Monthly Archives: September 2015

I was so focused on my “plan” that I missed the f***ing “plan.”

Five months ago I decided to run the TC marathon.  It happened one night on my way to the grocery store. I got a “message:”

“Jessica, your first marathon started a life period. Now, you’ll close that period by going back to the place you started and run it again.”  Hmm.  I wasn’t being asked to rob a bank, shave my head or eat herring.  This sounded like a doable “plan!”

So, I set out to run the marathon.  I trained with a group.  I stayed focused on my goal.  And, I arranged for my daughter to make her first trip home to be with her brothers to watch me cross the finish line (in some ways, this race is for both of us).

Yet, while I felt fantastic, there was something I was missing — it nagged at me.  But, true-to-form, I ignored my gut.

Then, last week – BAM! an injury.  So painful that I could barely walk.

I quickly realized that there was a serious possibility that I may not run this marathon.  I freaked (inside, of course).  This was THE PLAN.  This would close the circle.  How would I do that if I didn’t run?

Then last Thursday at 3 a.m. I heard this:

“Jessica – you missed the f***ing point of the plan.  This wasn’t about the running.  It was about you.  About finding time to shut down your mind.  About running and enjoying the beauty of the world.  Where you could meet people, hear and share their stories.   You thought it was the freaking running?   Sister, a monkey can run.  You have to do it NOW.  You need to learn that your closure was re-learning how to love your mind, body and soul.  And, you’ve got two weeks before the marathon to do it.”

Yes.  I am an idiot.

So I stopped – completely.  I got quiet.  I rested.  I slept and I ate.  Know what happened?  I got “messages.”  I talked to people I’d not talked with in a long time.  Today it was someone beautiful and full of light — and I was in the parking lot of a strip mall!  No one cared if I ran or not.  They just cared about me.  And, I took care of me.

The lessons?

  1. We know jack s*** about what’s happening.  Pay attention. Listen first, do second.
  2. Put your oxygen mask on first.  You can’t help others if you don’t love and help you.  Start now.
  3. Open your mind.  I’m not sure what’ll happen on Sunday but life isn’t about the goal – it’s about the process.
  4. Stay close to energy-sharers.  Those who infuse your mind with thoughtful ideas, fresh thinking and a contagious enthusiasm for what’s possible. 

Me? I’m still quiet. I’m going to pick up my race packet on Friday.  Maybe in the quiet of the night I’ll figure out what to do next.  Or maybe not.

Friends, the “plan” is about learning to love and care for you.  You don’t know about tomorrow – so do it today.  XO

What is your personal narrative?

I heard a rabbi talk the other night on personal narratives.  And as I listened I began to think – what’s my personal narrative?  What am I saying to myself about the show I’m supposed to be the star of? Listening to him I realized that our personal narratives – our message to ourselves – can either lead us to our truth or totally get in the way of our direction.

Sometimes we use our personal narrative as a stress management function.  For example, how many times have I reminded myself that “I’m ok”?

Sometimes, we let our personal narrative become a crutch, a lie, a twisting of what we know is true.  Been there/done that.  And while we think we’re protecting ourselves from pain, we’re actually creating more pain.

Look, we all have self-doubt.  We all question our ability as a parent, friend, partner, etc.  This is part of the normal process of being human.  But we must learn to create a personal narrative that supports healthy growth and development.   We must match the positiveness of our actions with the positiveness of our words.  They can’t be incongruent.

Sometimes we just don’t know what our personal narrative is.  Sometimes we have laryngitis.  Sometimes we need others to help us with our narrative – again part of life.  But know that you will find your own voice.

So ask yourself: is your narrative full of statements or full of questions?  If there are questions, are they the right ones?  Are they open-ended?  Don’t close yourself off with statements and questions that have only one answer.   Sometimes the same questions will bring different answers at different times. Sometimes the questions hurt.  Sometimes the answers hurt. Yet, painful questions and answers can also create a healthier personal narrative.

