Monthly Archives: June 2015

“I’m not sure how it happened.”

This is the statement from one of my boys, feeling particularly bad about losing an “item” last week. My response:  “Sometimes I think you lose things because you’re not present.”  I know what I’m talking about here — I’ve not been present for weeks.

Last week I went to the grocery store for two items.  I had them on a post it on the back of my phone, “just in case” I forgot them.  What did I do?  I forgot to look at the phone.  I forgot the items.  And, I forgot them the next three times I went to the store.  Why?  I’m not present.  I’m thinking about a million things — other than the task at hand.

How many times have you sat down to read something, only to realize that you don’t remember the last page because you were preoccupied with your thoughts?  Or, you drove somewhere only to notice that you can’t recall actually driving there?

The act of taking control of our thinking and our internal dialog is what allows us to be present and stay in the moment.  Let’s remember that we don’t need to be present every moment of every day.  And, we’re never going to stop our minds from wandering.  So, let’s not set ourselves up for that expectation.

We’re busy. We live with an amount of activity that would make our grandparents’ eyes roll back into their heads.  We travel more miles in a week than they would in a year. Unfortunately we often lose ourselves in the busyness of our lives.  We miss our priorities (and our s*** at the grocery store).

I think we (I) need a few “mantras” to be present this week:

1. “My life is perfect just the way it is.”  It requires no improvement.  I’m ok – I’m better than ok.  Love what you have at the moment and celebrate it.

2. “I can question obligations.”  There’s nothing that I need to do and nothing I should do.  But there are many things that I can and want to do.   I’ll decide.  I won’t let guilt decide for me.

3. “I can forgive the past.”  Nothing holds us back from being present like the past.  Forgiveness is a personal choice.  And, it’s freeing.

4. “I’m going to dream big and work hard today.”  There’s no better moment to accomplish your goals than right now. I find planning to be motivating.  But, things don’t always happen as we predict. So, don’t put all your eggs in the planning basket.  Leave something to chance!

5. “The best time to be present is when I’m surrounded by love.”  Love can really only be experienced when you are fully present.

So, let’s remind ourselves that being present is the most precious gift of all and it’s a gift that only you can give yourself.

Given how far off the ground my feet seem to be these days, I’m going to have to implement my “mantras” asap!

Have a great start to your week!

 

 

A tale of two women.

On two different occasions, I met two different women.  The first I met at the health club almost two years ago.  She had the warmest and calmest feeling about her.  She told me the story of the love of her life – her husband.  He was an amazing man, father, doctor and partner.  He died suddenly of a heart attack about 8 years ago.  In a split second, that life was over.

About four months ago, I met another woman.  She was with a group I was out to dinner with.  She’d been married for years to a man I knew.  He was not a nice person.  He had many addictions, including other women, and it all happened right in front of her.  He treated her badly for years and we all wondered how she stayed for so long.  When he died (of too much of his life), that lifetime was over for her.

As we left dinner, she told me that she’d met a man.  She was having so much passion (with a capital P!), lots of sex and so much fun that she eventually sold her house and moved in with him. She was giddy as a schoolgirl and you couldn’t help but feel the same way for her.

Sometime after meeting the second woman, I was at the health club talking to woman No. 1, who mentioned to me that she’d met someone new too  And, while they still have their separate homes and separate lives, they travel together, spend time with friends and genuinely enjoy being together. A different kind of passion than the second woman.

As No. 1 was talking to me she said, “Hey, I heard you met my sister at dinner a few months back.  And, she told you about her new boyfriend!  She said you were lovely to listen to her entire story.”   OMG! These two women were sisters?  I had no freaking idea.

Isn’t life amazing?  One’s years of suffering was met with the joy of a fulfilling relationship – just what she missed all those years she endured such a narcissistic relationship.  The other’s wonderful and first (likely only) marriage was not replaced but enhanced by her new partner.

I guess life is about trust.  And, trust is about being afraid and moving forward anyway. Trust is believing that it will work out before you see the evidence.

I’m always surprised (and comforted) that when I am in the middle of darkness and have no idea how life will turn out – simply having trust and a vision for my life will give me freedom from my fear of the unknown.  

I’m so happy for these two women.  How amazing that they both found the love they each needed – in the way they needed.  I think I’ll add a bit of blind trust to my life and see what happens.  One never knows what might turn up!

Have a great weekend!

Despite what they say, I can prove I’m getting smarter as I get old(er)!

What’s this about us losing our brain cells as we get older?  I don’t believe it and I certainly don’t believe it when my kids so lovingly say to me, “Mom, your short-term memory is s***!”  Nope! I’m getting smarter as I get older.  I’ll prove it.  

1. My hemispheres are communicating.
Our brain has two hemispheres and studies show that young people only use one side and us “middle-aged” and “older” people like to fire up both at the same time.  Hey, we’ve learned to communicate in our brains. Take that youngsters – you got about 30 years of learning to “communicate!”

2. My big brain is getting bigger.
We gain weight as we get older and that weight gain is our brain! Scientists have shown that we not only hang on to our neurons as we get older, we grow new ones.  And, the brain is continually reshaping itself … even for us AARP-qualifying folks!  Point #2 (kicking a** now, right?).

