I gave the homeless guy a Caribou card.

There’s a homeless man who is often near the bakery at my office.  He keeps coming to get the free treats that are put out at the same time every day.  Last week I saw him at a table outside the Caribou. He had a warm meal in a styrofoam container and a cup of coffee.  I was meeting someone for coffee.

When I went to get my coffee I decided to buy him a gift card.  I’m not sure why and in hindsight, what was I thinking that he would like a Caribou card?  I guess it was an impulse and I just did it.

I went to sit at another table and as I left to go to a meeting, I slid the card on this guy’s table and walked away.  The person I was with asked if I knew him and I said yes.  Why didn’t I just say no and admit what I was doing?

The next day, when I was getting another cup of coffee, the homeless man walked up behind me.  I didn’t realize he was there but the counter person was clearly looking at something behind me.  I turned around as he tapped me on the shoulder.  He looked at me and said nothing.  I looked at him and said nothing.  Then he walked away.  What’s my problem?  Since when don’t I talk to a stranger?

How did he remember me?  I literally slid the card on his table and quickly walked away.  It made me think about where he came from.  Who were he parents?  Where did he grow up?  What’s his story?

When the kids and I feed the homeless on Thanksgiving, there’s often a guy there who never talks and chooses to get his food last.  But, he always plays the piano … beautiful classical pieces.  Again, what are his life experiences?  Where is he from?  Last year we didn’t see him and we wondered …

It’s a good reminder that we just can’t judge people.   What’s on the outside is not always what’s on the inside.  All we can do is continue to engage in acts of quiet kindness.

After he tapped me and walked away, the person getting a coffee after me said that I had good karma and bought me a cup.  How nice this world is!  Even when I have tough days (or weeks, like lately!), I am always reminded how fantastic this experience of life is.  I just want everyone else to have the same experience, and that’s not going to happen … and is it fair to impose even my great experience on others?

In any case, today might be a good day to try a random act of kindness.  We all need it, although some more than others.  Today my act of kindness is going to be sending my kids back to school.  They just don’t see it as “kindness” — yet!

Have a great one!

As I lay on the cold floor last – I thought about my life.

At about 2:00 am, I woke up and knew I was going to be sick.  As I lay on the cold floor of the bathroom trying to feel better, I started to think about my life (to avoid thinking of my stomach, of course!) and my passions.  When I finally got up and walked into the kitchen, I happened to see a card with one of my favorite phrases (author anonymous):

If you have passion for what you do, the company you keep, the life you live, it will be reflected in whatever you create.  Passion is like that.  It springs out, jumps unpredictable and unplanned into every thing we touch.  If it doesn’t, others know.  Passion can’t be faked and it can’t be manufactured.  Which is why it is so priceless.

What is passion?  What is my passion?  This is a question that plagues many of us for most of our lives.  It certainly gives me pause.

If you Google the definition of “passion”  you get some of the following:

• a strong feeling or emotion
• the trait of being intensely emotional
• something that is desired intensely
• love of any object; warm affection
• a feeling of strong sexual desire

Look how different the definitions are for one word.  It’s a word that can’t be defined.  Instead, passion defines you.

Ask yourself the question – what defines who I am?  What drives me?  How and where and when do I feel that passion?  That love for where I am and what I’m doing?

I’m still exploring this issue of passion but I know that the things I feel passionate about are not always the things I do well!  But they are the things that make me the most happy.

Think of those times when you are the most happy.  In the calmest of states.  Then try to expand those times.

Life is short, as they say on the coffee cup.  So, made sure that a significant percentage of your time is spent where you have that feeling of passion, love and peace.  If nothing else, find a minute of it today!

Have a wonderful start to the week.

 

My son just said it would be nice to have his two parents in the same house.

I had a blog post all ready and then my son said to me this morning that it would have been nice to have his parents together, but he also said that it was ok because he doesn’t remember us together and he says this is his “normal.”  Deep sigh.  Then he asked why they (marriages) don’t work.  Really deep sigh.  So, I talked with him about an article I once read that equated business and marriage.  I thought this might be a better way of explaining it (and I could talk about business and sports interchangeably!):

1. Know Your Customer (or Coach’s) Expectations

Marriages seem to fail because expectations are not met.  In my business, clients have expectations.  In sports, coaches have expectations.  We must strive to meet them.

In relationships, we often wait for our spouse to tell us our expectations – instead of asking.   Everyone’s expectations are different and in order to have successful relationships we need to ask about expectations, know that they will be different from ours, but find a way to meet them anyway.

2. Exceed Your Customer (Coach’s) Expectations

While it’s critical that I meet my client’s expectations … anyone can do that.  I want to exceed them.  Same is true in relationships.  It’s the “how” and the drive to do so that makes it work.

