My watch said “record a walk” when all I was doing was picking up dog poop.

I’m not sure I even need to write anything. The title speaks for itself.

I know I have hit a new low when my watch thinks that I am doing some kind activity when I’m really just holding a small green bag and bending down. This means one of two things (maybe more than two, but I’m afraid to go farther): (1) I maybe need to listen to my friends and get on a dating web site; or (2) I need more hobbies other than work and poop detail. I think the latter is more realistic!

I was initially against getting one of these “watches” that track your every move (although it saved me when I had the coyote incident … to be blogged later). But, I’ve gotten the hang of it and it helps me when I’m swimming and lose track of my laps – which is a frequent occurrance.

The truth is that fitness and health apps are taking over our lives. None of which does much for our life balance, which clearly is another topic. I get that these apps give us a lot of control. But, they also lead us to constantly look at our phones, our wrists and to find one more thing to obsess about. I think we have a major problem here!

I remember a friend of mine freaking out when the battery in his step counter was dying. He. Could. Not. Function. I told him that freedom from his watch could change his life. We didn’t talk much after that. 🙂

Look, I don’t mind counting the three + miles I walk the dog each morning. I need the sanity of knowing that we’ve gone far enough so I can get some freaking work done while she’s sleeping! So, maybe (in a way) I use my mileage counter for my own freedom from Lily wanting to play, if only for a few hours.

Anyway, the “record a walk” when I bent down with the bag was a good reminder that life might be passing me by … one poop bag at a time. Reset. To. Be. Continued.

XOXO

Jessica

Her (last) swim?

I was swimming a month or so ago and there was almost no one there, although I noticed one woman on the pool deck and another one swimming slowly in the pool. As I walked up and put my stuff down, I started a conversation with the woman on the pool deck. Long story, short, she was the daughter of the woman in the pool. Her mom had been a swimmer for most of her life. It was her happy place. She was 91 (the mom) and she still loved to swim!

Unfortunately, the mom had been given some bad health news recently and she was getting to the end of her swimming days. As the daughter told me, I felt almost as if I was leaving my body. It just felt painful and sad. I could not think of one thing to say.

I turned to look at the woman slowly gliding in the water and tears formed in my eyes. Honestly, as I think of it right now, it was the 21st of August – the anniversary of my mom’s death. Weird that just hit me now …

Anyway, I finished my conversation with the daughter and went to sit on the edge of the pool. It took me so long to slide myself into the water. It just felt like such a sacred space and time … I didn’t want to disturb it.

I can’t recall how long she was in the pool but it wasn’t too much longer. I remember feeling a quietness in my swimming when I realized that she had gotten out. I looked around as I was swimming and happened to see the mom and daughter walking out toward the locker room.

You would never have known by watching them that anything was wrong. That’s the thing about life. We never really know a “last” is. Since then, every time I’ve been in the pool, I’ve marveled at how the lights play off the water and how the gentle waves feel when someone else is swimming next to me. I definitely don’t take my pool time for granted any longer. And, I think of her (and another friend of mine … who also loved to swim) every time I get into the pool. It’s my happy place.

With that, I pray you all have a wonderful and loving weekend!

XOXO

Jessica

How to piss your kid off in one phone call or less.

Yup, this is a thing. And, certainly a thing I know how to do. Generally, I can bite my tongue and find a different way to address an issue but sometimes I can’t and either I just intentionally give my unsolicited opinion or I unintentionally just piss a kid off with what I’m saying.

I’m super far from perfect.

Your child may be an adult now, but when they’re talking with you about big, possibly painful issues, you’re likely interacting with a younger part of them that can be emotionally reactive. And, then it’s easy to revert into that parent/client interaction, which often (read: never) doesn’t go well when they are in their 20’s! This, my friends, is a steep learning curve.

That’s what I did tonight. I failed to understand her side of the situation because for both of us, we were looking back at past interactions. he was asking me to let go of the past and look to the future and I wasn’t ready to do that.