3. My bigger brain is making better decisions
According to a study prepared for the Brookings Institute, middle-aged people make smarter money decisions than their younger counterparts.  Right?  Just give a kid a credit card and see what the freak happens! 

4. I’m wearing my rose-colored glasses all the time.
The world looks better as we get older.  We just generally feel more positive and have greater emotional stability (except when we’re sitting in the passenger seat as our kids are learning to drive!).  I’m on this one like white on rice!

5. We’ve got the “it” factor.
“Mature adults” understand themselves much better and we get “it” – the flaws, the need to let go and the strength to solve interpersonal problems with less drama.  In fact, as we get older we’re even able to size people up in a more accurate way. How cool is that??

6. We gain control of our emotions.
Don’t you say, “Glad I’m not in my teens/20’s/30’s … ”  Young people live a roller coaster of emotions.  We’re more even-keeled.  We know how to regulate our emotions and enjoy the ups and downs without melting into a puddle on the floor (Ok, not all the time, but sometimes I can do this!).

7. I’ll have another “experience” on the rocks.
By “midlife” we’ve accumulated hundreds of experiences that help us gracefully move from one crisis to another.  In fact, we have a name for drawing on our experience and it’s called wisdom.  Kids, can you spell w-i-s-d-o-m? 

Yup, I’m getting older and I’m ignoring anyone (kids, are you reading this???) who thinks I’m not getting smarter as I move along in years.  And anyway, why would anyone try to mess with or argue to an old woman like me? I’ve still got the credit cards! 🙂

Have a great day my youngster friends!

 

His partner died and they never married. Regret?

Last week I met someone.  A single someone who talked with me about his partner who died.  When they met, they couldn’t get married.  And when they could, they decided that they had such a good thing, they didn’t see the need for anything different, just because the law finally changed.

He told me that they were soul mates.  That it was a difficult road initially but once they finally let go of their egos (and they both had them), their life was more than they could have hoped for. Then he died.  Suddenly.  And here he was, talking to me, now single again.

I had to ask if he had any regrets.  Because as we all know, our life decisions are either based on love or fear.  So, when we look back, we want our decisions to be based on the former because we’ll have regrets if we base our actions on fear.  Right?  He had none. Not even the decision not to get married.  That decision  was based on love.

This reminded me of something I read recently – a study by Bronnie Ware, a palliative caretaker who looked at those heavy days when people are close to leaving us.  She examined what were the biggest life regrets.  You know, if you were to die today, what would be your paramount regret?

Here’s her list:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. 

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings. 

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. 

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier. 

Of course, it’s never too soon (!) to make changes – regardless of your health.  And, my conversation with this person was a good reminder to me.  Don’t live (or die) with regrets. 

Before we parted, I told him about my life, what’s happened to me thus far, and where (I think) I’m going.  He reminded me that it’s so easy for us to love one another when we’re at our best.  But those who truly love you – they will love you and treat you as valuable to their life even when you’re not at your best.

But the best of all, he said, is when you meet someone when you’re at your worst, and they still respect and love you.  Now those are the best friends/lovers of all.  That’s what he had with his partner.  And, with a hug, he said that’s what I’ll have too.  How wonderful of him.  What an amazing way to spend an hour.  So, I wanted to share that hour with you.

Friends, let’s live just one day this weekend without any regrets!  Love without fear.  Express your feelings.  Try something new.  Give someone a hug that will last forever.  And take a moment just for yourself.

XOXO

 

 

 

Without a voice, here’s what I’ve learned.

Voltaire said, “When you listen, you have power. When you talk, you give it away.” I’ve been without a voice for three days now (I think it’s coming back).  And, other than being completely exhausting, the experience has changed the way I communicate.  And, it’s given me a greater connection with those in my life. In our love relationships, greater communication brings greater intimacy. Parents listening to their kids helps build their self-esteem. In the business world, listening saves time and money by preventing misunderstandings. And we always learn more when we listen than when we talk. I’ve been with people where most of my time was spend nodding my head or just listening to them go on and on about themselves.  And when those times arose, I often found myself checking out – bored and thinking about my own “stuff.”  I could have done the same this week because I literally could only listen for the last three days.  But, this week (because I had no choice), I decided to actively listened in these ways: 1. Face the speaker and maintain eye contact. Because I couldn’t yell down the stairs, I had to walk right up to the child I wanted to do something, I would touch him/her and direct with eye contact.  Look at those who are speaking to you and make eye contact. The connection is amazing (especially with strangers). 2. Minimize distractions.  Because it was so hard to hear me, I had to turn off all the noise in order to communicate.  I also had to put my phone down and those close to me had to do the same. 3. Respond to show that you understand.  I couldn’t say much so I had to choose my words wisely. Instead of “uh-huh” and “um-hmm.” I’d raise my eyebrows and would say something like,  “What happened next?”  This allowed for deeper conversations. 4. Minimize internal distractions. It’s easy to let your own thoughts get in the way of listening.  I made a point of letting those thoughts go and continuously re-focusing my attention on the speaker.  I really learned so much more than if I’d been in my head. 5. Keep an open mind.  I disagreed less because I didn’t have the energy to try to talk.  That resulted in my learning more about what the person was talking about. 6. Don’t say what you’d do.  We often tell people how we would have handled a particular situation.  Unless someone is actually asking for advice, they just want to be heard and acknowledged. Ironically, as I listened more, I had a better aptitude for conversation.  In fact, a friend complimented me on my conversational skills and I hadn’t said more than four words – yet, I listened for 15 minutes!   I hope none of you picks up this bug.  But if you do, use it as an opportunity to re-engage your listening skills.  You will make everyone around you feel better – and you’ll learn something in the process! Have a great day!

