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

Why yesterday was the absolutely perfect day.

The weather was nice and then rainy – very rainy. It was warm and then cold and windy. I didn’t get a chance to shower until 1. I had to go to the dentist. My dog was fussy and I spent 45 minutes trying to get her in the house (I cried at the 30 minute mark until I found a way to get her in). Then I spent another 20 minutes watching a video on how to teach your dog to “come.” I didn’t get enough work done but I did get some of what I wanted to get done. I had a great cup of coffee in the morning. I helped someone at the grocery store reach a bunch of items that were too difficult to reach. And, I talked with two of my kids.

It was a perfect day because it was not. I’m taking the position that every thing that happens to me in a day, is exciting and new. That’s how I think we can truly start living – when we romanticize our day and our life and look at everything we do through a different lens.

I understand that life isn’t perfect and that it cannot always be just fun (clearly by my day listed above!). But everything I experience (even the f***ing 45 minutes chasing the dog — I know, I know, don’t chase the dog …) takes me to the next experience. In one day, I got to cry and be happy. I had a dance party with the dog in the living room (sorry to my neighbor!) and I laid on the floor trying to clean a dog’s face. I was productive but not as much as I wanted. I lived yesterday as I want to live everyday — experiencing it all.

I’m sure you can find something today that’s new and exciting. Or, look at something mundane (like making lunch or getting gas) and see it as a cool opportunity to try something a little different or connect with someone new.

I’m not sure what today will bring. It already brought me a trip over a chair and breaking my glass. 🙂 So, clearly another of the same – great and not great stuff! But, I’m here. I’m alive. And, I’m grateful.

XOXO

Jessica

“Yup! My Mom Does Swear A Lot.”

I heard that one of my boys acknowledged this fact to someone recently that yes, his mom does swear that much all the time. The. Real. Truth.

There are three kinds of moms: The moms who were always together and never picked up their kids in sweatpants and flip flops (not me); the moms who were smart and capable, whose kids never used the word “like” or less than full sentences (totally not me); and moms who mostly had a baseball cap on to deal with crazy hair and swore like a sailor (ME!).

I think moms who swear are the shit! I remember one time when there was a song or something like, going around in lower school, where the song had a lot of words with different endings. One was *uck. As you could expect, one of the boys said, “Mom – your favorite word could be in this song – F***!” Yup. True dat.

I’m not trying to be cool or edgy. If you know me, you know I’m not cool or edgy. I just swear. It’s more work for me to not swear these days – especially when I’m giving a training seminar for work – then to just be myself.

I loved the study The Science of Swearing where the researchers found that swearing did little (if anything) to harm children or people. In fact, it was the way it was used, rather than it being used. Obviously, using it in an abusive way is wrong. But when I spill my wet coffee grounds all over the floor at 5 am (like TODAY!) and I yell, FUUUCCCK …well that’s ok. 🙂

My favorite swear words rhyme with duck and include, for duck’s sake, what the duck, duck that, and— well, you get the picture. My other favorite swear word rhymes with hit and include variations on this word. Sometimes I put them together — duck that *hit!

People that swear are my people. They make the best storytellers. They don’t take things too seriously. They are fierce defenders of their friends and families. And (in my f***ing opinion) are more open minded. Swearing is how I add emphasis to life. It’s like “very” or “really” but with more truth and punch!

Do my kids swear? For sure. Do I care. No. They know when it’s ok and when it’s not. I guess the only thing I worry about is this: That my kids will keep my grandkids away from me because “GM swears too much.” That better not f***ing happen. 🙂

Have a freaking great day everyone!

XOXO

Jessica

Life is like a traffic light.

Yesterday I ran across the street (with the dog) when the light was going against us. I always feel a bit guilty when I don’t wait for the light to change. As a kid, I was conditioned to behave and act in a way that was socially approved. But as I’ve gotten old(er), I’ve been challenged by the voices of others telling me what is best for me. I find myself doing that for my kids too. But the truth is, we need to listen to our own voice first.

