Monthly Archives: April 2015

104 pounds and counting.

In a world where we often feel helpless watching what’s going on around us, I met someone who decided that his life mattered.  I want to tell you about him.

On Sunday (after doing one too many errands), I was in the car by myself heading home for a much-needed hour alone (kids with their dad for dinner!).  As I got off the freeway and started to head down toward my house I saw a guy in the distance walking and then sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk.  Now, this is Sunday and near my old office building so there really aren’t people walking around the area.  I worried that something was wrong – maybe because I could see he was very obese.  So, I pulled over and got out of my car.  I hope he wasn’t embarrassed but I just wanted to make sure he was ok.

His story:  He was fine.  Actually, just tired because he’d walked two miles as exercise and was heading home.  He admitted to me that walking or doing much of anything for that matter was exhausting.  But, he told me, he’d lost 104 pounds in the last 10 months and he was shooting for another 100.  I was so impressed and I asked him what had triggered his need for change.  He said that when he heard “Black Lives Matter” he realized that he never thought his life mattered (he’s white, by the way). He’d always been overweight and never really thought he counted for much of anything.  Hearing that phrase caused a switch to flip and he realized that he needed to make a big change because he too deserved to live.  Wow!  As we said good-bye, he shared his favorite quote:

You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.   Mike Murdock

Friends, even when we think it’s so bad.  That we’re so stuck. That we can’t change our world, our life, our perspective — we have to believe that we can.  We need to push our fear of failure away. Each one of us matters – regardless of color, gender, orientation, size or age … we all matter.  And, to make a change –  the kind we need to make to keep ourselves in the game of life — well, we need to start thinking that we matter.  That we can change.  That we can do things differently.  We need to believe it, visualize it and then do it!  Join me … that’s my quest this year!

Have a great day!!

A story of very quiet love.

Love’s been in the air at my house and it’s caused me to wonder, how is it that the most beautiful and most painful feeling is the hardest to describe?  And how is it that people fall out of love and are able to survive and fall in love with someone else? Oh, and why is my love for my children so deep, yet so indescribable? Always questions and only a few answers!

I know a few things about love:

1. No matter who you’re in love with (kids, partner, friends), love makes colors brighter and boring things less boring.  We feel happier when we have love in our lives.

2. The strength and depth of love is determined by two conditions: (1) having a level of self-acceptance and love for ourselves; and (2) being open, honest and self-exposed.  So, I guess love starts with “me” and moves to “us.”

3. Love is also uncertain. One day you’re over the moon and the next day not.  And, we fall out of love (I’m not sure how because I thought love was forever –yes, I wear rose-colored glasses!). But when love crumbles, we shouldn’t grind it to dust. We shouldn’t add to life’s burden by hurting others – especially those we’ve loved. Trust me, it doesn’t make life better.

I’ve got my own little list about Love:

  • Love is knowing all about someone and still wanting to be with them.
  • Love is trusting someone enough to tell them everything about you, including the things you might be ashamed of.
  • Love is feeling comfortable and safe with someone, but still getting. weak knees when they walk into a room and look at you.
  • Love is someone kissing you even when you’re sick.
  • Love is listening and not judging.
  • Love is elastic. It stretches, retracts and changes shape constantly.

When I told a friend yesterday about my struggle with the definition of love, she told me this story:

Her parents were married for 60 years. Her father was not always nice to her mother (possibly an understatement).  But in his own way, he loved her.  Later in life, her mom got dementia and no longer knew her husband or anyone else for that matter. Yet, despite not knowing him, he would still go to see her every day and hold her hand. Even though she didn’t know who was holding her hand, she still was being loved and he was giving love. Beautiful and heartbreaking.

Love is being there for someone even when they don’t know it. Love is like mismatched gloves that go hand in hand yet not perfectly matched.

So, even though love feels different sometimes, it’s really all the same.  It’s beautiful, painful, ever-changing and quiet. It’s loving our children, our partners and our friends even when they don’t know it.  And, it’s being loved in the same way.

I’m totally in love with love!

Have a great weekend!

XOXO

He took my “me” time.

What was I thinking that I could get some “me” time?  I suppose the result was to be expected.  

