Monthly Archives: October 2015

He wants a divorce. Her response.

I ran into her at Target while looking for conditioner.  We knew each other from another life.  Now her life is changing and she’s angry. Her husband wants a divorce. 

As I listened to her, I realized that he was very unfair to her but also that we are very loyal to our anger.  We take others actions, judge them according to our own standards and then we’re hurt by them.  We have expectations and they aren’t met.  That hurts.  I know that when I allow myself to be swayed by the feelings of a situation as good or bad (my judgment), I have a hard time letting go.  But when I try to imagine the person as neither good nor bad but just living in different shoes (ones I’m glad I don’t live in), I’m able to let go.

This begs the question, how do we let go of horrible tragedies, like death or the Holocaust – or divorce?  These are terrible situations, some worse than others.  Recently, I read about a woman who went through the Holocaust, and who was grateful for the experience, as much as she suffered, because it made her who she was at that moment. Love.

Everyone lives in their own world.  And we forget that each world is different with different life experiences.  Then, people take their life experiences (their hurts), they turn around and hurt others.  I want to hate those.  But when I feel that way I try to remember my mom telling me to be better rather than bitter.

We don’t have to condone what people do.  My friend doesn’t have to condone his actions.  His reality is not her problem …  but, at the moment the pain occurs, we have a choice: We can hang on to our anger or look find the moments of joy that will take us away from the pain. We can be thankful that we are not living in the other person’s shoes.

So, I made a few off-hand suggestions to my friend (based on my own freaking life experiences):

1. Notice when the anger comes.  

2. When you have those feelings, pause.   Take a breath and tell yourself that these are just your expectations of his behavior. That he’s in a different world.

3. Try to empathize, put yourself in his shoes. See the landscape of your life and be thankful it’s not the same as his.

4. Take it as it comes.  You will feel good and you will not feel remotely good. Let yourself experience these feelings and appreciate both.

5. Accept yourself (and others) without judgment.  You didn’t want his “direction” anyway.

6. Be thankful he’s letting you go so you can find the real beauty in your life.

7. Love the moments of clarity.  Your life has all the possibilities you can imagine (and ones he’ll never have).

She can give herself the gift of forgiveness.  Of finding peace in her life that he likely won’t find.  And in the end, I bet that his loss will be her gain.

Have a great night!

My (much needed) life lesson at water aerobics.

Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.  – John W. Gardner

I’m frustrated (as many of you know) that I’m off of running for the indefinite future.  And, I’ve felt a tad bit sorry for myself.  So, today I hopped in the pool to jog (during a water aerobics class) with the aggression of a crazy person.  I just wanted to move as fast as I could and forget about all the runners I could see streaming into the club.  All fresh and happy to be outside.  That’s not me right now and the realization made me feel sad.

But the music of this class drew me in and I settled into a routine of moving my body.  And, as I stepped outside of my private invitation pity party, I started to look around at all the people “dancing” in the pool.  Most looked like moving outside the pool might be difficult or painful but here – they were in heaven!  They danced, they shouted, they jumped, and swung their bodies around.  Every one had a smile!

S*** Jessica.  How easy it is for you to judge the world by your own inabilities – whether short-lived or long-term.  What’s your freaking problem?

Then I quietly reminded myself:

It’s impossible to feel self-pity and gratitude at the same time.  All we need to do is change the “tape” – because self-pity is about thinking, “I need more or better.”  Where gratitude is about thinking, “I have more than I need.”  

In the locker room I talked with one of the people I’d been watching.  She told me that moving in the water makes her feel young again (79 years young) and if she could – she’d stay in there all day!  She said she was thankful for the opportunity to at least feel that way once a week.  

Some of our lives problems can’t be prevented nor solved. The loss of loved ones, natural disasters, and just plain getting older.  These are all problems we’ll face at one time or another. So, why not keep an optimistic outlook about our ability to handle whatever life throws our way?  Why not just appreciate what we can do rather than focus (Jessica, are you paying attention) to what we can’t do?  

Ahh yes.  Yet another life lesson right in front of me.  Fortunately, I was the only one who received an invite to this party.

I have found that in the simple act of living with hope, and in the daily effort to have a more positive impact in the world, the days I do have are made all the more meaningful and precious … and for that I am grateful.  Elizabeth Edwards

Have an amazing weekend my friends.

 

Dear Jessica: This is the lottery of life.

You got here.  You were selected to live this particular life at this particular time with these kids, these friends, these partners and the pain and joy that goes with it.  Now Jessica, you are 365 days post your decision to change your life.  What have you learned?  

1. Sometimes I’m wrong.  There is an awkward moment when you realize that your position/statement/idea was wrong.  Learn to be humble, admit your mistake and move on. 

2. It’s a lottery.  How did I get here? This life? These kids? I’m lucky. Yet, let’s not stand on our luck. Let’s help others be as lucky as us as often as we can. 

3. Embrace the s***. Yes, this year was a challenge.  But I faced my biggest fears and then crushed them with my running shoes.  Now it’s time for me to be there for you as you crush (and embrace) your fears as well.

