Monthly Archives: November 2015

What do you do when there’s nothing you can do.

We live in The Land of Fix-It.  We can fix our sagging faces, our overweight bodies, our failing marriages, our unhappy jobs, relationships, situations, etc.  All with a pill or surgery or a divorce lawyer.  We can fix everything – right?

Wrong. Sometimes, you just can’t fix it.  Sometimes there’s really nothing you can do. It’s the beauty and curse of life.

Yesterday I told a friend that life (or g-d or whatever you want to say here) gives us insane situations.  Things that happen to us that are so painful it’s hard to breathe.  Yet, there’s nothing we can do to fix the situation.  It is what it is.  The only saving grace we have is just that – grace – the grace within which we deal with the situation.

I have a friend who went through some very trying times.  While he was going through s*** another friend was going through s*** of his own.  Yet, the way in which these two men carried themselves were like night and day.  One person was always positive, upbeat.  He did express fear and sadness.  But he also looked forward and didn’t blame one person for what was happening to him. The other blamed everyone around him.  He was angry and lashed out – almost coming out sideways at times.  The latter friend never seemed to recover.  The former did and is on to a new life.

When bad things happen to us, we often want to understand the “why” so we can fix the problem.  But instead of “why,” shouldn’t we be asking, “What’s the best way to cope with this challenge?”  The why will come later – after we’ve experienced the experience.

Moreover, as awful as this sounds – there’s always some value in challenging/painful situations.  When my mom died, I didn’t see the value.  How could I?  Yet, there was value.  Her death at that moment in my life changed me, my relationships and my view of what’s important.  Yes, it was painful.  But I saw it as a payment toward the tuition for The School of Life.

I wish I could say that at some point bad things stop happening. That would be nice – but it won’t happen.  How you cope with the challenges you face says a lot about your emotional maturity and your inner nature.  Finding a way to upgrade from the present to the future is the goal.  And having a positive perspective, staying focused on the experience rather than the fear of the change, will help the quality of this journey we call life.

Have a safe evening friends, and a wonderful day tomorrow!

Why I’ve taken advantage of stores being open on Thanksgiving (don’t shoot me until you read this)

Not all holidays are created equally but all holidays are really difficult for some.

For many years I didn’t like the holidays.  Me.  The lover of love, joy and friendship!

It started when my mom died.  Then, I got divorced and had to split the holidays – that made it even worse.  Even the relationship I was in, left me alone on the holidays.  I became the skinny, brown-haired Grinch in running shoes!

One day when I was out with some friends I heard someone complaining about her Thanksgiving.  How her aunt complained that she didn’t make sweet potatoes the “family” way.  How her kids were wild – running around from a sugar high.  And how just once she wanted to have the day to herself.  I almost opened my mouth, but didn’t.

Nothing’s perfect.  She had everything I was looking for on the holiday but was unhappy with the day.  I had what she wanted and I was unhappy.

The next year I decided to enjoy whatever I was fortunate to experience.  I asked my dad to meet me for Chinese food and a movie.  We really enjoyed our time and it’s since become a tradition!

That was also the first year some stores were open late on Thanksgiving evening.  Actually I think it was only Walmart.  So, after I dropped my dad off, I drove across town rather than go home to a dark house.  I didn’t go to buy anything – just to avoid going home.

I met her in the toy department. She looked horrible.  Face all red as if she’d been crying.  I walked up, smiled and said, “Happy Thanksgiving.”  She looked at me and started to cry.  I knew.  I totally knew.  Her kids were gone and she was missing them so much.  She felt lost and broken.  I hugged her, told her I was 5 years post that point and that there’s light on the other side.  She told me how coming to Walmart and wandering around the store was her saving grace.  I had to agree and I spent the next hour with her.

I don’t like people having to work on a holiday. But we all have different lives. There are people with no food or place to live.  There are people who are separated from family they love or with family they don’t love. There are those who struggle with the food or alcohol or drugs.

There’s so much pressure to make it perfect and there’s no way it can be perfect.

So, today – the beginning of the “holiday” season, let’s try to lower our expectations about perfection.  In fact, maybe if we enjoyed the imperfections – it might seem a bit more perfect.

It’s easy to judge our families, ourselves and others.  Instead try to just live in the moment – as imperfect as it’s bound to be.  And remember, this should be a season about helping others and being thankful for what we have – not what we wish it was.

Have an amazing day!

 

 

I suggested she stay present and then I realized how hypocritical a statement that was from me.

My friend is going through a major life crisis.  It’s heart breaking to watch and I’m constantly thinking about her and her family.  Tomorrow is a big day for them and I suggested that she try not to think about what could happen but to live in the grace of the moment – stay present.

Then I said to myself, “WTF, Jessica.  You can’t stay present long enough to write a blog post.  Really?  You’re going to tell her that?  Why not suggest she do the laundry or load and unload the dishwasher, or get into some deep controversial conversations with her children.  That’s all you seem to be good at doing these days.”

Deep breath.  No judgment.