Yesterday, after coffee with my dad and a quick run through the grocery store, I decided to swing by my favorite coffee shop (with big chairs) to finish up a book I’ve been reading.  I ordered an unsweetened iced tea and sunk down in my chair with my baseball cap well over my face.  It had a nondescript “LB” on it (which means nothing to most).  I was so interested in being alone that I didn’t even put on my Packer cap – which might spur conversation with a stranger!

The chair next to me was empty.  I quietly put my purse there so no one would sit next to me (ok, maybe not my nicest move, but I really just wanted a few minutes alone!).

I saw him come in (I know, supposed to be reading my book).  He looked familiar but maybe not.  Who cares … I’m reading!

“Is LB, Laguna Beach?” he says.  I slowly look up.  “Yup,” I quip.  I want to be clear that this is not going to be a conversation.  “I love Laguna Beach,” he says.  “It’s the best people watching of any warm city.”  I just smile.  I don’t want to talk.

He asks if anyone’s sitting next to me. I want to scream – YES, but I say no and move my purse.  I close my book.  Obviously, this is not going to be “me” time.

Turns out, I’d never met this person before.  He wanted to chat about something (and I didn’t), so I said very little and he said a lot.

But, what he said isn’t the topic of today’s blog.  The topic is a reminder about life’s “disruptions:”

Life has a lot of unplanned changes and lately I’ve been experiencing them.  You know that sense of unrest I’m talking about?  That feeling of being like a dog chasing their own tail.  I’m a believer in “to-do” list, I plan my meals, I write my blog, I get my work done, kids fed, and enjoy my social life.  But lately my days were ending with that dull feeling of not really completing my tasks.  Of too many distractions, things getting in the way … of failed accomplishment.

As he spoke, I realized that even when life feels interrupted, blemished and haggard, it really is exactly how it’s supposed to be.  It’s beautifully flawed in the most perfect of imperfect ways.  This guy, who was “disturbing” my time, was really giving me an opportunity to remind my selfish self that life has been graciously given to me and I should put some reins on my perfectionist ways.  To be present when someone wants to talk. And to just enjoy life’s disruptions – no matter when they come.   So, I quieted my mind and listened to him.  I never finished my book.

Friends, enjoy your own distractions this week.  At least we’re around to have them.

I want to get on the road to humility.

I am reading The Road to Character, by New York Times Columnist David Brooks.  It’s caused me to think about what makes a fulfilling life and how to become more humble, kind and self-sacrificing.

What exactly is humility?  Humility is not difficult to define (though it’s hard to embody). It means not thinking we’re more important than anyone else, including those who’ve achieved less than us. And it implies judging ourselves not in comparison with others, but in light of our capabilities, and the goals we’ve set in our lives.  Tall order.

Brooks says that our obsession with individual achievement and self-worth has gone too far.   He cites to a 1950s, Gallup poll which asked high school seniors if they considered themselves to be a very important person. Just 12 percent said yes. When the same question was asked 50 years later, 80 percent of students said they thought they are very important.

Why this huge cultural shift toward inflated self-worth?  Well, we’ve become a culture focused on our own importance and believing that success leads to happiness and a meaningful life.  I’d argue the exact opposite – it leads to narcissism and loneliness.

Let’s think about this for a second:

To have a truly fulfilling life of humility and character, we must learn how to let go of our perceived importance.  To forget ourselves.

Powerful.

And, how can we succeed at this notion of humility and character?  I think the answer is through our friendships.

We likely can agree that it takes about three seconds to figure out if someone we meet is genuine.  I’ve made the mistake in my life of not going with my gut on that one and I’ve spent years regretting such decisions.  I’ve also gone with my gut and now have some life-changing friendships!

Even our ancient writers (Aristotle, Montaigne, for example) wrote that while one can go without marriage, justice, or honor — one cannot live without  genuine friendships.  You know the kind I’m talking about …. the ones where all your secrets, fears and joys are shared, and then loved and respected.

How is it that for some people this seems to come so naturally?  Here’s what I’ve noticed about my life-altering friendships:

  • They ask questions.  Questions they really are curious about.
  • They listen and don’t talk while listening.
  • They can perceive what is not being said but is felt.
  • They are vulnerable enough so that it makes it easier to share.
  • They are humble and have humility.

Know any of those people?  They are indispensable to life.

