The Beginning of the New

My boys start their senior year tomorrow and as many people have said – I’m marching toward empty-nestville. I could tell you how happy I am for them (I am!), how much I will be crying this coming year (I will!), but I’m starting the beginning of the new and I’m not sure where it will lead me. So, I’ll start by writing to them:


You’re now officially seniors in high school. I think it’s just hitting me. Tomorrow we’ll take our last “first day” picture with your sister and you’ll be on your way.  Soon you’ll be experiencing your last homecoming, you’ll take your last walk in the hallways where you’ve been for the past four years, and then you’ll be walking across the stage to receive your diploma. I know it’s exciting and it’s easy to miss it all as it speeds by. But there are a few things I want to remind you to pay attention to this year:

  1. Appreciate the moments: You probably don’t think you’ll miss sitting in class on a sunny day when you’d like to be out playing ball or eating lunch with your friends, but you will. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many amazing things you’ll experience in college. But take the time to appreciate high school while you’re still here. It really won’t ever be this easy.
  2. Hang with your friends and family:  The reality is that this is the last year you will see your family and high school friends everyday. Even when you bicker with or get tired of the people in your life, deep down you know that they love you and have your back. Leaving them will be difficult. Make an effort to spend more time with them while you can. Plan get-togethers with your “guys.” These friends have been with you the longest – from kindergarten to graduation. Be safe but make the most of it.
  3. Go to all the school events you canEnjoy prom, enjoy football games, Legacy Day, events with your friends…enjoy it all! You only get to do it once more like this.
  4. Say Thanks: This is the last year to tell any friends, teachers or other people in your life how much they mean to you or to acknowledge all that they have done for you. When you feel that sense of gratitude, don’t hesitate to express it.
  5. Senioritis is realGuys, senioritis is totally normal and you don’t need to feel guilt-ridden if you loosen your grip a little. It’s OK to not be perfect. Expect it to happen and enjoy this time – you’ve made it!
  6. Stop worrying about college: College is going to happen and if you worry your time away, you’ll worry away your senior year. Trust me. You’ll end up at just the right college and it will be perfect. Just don’t let senior year fly by without you noticing.

Have a great year, young grasshoppers. It will be the best one yet! Love you guys!


She has hope and gratitude.

It feels crazy “out there.” And, in some respects it is. Yet, we’ve had other chaotic times and  survived. Don’t get me wrong – I have my own fears about what’s happening “out there.” But I’ve been thinking about the energy of hope and how that energy can eclipse the fear and anxiety we all seem to be having.

I have a gratitude journal which I try to write in every day. If I don’t write, I make a point of saying to myself, before I get out of bed, what I’m grateful for from the day before. Here’s what I wrote one day last week:

  1. I’m grateful for the fun call I had with my daughter.
  2. I’m grateful that both boys hugged me and said they loved me.
  3. I’m grateful that I was able to run with my friends.
  4. I’m grateful that I was able to go to bed an hour earlier than normal last night.

There’s nothing special about these things. Yet they’re reminders to me about being grateful for what’s happened and hopeful about what will come.

I know someone who lost her son last year. She hurts. I can feel it. I can see it in her FB posts. But she has hope. She has gratitude. And that helps her use her pain to move forward. To celebrate what she had. Hope and faith give her strength and security.

Hope is a real and powerful force. Gratitude expands our awareness of hope and brings happiness. This may sound “weird,” but I think gratitude changes our vibration on the earth. It gives us energy to give more. It opens the door to everything. It allows us to make the changes we need in our lives and in the lives of others.

So, to all of you that I love (which is all of you!), here’s the big question for us this week:

When it seems like you are blocked at work, in a relationship, or something negative happens to you, what’s your reaction? Do you say, “Why me?” or do you step back and think,

What is my life trying to tell me right now?”

The latter, my friends, is key. How we respond to what happens to us means the difference between a life of hope and a life of despair. A life of joy or a life of anger. All I have to do is watch my friend survive the loss of her son, and I know this to be true. Stop. Listen to what the universe is telling you. It is only in those quiet moments that I’ve been able to understand and then make the critical changes in my life. It is at those times when I feel the most hope.

Gratitude makes us – the collective “we” –  stronger. It is what allows me (us) to have some amazing experiences. It’s a beautiful circle and all it takes is gratitude.

Friends, I hope you all have an amazing week!

He’s dying and I won’t get to say goodbye in person.

For many complicated reasons, I am not going to be able to say goodbye, in person, to someone I care about. My friend knows I would want to say goodbye. We both understand that will not happen. But I feel peace in knowing that he has faith in me. He knows I will miss him. And, I know he forgives the reasons why we can’t say goodbye in person.

Life rarely ever happens as we expect.

So, my friends, please allow me to say goodbye here. He will read it.

