I was alone but not lonely.

“Our language has wisely sensed these two sides of man’s being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone,” wrote theologian Paul Tillich.

Today I was swimming – alone – in an outdoor pool filled with beautiful leaves floating around me. I was alone. It felt like a glorious type of alone. I was not lonely.

But that beautiful young woman’s face, the one who is all over the news, the one who when she was stopped by police, took all the blame, the one who was murdered. She was lonely. I know that look. I know that feeling. There is no place lonelier than an abusive relationship.

What makes it so lonely? A lack of safety. Destruction of trust. Lack of love from the partner. Lack of respect. Endless blame and fault-finding. Complete crazy-making.

Being alone is a state of being, while loneliness is a feeling. We can be perfectly happy being by ourselves, but we can also be lonely even if we’re with someone. I can think of many times that I was with someone, and I was lonely. Loneliness stems from feeling like our true self is not seen or understood either by others or from within. 

I’m a lawyer, not a psychologist (shout out to my son!) but I’m pretty sure that if you enjoy being alone, that’s a good sign that you have a healthy relationship with yourself and with others. If you find yourself avoiding alone time at all costs, or feeling lonely, then that’s something totally different. Being lonely can be a deep, deep hole. She looked and sounded lonely. My heart breaks for her family.

But my alone time today was a quiet time of inner reflection. It felt like a moment of time that I can now take with me even when I’m not there. I feel lucky to have had that hour today.

We start and we end our lives alone; But hopefully not feeling lonely.

XOXO

Jessica

The stupid s*** I learn from working at home.

Working from home has been interesting. For one, I have an entire wardrobe that is getting dusty. Additionally, and most importantly, I’m learning a lot of stupid shit that I could have gone an entire life time not knowing.

  1. Squirrels hide nuts in the ground. Look, I’ve not taken a lot of time to examine what squirrels do in the fall. I hear them eating and cracking but true confessions, I likely thought of them like bears … they just eat them all and get fat and then live on that for the winter. DO NOT JUDGE ME on this one. 🙂 However, I’ve noticed, of late, that there are a lot of “holes” in my lawn. Today, while I was looking out the bathroom window (don’t ask), I watched a squirrel start to bury something. I literally heard myself say “Hey, what are you doing?” and for a split second, my dog looked up and the squirrel looked up. Time stopped. Then, the nonplussed squirrel simply went back to digging. WTF? I quickly triggered Google so I could understand what I was seeing. Honestly, this was a total time suck for about 45 minutes. In my DT office, I would not be watching squirrels.
  2. My dog farts.
  3. There is dust under my book shelf.
  4. Woodpeckers are really dumb. Almost every morning a woodpecker tries to find food in the wood siding of my house. I hear and I see it. When this happens we have a few options. Put an owl on your roof (how the hell am I going to do that??); listen to them while the hunt for bugs or grubs; or three (my favorite choice) bang the walls and go outside and scream. They do this pecking almost Every. Single. Morning. The other day, it was pecking at my metal gutters. Really? Gonna find a bug there?? They are pissing me off.
  5. That trying to make a tiktok on your own is not that interesting at my old(er) age. It’s also a time suck.
  6. That my daughter was right and my failing to push in a chair would result in my tripping and falling in an unpretty way. 🙂

If you feel so inclined, let me know if you’ve learned anything new. I would much rather learn second-hand!

XO

Jessica

And … I lost it today.

It’s got 4 legs. A cute nose. And loves me and I love her. But I lost it today. Too much of the in, out, walk, no walk, fussy, but won’t play with the 10,000 balls I have here at the house. Today was an exercise in patience.

What’s crazy is I raised three kids (and they tested me – and still do!) but they understood English. I’m pretty certain that Lily’s vocabulary is quite limited and she doesn’t understand half the shit I’m saying to her.

When I realized I was losing it, I decided to find some “me” time. I thought maybe Lily and I are getting sick of one another (month one out of 10!). So, I went outside to do some work. She barked until she followed me outside. Then, she ate some of the paper towels I was using to clean. So, I went inside to do some work. She barked until she was allowed to follow me back inside. Then she tried to eat one of my socks. Do you see what I’m saying??!!

