humor · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness · motivation · Uncategorized

On My Own

Well, the King of our castle is off to baseball camp.  Over the next week Andy will be in the field and up at bat, he will pitch and catch, spit pumpkin seed shells and talk it up in the dugout.  He will have Yankee trainers rub his shoulders, ice his knees and disingenuously marvel (while appearing completely credible) at the athletic prowess of these campers-of-a-certain-age.

Andy left with a suitcase filled to capacity.  Two baseball gloves; cleats; Yankee swag from his prior camp days – baseball hats, sneakers, long-sleeved t-shirts, short-sleeve t-shirts.  For all I know there are Yankee socks and underwear carefully folded in his suitcase along with dress shirts for their special bonding dinners, jeans for those casual evenings of drinking at the hotel bar, etc.  You want to make sure you’re one of the cool kids at camp – sartorially as well as athletically.  His carry on?  A Yankee bat bag, of course.  The amount of testosterone which is now coursing through his body is exponentially greater than it was a week ago.  Buh-bye sweetie.

So, for the past couple of days I have been on my own.  The palace has been alive with frivolous pleasure and impetuous pursuits.  I really hesitate to share it with you, lest you think less of me as a result.  A wanton woman, with a fickle tendency to move from one amusement to the next.

I have organized the pantry, the shelves of spices and the linen closet.  A new featherbed sits atop our mattress.  Two books finished; new music filling the house with the volume high enough that it can be relished in any room.  In a moment of cheeky adventure, I scoured Whole Foods for some highly caloric delight that would normally never make its way past my lips.  I ended up with sesame seed seaweed wraps and a bag of Good ‘N Plenty from the drugstore.  C-r-a-z-y, huh?

I know what you’re thinking.  If I’m cavorting with such abandon so early in the week, how will I manage to maintain this pace until the weekend?  Stamina my friends, I have stamina.  And a somewhat perverse definition of having fun.  Breakfast at the diner with my kids – goofy and fun.  The sun offering gorgeous shadows and prisms in the kitchen while the dishwasher hums and the Sirs grab a mid-morning snooze – delightful.  Knowing that my husband is having the time of his life – it’s fun for me too.  Happiness need not shout its presence to me, I hear it loud and clear in this moment – right now.  The week will unfold however it will, with bitter cold weather expected and an abiding warmth at the prospect that I need do nothing differently in order to feel happy.   It really is ‘all good’ and I challenge any umpire to tell me that I’m not ‘safe at home’.

 

anxiety · discretion · friendship · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness

What’s Love Got To Do With It? A lot

I want to thank Bill who writes the blog drbillwooten.com  for posting a quote this morning which has been echoing in my head –

“In the life of each of us…there is a place remote and islanded, and given to endless regret or secret happiness.  Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside wakes.” — C.E. Jung

Let me qualify this, before you leap to the notion that I’m advocating a narcissistic approach to life, centered totally on yourself with no consideration given to anyone or anything else.  Back it up my friend – let’s slow down and just take a little stroll, ok?  There is little risk that any of those who read this are on the cusp of world domination, figuratively speaking (if for some reason you are on the literal cusp of world domination,  I think it’s best I don’t know – just remember to please be kind when you assume global power).

I worry about my friends and family the way my Sirs can worry a bone.  Archie can spend hours considering a new bone from every angle, holding it tightly in his paws, refusing to consider a walk outside or a diversion of any kind.  I get it.  And so today I’m writing to all of you who have been on my mind – I love you, but I also need to get some sleep.

You are so incredibly worthy and deserving of all the happiness that you seek.  And you’re going to find it.  I wish I could tell you that it’s located on aisle six of the supermarket, next to the shaving cream.  On sale with no coupon needed.  The good news is that the cost isn’t prohibitive. The less-than-good-news is that it’s where we seldom choose to look.  Step inside yourself for a minute.  What do you see?  My hunch is that you see a lot of what you don’t want to look at.  So, we shut that door and look outside.  And our lives become “if..then” statements. ‘If this person loves me, then I will be happy.’  ‘If I could just get her to do ‘x’, then all would be good’.  ‘If I get this promotion, then I’ll be set’.  And – what if none of that happens?  We push that away.  Don’t want to think about it, because we’ve already set the level of expectation.