A little of my college psychology comes in handy here: When we have emotional wounds, they occur on the right hemisphere of the brain, where we store experiential memories, and when those stored memories are triggered, the right hemisphere of your child’s brain will likely become engaged, reigniting those old feelings of ‘fight or flight,’ that they might have felt in the moment from the past. This is why those emotional reactions may seem inconsistent with the intensity of the actual interaction or topic.

While I suggested to her that she have grace for her dad and I regarding this particular issue, I didn’t practice my nonjudgmental acceptance for her experience. I talked and I didn’t listen.

I need to apologize and I’ll do that tomorrow when I’m not so tired and don’t have the dog crawling all over me for attention. My apology should be sincere and transparent – authentic. I need to recognize my own defensiveness and fear – which is not an excuse but just is part of the equation.

Importantly, and before I sign off of this topic, I need to forgive myself. I’m not perfect. I’m not a perfect parent, I’m not a perfect partner nor am I a perfect dog babysitter. Look, we can be good parents and still unintentionally hurt our child’s feelings. Even the “best” parents make mistakes … and who are those “best” parents anyway … ??

I cannot change or rework the past. She can’t either. And, maybe we both need grace and forgiveness. A former therapist of mine once said, “Forgive yourself for not having the foresight to know what is now so obvious in hindsight.” I’ll have to take that one to the bank tomorrow. 🙂

XOXO

Jessica

It’s “all out there” when you get a mammogram.

Look, I’ve given birth to three kids, two at one time. I have an ex-husband and can survive in front of some of the toughest judges. But there’s nothing like the baring of your soul during a mammogram in a cold, dimly lit room to bring you to your knees. Guys, you won’t get this but for my women friends, you know what I’m talking about.

Today was my day. It was a zippy 15 minute appointment. It’s not as loving as it was pre-covid. Back then, you would get warm tea or coffee and a bunch of magazines to look at. Now, you are checked in on line and there is no coffee or magazines.

First of all, I think it’s important to remember (which I often do NOT) that you are not to wear any deodorant or thick body lotion on the day of the mammogram as it shows up on the x-ray. If you do, you are banished to a room to “take it all off” so that you can be clean for the machine. Today, I remembered (hence “zippy”)!

It seems like it will be easy. You are greeted by a nice volunteer and given a robe to change into. There is nice music. Warm lights. Nice chairs.

The rest is not for the faint of heart. There is a jaws of life machine that does the most unbelievable things. I just never realized (prior to my first mammo) that a body part could be flattened down to a pancake and for that long and still come back to whence it came. The wonders of the human body.

My biggest problem on mammogram day, is that during the scan, I completely forget my right from my left. I don’t know what it means to stand on tippy toes or move my feet so they face the machine. I really just become a bumbling idiot responding (without words) to the directions from the technician. I don’t even know how to talk (I almost never talk in there — shocking, right?). All I do is breathe and “hold your breathe.”

Look, I am infinitely grateful for mammograms. Saved millions of lives. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying that not matter how zippy it is, I still always need a shot of Jack when it’s over … just sayin’.

XOXO

Jessica

I’m breaking a lot of plates.

I listened to services yesterday via zoom and the Rabbi talked about being at her daughter’s wedding and breaking a plate. As she spoke of the significance of the experience, I knew what she was talking about. I could tell she felt it so deeply, and I in turn, felt the same thing.

First let me explain the tradition: Generally, at the wedding of your child, the mother and mother-in-law break a plate–a symbolic rending of mother-child ties, and an acknowledgment that soon their children will be feeding each other. In other words, the bond that the mother and child had, will soon form between the newlyweds. There are so many really cool traditions in Judaism! I’ll have to write about a few others.

While my kids are not getting married anytime soon (gratefully so!), I feel like I am (in a quiet way) breaking plates with my kids. I’m finding that we are changing the bonds between us. For those friends whose kids have just left for their first year of college, the bonds with your children will actually grow during college.

I find that we are more open, more emotional, and less afraid to share our feelings. We’ve become more interdependent rather than dependent. I’ve become more of an advisor, rather than an authority. Also, we are less afraid to speak our mind about the other’s behavior, knowing or actually finally realizing, that when we talk with one another (sometimes passionately) it’s really because we care.

