Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sometimes it just feels like too much.

Do you ever have so much on your plate that you’re left feeling overwhelmed and totally stressed out?  Where you wonder just how you’ll get it all done?  I hit that point today.  It was a culmination of things this week and today, which resulted in that feeling.  I know we all have those days.  With our fast paced lifestyles it’s commonplace to feel overwhelmed.  We work harder, longer and do more than any one person really should be doing.  So,the issue with feeling overwhelmed is not when it’ll happen but how you’ll deal with it when it does!

What did I do?  I went to yoga.  An odd place for me because it’s where my mind chatters and I (more often than not) end up teary-eyed.  But while the instructor was telling us to breathe, focus and move, I told myself the following:

1. This is your life.  You love it.  Yes, sometimes it’s overwhelming.  Accept it.  Pick the things you can do and let go of the things you can’t.

2. Don’t let negativity seep in.  I did that today.  I allowed it to come in and it clouded my view.  But once I saw it – I smiled and reminded myself that my purpose here is love and positive energy.

3. Remember what’s important.  Often when we’re overwhelmed we forget to focus on what’s important.  Why are we doing what we’re doing?  Are we moving forward?

4. How do I want to feel? What’s my end goal?  I have the paint and the paint brush.  What do I want my life-painting to look like?

5. Who can help me?  I realized that a couple of things were really stumping me.  So, instead of continuing to bang my head against the wall, I decided to think about who could help me.  We’re often afraid to ask for help because we think it’ll make us look weak.  But it takes more strength to ask for help than doing nothing!  People are amazing.  Just ask and be open to receiving what others are willing to provide.

6. Boundaries.  This is my most difficult life task.  I know it.  I’ve allowed them to be crossed, stomped on and ignored.  But time is one of our most precious commodities.  It’s the only resource that is un-renewable.  So, let’s spend it wisely and consciously. Don’t let people take your time or your energy.

7. Be Thankful.   What was the best part of my overwhelming day?   Honestly, it was being with my kids at conferences.  They’re so amazing and there’s so much love there – it was renewing for me.  I’m thankful for them.

Friends, let’s treat these days of feeling of overwhelmed as an important step in slowing down. Readjusting our center of focus.  It’s a reminder that we create our own experiences.  We paint the picture of our lives.  And so, with a deep and beautifully renewing breath, I wish you the most wonderful of weekends.  It really is amazing, isn’t it?  XOXO

“I heard every word you said!”

How many times have you said something like this to your partner or child, when they accused you of not listening to them?  Or, on the other side of the v. how many times have you gotten p***ed off when someone said this to you?  There’s no way that listening is the same as hearing and when someone hears you (and then regurgitates back), that’s not listening.  I’ve heard this statement before and it always drove me bonkers.

Most people (this includes me at times), hear — but we don’t listen.  Our minds are elsewhere.  Sometimes we end up being more concerned about getting our perspective out there.  Sometimes we just want to validate our assumptions/thoughts/feelings.

I want to work on getting better at this one.  I want to be a better listener.  Since listening is a skill, that means it’s something we (“I”) can work on and get better at!

I once read that to listen effectively you should CARE for those you’re listening to:

C – concentrate – focus on the speaker

A – acknowledge – through body language – nod your head occasionally or say uh-huh

R – respond – ask questions for clarification and interest

E – empathize – share in their emotions and feelings. Validate your partner

Now this sounds basic and easy enough but I want to go deeper.  So, I’ve added my own s*** into the mix:

1. I’m going to check my defensiveness at the door.  This is a difficult thing to do – especially when someone is challenging us.  But lately, I’ve learned so much more from people who challenge my assumptions, than those who are yes men/women.

2. I’m going to remind myself that my ideas are not any more important than someone else’s.  In fact, they could very likely be less important.  I really do want to learn and what better way then to listen to someone’s opinions (even if they are so opposite from mine!)?

3. I’m going to be quiet – with my mouth and in my mind.  We can’t listen if we’re talking.  And we can’t listen if we’re thinking of other things.   I want to be fully ready to listen with my mouth closed and my mind open!

There’s so much we can give to those we know (and those we don’t) and I believe listening fully to someone is one of the best gifts we can give them.   I feel so good when someone is really listening to me.  And, I feel amazing when I can really listen to someone else and experience the power of their feelings.

Remember: silence isn’t golden … it’s powerful!

Have a wonderful day!

 

Doing a good thing should make us happy. But, apparently not me …

I’m afraid to write this story because sometimes I can be a bit emotional about things.  And, I’m not sure if this is a good quality of mine or a flaw.  Maybe it’s a bit of both.  Someone used to say, “There’s a Jessica A and a Jessica B.  Jessica A is a hard-charging lawyer that either wins or solves every client problem.  Jessica B is a very sensitive person – sometimes too sensitive.”   I’m not sure I would agree with the “too” but I think this generally pegs me!

