Monthly Archives: March 2015

I had nothing to complain about.

Sometimes I just don’t feel like doing what I’ve set out to do.  This time it was going swimming.  It was 7 a.m. yesterday and I sat on the edge of the pool deck, complaining to myself about what the f*** I was doing here instead of in my nice warm bed.  A woman who had been floating around (not swimming) in the lane next to me, asked if I could help her get up the pool stairs and out of the pool.  “Sure!” I said,  “I’m looking for an excuse not to get in.  I just don’t want to be here this morning!”

She graciously looked at me and smiled.  She told me that she needed help because she is weak from her chemotherapy.  She’s at the end and sometimes just floating in the pool makes her feel so wonderful.  She said when in the pool she feels free of pain and exhaustion.  She told me how grateful she was for the opportunity to even be there – let alone get in the pool.

Yea, I felt like shit for complaining.  And, as I swam my laps, I beat myself up.  But eventually I realized that it’s natural for people to complain. Every day we’re faced with a lot of reasons to complain: too much work, not in a good situation, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, someone treats you badly, etc.  To expect a life without complaining (by you or others) is unrealistic.

We complain about what someone is “doing” to us.  But a simple change in perspective – looking at our thoughts, expectations and judgments, we may be able to see the situation in a different (better) light.

We often complain about what we don’t have or how we don’t measure up. This is also a waste of energy.  Why don’t we compare ourselves with those who aren’t as fortunate as you.  Let’s look around and see what we really do have.  Think about how many people would love to be in our position.

This lead me to my final thought … on my final lap:

Be grateful.

Be grateful for we have and for what others have.  Is life a race to see who can collect the most stuff or do the most things? Sometimes its best to just mind our own business. To focus on what makes us happy and how we can add value to our life and the lives around us — for as long as we’re here.

As I got out of the pool, I felt thankful for that chance encounter.  The brief conversation was a reminder that I’m lucky to be able to get up while my children are quietly sleeping, put on my swimsuit and slide into the pool for a peaceful workout.  I hope she’ll be ok.  I may still complain about the pool.  But I’ll also always think of her at the same time.

Let’s feel grateful today.

Letter to my Dad.

Dear Dad,

Last night was an average night.  Squeezing in dinner with you, me and the kids after a busy weekend.  As we were trying to plan dinner, the kids all had different ideas about what was to happen. One didn’t want to leave the house and wanted you to come over for dinner.  One was feeling picky about the food choice.  And another was asking me questions about timing and the upcoming basketball game, which everyone wanted to watch. But somehow we got it all together and met you at our favorite Dinkytown restaurant.

As we sat there, the conversation was the same as always: science, creation of a new source of energy, religion, the crisis overseas and the kids picking on one another (lovingly of course!).  But, it wasn’t the content of the conversations that struck me.  It was the ease at which you spoke with them.  Never judging their ideas.  Never shutting down their opinions, even the ones that were different from yours.

There’s a serious difference between being a parent and being a grandparent.  We parents tend to want to put our own spin and direction on what’s happening with our kids.  We can be a bit more controlling.  But being a grandparent, you have the ability (and sanity) to step back, listen and simply encourage.

I remember my mom saying that if she’d known how great it was to be a grandma, she’d have done it first.  I’m not sure I’d agree as I’m having the time of my life with the kids right now (as I know only you can understand).  Yet, I’ve told all three that when it’s time (and it’s NOT time yet) to have sex for the purpose of having children (again kids, it’s NOT time yet!), I want them to have a lot of it.   I just can’t wait to be a grandma!! 🙂

So Dad, I appreciate the role you play in your grandkids’ lives.  I know it’s not always been that way.  But why look backward, when we can live in the moment eating chinese food?  And, if I’ve learned anything about you and my kids, it’s that there’s no other relationship that can give so much with so little — other than love.

Thanks again for dinner.  It was just an average night that felt not-so-average to me.

Love JK

Friends: Your letter can be to anyone important in the lives of your children.  We parents can take a lesson from our parents or other elders.  When we just sit back, listen and allow our kids to talk … it’s amazing what comes out – unfiltered, heartfelt, and with a curiosity about the world that often ends as we hit adulthood.  It’s easy to forget how open their minds are and how much they can learn from people other than us! Have a great start to your week.

 

 

What I thought about during my 108 sun salutations.

One of my “new” (very fast) running friends invited me to her yoga class today, which was celebrating the spring equinox with 108 sun salutations.  My plan was to close my eyes, stay in the back of the room, focus on my breathing and try to survive.  However, during the course of the 108, 4 random topics came to my mind:

Differences: Why is it that we just can’t accept differences in people?  The list of major tragedies in our history caused by fear of diversity: slavery, the Holocaust, The Crusades, the genocide of the American Indian – is unbelievable. People died because they were different in their appearance and beliefs. They still die because of differences.  What can we do to avoid being judgmental?  We can try and understand people who think differently than us. We can agree to disagree.  Can you imagine a world where everyone in every continent got along?  Think about it for one second. I believe that understanding and accepting people from all walks of life is key to finding peace in our own lives.