But where do you come into play?  If you spoke to yourself as you would your best friend, looked in the mirror through the eyes of one who loves and cherishes you, gave yourself permission to love yourself with the same passionate devotion with which you approach others – what would you do today?  How would you take care of you?  Would you let someone you love waste one moment of his/her time on sorrow that is avoidable?  Would you ever let someone you adore, cede control of his/her sense of self to anyone?  You wouldn’t of course – that’s what makes you such a fantastic friend.  Perhaps to everyone except yourself.

I’ve gotten myself so lost at times that it’s taken me years to get back to someone I recognize.  It happens.  And finding that I detoured and went so far off course that I couldn’t even figure out my true location is not a foreign exercise to me.  I’m still learning to give myself a break, nurture the little kid in me, still the voices in my head that continue to insist that they know what I should be doing, when arguably they no longer really know me at all.  I look in the mirror and some days I can’t stand what I see.  And I have a very strong able-bodied imp that jumps up and down every time I try to give myself an ‘atta girl’.

But – and it’s a big but – I know if I listen for too long, I will go down a path I would rather not travel.  I want to love this life enough to feel joy with who I am – choosing to sit here at the round table, with the sun on my back, jazz playing softly in the background, writing to you.  I choose to travel inside every once in a while to see how I’m treating myself, and to remember that I’m more ok than I probably think I am.  And more importantly, I can’t dismiss my own neurotic idiosyncracies by focusing on everyone and everything except them.  They’re as much a part of me as any wonderful qualities I may possess.  So be it.  I’ve gotta expend a little emotional energy on me.  That’s what my best friend would tell me.

My best friend would remind me that in her eyes, I’m wonderful and worthy and important. A best friend would not let me put the onus of my happiness on anyone’s shoulders and would urge me to get happy with me first.  Because a friend loves like that.  Can you be your own best friend for a little while?  Take that tentative walk inside and find all the wonder that is there and try to make peace with what is not – and still love you like crazy?

That is my wish for today – that you see yourself as I do.  That you embrace your magical, wonderful, generous, funny, lovable, silly, serious, slightly nutty, ridiculously talented self as I would if you were here.

discretion · friendship · humor · life lessons · love · mindfulness

I Love Oreo Cookies

Please note, I didn’t say I love Nabisco – I know nothing about the company, I concede that Oreo cookies are made of few natural ingredients and if consumed in massive quantities may erode one’s digestive track and certainly they can leave embarrassing clues on your teeth if you don’t wash them down with something.

I love Oreos because they don’t fall apart when you dunk them in milk.  Oreos are tough, even though the stuff in the middle always stays soft (but never so soft that it falls into your glass mid-dunk).   I carried two bags of Double Stuff Oreos in my suitcase when I flew to Riyadh, and not one broke  (another story for another day – it was for work, and yes, I looked more than a little ridiculous in an abaya which I kept tripping over because there was no opportunity to get a normally sized one adjusted for a short woman, and blond hair poking out of a hijab didn’t help me achieve anonymity).  That says less for my packing skills than it does for the cookies.  I’m tellin’ you – Oreos are the unsung heroes of Cookiedom.

And I stand (ok, sit) before you today – the metaphoric Oreo.  Yet somehow it doesn’t make me a hero among humankind, so please don’t view this as a flight of egoistic folly.

I’m a pretty tough cookie on the outside (get it? already the parallels begin to present themselves).  Retrospectively, it took a pretty tough exterior to pick up an almost two-year old and four-year old and leave a toxic situation and have no job, no support system in the area, and no idea what the tomorrows would hold.  What I had was an unbreakable belief that I was going to do right by my babies and figure the rest out later.  No heroics here, just survival.  And no perfect endings for there aren’t any – I made sure there was an account just to cover their therapy bills (I’m sorta kidding about this guys – there’s no account with some hidden cash in it).  And at night when they were asleep, I would sit in their room just to listen to them breathe, because it allowed me to be as vulnerable as they were.