Let’s change our self-absorbed culture through our friendships? Why don’t we teach our children the importance of being a good friend?  Or about humility?  When we leave here will look back on what we did for ourselves or for others?

What better gift for the collective consciousness of the world than being less “me” and more everything else.

Food for thought.

Have an amazing weekend, my friends!

 

Is it the Universe?

Have you ever had something that you really, really wanted fall unexpectedly into your lap?  Or something you needed help deciding and then all of a sudden the answer was right in front of you?  Coincidence?  The universe?

I’ve always had a thing for coincidences and synchronicity.  Sometimes, it hasn’t worked out well.  For example, for many years, before my mom got sick, she’d tell us that she thought she was going to die at 59.  We always told her she was insane and there was no way she was getting sick and dying and certainly not a 59. When she turned 59 she threw a big party (Fred Astaire – for my daughter – her favorite!)  and said, “Well, this is my year – my time.”  We again told her she was insane.  But four months later she was diagnosed with brain cancer and died six weeks later – at 59.

I’ve had my own fair share of envisioning things that in one way or another came true.  So I’ve always wondered, what is this all about?  Is there some way that our thinking brings things to us?  I have no idea.  But this is my impression of how it works:

A large percentage (85%) of all communication is body language.  How you hold yourself, how you connect with people, the energy you put out there — and, that’s what you get back.  It’s what some people call the “law of attraction.”  

Some time back I was in a situation that I wasn’t sure about.  I kept asking for “direction” (from I’m not sure who, but I continued to ask).  I totally got the signs that I was looking for – some brutally clear – but I ignored them – (not really believing in signs despite the fact that I was asking for them!).  

Recently, I’ve been working on making a major life change and every time I get scared, I ask the “universe” to give me a sign that I’m going in the right direction.  I hate to admit this but I’ve gotten some pretty good signs!  

Here’s what I think:  when you visualize something and can see it in your life you start to send out those signals with your body language.  People react to the body language and before long, you have the opportunity you were looking for.

So, let’s don’t be afraid to ask.  The worst thing that can happen? We don’t get it?  What’s the best?  We do!  I have a feeling that these things take time. So if you really want some inspiration – give yourself that extra space and time.  Visualize what you want, feel yourself in possession of it, notice the sense of fulfillment and happiness.  Honestly, I think you’ll be amazed at the outcome.  

Still no answers on how it works but at this stage in my life, I’m not sure I really care how, I just care that it’s happening!

Keep me posted and have a great day!

 

Mr. Greenjeans

I was with someone this weekend (older than me – but not by much!) and he asked me if I knew who Mr. Greenjeans was.  Wow, talk about taking me back in time (of course I do, I’m over 50!).

So, as a little game (with wine!), we came up with a list of what defines being a 50-something (we chose not to address body ailments, sex, loss of hair or weight!).

Your first Barbie doll did not have bendable legs.

The Monkees.

You know what a slide rule is (calculators was considered cheating).

You know about “old math” and “new math.”

You know who Dick, Jane, Sally, and Puff are.

You know all the words to “Hotel California” (We knew all the words, but had no idea what they mean)

You inhaled (shhh).

You remember paying 5 cents for a full size candy bar (g-d knows why we stole them when they were so cheap!).

You had milk delivered to the back door.

People hung clothes outside and then had to iron everything.

You listened to AM radio. No one listened to FM.

We would order clothes from the Sears catalogue.  The boxes came to the door and the bill came in the mail. 

Aluminum Christmas tree (now available at antique stores at the price of a new home!)

Shopping at Woolworth’s or Ben Franklin.  What the h*** was a Mall?

“Wonder Bread builds strong bodies twelve ways.”

You used telephone booths with closable doors.

You popped popcorn at home then put it in a large brown paper grocery bag and took it to the drive-in.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course
And no one can talk to a horse, of course
Unless, of course, the name of the horse
Is the famous Mr. Ed!

Ahh, the memories!  Got any of your own?

Have a great Monday!

His question left me speechless and in tears.

Kids can ask the craziest and most bizarre questions.  They can also ask questions that leave you stunned and without an answer.  The other night my son (who is a very deep thinker) was talking to me about how everyone will die someday and there’s nothing to do about it — so why worry (like I do)?  (Love these kids!)