3. Know That Your Customer is Always Right

The coach and customer are always right.  Well, they have a right voice their opinion, have it heard – I mean really heard, not lip service.  Then, the ball (no pun intended) is in our court.

Example:  You are upset with your spouse.  Who is going to be “right?” Does it matter?  Not really, listen to their needs and why they are frustrated and you may just be able to solve the problem without a “right” or “wrong.”

4. Take Care of Your Responsibilities 

Just as in business, marriage comes with responsibilities.  You can’t just let them go and think someone will pick up the slack.  This is a no brainer.  Make it equal (if that’s your deal), be responsible and don’t hold anger because of it.

5. Be Committed

We have to be committed to do the best job we can.  Knowing that no experience is perfect, is the first step to success.  This is one thing I’m learning now – I am not perfect and neither is anyone else in my life.  Yet, I’m committed to their imperfections as I hope they are committed to mine.

So, I told him I was sorry that he wondered about something different.  But, that life is not perfect and neither are his parents.  

After he walked away I thought, just imagine if we all put the same focus and dedication on our business (and athletic pursuits) as we did in our relationships.  Think of the amazing partnerships we could experience!

Sorry for the late post … life.  Have a fantastic day!

In the category of “OMG Jessica, you are such an idot…”

So, in an oh-so-crazy moment, I signed up for my first olympic triathlon.  I’ve been training for a few weeks and I thought I was ready to go.  I’ve got the kids covered.  I’ve set my last week of training … each day doing my final taper but getting set mentally as well.

So, yesterday the kids and I go out to do some errands and pick up my race packet.  As we drive out there, I’m wondering why we can’t just pick it up on race day?  That’s so much easier than having to go to out there twice. No matter, there were lots of booths with treats and my boys OD on some Cliff Running Chews (with caffeine) .  This latter incident resulted in incessant talking the whole way home.

But, here’s how I am such an idiot: As I go get my packet, the volunteer puts a red wrist band on me and tells says I need to wear it until the race.  I say, “Really, I’ve got to wear this until Sunday?”  She stops and looks at me, tilts her head as if I’m a child and she says, “The race is tomorrow, not Sunday.”  Shock!  Fear!  Total Disbelief!  I walk over to my kids who see that I’ve now gone quite pale and they ask me what’s wrong.  I can barely mutter the news. That which I’m freaked out about … now is tomorrow.  What the H@#$ is wrong with me?  I can’t even remember the day of a race?  I would have shown up there on Sunday morning at 5:30 a.m. only to find … nothing???  Clearly I can win a race in my age category if NO ONE shows up!

I’ve got some serious issues:  I’m not prepared and now it’s 4:00 a.m. on race day and I’ve got a flat tire (I’m praying that there is bike support at the race).   OMG.  What was I thinking????

Well, by the time you read this I hope to be on the run portion of this “event,” and to be almost done.  Seriously – not the best start to a race, that hasn’t even started yet!

Have a relaxing Saturday!!!

I screamed, but nothing came out of my mouth (well, nothing positive anyway).

I’m struggling.  This teen thing is difficult.  Way more so then when they were young and you could just impose your will.  Seriously, have you asked your teenager to complete a simple chore and somehow ended up with your “baby” pushing back and walking away?  That’s my world.  That’s when I am screaming inside but nothing (positive) is coming out of my mouth.

This is the sort of stuff I’m hearing: “Why do I need to take out the garbage and do the laundry?”  “I’m on vacation.  Why do I need to do anything?”

While these are reasonable questions, my old response of “Because I’m bigger and older than you,” isn’t working!  If I were a smart mom (something that likely only happens as a grandparent), I would enlist productive responses, such as, “You can have free time when you finish the laundry,” “Or, we all need to chip in,” and then walk away! I’ve not found that coming out of my mouth lately.

 

I know these power struggles happen in every relationship and takes two to tango.So, if I choose not to engage in the struggle, it won’t occur.  I also have to remember (so incredibly difficult), that with teenagers, it’s not personal!

 

Unfortunately, I’ve totally forgotten that it’s my job to model appropriate ways to navigate these difficult situations (yeah, who’s the adult now?).  I’ve also totally forgotten that keeping my cool, setting limits and walking away are the game changers.

I might argue that the problem with power struggles, whether it be family/kids or our partner, is that once engaged in the struggle, we miss an opportunity to grow and learn because we are so focused on the “me.”   That’s why, of course, power struggles with teens (in their “me” world) are so common place.

Truthfully, getting rid of the power struggles should not be the goal. They are necessary in all relationships to get our needs met and to just put our feelings out there.  Rather, the goal should be to eliminate the defiance and negativity (finger-pointing) in the struggle.  It is the negativity and personal attacks that cause the most damage and enhances the struggle.

