‘Twas three months before Christmas and something was weird,
A time meant for pumpkins, not the man with the beard.
But low and behold on that first day of fall
Stood a large Christmas tree, about 10 feet tall.
What the hell I thought, is it not still September?
What is so hard about this to remember?
Everything is rushed and just feels so wrong!
It seems we have Christmas carols all the year long.
Back-to-school ads and sweaters start in the summer,
Fall holidays competing with Santa, is a bummer.
On New Year’s we buy valentines, it’s all much too fast!
There’s no time to enjoy, to make each moment last.
On talk shows, in books, in magazines, we’re learning
To be in the moment, not focus on yearning
For things and for times in the past or the future,
Be thankful, show love, and for thyself nurture.
Mixed messages come in all shapes and all sizes,
Shop Thanksgiving night or you’ll miss all the prizes.
Grab precious time with the fam, now cut shorter
As stores open early to welcome the hoarders.
What has happened, I ask, to our old-fashioned meals?
Relaxing and waxing, with no care about deals.
Telling stories, and laughing til our tummies are full,
This shopping Black Friday, now Thursday, is bull!
With all of this rushing, time goes by in a flash,
Please make room for loved ones in place of panache.
Cherish the best gift we can ever receive:
Sharing joy, love and hugs, I do believe!
On that note my friends, I wish to say this:
Thank you for reading and sharing your time,
For reading my blogs and this holiday rhyme.
Take the time to look, taste, feel, and hear,
All that you’re blessed with, and those you hold dear!
With warmth and gratitude,
The other day I got a voicemail from a long-time friend. She told me she read something funny that reminded her of me, and she had to call to tell me. Hearing this and the smile in her voice put a big one on my face, and in my heart.
Every single day we make a difference in the lives of others whether we realize it or not. A smile, holding the door open, giving someone a parking place, or not; being patient with a senior, listening to a child, returning someone’s call; or not, or just saying hello, can make a difference in a person’s day. For better or worse, our actions and words have a ripple effect, stirring a person’s pool of emotions. This current continues flowing, affecting more and more people throughout the day, or even longer.
We must be aware that our behavior (whether it’s pleasant, loving, curt, or judgmental) has a domino effect, and we must realize that we each have a responsibility and a choice as to how we wish to make a difference. Will we perpetuate consideration and respect, or will we perpetuate discrimination and hypocrisy?
It is my observation that how we behave or what we say, is often provoked by the differences between us. Differences such as lifestyles and religious beliefs are at the core of many conflicts from an international level to the family dinner table.
I was recently invited over for dinner to join a group of people whose lifestyles, dress, hair, diets, and beliefs were very different. As it happens when people with differing perspectives gather together, the conversation became quite, shall we say, spirited.
This was a microcosm of the world in its diversity, and it raised many questions in my mind: Why must some people judge others and how they choose to live, believing their way is the right way, and everyone else is wrong? Why can’t we all have our own opinions without feeling the need to prove we’re right, or to try and make others believe the way we do? We don’t have to understand, agree, or even like it, but as long as no one is being hurt or abused, shouldn’t we try to accept other lifestyles?
No one way of life should be more respected than another. If you say you wish to be accepted by friends and family for who you are and what you believe, then don’t bash their lifestyle from the other side of your mouth. If you say you don’t want to be judged, then don’t judge others. If you want to be treated with respect, then for goodness sake, show some respect for others! It has to go both ways. Don’t be a hypocrite. I think this literally defines it:
Hypocrite: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs.
Having an awareness of how we treat others is also crucially important for the next generation. Hate and discrimination are taught from generation to generation. This is one reason why we have so much hate in the world, and it starts at home. As Steven Sondheim brilliantly wrote:
Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
If we wish for a better world, we must start within our own. If you wish for your relationships with family or friends to be more cohesive, loving, respectful and non-judgmental, then lead by example. Why, I ask, within our own families, would we allow our differences to create a wall so high and wide that it permanently divides us?
So, once again, it all comes down to choice. We can decide to try and make a positive difference in people’s lives every day, or not. We can decide to allow our differences to come between us, or not. Remember, however, that your choice will have a ripple effect affecting not only those who travel in your wake, but as the current continues, it will find its way rippling right back to you.