As we quietly lay on the floor I looked at him and it was clear he was thinking.  So I said, “What’s on your mind?”  “Mom,” he said, “What do you think is going through a person’s mind when he realizes that his next breath is going to be his last breath.

S***

At first, I quickly tried to cover up with — “Oh, honey, people are usually sleeping so they don’t know.”  But then I realized that I was avoiding the real question and issue – the deep feeling he was having about how he loves life and how difficult it will be when it’s time to say good-bye.

I have no idea how he got to this point (this is the one who will hugs me every time he sees me cry.  So, I guess it’s not too shocking that he asked the question).  But, it’s a question that deserves some thought.

First, we never know when.  I imagine that even when someone is close, they must not actually think it’s the last moment.  And, since we can’t know, we’re going to have to look at it from a different angle.

Our focus should be on life.  Taking each breath as if it’s our last.  Really experiencing and making sure we feel as many moments as we can.

Yesterday, I was picking up take-out food and I noticed a couple come in for dinner.  They were in their 60’s.  I watched the husband, without a second thought, reach over and start to touch his wife’s hair.  She looked at him and smiled.  It was a split second move.  Likely without thought.  But it had enough meaning for a lifetime.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post other than to remind you that the reason we want to continue to take breaths, is not because of our nice furniture, new clothes or beautiful jewelry:

We want to continue to breathe because of the love in our lives.

That’s it.

So, show and express your love today.  Touch someone’s arm when you talk to them. Give a loving look, smile or hug.  For those of you who are the constant recipients of my unconscious hand squeezes, hugs and touches — pawn it off to my constant feelings of love for you (and being Italian!).  

That’s it.  It was a good question with no answer.  But once more, one of my kids has left me thinking about how lucky I am — in every sense of the word.

Pay attention this weekend and have an amazing day!

.

I was left not feeling very emotionally fit.

I had a plan. I thought it would work out perfectly.  And as time moved forward, I could see cracks forming.  I quickly tried to fill them up but new ones formed and in the end, the plan fell apart.  This didn’t leave me feeling emotionally fit (or happy).

I know this is not a new phenomena.  We have many disappointments in life: our kids do things we REALLY wish they wouldn’t, our partners behave in ways that feel bad and sometimes we’re disappointed with ourselves.

Disappointment is one of life’s most difficult feelings. And disappointment has a lot of emotions mixed together – like anger, hurt, sadness  and fear.  When you have just one of these emotions, it’s difficult to manage, but add the others on top and it’s hard to wrap it all up into a nice looking package.

I’ve been thinking of ways to deal with life’s disappointments and here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. Talk about it and feel it.

One of the hardest things in life is to actually feel negative emotions.  We’re masters at hiding our feelings and emotions at such a level that we forget how to actually feel.  It’s ok (and human) to cry and feel bad.  But, in our world of immediacy, we have to learn that sometimes we need time.

The funny thing is we allow our children to feel their emotions – screaming, crying, throwing tantrums (and things!),  Yet, along the way we tell them to zip it and stop showing their emotions.  I’m not suggesting having a tantrum at the store when they don’t have the dress you want.  But I am saying that it’s ok to feel your feelings.  It’s called, being present.

2. Concentrate on your heart.

Disappointment runs through the core of our being.  For example, one of my values is openness with my love and kindness to anyone – regardless of how someone treats me.  This is good most of the time.  But, a few people have taken advantage of this part of me.  When that happens, I want to shut down and go into my cave.  This last time, I tried the following:  (a) I paused and allowed my feelings to be near me – for more than a day!; (b) I looked at my choices: remain open-hearted or shut down.  No brainer choice; and (c) I realized what other people do to me does not define me — it defines them.

3. Be Accepting.

S*** happens.  And, disappointment feels dark.  But, if we work on accepting that some things are outside our control, we can at least let go a bit and look a new direction.  This idea of acceptance is a lifelong challenge (definitely for me!).

We need to be physically and emotionally fit in life.  And the only way to do the latter is to experience/appreciate all our feelings – even the difficult ones.

When you live by your principles, you’ll still have disappointment. But you’ll also be feeling all of life’s emotions.  How great is that??!!

Have a wonderful day!

She could barely walk down the sidewalk and I couldn’t stop watching.

