Monthly Archives: November 2014

What’s the deal with “forever” love?

You may wonder if I’m the right person for this topic.  But, maybe being divorced makes me just the right one to write on this complicated but exquisitely beautiful topic.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about love: What is it?  Why do people “fall out of love?”  What is “forever” love?  And how is it we can feel so many different kinds of love?

Much of our lives are spent on messages about love:  “You’ll meet the ‘one.'”  “You’ll know within seconds of your first meeting.”  “He/she is the ‘one’ if you have the best sex (hard to argue this one!), the most in common, like the same food, politics, etc.”

We know we’ll love our kids, pets, family (most times) but it’s a bit more complicated when the message is to search for that one soul mate – that one you’ll love forever.

Here’s my take on love:  Love’s not just a feeling; it’s a choice, a commitment, an intention.  Love brings color to our lives. But, love can (and will) change over time and sometimes it’s not forever.

Let’s be honest (what the h*** else are we going to do?):  Very few people look across the room and “just know” – without question, without doubt that they’ve found the “one.”  And even if you do find the one – you’ll likely still have ups, downs and even doubts.  I believe in doubt.  Doubt is a sign of an introspective, intelligent person.  I worry the most about those who are “certain” about any thing.   Doubt is actually the doorway into transformation – not just for you, but for your love relationship. Doubt challenges assumptions and the status quo.  It allows you to find common ground while also staying true to your feelings and your needs.

Here’s my favorite quote about the totality of love:

[Love] can be light as the hug we give a friend or heavy as the sacrifices we make for our children.  It can be romantic, platonic, familial, fleeting, everlasting, conditional, unconditional, imbued with sorrow, stoked by sex, sullied by abuse, amplified by kindness, twisted by betrayal, deepened by time, darkened by difficulty, leavened by generosity, nourished by humor, and “loaded with promises and commitments” that we may or may not want or keep. The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the crap out of love.  Cheryl Strayed

Yes!  Tackle the love you have (regardless of where it’s coming from).  Give as much out as you can.  Don’t worry about it being “forever.”  Some love will be and some won’t.  And, even when it’s not – it’s still a life experience, of which we have a finite amount.  Plus, love is completely free (and if it’s not … it’s not the love you wanted anyway). 🙂

So, my friends, I hope you have a great (and loving) start to your week!

 

 

All his possessions were in a grocery cart.

I had a hearing in St. Paul this week. I parked a few blocks away and walked to the courthouse. As I was coming down the street, there was a man in front of me pushing a grocery cart full of what looked to be junk. I rifled through my purse and as I came up to him I said, “Happy Holidays,” and handed him some money. He stopped to look at me.  I felt like he was looking right through me.

His face was like a crisp black and white photo – the most beautiful big but worn eyes, skin full of wrinkles, a scruffy beard and what appeared to be a million layers of clothes. He said, “Thanks,” as he then looked down at my boots.  I asked him where he was going on this cold day and he mumbled something I couldn’t understand other than the word, “nowhere.”

I felt like crying.  This was someone’s beautiful baby boy.  A blank slate.  And here he was, in a most difficult world, having trouble meeting the psychological requirements of society and with the inability to be warm and fed and loved.

As I walked away I realized that Thanksgiving is a day like any other day for him.  Nothing special.  Maybe he gets a free meal – but that’s it.  He doesn’t have anyone to hold him in bed or kiss him good night.  No one to ask what he’d like for breakfast.  No one to do his laundry or iron his shirts.  No one to hug him hello or good-bye.

I often get stuck dwelling in the things that are bothering me, forgetting that I have the love of my family and all of you.  I have food and I have shelter.

My brief encounter with him reminded me of the fragility of our lives, of our mental state, of our life choices and of the life choices that are made for us.

Thanksgiving feels special to me.  It’s a time where we really are all  celebrating the same thing – being thankful for what we have, who we have in our lives, and how we can help others.  Friends, lets remind ourselves and our children to be thankful for our most basic of necessities.   And to appreciate the chance to have yet another day filled with love, warmth and food (which this Thanksgiving is Chinese food with my dad!).

I’ve decided that my gift to myself is to focus externally – not internally.  Not to worry about what’s next in my life.  And to give out as much positive energy as I can to each and every one of you this holiday season.

And with that, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.  No matter who you’re with or how stressful it may seem – try enjoy it.  You will never have another one just like it again.  XOXO

I’m a complete coward (which I guess makes me brave).

I want to tell you about something I learned this weekend.  But first, let me remind you of something you already know about me: I’m afraid of change.  Maybe afraid is too strong a word.  I don’t like change.  Actually, I’m a coward when it comes to change.  Why?  Why not embrace the sagging of my skin (aka – last post)?  The growing up of my kids?  We know the reason we don’t like change: We’re afraid of the unknown.

But, here’s what I learned this weekend:

The bravest people, are really cowards who go ahead anyway and keep experiencing life, even trying those things they’re afraid of.