Dear Friend,

Words are meaningless here. But they are all I have. Forgive me.

I met you when my children were younger. We were both in difficult places in our lives and we shared so much about our love for life, our need for change and how we would get there. I know your road was difficult. But I loved that our conversations ended on a positive note every time.

I know you finally found the peace you so deserved. Yet, my heart breaks knowing you won’t get more time to enjoy that new life space.

Now you have limited time remaining on this earth.  And, I’m heart-broken. Losing you will send a shockwave through our community. We will be affected by your leaving. You meant something to many.

I know very little of these last few months. But, I know that you are surrounded with people who love you. They are flawed, as we all are, but they love you. I know you know that.

I’ve learned that death is not an end. It’s a transition. A migration. A change. A new birth.

And so it is with you. You may not realize all the impacts you have had on this world. Or you may feel that they are insignificant. But, I know otherwise. Because you have impacted my life significantly. No one who was touched by you will ever forget you.

So, let me thank you for our experiences together. Thank you for the gift of appreciating every moment I have – an unintended consequence of your illness. Thank you for having faith in me. It helped me move forward in ways I could not have imagined.

Goodbye my friend.  I value all that you are. I will always treasure the scar I am left with by your leaving.

I pray for your peaceful transition.





“Jessica, What’s happening with the dating thing?”

This is a question I seem to get frequently — and, I’ve been pretty clear here in this blog that such a topic is outside the scope of these 500 words. 🙂  But it brings up a point I’ve been thinking about quite a bit and actually watching with my friends who are in long-term relationships.

Look, we are generally getting to that stage where our kids are getting older and our relationships are getting longer and inevitably getting a bit less exciting.  Which means that lately I’ve seen some friends decide that their current “situation” is no longer the right situation and I’ve seen some friends decide that they will stick with their “situation” even in times of significant trials.  What gives? What makes one work and one not. Inquiring minds want to know. What’s the secret sauce?

In listening to my close friends I’ve come up with a few common themes. I think they go with any relationship – and there many kinds of important relationships – so, who can’t use a tip or two?

  1. Great relationships are realistic. There will be days, months and years where the imperfections of our partners are in the fore. And being realistic about those imperfections (and admitting that we have them too) is the only way to keep a relationship healthy. We should idolize our partner, but remember they really are human.
  2. Real partners say they are sorry.  It is not and should not be the hardest word.
  3. Respectful partners argue but argue gently. It’s not whether we argue (we will). It’s how we argue. I was once in a relationship where someone would call me some pretty brutal names during an argument. I completely lost respect for him. Don’t do it. Your relationship days will be dark and numbered.
  4. Long standing relationships seem to have partners that show their appreciation. People in happy marriages feel appreciated, loved, and respected. My feeling is we can never go wrong when we tell our partners what we love about them.
  5. My favorite partnerships are those where the partners laugh together. Couples who laugh together and regularly reminisce about funny times tend to be much more satisfied with their relationships.
  6. The best ones (in my humble opinion) are selfless. I see more relationships end because of selfishness than any other reason. Surveys blame it on finances, lack of commitment, infidelity, or incompatibility, but the root cause for these reasons is selfishness. A selfish person is committed only to himself or herself, shows little patience, and never learns how to be a successful partner. End of story.

It is a simple proposition to value our relationships, treat them with great care, and invest into them daily. I’m talking ALL relationships. Being in one requires nearly every bit of ourselves, but it’s so worth it. After all, happy and healthy relationships are far more valuable than most of temporary things we chase after every day of our lives. And they last forever.


One carpet cleaner, three hotels, five schools and a partridge in a pear tree.

Life happens. It happens when you expect it and when you least expect it. Although I have a year left, I’m already sad about my guys leaving. I miss my daughter but am having the most amazing time with my boys. I can’t complain one bit – not even when I have to cancel a well planned trip.

As some of you know, it’s no easy feat to schedule these college visits. You try to fit as much in as you can, missing the least amount of school and spending the least amount of time in a car. We were heading east. My guys haven’t been to any schools out east and they are (sadly 🙂 ) a possibility for one or both. So I got it all set. Six schools – five after flying to Boston – and then a trip to U Penn. We were excited!

So, I got it all arranged: tours at three schools in Boston (and two with my second daughter showing us around).  Two different hotels and a car. Then a flight to Philly and car, a hotel and a tour.  Seriously, took me a day to plan.

Cue – Life.

Packing at the last minute the night before our trip – one of the boys isn’t hungry. He goes to bed early and I think to myself – “He’s going to get sick.”  Sure enough, it’s midnight and the poor kid comes upstairs to tell me that he threw up and couldn’t make it to the bathroom. Good lord.