We live in the age of awkward.  In fact, my son just said to me, “When you do XXX, it’s weird and awkward.”  (Thankfully, my daughter told them that her friends think I’m a cool mom!).  Let’s be honest – it’s hip to be square, cool to be uncool, and sexy to be nerdy (and quirky).  Recently, I heard someone say that they were a “little OCD” about something, and while I heard it, I didn’t think much about it until yesterday when I saw her walking down the sidewalk.

I was leaving the health club when she caught my eye.  She was walking very slowly (and sideways) down the sidewalk.  I quickly realized that she was avoiding every crack – I mean every crack.  As she got toward the corner, her steps got very small and she walked on her tip toes, as there were many cracks.

I was mesmerized at the perfection of her steps.  Eventually a car came and I had to keep going.  But as I drove away, I realized how incredibly strong our thoughts are.  And how strong her thoughts must be.  For some, they’re so strong they’re overwhelming and manifest in ways that are more than quirky.

This situation fits one of my favorite quotes:

You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.  Elizabeth Gilbert

I’ve been struggling with the fear of a decision and recently a friend suggested that a direction I was going was because I was afraid, not because it was the right direction.   So, I decided to change my thoughts about the decision.

Thought power is the key to creating our reality.  I believe that everything we perceive in the physical world has its origin in the inner world of our thoughts and beliefs.  So, in order for us to move in a particular direction, we need to control our negative thoughts.  In this way, we’ll attract what we want and need in our lives.

Think about it:  every aspect of our lives, from the state of our finances to the state of our health and our relationships, reveals our thoughts and beliefs.

We have it backwards when we think that the s*** that happens to us has an effect on how we’re feeling.  It’s the reverse – what we’re thinking creates what happens.  In other words, the creation of our reality really is an inside job.

I won’t ever joke about being OCD.  I’m sure it’s a horrible feeling and it made me feel sad watching her.

But I suggest we take the strength of our thoughts and do something with it. Maybe I’ll put mine toward my kids remembering not to leave wet towels on their floor!! 🙂

Hope you’ve had a great start to your week!

… and with the click of a clock and one swift decision, my life changed.

The one thing that we know for sure about life is that time keeps moving.  Every time we want it to stand still, to bask in whatever the feeling — love, joy, peace — it doesn’t.  And, not only that – but there are moments, fleeting seconds, where you make decisions that will forever change your world.  I’ve got a story to tell you about that:

When we were trying to get pregnant – I couldn’t.  It was not going to happen the romantic and easy way.  Nope.  All my friends were getting pregnant and I looked like a junkie with marks all over my arms from blood draws, injections, etc.  It took me awhile, but eventually I realized that getting pregnant was only going to happen with doctors, shots and medication.  It was an extremely stressful time of my life.

There was one cycle, where I went through all the hoops – the injections and all the appointments and when it was time to decide if we should finish it off we went to consult with the doctor.  “No,” he told us.  “The cycle wasn’t a good one and you’re not likely to get pregnant.  Just scrap it and you can start the next one quicker.”  I felt like a truck had hit me. Start all over?  I was getting older by the minute.

Yet, sitting in that office, I felt a gentle nudge.  Something told me to move forward – to finish the cycle.  So, I quietly told the doctor that contrary to his direction, I just wanted to keep going and see what might happen.

And that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — she was destined to join my life at that moment.

Now, here I am, 18 years later.  My life forever changed and crying whenever I realize how quickly the ticks of my clock are moving.  How did you get to be an adult?

Dear Lovie girl: Thank you for being with me.  For allowing me to teach you and for all the teaching you’ve done for me.  You are a beautiful and old soul.  Thank you for being an amazing sister.  Your brothers know how lucky they are and I know you can feel their love.  I’m thankful for the relationship you all have.

I am amazed at your passion, your beauty (inside and out), your resilience, humor and your ability to give love and joy to anyone you meet.  You have gone your own path but you’ve done it with grace and focus.  I smile just thinking about you.

To my friends, you know what I mean, right?  That deep feeling you have inside your heart when you think of your children.  It doesn’t matter if they’re biological or not or if it’s their birthday or not.  That heart feeling — it’s there all the time.

So  Happy Happy 18th Lovie!  We love you.  We really, really love you.  And, we’re so grateful that you’re in our lives.  On Wisconsin!!!

XOXO