The “wild” turkeys.

I’m not sure what’s happening around here. This week a large buck walked right through my yard. The neighbor had a rabid raccoon “removed” from their back yard, and the wild turkeys are every freaking where.

When these large crazy birds I usually shoo them out of my yard and my dog (who is generally quite passive) likes to stalk them until they make a screaming noise and run away.

Today I saw a white pick up pull up in front of my house. I’m on a zoom call so I need to excuse myself as a guy in a camo jacket comes to my door. He says he’s from the DNR and that people have complained about the turkeys in our neighborhood. He’s wondering if he can shoo the turkeys out of my yard. I look out and sure enough, there about 6 or 7 picking some berries out of my grass. He tells me that he is going to try to get them to the park down the street and “take care of them.” Honestly, I was so tied up in what was happening on my call that I just said, “Sure. Go ahead.”

I could see him then getting the turkeys out of my yard and then I saw them run the other direction. This was about 10:30 today. After my call I started to wonder, who was that guy? What are you kidding me that the DNR is sending someone to “take care of” the turkeys? Where the hell were they when the coyotes were chasing me and Lily? When I called the DNR back then they told me that they don’t come out and kill animals but that if it got bad, they could use a drone to get the pack of coyotes to move along – away from where they were. So, the DNR is coming to “take care of” the turkeys? Right before Thanksgiving? Something seemed suspicious.

So, I did what any self-respecting complete-lack-of-trust (job fatality!) kind of person would do … I called the DNR. The person I spoke with told me about these turkeys. First, they are every f***ing where, updown, downtown, Burnsville, … everywhere. They’re also strong and fast. Turkeys can sustain a run at 25 miles an hour—outpacing Usain Bolt—and in flight, they reach speeds of 55 miles per hour. This is why our mail carrier said that they are injured more often by turkeys then dogs! WTF!?

She also told me that they don’t “take care of” wild turkeys. That she is certain they didn’t dispatch someone to our neighborhood. She also told me that turkeys are a protected game species subject to MN DNR regulations and that they City ordinance prohibits the discharge of firearms in the City, with the exception being bow and arrow used according to the City’s bowhunting ordinance. Hmm. I saw no bow and arrow. She said this guy had to be a total fake.

Of course, by 5:00 the freaking turkeys were back in my yard. I’m not sure who this dude was … faking his association with the DNR to do g-d knows what with the turkeys. Out of all the things I might fake being … it would not be someone working for the DNR … Just another head-shaking day in my world. 🙂

XOXO

Jessica

Why this person’s stone throwing did not help the thrower, but did help me.

“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” is a common and popular proverb that has been used for centuries. This phrase hit me in the head after an exchange I had with someone.

Stone throwers are those who like to judge, find fault, and trash talk others. Quite often, throwers have a very high view of themselves and low view of those different than themselves. They don’t see what they don’t do. They only see what they want to see.

Stone avoiders live in fear of having anyone not like them. They sit on the sideline and resist taking any position or making any decision that may result in having someone toss a few stones their way. Sometimes a thrower really is also an avoider – as deflection.

Stone catchers are those who take action. They are the ones who see the stones being thrown and rather they just watch them plop in the water, or ignore them, they do something about them – usually about taking another stone to themselves.

I think that if someone is going to throw stones at someone else (and willing to damage the relationship with that person) then they should least throw two – one at themselves and one at their own house. Or, if you are getting a stone thrown at you, rather than lob one back, pick it up and do something different with it.

When stones are thrown at me, I pick one up (a new one!) and throw it at my own house. By throwing stones at my own house, I discover my weaker windows, places where there’s room for improvement and therefore where I need to do some home repair and remodeling.

Yesterday, when I was being pelted with stones. I just let them drop in the “water.” Then, I picked up my own stone, found a weak window, and made a phone call to fix that situation.

Look, we can’t control the absolute s*** that comes from other people. Nor can we always control the stupid s*** that we engage in. But, what we can do is check our weaknesses at the door and fix them. Because in the end, we are the only one who can really shore up our personal “house” … making us better, stronger human beings.

XOXO

Jessica

“Know your worth, then add tax.”

I’ve not heard this quote before. A man I met at a coffee shop today, (I am pretty sure this was not a pick-up line …) said this quote to me and I laughed, but also paused. (ok, it may have been pick up line, but my dog’s groomer texted me at that moment saying she was done and saving me from any further conversation with this person!)

But the quote stuck with me: Why is it that sometimes we don’t know our worth? Isn’t it the same all the time?

