Love is a choice we make on a daily basis.

We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly. Sam Keen

A friend of mine is struggling in her marriage. She loves her partner but is not sure she wants to stay married. She asked what I thought (which is crazy since I’ve been divorced 1000 years!). Our conversation caused me to think more about how love works in general – especially when the tough part of life gets in the way!

I think love is a choice, not a feeling or an emotion. It’s a decision we make every day of our lives. Even when your partner doesn’t pick up after the kids, or spends too much time running, or when they don’t notice something new about you, or when the finances are not going well—you can still decide to choose love.

It sounds simple, but I think that we can all agree that choosing love is anything but simple. In fact, it can be very difficult at times. Here are some ways that I use to try to choose love on a daily basis: 

  1. Let go of the little things. At the end of our lives (or even in the middle) we have to admit that most of the things we worry about really are little things. This is a work in progress for me.
  2. Give more than you take in your relationship.
  3. Look at the world through someone else’s eyes. Seeing from their perspective helps you understand their motivations and actions.
  4. Pay attention. Listen to what those that you love are saying. I mean really listen – especially when they’re saying they’re hurt.
  5. Before you blame, examine yourself first.
  6. Accept and embrace differences.
  7. Validate the feelings of those that you love.
  8. Hold hands or hug anyone and whenever you can. (Italian issue and post COVID-19 of course!)
  9. It’s ok if you don’t see eye-to-eye. Disagreeing can help you see another point of view.
  10. Be transparent. When you are, those around you will be transparent with you.
  11. Put your trust in someone. Trust is fragile. Handle it with care.
  12. Laugh with someone.
  13. Be and speak respectfully.
  14. Say you’re sorry. And, really mean it.
  15. Forgive. And, really mean it.
  16. Appreciate the inner beauty of life.
  17. Love yourself. And, mean it. Really mean it.

Love is definitely not the easiest choice. But, it has the most value and feels so incredibly great! Try smiling through your mask at a stranger today and you will have chosen love.

XOXO

Jessica

Gaslighting.

The term gaslighting comes from the 1938 play by Patrick Hamiltion, known in America as “Angel Street.” It was later developed into the film “Gas Light” by Alfred Hitchcock.

In the suspense film, a manipulative husband tries to make his wife think she is losing her mind by making subtle changes in her environment, including slowly and steadily dimming the flame on a gas lamp. Not only does he disrupt her environment and make her believe she is insane, but he also abuses and controls her, cutting her off from family and friends. Because this film was an accurate portrayal of the controlling and toxic actions that manipulative people use, psychologists began to label this type of emotionally abusive behavior “gaslighting.”

Over the years I would hear this word, but never thought much about how it would work in my own life. Or maybe I just didn’t want to understand how it would work in my own life. I’ve seen it happen to loved ones and recently, two people tried to gaslight me. One, from someone I fully expect it from and the other caught me totally off guard.

People who gaslight, are habitual and pathological liars – there is no “truth.” They will blatantly lie to your face and never back down or change their stories. They find a way to claim (and sometimes convince you) that you’re wrong. You start apologizing just to keep the peace. It’s a horrible way to interact. These people minimize your thoughts, they blame, they discredit you and interestingly enough … they often use compassionate words as weapons.

I have no idea who is reading my blog posts. But if you are being gaslighted or if this resonates for you, remember that you are not to blame for what you’re experiencing. The person gaslighting you is making a choice to behave this way. Nothing you did caused them to make this choice and you won’t be able to change what they’re doing. This is key. It almost never stops until you pull yourself away from the situation or relationship.

In Gas Light, the wife, realized that her husband has been manipulating her and turns the tables on him. In the final scene, he has been tied to a chair by police. When she enters the room, he instructs her to get a knife and cut him loose. But she turns the tables on him and gaslights him back by pretending that she is too mentally ill — a reality that he has constructed for her — to carry out his instructions. Love this vindication!