If you think you’re perfect, that you are always right, that everyone has it wrong – then you don’t need a personal narrative.  You don’t need to match what you’re doing and saying.  You don’t need to look deeply at the pain you cause others in the name of taking care of yourself.   (If this is someone you know – run away.  These folks are energy suckers.)

If you know you’re imperfect but you want to examine your imperfections and find new ways to look at the world and your life; if you want to create a personal narrative that’s honest, that acknowledges the cloudiness but is willing to wait for the sun to shine; if it’s a narrative that’s loving and positive, then join me!

But let’s never forget – it’s ok to be just where you are right now.  It’s ok to change your personal narrative to reflect how you’re feeling at this very moment.  It’s ok if your narrative hasn’t gotten you to where you thought you’d be – you can just make that part of your narrative too!

Welcome to this beautiful fall season with the chance for a new narrative.

XOXO

 

One of many anonymous gifts.

It may sound weird, as do a few things in my life, but I’ve received my fair share of anonymous gifts over the years.  When my best friend died (I was in my 20’s) someone sent me a book.  No return address.  Not from a city I knew anyone in.  It spoke to me from the day I opened the cover.

On Friday, a friend gave me some news.  I want to say it was not good news, but I think it will end up being the right news.  Do you know what I mean?

In any case, when I got home that night, I walked to my bookcase and pulled the book off the self. I’ve not looked at it in years but for some reason it was time.  It think we all need its messages:

Wherever you are at this very moment is exactly where you are supposed to be, no matter how things seem to appear. When you know you’ve done the best you can, then you should applaud yourself.   Even when your best may look like failure to someone else.  Your best will never be failure.

There’s no prescribed way to be.  There’s just your way for now until you choose another way.  Sometimes it takes great effort and some pain to realize that true love is not always perfect but it really is meant to feel effortless and deep inside you.

I promise that it’s okay to not feel okay right now. You know why? Because even when life doesn’t feel like it’s working, it’s actually working perfectly.   And, you can experience pain, joy, anger, frustration and peace all at the same time and still be perfectly sane!

The pain and sadness will eventually subside when you release what needs to be free.  Whether it’s a person, a thought, an action or an inaction.

When we get out of our own way – the right way is right in front of us.

Just know this: we are not and should not be judged by what’s in our life.  Not by the stuff or the job or the degrees or titles.  We’re judged by what’s inside.  And, if what’s inside is about love and treating others with the care that all human beings deserve – then we’re home.

We’re only as strong and as healthy as the amount of self-love, self-acceptance, self-care and self-forgiveness we give to ourselves.  Because the only real healing power in this world, even when it’s time to leave here – is Love.

So, my beautiful friend, this is the right path.  Keep walking. Stop sometimes and feel whatever you want to feel.  Run sometimes and you will experience the glorious wind in your face.  We are here to cheer you on.  You are enough.

To my amazing friends and readers – we’re in a time of the changing seasons and introspection.  Look around – love is everywhere.  And while our paths are ever-changing – they are the right paths.

Have a wonderful day!

 

My big mom mistake(s).

No one likes to admit their faults, especially when it comes to parenting.  But I have to tell you that a good day for me is making only 5 mom mistakes by noon.  And, I wish I could say that my biggest mom mistake is something like, “Oh, I just love them too much,” or “It was just what they needed.”  Unfortunately, I’ve actually made a few pretty big mistakes along the way.

I made one last year that’s now come back to haunt me: When it was time to set class schedules for my guys, I pushed one to take a class I knew he didn’t want to take.  In fact, he was pretty clear with me that it wasn’t a fit for him and not a great idea.  I railroaded him thinking that the class would be perfect for his brain and how could I be wrong … I’m the mom — we’re never wrong … right???

Well, I was wrong.  So wrong that I feel awful about it and he’s not happy.  And after a lot of juggling, it’s “fixed” but he’s unhappy and taking the brunt of my mistake.  This morning he said, “Well, you did push me into it.”  He’s absolutely right.