So, how do I try to listen to myself, rather than others (hence, that gaslighting post), by thinking of my life like a traffic light. There are three ways for me to move, stop, wait (or slow down) and go.

Right now, in my life, there are things I need to start doing, slow down doing, and stop doing. I’ve been thinking a lot about what moves me and what holds me back. For many years, I’ve focused on being a parent, lawyer and friend. But there are other aspects to me and I’ve been wondering how can I move in those directions? Are there other things I need to stop so I can start something new? What I need to do is silence my thoughts and listen to what’s inside me in order to know which of the lights I should follow.

After running through that light yesterday, Lily (of course) wanted to sniff the next stop light pole. I forced myself to just stand there, to not run across, but just to listen and look around. I ended up just smiling at the person walking across the street and reaching down and petting Lily. It was the most peaceful 2 minutes I’ve had in a long time.

We (read: me) can be the worst critic of ourselves. We need to listen to our own internal stop light and use it to guide our lives. Take a moment today look at your options. Is there something you need to stop, slow down or move on? Every day is a new day!!

XOXO

Jessica

Letting go of our kids decisions.

I’m sure my kids think all their decisions are great (mine sometimes suck too so – pot/kettle here) but being a parent and watching our kids make some not-so-great decisions is difficult. I’m guessing I’m not the only one with this issue.

I remember when one of my guys was in lower school, he found some candy on the ground at school and picked it up and put it in his pocket. He figured it was lost. The school thought he was taking something that was not his. While I thought the whole freaking thing was a bit overblown by the school (it was a Starburst!), I still felt bad and my first instinct was to blame or question myself:

  • Would this have happened if I’d been a better parent?
  • Or had been more focused on them or talked with them more?
  • Would this have happened if I wasn’t divorced?
  • What about if I had been a stay-at-home parent?
  • What if we had more money. Money was tight at that time and maybe he knew it and felt like he just wanted something we didn’t have?

I get the lesson that the school was trying to make here but what I mostly recall was really looking at myself to find the reason for what happened. Over the course of their lives, I’ve done that again and again, thinking I have some part in the bad decisions they make (of course, why not take the credit for the good freaking decisions they make?!)

Look, we all want what’s best for our kids. I remember buying so many parenting books. They all promised to show me new ways to raise my kids. But, the one theme in all the books which was, if you try XYZ, that will help your parenting. In other words, you, the parent, held the key.

Yet, the science (which is a freaking political word now!) supports a totally different and empowering message, which is – it’s not all about you, the parent. In fact, trying to predict how a child will turn out or make decisions is like trying to predict which way a butterfly will fly when you walk up to it! Our kids are individuals with their own brains and their own experiences.

So, if that’s the case, then we can’t (and should not) blame ourselves for those not-so-great decisions or directions our kids take (easier said than done!).

Now, my kids are making bigger and bigger decisions and I don’t agree with all of them. But, I’ve been working on new ways to manage not only my own emotions, but also to help them in this new stage (the stage where they’re “smarter” (their view :)) than me!):

  1. Keep the lines of communication open. I really try to make every effort to be open and transparent with my kids. Many of you know me as that kind of person and I try to keep the same openness with them. I think they know they can come to me with anything. Even the shit I will be pissed about. Nothing is too big for us as a team.
  2. Understand their point of view. I also want to understand their point of view, as best I can. I’m not perfect and don’t live in their shoes. But I try to help them think of their options. Because, I believe there are always options, including not doing anything when you feel compelled to do something. That’s often fear talking and understanding how to sit and wait with fear is an acquired skill.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say if you think they’re wrong. I think it is important to let your kids know when you think they need to make a different decision or if they have made decision that was not a good one. My kids know I will speak my mind, but that I do it out of love. Don’t be afraid to show them that you have strong views. It will help them do the same thing when they are a parent. And, I believe if you’ve set the framework, they will respect you (but may not be happy in the moment!) in the long run.

