Monthly Archives: May 2014

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!

Everyone deserves love today.

On a day when we are supposed to focus on “mom,” it hits me that there are many people who don’t have that title, that deserve love from me today.  There have been many “moms” in my life over the years.  People who have taken care of me after my mom was gone, people who were there for me in times when I couldn’t do for myself.

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate Mother’s Day and there are so many different kinds of “moms” out there. No one-size-fits-all. In fact, I think there are many people who are not getting cards or praise from us and they should.  There are also many people who don’t find this day particularly happy.

To my friends who have lost a child – I am so sorry.  I know this is a day of mourning and not a day of celebration.  Whether it was your only child or you have more – this day will be filled with love and with heartache.  My heart is with you today.

To my friends who are motherless, this is a tough day.  I tell my mom as often as I can, that I love her.  I wonder if she can hear or feel me.

To my friends who chose not to have children or couldn’t, life is not black and white and there is no right or wrong to how we end up living our lives.  Enjoy today and embrace the love you’ve given to others.

To those who have given up children for adoption.  You are the most selfless of us all.  Every decision opens new doors and directions not just for us but for all those involved.  I hope you have peace in your decision today.

To you single dads out there.  Celebrate all you’ve done.  It is not easy doing it as a woman.  It must be so much harder filling both roles.  This day is not just for women so enjoy it too!

Yesterday I heard about a 61 year old woman, whose husband just died, and she is now raising someone else’s 6 year old by herself.  Wow!  To those of you raising someone else’s child … you are amazing.  To all the step-moms and foster moms out there — we celebrate you!

This really should be a day to thank someone.  Someone who fit that role for you whether for a minute, a day or your lifetime.  So, let’s do something really fantastic — Let’s go thank that special someone in our lives.  Everyone deserves love today.

Happy Love Day.

Rotten Tomato Rating Scale of Motherhood

In honor of yet another Hallmark holiday, I’ve decided to create my own Rotten Tomato rating scale for my motherhood.   I wonder if my mom ever did that.  Did she ever question how well she was doing?  Did she wonder why her teenage girl (me) was such a shit?  Did she worry it was her fault?  Did she contemplate that I might need therapy some day because of my Italian/Jewish/Curly-haired descent?  Was she like the rest of us, filled with self-doubt about their parenting?

So, here are the pros and cons of Jessica’s mom-abilities:

Cons (69% dislike on Rotten Tomato):

  • Sometimes I’m short fused and after a long day at work, the thought of cooking, cleaning, laundry makes me a bit crabby.
  • I won’t let my kids quit their stringed instruments.  They’re not happy with me about that.
  • I’m a bit militant about getting enough sleep (although I have no idea why I don’t force myself to sleep more!)
  • I ask a lot of questions.  Sometimes that pisses them off.
  • I like to hang with them when they don’t want to hang with me.
  • I like my alone time when they want to hang with me.
  • I’m passionate and sometimes that comes off as “uncomfortable” or “awkward.”

Pros (100% on Rotten Tomato – (why not give myself 100%??):

  • I am in love with them.
  • I tell them I love them every day.
  • I’m super open about life: the good, the bad and the really ugly.
  • I give them what they need but not always what they want.
  • I have boundaries for them and for me.
  • I value our family and our time together, which frustrates them now but they’ll be glad some day.
  • I respect them.  Even when I don’t agree with them, I respect them.
  • I ensure that we support one another and work as a team.
  • We have fun!

As I tell my kids what I’m writing, I get lots of protests and hugs. They tell me I’m “the best mom ever” – and that they “love the not-so-great things” about me!  Now they are making me cry and it’s hard to type the blog.

Looking back, my mom was all of the pros and all of the cons – but I didn’t really appreciate it until she got sick and oh-so-quickly left.  In fact, how often did I tell her how great I thought she was? That I loved her crazy dancing, her weird food choices and her wild hair (wow, sounds familiar)?  We never say it enough.  For me, it’s too late.

So, if your mom’s still here, tell her.  Let her know that you love all the things she knows you don’t always appreciate about her!  Tell her that you now know how hard it was to raise you.  Tell her that you love her.  Don’t wait.

Instead of beating ourselves up about our mom-abilities, how about we base our rating on how much joy we get from being a parent.  I think that’ll put us on the top of the rating scale.  No one’s perfect, right? 🙂

Have a fantastic weekend!

Note to self for to(every)day.

Note to self:

  • Breathe gently.
  • Enjoy the birds chirping and the falling of the rain.
  • Enjoy those people who smile at me and smile back at them.
  • Close my eyes and dream.
  • Hug my kids.
  • Eat my food slowly.
  • Chose my words carefully.
  • Love those who I want to hate.
  • Note the beauty of life – with its tears, losses and accomplishments.
  • Enjoy the cool clean water that I drink and the roof over my head.
  • Be thankful I can work and help others.
  • Accept the help of others.
  • Enjoy the sound of my children chatting over breakfast.
  • Appreciate what I don’t have.
  • Give away what someone else needs.
  • Make peace with myself.

Have a wonderful day.

 

What if people could “hear” what was on my mind? Or, what can we do with negative thinking?

I posed this first question to my kids and they pretty much freaked out: “Mom, you don’t have bad thoughts do you?”   “Mom, what kind of stuff’s going through your head that would be a problem?”

Oh, honey, if you only knew!

Thank goodness my brain isn’t hooked up to a microphone. Because, I have to admit that I have a lot of thoughts that I wouldn’t like to share!

And, you know what I do with those thoughts?

NOTHING.

I know I espouse the “let’s be positive” way of living but we can’t be that way all the time and frankly – forcing positive is like the high fructose corn syrup of the thinking world – it’s not natural nor is it good to pretend for us (sorry kids for the food analogy — they hate when I do that!).

So, when we feel bad – rather than pretending to be something else or looking for a bandaid, just try sitting tight.  It’s totally natural to have negative moments about who we are as a parent, lover, friend, person.  Look what we do with our kids: when they’re having a fit, we send them for a time out to calmly examine their thinking at that particular moment.  We don’t them to fake it and come up with a smile on their face (although I would have liked to do that a few times!).

Did you know that research has shown (out of Canada of all places!), that when people suffering from low-self esteem reached for positive thinking, it backfired and they felt worse about themselves after saying positive affirmations than they did before.  But, when they were told to just hang with those feelings, they found a way to move to the positive much quicker.

So, back to my original question: what do we do with negative thinking?

  • You can choose to ignore it, go for a walk, enjoy the birds chirping and just let it pass.
  • You can examine your negative thoughts because there’s always a kernel of truth to those thoughts and you can actually (and honestly) look at what you can change in your life to move in a new direction.
  • You can try to broaden your perspective.  When I have a negative thought(s), I’m usually missing the trees in the forest – just plain focused on the wrong thing.
  • You can talk to your “group” – those people who love you no matter how sh***y you’re feeling.

Most of the time we’re happy.  And, of course, it’s great to feel and be positive — that’s genuine.  But, when you’re not feeling that way – that’s authentic too.  And, it’s likely a way for us to learn more about ourselves, our thoughts and needs.

So, while I’m not going to broadcast my feelings – I am going to enjoy the moments when I have a few negative ones.  Maybe I’ll learn something new about myself or maybe it will give me an excuse for a time out – a long one!!! 🙂

Have a great day!