So, I turned on the camera, gave her a treat and went for a drive. She slept. Then when I came home – chaos again. So, I put her in the car and took her to the park for a walk. We got there, get out of the car and she refuses to move. I mean it. Refuses to move. So, I put her back in the car and go home. She got out of the car, ran to the neighbors and grabbed their kids’ ball at which point I had to chase her before she killed it! I am not sure if she’s training me or I’m failing her!

By this point I needed a cocktail and chocolate!

It is now 7:39 p.m. she sleeping. I’m exhausted. Thank g-d for doggie daycare. She’s headed there tomorrow.

Love this dog, but some days … 🙂

Have a great start to your week!

Jessica

To my children: We are only together for a spell.

One of my favorite poems is from the Lebanese-American poet, painter, and philosopher Kahlil Gibran:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The heartbreaking genius of Gibran floors me, especially considering he never had children of his own. Maybe childlessness gave him an objectivity that I can’t see. I don’t always have level-headed detachment when it comes to my children.

From the very beginning Gilbran hits us in the gut (your children are not your children). That first line evokes a visceral response in me (maybe you too). It just pokes at the emotional and spiritual instinct I have about my children. We chose (perhaps) to have them. We are conscientiously raising them, teaching them, loving them, unconditionally so. How could they not be our children?

But it’s true. They don’t belong to us. We don’t own them. We chose (or not) to have them, but we didn’t choose who they are. We didn’t design them. That’s the force greater than us.

Most importantly, this poem hits the topic that’s been on my mind during my reset – my mortality. He reminds me that I won’t be here forever, not even in my dreams.

We can care for them and offer them what we can, but we can’t make them think like us or believe like us. Which makes sense because they will need different thoughts and beliefs to navigate a world we can’t even foresee.

To my children: we are only together for a spell. You will move humanity a few feet farther than I’ll be able to see. You will have your own destiny and your own purpose separate and apart from me. You are my children but you are also children of the universe. I love you with my entire soul.

XOXO

Momma (Jessica)

Our Visit to a Dog Park – Take One

I’m in a boot and not moving as quickly as I would like so I decided to take our “energetic” dog to a dog park. Let me give you my initial observations:

  1. What’s with the gate locks? They are so complicated. What happened to the latches we used on gates in the “old days.” I was so confused by the circles that needed to be lifted and moved that someone had to come over and let us in. Clearly an engineering degree was needed there.
  2. You must move through the gates quickly. Two dogs ran out of the inner gate once I opened it trying to drag Lily in. Like an escape from prison – they were not going to be stopped/ Of course, there was still a second gate and no way were they getting out of that one because who can figure out how to open it anyway??
  3. There is a lot of butt sniffing. Enough said.
  4. I was wrong. I didn’t stand around and watch her. It was a mad dash trying to keep up with her. It would have been easier to take her on a lease for a walk! In fact, at one point she came up to me and looked up – hoping I would put her leash on and take her back to the car! What’s wrong with this ac/dc dog? She want’s out. She wants in. She wants to run. She wants to go home. She wants in the car. She won’t get out of the car. It’s exhausting!
  5. It felt like a dog form of Costco. Way too big but a lot of things to look at – but way too overwhelming. She just wanted to smell every blade of grass but her butt was getting sniffed all the time and that made her want to run (It made me want to run!). It was a simple way for Lily to meet new “people.”

If only it was that easy for humans and we simply sniffed each other to determine whether we wanted to be friends. 🙂

XOXO

Jessica

My romantic view of … me (as a kid)

As I compare how my kids are with me, to how I must have been as a kid, I realize that I may have a romantic view of how I was as a kid. My mom is gone, which affords me this opportunity of distorted thinking.

Of course, I’ve romanticized that I called my mom every day (we paid for every minute on our cell phones in those days and I KNOW I didn’t call her every day). Or that I checked in to see how things were going when I knew she wasn’t feeling well (I did not). Or even that I never asked or needed money (really?).

When I was growing up and a young adult, I’m pretty sure I didn’t understand my relationship with my mom. I wonder if she felt bad about that. I think she knew, as I know for my kids, that the world is a complicated and fast moving place. That regardless of differences we might have, at various times, we parents have a great influence on the attitudes, beliefs, and the course of our children’s lives .