I was reminded of the movie The Joy Luck Club, where in one scene the mother tells her daughter a story about worth. The mother explains, “My mother not know her worth until too late; too late for her, but not for me. Now, we will see if not too late for you, hmm?” Hmm is right. How do we know our worth, and how do we know it before it’s too late?

I feel like I am learning so much about myself right now – even at my ripe young age! On good days, when life is just moving along, I don’t take much note of my inner voice. However, when I make a mistake, I can become my own worst enemy and harshest critic. Case in point: I recently had a couple of minor “mistakes” that happened one right after another. While these were uncharacteristic of me, I quickly began making unforgiving assessments of myself, doubting my effectiveness. While the mistakes passed, the questioning of myself remained. I was left with an emotional hangover.

It took me a bit to remember that the best cure for an emotional hangover is to let go. I am the same valuable human being whether I make a mistake or not or if I say the wrong thing or not.

We tend to be much harsher on ourselves than we would be on anyone else. This is when we need to stop beating ourselves up and give ourselves grace and permission to move on.

Remember, self worth is how you value yourself. It’s not based on what others think of you or the things you have (or haven’t) accomplished—it comes from within. I think it should start today.

Be kind to yourselves—you deserve it.

XOXO

Jessica

My lawn battle yesterday.

The real truth of my competitiveness came out yesterday in my backyard, and it wasn’t pretty.

We all were trying to get our leaves up these last few days. All I heard on the news was Tuesday was going to be the last “nice”day. My lawn service had been out the day before and took up all my leaves. I was feeling grateful. Yesterday my neighbors (who have a lot of leaves) had their lawn service over. I was glad because I had been cleaning up leaves that were blowing into my yard.

I noticed, as I looked out my back window, that their lawn service people were blowing leaves near our fence, and blowing them into my yard! WTF! I ran to my garage to get my blower (mind you it’s 20 minutes before I am supposed to give a webinar) and run out with it to the fence. As “luck” would have it. The battery was dead. I run back in the house and plug it in. By this point, my crazy ass dog (thinking I’m running because we are playing) grabs my nice shoes which are inside the door and runs outside with them. OMG!

While I chase her around for my shoes (I know, I know, don’t chase!), I let the blower charge for 10 minutes. I’ve now got only 10 minutes before I have to be on the webinar. I grab the blower and a bag and run back out there. It’s the competition of my tiny little blower and their massive ones. We are both walking along the same (but opposite sides) of the fence, blowing leaves. I am trying to get mine in some semblance of a pile, which is totally not working. My dog is now running through the pile, tossing my shoes around and just generally not helping. I pray to g-d that no one was taping me.

For a moment I realize the insanity of it all (me in my dress clothes with a bag, a blower, a lot of leaves and a dog) but I can’t let it go. Eventually, I get a few up, throw them in the bag, grab my shoes and go inside. The dog, runs after me, covered with leaves, walks in the house and shakes them everywhere in my house.

I. Am. Done. I clearly need some therapy (or a bottle of wine).

XOXO

Jessica

Am I stuck or am I ok?

There are so many things that, as we get old(er), we tend to just have as routine. Like, where we keep our toothpaste, how we enjoy a particular morning regime, whether we work out before or after breakfast … this can be in relationships too – is this getting stuck or is it something else? Do I need to avoid my routines or am I ok?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. The kids are gone, I’m living with the dog and I’ve wondered, am I stuck in ways I might not even notice. Day after day, am I following the same routines and if so, does that mean I’m actually working toward something or just killing time?

First, let me say, I’m all about cutting myself slack. I have spent a lifetime being tough on myself and while I still have super high expectations (sorry kids!), I now know that there are times I need to let go (Knowing is not always doing, but that’s for another post!)

Routines, which often look like being stuck, can actually help with anxiety and be relaxing. Starting your day off the same way can be helpful to the rest of your day. Frankly, I think my morning routine (which is often interrupted by the dog) helps me save brain power for the rest of my day.

Look at the lives of famously gifted and creative people—including Freud, Beethoven, and Georgia O’Keeffe, and you’ll see that many of them optimized their daily lives to get on top of their games. Routine was their secret weapon. internationally bestselling author Haruki Murakami told The Paris Review: “When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4 a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10 kilometers or swim for 1,500 meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9 p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

This is an intense example—maybe even a bit frightening, depending on how you feel about swimming—but you get my drift. We don’t have to be afraid of routine. It doesn’t mean we are stuck. It means we are creative. It means that we have time in our lives which require zero thought, so we can free our mind for more important things!