This last month, I’ve run head on into a number of big fears.  Fear of being alone, fear of not being worthy and the fear of what life will be like when the kids leave.  When I feel fear coming, I check out.  I go in my cave.  I close my door.  I don’t read emails.  I shut down.  Know what I mean?  It’s like the bottom of life is falling out.  Like there’s nothing to grasp.  And, sometimes it really hurts.

But this weekend I realized that – Fear is a feeling not a fact.

Neuroscience has taught us that the main fear center in the human brain, the amygdala, works faster than conscious thought and is basically functioning in the human brain the same way it does in most animals including lizards (hence the term, “lizard brain”).   So, because fear works so quickly, we need to have a strategy for dealing with it.

First, we need to reprogram our blanket fear statements. Remember that even if something bad happens, that doesn’t mean that it will happen again.  Make sure you don’t keep the warm blanket on top of you too long – preventing you from moving forward.

Second, remember what neuropsychologist Rick Hanson says,”our brains are like Teflon for positive experiences and Velcro for negative ones.”  Meaning our fear highlights our painful fear experiences–even though they’re usually the minority of our overall experiences.

Third, expose yourself to the things you’re afraid of.  So, if you’re not good at asking for help, then try asking for something small from someone you know won’t make you feel bad about it.  Once you do it, you’ll know how to do it again!

Finally, create a positive link to your fear.  For example, when you do ask for something (and it works), treat yourself.  Make the experience special.  This will help create a link between the positive experience and what you thought was a fear.

So friends, let’s start this week of family, food, stress, food and a nap or two – out right.  Let’s not be afraid to step outside our caves and face our fears head on.  I have a feeling that for me (and for all of you) – it’s going to bring the most amazing changes to that which I “thought” I was afraid of.

Have an amazing day!

“Mom, that’s flab on your arms.”

Well, I won’t say which of my loving children started this conversation with (or at) me but suffice it to say, they all eventually joined in. Look – flab is a natural part of getting old(er). Like burping, farting, sagging, forgetting, farting while you’re sleeping (Oh my, I digress) – it’s the joy of living in our bodies.   But, this getting old(er) thing — this flab thing, I’ve decided I’m going to embrace it rather than fight it (ok, I do try to lift weights, but it’s clearly not working!).

There are a few things, however, that are a bit more frustrating as I (we) get old(er):

Sleeping: For as long as I can remember, I had to get up early for one thing or another – kids, work, husband, work, kids, (you get the picture). Now, when I have the chance to sleep in a bit, my body essentially says, “F*** you.  I’m not letting you sleep in any more!”   In fact, not only am I not sleeping late, but I’m able to wake up in the middle of the night and check out the moon (through the bathroom window).  No justice here!

Forgetting: This week I forgot my briefcase at home, a coffee date (in my defense, we hadn’t totally “firmed” it up), the names of about 10,000 people (all of whom I’ve known forever) and where I parked my car (twice).  I really have nothing to say about this!

Nails: What’s the deal with nails and getting older?  Our toe nails get harder and thicker and more difficult to clip, while our finger nails just get thinner. Where’s the fairness in that plan?

Skin: I’ve been told I have very soft skin.  And, that may be true.  But when I look at my hands, I see a billion veins sticking out and if I squint ever so slightly, I can see my mom’s hands. When the freak did that happen?

People look 12:  Why is it that everyone looks way younger than me?  Seriously. The judges used to be older than me … not any more.  All my doctor’s are retiring and I’ve got to get all the younger people looking over my sagging parts.  Even my handyman is now younger than me.  What’s happening?

Look friends.  I’m going to embrace my aging body.  I love not having to worry about how I look all the time (what you see is what you get).  I don’t feel embarrassed talking with my hands – I’m Italian after all!  I totally enjoy the slight wrinkles near my eyes.  I love being able to say, “Been there.  Done that.”  And, finally – it’s now ok for me to cry at any time and just pawn it off to menopause.  So, my loving kids – I’m going to shake my flab anytime I can (or maybe, while I can!). And I’m going to enjoy it!

Have a great weekend everyone!

He’s dying.

This is a blog about life, not death.  I used to volunteer in a hospice program.  It was rewarding but difficult.  And, as I watched people slowly cross over to some place else (or no place, depending on what you believe), I only saw peace.

I know someone whose dying.  He’s got a wife and a child – young.  His wife writes a blog.  Recently, she wrote about the last of his journey,

“Everyone wants to see him. I get it. I do. And if it were really my choice I’d be like oh yeah, come on in, say good bye! But, he just doesn’t want to.  It didn’t really make sense to me at first, but now I get it. No matter how many people may surround you, death is a solitary journey. In the past few days, I have seen the man who has walked beside me for four years slowly drift onto his own path, where I cannot follow. I know, though, that when it is my turn, I’ll recognize the footprints he left for me, and I won’t feel alone and I won’t feel afraid.”

