Monthly Archives: July 2014

I made up my own word.

Recently, I decided I was stuck.  Ever get that way?  Where you know you need to move right or left but instead you choose to do nothing?   So, a friend gave me the name of “somebody” and suggested I talk with her (you gotta pay “her” of course!).  So, I decided to check it out to see if she had any thoughts on my stuckness (Ok, it’s not a word but I like it!).

The first time was like a blind date – I needed to fill her in on all my “facts” – the people in my life, my job, my childhood, etc.  You know the drill!

The second time she asked me where I thought I was stuck.  When I told her she gave me some homework:  “Visualize where you want to be when you get unstuck.  What will it feel like?”

I’ve now given it a week’s thought and here’s what I came up with:

When you are unstuck (whether it be a relationship, job, other situation) you feel respected.  You see the sun even when it’s cloudy outside.  You know that your flaws don’t seem to be called out as much.  Do you know what I mean?  Life just seems better.

I did feel relieved (slightly!) when she told me that many smart and successful people stay in toxic jobs for years, miserable relationships for decades and dead-end situations for lifetimes.  Ok, so at least I’m stupid in the company of others!

Most of us get stuck in the what ifs, in the fears and our devotion to the idea that if we do nothing – someone (or something) else will change.  Yet, by living like that, we lose sight of the here and now because we are waiting for guarantees that never materialize.

Here it is in a nutshell: There’s only thing we can be guaranteed — if we take a step, any step — it will turn out to be the right step.  It always is. Doing nothing simply keeps us in the same position tomorrow as we were yesterday and today.

Things are only different when we make them different. Let’s stop worrying about the what ifs and instead start thinking why not!  Why not take that new job?  Why not move and get a start fresh?  Why not end this bad relationship once and for all?  Why not stand up for yourself in an entirely different way?

Change is scary, freeing, exciting and powerful.  Whatever you change, you’re likely to be surprised by the results.  Hey, the beauty about change?  You can always change things again!

Have a powerful start to your week!

“I’m trying to be more transparent.”

This was a statement made recently by a friend of mine.  Hmm, I thought.  Good for him.  But is he really being more transparent? Does he even know what it means?  Do I?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines transparent as: free from pretense or deceit; easily seen through; readily understood; characterized by visibility or accessibility of information, especially concerning business practices.

We know that “transparency” is being open, honest and sincere in putting one’s self out there. But, in order to do that we need to feel comfortable in our own skin — and that’s difficult.

The other day, I told a friend that I’m not sure if I’ll ever be totally transparent.  I like to keep some of my thoughts, desires and dreams to myself.  And, what’s wrong with that?  Can’t I keep some things to myself? (the answer, of course, is yes)

Let’s just say it this way – being transparent is a goal.  And it’s a goal because transparency creates a vehicle from which others see us as being congruent and in alignment with who we think and say we are, and who we really are.   The reverse is also true: when we lack transparency (or when people don’t trust us), people relate to us at an arm’s length, view us suspiciously, and are constantly watching our every move.  When in those situations, we choose not to be transparent because we don’t feel safe, we feel judged and not credible.

But, if transparency is the hot thing, why are we all so reluctant or resistant to behave transparently at work, at home and in love?

Look at our kids – they were totally transparent at first:

“I’m in LOVE with this car.”

“I NEED that candy NOW.”

“I’m the SMARTEST kid in the WHOLE class.”

They were not afraid to share their feelings and thoughts.  But at some point, that changed and they became fearful of sharing all their deep thoughts and fears.  Why?  Because we somehow convinced them that those things were dumb, wrong or even punished them for those inner feelings (of course, not intentionally – but we’re not perfect parents).

Then, they became (young) adults and anything but transparent.

One of the advantages of getting old(er) is that we become more self-aware.  More emotionally mature (I hope!).  We’re not afraid to let our voice be heard.  We’ve learned to learn from rejection.

There are going to be times when we choose not to divulge our most intimate struggles in life.  And, that’s not us being fake, it’s us being careful (it’s possible to get burned being too transparent!).  But, when we find those people we can be vulnerable with – those that will guard our feelings as their own – we’ve got to hang on to them.  They will help us find the ease and beauty (and safety) in transparency!   Count me in!

Have a great day!

This was a foretaste of the feast to come.

Today I am finishing 5 weeks of exclusively testosterone children.  I now realize what I have to look forward to when my daughter goes to college:

1. Boys move very slowly:  When they are running bases or on the soccer field, they cruise.  When I say something like, “We need to leave now,”  I get – “I’m coming” (when they are not moving), “Why do we need to go out to eat?  Can’t you just go to the store, get food and make dinner for us?”  Or, they actually get up but move as slow as syrup (I would say as slow as a “turtle” but I actually think turtles move faster than they do sometimes).