There isn’t a lot of room for the creamy filling on-the-inside when you’re working in a mega-firm either.  There’s too much emphasis on the ‘mega’ and my office was the place where people came when they needed to emote, not for me to emote.  Compassionate?  You bet.  Concerned?  To a neurotic fault.  Invested?  To my toes.  But if there needed to be a hard-core, put-your-head-down-and-just-keep-going kinda gal – I was pretty damn good at that.  Fall apart?  Not in front of anyone – that wasn’t part of the equation.  Not because I am a woman, because law firms like the ‘play hurt persona’.  They like the exterior that won’t fall apart no matter the hours, disaffection or compromised values.

And there’s definitely a need to be Oreo-like if you don’t want people to see that you have a body that is constantly fighting with itself.  That’s just way too boring.

I will crack a joke (and they’re often quite good by the way), sound like Pollyanna, and never admit that I’ve lost the part of the sandwich that keeps the icing inside.  Yup. Love those Oreos..Someone recently wrote me and said “you know, this is a two-way deal – you can talk to me about what’s going on with you too”.  I love her dearly – and find the prospect of such disclosure so  hard.  I’m better in the other role, the ‘I want to see you happy role’.  And you know?  I’ve gotta get over this a bit – enough so that I develop enough affection for myself that I can be something other than perpetually ok.  And my hunch is you do too (admit it, you’re nodding aren’t you?)

For at the end of the day, I do break like everybody else.  I feel slights as much as the next person and though I rarely acknowledge it, can feel completely broken by another’s thoughtless action.  Perhaps it’s why I pursue kindness so passionately, maybe that’s why I rail against communication that can be obfuscated and misunderstood – because I don’t want there to be hurt – intentional or unintentional.  Petulant and childish – I know.  But maybe there is something to it.   I can be a tough cookie when it comes to dealing with the curve ball that can be thrown when one’s health is always compromised;  when a crisis arises, I want me there;  if someone needs another to have his/her back – turn around – I’m there.  I have to learn that sometimes it’s important to ask someone else to have mine.

So when all is said and done…and I occasionally look at the losses or the hurts, the foul plays and the cheap shots, the downs that have to accompany the many ups –  I realize that perhaps it’s time to develop an affection for another type of carb…I think at core, I am really…a Twinkie. And I think, I’m going to be ok with that, though I’ll probably have to go to the gym more often.

discretion · friendship · inspiration · life lessons · love · mindfulness · motivation

Joy – Part II

I met Leo Buscaglia twice when I was in grad school – he was just as you would imagine a person nicknamed “Dr. Love” to be.  He believed in the absolute power of touch and when he hugged you, not only did you feel it vibrate through your body, you would see the sheer delight on his face at having had the experience.  The experience of giving I would add, for certainly those of us who were not acolytes, were left a bit taken aback, amused and feeling good.  Hesitant to adopt any practice that we doctoral candidates (with the hubris that comes with thinking you’re too-too smart) felt may be too cult-like.  But there was unquestionably something to what the good doctor had to say as witnessed by his hypnotic lectures and laudable legacy.

So, I return to the Buscaglia quote I reblogged from Dr. Bill Wooten this morning….When assessing the life you have led, “[d]id you bring joy?” and “[d]id you find joy?”  I don’t think these are easy or trite questions.  We have known joy certainly – a love-filled relationship, the birth of a child, the delight in seeing a sunrise, the first bite of a ripe peach…But do we bring joy to another, to this life – or do we wait for joy to arrive?  That’s a different question, for it implies the one thing that we all struggle with – recognizing that those things which are most important don’t seem to be about what’s in it for us.  It isn’t all about us.  It’s about what we bring, give, share – for the sake of others, not because of what we seek in return or exchange.  The ‘tit-for-tat’ by which so many of our relationships can be defined.  Bringing joy then is a pretty selfless act.  And perhaps we are fortunate enough to see the result of our efforts, perhaps not.  Yet either way, the importance is in the doing.

And finding the joy?  Maybe it is a rhetorical question that is answered when we are conscious of what we bring into life.  The idea that if we bring joy, we will find joy – if in nothing other than our actions.  The joy in making people laugh, engage, love freely.  The delight in treading gently enough on this earth so that we may experience all of its wonders for as long as possible.  Maybe this is all obvious, maybe it is something that we know, but get lulled into the passive position of waiting for someone else to bring it anyway.  Somehow though I think that two simple questions can reawaken our awareness of each other and why we’re here.  And we can look to the universe to affirm that the joy we make, is equal to the joy we take (to paraphrase The Beatles).