Tag Archives: new beginnings

Hibernation

I’ve been absent from this space for the last couple of months because I’ve been hibernating.

One of the definitions of “hibernation” is “to withdraw or be in seclusion.”   Every January, I try to remove myself from the daily insanity of connectedness to discourse with myself and ensure that my life is proceeding in the direction I want and need.  I intended this year to be just the same, but as I moved through the holidays and January to jump back into my routine, I realized I needed to make it different. Continue reading

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The Desire Map

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Let’s talk about your life.

Do you feel free? Joyful? Connected?

Most importantly, does your life feel the way you want it to feel?

When I read The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte for the first time, my life was not feeling the way I wanted it to.

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The Stories We Tell

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After participating in the Ultimate Blog Challenge during the month of April, I decided to take a break for a couple of weeks from writing here. A lot happened during April that made me reevaluate some things in my life, and to do some hard pondering about where I’ve been and where I’m going. Continue reading

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Ultimate Blog Party 2014 (U.B.C. – Day 5)

Happy day five of the Ultimate Blog Challenge! Happy Saturday! Happy April 5th! Happy whatever it is you might be celebrating today!

You can sense a theme here. I’m having a happy day. A party day. I woke up refreshed and rested after a full eight hours of sleep. Yes, you read that correctly. I – mother of a 6 year-old boy, a/k/a perpetual motion machine – got eight hours of sleep last night. I feel like a million bucks, and I woke up happy and energetic for the first time in I can’t remember how long. I was up at 7am making pancakes, for freaks’ sake. It feels as if I could conquer the world today. I plan to do just that. Continue reading

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Organize Me

One of my targets for 2014 is organization, namely with respect to my blog posts and getting draft articles written and out for submission. When I first started my blog, I tried keeping all my blog post ideas and social media tips in the same calendar as my off-line life, but it never really worked, and I found myself with pieces of folded up paper sticking out of my daily calendar and sticky notes with frayed edges falling out into the depths of my massive purse. Continue reading

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Another Chance

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Here it is another January 1, another new year on the calendar, another chance. Each January 1, we all make resolutions regarding our behavior. It’s almost instinctual; even if we swear we’re not going to get caught up in the hype, it seems that we all stand up a little straighter, square our shoulders and try something new … for at least a few days. Continue reading

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True North

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the true north of my life, and more specifically, the true north of this blog and the project I began in January.  After much deliberation, and consultation with my trusted advisor and über-talented web guru at Fresh Pond Media, I’ve at last settled on my new identity.  On January 1, 2014, my blog and I will be relocating to our permanent home at www.madnessofjoy.com.** Continue reading

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Keep a Contented Heart in November

Well, here it is again. That time of the month. The time when I drag out my muse’s guide to finding happiness and write myself notes on the next layer of my happiness and joyful cake creation. Here’s what Ms. Muse has to say for the month of November.

Keep a contented heart.  A contented heart is a even sea in the midst of all storms.  So said William Secker in his treatise The Nonsuch Professor in His Meridian Splendor, published in 1660.  Amazing that it’s the same some three hundred and fifty years later.

a) Laugh out loud.

She’s right. I should laugh out loud more. We all should laugh out loud more. It just feels so gosh darn fantabulous when we do it. The sun seems to shine brighter for a few moments, the air seems to warm, and the endorphins rush through our bodies. It can change my whole outlook on a day.

What do I do to ensure I laugh out loud at least once a day? For starters, I have a child who is learning to read and sometimes mispronounces words in such a way that I can barely even understand what he’s trying to say. My child also loves to sing, and I mean loves it as if it’s his favorite chocolate treat. He belts out whatever tune he is listening to, and at times it’s all I can do to keep the car on the road I’m laughing so hard. Which makes him smile and sing more loudly, which makes me laugh more…. You get the picture.

I also read amusing books. Currently on my nightstand is Jen Lancaster‘s The Tao of Martha.  Ms. Lancaster is a seriously funny woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Consequently, when reading her books, of which there are many, I tend to laugh out loud and try to live my life with the same grain of salt approach she seems to espouse in her essays.

Laughter is good for anything that might ail us. We all need more, so I’m going to continue laughing and smiling and feeling good. It helps me get through the days when the sun doesn’t shine so brightly, which was a lot of September.

b) Use good manners.

I have my mother and Emily Post to thank for my somewhat rigid adherence to “proper” and “appropriate” behavior. My parents drilled me like they were each an Army Drill Sergeant to ensure that I knew and utilized manners. Proper table etiquette, even when all we were eating was grilled cheese sandwiches. Thank you notes for everything and in a timely manner, e.g. no later than two weeks after the event, the gift, etc.