4. Bad decisions make good stories.  Which is why I have so many stories. 🙂

5. Life treats us as we treat others.  Obvious – but obviously forgotten.

6. What you resist persists and what you focus on expands.  When I resist change, problems, conflict and my dreams – there’s nothing.  When I focus on change, solving problems, dealing with conflict and my dreams I have all I need. Carl Jung says that which we resist not only will persist but will also grow in size.

7. The gut should be the biggest organ in our body.  Ah, young grasshopper — have you not yet learned that when you ignore your intuition you are ignoring your soul?  

 8. Our attitude toward life will determine life’s attitude toward us.
I’ve shed those who think that the world is about them and they’re the only ones suffering.  Take a trip to Sierra Leone with OVP and you’ll see the joy people have with almost nothing.  This is life not about you – it’s about everyone else.

9. There’s not enough inspiration. The world has plenty of information but not enough inspiration. We use information to focus outward rather than inward.  If the inside is a mess, the outside will not be able to connect to the internet of life. 

10. Loneliness is different from solitude.  Wayne Dyer says that we can’t be lonely if we like the person we’re alone with.  This year I found some alone time.  I felt truly peaceful for the first time in a decade.  Try it just for a minute.

11. Courage is not the absence of fear. Even though we know that fear does not exist and that fear is only in our mind, we choose to be paralyzed by it and allow it to control our lives, our dreams, our goals and the level of our happiness.  FEAR is nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real.  Let’s eat fear for breakfast!

So, now my friends, it’s your turn.  Let me help you as you’ve helped me.  And, let’s start with a cup of …….!

With all my love and gratefulness for helping me get to today.

XOXO

I let go and let him do something selfless for me.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good. Samuel Johnson

I’m in Boston watching my daughter race and one thing I always like to do is drive myself to the airport. I can be a bit of a Nervous Nelly in a car (understatement) and I prefer to drive myself – (yes, likely a control issue warranting therapy!). But I have a friend who really wanted to drive me to the airport. I had a million excuses – you know what I mean? The kind of excuses we make up when we don’t want someone to help us. But, he was just looking to do something selfless for me – so I reluctantly agreed.

Some people say there’s no such thing as a selfless act. That any time we do something to help another person, we’re looking to get something in return. Even the feeling of helping is something we get from giving. And, we all do this, right? We want to provide value to our clients, our families and our partners. It’s the number one buzz-word in business.

But there’s something we often miss –

It’s selfless if we give with zero expectation of return.

What does that mean, “zero expectation?” Recently I’ve been asking myself if I have “zero expectation” when I’m giving.  I want to be sure that I’m actually giving for love and not control or something else in return.

And, I’ve been wondering – is this something we can teach to our children – how to give unconditionally?  I have no answer to that other than to live by example. So, here are a few ideas I came up with:

  • When you have some money to give that you won’t need, just give it and pretend you never had it.
  • Let someone vent even when you can’t solve the problem.
  • Listen to someone without judgment or comment.
  • Share your life difficulties so others know they’re not alone.
  • Tell someone how you feel about them and show your vulnerability by doing so.
  • Apologize. Even when you don’t feel you were wrong.
  • Change your plans to meet the needs of someone else.
  • Tell someone you believe in them.

I want to be clear that letting go of expectations doesn’t mean you let others treat you badly. Keep your boundaries. But, people who care about us will respect our boundaries.

I once knew someone who would “give” but sometime later I would hear him say that the person he “gave” to, never thanked him or did X, Y, or Z for him. He was actually giving to get.  That was sad for me to watch. He was missing life’s point.

Friends, when we learn to give without expecting anything in return, it’s a win for everyone. And in that way, and without much effort, maybe we can change the world one little gift at a time.

To my friend: I’ll see you on Sunday when you pick me up at the airport!

XOXO

The incredibly beautiful and extremely painful thing called love.

I’ve watched some very lovely people in my life go through some very painful experiences this last week.  They involve loved ones. I can feel their pain even though it’s not mine.

Love – which we all know is the most beautiful life experience can also be the most painful, and all in the course of a nanosecond. Love’s a tricky thing. It varies in intensity and in the specificity of emotions. 

It’s odd how one thing could be the cause of so many contrary feelings. But that’s what makes love so beautiful – it’s the closest thing to perfection that exists in the world and the only thing that can easily and comfortably encompass both good and evil, beautiful and ugly.  I think love is the closest thing to a flawless whole that we’re a part of.  Yet there are times when love rips our heart out and throws it to the curb … forcing us to walk quietly over, pick it up and restart our lives.

When we think of love, we think of the happy kind of love, the kind that’s the beginning of something beautiful – something that breathes life.  But there’s love after death too.  Tonight I was looking for something and came across pictures of my mother.  I couldn’t help but start crying.  My love for her 16 years later feels as powerful as the day she died.  My son’s response, “I’m going to feel like that forever for you too.”