2. Boys have a lot of extra body sounds, body odor and need for body space:  Enough said.

3. Boys really are pretty loving:  When my daughter is home, she is the loving one.  But with her gone, they really stepped it up.  I got a lot of hugs, “I love you,” and help with the things she just naturally does.  Thanks guys!

4. I’m going to miss her:  In fact, even the boys, this last week reported to me how much they missed their sister.  We’re going to have withdrawal when she goes to college. Friends, be prepared to bring over movies and Kleenex for us (wine for me!)!

5. My boys don’t eat the same weird food that I do:  When my daughter is here, she is willing to eat some of the foods I do – steel cut oats, gluten free this and that and other healthy options.  All I felt like all I made these last five weeks were burgers, tater tots, frozen waffles and every once in a while a protein shake!

6. Boys want to know “why” but don’t accept the answer:  I got so much of this I wanted to throw up. Here’s my thing: If you are going to ask “why” and I tell you, please don’t argue with me.  If you want a different result, put it in memo form and let me contemplate my options!  Don’t try to argue me to the ground … I’m a lawyer (and more importantly a mother!)!

So, as my boys head off to the cabin for a week and my daughter comes home tonight, I realize that having kids is a joyful (and exhausting) proposition, which I wouldn’t change for the world!

Have a fun start to your week!

 

 

Life is a continuum.

In a loving and quiet moment, one of my closest friends said to me, “Life is a continuum.  There is no beginning, middle or end.  It’s just a series of events that flow into one another.”

This is one of life’s truisms.  When we live in the now, we experience the now.  When we live in the past or future we not only miss the now, but we miss the future.  What’s left?  Just the past – the stuff we’ve already experienced.   And given our finite time here — why get stuck in the past?

I’ve learned that while I need to make use of every minute of my finite time, I really don’t need to make use of every minute of my finite time (know what I mean?).  I’ve got to learn to slow down, to let someone take care of me, and to allow life to happen without me worrying about how things will turn out.

Why?

Because life is not about what’s “happening” to me. It’s not a bunch of neatly packaged chapters in a book — each one separate and distinct.  Rather, life is about the flow of all my experiences. It’s about each experience feeding off another experience – so why not slowdown and pay attention?

I used to say death is the opposite of life.  But it’s not – death is the opposite of birth.  Life is what happens between birth and death.  Maybe life is such a long continuum that birth and death are just two milestones on the line … (gosh, just writing this makes me realize how little I actually know and understand).

I once read an Indian proverb that said: Life is not a continuum of pleasant choices, but of inevitable problems that call for strength, determination and hard work.  

While I do think this is true, I don’t think it goes far enough. Yes, life is full of inevitable problems.  But life is also full of beautiful experiences that don’t need strength, determination and hard work.  Sometimes, life just needs us to pay attention and experience.  Just as we do when the wind blows quietly in our face and through the trees.  We simply feel it.  That’s what we should do with the continuum of life. Don’t “expect,” don’t categorize as good or bad – just feel and appreciate it.

Thanks for the thought, my friend.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

 

He was going blind. I cried (again).

Most times when I need something (a message), it seems to come to me.  I’m not sure why or how but it does.  I’m thankful for the opportunities and thankful that I can share them with you.

This week I went for a walk.  I needed some time to myself to think, without a kid calling my name, dishes needing to be washed or work to be done.  I just wanted one walk around one lake.

As I was walking I could see a man ahead of me with a white cane.  He seemed to have a hand over his eyes and was walking toward me.  I could also see that he was walking toward an area on the walkway that was submerged in water.  I could foresee a problem for him.

I ran up to him and told him that there was water ahead and asked if I could direct him around it.  He smiled and said, “Sure.”  As we walked he told me that he was holding his hands over his eyes to make everything completely dark.  He is losing his eyesight but currently he still can see light and shadows.  He was trying to walk his favorite lake to see what it would be like when he completely loses his sight.

I told him my grandfather lost his eye sight and that the crushing part for him was that he was an avid reader.  He told me that he loved reading too but that wasn’t what he was most afraid of losing.  (At this point we were at a bench and he asked if I could sit for a minute).

He told me that many years ago he met and completely fell in love with a woman. And although he didn’t initially “treat” her well, he realized her importance to him.  So, he made some changes and she eventually agreed to marry him.   He vowed that he would cherish her forever.  Since then, every morning, he looks into her eyes and enjoys the beauty of her face.  Over the years she’s gotten older – gotten wrinkles but he doesn’t care one bit – he loves looking at her as much now as he did then.  So, he said, his biggest feeling of sadness about his eyesight — that he won’t be able to look into her eyes every morning and see her age beautifully.