Please tell me I’m not alone.  Don’t we all rush blindly through our day and through every experience?  Then we go to bed and do it all over again the next day?  Think the movie – Groundhog’s Day.  Aren’t you exhausted?  I am.  And the way we’re living – it’s almost as if our lives are filled with thousands of meaningless moments, all strung together.

But when we have that heart stopping moment of connection –  we know it’s  the Ahh ha of being present.

For the last 3-4 days I’ve had the song (which is below) stuck in my mind. I love the song but it was getting to be a bit too freaking much.  And, as we all know, I’ve not been present for weeks (hence my feeling “stuck”).  Today when I got in the car I put on the radio to find another song for my brain — and lo and behold, the second I turned it on – the song was playing.  As you can imagine, all I felt at that moment was complete awe and joy.  It was a sign.  I was present.

Why do we wait for major events to honor the moment?  Isn’t every day and every moment sacred?   When I say our lives are filled with meaningless moments, they’re only meaningless because we don’t honor them. We’re rushing about, focusing on other things, and not stopping to notice the magic of life. And those precious moments – we let them go without any acknowledgment from us.

I’m just suggesting we make a tiny shift in our perception that gives meaning and importance to each moment.  It means stopping to notice the beauty and love around and within us.

Look, we all worry about the future, hold regrets about the past, and completely ignore the present.  But when I’m present, when I’m giving my full attention to the moment, I experience an aura of beauty.  And all that’s changed is my perception of the moment.

So, to my beautiful friend, her husband and family.  I’m sending you all my love.  No matter how tomorrow turns out, be present for you and for him.  You’ll see the miracles all around you.  And I will remain present for all of you too. XOXO

Enjoy the song and have an amazing weekend my friends. 

 

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. Mother Teresa

I’m struggling.  Struggling with what’s happening to our planet, our country and our state.  I’m struggling with what’s happening in my house (who doesn’t struggle with teens? 🙂  (love ’em!)), struggling watching my friends be hurt and struggling with things on my own mind.

I wish I could see peace in just one of those areas.  But we can’t because we don’t, as Mother Terese said, believe we belong together.

We want to separate ourselves and hide from harm.  So we close our homes, our lives and our minds.  We want to protect our family first – and who can blame us?  The entire world is about “protecting” what they believe is “right.”

Last night my guys and I had a very heated discussion about world peace – I got a bit stressed out and went to my happy place … Target.  (I know that says a freaking lot about me but just try to love my flaws!).  When I came home, I looked at the young men, whom I love and respect for their tenacity and beliefs, and I said, with tears in my eyes:

I can’t change.  My whole being feels for people.  I think I’ve been this way my whole life.  If I die helping someone, know that I was happy and it was perfect.  But, at Target, I realized that there is no such thing as world peace now. We can’t give up our wars and conflicts.  We can’t accept and love others no matter what they look like, think or how they live.  World peace is unattainable. (I had their attention now)

Why?  Because as long as personal conflict exists, there will never be world peace. Wars are built from insecurities.  The “I’m right and you’re not.” Or, the “that’s mine and not yours.”

Wars (internal and external) come from the ground up. They come from inside people first.

How can we ask our leaders to change unless we change ourselves?  I’m not suggesting we give equal priority to the whole of humanity as opposed to our own family.  But we need to evolve so that the decisions we make are not just about “us” but are about the greater good.  We need to learn a new culture where narrow-minded, selfishness is no longer acceptable.

We need to believe that we can love our country and not hate others; that working together is more fulfilling than working alone; that we’re all members of the same human family who happen to have been born on a different part of the same blue speck of dust we call earth.

One never knows what resonates with teenagers.  But one thing’s for sure – their differing beliefs caused me to think more clearly about my own.  So listen, my friends, to all the different ideas out there and love those that don’t agree with you.  It’s the first step toward moving away from selfishness and toward peace.

Stay warm! XO

 

My son told me to write about this …

Two days ago I posted a blog on love.  Once I hit publish, I told my boys that I wasn’t sure I liked what I’d written.  It’s odd because I’d not written in a while.  Well, actually, I’d written at least 10 posts in the last two weeks, but didn’t like anything and just didn’t post them.  I felt stuck.  When I told the boys about my problem my son said, “Why don’t you write about that?  People get stuck all the time.”

I’m for sure stuck.

Being “stuck” is a feeling, not a fact.  Yet, the more I thought about that “feeling” the worse it got.  I had no more good blog ideas.  I was missing focus and direction.  I was stuck in more than one area of my life.

I’m not going to ask you to admit it (or write it!), but I know we’ve all been stuck. The question is how do we get unstuck:

First step – take nothing for granted, including being stuck.  This was tough for me because I didn’t like the feeling of being stuck.

Second step – let go of yesterday’s regrets. Forget your frustrations. Ignore old pain. The energy it takes to hang onto these things is what holds us back from a new beginning. So true.

Third step – acknowledge that feeling stuck is a sign that it’s time to make a change.  It could be a change of heart, a change in perspective, or a change in habits. But the point in any case is that what we’re doing is no longer working.

Imagine yourself as a river, flowing into an ocean. Typically a river grows narrower and looks like it lacks movement just before it breaks through to the larger body of water. The same thing happens as we prepare for a breakthrough in life. Our flow must contract before it can expand. And the contraction is equally important to the expansion.

