of only one woman I know who is happy with her body.  And, I must tell you, she isn’t a swimsuit model or a stunning women with perfect hair.  And, based on our standards of who “should be” satisfied with her body, she’s not one of them.

Men you are not immune from this issue.  You just don’t obsess about it like women!

My friend has a more peaceful feeling about the body she’s in.  She treats it well, exercises, eats healthy, allows herself to have some less-than-healthy days.  And, she gets more attention from men than some of the most beautiful (physically) women I know.

It’s all about how we feel about ourselves — not how we look.

There’s a lot of negative energy being spent on not liking our body … and it’s the only one we’re going to get.  So, my friend and I came up with some ways to (try to) love what we’ve got:

1. Talk about it.  Don’t treat your body like an alien.  Talk about what you like and don’t like … it might not seem so bad when you say it out loud.

2. When someone compliments you, just say thank you (and really mean it!).

3. Don’t assign values to food. When you eat something because it’s “good” you’re just punishing yourself.  Eat things that you actually ENJOY in moderation and don’t beat yourself up.  You will find that letting up on yourself will actually make it easier to eat those “good” things!

4. Wear clothes that fit you and make you feel good.  I know one thing:  I feel better when I am wearing something that makes me feel good.  That fits.  Even if it’s only three things … wear them all the time!

5. Enjoy moving your body.  Don’t feel like you have to compete with those people at the health club who are working out 3 hours a day … enjoy whatever you are doing to move – even if it’s picking up the s*** your kids have left all over the house!  🙂

6. Don’t weigh yourself.  In Screw Inner Beauty, the authors write: “If your clothes fit the way they did yesterday, you don’t need to freak out. Throw out your scales – they are just little electronic demons squatting in your bathroom, making you feel rotten.”  Love!

7. Avoid negative tapes.  Pay attention to those times when the negative tape is playing in your brain.  Replace it with something fun, dance, sing or remind yourself that you’re grateful to have a body at all!

Even though my friend is ok with her body, she still has self-doubt.  We all do … its human nature.  Loving your body is really, really hard work.  But we’ve got two choices:  (1) keep feeling bad; or (2) find new ways to accept that which we just can’t change (other than our thoughts!).  Let’s try the latter!

Have a great day!

He flipped me off and then killed the ducks.

There are some really angry people out there.  And, they are in weapons of mass destruction — cars.  Frankly, I’m growing weary of people honking if I don’t put my foot on the gas at the very moment the light turns green.

The other day I stopped on the road as a family of ducks was crossing the street.  As I waited, I put my flashers on.  I happened to look in the rear view mirror and saw a car barreling up behind me.  I realized that he was going to hit me or he was going to have to drive on the shoulder to get around me.

Regardless of whether he saw the ducks, he still knew I was stopped yet he had no intention of slowing down.  He swerved around me and looked right at me as he flipped me off.  Unfortunately, the ducks had just gotten to the side of the road and he drove right into them – killing them all but the mother (she became hysterical … ).  The guy kept going.  I had to pull over because I was sobbing.

Why do people lose their mind when they get in their car?  For some reason we don’t hold to our inner standards of integrity when we have 4 wheels under us. When people get in their vehicle it’s like they feel anonymous … shielded from the world.  Maybe a car is the only safe place for them to kick and scream.

Here’s what I want to say to these people:  slow the f*** down!  When you find yourself reacting angrily, or in such a big hurry – take a deep breath.  Are you stressed out?  Are you too rushed?  Is there really something that absolutely can’t wait the five seconds it takes for someone to get their foot on the pedal or 30 seconds to allow the ducks to cross the road without honking like crazy? Do you want to kill someone because you have a meeting?

My kids are on the road now.  And, even if they weren’t we all need to keep our busy lives from getting in the way of driving, using a blinker or not paying attention.  I’ve been an offender too.  Well, not any more.

Frankly, I would have felt a lot better if he had stopped.  He knew he hit something.  Maybe his meeting was too important.

Just another reminder about life — even in my car.

Have a safe start to the week!