Monthly Archives: April 2016

When she asked how I was doing, I was afraid to respond.

It’s a common question, “How’s it going?”  “How are you doing?”  I ask those questions all the time.  It’s been said that people don’t really want to know what’s happening in your life but just want to do the nice thing and ask.  I’m thinking that’s mostly true.  (FYI – when I ask, I really do want to know! 🙂 )

Recently, I was asked, how I’m doing, and I gave my standard answer,  “I’m fine.”  I was afraid to give my real answer, which is “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.”  Later, I began to wonder why I didn’t say what I was thinking?  Other than my Italian/Jewish superstitions (which are overwhelmingly powerful!), what is it that keeps us from being afraid of happiness?

We think that if we feel happiness, something could will happen.  The “other shoe” could will drop.  We want happiness, but we don’t trust it.  We let ourselves be happy for a minute or two but then we’re filled with self-doubt and fear.

Fear constantly tells us to hide our happiness.  To avoid it because it makes us look conceited or selfish. It tells us that too much happiness will affect our professional life. We work in a world where being happy once or twice a week is fine but any more and you look like a slacker.  Plus, we believe that if we’re too happy, those who are less happy will be mad or feel bad.

The truth is, it’s ok to be happy.  It’s ok to be happy even when things are not perfect.  We have this image of happiness like we see in the commercials where a drug, a fancy car or a new yogurt will make everything perfect. But it never does.

I often feel pain for others less fortunate than me.  I feel so deeply that I have trouble shaking it.  But I’ve learned that I don’t need to be unhappy because others are unhappy.  I can do all I can for others and it’s OK to still be crazy thankful for what I have.

Happiness is a quiet, subtle thing. It’s not a constant feeling of excitement.  It’s a feeling of joy and abundance.  It’s soft. Real happiness is easy to overlook or take for granted.

Look, no one’s life is perfect.  I’m worried about my daughter’s injury. The boys have stuff (always!). Friends have illness in their lives, divorces, etc.  Plus, I’ve got 10,000 flaws (most of them you likely know!).  But these “issues” and flaws help us to be more generous and empathetic to others.  To be more open. Which in turn makes us happier.  See how that works?

Whether or not you think you deserve happiness (which you do), doesn’t the world deserve the best you can give?  Well, your best will come when you embrace (not fear) being and saying “I’m happy.”

Have a beautiful Sunday!

 

 

We were shopping but for different kinds of children.

I was shopping for some clothes for the boys alongside a woman doing the same thing.  But I needed long legs and skinny waists.  She needed shorter and larger pants.  We laughed as we handed each other the clothes we needed.  I asked her how old her son is and she said, 25.  I smiled and said, “I don’t think my guys will let me pick out anything including their clothes at that age!”  She looked at me with a quiet smile and said, “My son has Down’s.  So, I get the joy of buying his clothes for a really long time!”

Wow.

We both stopped shopping and kept talking.  I asked her what were the joys of having her son.  Not that having any child isn’t full of joy (pain, exhaustion, frustration ….).  But what special things did he bring to the table that her other child didn’t.?  Here are her exquisite responses:

Often times I look in my son’s beautiful almond-shaped eyes and they just smile back at me.  His laugh is so infectious that it melts my heart.  When he was a kid, there was a cute gap between his toes and that was perfect for wearing his flip flops!

I had some bad days.  I was heartbroken at first.  But at some point I realized that this was our destiny and began to look forward to seeing him outside the womb.

I have more hope for him and his future than my other child.  His potential to achieve and grow is so huge.  And his thrill about anything (just life) – is more than anyone I know.

And a mother’s love – the same no matter what issues your child might have. So, I celebrate the differences rather than look for similarities.  I think I’m the lucky one to have him, not the other way around.

Most importantly, my heart is softer.  I accept people as they are.  I’m not afraid of the homeless person on the street or the person shouting words out loud in a store.  I know that we’re all different – I don’t just know, I appreciate that we’re all different.

Oh, and like meeting you — when you have a child with Down syndrome, new people come into your life.  I have friends all across the country who have had experiences similar to mine.  There are so many special people out there who are not afraid to ask questions and appreciate the different (but same) life experiences.

Friends, I’m not a lover of shopping for my guys, but I’ll take this kind of experience any day of the week. What an honor it was to meet and learn about the beauty of our differences.  This is as good a time as any to celebrate love.