I’m going to be ok with my routines. I’m not stuck. I’m just enjoying all aspects of life—the planned and the unplanned. Life allows for plenty of room for both. Instead of beating myself up for enjoying my life process, I’m just going to enjoy my life process (read: routine) with a sprinkle of the unknown once in awhile. It’s doesn’t make me boring … it means I’m normal (sort of!).

XOXO

Jessica

You can’t choose your family.

Obvious statement and one I hear people use all the time. But what we can choose, is how we treat people – family or not.

I was talking with a friend yesterday about my kids and hers. We were talking about how we hope they are there for one another when we are gone and how to shape the start of that. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get to an answer but it left me thinking: while my kids can’t choose their siblings, they still can choose how they treat one another.

Relationships function like a mirror, eventually we reflect back how we are treated (well or not well). My kids and I (and even their dad) have worked through many issues involving one another and we’ve tried to follow those mirror-type rules whether we are using them as a family or with others:

  1. Don’t judge by what they did before. Help people build a new future. We all have a past. We all do stupid shit. But whatever the past, we do change and grow, so instead of judging, we need to support them and help them move forward, with a new understanding of themselves.
  2. Listen well, speak with candor and act with integrity. It’s important to listen first and then to be honest, while also acting with integrity. Relationships need curiosity to grow, candor to deepen the relationship and integrity to continue the relationship.
  3. Treat everyone with kindness–not because they are kindhearted, but because you are. Enough said.
  4. The best teachers are those who don’t tell you how to get there but show you the way. There is no better life joy than helping people see a vision for themselves and how to move forward. I have a friend who helps me with that every time I talk with her. This doesn’t mean you fix them or enable them, but you guide them to their own power. Offer support and motivation. Believe in them.
  5. Never look down on someone unless you are helping them up. We never know how far someone has climbed to get to where they are already. Dignity is the key here – the tables can be turned in a moment’s notice. We are and should always be equals.
  6. Appreciate those who have supported you in your growth, even if they have hurt you along the way. Business is complicated. Life is complicated. You will be hurt along they way. Retain your love and compassion and you can’t go wrong.

I read a quote recently, “No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you believe you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all.” This feels so true to me. It’s a message I think we forget all too often, especially in our superiority-complex-loving society.

Today let’s remind ourselves (because I know you know this already!) that the only true measure of character, the one you will take with you when all this is over, is how you treated others.

Have an awesome day!

XOXO

Jessica

She didn’t know why she got divorced.

Everyone has a story. I talked with someone today and she had 15 reasons why she just recently got divorced. But after the 15 reasons, she said to me that she really didn’t know why she got divorced and she told me how bad she felt. She needed a reason. But, this blog is about more than the decision to divorce.

We are always looking for reasons for what we do or say. Looking to explain the actions we take. We need the “reason” to put our actions in the correct compartment in our mind.

But is that way to look at things?

We are meaning-seeking creatures. We seek not only to define the meaning of our lives, but we also seek to understand the reason for almost everything that we do in the course of a day/week/month … lifetime.

Why is what drives not only everything we do, but also our emotional reactions to everything that happens to us. There have been many times when I’ve been stuck in traffic, swearing and frustrated (usually because I have to go to the bathroom!) and then I get to the reason why – a horrible accident—and it’s then that I realize how insane my irritation was in looking for the why. I should have been looking at my own actions, my irritation, swearing, etc.

For sure, we’re much more likely to accept a change if we understand the reason for it. And, for me, acceptance seems to hinge on how much sense the reason makes to me. Even if the change fails to benefit me—even if it causes harm in some way—if my sense of fairness is satisfied, I am far more likely to accept it. But I’m always missing what’s behind the why—and it is what’s behind the why that helps me grow as a person.

I once read that “the responsibility for success is on you; so is the responsibility for creating meaning out of life’s biggest disappointments.” That makes sense to me. It’s about creating the meaning from our actions, not finding the reason for our actions.

As for my friend’s divorce, we talked about owning up to our own mistakes we’ve made and sometimes there’s simply no good reason why something happens. However, I suggested to my friend, that it is our responsibility to create something more important than a reason—we need to create meaning from the reason.

There is a profound subtlety in the difference between reason and meaning, which speaks to the more important process of being accountable for how we heal and grow and, in turn, how we create value that in some ways outlives the pain. Perhaps, it may even eclipse it. Hard to accept that when you’re in the midst of grieving some kind of loss, right? But I think for my friend, who was grieving today, she needed to be accountable for what happened and now for her own growth. We all do.

Cool song below on why.

XOXO

Jessica

This dumb thing really pissed me off.