One year for Christmas my mother found and gifted me a book on manners penned by none other than Ms. Emily Post. I still have it on my shelf with the the note-filled margins, underlined text, and dog-eared pages. I still consult Ms. Post regularly, but these days it seems that most of her advice is considered antiquated niceties that we can all eliminate from our lives due to the instantaneous and often impersonal nature of the digital age. I disagree wholeheartedly and so stick to the advice and manners that have gotten me this far in life.

Several years ago I bought the updated version of Emily Post’s book for my two step-daughters.

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I thought that as they went out into the world as young women and began interviewing for jobs, receiving engagement, wedding or baby gifts, knowing how to deal with the acknowledging and thanking people for their kindnesses would be helpful, especially since so few people attend to social niceties these days with the advent of e-mail. I gave the books with that precise sentiment.  As both opened the gift in my presence, they both said thank you, having such a resource would be great.

Two years later?  Both books are still sitting on the shelf in their respective closets upstairs, unopened. One moved out and left her copy here.  Does anybody want to purchase a slightly used copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette? I can give you a really good deal!

c) Give positive reviews.

I consider this up there with manners. If I’ve received good service or had a good experience, I say it. I shout it from the rooftops. I am a firm believer in the maxim that if you let people know they’ve done a good job, that will make them want to do it again and again to get the feel good rush from positive feedback.

Accordingly, I’m one of those people on Amazon and Yelp and Open Table who reviews service providers. If the meal, the product, the service has been good, I let the provider know. Of course, I also let them know if it’s been bad, but I think it’s just as important to put out good vibes into the world as bad.

d) Find an area of refuge.

I’m working on this. I actually reclaimed my sunroom over Labor Day weekend and made it into a sitting/reading area.

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However, it’s off the kitchen, so although it’s a lovely spot in which to have a cup of coffee and chat with Ernie Hemingway or a friend when children are playing, it’s not really a refuge. Too public. So I’m looking for different space in the house.

Our house has a central family room where everything happens. We also have a formal living room, which at this stage of our lives is largely unused. The only time it sees traffic is when the Christmas tree goes up and when packages are delivered to the front door. It also tends – like so many other open spaces – to attract junk and become a storage area when it’s not being used for the Christmas tree.

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For some time, I’ve been planning to make the back corner of the room into a quiet area where I can meditate and practice yoga. It’s sunny and bright, and the farthest corner of the house away from the main traffic areas, so it feels distant. Just what I need for quieting my mind and soul.

Of course, I have an office, too, but currently it’s situated in the laundry room on the other side of the master bath, and over the garage, so it’s not quite as isolated and quiet.

Plus, it’s cold. It is so cold that even when the heat is on, I need an electric space heater to keep marginally warm. It is so cold that once the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees, my cat won’t even hang out in there with me. It is so cold that the winter after we moved into our house we needed to install heat into our garage to ensure that the pipes for the laundry didn’t freeze. I don’t know precisely what the previous owners did about that particular problem, but I don’t care. I now have a garage that stays at a relatively balmy 55 degrees all winter. Getting into a cold car is not really a problem, unless of course, I’ve been lazy and haven’t put the car into the garage, nor is frozen pipes, truly the most important thing.

My husband decided several months ago that his office, located off the family room, should be mine so that I wouldn’t have to spend so much time upstairs away from the central living area, but it’s still got a lot of his books and other stuff in it, so it doesn’t feel like mine yet.

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Maybe I’ll work on getting the walls covered with my stuff and then I’ll want to use it more. I’ll keep you posted.

For now, though, I think my quiet area in the formal living room – or the Christmas tree room as we call it – is my best bet. I’ve got a folding room divider that I’ll put behind the couch, a meditation chair for which I’ve just redone the cushion, my super thick yoga mat, and a Bose sound dock into which I can pop my iPhone to play ocean music. Now I just need to get all the junk out of that room.

And did I forget to mention that Thanksgiving is at our house?  Namaste.

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Making It Count

World Trade Center

I was sitting at my desk 27 floors up with my back turned toward my office door, sipping my coffee and gazing out at the mind-numbingly blue sky, when my phone rang. I see it in my mind, over and over as if on a slow motion playback reel. I glanced at the number; it was my then-husband.

Without a word of greeting, he told me that a friend from New York had called and said a plane hit the World Trade Center.

Shock. Horror. “What? You mean a commuter plane? A little one?”

“He’s not sure, but it must have been someone who didn’t know what they were doing. It’s not like you could miss those buildings.”

Relief “But he’s okay? And Annie and the kids? Were there any casualties besides the pilot?”

“Yeah. I don’t know.”

“Call me when you find out more.” The paging system in my office crackled to life, and I could hear people moving in the hallway behind me.

“Okay. Talk to ya.”

Click.

“Love you.” My endearment flew into the abyss.

I was wearing a royal blue silk shift that morning, with a seascape pattern. I loved that dress. I never wore it again.

