Category Archives: Uncategorized

Finding (trying to find!) space in my life

There comes a time in life where you realize you only have so many birthdays left. I see that realization as a gift – not something to be sad about. Look, I’m still learning and growing (and screwing up) at a rapid pace so I need to hustle up here!

A friend asked yesterday what my goal was for this coming year and while I never have those kinds of goals, out of my mouth came – “to find more space in my life.” My friend thought it was a great goal. I had no freaking idea where that statement came from (not unusual for something to come out of my mouth like an out of body experience!).

Throughout the day I thought about it and tried to put some kind of frame work around it. I decided that “space” meant physical, mental and emotional space.

Physical Space: Let’s be honest here,  cleaning out physical space is a major stress reliever and gives us a sense of calm. I want to be more conscious of cleaning off my desk each day, or my counter tops at home! Six months ago I started making my bed every morning and it feels awesome! The little things, right?

Mental space: I’m not sure how to do this but one thing I’ve been doing lately is my releasing all the s*** in my brain by putting it on a piece of paper near my bed. Trust me – this seems to work! I fall asleep easier and then just pick up the paper in the morning (I need the physical paper rather than a digital list) and put it with my computer to complete for the day.

This has really helped my bad mom moments (of which I had so freaking many this summer). I would write a note to the kid that I’d been stupid with and then in the morning, I’d read it to whichever one I’d had my bad moment with. I’m pretty sure my kids didn’t know I was doing this but I’m doing shit for me now, not them, right? (Who am I kidding – 90% of what I do I do for them – which I know they hate!!) 🙂

Emotional space: This one is a bit tougher, but we need to protect our emotional well being. We need to break free of any energy leeches, negative people or those who aren’t supporting us. I’ve scheduled time with friends and family. This is helping me be a better Jessica but I’m still not sure I have the answer here.

We got a puppy this summer (don’t even get me started on this) and taking time with Lily (the crazy dog) to just sit and pet her has been therapeutic.

Let’s challenge ourselves to take some time to “open up” space so we’ll have room for the good things to move into it. We’re in the cool part of life where we can choose positive over negative and I’m ready!

XOXO

A message to my graduate

You graduate from college today, I should be writing about hard work, being present, new experiences … but I can’t.

I’ve had so many life changes recently that maybe I want to give you my thoughts on how I got through it all. It’s how I move through life. It’s how I leave my footprint each day.

  • Beauty – Each day is filled with beauty. When we’ve got our heads down only focusing on our goals, we miss the gorgeousness of the trees, the sparkling stars and the smiles of people when you smile at them. Keep looking for the beauty in every day. It’s there even when it feels dark.
  • Rest – Rest your body and your mind. Believe me, this is one of my struggles and I’ve had to learn to become more intentional with my rest and self-care. Watching my dad’s body fail with his mind still in tact was powerful. Take care of you.
  • Peace – You can only find peace inside of you. As you run through life, chasing dreams, accomplishments or being anxious about the future, you’ll miss out on the incredible gift of peace. Try to find it in your heart each day. Don’t rush all the time.
  • Relationships – Sometimes we think a person will be there forever. But many times, this person is just there to pass through for a period of time. It’s difficult to let go of relationships but you know in your heart who is there for some life period and who is there for the long haul. Don’t fear letting go. Know that each person who passes through will leave a footprint on your life and you on them.
  • Honesty (self honesty) – This is the toughest one. I’m talking about internal honesty. If we are not internally honest about who we are and what we need, then we can never be externally honest. Stop. Listen to your heart. Be ok with you. As you get older, you realize that what really matters is being comfortable in our own skin. That’s true internal honesty.

Yesterday, I met a woman. She was trying to keep her kids from running away in different directions. She looked like she was going to cry. I helped her corral her kids and get them in their stroller. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and told me that no one helped her in those moments when she felt helpless. We hugged (because why not!). As I left, I was struck by her momentary step into and out of my life, the beauty of that experience and how easy it would have been for me to be more focused on getting to my next stop rather than helping her. She left a mark on my life. That’s what I mean, honey. Your footprint matters and you can’t leave it when you’re spinning on that bike (metaphor) with your feet off the ground!

Life is beautiful. Enjoy this moment today Lovie. It’s one of many to come.

 

How I thanked my Dad before he died.

Someone once told me that if you get the chance to say goodbye – don’t be afraid to do it. I have a lot to write about this process and my new normal … but I’m still a bit raw. So, my post today is the email I sent to my dad and his response, about two weeks before we said I love you for the last time – an event we knew was around the corner ….

Dear Dad,

Thank you for being my partner for these last seven years, helping me raise these three kids and get them off to college. I never could had done that without you. Every day I bounced ideas and thoughts off you and you always took time for me. While we didn’t always agree, you were thoughtful in your responses, infinitely out of love, and it greatly helped me. I’m serious when I say I could not have done it all (college choices, new law practice, kid surgeries, and the million miscellaneous kid issues) without your guidance, counsel and humor about the complicated nature of these decisions and the (sometimes) stupidity of what was happening! These crazy kids turned out pretty well, right?

