Monthly Archives: January 2015

“I’m ok.”

I wish I could write a blog post that talks about how every day is completely amazing. Of course, it wouldn’t be totally truthful.  While I can say that every day has something amazing in it (and that’s one of the beautiful things about life), some days really aren’t great.  In fact, some days frankly feel very bad.

Usually we have those days because we’re hurt by someone we love or something we love. We feel angry, sad or confused and we dwell on the hurtful events or situations. We hold grudges filled with resentment and hostility. We allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings. Some people do this for their entire lives (I’ve learned that these people are too hard to be with long-term).

What do you do when you have those days?  When you feel swallowed up by your feelings of bitterness or sense of injustice? That’s a tough one, right? We’re taught to ignore, compartmentalize and walk away. We’re told to say, “I’m ok” – even when it doesn’t feel ok.

But, strangely enough, that’s my mantra.  Let me explain why:

During tough times, it can be hard to think about anything other than what’s causing us pain. We tend to live in our misery.  It feels endlessly painful. We feel like s*** and not very ok.  Yet, it’s these times that we see out how strong we are.  And actually, we find out that we really are Ok.

I’ve learned that rather than trying to pretend the pain doesn’t exist, the only way to understand what’s happening – the only way to get past it – is to experience my feelings and acknowledge them.  I have them.  I can’t shove them in a corner.  But what I can also do is say my mantra – “I’m ok.”

Why?  Because I am.  Because the truth is that no one – absolutely no one can do anything to me that would be so mean or hurtful or selfish that I would not be “ok.”  I will always be OK.

My mantra isn’t there to convince me of something that’s not true. I can (and should) still feel the pain, sadness and anger. But, even with those feelings – and sometimes with tears – I know deep in my heart that I’m ok.

So, my wonderful friends, please remember that no matter what happens to you – no matter how bad something might feel to you now  – or in the future – you will always be Ok.  You may have to find a new normal.  And, it may be awkward and very sad at first — But just know that you are (and will be) Ok.  

No one can take that truth away from you.

Have a wonderful day! XO

“Mom, I just want you to know that I’ve got your back.”

As you know, or suspect, I’ve made some big life changes (and I’m contemplating others!).  But sometimes, we moms (and dads) just have too much on our contemplative minds and, as a result, we don’t have our best parenting moments!  The other day was one of them for me.

While in the car, one of my sons asked me how well he could live on $1,200 per month.  I asked what he was thinking and he said, “Maybe I could play minor league ball.”  I, with my bitchy mom hat on, totally freaked.  “You need to go to college and graduate school!”  “You need to focus on real life, and a real job you love – not sports!”  (Although sometimes my obsession for my sports teams makes them “real life” to me).  He, as you would expect freaked back.  And, why not?  I had just crushed – no stomped – on his dreams.  I displayed a mom-really-sucks moment.   As expected, I apologized for that dumb (understatement!) move.  Next up was an issue with child number 1 – after which I could feel myself heading to the funny farm (and it didn’t feel very funny).

Later that evening, as I was looking and feeling like a failure, my other son came to me and said, “Mom, I’ve got your back.  I love you and you do a great job.  We’ll be ok. We’re all a family – no matter what.”  Now, that made me cry. 🙂

The thing about “family” is that we all have different experiences and different definitions. Some of us are part of a large family and some not.  Some have family all over the globe and some in town.  Some are emotionally close to their family and some aren’t.  Sometimes our family saves us.  And, sometimes our family puts us in our grave (figuratively – and sadly – literally).  Sometimes “family” includes people who aren’t biologically related to us.

But what do we know about anyone we consider “family?”  They embrace (most times!) our flaws.  They don’t shut us out.  They listen to our s*** over and over again.  They don’t judge.  We’re loved unconditionally.

Isn’t it great to know that you have people in your corner who love, support and care about you — the sometimes insane you?  People who don’t care how you look, how much money you have (or don’t) or how dumb you can be at times?  Doesn’t it just feel amazing?

Today, send this post to someone who fits that role for you.  A person who has your back and puts up with your s***.  Who loves you just the way you are, even when you’re being a jerk.  Who has no judgement about your love for them or their love for you.  Thank them.  They deserve it.  And today’s a perfect day to do it!

Have an amazing day!

And Love, thanks for having my back. I have yours too!

This “sign” smacked me in the face (well, in the chest really)

My father mentioned to me that he wished he’d acknowledged his age (to himself) much sooner in life.  I don’t have that problem.  I can acknowledge my age.  In fact, recently my age has been acknowledging me – actually smacking me!