Sometimes our children’s behavior trigger unhappy recollections of undesirable aspects of our own personalities; or perhaps our child resembles some other person who has been, in our eyes, a major disappointment. It is at these moments that we sometimes feel stress and concern about our kids.

We all have similar expectations for our children:

  1. To be happy with themselves and others.
  2. To have a good relationship with us the parents.
  3. To take a growing responsibility for themselves.
  4. To have a good education for life and earning a living.
  5. To be happy, contented individuals who will be able to accept the ups and downs of life.
  6. To have a value system with which they are comfortable.
  7. To be healthy.

I’m pretty sure my mom had these same expectations for me. So, maybe not much has changed in 30 years.

Friends, as many of our kids move on to the start of a new part of their lives (their own reset) let’s not forget (and let’s appreciate) that we play a huge part in their lives and we need to be there for them in the good and the bad times. We set the example for them of interests and attainments – which they may or may not imitate. Unfortunately (or in my case, fortunately!) abilities, skills and interests do not pass on automatically from parent to child.

We cannot predict how our children will turn out; they are all different, and some of them are very different to ourselves. But it’s clear that our kids are individuals in their own right, who need to be guided and advised, listened to and loved, who need to map out their own destinies and have ultimately to live with their own choices. But, they need us. And, they need to know that we are available to offer them our unconditional love and support even if at times they seem to be acting like a sh** (which can be frequent with the self absorption of the 20-something child!). I mean seriously, weren’t you a sh** as a kid? I was!

XOXO

Jessica

Still Looking …

It’s been about five years since I announced to my kids that I wanted to move to a house on a lake. I’ve not moved. I’ve looked at every house on the lakes I’m interested in (and can afford!) but nothing has felt like – “that’s it!” So, I’m still looking. Why is this decision so difficult?

As economist Milton Friedman wrote: “The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas and subsequent actions.”

It’s the gray area problems that are the hardest to resolve—the ones where despite all the research you’ve done and experts you’ve spoken to, the answer is still unclear. Problems where it’s up to you, your experiences, and your gut feeling to decide what is the best course of action.

I have five steps I try to take when I’m trying to make a decision:

  1. Commit to long term thought. I think just saying you are thinking in in longer periods will help settle your brain and shift from reaction to strategy mode for your decision. Reactive decisions are not good decisions;
  2. Take a deep breathe. Daoist philosopher Laozi once said “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear.” Love this saying!;
  3. Watch for decision fatigue. This is why I wear the same clothes every day, so I have less decisions to make in the morning!;
  4. Never forget your gut. This is always the last check for any decision; and
  5. Have zero regrets!

I used to think that the difficulty of a decision was linked to the size of the decision. But that is fake news because think about the last time you spent half an hour trying to figure out what to watch on Netflix!

I’m not sure why I’ve not made a decision on a new house, could be my fear about such a big more or sadness in leaving the kids’ childhood home, or maybe I’ve really not found the right house. Regardless, this future difficult choice will shape the next stage of my life, whether I stay here or I go, so I can take my time and make it with all the information in front of me (which I hope to do lakeside!!

XOXO

Jessica

What do you do when they don’t answer your texts?

I’ve had some bad mom moments. Like seriously bad. Like one time when I couldn’t reach my son at college and I literally called the campus police and had them track him down. Nothing like the campus police walking into your baseball practice to tell you that your mom is looking for you. Yup. Bad mom moment. But here’s the thing, they don’t respond. Well my daughter generally will but the boys – just no freaking way.

Wait a minute. They do respond in the following situations:

  1. When they need an Xfinity code and it comes to my cell phone number;
  2. When they want money in their Venmo account;
  3. When giving me their “orders” for the food I’ll make and bring up for them;
  4. Anything related to money or credit cards; or
  5. To tell me that the large charge on the credit card for a keg will be reimbursed to them by their friends.

To be fair, one of them was sober enough on the morning of my birthday, to wish me a great day. He likely was still drunk but his sister is a good “reminder” person and I know she “reminded” them. The other … well it took him 3/4ths of the day to read her text message so that he could be reminded to send me a text message!

I know they are not too busy to pick up their phones because the data usage proves that the phone is operational.

Recently I started sending Snap Chats of the dog. And while they responded at first with “cute” or “aww” – even that’s stopped.