My kids know the things I worry about and they also know when I think they’re going too far one way or another. But I’m also learning to give them space to grow, take risks and make (good and not-so-good) decisions of their own. We are learning together. Two steps forward. One (sometimes big and sometimes me!) step back!

XOXO

Have a great day everyone!

Jessica

This dog trait is driving me crazy!

It really doesn’t matter what I put in my mouth, my dog wants it. I actually have started to feel guilty eating when she is sitting there staring at me – as if she’s been starved and the last food on the planet is going into my mouth.

I read recently that there are a few reasons as to why my dog may be trying to eat my food:

  1. The first reason is the obvious one, not getting enough food in their diet. This is NOT the case.
  2. Medical reasons. Nope.
  3. My food smells good. Really? Does she really know when I am having lemon crusted tilapia verses a fake cheese sandwich? I highly doubt it.
  4. My dog sees that I am enjoying my food and wants to partake because if it looks delicious to me, she trusts me and wants to partake. WTF?

The thing is, she’s not barking or making noises. She’s just looking at me. With those eyes. My neighbor told me that in the wild, dogs stare at the pack leader as he eats. This is how they let him know they are hungry and hope to get his scraps. You’re the pack leader, and they are hoping you’ll share your meal. Ahh, I’m a pack leader. I’m liking this more and more.

Still, it’s a pain in the ass and I find myself trying to think of ways to keep her busy so I can eat without that guilt. I remember doing this when my three were under three. I went through a lot of Cheerios as they were thrown, eaten and smashed so I could have five minutes to eat my food!

Yesterday I tried a new plan – ghosting! I just ignored her while I was eating. I didn’t look at her or acknowledge her. I tried to turn my back on her but she got up and came to my other side, sat down and stared. That s***! But in the end, she put her head down and slept until I was done. Good lord – this is a lot of work. Wonder what she’ll do when I open up that bottle of wine!

Have a great day everyone!

Jessica

How she lost almost 100 pounds!

I was pool jogging today when a woman got in with some things around her ankles and water gloves. She had a visor with sparkles (we were inside but I thought the visor was a nice touch!) and one of those Apple Nano’s attached to her visor with plug in headphones. As she started moving I could tell she was totally jamming to her music.

While I didn’t want to bother her, I also wanted to know what was around her ankles! I jog without a belt and I wondered if she had weights to increase her exercise time. There is no way I could jog with weights and I felt super impressed by her situation. She looked to be in her early 70’s.

She eventually “danced” her way over to me and smiled. She introduced herself and asked how long I had been in the pool (I was at 50 minutes and ready to get out!). She told me that the ankle “things” were little flotation devices to help her stay upright

We started talking about why I was in the pool and not running outside. She told me the pool was her “special place” and that she had pool jogged her way out of about 100 pounds!

She explained that the weight loss wasn’t because she went on a special diet. Nor, was it the hour of exercising in the pool every single day. It was deciding that she loved herself enough to make a change. She was quick to suggest that some people might have been happy at her prior weight and that’s ok. But for her – she was not happy and that started her on a path to a different life. She had been divorced when she gained all the weight. And, once the weight was off, she felt more confident, she met someone on-line … and … she lifted her hand out of the water to show me her wedding ring.

As I got out of the pool I was reminded how it all starts and stops with love. The love we feel for who we are and where we are going (or want to go). You can try all the surgeries, diets, expensive clothes … but if you are not happy in your current situation and you don’t love yourself, nothing is going to do it for you.

I live by one major theme (other than love) and that’s no regrets.

It could be a the wrong job, an unhappy relationship or even just the need for something new. If you are not feeling happy in your current situation, access your love for you and consider what you can do now, so that when you look back, you have no regrets. You’ll never know if you don’t try.

XOXO

Jessica