Monthly Archives: July 2013

“Mom, why do you always seem excited about stuff?”

My son recently asked me why I seem excited about everything, even the “stuff” that’s not really exciting to him.  He wanted to know if I also felt that way inside or if it was just on the outside (love the questions of 14-year-old boys!).

I told him that I once read a quote by an unknown author,

“Being happy doesn’t mean that everything is perfect. It means you’ve decided to look beyond the imperfections.” 

Now, let’s be honest: I am not happy or excited all the time.  But he’s talking about something a bit different.  He’s talking about a sense that I always seem happy.  In his mind, how can one be happy and excited so often?  Great question

So, when he asked me “how” I gave him this:

1. I enjoy the now and never look to tomorrow for happiness. How many ways can we say this?  As weird as it seems, the ability to appreciate what’s in front of us has nothing to do with what we have. It’s about how we choose to see the things in our life.

2. I love smiling and it feels good. Studies have shown that people who express more positive emotions with smiles are more mentally focused, have more successful marriages and enjoy a greater sense of well-being.  Plus, there is no question that feeling joy can improve your health (mental and physical).

3. Notice the details in life. This was the one I really wanted him to understand.  In life, we can get everything we want and still experience life’s highs and lows. If we haven’t learned to enjoy the little things – to notice the details – our well-being will parallel our life’s circumstances. In other words, every time something goes wrong, we’ll feel unhappy, rather than disappointed but able to make the best of the situation.

4. Give up perfection. I used to want to be perfect.  It was exhausting.  Now, I look at every failure as an opportunity to get better.  I feel much happier and less disappointed in myself.

5. Give. Give what ever you can.  If it’s not money, then give support or compassion.  Listening and appreciating someone is one of the best gifts they can receive. And, it feels good to give.

So, I suggested this mantra to him:  How can I be the person I want to be now.  Not tomorrow, not in an hour … now.  Because you never know when your “nows” will run out (and you want to get in as many as you can!).  I think this feeling – of happiness, of joy – is motivating and contagious.  I love being around people like that – don’t you?

I hope he gets what I’m saying.  And, I hope you have a very happy and wonderful day!

Wo(men). One in the same.

Last night I had dinner with a good friend. We talked about what men and women want in their relationship.  I started to think about it afterwards and realized (& I could be wrong) that what men and women want is not all that dissimilar.  In fact, what they want is more similar than dissimilar.  Here’s my take away from last night’s conversation:

1. Respect. You don’t have to agree with all that your partner says or does, but try to honor their opinions or feelings as valuable contributions to the relationship.  Not doing so will only make them feel worse.  When your partner asks for something – avoid the defensive response and try the, “Thanks for sharing that with me.  I want to make it better,” response.  It’s the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated: Be fair, kind, attentive and loving.

2. Intimacy (physical).  Everyone needs it.  It’s not just for men!

3. Romance. This should be a no brainer but it’s easy to forget.  Date nights, that card or bouquet of flowers.  Men and women like these things and they make us feel that love for one another.

4. Support.  Nothing feels better than having your partner cheer you on for something you’re doing – whether a race, some goal you set, some difficulty in your life or something at work. Be there and be present.

5. Communication.  Women are more vocal creatures than men. Women like to hear things.  Like, “I love you.”  Or “thanks for dinner (coffee/doing the laundry/ etc).  Men communicate more through activities – the things you do together.  So make sure both are happening.

6. Time. Time is difficult in this 21st century relationship-thing.  Honestly, I think most people would say that making time is more important than the fancy gifts or love letters (although don’t stop those coming – for those enlightened folks who do that!).  Finding ways to make your partner a priority says “I love you” all over it!

7. Being Positive.  Nothing is better than a partner that is positive about who you are, what you’re doing, the relationship and life.  My friend mentioned that his partner’s excitement about life is one of the things he loves the most about her! Think about it. Who wants the alternative to positive in a partner?

Easy to write (and read) … Now for the implementation!

Have a really wonderful day!