I started to cry.

I told him that I’ve heard many beautiful things in my life but this … well, I couldn’t even put words to it.

We got up, I took him to the path and wished him the best that life could offer.  He thanked me for helping (and listening) to him.  We hugged and he said, “You know what? I got the best that life could offer and I wake up next to her every morning.”

Deep sigh.  From life’s pain comes life’s beauty.

Have a wonderful day, my friends and keep your eyes wide open.  XO

She said one phrase and it made me stop in my tracks.

I am not in the business of blogging every day (smile).  But yesterday I was given a “gift” and I really didn’t want to wait to share it with you.  It’s this:

The only way to let go of anything is to let go with love.

At first when I heard this, I caught myself starting to laugh. “Hey,” I said, I like my anger sometimes! And how can you really let go with love when you’re so hurt? It sounds good, but …”

But as I thought about it, I realized that when I allow anger to enter in to any life equation – it actually prevents me from letting go and moving on.  S***, I hate admitting when I’m wrong! 🙂

Let’s be honest here, it takes a lot of tears, hard work, and introspection to break the chains of our childhood and what we think are our life mistakes.  But, when we actually “get over” something, we have a feeling of freedom and contentment as we look back on the transformation.  It’s an amazing experience.

When I realized I had to leave my last firm, I was angry.  I blamed others.  But, as I examined the situation, I realized that I got gifts from the experience (as painful as it was) and that fact helped me leave with love and a healthy frame of mind, not anger.

So too with a relationship.  We’re often angry when it is clear that divorce or a break-up is on the horizon. But, blaming our partner for what’s happening is more painful than letting go.

In those cases where I’ve been able to see my former partner as the sensitive, flawed human being I fell in love with – the person I knew once had the capacity to love me, and the person I knew was hurting too … I was able to let go without anger.  That simple action afforded me the joy of being able to love life again, to see the beauty in every experience, to be non-judgmental and open to something new.

Here’s the secret message to letting go with love:

No time spent in a relationship or a job or any other situation, is ever wasted.

It’s critical to remember that every experience is a lesson.  Every situation brings gifts.  And only when we learn the lesson and appreciate the gifts, can we move on to something better.  So, there’s no reason to beat ourselves up for “staying too long” or “wasting time” — because there’s just no such thing!

She was right.  The only real option to letting go is to do it with love.  As always (cue to my kids to roll their eyes) – All You Need Is Love!

Have a wonderful day!

These ring true for me.

A friend gave me a gift this weekend – a book.  It has the most wonderful things in it and I want to share a few quotes with you.  Maybe they will inspire you as they have me:

The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love and passion.  Nadia Boulanger

We ought to be able to learn some things second-hand.  There is not enough time for us to make all the mistakes ourselves.  Harriet Hall

There are people who take the heart out of you, and there are people who put it back.  Elizabeth David

The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good – and how he treats people who can’t fight back.  Abigail Van Buren

Sandwich every bit of criticism between two layers of praise.  Mary Kay Ash

After the verb, “To Love” … “To Help” is the most beautiful verb in the world.  Bertha von Suttner

When I was growing up I always wanted to be someone.  Now I realize I should have been more specific.  Lilly Tomlin

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end, may also be only the beginning.  Ivy Baker Priest

Have a great start to this all-star week!

I want to be naked (more often).

We are born this way.  Completely naked.  And frankly I think there’s a reason we come into this world without all the “dressings” of life.  We are free, open, totally transparent and ready to start life.  Who doesn’t like it like that? (Cue – scroll down and start the song below while you’re reading).

So, why can’t we be naked and transparent all the time?  Why can’t we just bare our soul to the world and show our true selves?  Why can’t we be open about our feelings, our hopes, our dreams and our love?  What the freak is stopping us?!

Most of us hide our essence.  We fear rejection, have low self-esteem or we’ve been hurt.  And all these things create uneasiness within us and lead to those negative tapes that drown out our essence.  But, our essence – our soul – is exactly the place transparency grows.

Friends, when we are open – when we allow ourselves to feel our emotions, we can enjoy our feelings rather than trying to fix them to match someone else’s.  When we’re open we can also give ourselves permission to feel and experience our feelings rather than look back and wonder about them.