Yup the norovirus. Super brutal and after being up with him all night, I got him to sleep in the guest room, called the carpet cleaner and started cancelling all the hotels, flights, cars, etc. The other, totally panicked that he would get sick, seemed to find ways to be out of the house for about two days. And when home – spent most of it in his room. I can hardly blame him.

As could be expected, I joined my blond boy two days later but thankfully he was on the mend and I was not going to get as sick as he did. So, here we are – supposed to be on our flight to Philly right now and instead we are finally standing in front of the fridge 4 days later trying to decide if we can find just one thing that sounds good to our still slightly queasy stomachs.

Life. It hits you when you least expect it. But I can’t complain. It’s another chance for me to be a mom. (love)

Wash your hands my friends. 🙂


You will be (as was I) surprised by his choice.

I keep 4 or 5 different types of gift cards in my car at any one time (so if you want to break in, you’ll now know what’s there!). I always have a number of fresh fast food gift cards and usually some for coffee shops. I give them away when I see people on my way to and from work. Last week I saw three guys sitting on a corner. No signs asking for money. Just sitting there with all their life belongings, listening to a radio. I pulled over and asked if they would have any interest in a Subway gift card. They looked up and came to the car. I pulled out the others, Chipotle, Five Guys, and Jimmy John’s. Then at the last moment I realized I had a couple of Caribou cards. The first two guys immediately took food cards. The third guy stood there for what seemed like forever – as if he couldn’t decide. I asked him what he was thinking and he shared this story:

Yes, he needs food and that card would be the right choice. But the coffee gift card reminded him of his love for coffee. Not the actual coffee but the smell. He told me that when he was a kid, his mom would make a cup of coffee every morning and he would sit on her lap while she drank it and read the paper. She had a smell about her that he’s never forgotten but can’t find anywhere else.

I was stunned. I wanted to hug him but of course, I couldn’t. I gave him a food card and a coffee card – then I gave his other two friends additional cards (having kids makes me want to be fair when I can!).

I cried all the way to work.

What a reminder that we cannot judge what we see on the outside as having anything to do with what’s on the inside. He had a life. A mother. Her lap. Her smell. And the most beautiful memories. Now he lives on the street. With those things as only memories. Yet, despite the outside part of his existance, his inside has remained as soft as ever.

That I never, not for one moment, thought about what was on the inside, makes me sad. Clearly, I’ve been missing a lot.

While helping with the outside stuff is critically important, we have to remember that outside appearances or life choices are not always indicative of what’s on the inside.

Look around. We are judging at every turn right now. It was a cold hard reminder to me that I judge too and I need to stop.

I will remember him for the rest of my life. Just as he has the wonderful memories of his mother, her lap, the paper and her coffee.

With joy comes sadness but enlightenment. I guess we need all three.

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend.


It’s time.

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Gandhi

I’m tired of the craziness we’re all feeling about the world today.  I hate seeing friends tearing each other apart. Good people who see the world differently. It’s time to stop.

We’ve let fear control our thinking. From fear comes intolerance. Intolerance of other opinions.  It’s not the opinions that are the problem (and please know, this is hard for me to say because I have some pretty strong f***ing opinions on certain issues).  But, but rather intolerance is the problem. Other people have a right to their own opinion just as I’ve a right to mine.

My grandfather once said, “If you see two people arguing and you want to figure out who’s losing the argument, just listen to who’s shouting the loudest. The person who is not listening is losing the argument.” Makes sense.

We must listen to understand. Only understanding will bring change. 

I’ve been studying Gandhi and here are my favorite themes in his life’s work:

1. Change yourself. If you change how you think, you’ll change how you feel and what actions you take. In turn, the world will change around you. Lose your old thought patterns about how to make change and find new ones. Throw away fear and anger and use understanding.  Simplistic? I don’t think so.

2. Forgive. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”  Fighting evil with evil won’t help.  Listen and respond with empathy – not with more anger. When you do that, you can focus totally on the next point. The next point might make the difference.

3. Persist. Success will seldom come as quickly as you like. We live in a world full of magic pill solutions where we’re promised that we can lose a lot of weight or earn a ton of money in just 30 days. It takes time. Be patient.

4. See the good.There’s always something good in people and also things that aren’t so good. You can choose what things to focus on. If you want improvement than focus on the good in people. Because if you respect them and they respect you – even if there are differences – you’ll find common ground.  And with that, will come change.

5. Be authentic.  I love being around those who are open and clear about who they are – even if they’re different from me.  It’s powerful. When your words and thoughts are aligned that shows through in your communication.

Change is in the air. And, while it may be a s*** storm for a while — it’s a wake up call for us to refocus on that which is critically important. But, remember – we can only do that by understanding and acceptance first. We got here by fear and intolerance.  Let’s get to the next place by love.

I’m energized and on a mission now.  It’s time. Let’s go!