Here’s my thinking about this teen thing: they can’t walk into your boss’s office and say, “This s@#$*, I’m not going to do this.  You’re a jerk,”  and expect that they will get an explanation (and retain their job!).  No, our kids (and us “adults”)  need learn the skill of negotiation and advocacy for ourselves in order to gain power  — to get what we need in appropriate ways.

So, I’m going to try to be more “adult-like” in my responses and see if that helps.  No one ever said this would be easy!

Have a fantastic start to your weekend!

P.S.  For those reading the blog (and their significant others), please join me for my Blog Bash, on September 7, from 6:30 to 8:30 (and likely thereafter at some local establishment!), at the home of my good friend Howard Chanen. Address: 9905 Oakridge Trail, Minnetonka, 55305.  NO Gifts.  There will be alcohol!  Please rsvp to jroe4574@yahoo.com

Serious pet peeves (his and mine).

I’ve got my fair share of pet peeves.  And over the course of the last year, my dad has shared his with me.  I’ll give you my top 10 and then his:

Mine:

  1. People who put their makeup on while driving.
  2. Double negatives.
  3. People who don’t use their blinker (because I got a ticket this year for not using my blinker).
  4. When you bite into a jelly bean and it’s a different flavor than what you thought it was.
  5. When you have to go to a UPS / FEDEX office to pickup a package.
  6. Chasing after a ping pong ball.
  7. People who take up two parking spots.
  8. People who ding my car with their door and walk away (even when I’m in the car!).
  9. Having more than one remote control.
  10. People who leave shopping carts in the parking lot instead of taking them back to the corral.

His:

  1. When you go to pay your bills and  that portion of the bill that has to be returned with your check has its perforations for detachment  in a non-folded part of the bill.
  2. Why is it that when I’m in a rush and waiting behind a person who has been on a coffee line as long as I have, then when he finally gets to the cashier, he is still indecisive as to what he wants?
  3. Waiting to make a left onto a broad one-way street, at a red light which has just turned green and behind another car whose driver feels obliged to wait for passage of the oncoming traffic even when they are in the far lane.
  4. Republicans (sorry  – for some … I did not edit for content!)
  5. Robot reply software.
  6. People who talk to quickly.
  7. Parking lots that have no attendant and require time consuming credit card swipes.
  8. The need for an elaborate tool kit to open up a package of almost anything…food, electronics, CD’s, etc..
  9. Street construction signs that remind me of my mortality by  telling  me to Prepare to Stop.
  10. Street designation signs that are on the opposite side of a poorly illuminated street when I am driving at night and attempting to find a location.

Sadly, from my perspective, I could have written about 100 more!  But, why dwell on the negative!

Have a fantastic day!

Today is the anniversary of her death.

Some days are indelibly etched in our minds – the birth of our children and the deaths of important people in our lives.  Thankfully, I’ve got only a few of the latter. One such day is today – the anniversary of my mother’s death.

For years she’d been saying that she thought she’d die at 59. So, when that birthday rolled around, she threw a big party – a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers party (because my daughter was in love them and still is!).  Everyone dressed up in clothes from the era … even me, already huge at 6 months pregnant with the boys.

After the party she reminded me that this was the “year.”  I told her she was crazy.  She was healthy! Yet, 3 1/2 months later she got a sign.  They took some scans and on the day I came home with the boys, she was diagnosed with two brain tumors.   They told her to get her affairs in order and she died six weeks later – at 59.  The circumstances of which are a story over a bottle of wine.

I gave her eulogy in front of 600+ people (she was still in office at the time of her death).  I was six weeks postpartum with twins and 2 1/2 year-old daughter.  Brutal.

I’ve still got my father who is amazing and with whom I’ve become closer to after my mom’s death.  So, for that I’m thankful.  Silver linings.

But, life is fleeting.  Her death feels like yesterday.  And, it’s on days like today, that I want to remind myself to never take for granted to ability to touch someone, hug them and to say “I love you.”  I feel sad that my boys never will remember her and that my daughter’s memories are likely from pictures.  My mom once told me that if she had known how great it was to be a grandma, she would have done it first.  Of course!  I was a horror as a teenager.

She was a pioneer. Grew up an Italian in the Bronx and after marrying and moving here, she became a State Senator –  the real front-runner in the wind energy movement in the U.S.  Parents: you know that notice you receive about the spraying of pesticides at your school at the beginning of every year?  That’s the Janet Johnson Right To Know Act – her bill.  She did it for our kids.  She begged me to get it passed the day before she died (another story for a bottle of wine) and two years after her death, I did.

I’ve got a million things I could say about her, yet it all doesn’t matter.  What matters is she was my mom and she left early.

I am who I am, in large part because of her love, passion and grace.  Thanks mom.  I’m sobbing as I write this but I’m so incredibly thankful that I had the time – regardless of the amount.  I miss you.

Please, hug your loved ones today. XO