I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November! The stores, however, are quite the reminder that it ’tis the season.’ Although if I remember correctly, in our favorite retail outlets it twas the season in August. I’m personally not a fan of seeing Halloween candy and Christmas trees popping up before kids have even gone back to school, but such is our society.
Since the holidays are now in the forefront of our minds, I thought it would be a good time to share a radio interview I did for CL3 Platform Radio Show and Divorce Support Center, regarding the issues that arise during the holidays for divorced families. I hope you can find time in your schedule between shopping, and shopping some more, to take a listen. For those of you who are divorced, contemplating divorce, or know someone who is, I hope this will be of some help and that you will share it with others.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
Today is Halloween, a day for crazy costumes and inviting tooth decay. It is also the beginning of the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead; so I thought this only fitting.
The following article is one that I wrote two years ago this month, just after Steve Jobs died. It was to be published on a local website at the time, but like Mr. Jobs, was buried too soon.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life… Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs was not only an entrepreneur and inventor, but also a philosopher as well. In fact, his poignant quotes have had as lasting an impression as his inventions and controversial business methods.
“Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.” – Steve Jobs
Have you been ignoring your heart’s desire? What untried passion has been simmering inside you waiting to blow the lid off your life as you know it? And what are you waiting for?
So often we try to deny or ignore a passion for fear of failing, succeeding, or because of what people will think. Every day, in some way, we are reminded of how short life is. Why should we be so concerned about the outcome? Wouldn’t it be worse to never try at all??
Steve Jobs was a perfect example of someone who listened to his inner voice regardless of what everyone else did or thought. He dropped out of college, dropped LSD, and dropped into Buddhism. All of this was part of his journey in becoming, as his obituary said, a ‘visionary, creative genius, and amazing human being.’ As a young man, Jobs didn’t know that he would end up changing people’s lives as they knew it. He had no idea what an impact he would have on the world. But it wasn’t the end result that mattered to him. He merely followed his passion and his intuition.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” Steve Jobs
It’s easy to get caught up in trying to connect the dots looking forward…trying to control every step of our path in order to get to the big dot, that big prize at the end. I am guilty of this myself. However, I have discovered that the big dot keeps moving, so the actual payoff is being brave enough to jump on the ride, and hold on through the speed bumps, twists and turns. While these are scary, irritating and slow us down, they generally serve a purpose we may not realize at the time.
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Steve Jobs
Whether or not the prospect of death works for you as a motivator, figure out what does. Our time is indeed limited and goes by quickly regardless, so find a way to spend time doing what you love. While there are realities in life like bills and taxes often requiring us to do things we don’t want to do, there are ways to incorporate what motivates our soul, into our lives.
“You’ve got to find what you love. The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And like any great relationship it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking, don’t settle.” Steve Jobs
The song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” was released in the month and year my daughter was born. Hearing the calming reggae rhythm soothed my newbie mommy nerves, and its message reminded me to ‘chillax!’
“In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy”—Bobby McFarren
For many people, not worrying can be very challenging. Most often we worry about things that we either can’t control, or that will probably never happen. Thoughts such as, ‘What will they find in this year’s mammogram?’ ‘What if my child gets in a car accident on his road trip?’ ‘Now that I’m divorced, what if I don’t have enough money for retirement?’
‘What if?’ thoughts and concerns are a common precursor of anxiety for many people– adults and children alike. ‘What ifs’ create problems before they exist, and can actually bring us more of what we don’t want.
Fear often accompanies worry, and when intricately woven together they create a weighty blanket shielding us from nothing. This cloak of concern does nothing to protect us from disease or disaster and only weighs us down, preventing us from being truly happy and healthy. While some concerns are real and legitimate, taking action to change what we are actually able to change is an alternative to worry.
”Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles, it empties today of its strength.”—Corrie Ten Boom
While intellectually we may realize that worry is a thief, it is sometimes difficult to avoid tripping and falling into the worry pit, getting caught in the downward spiral heading toward worst-case scenario. Once landing in worst-case scenario, it’s pretty much like quick sand where you sink deeper and deeper, finding it harder and harder to climb out.
For some, worry carries with it superstitions that if we don’t worry, something bad will happen, or that if it does happen, we will be more prepared. Brene Brown calls this, foreboding joy:
“The truth is, that you can’t practice tragedy and it doesn’t make us feel better. We’re not more prepared when something bad happens. What we do end up doing, however, is squandering the joy that we need when hard things happen.”