A few weeks back, my daughter mentioned to me that the people in her class at the health club were “middle-aged.”  When I questioned her about their ages, she said, “In their 40’s.”  WTF?  So, I set a new house rule:  No matter what age I am — that’s middle age.  So, when I’m 60, I’m middle-aged!  When I’m 75, I’m still middle-aged!  When I’m 94 — well, I won’t be able to hear what she’s saying so she can call me whatever she wants (as long as she makes sure my glasses are clean and on my face)!

This weekend, I went to lift weights with a friend at the club.  Building muscle has been a difficult feat for me, given my “age.”   So, I decided I was going to disprove that myth with my friend.  Unfortunately, when I laid down under the bar to do some bench presses, I couldn’t even lift the bar  – and it was without any weights on the ends!  Ok, message #2 wacked me in the chest!

Yesterday, I was at the liquor store buying a few “things” and when I got to the counter I saw the sign: We Card Everyone.  My excitement was crushed when the cashier gently said, “No ID is necessary, Ma’am.”  Clearly not everyone (read: not middle-aged women) is carded!

So, in an effort to feel younger, I’m thinking I should avoid the following:

  • Groaning when I bend down (or at least do it quietly)
  • Buying my clothes and shoes for comfort rather than style (hmm, I better check my closet!)
  • Needing an afternoon nap (and actually having the time to take one!)
  • Wearing my glasses around my neck (to avoid misplacement)
  • Misplacing my glasses or keys (only to find them in my hand)
  • Enjoying the TV show, Pawn Shop
  • Telling my kids I was born before the internet
  • Enjoying crossword puzzles (While I was doing one yesterday, my son said to me, “I’m going to do these when I retire.”  He’s now grounded!)
  • Drinking port (Although I did have my first martini last week!)
  • Speaking my mind, even when I shouldn’t (pawn that one off to aging “woman” issues)

I had wine with someone recently who reached over, touched my arm and commented, “Your skin’s as soft as a baby’s.”  Hmm, now if I could just focus everyone’s attention on my arm skin rather than my lack of muscle or increasing wrinkles, I’d be golden (no pun intended!).

When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age. Victor Hugo

Thank g-d for Victor Hugo!  Have a great day!

Stop running. It’s in front of you.

Here’s the funny thing about life:  We often run from the things we should remain present for and we remain in the things we should run from.  A few months ago a friend said to me, “Stop running, Jess.  It’s right in front of you.  It’s inside you.”

For a long time, I used running as a way to avoid the things I really needed to focus on.  My mom’s diagnosed with brain cancer?  I put on my running shoes and go for a two-hour run.  My marriage’s falling apart?  I run my first marathon.  It was my escape. We all have them:  Food, alcohol, shopping, sex — maybe better than some other escapes (or not), but escapes nonetheless.

I got tired of running.  Not literally, but figuratively.  That’s the thing about running, we eventually get tired.  We go to therapy. We buy self-help books.  We talk to people or sometimes we don’t.  We are constantly looking for that “thing.”  The change in our life that will give us the internal peace we’re looking for.  It’s almost laughable — we’re running from that which is right inside of us.

I’ve decided that staying present at times of conflict (internal and external), those times of insecurity and fear – is the only way to learn from our experiences rather than experiencing Groundhog’s Day over and over again with the same issue, the same person, the same unhappy place.

For a long time I ran from my fears, my instincts and feelings by not leaving a very bad situation.  It was running but it didn’t look like running.  Know what I mean?  During that time, I was even afraid to listen to one of my favorite songs because it scared me that I’d never get there.

I’m not running anymore.  It won’t bring me happiness.  And, I’m no longer afraid to listen my song because I can finally see that what I need to feel peaceful and happy is right inside me.

I’m not suggesting that every day is magical and wonderful.  But, I am saying that if we gave the same love and compassion to ourselves that we give to others, we might not need much else.  So, stop running from your fears.  You really have only created them yourself.  When you really listen to that tape, you’ll realize there’s nothing to run from.

Here’s the thing about internal peace – the path is right in front of you.  Don’t run from it, access it.

My song is the link below.  I hope you enjoy it.  Have an amazing weekend! XOXO

I (try to) feel compassion for the masked people.

We’re often faced with a variety of people in our lives – and that’s great.  I love having open dialogues, being transparent and having respectful (key word) disagreements – where I can learn something new. Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do about those passive-aggressive (P/A) people who hid behind the mask of the smiling “it’s fine” or acting like what we say is worthy, when they really don’t feel it is.  I’ve got a couple in my life right now.

In their own minds, the P/A person believes they are really nice, easy to please, everybody likes them, they’re hard workers and always willing to help.  Sounds easy to get along with, right?  But these people are personal and professional martyrs.  They are not transparent, genuine or honest — with themselves or us.  It’s frustrating and often hurtful.

P/As love to give of themselves. Yet, if you know one, their giving comes at a price; If they do something for you, they expect and demand the same in return or they will remind you how much they gave up for you.