And to my friend, whose husband had surgery last night, I’m praying for you both.

I totally freaked out in the water.

I learned a few valuable lessons yesterday when I freaked out in the middle of my one mile lake swim (during a 1/3 Ironman Relay).  Here are those lessons learned, in no particular order:

1. Never, I mean never, do something new on race day.  I spent most of Saturday worrying about the predicted temps for Sunday morning.  I was scheduled to get in the water at 7:30 a.m. with the air temp at 47.  I don’t swim with a wet suit, yet I realized that I would likely be too cold to swim without one.  A friend lent me hers the night before, I tried it one (my kids said “Mom, you look beast!”) and thought I was good to go.  it was still cold in the morning, but the suit was keeping me warm.  As I ran into the lake at 7:30, it only took me 1/4th of a mile to realize that I was never going to make it with the wet suit.  I was having a difficult time breathing and was freaking out (never happens to me).  I waived to a guy in a kayak and he came over.  I told him I had to take off the wet suit.  He smiled and said the temps in the water were fine and to go ahead (yea, right.  He was in a boat with a winter jacket and hat!)  It took me close to five minutes to gently get it off over the chip around my ankle (while I’m in the water, cuz you can’t get out) and off I went to finish my swim.

2. Sometimes, it is just too cold to swim (for me). Sadly, I was so cold by the time I got the suit off that just never got back on track.  I did finish but almost 8 minutes off my regular time.  My partner likely thought I had drowned, given how late I was!

2. Seat heaters in cars really do work but when you have lake weed on your butt from a swim, it bakes into the leather seat.  I ran to my car, my jaw hurting from teeth chattering, after giving the chip to my partner.  I turned on the car and sat there for an hour with the heat blasting trying to warm up before my 9 mile run.  BTW – Lake weed can be scraped off leather – thankfully.

3. Never forget chapstick when in the sun.  I look like I’ve got Katy Perry lips today (see, I’m not that old!).

4. Drink Chocolate Milk.  All I could stomach after my swim was my chocolate milk.  The milk (and my sheer determination to get the hell out of Dodge) resulted in my fastest 9 mile run ever.

5. There’s a story in (almost) everything I do these days!

So, that’s my freaking day yesterday. I’m just glad to be done and taking a day off!

Have a fun day!

My little “secret.”

As a kid, I used to hear other kids laugh at my best friend.  He was gay (although had not come out yet (he died of AIDS in his later 20’s)) and in high school he struggled with his internal feelings.  He was also in therapy.  Kids at school used make fun of him for seeing a “shrink,”  I used to admire him for admitting he needed to talk with someone other than his parents or me.  But, I thought I would never need a “shrink” because I didn’t have any “issues” to discuss.  HA!

Now, I’m 50 and my “secret” is that I recently started to see a therapist.  At first, I thought – why should I go to a therapist?  What are people going to think of me?  I’ve got a career I love, kids that drive me crazy, but I also love, an ex (don’t we all), great friends, family, etc.  But, as you know, I’ve been getting a lot of signs from the universe and just needed someone to help me focus on pulling them together. That’s where Fran comes in.

Even with our closest friends or family members, no matter how easy it is to be honest, there is always some thin filter that your thoughts go through before they come out of your mouth.  With Fran, I can talk about anything with no fears about how dumb I may sound.  I’m emotionally free to say whatever I want!

Of course, running and swimming are forms of therapy. But there’s nothing like bringing in a cup of coffee and sitting on a comfortable couch with Fran — where my phone doesn’t ring, no one is yelling “mom” and I can just have some time focused on me (a pedicure works too!)  Honestly, it’s like a staycation and it’s covered by insurance!

I think it would be so interesting to be a therapist.  Getting to know and help people.  But, I’d have to be a running therapist — I couldn’t sit as long as she does.  My clients would have to meet me with running shoes, insurance card and off we’d go!

But, alas I’m just a lawyer whose thankful for my pseudo therapists, who put up with me on a regular basis – my running group, my non-running friends, my yoga instructor (who has no idea he’s helping me) and my blog (to name a few).  All “therapists” of sorts and all  important to sorting through this thing called “LIFE” (to borrow from Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy!).