So, I’m smashing plates. But I’m also picking up the pieces and putting them together in a whole new way. It’s exciting! Plus, who doesn’t want a whole new set of dishes??

XOXO

Jessica

My dad used to say this to me every morning…

I used to call my dad every morning. He would answer his phone and say “Hello honey [clearing his throat]. You’re the first person I’ve talked with this morning.” I felt honored to be his first call.

That’s not my reality. Here’s how it goes in my house right now:

Me: It’s only 4 am? Why are we up?

Dog: Silence but cute face looking at me.

Me: Go back to bed. Just because I pee 4 times a night doesn’t mean you have to go.

Dog: [Stare down by the dog. Truth is, she didn’t need to go. She was just faking me out]

Me: [Frustrated] Fine. I’m going to get up and make some coffee.

Dog: [nothing. not even a raise of her head to look at me]

Me: Ok. I’m getting up now. Sure you don’t want to come?

Dog: Nothing

Yesterday, I found myself talking with the dog about a problem I’m working on. What is wrong with me? My first words every morning are to a dog, who I’m pretty sure doesn’t understand [nor does she seem to care] what I am saying. In fact, she doesn’t even understand, “come” (which is really pissing me off right now). On our walks, I’m literally talking with her, as if she knows what I’m saying. But, she just looks up at me, maybe wondering if I’ll have a treat for her. Literally, by 8 am, I’ve had entire conversations with a dog, who is only is concerned with “food” “ball” “park” “treat” and “bone.”

As if that’s not bad enough, the next thing I do is get on Snapchat and start talking to my phone – messaging my kids about random shit that I assume goes no where with them (other than my [failed] efforts to keep our Snapchat streak going). What is wrong with me?

I used to say to my kids that watching Sponge Bob dumbed down America. But I now take that back. I’m dumbing down America – or at least I’m dumbing down the only life forms in my house right now – me and the dog. I’m hoping someone is praying for me … can I teach the dog to do that??? 🙂

XOXO

Jessica

Why they got a dog.

Some of you know that we got a dog a couple of years ago — Lily. She’s a goldendoodle and she’s my daughter’s dog. I fully intend to write a number of posts about her, because while I love her, she’s a total s*** sometimes!

Right now, my daughter is in Chicago for a 10 month grad. program and Lily is living with me. This weekend we (me and Lily) drove to Chicago. The visit was for Lily to hang with my daughter (and vise versa) and for me to do what any self-respecting Italian/Jewish mom would do for their kid (I bought a ton of groceries and cooked Italian meatballs with gravy!)

Today, on our way back, Lily and I made our final rest stop in Minnesota. As we were walking back to our car (after I “illegally” took her into the bathroom with me rather than leave her alone in the car … don’t ask!) a family poured out of a van — six kids, a mom, a dad and a large doodle.

The two dogs wanted to meet so we walked toward one another. As the dogs were “socializing” the dad told me that they had one more kid in the van with their new puppy. Apparently their road trip was to pick up a new dog for one of the kids who was “not feeling well.” It was at that moment that I noticed one of the kids didn’t have any hair and was walking slowly with one of the other kids holding their hand. The dad told me that his son loved the new puppy and that the goal was for the dog to ease the boy’s anxiety and offer comfort during the difficult days. They were also hoping that the puppy would provide a distraction from his pain.

My heart sank. Of course a new puppy would make him feel better. Even a grown up dog would. Clearly, I take for granted the joy of having a dog, even for this 10 month period (although she still is a s*** sometimes!).

I take for granted that my kids are healthy and moving along with life. I take for granted that I was able to live another day, to drive to Chicago and spend my birthday with my daughter. I just generally take a lot for granted.

It was a slower and more introspective ride home. I have nothing to say here other then we (read: me) need to value each moment and be grateful for the pain and anxiety-free moments that we and our children experience. I wonder who I will run into this year. Whose stories I will tell. This one set me back on my heels. But I’m grateful I had Lily so that I could meet this family today.