I used to say that P/A behavior was negative (we often see the same behavior in narcissist people – which can be very dangerous), but I’m trying to look at this differently.  Although I’m really not going to allow these people to be front and center in my life, I can see that they (sadly) live their lives behind a mask.  A mask of fear and insecurity – that we’ll see what they truly are like, and we’ll leave or reject them.

First let me say, I’m thankful I don’t have that mask and that those people I now surround myself with don’t have them either.  I’m also thankful for the opportunity to feel compassion for those that I know that are P/A.  I want to try and focus on how fragile they must feel inside – how scared.  I’m not perfect (totally not perfect!), and I often get frustrated with these people and allow their behavior to color how I feel about them.  But, for the most part, I’m trying to be more compassionate.

So, in this cold period of the year, when we have a tendency to be a bit quick-tempered and just plain tired of the cold, lets use our positive energy toward people we know are too afraid to be transparent and open.  Lets allow all negative comments flow off us like water over stone.  I get that this simile means that if it goes on too long, the water will eventually wear us down, and we might have to leave.  But maybe our love and positive energy will change one person – or at least help them see that we’re more likely to love them without the mask.

Have a great day today!

He said it to me and I didn’t know what to do with it.

I helped someone with something this week and he thanked me for my efforts. It wasn’t a regular thank you.  And, it wasn’t a thank you where you know the person really only said it so you’d do more.  No, it was a deep down thank you with him looking right into my eyes.  I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

We all know the simple act of saying “thank you” can make a big difference to both parties.  Just taking a minute out of your life to tell someone why you’re grateful for them, costs so little and means so much.

When I meditate (this is totally a work in progress), the only way I can sustain it is to focus on thanking people.  First, I thank my loved ones, for all they do for me. I thank strangers who’ve shown me little acts of kindness. I say I’m thankful for my life, the challenges, pain and joys.  I thank all of you for reading my blog.  And, I thank myself because it’s important to recognize our life and accomplishments.

Two days after the “thank you,”  I ran into this person again.  I told him about my feelings when he thanked me.  He smiled and told me that he tries to live a life of gratitude.  He said, “It’s so easy and you really can do it every day.”

First, before he gets out of bed, he simply says “thank you,” to whoever or whatever allowed him to have another day.  He makes a point of thanking people for things, when he can really mean it – not just because he thinks he should say it.  He also tells people exactly why he’s grateful.  He even sends notes to people to thank them (he said email is totally fine too — it’s 2015 after all!).  He always looks people in the eyes when he says it!

He then wrote down his “thankful prayer,” which he says every night – and sometimes out loud to his wife (how wonderful!).  It’s so beautiful I wanted to share it with you:

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.

~ Author Unknown ~

I am so grateful I had the opportunity to help him this week.  I was the lucky one there!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Every once in awhile I hate having to figure out the “lesson.”

I was recently feeling frustrated about a situation and told a friend that I couldn’t imagine why I had to have this particular experience.  She said, “You?  Ms. Enlightenment?  You always see the lesson … Think about it for a minute!”  (S***!  I hate it when my friends call me on stuff!)

Experiences are wonderful — when they’re wonderful experiences.  But when they’re not, we know (maybe not emotionally, but intellectually we know), that some valuable lesson(s) will come out of it.

But here’s the thing:  it’s the actual learning how to learn from these experiences that’s the most difficult part of life.

I remember as a kid, quietly pulling a chair to the stove to look at something and falling forward and burning my hands.  That was a lesson I learned pretty quickly!  Or, for those of you with boys, remember learning how to quickly put the diaper back on their *** before you got sprayed??  I only needed that to happen once.  Plus, I’ve had some really cool lessons about keeping my eyes open and experiencing amazing people (strangers) and their lives.

But, sometimes life makes you have the experiences over and over again until you really get the lesson.  And, while I hate to admit this, I actually learn the most from those experiences that are difficult and painful.  The ones that require me to explore my feelings.  (Eek!  Who wants to explore their feelings???!!!!)

So, after talking with my friend, I decided to figure out what I can learn from this (and other) experiences (this is a typical lawyer … she makes a “plan”):

1. What happened? Often I try to forget the experience.  I just want it to go away.  But when I do that, I’m really ignoring the lesson.  So, this time I’ve decided to write about it – from start to finish.  I think it’ll help me see it more clearly – a key piece (for me) in learning something from the whole deal.

2. Looking back.  Sometimes it’s ok to look back.  Would I have done something differently knowing what I know now?  How could I have responded/acted differently?  In this case, I wouldn’t have done anything differently because I never put money (or myself) before other people and that would have been my only choice. As painful as it was, I’m super glad I stuck with my moral compass.

3. What feelings do I have about it?  Am I blaming?  Am I stuffing or ignoring?  Can these feelings change me going forward?  I really have to dig deep.  And when I do, I always see the lesson.