Avoidance: We all avoid situations that appear stressful, uncontrolled, or scary.  But the truth is avoidance is one of the top contributing factors to anxiety and stress.  So while trying to avoid a problem or issue in our lives may temporarily decrease our anxiety, it really serves to increase it.  I’m the queen of avoidance.  I can avoid phone calls and conversations that feel steeped with conflict or will cause me to face my own s***.    From salutation 45-54, I realized that my fear is created by me.  And, if I’d just face myself, I’d see that there’s nothing there but me.  Who could be afraid of me? 🙂

Breathing: Think about when your kids were sleeping and you would feel their warm breath on your neck.  I think of my breath as a way to give energy and take it in.  One breath per move became so easy that I completely forgot to count.  When you lay in bed tonight just listen to your breath. It’s beautiful.

Thankfulness: I made sure I said “thank you” to my body at the start of each sun salutation. Why? Because I never really thank my body for what it gives me each day.  I complain about certain parts of it.  I forget that my legs allow me to run and my skinny arms allow me to hug.  Sometimes I’m totally ungrateful for the physical me.  So, each “thank you” was for you and me.  An appreciation for what we have, physically, emotionally and materially.  There’s always something else to have, but if we’re thankful for what we have right now, we’ll end up having more.  If we concentrate on what we don’t have, we’ll never have enough.

And with that, I ever so quietly finished my 108 salutations.  Thank you to my partners today.  And thanks to all of you for loving me and my words. You inspire me.

Welcome to spring. XOXO

 

Some truths (and mistruths) about love.

There are many beautiful truths about love.  It’s life-giving and drives us to be better people/parents/partners.  Loving someone means that you believe in them — in their potential.  It means you treat them with kindness and gentleness.  Love means that you celebrate them – their successes – and are there for their failures.

Yet, there are some truths about love that are not beautiful. For example, sometimes, when we love someone, we do them more harm than good. Sometimes, we love more than one person. Sometimes, unfortunately, someone won’t let go of an old love without a new one in its place. And sometimes those who love us, lie to us.

There are also some mistruths – some messages we have about love that aren’t very helpful.  For example, there’s a myth that loving someone means being there for them and available no matter what.  This, it turns out, is not true and often leads to resentment for the person who gives up for the other.  Or that there’s one “true” love.  Nope.  Not that easy!

Lately, I’ve had some really cool love experiences, which have led me to examine the truths about love  – things to do – as it relates to our partners, kids and close friends (I’m still “young” and reserve the right to add or delete to this list as I slowly get old(er)!):

1. Tell them about their brilliance and beauty – inside and out.  One thing we know about people is that they don’t often see this in themselves.  You see it and feel it – so, tell them.

2. Don’t confuse “directness” with saying everything you think.  A former partner used want me to be direct with him and figured I wanted the same.  First, he didn’t really want me to be direct!  And second, directness can hurt. If you’re feeling frustrated with someone, go to yoga, take a walk, think of a better way to share your thoughts.  Don’t pollute your relationship.  It takes a lot of work once your site is polluted.

3. Listen.  If nothing in the conversation interested you, you weren’t really listening.

4. Take responsibility for your actions.  Done.

5. Give permission for someone to make a mistake or two.  However, the same mistake over and over again means nothing’s changing.

6. Screw that whole idea of trying to change someone.  Habits and personalities are there to stay – even with our kids.  We can show them new ways but if they don’t want to go that direction then you’ve got to let go.  Also, don’t confuse love with being a doormat.  Take care of yourself if their “habits” hurt you.

7. Love is not resentment.  If you feel it, something’s wrong.

8.  Every person on this earth has something to give.  Treat them as such.  I try to think of it this way: Everything that happens from one person to me is either love or a need for love.

Here’s the truest statement of all:

What will survive of us is love.  Philip Larkin, poet.

XOXO

“Are you passionate about (him, it, what you’re doing)?”

I used to ask this question about relationships – Am I passionate about this person?  I don’t mean sex (although that’s critically important!).  I mean am I passionate about who the person is? Am I in partnership that I value and that values me?

Now I also ask this question about my life.

  • What are you passionate about?
  • Is your life pointed in the direction of your passion?
  • Are the people in your life supportive of who you are as a person?

Someone I know recently passed away and at her funeral it was clear she lived her passion.  And, while I sat there, I thought – it’s hard enough to find our passion.  It’s got to be even harder to follow it, which often requires a total leap of faith.  So, rather than continuing to wonder about my direction, I did a few things:

1. I  slowed down.

When we slow down, we’re able to tap into the best version of ourselves. This is where our answers are.  Sometimes I go too fast because I don’t want to think and if I keep moving, I don’t have to.  But, that’s not good long-term – right?

2. I changed my tape.

We all play tapes about who we are, what we’re capable of and what we deserve.  Most of this is self-limiting like: “I’m not good enough” or “This is this is the best I can do.”  It’s pretty hard to change a tape but when I started to acknowledge the negative ones, I could at least hear and acknowledge their negativity.

3. I decided I was Ok.

I used to have a hard time accepting my “unique” blend of strengths, skills, flaws and wisdom.  But we are perfect the way we are.  Remind your children of this – no matter how old they are.