To the most recent person who is gaslighting me: I don’t care. As I’ve gotten a bit wiser (bit is the operative word here!), I realize that healthy interactions are literally the most important part of life (other than food, water, a long outdoor swim and chocolate). So, I’m not stepping in (she says with a smile 🙂 ). I’m too busy walking my dog, being a mom and friend, and practicing law.

XOXO

Jessica

The S*** of life.

For most of our lives, we have things happen to us (some good and some not) and we just move through it as if we are invincible. Makes sense. We feel invincible. We aren’t thinking about having less years looking forward, than backwards.

As I’ve gotten old(er) the s** doesn’t affect me or cause me to worry any more or any less, than I used to. But, what I am able to do is stop and examine the s*** that is happening. I allow myself to experience the pain of the “negative” and the joy of the “positive.” Or, does there come some positive from the negative?

Winston Churchill once said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”

For some people, the s*** in life causes them to complain more – it becomes a way of life. The complainers, want to change the past and plan the future. It’s this search for happiness that causes them to miss the present moment.

For others, the s*** causes them to look around and appreciate what is happening. I. The. Moment. Life is hard for everyone. It’s not supposed to be easy. But some people can move through it a bit more gracefully.

I appreciate the s*** in my life. It never feels good. But it means I’m alive. I’m here. I’m experiencing life. The only time you stop having s*** happen, is when you die. Morbid, but true.

I intend to appreciate the good and the not-so-good. Only I can create a better future for myself and others. Today I reminded myself, as I try to do most days, not to chase the future, but to just enjoy today!

XOXO

Jessica

Where’s my Mama?

Honestly, I’m not sure I can say much more than this video does. This is just like my son. When this kid comes out to catch or bat (so you likely know which one I’m talking about), he scans and scans until he finds me, at which point I get that awesome smile and nod. This is in stark contrast to the other kid who, even if I’m sitting right behind home plate, will not see me nor even realize I’m at the game! 🙂 Love these two!

Enjoy this video and watch some of the clips on this thing. Every sports mom (and even those non-sports moms) will totally smile!

XOXO

Jessica

Survivor Pool.

I have no idea why I thought this would be fun.

The object of a survivor pool is to choose one game each week in the NFL and decide the winner. If you win, you move on and cannot choose that team for the remainder of the season. If you lose, you are eliminated. Survivor pools have popped up everywhere and everyone is doing them (who is “everyone”?). There are massive $1 leagues, small $50 leagues, even smaller $1,000 leagues. They say this there is something for everyone in survivor pools. Who the f*** is “they” and “everyone?”

Every week I start getting emails … “choose your team” “you have to choose your team” “you only have until XX to choose your team” “you haven’t chosen your team.” Leave. Me. Alone. I’m getting to it! I generally stall until my friend sends me a text at the end of the week … then I know I’ve got to get a plan.

Here’s my plan for week 4.

  1. Don’t read blogs on which team to choose.
  2. Don’t look at the odds.
  3. Don’t look at who is winning.
  4. Don’t look at who is playing at home.

Let’s keep this a secret, but here’s how I picked my team this week:

  1. I picked a team that was playing at a time I was not going to miss a Hallmark movie I want to watch.
  2. I didn’t pick my favorite team. That’s a double stressor.
  3. I picked the color of the uniforms I like.
  4. I picked one which had a stadium name with a food I like.

So, I choose the Saints this week.

  1. Playing during the day.
  2. Not GB Packers.
  3. Black uniforms.
  4. Caesars Stadium.

Let’s pray I win this week. Because I love ketchup and I can pick Heinz Stadium’s team next week. 🙂 Love this strategery!

XOXO

Jessica

Friends helped her survive.

I met a woman in the locker room after my swim yesterday (nothing like someone engaging you in a conversation as you are naked and desperately trying to get dressed!). She lived in Russia for many years. She and her husband moved here 10 years ago He died last year. I was asking her how she got started in water aerobics (the class has about 40+ people each time I see them and they are having a blast!).

She told me that when her husband died, she wanted to die too. Her son came for a bit but had to go back to his life and family. She just locked herself up on her house and hardly went out. A friend told her about this class but she didn’t want to go. With complete persistence by her friend, she tried it. She. Was. Hooked. She said it kept her alive during those first few months after his death.

