Monthly Archives: December 2015

They’d been playing cards in the coffee shop for almost 10 years.

About a month ago I went to a coffee shop to meet a woman who was a friend, but whom I’d never met in person (long story).  While we were there, a woman and man came in.  I assumed they were married. She had a little bag that she put on the table and began to take out a pad of paper, a deck of cards and a pencil.  He went up to the counter and ordered a bagel and two cups of coffee.  When he returned with the food, they split the bagel (each putting different toppings on it) and my friend and I started chatting with them. We learned that they frequented the coffee shop to play cards and enjoy the ambience of the location.

I thought nothing much of the encounter.  A few days ago I stopped in for a quick hot tea on my way to take care of a months worth of holiday shopping in three hours (don’t ask).  As I walked in, there they were.  I couldn’t resist and I joined them.

Retired over 10 years ago, she was recovering from cancer, he of a heart attack (massive).  They felt the grace of still being able to play cards together.  I asked them why a coffee shop and they told me that when they first met, it was over a cup of coffee.  The experience of buying a cup of coffee – which we all take for granted – means so much to them.  It means the start of their love, their life together, and their ability to continue to experience the joy of being alive.

It is so easy to take for granted the little things in life.  A cup of coffee.  A bagel with cream cheese.  Playing a game of cards with the love of your life.  It’s so seriously easy but we make it so difficult.  We live our lives with the craziness of our negative emotions, fears and insecurities.  And, we fail to pay attention to the little things in life.

Yet, every day we wake up breathing – that’s a gift.  We have the freedom to choose what we’ll eat in the morning – something we take for granted.  We have a bed to sleep in, even if we don’t get as much sleep as we’d like!

We have people who will never let us drown.  We can see (or feel) the sun shine. Our iPod works (if we can find our headphones —- hey kids, stop stealing my headphones!).  Let’s not take for granted that we can get stuck in traffic, which gives us time to think. Or have our family around (ok – maybe that’s pushing it!).  What about the person who does something that hurts us?  That’s a gift that allows us to grow.

So much goes on each day that’s a gift.  I’m going to try to embrace the good in the present, instead of seeing the same things in the negative.  Want to join me?

Have an amazing evening!

 

What is it you’re looking for?

Some people can’t change. And we can’t worry about that nor should we have them in our lives for any significant period of time.  But you, my friends, are not frozen in stone.  You can change.  And you can choose certain people who possess qualities you admire.

What are those qualities?  What are you looking for in a partner/friend, in your child and even in yourself?  What qualities do you value?  I was once asked to make a list of my top qualities in those I love (and the ones I desire for myself).  So, based off something a friend sent me years ago, I’ve created my own “cheat sheet” if you will:

1. Honesty.  Honesty is a way of life. It means you don’t steal, you don’t cheat on your taxes and you are faithful to your partner.  What do you do when you are given 10 more dollars than you’re supposed to get from the cashier?

2. Happiness. Being genuinely grateful for what you have and looking forward each day can make you feel a kind of happiness that is contagious.

3. Respect. When you treat others as you would like to be treated, you are showing the ultimate kind of respect.

4. Have fun.  Slow down from life’s frantic pace and have fun – even for just a few minutes.  Even for a second to dance in the kitchen while making breakfast.  🙂 (right kids?!)

5. Confidence. There is always someone out there better than you at something.  But having confidence is critical to being as successful as you can be.

6. Transparency. Be open and honest with those you love. Express your opinions, but more importantly, listen to theirs without criticizing.

7. Discipline.  Meet your obligations.  Someone is not watching you every minute of every day – but you still must have an ethical self and act accordingly.  Be strong enough to say no to life’s many temptations.

8. Giving.  There is nothing more irritating than people who give gifts or help with a predetermined outcome on their mind. That is not a giving person – you want givers in your life.

9. Compassion. Empathy is the most basic and strongest act of kindness  we accomplish as humans.

10. Passion. We should be able to be fired up over something, whether it be sports or wine or just being alive.

11. Patience. Rome wasn’t built overnight. Keep that in mind.

12. Self-reflectiveness. Obvious. Everyone has a few skeletons in their closet, and that’s okay. Being unwilling to confront those obstacles is a very big problem.

How many do you fit?  How about your partner?  Your friends?

Send this to a person you know who fits this for you and in your life – and thank them.  I’m going to remind my children.

Look, we’re never going to be perfect.  But, we can change and learn from our mistakes, as long as we know where we want to end up.

Have a great day!

The Red Lobster and Sears.

We grew up with enough but not much.  We shopped at the Goodwill and going to Sears meant new clothes.  Remember the excitement of each new Sears Catalog?  The Red Lobster was a big deal too – an expensive night out.  I have forgotten my feeling of the decadence of those dinners.  

When I was in high school we lived for a year without running water.  Imagine that.  I was so grateful when we finally moved to a house with water.  I told myself to never forget the joy and thankfulness of having running water.  I’ve forgotten that too.

When something “bad” happens I tend to focus on what’s happened rather than what can now happen with this new life change.  Know what I mean?

The only obstacle to being thankful is not observing with attention. We grow used to what we have and we start to take it for granted.  Honestly, it feels weird to be writing about this during the holidays – when everything’s about being thankful.  I want to remember this all year round.