Wouldn’t it be nice if this was my only mistake?  Know what else I do?  I raise my voice and say things my mom used to say to me.  The same things I hated to hear.  Will that happen to my poor kids?  Will they yell and say stupid shit like I’m now doing when they’re a parent?  I better put some money in the therapy jar … and quick!

And what about the mistake I make by repeating myself a million times?  Don’t you think that sets them up to just not listen to me?  Why do I ask, “Do you want milk,” seven times?  Why not once and if there’s no answer I move on?  Because I’m a mom?  Because I have no idea what I’m doing half the time?  Because my mind’s on 22 other things when I ask about the milk and sometimes I’m not even sure if I asked if he wanted milk in the first place?  I’ve got issues.

Yup, I’m going to change my ways.  I’m a mom and don’t you think we moms should be able to control our actions and words.  I’m only going to push when it’s critical.  I’m going to let them make their own mistakes (not the ones I’m now making for them!).  I’m going to be calm and I’m only going say things once.  Either you hear it the first time or you don’t hear it again.

Look out kids – here’s to a calmer, more put together, happier mom!

(I’m thinking this will last until noon today)

XO 🙂

Have a great weekend!

 

Burned my fingers, broke a glass and a guy was “upset” with me on the hwy.

The other day my morning seemed to be uneventful.  I got up on time, went for a quick 4 miles and came in to make breakfast and coffee.  In fact, I was cruising along until I stopped paying attention and grabbed a fork I’d left in a hot pan, where I was scrambling eggs.  Result: A few sizzled fingers (no fingerprinting for me this week!), a few choice words and some ice.  Then, as we got ready to leave I dropped and broke a glass.  I was so engrossed in a conversation and again wasn’t paying attention (plus my fingers hurt like h***!).

On my way to work, there was a lot of traffic.  As I tried to merge into a lane a pick-up cut in front of me.  I quickly veered to the left (trying to avoid him).  He must have thought I trying to go around him and he started flipping me off.  Then, he stopped his car in the middle of the ramp, opened his door to get out and I could hear him say, “I’m going to f*** you up.”  I could see a problem on my hands.  Thankfully, some other idiot started honking his horn.  “My guy” got back into his car and the two started a game of chicken on Hwy 100.  I looked at the clock – it was only 8:32 a.m.

The day continued like this: I broke a heel on my shoe, my hem came out of my skirt, I twice tripped walking downtown and spilled on my clothes as I was making dinner.  Some days just suck.

When it was time to finally close out the disaster-day, I wondered out loud – what should one do when such an insane day arises?  Here’s what my friend said:

We don’t have control over most things that happen to us and around us.  However, we can control how we react to these moments and days where life just seems to push back really, really hard.

Do we react with intense emotion and frustration (usually) and then carry that negative juju with us all day long (yup).  Do we let it muck up everything else that day? Or, do we just accept the reality, recognizing that it is what it is and that there’s nothing that we can do to change what happened so why allow it to doom the rest of our day to disaster?

His suggestion: when you have a bad day like that, practice a random act of kindness. No agenda. No expectation. No requirement that it changes your day.  Because if it does, you’ll be so thankful.  And if it doesn’t, you’ll at least feel good about making someone else’s day better.

One of these days I’m likely to have another wacky day. But this time I’m going to make a point of stepping outside myself and not letting it infiltrate everything.  Maybe, if it’s really bad, it’ll be a two-random-acts-of-kindness-kind-of-day!

Welcome to a wonderful Wednesday!

How do we forgive the person who isn’t nice to us (and also doesn’t get it)?

This is the time of year for Jews —the Days of Awe—  where it’s hoped that one remembers just how naked and vulnerable we are in life.  To accept that next year we may not be here  — so one should forgive and ask for forgiveness before it’s too late.   But, how do we forgive those that have wronged us when they don’t get the pain they’ve caused?

Dr. Robert Enright, of the International Forgiveness Institute, Inc. once wrote about acceptance and forgiveness:

To accept a person and to accept a situation are two different things. We can accept people who are unjust because they are mistaken, confused, and nonetheless possess inherent worth because they are persons. We should be careful in accepting unjust situations themselves, lest we grow complacent with the injustice.”