Well, I’m off to what is likely to be my coldest one mile open water swim ever.  Thank goodness I’m in the 50+ category with the “slower” people.  And, this is July!

Here’s to a great day and a nice chat with over a cup of java!

I’m my own best defensive back (football analogy).

I’m my own best defensive back (football analogy)..

I’m my own best defensive back (football analogy).

I am really, really good at being defensive.  In fact, painfully so.  Yet, at those moments when I am being defensive (and get stuck), I really do know that I am sending the wrong message to my partner or kids that their ideas or experiences or even feelings are wrong (and that I’m right).  This is not the person I want to be.

In the “old” days, it made sense that we needed to defend our honor or our family when being attacked.  But, we’re a bit more evolved now, right?  Looking at my own history (because why should I point out anyone else’s history??), I am defensive when I don’t feel safe or feel attacked. So, I pick up my sword (which is quite sharp) and attack.  Nothing positive is going to come from this scenario.

Isn’t it easier to point out how someone else needs to change rather than look at our own s***.    We think that pointing out what is “wrong” with someone will result in a change that we want.  Yet, I (maybe we) often forget that: people only change when they want to, not when we want them to.

I read a great analogy once – relationships are like a baby mobile, if you tug on one side, everything changes.  Tug at the other side, and you get a completely different result.  I totally agree.   If we shift our behavior, our partner (or child/friend) will have to shift their behavior in response.  Try shifting it the opposite way, and it will change.

I’ve been in some defensive conversations lately and here are a few things I think will help deal with my (our?) defensive behaviors:

1. Keep track of when and where we become defensive.  What is setting me or us off? Awareness is critical.

2. When I feel I’m getting into a defensive mode, I ask questions rather than expressing my frustrations.  Better to be sure I understand before talking!

3. Try to listen more and know that I will get my thoughts out at some point but it doesn’t have to result in my interrupting someone else out of fear that I won’t be heard.

4. I (try) not to demand anything – not even an apology.

5. Remember that the end goal is not just for someone to win or be right.  But, for everyone to feel good about the result.

So, I hope you have a wonderful start to your weekend and if in Minnesota — stay warm!

 

Cocaine Addicts Wanted.

There are days when I wonder what I am doing following the straight and narrow.  I eat healthy, I exercise, I don’t drink caffeine or smoke cigarettes (or anything else for that matter).  I rarely drink wine and I’ve never snorted a line of cocaine (no response necessary!).

So, when I saw the big billboard sign downtown, “Cocaine Addicts Wanted,”  I paused.  Hmm, really?  Was this a joke?  The sign indicated that they (the University of MN) would offer some pay (good idea), medication (yes, I could use some of that) and counseling (no question!).  All they needed me to do was become a cocaine addict.  How hard is that??

All kidding aside, I decided to look into the seriousness of is ad.  I have never seen anything like it before.  Apparently, the University of Minnesota is doing a study right now on drugs that can counteract the addictive cravings that accompany the use of cocaine. That’s awesome!

However, the location of the sign made me feel bad.  It’s on a street downtown, toward the north end of town, near the light rail, where there is, one might say, a mixed crowd of downtown employees and not.  I guess what made me feel bad is that the U knew that if it put a sign in that particular place, it was likely to get takers.  Now, I know that lots of other “kinds” of people enjoy cocaine.  But, those people were not targeted.  But with my half-full glass, it also makes me happy.  Happy that the participants in this study might get help and move to a better place.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the sadness and difficulty in the world.  When I told the kids about the sign, they thought it was cool. Cool that the U was going to help people who “need help.”  That’s the best way to look at this sign and the program.  I’m thankful that what I heard from them was pure loving sympathy for other people.

I have nothing more nor nothing less to say today.  Just be filled with gratitude for what you have and work through the s*** that fills all our lives.  What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger … right?

Have a great start to your weekend!