On Friday I went pick up dinner.  When I got to the restaurant entrance there was a thin woman, all bundled up, looking hungry and cold.  She came to me for money.  I gave her a half-smile and just walked in.  I was exhausted from the week and had nothing left in me.  She came in and got in line behind me.  “I didn’t mean you no harm,” she said to me.  I nodded and smiled but I was focused – get food, get home and collapse.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her counting her money.  She let a person go in front of her as she continued to count – it was all change.  I was almost to the register when she began ordering.  “I’ll have a burrito with extra meat,” she said to the guy behind the counter.  “That’ll be extra,” he said.  “Never mind – I don’t have that much but can I get some of that green stuff,” she asked.  “The guacamole?  That’s extra too,”  he said. “No thanks.” she said.

The guy had to stop making her food to ring me up.  As he helped me, I whispered, “I want to pay for whatever she wants.  Give her the extra meat and the guacamole.  And, give her chips please.”  “Sure. No problem.” he said as he rang it all up.   I hurried out. I didn’t want anyone to know it was me.

As I walked away, I started sobbing.  My heard felt like it was breaking.  How did I  get to have the money to buy my food?  How did I have a credit card and she didn’t?  She looked so hungry and cold.  It felt so unfair.  Yet, I’d just done something nice – what the freak was wrong with me?  Why wasn’t I smiling instead of crying?

I wish I could help more people.  A friend used to joke with me that I’d happily give away my money and all his, if I could!

I’m not sure what my message is here.  Maybe it’s that sometimes life is really painful – even when it’s not directed at us – but being suffered by others.   Maybe it’s that we should be thankful for what we have right now, today.  Maybe it’s that it’s good to feel that kind of heartache so we can be reminded how very lucky we are.

Whatever the message, I hope you enjoy amazing experiences this week!

 

 

I’m not sure what kept me from posting this before …

In December I wrote a blog (but didn’t post it) on the difference between being happy and being positive.  At that time, I noticed a lot of articles on happiness.  It was the holiday season so why not push happiness on us during a period that can be depressing and stressful?  But, I just didn’t feel like posting it and I (obviously) found something else to write about. But now feels like the right time so here it is:

A friend once told me that there’s a difference between being positive and being happy. She said that happiness is something that happens that puts a smile on your face – like hearing that first bird chirp after a cold winter.  Positivity is a way of thinking and living – regardless of what’s happening in your life. Makes sense right?

Happiness is the easy part.  Inevitably something will happen in your day and you’ll laugh, smile, etc.  For example, one time I made a list of things that  I could do that felt happy:

  • Do an unexpected and unconditional favor
  • Smile at a stranger
  • Have a sugar cookie with amazing frosting
  • Start a conversation with a stranger
  • Hug someone who needs it (or even those who don’t need it).
  • Hug my kids
  • Walk outside
  • Complement a stranger (this is so fun!)
  • Buy yourself flowers and/or buy them for someone else
  • When driving, stop and allow someone to cross the street
    Give money to the organizations that feel good to me

Being positive means a whole mindset change.  It’s not the sort of thing that happens overnight.  It requires really thinking about what you enjoy in life, how you want to live and how you want others to feel around you.

So, for the positivity piece, here are my daily habits:

  • Focus on the end result (a positive mindset), remembering that’s the goal..
  • Getting rid of the garbage in your life (literally and figuratively!).  You know what things in your life drag you down.  Time to be choosy.
  • Complain less, smile more.  Imagine that you’re already positive.
  • See bad things as a blessing in disguise. See failure as a stepping stone to success.
  • Tell yourself that your desire to be positive outweighs your desire to have a negative reaction to some event.  After awhile, it’ll become second nature.

Maybe I wanted to post this now, because it’s getting lighter earlier and we’re all feeling a bit happier.  So, it seems like the perfect time to begin thinking about changing to a positive mindset.  Look, I’m by no means perfect (ask anyone who knows me!), but I think my friends would say I’m a fairly positive person.  And, to get there, I worked on these habits every single day (even when my kids were driving me crazy!).  Worth a shot, right?

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

“Jessica, you’re wrong. That’s not a strength of yours.”

In talking with a friend recently, he asked me if I thought a particular quality of mine was a strength.  I said yes.  He said I was wrong.  I pushed back (with a smile, of course!).   But after reading a book by Marcus Buckingham, Go Put Your Strengths To Work, I realized that he was right.  (Sorry friend!)

Many of us are blind to our best qualities.  When I’m asked to name my strengths,  I often have difficulty doing so.  We are unable to label our core qualities.  Is something we’re good at a strength or weakness in our life? Does a particular relationship or situation give us strength or not?

Buckingham defines it like this: a strength is an activity that makes you feel strong and a weakness is an activity that makes you feel weak.  So, if you’re good at something but it drains you — it’s a weakness.  I think this is true for jobs, people and situations – if it drains you, its a weakness.  If the person or job makes you feel stronger, it’s a strength.  I think we’re talking about passion here.  Are you living your passion?