XOXO

Jessica

The Inside is the Outside

Sigourney Weaver once said, “When you’re young, there’s so much that you can’t take it in. It’s pouring over you like a waterfall. When you’re older, it’s less intense, but you’re able to reach out and drink it. I love being older.”  I totally agree!

All the articles I’ve read on aging are about being happy because you’re wiser and more mellow. What the f*** are they talking about? I’m 100% certain I know less now than I did in my 20’s and it’s not a memory issue! It’s because I can see so much more out there to learn!

For some reason, our society is obsessed with pointing out negative aspects of aging and how to ignore it. “Just be happy about the inevitable.” That’s f***ing stupid. My mom never got to be “old.” She was gone at 59. My dad did and he hated it. I want to relish every moment of my experience here. I want to look at this a different way.

Aging brings survivorship. It brings grit. It’s finally a time when a dose of healthy denial is completely acceptable! The people I know who are the happiest aren’t thinking that much about getting older. They’re not really focusing on what’s not working anymore. They don’t look in the mirror and see wrinkles. They see themselves.

Every year should be teaching us something valuable. Whether we get the lesson is really up to us. I want that new lesson each year.

There’s a saying I remember hearing from my grandmother — you look on the outside what you are on the inside. So, if you’re someone who never smiles your face will get saggy. If you’re a person who smiles a lot, you’ll have more smile lines. 🙂

I think our wrinkles reflect the roads we’ve taken. They are the map of our lives. It’s life changing to be around happy people who are comfortable inside. You can just feel their joy for life by standing next to them.

So, let’s judge our looks and our lives based on what’s on the inside – not what we look like on the outside. Each year, I’m a better person on the inside than I was the last year. And, I believe my outside reflects who I am on the inside. 🙂 Don’t you? I think I’ll carry that theme for my forever.

XOXO

Jessica

“What are you waiting for?”

One of my boys has the really bad habit of singing a song that no one wants stuck in their head, and before you know it, you are singing Christmas songs in July, or the Wheels on the Bus … know what I mean? It’s a royal pain in the a** habit that drives us all crazy!

The last two days “what are you waiting for” has been popping into my head. Did I hear it somewhere? Is someone trying to send me some message? Am I losing it? Maybe all of the above!

As humans we tend to be aiming or striving for something—our Utopia of the moment. Of course there’s no such thing. We will not eventually “arrive” and “have it all.” We are always in a state of transition (read “resetting”) and if we miss the reset, then we miss life. This is not to say that having ambition and trying to achieve things is a mistake. It’s not. But it can be if we don’t enjoy the process along the way and only focus on the end result.

A friend reminded me today that every tree does the same thing every year. It grows the most beautiful green leaves. Then it transitions to a new color in the fall, and as winter approaches, the tree drops its leaves and waits for the next season to start all over again. But all the while it is growing, even during the winter, it’s growing and changing.

It is easy to take things for granted: like good health, good family and friends, a stable job, and a nice house. I want to focus on the quality of my life and my well-being rather than what I have. In other words, I want to be what I am supposed to be—a “human being,” not a “human having” or a “human doing.” I want to enjoy the journey of this next year – not the destination. We’re never going to get this time back, so let’s focus on each freaking minute!

Most of our happiness comes from shared experiences with others, memories which will linger in our hearts and be recalled at will. If we are content in ourselves, we can appreciate these moments rather than blowing through them looking for the next thing.

What are you waiting for? Do you find yourself waiting for the right moment? The ideal relationship with your partner or a friend? Are you waiting for the kids to call or come home? Will that “one day” ever arrive and make everything “ok?”

It sounds morbid to acknowledge that our days here limited, and it’s scary to realize that none of us can ever know how many we have. But, we can know that in our final moments, it’s unlikely we’ll say “I wish I had waited longer,” or “I wish I had stayed angry longer,” or “I wish I had played it safer.” No, most of us will get to that point and say, “I’m sorry and I love you.” Most of us will look back at our experiences, not our clothes or our weight or hair style. So, let’s appreciate those things NOW. I’m glad I’ve been saying that phrase in my mind – it’s been a good reminder that I’m not actually going to wait for anything. What have you been meaning to do or say—and what are you waiting for

XOXO

Jessica