Monthly Archives: October 2014

I want my garbage to be hauled away like that.

I just happened to be at home this week when the garbage truck arrived.  Have you ever watched them pick up your garbage?  This huge truck comes to a screeching stop at your driveway.  Then a big claw comes out of the truck.  It tightly wraps itself around the container and in a very forceful move, it lifts it up all the way to the top where the garbage that was piled in there during the week is immediately dumped out.  The can is quickly placed back on the ground.  The lid is now back on the can … and the truck drives away.  Then — there’s silence.

I want that.  I want to have someone come to my house each week and dump out my own personal garbage.  Why not?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  We could toss in there anything we wanted with the knowledge that each week (or, if you pay a premium, more often) you too could have your garbage dumped.  Really sounds amazing to me.  You could even hire it to go dump the garbage of those people who are trying to fill up your can of garbage with their s***.   Am I on to something here?

But alas, that’s not to be and we have to deal with all our own garbage.  Even therapy forces us to haul it away ourselves (pay and you still have to work — there’s a problem with that!).

I’ve got my fair share of garbage.  Some I can dump and it never seems to come back. And some, well – I don’t think a quick any thing will get rid of it.  But, as a friend used to say to me — that’s part of my charm and beauty.  I’ve got good stuff and I’ve got bad stuff.  It makes up who I am.  My vulnerabilities.  My life filled with love (and sometimes pain when I give a bit too much).   This garbage, combined with the rest of me will, of course, also shape my future experiences.

I guess I need to remind myself that no one is made perfect. Actually, our “perfectness” comes from our imperfections.  Plus, we all have garbage.  Some days the can is full and sometimes not.

Maybe life is as simple as just finding a way to dump our garbage each week and allow for a fresh start.  Or to put less in … a recycling theme?  Maybe what I think about the garbage complicating my life is really there to provide me with direction?  Hmm… More questions than answers (typical Jessica).

Maybe the real truth is this: “Life is a simple combination of good and bad. It is we who make it complicated.”  Bryson T. Staley

Have a great (and imperfect) weekend!

I did nothing and here’s what happened.

In a rare moment for me, I got sick.  Not just a runny nose — really sick.  Down for the count sick.  So, not like me.  I think it was a bit of stress coupled with the woman sneezing right in my face on the plane last week (the guy next to us put on a face mask … why didn’t I plan for that??).

Being sick gave me an opportunity to have some down time.  And, other than my hacking “smoker’s” cough – some quiet time.

The other night, the kids were studying and I was sitting in my favorite chair, where I usually do work (or fall asleep).  I had the window cracked open (as I seem to do all the time now).  At that moment, I decided to put my computer down and do nothing.  I didn’t get up and eat (do that often).  I didn’t offer to make food for everyone (do that all the time).  I didn’t make a cup of tea or go to the bathroom or even surf the net.  I just sat there.  And, here’s what happened:

  • I heard the rustle of the wind in the tree leaves and them gently falling to the ground.
  • I heard the chipmunk (which has been pissing me off lately) scurrying around on the patio.
  • I could hear the quiet beat of the music each kid was listening to as they did their homework.
  • I heard their sighs.
  • I heard the gentle conversations they have amongst themselves (which I often get in the middle of).
  • I heard the clock ticking and my heart beating.

These are all things I’ve heard before.  But, this time I heard them and felt them.  I felt them way down into my being.  It was five minutes of the most amazing meditation and I didn’t need a mantra.

Friends, life is passing us by.  Seriously.  How often are you taking  a moment to hear the breath of your children?  The sound of the world outside your window?  Are you taking care of the inside of you?  Is there any quiet time in your life?

If I had to choose the most important life lesson from doing nothing, it’s this:

There is nothing quite so comforting, quite so embracing, or quite so beautifully peaceful as a moment of quiet.  We can remember the past, we can create tomorrow –  but we can only live in the moment.

Have an amazing day everyone!

He used me and I’m thankful.

I’ve always held this belief that any problem can be solved. Actually, the grandiose idea that I can solve any problem. Unfortunately, with that philosophy, I’ve staying in situations too long and allowed myself to continue, thinking that eventually they or the problem will get “fixed.” Mistake no. 1678!

Some situations are there not for you to change them, but for you to change you. For you to let go of the need to change, fix or solve and realize it’s time to walk away.

Recently, I’ve been hit head on with this reality. It’s sobering. I’ve literally had a “friend” use every last piece of my energy and goodwill for his gain. I allowed it, however, because I thought it would be the effort needed to solve the problem. He allowed it because he needed the energy and didn’t care about the consequences.

But I was totally wrong that my efforts could change any thing. I’ve got to admit defeat, and, in the process, I need to thank him for this lesson.

When we lose ourselves by trying to solve a problem, we forget that the solution is simply to let go. To admit it’s not solvable. And maybe to realize that if it can’t be solved, it wasn’t worth it in the first place.