The homeless guy was smarter than me (and maybe that’s not too difficult).

I’ve really been working on this journey of being enough rather than focusing on what I’m not.  It’s not an easy road and sometimes I find myself going in the opposite direction. But, the key to being enough is accepting the cracks in our personality – those imperfections we all have.  You know, the stuff we hide with money, bling, self deprivation, etc.!

In the area I stayed this past weekend, there were a lot of homeless.  In fact, on one occasion when I was at a local store, the clerk told me that they had a “homeless problem.”  Don’t get me started on that comment. Suffice it to say, that was enough for me to buy some cold water and soda (it was 95 degrees every day) and take it to some of the homeless guys I saw while I was out running.

One day, I found a man sitting on a bench.  I offered him a drink, he nodded and said nothing as he drank the first water.  After a minute I asked if he needed any more and he said, “Nope. Got no ones needs or expectations but my own. And my own’s good.” I nodded and left not really getting what he said to me or what he meant.  I figured it meant nothing.

Yet, later that day, it hit me – this guy was way smarter than me (not so difficult!).  He was literally saying to me that he didn’t need anyone’s expectations or judgments to feel ok with himself.  He was enough.  That’s self-compassion at its most basic.

Self-compassion requires internal kindness and humility. For many of us, finding that we are enough, is a practice, like gratitude.  It comes from living inside our story: meaning we either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we stand outside of them— denying our vulnerabilities and imperfections.   And, denying – as we all know – causes us to orphan the parts of us that we think don’t fit in with who/what we think we’re supposed to be.  It’s the desire for other people’s approval of our worthiness rather than finding it ourselves.  It’s the need for perfection (which we also know requires a never-ending performance).

Some of us (read: me) can accept others right where they are a lot more easily than we can accept ourselves. We feel that compassion is reserved for someone else, and it never occurs to us to feel it for ourselves.  But why not try it on ourselves??  Who better to love first (like putting on the oxygen masks on the plane) than ourselves?

I never did see that same guy again as I ran down the promenade.  But when I did run, I was reminded that someone much smarter than me, taught me – over one cold water and almost no words, that I’m enough just the way I am – flaws and all.  And I need not count on anyone else’s opinions but my own. 🙂

Have a great day!

His midlife crisis caused her life midlife crisis — and what was left.

I was at an event recently and when my date stepped away to talk with someone, I realized that I had a moment to enjoy my wine and some people watching.  Just as I started to do so, a woman sat down next to me and we began to chat.  This is her story (I can relate – can you?):

Her relationship was “normal” — each busy with life, careers and kids.  She thought all was ok (well, she knew things weren’t ok but she ignored that feeling!).  Then, one day a bomb went off:  He was having an affair.  He claimed it was a midlife crisis.  He was sorry. He wanted to stay together.  How could this happen to her?  Other people cheat but she never thought it could be her partner.

They tried to work on the relationship.  But her heart wasn’t in it and eventually, she ended up having her own midlife crisis with a younger man.  She said that it was a mess with a lot of anger and hurt feelings.

Let’s be honest, no matter where or when you started your journey, most couples end up in unknown territory in midlife.  Sometimes our partner’s midlife crisis will become ours.  Most of us feel victim to another person’s changes. But, we fail to see what changes we’re also making at the same time.  Unfortunately, some partnerships don’t make it through midlife.  And, while this makes me sad, I also see that with the considerable pain, often comes an unexpected passage to a newly defined self.

My new “friend” told me that she got married thinking that she and her partner were so well matched – liked the same foods, hobbies, intellectual interests, etc. She thought they would just complete one another.  But the truth was that the marriage was just the beginning of story, with chapters that would be written by them.  They had to add the love, the passion, the trust, the giving and putting the other one first.  They never did that. They just thought it would come along in time.  Her big regret was not knowing all this before the midlife crisis.  And, she wished they had understood how important their individual efforts were in making it work.

As we were talking, a man walked up to us and asked her if she was ready to go.  She stood up and kissed him (I could feel the passion).  I felt good knowing that after divorce, you can find that kind of connection again.  He went to get their coats and she told me he was her husband (the husband!).  Turns out they’d stayed together, worked on forgiveness and changing, and were stronger than ever.

So, I guess the lesson is that in any relationship, a midlife crisis has to be faced together.  And, it obviously provides the challenge and transition that each needs to arrive at a new place together – a little older and maybe a little wiser.

Add to your relationship today.  It’s worth it!