How about the pain of our kids pain.  We love them so much – we’d give our life for them.  But they make choices.  Choices that aren’t our fault. Choices which sometimes cause us and them so much pain.  But if we didn’t love them, we wouldn’t feel it. And, because we love them we have to find the strength to let them go to work on their problem. So ung-dly difficult.

How about falling in love or being in love?  It changes the colors of our day, it puts a smile on our face and a spring in our step.  We’re reminded that nothing’s better.  It’s like a legal drug with no side-effects!

How can we not talk about how we take care of those we love as they’re leaving this world.  How the gentleness of our energy engulfs them through the process.  Death should not be without love.  I feel sad when I think of people dying alone – literally and figuratively.

My point?  I don’t have one.  I (as you all know) love love.  I want to give out as much as I can and I’ll accept whatever you’ll give me!

Maybe I just want to be reminded that working hard, making money, being on time for this or that – none of it matters without love. And even though those we love can hurt us the most … I’d rather have that pain (which is always short-term and controlled by us) then not be loved at all.  Don’t you agree?

XOXO

 

The statistics (and effects) made me cry: A letter to my boys (and yours).

You can’t go wrong in life if you follow this rule. Hold doors for people. Be respectful.  

2. Take care of your life.

Do laundry, dishes and make food.  Use soap and toothpaste.  Stay healthy. Respect yourself.  You won’t regret it and neither will the women in your life.

3. Watch the pictures.

Taking pictures of your (or her) body parts isn’t ok.  If you don’t want grandpa to see what you’re doing don’t do it.  I promise someone will find it someday.

4. Sex should be respectful.

What you see on TV isn’t respectful treatment of women.  Sex is about love and trust.  Without it you might have fun once or twice but there won’t be anything long-term.

I’m hoping it will be a long time until you have sex but when you do … Use a condom. Yes, every time. Even if she’s on the pill.  Be responsible for your “stuff.”  

NO MEANS NO.  No matter when it’s said or how it’s said.  If you or she are drunk or high, that’s a no too.

5. Please follow these simple rules about the women in your life.

  • Look into her eyes and talk to her directly, not just by text.
  • Ask her how she feels, and listen and care.
  • Respect her limits when she says no.
  • Don’t pressure her to do things she is hesitant about or not ready for.
  • Don’t try to be the big guy in the eyes of your friends at her expense.
  • Don’t spread gossip or rumors about her. Protect her reputation.
  • Remember that people change as they grow and they don’t forget how you treated them.
  • Never forget that your reputation as a gentleman is part of your character. You build it as you grow.
  • Make yourself proud.

Women are your equals. It’s that simple.

So, remind your buddies of this.  Take the lead.  Raise money for a battered women’s shelter.  Show women that you care about the causes that affect them.  Boys, I know you and your friends can help change these terrible statistics.

Love Mom

 

“Mom, those are the signs of a desperate woman” or Why we won’t quit.

So, last week I tried everything.  I wanted to run the marathon.  I’d trained, I was fast and I was determined.  Screw the process (I too get caught up and ignore my own words), I wanted this.  PT, massage, more PT and believe or not acupuncture (OMG – now that’s a story for a blog post … I was literally freaked out the entire time as I lay there with needles sticking out of my body… true desperation).

When I came home and told my boys about my “activities,” my son said, “Mom, those are the signs of a desperate woman.”  He was right.  But, did I listen to my body?  No.  And despite my better judgment, I ran, I had my worst marathon time of my life, I cried on the course, I crossed the finish line and I can’t walk today.

Why don’t we ever allow ourselves to just quit?  What’s the issue?  We stay in marriages/relationships too long, we stay in jobs too long, we try the same tactics with our kids, for way too long.  What’s wrong with stopping and evaluating and quitting?

We know the signs that we should “quit.”  Those signs were screaming at me on the course.  But we’re afraid of “failure” and humans hate change – regardless of the potential outcome.

Still, how do you know when it’s time to quit, to move on, to let go?

1. Is there more frustration or pain than happiness or reward? You’ll always have the bad with the good. but is it more negative than positive?  Have you considered a change, but are too afraid?

2. You know you can’t stay “here” forever. If you know this won’t last forever, than begin planning.  You don’t have to quit right now, but you know you will and you should start preparing.  Getting rid of fear takes time. Allow the time.

3. Staying or doing the endeavor will cause more damage. This is where you have to ignore your fear of quitting.  This is where I didn’t ignore my fear of quitting.  Will you be ok if you quit?  Could you be better if you quit?  You know the answers here.

4. You’re staying for “commitment.”  Have faith in yourself that you’ve worked out whatever commitment you had to and you’ve met your responsibility.  Staying does not make you a better person/partner/employee.  It makes you tired and takes away your precious time.

Quitting can actually free us up to find other things we love, whether it be a different line of work, a new creative pursuit, or a new person in our life.

Maybe it’s not so much about embracing quitting as it is about reframing  – let’s call it “making room for starting.”  Because really, everything you’ve ever quit began as something you started – and everything you started came because you’d quit something else. Who knows who I could have hung with on the marathon course had I not run …

Embrace the ability to quit and start something new today!