Think of the situations where you couldn’t let go. Where you thought you could for sure fix it/make it better. Let’s remember friends, that if we have to work that hard at something, it wasn’t meant to be. And likely was S@&$ in the first place!

So, I’ve really got to thank the taker of my good will. He taught me that real relationships and situations are not those that are painful or one sided. Those are the situations that can’t be fixed and rather than throw away good energy at something that won’t change, we should save it for those situations where it will really make a difference. And we know those situations are right in front of us!

Have a great Sunday!

What will happen when he sets boundaries with his partner?

A friend is dealing with this issue of boundary violations and forgiveness.  His relationship with his partner has been one-sided for years.  I won’t diagnose her but I will say that it is mostly a relationship about her.  I’m not making a comment on whether this is good or bad — every relationship is different – I’m just stating a fact.

When she hurts him (and it happens quite often) instead of setting up boundaries for what he’ll allow to happen and remain in the relationship, he often relaxes his boundaries, forgives her and then is mad at himself when she violates his boundaries again (and she does, again and again).

So, these last few months we’ve been trying an experiment.  When he relaxes his boundaries – it’s when he’s feeling bad about himself, and it causes him more stress.  And, he doesn’t really feel forgiveness (even though he tells her he forgives her).  When he choses to have a boundary and reinforces it  – she often doesn’t listen to him or change, but he feels better about himself.

Here’s the thing about asserting boundaries and forgiveness – you can do both but sometimes people will just leave your life (or you will jettison them).  Some people (read: narcissists) can’t handle having limits on how they treat people.  They don’t see that their treatment is a total lack of respect for others while only taking care of their own needs.  That’s not a relationship for life.

Yet, with healthy people (read: non-narcissist) setting boundaries will make a relationship stronger and better.  It provides each person with an understanding of what hurts the other and what doesn’t.  And, if there’s love and respect – boundaries won’t continue to be violated (not intentionally anyway).

The trick with asserting boundaries is not to do it in anger (that defeats the purpose and adds negative energy).  Setting boundaries should be matter of fact.

I’m trying it right now. I’ve been giving a lot of energy to help someone.  This person has just taken and taken and given nothing.  This person wants me to keep helping but the treatment of me is violating my boundaries.  So, I’ve decided to stop helping (which as you know is difficult for me!).  And, as contrary as that is to my being – it’s also freeing!  Boundary-less people are energy suckers and I’d rather give my energy to a loving situation.

Forgiveness is important.  But, it doesn’t mean you allow people to hurt you.  It means you understand that the other person is doing the best they can do with the resources, skills and life experiences they have but that their skills in life are hurting you.  And, if they don’t want to see the effect on you, then you must set your boundaries and take care of you – which often means leaving.  It’s finding a place in your heart for compassion for them and, more importantly, for you.

I never said this would be an easy journey … just an enlightening one! 🙂

Enjoy your beautiful weekend!

She called me out on the inevitable, which I constantly try to avoid.

True Confessions: About six months ago I decided to try talking to a therapist.  Look, who doesn’t want an hour without a phone, sitting in a comfortable chair and having someone listen to your every word? 🙂  “What do you want to accomplish?”  she asked at our first session.  “To get unstuck,”  I said.  “Sounds simple enough,” she suggested.   Simple?  Yikes! I could hear the money coming directly out of my bank account.

What did I want to get unstuck from?  My thoughts.  You know what I’m talking about.  Those negative thoughts about creep in to our minds.  That suck the thankfulness out of our lives.  I wanted to destroy that 8 track tape I’ve been playing since the 80’s about never being good enough.  Yet, six months later they’re still playing, I’m still not drinking enough wine and I’ve spent some money.

On Monday, I decided to listen to the tapes.  Maybe I didn’t understand what song they were playing.  When I stopped to listen, I heard this: “Jessica, you’re afraid of change.  You tell yourself that the change will be horrible. But, change is inevitable, as is pain, happiness and love.  And, Jessica – change always works out.”  Great.  I’m in therapy and I’ve got voices talking to me.  Is that a diagnosable condition?

Yesterday (still dealing with my “voices”) I went to hear my daughter’s Senior Speech on, believe it or not, CHANGE.  Shit!

And, as though speaking directly to me, the one who gave birth to her, cleaned her runny nose and held her when she was sick, she said:

As the old saying goes, change is the only constant thing in life. We can count on the days changing, getting older, expanding our knowledge, and changing our opinions. All aspects of life are subject to change at any moment. This is scary to most people, including myself.

I’m here to tell you why this attitude towards change is a problem. [Michael Singer, author of “The Untethered Soul,” says] “Change is a source of fear—fear of added stress, fear of discomfort and fear of the unknown.”  The avoidance of the uncomfortable feelings associated with change limits our ability to grow as people. Singer believes that the avoidance [of change] causes you to lose track of your life’s purpose.