I met Harry a couple of years ago. He was 80-something and he clearly knew how to live in joy even during a very challenging time. Harry was married at that time for 61 years to his childhood sweetheart. When he mentioned her, his eyes beamed with love and adoration, and his smile transformed his face to that of a young man talking of his first love.
Harry was battling cancer of the eye and ear, and his wife was recovering from serious surgery. He brought tears to my eyes when, with a big smile on his face, he said, “But you can’t just sit on the couch and cry and worry! You have to get out, enjoy life, and make the most of it!” Harry wasn’t about to waste his precious time worrying.
For all the times I worried over what might happen, I felt ashamed. For all the times I was immobilized by fear of something imagined, or for the times I let ‘what if’s’ prevent me from doing something, I felt regret.
“Forget regret, or life is yours to miss.”– Rent, the musical
Worry, regret, and fear keep us from enjoying life to the fullest. These toxic enemies of all things joyful prevent us from being happy, productive, successful, and healthy individuals.
Thank you Harry for the reminder. I hope you and your sweetheart are together, wherever you are.
I was talking to “Dan,” a male friend (yes, contrary to iconic Harry who met Sally, I know that a man and a woman can just be friends), and he told me that a woman he went out with on a first date told him that she was needy. She told him that she likes getting tons of text messages a day with hearts, flowers and kissing emoji’s. She likes at least a few phone calls a day, and to get together at least a few times a week. He asked me what I thought about her self-declaration of neediness.
Before I could answer, he continued telling me that he was very attracted to her and had been quite bold in expressing this to her both verbally and physically. He asked me if I thought that was wrong, wondering if that had ever happened to me on a first date and if it bothered me. And then he stopped talking.
I allowed for some moments of silence figuring there was still a little more charge left in his battery, and he said, “Well, what do you think?”
The reality here of course, was that it didn’t matter what I thought, but I did share with him a couple of my experiences to help answer his question.
“Perry.” Not long after I began dating Perry, I discovered that he enjoyed texting. Texting is great in many ways. It can be a great way to let someone know you’re thinking about them and it can be kind of an electronic way of whispering sweet nothings to someone. But, it can also add fuel to the fire of expectations. “Perry” needed and expected many texts a day to feel connected to me. Evidently, I was not adding enough fuel (or texts) to keep the fire burning hot enough. Nor was I able to talk on the phone enough, or get together enough. His expectations became smothering, and the more he did for me, the more he expected from me. What had seemed at first to be an attentive, giving man (which I liked), sadly and quickly grew to be (in my perception) a controlling and needy man, which for me, would not work.
I told my friend “Dan,” that perhaps he would be fine with someone who needed that kind of constant reassurance. Only he would know that. I also told him that he should thank his date for disclosing upfront who she was and what she needed. She gave him a gift tied with a nice bow that told him a lot about what he was getting, should he choose to unwrap it.
“Stan.” I met “Stan” for a first date for drinks and appetizers. Within 30 minutes, he told me he had never felt this kind of connection before with anyone. Unsure as to whether this was a compliment or a red flag, I met him for a second date. The flag went way up the pole when he showed me his iPhone. There was my picture, which he had copied off the Internet, saved as his screen saver! He told me he loved me and then swore to me that he wasn’t a stalker. So as not to upset the man who I felt was protesting too much, I steered the conversation toward the weather until I finished my drink, graciously thanked him, politely said goodnight, and exited stage left as quickly as I could.
So yes, I told my friend “Dan,” I had been on the receiving end of a man who was overly exuberant in expressing his attraction for me, and in this case it made me run the other way. It was too soon, and felt creepy. Perhaps someone else would have been flattered…I don’t know.
We all have different points at which our internal alarm sounds off, and we need to listen when it does. This is why I felt that my opinion would be irrelevant to “Dan.” It really didn’t matter what I thought was appropriate for him. What mattered, was if it was comfortable for him.
What’s right for one person may not be acceptable for another. One person’s reject, is another person’s perfect match! You say potato, I say potahto. Figure out what’s right for you before you call the whole thing off!
Please feel free to share any experiences, or thoughts in the comment section below!
(I am practicing at going beyond my comfort zone, so I’m experimenting with new ways of sharing ‘my voice.’ Please click play, and follow along!)