4. I thought about creating affirmations.

I have to be honest – I’ve not done this yet.  But, every thing I’ve read suggests doing this (so, what’s my freaking problem here?).   Try it and let me know how it goes!

5. I decided to have more fun.

I make a conscious effort to laugh and smile more.  It has definitely helped me feel better.  And, that’s got to be the right direction!

6. I (tried to) ignore my fear.

I used to say that I’ll do _____ when I have more money, more time or more …. .  Do it now.  I found these were just excuses to avoid fear or commitment.  Excuses are limiting – push them away to move forward.

So ask yourself the question about passion.  Take the time to think about it.  It warrants and deserves your attention.  After all, in the end we all want to be able to say:

I chose to and lived a life I was passionate about.

Have an amazing day!

(Some of) My big life questions.

I have been asking myself a lot of questions lately.  Actually, it started a few years back when I found an article that asked some really serious life questions.  It got me thinking.  Since then I’ve quietly formulated my own list and I wanted to share a few with you:

1. Why don’t you do what you know you should be doing?  The challenge for me is doing the things I know I should be doing, even when getting there will be painful, tough or just plain scary.   Frankly, if we just “did” what we know we should do, instead of thinking about it, the universe might really open up to us.

2. If you achieved all of your life’s goals how would you feel?  What are my life goals?  Is there really something I have to achieve?  I believe in change (although I don’t like it) and I believe in striving for growth and goals.  But shouldn’t the question be, “What kind of life do I want to lead?” 

3. Who did I love today?  I ask myself this question each night when I get in bed.   Actually, as crazy as my life feels (and looks sometimes), being in bed is my most special place.  It’s where I’ve felt some really great love.  It’s where I send my love out each night to the people in my life.  And, it’s where I ask myself, “What did I learn today and who did I love?” 

4. What do you need to make it happen? This is one of my favorite questions when I feel stuck or can’t get to a goal. If nothing else, this question gives us ownership in whatever we’re creating, whether it’s a project or a relationship.

5. What would your (role model) do right now?  Sometimes I ask myself what my mom might do in a situation with my kids.  Or, what might my mentor do with a career question.  Act as if you knew what he/she would do and do it.  

6. If we could wave a magic wand and anything together, what would it be? I’ve never asked a partner this but how cool would it be to remove all mental, physical and financial constraints and think about being together and doing almost anything!  Ask your partner or best friend this question today.

7. Are you being true to your values?  What do you value most in life? I value family, health, work, friends and love.  Am I staying true to my values as I move about the world? Are they working together?  If not, I’ve got to readjust what I’m doing.

8. If you weren’t scared what would you do? What would your 90-year-old self, looking back on your own life, advise you to do right at this moment?  

9. What’s next? Nothing better than to ask this question of yourself and others.  Something amazing will be next!

Got some questions of your own?  Can’t hurt to start a list!

Have a great weekend!

 

Do you focus on the potential or the reality?

I’ve read that the average human being only uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what we could do if we could access even more?   While the potential is enormous, the reality is a bit limited. So true in life as well.  

How many times have you commented on the potential of others?  The potential of a relationship, a job or one of your kids?  My mother used to regularly talk about the potential she saw in my friends.

I once got on a board because I saw enormous potential on what we could do but the organization didn’t want to realize the potential.  I was quickly frustrated. And, I’ve often approached relationships with this notion in mind — seeing what could be – the potential – rather than the reality of what is.  Really bad plan.

The problem with this viewpoint is that “potential” rests with the person who has it – not the person who sees it.  Yes, it’s really nice to see the potential in people but not if they don’t have any interest in that potential.

When we miss the “reality” of a situation it often leads to unrealistic expectations, resentment, and frustration – all of which are based on our desires rather than what actually can be.  Plus, focus on “potential” rather than “reality” often leads us to judgment based on our perception of the potential of the situations.  

This is not to say that people and situations can’t live up to some potential. Or that we shouldn’t look to reach goals or our own potential.  But, that’s our potential.  We should not be in the business of trying to convince someone to live up to our ideals of their potential.  That’s not inspirational or helpful.

So, if you’re in a situation that doesn’t feel just right, where you’re wondering if it will ever be what you want it to be, try this:  

1. Step back and honestly look at your situation from a different perspective.  Be as objective as possible. 

2. Ask yourself what you want (and need) in your relationship or situation. Take some time with this one – it’s critical.

3. Focus on what you like, love and appreciate about this person or the situation.  Look at the needs on both sides.

4. Ask what the job or your partner needs from you.  If you don’t know, ask.  Take the ego out.  The situation may not be the right one and you want to know.

5. What are you willing to do to make a change?  Maybe nothing – that’s an answer.  Maybe something – that’s an answer too.  Have an open discussion with your partner or  yourself. 

6. Can you have what you want/need in this situation?  If not, leave.  You can find it someplace else. If you can, what can you do to get there.  Be honest here about what you can do and what you wish would happen. Follow the “can.”

If we love and live honestly, we really get the most wonderful gifts — happiness and much less frustration!

Have an amazing day!