Dad you made me a better parent and person. You have been my champion and I love and thank you for that. I’m sorry that I wasn’t a great daughter for so many years. It was a mistake and I hope you don’t hold it against me! 🙂  I’m sorry I wasted all those years. My loss for sure. Please forgive me.

I’m grateful for that “nudge” to leave my hospice volunteering and spend time having coffee with you at the Purple Onion. I believe there was a reason for that nudge, which brought us all closer together. Thanks for being open to me and allowing me to wiggle my way back into your life.

I don’t know what the world will look like when you are not here for our Thanksgiving and Christmas “Chinese and a movie” or my daily calls about politics, work or the kids, but I know you will be helping me then as you do now, just in a different form. I’m really certain you will see that as well. Look, when have I ever steered you wrong? 🙂

I love you Dad. You’ve been the best father I could ever have hoped for. Now if only I could dance …

All my love,

Jessica

Dear Jessica,

You have it backwards. It is I who am in debt to you and have been  recently regretting what I have missed in not being closer to you for all of these past years. I  am surprised , but delighted that you continue to remain so close to me. You are truly an amazing woman, even without dancing skills and even perhaps not quite as liberal as I would prefer. But as I mentioned yesterday, your energy , and intelligence, your ambitions, and empathy are a pleasure to experience. I am proud to be your father.

You have done a fantastic job with the kids. Of course, I do not have to tell you that…it is so obvious. Your mother and my parents must now,  and will be forever, smiling on you.

So thanks for your presence and all of your help and for forgiving me for any past stupid neglects of your life. I love you so much.

Dad

An exclamation point. Then, the challenge.

Today is my first day of “empty nesterdom” (not sure if that’s even a word!). Today is also my birthday. An exclamation point of sorts on this new life change. A million people have written about this day. I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I want to blog this year about what happens when I get my feet back on the ground (something I’ve not had in a few years). See who I meet. What situations arise. What crazy questions I’ll get from my boys who are sorting through this first year of “living without mom!” 

I also want to challenge myself. I want to be authentically me.

Being “authentic” is an incredibly hard thing to do. We live in a world of conformity and acceptance. In our new “world,” we’ve made it difficult to stick by our values. We are singled out on-line all the time. It’s a scary and bullying world.

One of my boys is at a college that’s quite different from his life view points. But, the opportunities for him there were hard to beat. During orientation, they were asked to identify in different values/likes and in doing so, move in or out of a circle they’d formed. At one point, when they asked the kids about an aspect of the group, my son knew he would be different but held to his values. Turns out he was the he ONLY freshman to step into the circle when that one particular identifying value was put out there.

After putting aside my horror at him being singled out, I realized that he’d done what most of us want to do but are afraid to do – he was authentically himself without fear of being ostracized or singled out. I admire that in him!

But, as we know, too much of a good thing never goes well. I once read an analogy between virtues and vitamins. Consuming vitamins is necessary for health—but if you take more Vitamin C, for example, than your body needs, you’ll just pee it out. If you take too much Vitamin D, it may hurt you and you could end up with kidney problems.

Aristotle believed that virtues were like Vitamin D. Too little of a virtue is bad, but so is too much. He argued that every virtue sits between vices of deficiency and excess. Too little generosity is selfishness; too much generosity becomes self-sacrifice. Too little pride makes us meek; too much leaves us narcissistic. Too little courage makes us cowardly; too much makes us reckless.

So, where’s the balance? I don’t know. What I do know is that to be an authentic person and have a meaningful life, I need to do the difficult inner work to develop myself, have a strong moral compass based on my beliefs and values, and work on problems that matter to me. When I look back on my life it may not be perfect, but it will be authentically mine.

Join me!

XOXO

Jessica

 

 

In a second his contagiousness was gone

A friend from law school died this week in a tragic scuba diving accident. His youngest son had his 2-year-old party scheduled for yesterday. Now they are planning a funeral instead. He and his wife had a love that was incredibly obvious and deep.

This is not a blog about “hug your children” or “live like it’s your last day.”  This is about being contagious. My friend was a rare commodity – he was contagious.  I aspire to be like that.

From the moment I met him he was a positive influencer. Some people are just like that. They don’t complain much. They often are seen with a smile and they seem to genuinely enjoy life. They listen. They are contagious in their gifts of love, compassion and respect.

For this friend, life was not always easy. But I don’t think I ever had a conversation with him – even a tough one – where he didn’t come up with some big smile and find a way to twist the negative into positive.

Here are a few things that I’ll remember about him:

  1. He was GenuineWhen you are genuine and sincere you automatically become contagious. Truth and honesty are two qualities which define a person’s legacy. Be the person others can trust. Always, tell the truth – no matter how difficult. It might seem tough in the short-term but in the long-term you will find others are the same with you.
  2.  He was Open and Loving: Love brings love. Being kind brings kindness. These are contagious. I try to keep a smile on my face when I’m running, working on my computer, driving my car, or even grocery shopping (which I won’t be doing too much in a few weeks …). When people see my smile – they smile back. Those that don’t – I smile harder. 🙂 
  3. He had Respect for Everyone: My friend was respected by so many people. When you show respect, you get it back. Respect is never forgotten.  Make it your life’s goal to treat everyone with respect, honor, and dignity – even those that do not give it back to you. I’m a believer in Karma. When you’re gone, what will you be remembered for?
  4. He Gave his Heart Generously: When we give of ourselves  we start a cycle of positivity and love. We receive the internal personal reward of peace, happiness, and harmony. But we give it out as well and that is contagious. The people we miss the most after they die are the ones that gave love unconditionally and without judgment.