How about this:

Be grateful for what you already have.
Declare what you would like to have with positive emotion.
Act on the opportunities that appear in front of you.  

Joe Vitale

Notice how his emphasis is on being thankful for what you already have before asking for something else. 

Here are my strategies for staying grateful (hopefully for more than the holiday season):

  • Remember the Bad. When we remember how difficult life used to be and where we are now, we set the stage for gratefulness.
  • Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
  • Love your body. Appreciate what it means to be human and alive.  The human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.
  • Use Visual Cues. The two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness.  Visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. My best visual reminders are people.
  • Watch your Language. Grateful people talk about gifts, blessings, being fortunate and abundance. Focus on the good things others have done for you.
  • Go Through the Motions. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing notes of gratitude.

When I easily pull out my credit card to buy Chinese food for my crew, I want to remember the joy of The Red Lobster and how excited I was to pay for one dinner.

So, as we continue to spend time with friends, family, shop and eat (a lot), let’s take a moment to be grateful for what we already have in our lives and give a moment to those that don’t.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Marcus Cicero

XO

My (current) Refrigerator Rules

With with craziness of the world right now, I’ve come up with my list of 20 rules I’d like to live by (and my kids as well).  I’m far from perfect in following these but it’s always good to have a dream!  Here’s the list now posted on our  refrigerator:

1. Be kind, not nice. Kindness is intentional and meaningful.  When you’re kind, you’re also being generous – emotionally and otherwise.  Niceness is often like window-dressing, pretty but sometimes fake.

2. Forgive the past (and the present) so it won’t screw up the future.

3. When in doubt, just take a small step.

4. Keep your sense of humor.  It’ll bring a sense of perspective to situations that provide for a broader view of the situation.  

5. Overprepare.

6. The pinnacle of life is always slippery.  Only plateaus offer a place to rest.   Don’t stay on the plateaus too long and pack your bags accordingly.

7. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

8. Fall in love with someone’s mind and how they treat you.  Nothing else.

9. It’s ok to let your kids (and people) see you cry.

10. Avoid too much power.  Power allows us to persuade stupid people to do intelligent things and intelligent people to do stupid things.  That’s why power is so dangerous.

11. Sherlock Holmes said, “Work is the best antidote to sorrow, my dear Watson.” Listen to Sherlock. But remember, your job won’t take care of you when you’re sick.  Your friends will.  So stay in touch with them.

12. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

13. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful or makes you feel joyful. That includes people.

14. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d likely grab ours back.

15. Everybody wants a shortcut to love, success and weight loss, although not necessarily in that order.  However, there are no shortcuts in life. Anyone who tells you there are, is lying to you.

16. Be aware that a safety net, if pulled too tightly, easily turns into a noose. Don’t trade independence for security without being aware of the consequences.

17. Life’s too short to waste time hating anyone.

18. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

19. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

20. Stay awake.  Miracles are everywhere.

Friends – have a great start to your week!

I guess I’m just getting dumber and dumber.

It didn’t happen overnight.  I used to be smart.  Didn’t embarrass anyone by just being around.  Dressed appropriately.

But now, to my boys, I’m kind of embarrassing and sort of stupid.  I’m not sure how that happened.

Last week my son and I saw a cute kid in diapers running around and I commented that I can’t wait until I change his baby’s diapers (well, I can wait until it’s appropriate – but that’s another topic!).  His response, “Mom, by the time I have kids in diapers, you’ll be in diapers.”  (WTF!?)

I know I’m at least street smart and can find my way around town.  I can cook killer Italian meatballs.  I can distinguish a good wine.  What more do I need to know?

Well, when you have teenagers in the house, what you need to know is that they think you know Jack S*** (sorry to my friends with Jacks).

Let me tell you what I’ve been told lately:

  1. “Mom, How could you possibly know more than someone who has a four-year degree on the subject of _______?  You are a lawyer not a ____.  There is no way you are smarter than them.”  Friends, I wanted my response to be WTF (and maybe it was, I was so mad).  But instead I said – EXPERIENCE AND OLD AGE. Going to school for four years, drinking three of them away … yea, end of discussion.
  2. “Mom, I’m as good a driver as you – probably even better because I just took the driver’s training course.  You don’t even remember the rules of driving.”  I wanted my respond to be WTF (and I think it was).  But I also said – Do you want a car?  Do you want someone to pay for your insurance and your gas?  If so, then never, ever (until you have to quietly take my license away from me at 95) say you can drive better than me.
  3. “Mom, why do we have to pick up those wet clothes and towels or those bowls of food or candy wrappers we leave on the floor?  We always pick up at the end of the week.”  Oh, my love, let me list the reasons: Mice, Mold, Mother’s wrath, Mice,  Mold, Mom is fed up and needs a vacation.

This profound fall from grace in the eyes of my kids is a bit of a relief because I’m no longer expected to be right.  In fact, I’m expected to be wrong all the time, which means I can only go up from here!

Look, I don’t want to invalidate my kids and their efforts to grow and learn on their own.  But I need to have mental health boundaries and retain some level of self-respect.  Maybe someday (is tomorrow too much to ask for?) they’ll come to the conclusion that I’m not stupid.  Just old, tired and fed up with trying to challenge their opinions of my intelligence.  At least I’m smart enough to get a credit card. 🙂

Have a nice night!