Friends, there is no getting around this.  We will all go.  For some it will be earlier than others.  I want to say it doesn’t really matter when — but it does.  No one really wants to leave.  I don’t.  But – it’s out of our control.

Let’s talk about life, though.  The end, as she writes, is as important as the beginning and the middle.  It’s true, isn’t it?  How we live, who we love (and who loves us), how we set our priorities – that’s the real gift here.  Some of you may find it depressing to think about death, but it can actually improve your life.

Sometimes I ask myself: When I’m dying, what could potentially cause me regret?  Will it be the way I treated those I love?  Will it be the money I didn’t make?  The work I didn’t do?  Will it be how much time I spent with my kids and family (blood or not)?  I want to make sure the answer is “no” to it all.  I want to make sure I give life my all.

In his Commencement Speech at Stanford University Steve Jobs said: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important thing I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life, because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

He’s dying and I want to thank him for doing so – as awful as it might feel to some.  He’s reminding us all to live our lives to the fullest.  Hug your children. Tell someone you’re mad at, how much you really do love them.  Give it all out today – for that’s all we know for sure.  The universe (and you) deserve it.

XOXO

What’s your word?

I was with some friends this weekend – the kind of friends who support you, all the time, and call you on your s*** when you need them to (lovingly of course!).  We were talking about the changes we’re all experiencing in our lives and this question came up:

If you could define yourself in one word – one word that when you die, people use to describe you – what would it be?

Wow! There are so many words.  What if part of our life was defined by one word and part by another word?  How about this:  What if you picked a word but you didn’t think your life lived up to that word yet?  Or what if your word for you was different from the word someone else might choose for you?  Does that mean that your word is “wrong?”  (Hey, Jess – don’t make this more complicated than it is. Pick a freaking word!)

Actually, my word came to me right away (and my friends picked that same one for me too), but I’m afraid that I don’t always live up to that word.  When I’m hurt by a person or a situation, I know I don’t live that word.  When I see bad things happening to others, I sometimes forget my word.  In fact, sometimes I hide my word (which I really could also call my “true self”) out for fear that it doesn’t totally fit my profession or that I might not be accepted.

Within each of us is the capacity to be generous or selfish, understanding or harsh, loving or unloving.  Sometimes we (read: me) can be all of these things in one day (or even one hour!).  We are entitled to make mistakes.  To not be perfect.  Some days we just can’t be on the “path.”  Life can be super messy that way.

But friends, we really do choose what aspects of our character we want to support and develop. We decide the word that will be our lasting legacy.  And the really cool thing about it?  You can live the life you want to live – even if you haven’t thus far.  And, even if you didn’t do it this weekend!  How amazing is that?

Think about it.  What’s your word?

Have a fantastic day!  🙂

 

 

(My) Sliding Doors.

Have you seen this movie?  Essentially it’s about the notion of what your life would be like if you made a right turn or a left turn at a particular moment.  The people you might meet.  The experiences you might have.  Sort of the serendipity of life.

What about the uncanny coincidences of our experiences?  We’ve all had it happen.  For example, I think of someone, maybe someone I’ve not talked with in years, and then hours later, he calls.  Or you hear a very unusual phrase three times within an hour from three different people.  What about the people who come into your life at the very moment that you need them or you meet someone by chance and you almost didn’t go to the place/event in the first place.

Is this just the law of averages playing itself out?  Or is it what Carl Jung believed was the underlying order of the universe – Synchronicity.  Jung said that this underlying connectedness manifests itself through meaningful coincidences that cannot be explained by cause and effect. Such synchronicities occur, he theorized, when a strong need arises in the psyche of an individual.  Hey!  I’ve got some strong needs in my psyche! 🙂

I’m sure my dad’s got a stomach ache as he reads this (he’s a scientist). But Dad, some scientists see a theoretical grounding for synchronicity in quantum physics, fractal geometry and chaos theory. They are finding that the isolation and separation of objects from each other is more apparent than real.  At deeper levels, everything — atoms, cells, molecules, plants, animals, people — participate together in the flow of our universe.  For example, physicists have shown that if two photons are separated, no matter by how far, a change in one creates a simultaneous change in the other.  What’s that all about?

What ever it is – I believe in it.  I’ve had the most unusual experiences with people that I know come into my life for a reason (even when I wish they hadn’t).  Maybe they are there for me, maybe for them, maybe for the “us” … or maybe something bigger than us.  Thinking this way, gives me a sense of hope.  A sense of something bigger than me – whatever that might be.

In Sliding Doors, although we see the female lead go two different ways, she ultimately ends up with the same person.  Maybe in life, we have the chance to go right or left, but in the end – it’s a big circle and we end up in the same place … just with different experiences.

Maybe synchronicities are simply a wink from the cosmos.  A chance to stop and think about the world around us and how we fit in.  So, when you start singing that stupid song in your mind and then hours later you go to the store and hear it playing – stop for a minute.  Smile to yourself, wonder how it all works and remind yourself, what fun it is to be here!

Have an amazing weekend!