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.

What you see is what you get.

I sometimes say this phrase when describing myself.  I don’t wear make-up (yet).  I don’t color my hair (yet!).  And, I’m usually pretty open about who I am and just how many personal flaws I can find in a day (a lot!).  But, maybe I should switch it around a bit.  Perhaps it should read, “What you get is what you align yourself with.”  In other words, it seems to me that the law of attraction and positive energy is not about what you get – it’s about aligning who you are with who you want to be.

I listened to a talk recently where the topic was the Energy of Attraction.  It was about us attracting what we put out there.  If we put out anger (another word for fear), we will get it back.  If we put out love or joy, we will get that back.  Like attracts like.  If you don’t like the energy you have out there right now – change it. When you change your energy, you change  your interactions and you change your path.

I’ve talked often about negative people I’ve had in my life.  And as I watched them move about their lives, I was constantly amazed at how much s*** happened to them.  I was also amazed at how angry and even more negative they would become about the “people” or “things” that were doing them wrong.  S*** happens to me too.  And sometimes it’s bad.  But I come at it a different way (not better or worse, just different).  I prefer to ask myself if I’ve attracted that energy at that moment and how am I going to change it to the positive?  My former SO used to tell me that my glasses were too rosy.  I don’t think so.  I like my glasses and I’m going to keep them for as long as I can!

Think about this: if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?  And if it’s something you can’t change, then let it go.  Accept it and move to something else.  If it’s something you can change – put the energy toward it and watch what comes back.

I guess we have to be willing to align who we know we are with what we do in life.  We have to admit to f***ing up at times.  But our inner intention will always lead to an outward result.  And, let’s be honest: the inner and outer are inevitably connected.

Friends, if we choose inner happiness over suffering, we’ll make peace with the suffering.  And I think we’ll find the ability to get through life just a little bit easier.

Have an amazing day!

 

When it’s just not happening.

Do you ever feel like you’re not connecting with and focused on the dreams you have for your life (big picture)?  Sometimes, I get to Sunday night and realize how much I wanted to get done that didn’t get done (little picture).  Both of these feelings often lead me to thinking about my motivation.

Last year I read an article (I can’t even recall where), which discussed ways to stay motivated when you just don’t feel that motivated.  It talked about how often a lack of motivation comes from having too much negativity in your life.

At the time I read it, I was seeped in negativity and I really wasn’t reaching any of my goals or getting close to my dreams.  So, I took the article to heart – wrote down the list – and this is what I’ve followed:

1. Have an attitude of expectancy.  We get what we expect.  If we expect something great or inspirational, we’ll find it.  Actually, it’ll find us!

2. Take control over what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t.  I’ve learned that if I become too emotionally involved in something I have no control over, not only will I not be able to fix what’s happening, but I’ll end up standing still.  The only thing I can control is my actions and reactions.

3. Be with positive people. Negative people and conversations focus us on all the wrong things and take us away from the things we really should be focused on.  I was with someone recently who was very negative.  Rather than engage, I simply changed the topic – it’s best to stay neutral.

4. Use your words.  Words have a positive force in our lives.  Some people live by affirmations.  I live by simply saying thanks.  And when I do, I actually feel thankful.

5. Learn from your mistakes.  Look, we all make mistakes.  Sometimes we make the same ones over and over again.  The key is to eventually learn from it (and not beat yourself up is you are on repeat!).

6. Have a plan.  If you take the time to plan, it’s hard to miss something.  And, when on paper, it feels all the more urgent!

7. Celebrate you.  Always take time out to celebrate what you do, no matter how big or small the goal reached.  It will help you get to the next one.  Do one thing loving for yourself today – you deserve it!

8. Visualize your success.  Sometimes it’s motivating to just try to see what meeting your goals might look like – especially when you are in the middle of a tough life moment.  Seeing (in your mind) is believing.

Don’t you agree that an infectious, positive attitude can shift your entire life? Positive thoughts in your mind produce more positive results in your life.   When you purposefully infuse positivity into your life – I promise it will help you stay motivated!

Nothing is impossible, the word itself says “I’m possible!” Audrey Hepburn

Have a great day!

And ever so quietly, I slipped back into the pool.

I met a woman last week.  She happened to be experiencing what’s happened to me many times, she was crying at a table at the coffee shop. I watched as she and a man fought and then he walked out. She sat there crying. I got up to leave, walked over to her and asked if she was ok.

She started to cry again, so I sat down.  She told me that she was in a bad relationship, he was mean, would yell, swear and cheat on her.  She knew she needed to leave but didn’t want to – or really, she was afraid to.  She’d begun to think it was her fault. (Was she there for me or me for her?)   Her mother had just died and she really didn’t want one more change, even though she knew what she had to do.

Why do we procrastinate when we know we shouldn’t? Why do we ignore the “to do” list when it just continues to frustrate us?  What causes us to become stagnant when we should be moving?  Does this sound like anyone you know?

This is a common theme for all of us.  We keep avoiding the difficult things we’re afraid to face.  It’s the “what if” syndrome:

  • What if I f*** it up?
  • What if I look stupid?
  • What if, What if, What if?

These questions can kill us.  And, if we let them go too long, more worry and fear creeps in and we just can’t do anything.

I’ve avoided the pool for 5 months.  It’s a long story and I only have 500 words, but suffice it to say, it’s become an overwhelming fear of what kind of mind chatter I’ll have in there.  So, rather than dealing with it, I just stopped going. My worries become as big as an olympic pool!

This is what I told this young woman (and I really should be telling myself):

  • Do it now.  When you let your mind ignore your gut, the fear will build until you can’t move. And, you’ll be wrong if you ignore your gut.
  • Know your strengths and weaknesses and cover them for yourself during this period. Ask for help!
  • Start with the easy and move to the hard. You don’t have to do it all at once. Sometimes just working on your mind before you act is the best thing you can do.
  • Acknowledge your feelings.  Know that you’ve avoided these difficult task(s) because you don’t know how you will feel or accomplish them.  Acknowledging these feelings is often enough to just letting them go and getting something done.
  • Know that you will become stronger – even if it’s just facing that to do list and not looking back!

So today, ever so quietly, I slipped into the pool all by myself and let my mind wander.  I was ok.  I really was.  And with that beautiful swim, I moved to another place. Take something off your list today. It’ll be freeing.

Have a great weekend!