I’ve been making a list of when I do something I really enjoy.  I’ve started to see a trend in the things I enjoy and am passionate about and the things I’m good at but don’t really like to do.

So friends, ask yourself, what qualities to you like about you?  Do you like your focus?  How about your determination?  Organization?  This will give you some indication of your personal strengths. For example, if you like the fact that you can keep your checkbook balanced and organized, then one of your personal strengths might be organization (and you should come to my house and help me!).  Then, ask yourself if you like doing organizational things or if you just do it because you’re good at it.

Another way to analyze this is to ask yourself, what’s missing?  What do you like to do that you’re not doing?  I’m energized by helping people.  So, when I look at the days when things seem to flow better, it’s because I’ve done at least one thing in my day that was for someone else.

I must say that as I’ve paid attention to my passions/strengths, I’ve found myself drawn to people in my personal and professional life that encourage and support these traits in me.  In return, I hope my friends feel that being with me helps them to see their true inner strengths and passions!

So if you’re not sure about your direction or if you question your present spot, focus on the things that give you joy – the things that fuel your passions.  When you do, I believe your path will appear right in front of you.

I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. George Burns

Have an amazing day!

Find your breath. You’re right where you are supposed to be.

It’s difficult sometimes to be ok right where you’re at.  I find this topic in my mind every time I go to yoga.  It’s usually a time where I get quiet, try to be present, find my breath and remember that as difficult as it is to admit at times – I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

That’s my message to you today — where you are right now is the perfect place. There’s no question that easy or difficult, happy or sad, there’s a lesson (or two) in the experience you are having right now.  And that lesson(s) will have an impact on your destiny.

One of my favorite quotes is from an unknown author: “What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”  So profound. This, my friends, has been my downfall before and likely will be in the future.  You too?  We’re human.

It’s not that we shouldn’t expect things, hope for situations or plan ahead.  It just means that we need to be flexible.  That sometimes we will go one direction and while we’re heading the direction we thought we were supposed to go, we ended up being forced to go a new direction.  But we are flexible, we are resilient and even when (we think) the bottom falls out we have the ability to get back up, dust off and try again.

So, I just wanted to send a quick note on this day of love.  As you know, my word is Love.  At my funeral I fully anticipate my children will say, “She was totally in love with love.”  But it’s really about being ok right now.  No matter where you are or who you are with (or not), there’s love all around you.    🙂

XOXO

Love, Me

 

Love Yourself (this one’s for men too).

 

The Difference

Funny, right?  She’s thin but sees fat.  He’s fat but sees a body builder.  The theme here is we don’t see ourselves.  We see something else.

While a coincidence, (Valentine’s Day and a the release of a movie which harms a woman’s self-image) – we’ve got a new mantra in our house – Love Yourself!

It’s our mantra because almost no one likes what they see when they look in the mirror.  I know that this is less true for men than women but it really affects us all – whether you are the spouse of someone who feels this way, a parent of someone who feels this way or (quite likely) you feel this way.  We need to start loving who we are inside!  Perfect or not, what’s on the outside is the body we’ve got and we need to give it support, love and acceptance.  When we love it – it becomes lovable.

So, in keeping with our family quest to learn to love what we have, here are the  things we’re trying to practice (and say) at home:

1. Our Body Is Our Best Friend.  Our body is our faithful servant.  It tries to do almost anything we ask of it.  Yes, we’re limited by genetics, how we feel emotionally and our environment.  But, it still tries, no matter what and it’s all we have.  So treat it as if it was your best friend.  Love it up whenever you can. Your body is amazing just as it is!

2. Stand Up Tall.  My father used to drive me crazy with the posture thing!  But, let’s be honest, we all have a roll around the middle if we’re slouching.   When you stand tall and proud you have a certain attitude.  You send a message to others and most importantly to you, that you’re beautiful (and you are!).  Be proud.  Stand tall!

3. Feed Your Body.  Yes, you can feed your body just soda and chips and it will still try to make it on that.  But is that how you want to feed that which you love?  If you give it beautiful food, it will feel beautiful.  Try it for one day and see how you feel!  (P.S.  dark chocolate is beautiful food!)

4. Work Out. No brainer. A brisk walk is perfect.  Love the endorphins!

5. Say It Out Loud.   It’s an art, but if you can turn those negative thoughts into positive ones, it will show on the outside and you’ll be amazed at how many people you’ll attract who need that same positive energy in their life!

Let’s make peace with our bodies. Let’s stop trying to change the outside.  And, for sure let’s enjoy the inevitable changes as we get older.    I promise – when you start loving and nurturing YOU (and surround yourself with those who love the inside too!) – you will see a wonderful transformation when you look in the mirror.

Have an amazing (and very loving) weekend.