I wondered if the class was one big friendship group as they seemed that way. She smiled and said to me, “There are people that are fun to be with. And you should have them in your life. There are people, usually just 3 or 4, that make your life.” We went on to talk about friends and life and frankly, much as I LOVE the outdoor pool, this conversation really was what made my day.

This conversation was a poignant reminder (on a day I said goodbye to my friend who had been here for a visit), that you need to nurture the most important relationships in your life. Money, things, houses, jobs, come and go. But love and friends and family – well, that’s what keeps us going.

Hug (even virtually!) a friend today!

If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scare. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” Zig Ziglar

XOXO

Jessica

Floating

“I used to walk like a giant on the land. Now I feel like a leaf floating in a stream.” Neal Young

I’m at the close of the outdoor pool season. Today, rather than swim, I just jogged in the deep end of the pool. It gave me a chance to look around and feel the weather changing while I was protected by the warmer water. I noticed that there were leaves just beautifully laying flat – just floating in the water. It made me think about a time when I won’t ever see the leaves or the trees as I do now. I remember thinking about that when my mother died.

The peacefulness of the leaf was just exquisite. A deep yellow with golden edges – not being bothered by the waves I was making. Why don’t I have those kinds of peaceful moments? Why don’t I take the time to just float in the quiet of the pool? Honestly, I think it’s because I’ve not really valued taking that time.

Yes, I love spending time with my kids, family and my friends. Focusing on them and what we are experiencing. But maybe it’s my fear of “missing” something or not getting something done, which prevents me from just quietly taking the time to float. And, I don’t mean actual floating in the pool, although I did try that today. I mean taking the time to do nothing. Say nothing. Maybe even think nothing. Maybe floating is like an acquired test – like the opera. 🙂

I don’t regret that I have not in the past valued that time. I embrace that I now am thinking about it! Positive over regrets!

Maybe this is one of the after effects of the Covid-19 lockdown. I read that the lockdown produced the quietest year for the world’s oceans in recent memory. It makes sense because we know that noise pollution from ship engines, trawling activities, oil platforms, subsea mining and other human sources declined significantly last spring … (but I digress)!

Spending quiet time alone gives our mind an opportunity to renew itself and create order. It allows us to examine our lives openly and honestly. This year, I need to do more “floating” – even during those times when I am walking crazy dog! In fact, I’m going to start tomorrow!

XOXO

Jessica

Two of three called today!

Felt like a win today when two of my three kids called me and both just wanted to chat! It is such a joy to talk with them about normal life things – know what I mean? It’s also particularly amazing they called since they don’t freaking respond to text messages (unless there is a picture of the dog in there!).

A few days ago I posted about some ways in which I think about parenting my adult children. I have a few other ideas:

I’m retiring. I’ve learned that I don’t need to continue to be the CEO of the family, that I needed to be when they were growing up. I’m retiring from that position and I’m becoming an independent contractor with a consultant focus. This phase of life with them is not about being in charge but about offering expert advice and guidance (mostly when asked but sometimes when not asked!)

I’m staying open and watching that Italian/Jewish judgement thing. I’m no longer going to tell someone what they should do. Instead I’m am going to be more of a sounding board. I want to create an atmosphere in which my children always can feel that they can talk to me. There were so many times that I wanted advice from my father. But, there were as many times that I just needed and wanted a sounding board. I also need to sharpen up my poker face. My dad had a good one!

One thing I haven’t done that I need to do is have regular family calls. I know once I start them they will eventually feel more natural. But, right now my kids seem busy and I hate to interrupt them. Yet, I know that what I start, they will continue and this is an important one on my list. I gotta do this!

I don’t know about any of you, but on a daily basis, for this thing we call life … well, I’m clearly just flying by the seat of my skirt! 🙂 Advice welcome!

XOXO

Jessica

Why I haven’t bought my dream house (yet).