Have a great rest of your week.

Is a loss the same as any other loss?

Many of us are experiencing the loss of a great artist.  Much too soon but how lucky we all were, right?  I smile thinking about his music and how much I love it.

Last night I was with some of my closest friends.  We spent a bit of time talking about our lives.  Two of my friends are going through very serious losses (one whose husband is ill and the other whose husband is no longer her husband).  As they talked about how losses can be the same, I realized that losses really aren’t the same (but I wasn’t sure I could articulate it so I said nothing.)

Do you think I’m crazy wrong here?  I’m thinking that the loss of a husband – to whom you are the wife, is different from the loss of a parent, to whom you were their child.  And, the loss of a spouse in a divorce is very different from the loss of a long-term job.  Yes, all are about letting go – but all are different too.

Loss is as much a part of our human existence as breathing.  There are those losses that we shrug off (we lose an earring or a wallet) and those that completely blow us out of the water – like a parent dying.

This morning, I dug out my “Get Real About Grief” Affirmations, which I’ve needed a few times:

1.  Each day of grief will be different. You’re entitled to grieve each and every loss, each and every day as an individual.

2. Losses are not like purchasing limits on your credit card. You are not limited in the number of losses that you need to mourn and you should not let anyone place limits on your process for grieving.  Feel all your feelings.

3. Just as with t-shirts, one grief process really does not “fit all.”  Let no one convince you otherwise.

“Grief can be a bittersweet beauty,” says Robert A. Neimeyer, Psychology Professor at the University of Memphis. “It’s not something to be banished. It is a human experience to be lived, to be shared, and to be understood and used.”  I guess that’s what many have been doing these last few days.

So, my friends, bask in this time.  Show your children how beautiful loss can be. The exquisite process of remembering people, things, songs, and love.  This will be our children some day.  And, our process of grief is but one memory they will take with them about us, as they experience their own thing called life.

Have a beautiful day.

XOXO

I got freaking sick of worrying.

Worry is like a rocking chair–it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere. Unknown

My worries have circled around my head for years.  They have sapped my strength and made me feel overwhelmed.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a worrier.  I am.  (Remember 1/2 Italian and 1/2 Jewish – says it all, right?)

Research about worrying says:

  • About 85% of the things we worry about never happen.
  • If what we worry about does happen, 80% of us said we handled the outcome better than we thought we would.
  • People who let go of worries instead of stressing over them are much healthier than those who don’t.

I could take this two ways: (1) I could worry about things I don’t want to happen, making it more likely than not that the “thing” wouldn’t happen (lawyer brain); or (2) I could worry less.

I’m choosing the latter.

Did you know that the stress hormones in your brain have been linked to shrinking brain mass, lowered IQ, heart disease, premature aging (is there such a thing?), family dysfunction (I thought that was normal), clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. Yikes!

We (ok, me) need to get a f***ing handle on habitual worrying.  

About a month ago I was taking with someone about how I was physically feeling – his response, “You worry too much. Spend a month not worrying or if something comes to mind that’s a worry, remind yourself that you’re really enjoying life and you’re not going to worry. See what happens and we’ll discuss again in a month (over wine!).”

Yesterday was a month. Let me tell you what I learned:

  1. I was happier. I literally told myself every time a worry came to mind, “You’re so lucky to be here today!” Honestly.  I felt lighter every time I said it.  At first I had to say it at least 5 times for each worry.  Now I don’t even realize I’m even saying it!
  2. I got my energy back. I think I was losing so much mind energy that it affected my physical energy. And, I went off caffeine during this time too!

Look, what do we know about s*** in our brain?  Let’s dumb this down to toddler level: When our toddler’s (or our partner’s) having a tantrum, we don’t reason with them.  We distract, we bribe, we redirect.

Why do we think we’re any different?

Distracting myself with my mantra or a moment of quiet thankfulness has allowed me to redirect my toddler-like brain. It seriously works.  I might even call myself a recovering worrier!

Look, worrying is a completely normal human emotion and let’s not beat ourselves up for being normal.  But we can reduce our stress levels and boost our positive emotions if we can at least find a consistent strategy of reaching our goal of worrying less.

Hey, I’m not even going to worry about the next time I’ll blog. 🙂

Have a great week!