Yesterday I ticked away my long run by thinking of reasons why we should forgive the people who aren’t nice to us:

1. Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our own happiness.

We attract into our lives what we feel about ourselves.  Ever read the Law of Attraction?  By holding onto anger and resentment (even in our subconscious), we attract that into our lives. Anger is a drain.  Think about this: the emotions we hold are what we use to create all of our future experiences.

2. Forgiveness stops their power over you.

When we blame someone else, we give them power over us.  Forgiveness doesn’t mean we agree with the behavior.  Most people are just doing the best they can at their particular level of awareness and understanding.  And, I believe those that who hurt us don’t understand (yet) the karmic effect of such actions on their own life.

3. Forgiveness teaches us to love ourselves.

We create our universe.  Once we are connected to our inner self, we don’t “need” anything from anyone.  However, when you find that relationship where someone really does give to you – and you are connected to yourself – well, let me tell you, it’s like icing on the cake.

4. Forgiveness creates space for a new experience. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that not everyone and every situation is meant to be a part of our lives forever.  Letting go creates space to let new people and experiences in.  Obvious, but not easy.

5. What better response than forgiveness? 🙂

Want revenge?  Create a beautiful life for yourself.  Nothing’s better than being really happy.  And, nothing annoys an adversary or negative force more than seeing you smile after you have genuinely forgiven them and moved on.

So, it’s time for me to forgive a few people.  I’m not sure how it’ll go.  And, I may have to do it all in my mind, but I’m committed to this.  I also want to ask for forgiveness from those I’ve hurt or ignored this year.

So – my amazing friends, welcome to this fall season of love, forgiveness and internal review and assessment.  It’s possible we are all way overdue for this “cleanse.”

Have an amazing week!

 

A 5-door slam day.

Why don’t I follow my own advice?  I try, but sometimes I just don’t have it in me and I lose it.  That’s what happened yesterday. It was a 5-door slam day for me.  And here’s the thing:  Yes, I was upset and frustrated with something that happened with my guys (although not really worth 5 doors) – but it really was about some s*** that was my own s*** (not theirs).  And honestly, it was s*** I had no control over.  “Hello, my name is Jessica and I’m a (bit) of a control freak.”

Come on Jess, haven’t you written about letting go a million times?

Of course it’s true that things go much more smoothly when we (I) stop trying to control situations and allow them to happen. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy and I’m clearly still working on this skill.

I once read this great analogy: When we’re trying to control something, it’s as if we’re in a boat trying to row upstream. But when we choose to let go and surrender, the boat will turn, the oars will gently drop and we’ll float downstream to something even better.

And, this author reminded me that sometimes I use perfectly good energy trying to plan, predict, and prevent things that I cannot possibly plan, predict, or prevent. In fact, I sometimes spend time trying to manage things that are not my own — things (like the universe!) that I have NO control over.

Here’s the interesting thing:  Micromanaging (a nicer word than control) is exhausting.  I mean, when we try to control something, we can get obsessive about it, ruminating about it.  In fact, it actually invades our thoughts and affects the other things we’re doing (or supposed to be doing).  Hey Jessica, listen up: trying to control something often leads to feeling less in control.

So what should I have done before slamming that first door?  Surrender.  Stop fighting with myself.  Stop resisting the natural process of my guys learning something.  Accept that with every situation, there may be some pain but there will be gain.

Einstein said, “The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”  I believe in a friendly universe.  And I believe that if I’m receptive and allow things to happen (letting go of fear), that I won’t need to slam doors, I won’t use words I’ll regret later and I won’t be so stressed out – that the universe will be friendly.

I can choose to let things bother me or I can remind myself to let go of the oars and let the stream take me someplace even better.  I’m still a work in progress but I have a feeling that dropping our oars will make for a more peaceful life experience (and for our partners and kids too! 🙂 ).

Have an amazing day!