Fourth step – If you’ve been asking the same questions for a while and you’re still stuck, it’s probably not that you haven’t been given the answers.  It’s probably that you missed (ignored) the answers you were given. Remember, it takes courage to admit that something needs to change, and a lot more courage to accept responsibility for making the change happen. Growth and change may be painful and confusing.  But nothing in life is as painful as staying stuck where you don’t belong.  Remember, the only person who can truly hold you back is you.

We need to let go of what “should” or “could” happen.  We need to appreciate life’s’ various little surprises and joys.  Yes, I’m still be stuck.  But for today, I’m going to feel thankful for where I am and those in my life. I’m sure the rest will unfold and I’ll “see” what I’m supposed to do next (or at least I’ll find my next blog topic!).

Have a safe weekend. XO to those in Paris.

 

 

 

Why is love so difficult?

“Love is saying, ‘I feel differently’ instead of ‘you’re wrong.’” ~ Unknown

We live in a culture where we think love should be easy.  That if it’s not working, then leave and find another.   But love isn’t easy and we can’t learn from easy anyway.

Here’s the problem – we think love is about being loved by someone when actually real love is about being loving.  Know what I mean?

We get tripped up because we can’t be loving when we have the 4 C’s in our starting line-up (needing to be Correct, needing to Criticize, needing to Control or wanting someone to Change). They don’t belong in any relationship.

I met someone this week who told me that his definition of love is being understanding, seeing, hearing and accepting of what his wife wants and needs.  He never wants to be “right.”  It only hurts her and if she’s hurting, even being “right” doesn’t feel good.  He also reminded me that loving is not about sacrificing, tolerating, or suffering in silence – because those traits aren’t about being loving – they’re about being a martyr.  Being loving and being true to yourself are a perfect match together!

Loving is difficult because we often put our s*** on someone else and then complain when they don’t meet our “needs.”  I heard from someone this week who told me he was disappointed in the way I treated him.  I immediately noticed how it felt to have someone project their values on me. I had to stop for a moment before responding.  And when I did, I simply said, “We have a choice – to be disappointed in others because of some (unrealistic) expectation we set that they can’t meet. Or to just know that where they are is the best they can do at that moment.”  It’s judgment v. non-judgment.

Love is about wanting others to be happy without it needing it to be about you. Love is when you’re not dependent on someone else for your happiness and they’re not dependent on you for theirs.

You can’t love when you’re lonely.  That’s just filling a need.  And you certainly can’t have love with any of the 4 C’s.

Plus, I’m thinking that true love is not totally natural.  Yes, we have a natural love for our children, but there too we have to work at not being corrective, controlling or trying to change who they are.

Look, if being truly loving were so easy, then everyone would be doing it and we wouldn’t be screwing things up so badly in our personal relationships and as a society.  With me?

I’m still learning about love.  I know what it’s not and now I’m learning what it is.  I’m learning I can be loving and also true to myself.  Because, my friends, if we’re not true to our needs – the 4 C’s will ask for the best position in the starting line-up.  And frankly, I’d prefer to be my own quarterback. 🙂

XOXO

 

 

Life’s not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.

This week I ran into someone who I’d not seen in a long time.  He knew I’d made some big life changes in the last year and he said, “You’re really good at recreating yourself.” I wasn’t sure about that statement because I’d been thinking that I’d been trying to find myself this year. But maybe he was right.

Let’s be honest – We’ve cut down entire forests to support the magazines, which are filled with articles on this subject of “finding your true self.” And, why do we keep reading those articles?  Because, we’re never successful.  Because you can’t find yourself —   you create yourself!

Finding oneself is fatalistic.  It means you find it and then you’re done. Finding yourself is passive, whereas creating yourself gives you ownership over you and your future.

My life (and maybe yours) feels like a big jigsaw puzzle.  I’m constantly finding new pieces that fit into my puzzle, that I never saw before, as I’m wading through the 1000’s of pieces in front of me.  But this “finding me” really ends up being me “creating me.”

A big part of creating ourselves is being self-aware. Self-awareness means learning to pay attention to your inner self first and act on what you are seeing, hearing, and feeling instead of reacting to those outside forces that you have no control over.

So how do we learn the art of self-awareness?

First, we have to be friends with self-reflection.  We need to know where we are and why we’re here.  We don’t need to catalogue all the things we want to change.  And, we have to make sure we’re not doing things that others want us to do (unless we truly want to).

The whole point of self-awareness is listening to your inner voice and understanding and accepting who you are right now – with all your flaws.  We can’t really begin to create the self we want to be or the life we want to live without self-awareness.

Look, we direct and shape our own life in whatever way we want.  We’re doing it every day.  And, as we’re creating, we can leave the s*** behind that we don’t like.  We are not stuck!

So, as we move into the darker and colder days, let’s listen to our inner voice and find our passions. Don’t worry about getting it right, just do interesting, important, epic and valuable things.  And when you do, you’ll find that you’ve created a new you without even worrying about how you did it.

Our lives are a journey absent a destination – enjoy to ride.

Have a fantastic night!