Halloween. I always open the door and give candy. Today, I’m preparing for trial (starting tomorrow) and instead I put my favorite bowl outside and filled it to the brim with candy. Options of what could happen:

  1. Kids take a lot of candy;
  2. Kids don’t take very much candy;
  3. Kids take no candy;
  4. Other.

Well, it started out as kids not taking very much. It was cute to see them just take a few pieces. I usually give above the national average of 2.5 pieces (I give 6!). Then, I got back to my trial prep and after an hour or so I went out to check the candy. Not only was all the candy gone – but the bowl (did I say it was my favorite bowl?) was gone too. WTF? What is going on? This is a kid holiday. This is not for taking shit that’s not yours other than CANDY.

It’s not really the bowl. It’s not really the candy. It’s the principle of the whole thing. I know it’s naive of me to think that on any given day, the world will work as I wish. But, really? A bowl and all the candy?

I feel disappointed right now. I’ll be better tomorrow. I’ll buy another bowl. But, I’ll still be pissed that someone didn’t care about anyone else but themselves. Can’t call the cops on a bowl. I hope someone (that someone) has a big stomach ache tomorrow.

XOXO

Jessica

Why I didn’t want to roll the COVID-19 dice.

My delay in writing this week was two fold: First, I was watching my daughter in Boston race at the HOC. Second, I was sick. Pretty sick. I’ve had the flu (which is bad sometimes) and I have had the stomach flu (which is bad at times), but this kind of cold and deep cough, was unusual for me and I worried.

I don’t want this blog to be about politics or religious beliefs but I do want to write about what worried me.

Allow me to back up a bit. For as long as I can remember (actually, as long as my kids could talk about s*** like this), they would often say, “You care more about other people (those in need) than you care about all of us.” Ok. A bit dramatic and not totally true. But, I get the sentiment and I often told them to put it on my headstone.

I do have a tendency to put those that I don’t know (but I worry about) in front of me. This is a good and not good thing because people like me don’t often take care of ourselves first (remember – on a plane, put your mask on before you put your kids’ masks on). 🙂 But, I digress.

When I started to have more serious cold symptoms, I first thought about everyone I had been around in the last few days – my daughter being one of them. I thought about the strangers I had been around at the HOC, when I bought apple cider, at dinner with family friends, the people on the plane at the airport, etc. If I had COVID, did I give it to anyone?

How is this not at the fore of everyone’s mind? It seems to me to be the best reason for getting vaccinated – to protect others. Of course, I do not want COVID. I don’t want to be in the hospital. I don’t want the “side effects.” But, I really don’t want to be responsible for getting someone else sick. Would I put myself at risk to avoid putting someone else at risk, yes. Thus, (in my lawyer terms) even if I thought the vaccine is “risky” (which it is not), I would still get it to protect others. It’s the same reason I got the flu shot – to protect my dad. It’s the same reason I don’t drink and drive.

Gratefully, I didn’t end up with COVID but it made me think about why I do certain things in life. I know not everyone cares about others the same way that I do — and that’s the nature of life. But for my purposes, I’m grateful that I got it from my mom and dad and (hopefully) my kids are following in my direction. Isn’t that the best a parent can ask for? 🙂

Be well everyone!

XOXO

Jessica

Read this only if you are in a spot where you can cry.

I’m on the plane right now. Heading to Boston to watch my daughter race at the Head of the Charles. I believe I’m a to-myself kind of person. My kids say I’m not. Right now. With COVID. I’m a to-myself person. Until tonight.

I was in a quiet area of the airport, grabbing some food and a man came up near me with a dog carrier. He sat down and started to eat. I couldn’t help ask (because I already miss Lily) what kind of dog was in his carrier. His response broke my heart.

At 63 he thought he and his wife would enjoy retirement, their dog and their kids (and grandkids). They had all the resources to retire early and just could not wait for the time together that they had waited for during their 33 years of marriage. Hard stop here.

It began with her being tired. Then a cough. Then the doctor. Tests. More doctors. Results. She was dying. They got 9 months. He said they were the best of their lives.

They had a dog. The dog was really “hers” as she was home with the puppy during the day while he worked. The dog was completely distraught after her death. The poor dog developed cancer. He died within three months of his wife. F***.

He wasn’t sure he could keep going. I get that. His kids knew that a new dog would help. Hence the carrier. He was flying to get the start the new part of life – a puppy. He showed me pictures. We cried together. I told him Lily ate a paper towel today. We laughed together.

Life is just so crazy fragile and unexpected. I am grateful I have a dog. It made me notice the carrier. Which caused me to ask him about his dog. Which allowed me to gift of meeting him.

XOXO

Jessica