Well, so much for hiding behind my fears.  She just called it out right in front of 400+ people at 9 am!  I’m surprised no one turned around and pointed their finger at me.

Look, we all get stuck. We play those well-worn tapes over and over. We let our insecurities get in the way.  We fear being “us” will not be good enough. Yet, that fear of letting go, of being vulnerable, of just being … well frankly, my friends – it’s more stressful than letting the unknown just happen.

Let’s be totally honest: Change is really the only constant in lives (other than love, of course).  🙂   So, maybe it’s time to embrace it (or both)!

Have a fantastic day!

Married, Single, Divorced, Other – it’s all the same.

When I got to Boston on Friday (my daughter was rowing at the Head of the Charles), I was thinking of love.  I’m not sure why.  I just saw lots of people holding hands.  Hugging.  Seemingly enjoying being together.  I saw it in the airport.  I saw it while picking up my car.  And, I saw it on the race course.

It made me think about my own relationships and being single.  But this time, I didn’t question my own spot.  Instead, I realized how amazing life is that we often have the opportunity to experience lots of different things: Single, married, (for some of us) divorced, new love, and trying it all over again.

I started to think of some questions about my life, and then I realized that these are the same questions for everyone (men, women, single, married):

1. Being single (married) still means you need time to be by yourself.

Single people need to learn how to be alone and married people need to find alone time.  It’s time to reconnect with yourself.  It’s a time to accept who you are and who you want to be.

2. When you have time, appreciate the present – not the past.

Buddha said every day you are born again—that means new experiences and adventures for each day.

3. Change is good (and sometimes scary).

Often, by my stage in the game, being single means that there’s been some change in your life. Embrace it.  Being married means that your relationship will unquestionably change.  Be prepared.

4. Don’t be afraid of love and of being transparent.

Staying open to love isn’t just about attracting a new relationship; it’s about being open to life (which can include your marriage if you make the love and transparency a priority).

5. When you are alone (for whatever reason) it’s a call to focus on  yourself.

Sometimes relationships can make us lazy about developing ourselves.   Identify the person you really want to be—whether you’re in a relationship or not – and do it.

6.  To see a rainbow, one has to experience a storm.

When something bad happens, we tend to concentrate on the negatives, forgetting that there must be something positive hidden somewhere in the craziness. You will know happiness in the future—and in the present –  if you’re open to it.

7. Life is (relationships are) a balancing act.  

There is no one size fits all and we constantly change throughout our lives.  Allow and embrace those changes – regardless of the outcome.

I still have a lot to learn, understand, and explore. Sometimes I need to be reminded to be grateful for what I have – and the stage that I’m in.  As we all know, these words are easier said than done. So, here’s one important idea I want to leave you with today:

No matter what happens – you have yourself.  Take care of that person today (and every day).

Have an amazing start to your week!

 

She lost her job and her husband has cancer.

I bought coffee for the woman behind me at a coffee shop yesterday.  She came up to thank me as I was waiting for my drink. She shared that she’d lost her job the day before.  She looked all dressed for work so I asked what she had planned for the day.  She told me that she hadn’t told her husband yet because he was just diagnosed with cancer and they were weighing options regarding the tragic news.  She was too afraid to upset him.  So, she pretended to get dressed for work and left.  I felt horrible for her.

I told her that I had a few minutes and if she wanted we could sit and chat about options.  We did.

Married 5 years now, this is her second marriage.  They had a bumpy start because of blended families, personal issues, etc., but they decided that their commitment to each other was more important than what was happening in their outside world.  She said they had just gotten to a good place – took 4 years (they were together for 8 before they got married).  She said she’d never been happier.

Now he was just diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer, they have 4 children, he’s on leave and she’s been “laid off.”

How could I help this situation? Why was this in front of me?  For those of you close to me, you know I’m kind of at the end of my rope with these sorts of situations … but I just couldn’t do or say nothing.  There was a reason why she was behind me in the coffee line.  The reason was likely for her and for me (always is).

So, I suggested that she contact a friend of mine that I knew could help with some of the issues she was facing.  I told her not to be afraid to tell her husband.  I relayed a story about my own life, where I was afraid to share what I was feeling and it just caused more hurt and pain, not avoided it.  I told her that if her relationship was as wonderful as she said, there would be some good news here. Love always prevails over trials.

Just then her husband called.  She looked at me, picked it up and spilled her guts. She started to cry.  He said something.  She said, “I love you too.”  She got off and told me he was happy because now she could come home and be with him!  He said they would figure it out.   We got up, hugged and said good-bye.

Life is fragile.  You think you have it all together.  It’s all going smoothly and then bam – something happens to wake you up.  Maybe it’s better to stay awake and appreciate what we have in the moment.  Especially with the people in our lives.  In the very end – it’s all you have.

Hug your loved ones today.  And, have an amazing weekend!