I try not to have “life goals” I just try to be. But if I were to choose life goals, these would be at the top of my list.

I have a lot on my plate right now. My boys are leaving in days (not weeks). My friend has died at 51. And I’m about to celebrate another year on this amazing planet. Life’s totally interesting and unpredictable. Thankfully, we’re all in it together.

Be contagious.

XOXO

Is this the home stretch or the start line?

So, I’m here. Just weeks away from being an empty nester. Two are leaving at one time. Regardless, the effect is the same – it’s me and the dust bunnies left behind. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought over the summer. What’s next? Is this the end? Is it the beginning? Or is it something in between?

Last week I found myself crying in the shower. I’d be lying if I said I recalled the thought that brought me to tears. I was likely nothing more than: “I won’t have as much garbage anymore so maybe I should reduce my container size.” To my friends who are in this same spot — you know what I’m talking about! At that moment, I did what most self-respecting moms would do. I left the shower on, grabbed my towel and dripped water all the way to the kitchen where I said to my son, sobbing – “I’m going to miss you so much!” He looked up from his cereal bowl with a smile and said, “I’m going to miss you too, Mom. Get back in the shower.” Out of the mouths of babes. 🙂

If I were to dissect his statement (and why the freak not – what else am I going to be doing with my time??) – he was saying just what I’ve been thinking lately – Nothing changes. Yes, my kids will be living elsewhere. But we are still a family. We will still have crazy things happening. We will still have joys and sorrows. We will still have as much love as we have now. And, I still need a full shower every day.

I’ve gotten a lot of well-intentioned advice on this stage of my life. Having done this once before – I know I’ll survive. I survived the death of my mother when my boys were babies. I survived divorce. I survived raising three. But there is little question that this train is out of the station and there’s no stopping it. All my feelings won’t change the reality – we’re moving to a new normal.

One thing I know for sure is that the exhaustion (emotional and physical) leading up to this moment will result in some sense of relief on the other side – for all of us. Let’s be honest – we’re all a bit curious about what’s on that other side.

So, to my friends who are in the weeks leading up to this event … feel what you want to feel. There’s no right or wrong. My mom sobbed dropping me off and I sobbed dropping my daughter off. We’re all still (relatively) normal despite the tears.

Go ahead. Feel it all. I’ll be here for you when you need me (and you the same, I’m sure!). Look for me at all the new places I never had time to try before (and maybe shedding a few tears at the same time!)

To be continued …

XOXO

Jessica

It could be any change.

Today is the day. The change I’ve been dreading and excited for. It’s my job, right? My job to make sure that they got through school, as unscathed as possible, and off to college.

We spend years just getting through each year. We celebrate the start of the year with photos and signs and we end the year with photos, signs and a sense of relief that summer is here. We rarely think about a time when they won’t be at home every day. We’re just trying to get through the day!

I need change. We need change.

When we don’t have change — when we keep going every day, doing the same thing, we lose track of time. It’s like the movie Groundhog’s Day, right? The same thing over and over … and very forgettable.

I use these life markers to take a moment (and a box of Kleenex!) and experience my life, my family and my friends. Change causes me to stop and live in the moment.

Everything good in life happens as a result of change – even when that change is the result of something painful.

If nothing changed, we would never develop a personality, memories, awareness of others, the world and ourselves. We’d never experience heartbreak, love, fear, joy, happiness, all of those emotions and experiences that are a result of change and experiencing change.

My son and I are always talking about how fast time goes. I told him that time slows down for me is when I’m experiencing change. When I have to struggle to sort through what is happening and focus on every minute and every decision. That’s when I’m the most present. When nothing is happening, when there’s no change, time flies by without my noticing it.

Let’s be honest: we ignore or forget most of what happens to us. Instead, we focus on a few particular moments: the peaks, the pits, and the transitions. This is my point – we need the peaks, the pits and the transitions to stop and enjoy the moment of time.

Some moments will always be vastly more meaningful and memorable than others. Like today for me. As recipients of change, we understand this – but as creators of experiences, we ignore it.

Think about it – we spend weekend after weekend with our kids, but in our memory all those times blend together. It’s the little moments, the moments of change, doing something different – those are the ones that matter. They are the  ones we remember. Today’s moment will matter for me.

So, E and S – I love you. I’m so excited for the next part of our lives together as a family and to watch your individual lives change. Try to experience every change you can. It will create new memories and cool new relationships.

So, with some already used Kleenex, I say congratulations boys! You done good and I’m a super proud mom! XOXO