We all know the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” While the intention of this sentiment is to motivate us to practice and not give up on something, it kinda sets us up for disappointment. Why? Well, this is how the dictionary describes Perfect: entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings. Do you know anyone or anything that can live up to this description?
I vote that we change this well-intentioned but out of date saying to: “Practice makes perfect sense!” Right? It makes sense that to be successful at anything, be it playing an instrument, singing, writing, our job or career, and yes, a relationship, it takes practice—even when you don’t feel like it. Especially when you don’t feel like it! This slight alteration also removes the daunting expectations of reaching perfect status.
When I was ten years old, I took piano lessons from Mrs. Ludwig, (yes, she looked as old school as her name). She had me practicing pieces to ‘perfection’ for a big piano recital with all of her students. I was petrified. I was the singer in the family, not the pianist and I wanted no part of it. I suffered through every minute of the recital waiting my turn, running the piece through my mind while all the other students were playing. The fear of my fingers doing the walking without any mistakes was overwhelming, and subsequently caused my mind to block out the rest of the day. The only other thing I remember is the little white Beethoven bust she gave us all when we finished, as a prize for our ‘perfect’ performance.
Do you feel the need to be perfect in all that you do?
“Perfectionism is a way we hide out in our own lives. And that shield, instead of protecting us, keeps us from being seen.” Brene Brown
Ironically, the antidote for perfectionism is practice.
Practicing builds our skills, our confidence, and our abilities to handle, tolerate and overcome whatever it is we are facing. It builds a foundation of strength for us that will hold us up when the going gets tough.
Just as practicing scales is crucial to playing piano pieces, as lifting weights are to building physical strength, doing the 5 following exercises repeatedly, will strengthen our core selves allowing us to have and to live a life that is perfect…for us.
1-Practice accepting your Mistakes—don’t beat yourself up! Learn from them and move on!
2-Practice being Grateful—remember what you are grateful for every day
3-Practice being Vulnerable—shed your protective shield and let love fall in
4-Practice being Kind to yourself—talk to yourself as you would people you love
5-Practice being Brave—go after what you want and deserve!
Recommended Dosage: Practice each 1 time a day for the first week. Increase to 2 times a day for the next two weeks, and in week four, attempt each 3 times a day for ultimate results.
Side effects may include: Increase in self-confidence and over-all happiness, sore cheeks from smiling, healthy loving relationships, increase in income, decrease in worry, a spring in your step, spontaneously singing out loud, and a positive attitude.
Worth a try??
Please let me hear your comments, and what you think of including audio sometimes–(video coming soon!). It’s not perfect, but if we wait until something is ‘perfect’ to take action, then we’ll never do anything. We cannot allow perfectionism to keep us from trying, from doing, or from living mightily!
I went to see this new movie the night it opened because of the following description: “Enough Said is a sharp, insightful comedy that humorously explores the mess that often comes with getting involved again.”
How could I resist this??
It is sadly one of James Gandolfini’s last performances, and we see a very different and wonderful teddy-bear side to him as Albert. And despite Julia Louis-Dreyfus (who for some reason always annoys me even when she does a nice job), I enjoyed it, although it felt uncomfortably real at times. It is indeed very insightful, and incited in me many different feelings and thoughts about the process of getting to know someone.
(The remainder of this blog could be a bit of a spoiler, so if you haven’t seen the movie, consider this your alert.)
There are many parts of this movie that hit home: the anticipation of an empty nest, the regrets of mistakes made in a marriage, the doubts of divorce, dealing with an ex’s new spouse, sabotaging a potentially good new relationship, over-analyzing relationships, the teenager’s point of view of separating from parents to begin a new life away from home, and last but not least, the influence other people can have on our perception of a person.
At first Eva (Louis-Dreyfus), is taken off guard by the fact that she finds this over-weight man sexy, funny, and comforting…until she finds out that her new female friend, who has been bitching about all the things she found repulsive with her ex-husband, is Albert’s ex-wife.
We now slowly start to see all the things Eva found appealing about Albert begin to take on an entirely different, or should I say, negative perspective. In addition, things that never even bothered her before now annoy her to the point of disgust. Her point of view has been poisoned by that of the ex-wife. As a result, she begins to nit pick and embarrass him, sabotaging her own happiness and the relationship.
How often do we allow other people’s agenda and opinions influence how we feel and what we see? Not only do we begin to find negative, annoying things that might not otherwise bother us, but we also begin to see ‘positives,’ that are actually other people’s idea of what’s good instead of what ‘good’ means for us.