So, what’s a mom to do? Well, she can write a blog post about them and then SEND IT directly to them. Or, she can Facetime them so her face comes up on their screen over and over again until they answer.

Yes, I can do those things (and I will) but I’m going to go a step further. When they come home on break, I’m going to have them install the app “Reply ASAP.” This will make their phones ring when I call, even when its on silent with a message “Reply ASAP” that continues to pop up on the screen until he responds. I’m excited just thinking about it! Got any other ideas here?

To Be Continued.

XOXO

Jessica

My love affair with food (or, I’m Italian).

I don’t blame my mom for making me nuts. But my Italian obsession with food was definitely her fault. My mother was an Italian from the Bronx. Need I say more?

For Italians, food is always a reminder that life can be complicated and hard, sad and cold… but happiness is just a matter of few, delicious ingredients to sooth the soul. That’s why as soon I’ve finished one meal, I am wondering what the next one will be. It wouldn’t be normal at my house, if you didn’t smell food cooking as soon as you woke up. My shelves are full of food (mostly for me to give away to anyone who walks in our front door). And you cannot leave my house without an armful of something!

I guess being Italian is more than just food. It’s 14 conversations happening all at one time. It’s the Italian good-bye, where you might try to leave five times but you really never can leave until you take a few more food containers containers “just in case” “for later on.” The actual good-bye is 20 minutes later at your car (because saying good-bye once, twice or even three times is not enough for an Italian!).

Being Italian means taking 3752 pictures of the same thing just to be sure you have just the right angle of everyone. We also kiss and hug everything and everyone. I mean even strangers (which really is a total embarrassment to my children).

I also remember hearing my mom say things in the car to other drivers (along with giving them the finger – which (sadly) in 2021 could get you shot). Oh, don’t forget that everything is accompanied by a funny Italian gesture(s), to communicate what you’re feeling or to add an insult to any situation. And, growing up, having Nutella on hand was more important than having a boyfriend.

Today someone asked me a question about something that pissed me off … and I bit my hand, shook it in the air and said something in Italian. I think she thought I was crazy. I just shrugged and said, “I’m Italian.” Enough. Said.

XOXO

Jessica

The Coyotes.

I still have a bit of PTSD from this experience and it actually colors every single walk I take with Lily.

In mid-August I was walking my dog at the Perpich Arts High School – a place I’d taken her for two years. People go there and let their dog off leash to chase balls in the soccer field.

I’d seen coyotes there before but they usually retreated behind the fence in the woods. This day I saw one and decided to go behind the high school rather than the soccer field. I took Lily off leash and threw the ball a few times. For some reason, I happened to turn around and found that we were surrounded by three coyotes. They were close – like 20 feet. They were coming toward us and clearly wanted Lily.

I dropped Lily’s leash (I just was not thinking) and ran to Lily – all the while screaming at the coyotes. I guess I thought being loud would get them to stop. It did not. They just kept advancing towards us and since I didn’t have Lily’s leash I needed to keep her near me. I knew if she veered from my side, they would kill her. The thought of it right now still affects me. I remember thinking how was I going to stop them if they attacked her? What was I going to tell my daughter about her dog? I was completely panic stricken.

We started running and by the grace of g-d she ran along side of me. I think she could sense something was wrong or maybe she thought we were playing. It seemed like a crazy nightmare and I kept looking back to see if I was hallucinating. I was not. They kept chasing us. By this point they were approximately 15 feet on three sides of us. They could have attacked us but I was screaming so much, which must have kept them from jumping us.

Despite my best efforts to yell, throw my phone and bag, they didn’t stop. They chased us around the school and into the parking lot at which point I grabbed Lily’s collar and ran across a very busy Hwy. 55 in rush hour traffic. No one – not one person – stopped to help me.

Ever since then, no matter where I am, I scan for coyotes. I just can’t seem to shake it. I heard that a neighbor across the RR tracks had her dog mauled by a coyote – right in their front yard. Horrible.

Not sure I’m a good dog sitter (well, clearly I’m not if I almost got my dog killed), but I do know that I have a special bond with this crazy ass dog . This will haunt me for awhile. I better stick to the dog park.

Be careful everyone!

XOXO

Jessica