I was talking with some friends last night and I said that I had a lot of big decisions to make but that I’ve had difficulty making them (which is not the norm for me … I’m the person who can make big decisions and quick). We agreed that this was typical and started to explore the individual decisons. One decision is my desire to find a house on Medicine Lake (to be fair, they don’t come on the market very often but when they have, I’ve opted out, for a variety of reasons). The other is the decision to keep or move our offices out of DT. So what gives? Why am I having trouble making these decisions?

One of the things I’ve learned (and talk at length about to my kids) is not pushing a decision. Sometimes not making a decision and just being open to what happens next (having faith) allows the “universe” to put the next steps in front of you. I remember when I was teaching and was thinking of law school, I just could not decide what to do. When I got into law school, the pressure was more intense. But, I decided to just give it a week and I asked the “universe” to help me make the decision. That week, my teaching contract was not renewed – for a bizarre reason one could never have predicted. The universe gave me the answer.

The question is, how do we get the universe to listen and work with us rather than against me?

I have four things I think about when I need the universe to give me some direction:

  1. I employ the law of actions. I keep engaging with the universe. I keep moving forward. Standing still will not help and no action means no results. I also engage in actions that support where I want to go (I don’t mean looking at Zillow every night … but I do it anyway!)
  2. What you do (or don’t do) is what you get. I don’t believe in chance. I think every decision I make takes me to the next one. Procrastination has a consequence. There is no escaping the law of cause and effect.
  3. I believe my thoughts and feelings matter. I think they attract energy. Don’t you believe that negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive? I force myself to focus on the positive, even when it feels like I am in a big, black hole.
  4. The last one … and I struggle with this because of all the injustices in the world … is that we all have the power to change the conditions of our lives. I believe that our power of choice is pivotal to how we live our lives. We can choose nothing, to sit still, to be negative or we can choose the opposite (no matter how tough our situation is).

Maybe these are just so basic, but for me I need to remind myself (like a mantra) that action, consequence, energy and choice are what creates or continues my relationship with the universe.

As for these decisions that I’m struggling with – I think there’s something else out there that is going to happen, and it is that next “thing” that will put these other decisions in a place where I can easily move right or left. But whatever that “thing” is – I’m not waiting for it. I will continue to move forward and put out the positive energy to help me understand and be open to what is next.

XOXO

Jessica

Rinse Only

I’m busy. Too busy? Maybe. Sometimes I find myself not totally present in my own life. My feet not on the ground. I’ve been stressed out about something I needed to take care of, but didn’t want to. You know what I mean? When you have to do or say something, and you just keep putting it off …. hoping it will get better? That stress has kept my mind on things other than the present.

Yesterday, after the fifth time of running my dishwasher, and nothing getting cleaned, and a call to the repair person, I realized that it was on Rinse Only. WTH.

We all (read: me) live in our own little bubble. It feels like what is happening in our lives and with our kids are the most important things in our world right now. But, of course, we know that’s not true.

When I have things to do they weigh on me, I lose sight of all the other things that are happening around me. Even my dog was so sick of me looking at my phone on our walks that she would stop. In. The. Middle. Of. The. Road. until she watched me put my phone in my pocket. S***!

I realize after the dishwasher “incident” that I’ve been stuck in a mindless cycle, where every day was the same (Groundhog’s Day) and I was letting it just happen to me. I beautifully justified it … “the dog needs a routine (she does!),” “I need a routine,” (I don’t!). The Rinse Only Cycle forced me to stop thinking about work, every second of every day (other than my calls to my kids about lost credit cards, doing well at school, alcohol …. blah, blah) and recommit myself to paying attention to the present moment.

I started by playing a game when I am out (and I’m always masked right now). What I do, instead of looking at my phone, is look at every person that walks by (not in a creepy way, I hope) and smile at them with my eyes. I see how many people “smile” back. I think I’m at 90% right now! I also went back to giving away umbrellas (long story for those of you that don’t know me) … I called my friends … Snap Chatted my kids! All these things allowed me to focus on my moments, rather than everything else.

So, I challenge you to find a way to step out of your “world” today and see what you see. I promise, the sky will look bluer and your dog (I think!) will be happier.

XOXO

Jessica