I’ve got some ideas about the lessons/benefits of this situation.  And, as we know, most lessons, by definition, are tough.  Yet, the only way we can continue to grow and learn is by having these experiences.  Let’s remind our kids of this when they are sad about how life is “happening” to them.  Better yet, lets remind ourselves.

Please everyone – stay safe today.  It’s awesome (but cold) out there!

“Do you believe in soul mates?”

I long for the days when the questions from my kids were like:

  • “Why do we have to go to bed now, when it’s still light outside?”
  • “Why do we have to drink milk every day?”
  • “Why can’t I get that game for my (fill in the blank)?
  • “Why are other moms nicer than you?” – Wait!  Still get that one!

Now I get questions like this one about soul mates.  This question, however, resulted in a very interesting conversation and I thought I’d share where we ended up.

My ideas about soul mates have changed over time.  When I was younger, I didn’t believe in soul mates.  I just figured you met someone and if it worked, great.  But, as I’ve gotten old(er), I realize that there are people who come (and still will come) into my life that I know are there for a reason and with whom I will be amazingly connected.  People who I’ve likely known before and maybe will know again.  I think they are soul mates.

I also believe that some of my friends are soul mates – we are so in tune that I just know we’re together for a reason.  You know the kind of friends I’m talking about?

I told my kids that they’ll come in contact with many people throughout their lives.   Some they will be attracted to and only a few they will be so attracted to that they will want to become partners.  Why only a few?  Because I believe that when it comes to attraction, our unconscious leads us.  Love is not logical.  Love is of the soul and I think our soul knows who the “right” person is at that time.  (This is as close to religion as I’m going to get here.  We can chat about this over wine!).

Look, there are billions of people in the world and many of them could be perfectly suitable partners for us.  But one with whom you have that connection – well it takes not just that first meeting, but work, hard work and the dropping of egos.  Not everyone can do that.

And, sometimes finding your soul mate may not end the way you want – and you’re left with lessons, (sometimes painful) not a partnership. Then, (and here’s the super cool part) – you get to go out and find the next soul mate!

At the end of our talk I blurted out, “How the f*&% am I qualified to answer this question?”  Then, I paused and said, “Well, there’s one thing I know for sure:  Deep soul mate love can come at any time, in any place and at any age.  It can come more than once and more than twice.  Love is the most powerful, most amazing thing in the world.  When you have children,  you’ll really understand the connection of souls.”

So many questions and absolutely no answers.

And, with that – I hope you have an amazing start to your week!

The man sitting next to me on the plane.

Recently, I took a few much-needed days away.  On my way home, I sat next to a man from Minneapolis.  He had been in CA for a visit (parents anniversary).  He’s been off work for more than a year – work-related injury and currently has no income.  He mentioned that he didn’t have time to have dinner (as I was eating a PB sandwich), so I gave him the protein bar in my purse and my peanuts from the flight.  He was so grateful.  My heart was heavy.

We began to talk about the book I had in my lap and why I was reading it – “Peace” (when I bought it my kids said, “Really Mom? Don’t you read enough about love and peace?).

I told him that the book wasn’t really about peace as much as it was about finding ways to deal with the situations in life that aren’t peaceful – those things that are nightmares in our lives.  We all have them.  People who treat us badly or situations that are toxic.  I mentioned that my big life question lately was how can we remain full of love and positivity when things don’t seem to warrant those feelings.

He suggested that what we really need to do, to find true peace, is not to point fingers at people or situations, but rather look at how we deal with the way people treat us – and forgive the pain we experience.  This doesn’t mean letting it happen over and over again. But, the key is how we think about the person or situation — how forgiving we are.  He believes that’s how we find true internal peace.

This reminded me of the Buddhist teachings I’d read recently.  Buddhists believe that it’s important not to blame – no finger-pointing when things happen to us.  Essentially, we are the driver of our own vehicle. We are responsible for our reactions and responses (and our boundaries!). So true, right?

My new friend told me about his difficult life.  He’s faced discrimination (he’s African-American) and people have and still do treat him badly because of his color.  But rather than being angry, he realizes how uninformed they are.  He told me that feels sorry for their closed life.  And he tries to remain positive and loving even in the face of those bad situations.

We talked the whole way and just before we landed, he said “I need to tell you one thing: When stuff is bad, when someone or something is doing us wrong – that’s when we need to find the most compassion. That’s the key to peace.”

Later, when I told my kids about the conversation, they said, “Mom, you’d probably have had that kind of “meeting” with half the people on the plane if you sat with them.  You just talk to anyone.”  Out of the mouths of babes.  I’ll take it as a complement (of sorts!).  But I got a gift – a lesson more powerful than any book. Thanks friend!

Have a great weekend!