Whether we’re young or middle aged, it’s very easy to let other people influence us with their ideas of what’s important or good enough. Do they drive a nice enough car, are they attractive enough, wealthy enough, successful enough, or thin enough? Sometimes it can be difficult to separate what is enough for you, versus what is enough for others.
It can be a well-meaning friend’s biased opinion (based on his or her baggage/agenda), or ideals that we have been raised with, which have become deeply instilled in us and are hard to shake. When you try to change those long held values, it can create a fault in your foundation, and conflict in your heart.
Eva sabotages the relationship with Albert because she has allowed the ex-wife’s point of view to penetrate her viewfinder, causing her to have a warped image of him— almost as if she were looking at him through a funhouse mirror. What she sees is now distorted. What she once saw and liked, she now second-guesses.
For me, one of the most poignant lines in the movie is when Albert says to her, “You didn’t protect us.” When beginning a new relationship, consider taking the time to get to know someone before introducing him or her to others. I’ll go a step further to suggest not even talking about this new person to others (as tempting as it is when we’re excited) until you assess how you feel first. The naysayers and well-intended opinion givers can wait. Give yourself time to get to know someone so you can formulate your thoughts and feelings– then trust yourself.
Just a thought. And I think, enough said.
This blog is brought to you by my experience with a miserable, rude, nasty, angry old man who, for whatever reason, needed to verbally barf all over me two days in a row.
Allow me to explain. I deal with the public day in and day out in my day job. (Gotta have one until this makes me famous!). The other day, said man approached me saying he was in a rush, so I attempted to answer his questions post haste. But first, to be considerate of the woman waiting behind him, I informed her that I would be with her shortly. The man did not like this, and he began yelling at me, firing off accusations that I was rude, rushing him, and didn’t want to help him. The rest of his rant was a blur of white noise. All I saw was his angry face contorting in slow motion, and his eyes spewing venom. As he bolted away, the lady and I looked at each other and she said in astonishment, “What is the matter with him, he was so rude to you!”
The next day he approached me again, and silly me, I figured he was coming to apologize! Instead, he began ‘Treating Nancy Like a Piece of Shit, The Sequel.’ He was pointing his finger in my face, telling me that I was rude to him and that he should have reported me. I told him I would be happy to assist him in doing so if he wished, which seemed to piss him off even more. Not gonna lie, that felt good.
For the most part, the people I meet are not argumentative manic assholes like this douche bag. (Did I just say that out loud?) Many are annoying, or have an obscene sense of entitlement, but his level of anger was disturbing and a little hard to shake.
It was then I remembered a blog I wrote a couple years ago for another publication, entitled, “The Moment Before.” I’ve been told on more than one occasion that I should read my own blogs so that I can do as I say and not as I sometimes do. So I went back into my documents, re-read it, and would like to share some of it with you. And to the jackass, I say, happy trails!
The Moment Before
We are all responsible for our thoughts and what we won’t let go of, but it’s the stuff that others so kindly unload on us that we have no control over. We do, however, have control over how we react, as I always tell my children. Whether it’s someone’s attitude, their lack of attention or their words, we have the choice as to how we react and whether or not we let it bother us.
This brings me to the concept of ‘the moment before.’ When in a situation where someone’s behavior takes you off guard, be they rude, irrational, angry, or somehow inappropriate, stop and think what may have happened to that person the moment before– the moment before they unloaded on you. Maybe someone upset them, or maybe they are stressed over something that has nothing to do with you. That moment of consideration may take your mind set from making it all about you, to what might be so distressing for this other person. This helps to create some compassion and could avoid making the situation worse.
For any of us, ’the moment before’ can create our mindset for the rest of the day, week, or longer depending on how long we hold on to what occurred in that moment. If your boss approaches you rifling off all the things that are wrong and neglects to mention that you exceeded your goals, if family judgments become overbearing, if a client is miserable and has nothing but complaints, what do you do?
Three simple words: Let it go! Simple to say, not always so easy to do! I should know, I’m working on it myself and progress is slow…but sure. All I can say is to remember that we don’t have control over others. They will not behave the way we would like them to, so we have a choice; we can adjust or stay upset.
Let it go, let it go, let it go. A good mantra I’d say.