I must caution you, however, about this thing called transparency must be experienced with those people you trust the most.  The ones who are non-judgmental – who love you unconditionally no matter what you do (or have done) or what you say.  You know those people when they come into your life.  And, if you’re like me, you’ve tried transparency with the right people (so fantastic!) and the wrong people (incredibly awful).  And, because we’ve all experienced the latter – we end up becoming afraid to get naked again.

My mother was the most transparent when she was listening to music.  Almost any kind of music; it was the beat for her … as you can hear in this song.  When she was dancing around in the kitchen (this is obviously where I get it!), the love, the emotions and the joy of life literally poured out of her.  It was beautiful. And, because she grew up in the Bronx – she had a love for latin music – hence today’s song.

So, my charge for you today is to dance to your favorite music, love the people who let you be you, those who want to love you, not judge you.  Enjoy some transparency and the absolute beauty of starting today as if everything was brand new.  Because my friends — it is brand new today!

How can you not like it like that?

Have a fantastic Sunday!

 

Do you settle?

Last night I read a short article that asked the question: How do you know when you’re settling for less? Have you ever settled somewhere in your life? I know I have.  

The article provided ways to tell if you’re settling:

  • When you have to work yourself into a state of excitement rather than naturally feeling joy about what you’re doing, then you are settling.
  • When you have to negotiate with yourself about doing something, rather than actually wanting to do it without forcing yourself, then you are settling.
  • When you’re making excuses about why you are staying in the same (relationship, job) spot, then you are settling.
  • When you spend more time complaining about what you have, rather than appreciating it, you are definitely settling.

Why do we settle? What is it about continuing on the same path that feels better than trying something that quite likely could feel better?  Why don’t we change jobs or relationships or other situations when we know they’re not the right fit?

I don’t think its laziness. I don’t think its lack of desire. I think its fear.

Fear — the grandfather of all reasons that we settle.  It’s the choice between the devil we know versus the devil we don’t know. It’s fear of failure, fear of success and fear that we’re not worthy.

I know fear. It’s one of my oldest and dearest friends. Fear has driven my life for many, many years. In fact, fear has a key to my cave – where I actually thought I went to hide from my fear!

How do we manage our fears to ensure we’re not living our life by settling? We do it by understanding and actually accepting that it’s okay to have good things in our life. That some times good things may come with a few hiccups, but that you are worth good things.   And, that fear is only created in our minds – we have control over our fears. Shocking, I know!

Once we understand and accept these truths, we learn that fear can actually stop us from settling! It can help motivate us to do better, to try new experiences and to break out from those unfulfilling situations.  Fear is really just a distorted and out of touch belief – one that we can choose to release and instead experience life through love and joy.

I’m working on this – letting go of fear thing.  It’s not easy.  Those tapes are super engrained.  But, I know one thing for sure — when I don’t settle I find myself moving toward more peaceful and joyful moments in my life.

So, let’s not settle.  Let’s make choices based on love, not fear.  When we love ourselves, there is absolutely no reason to settle.

Have a great weekend!

 

(Jessica), You can’t always get what you want.

I’ve been wanting something lately.  And, as it turns out, it’s something I can’t (or shouldn’t) have right now.  That’s a tough one for me because I try not to “want” much and when I do, it’s usually something I also need.  But this “want” is a bit bigger and because it looks like it won’t happen, I’ve been thinking: Do I really need that which I want?

I was recently talking to a friend about our lives.  And, as we were talking, I realized we weren’t discussing things we needed in our lives – we were simply talking about our wants.  I think we all have a tendency to think like that.  And truthfully, often after we work hard to get something, and we eventually get it, we usually are not much happier.  Why?  Because most of the time what we want in life and in relationships is not what we need.  In other words, at the end of the day, just because we want it doesn’t mean it’s what we should have or that it will help us.

So, maybe I’m looking at this “want” of mine in the wrong way.  Rather than desiring the “thing” maybe I should be looking for the feeling that I would get from this “want.”  Know what I mean?

When we focus on the positive experiences we want out of life – not some item, new car, job, etc., we not only tend to produce those things we actually need, but it also makes it easier to produce the things we want too.   Think about this example: money.  When we focus on money it doesn’t make us more secure or free.  But focusing on producing security and freedom in our lives makes it easier to create financial success that goes along with our efforts to focus on the positive experiences.  Or weight – maybe we want to get to a particular weight.  But focusing on healthy eating or loving where we’re at, will likely produce better results.

The Rolling Stones had a chorus in their famous song:

You can’t always get what you want; But if you try sometimes, well you just might find  — you get what you need.

I’ve heard this song a million times (I likely did things in my young adulthood that I shouldn’t have to this song!).  But the words ring true.  We can’t always have what we want but maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll get what we need!  That’s going to be my new focus.

Have a great day.