I was fortunate. Although I lived and worked in Boston, and I regularly traveled the Boston-Los Angeles route at that time in my life, I was in my office, safe and distant on that fateful morning. All of my family members, friends, or colleagues were safe.

I knew people who knew people who’d lost loved ones. There were law firms in the Trade Center buildings where attorneys I had known tangentially worked, and I never heard again from one young associate with whom I had been negotiating a settlement.  I still don’t know what happened to  him, as the entire deal was rendered moot in the horrible aftermath.  That was as close as I got to the tragedy, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Like the rest of the country, the world, I was shell-shocked. And like everyone else, I struggled with the philosophical, the whys, and the question of if there is a God, how could he or she allow this evil to happen. I knew I had to make my life count for something, and that I couldn’t let pass this opportunity to change my life for the better.

September 11 for me is more than the anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. It is also the anniversary of the day I began to know, truly and well that my first marriage was over. It was reinforced for me in the days immediately following the attacks, but that phone call began the unraveling.

In the days following, my office, like so many others, was closed, and I was at home catching up on all of the administrative duties that so often go undone when billable hours are the be all and end all. My ex was frustrated that I was home; he felt that people were scaredy-cats (a euphemism for the term he used), and everyone should just go back to work.

On the Sunday after the attacks, we watched the “60 Minutes” episode during which Ed Bradlee interviewed a woman whose husband had left for work on September 11 and simply vanished. She had three young boys, and as I watched her disintegrate on national television, I thought that is how I would be if anything happened to my husband.

My then husband’s reaction? That she should stop crying and suck it up. He used much more colorful language, but I will not be as disrespectful as he was by repeating his exact words.

As I sat staring at him, my jaw hanging open, I knew that he lacked a sensitivity chip and that he was simply not someone with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life or have children. We had been having difficulty in our marriage, and to that point, I had held out hope that we might be able to work through it and come out stronger on the other side. That moment crystallized for me I was simply on the wrong path with the wrong person, and I knew instantly I had to jump ship.

When I asked him for a divorce, he told me that I belonged to him and that he would never let me go.  Two and a half months later, after much screaming and crying and throwing and breaking of things, I moved out of my house with my belongings and my cats while he was at work.  Thirteen months after that, on Christmas Day of 2002, the judgment was final, and the nightmare of divorcing him was over.

I will never forget.  To honor all those that lost their lives, it is my duty to make mine count and not waste a single moment.

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Gratitutde

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As I’ve been going through August, I’ve been diligent about publicly stating each day one thing for which I am thankful. At first I thought that my Facebook friends and Twitter followers might find my devotion to the exercise quirky or even a tad annoying. Really, who wants to read the status updates of somebody when all she does is focus on how wonderful a life she leads? What’s so interesting about that? Nevertheless, I persevered with my effort, and I have been pleasantly surprised.

I’ve received encouragement, praise and even commentary from a couple of people who said they like the idea so much they’ve decided to do it themselves. One particularly amusing comment from a woman with whom I attended high school a million years ago queried “Are you taking happy pills? If you are, sell me some!”

Of course, I can’t take the credit for the idea; I must defer to Gretchen Rubin and her book The Happiness Project, from whence I borrowed the idea. What I can do, however, is take credit for my implementation and follow through, as well as for the changes it’s generated in my life during a brief period of time.

The three weeks that I’ve been posting my daily thankfulness tidbit, and ruminating on the people and things in my life for which I’m grateful have brought much joy into my life. For the last few years, more often than I’d like to admit I’ve felt sad and downtrodden by life and my place in the world, but the last few weeks it is as if a cloud has lifted and the sun is shining brightly, illuminating all the dark spaces and chasing away the shadows. I made a conscious decision to be happy, and I haven’t let anything stand as an obstacle. I looked around at the happiest people I know and made a deliberate intention to be more like them, to stop battering myself.

Since I stopped incorporating negativity into my life, I find myself turning into an optimist, and that positive attitude is bringing positive energy to my life. My little gratitude experiment has made me happy. That one small shift in attitude has made me realize just how truly blessed I am to have the life I do, the family and friends I do, the husband and child I do. Because I love and cherish my people, and their meaning in my life, for the first time in a long time I feel and know that I am loved and cherished, that I am important.

Determining that I will be happy has given me to freedom to open my heart to all that I have in my life, and I’ve discovered how good giving of myself and letting people see the real me can feel. I’ve stopped hiding myself, stopped trying to protect myself from something I was sure was waiting around every corner, stopped presuming the bottom was going to drop out and instead started assuming that the best is yet to come.

I’ve ripped the tarp off of long buried family secrets and discovered that the dysfunction doesn’t define me, but instead makes me human, makes me approachable and real. I’ve stopped being ashamed of what I’ve survived, and intend to share it, to illuminate it, to confront it at last so that I can be free of it. No longer will I hide the secrets, keeping them in the dark to grow like so much fungus, afraid that if the world sees, it will pass judgment on me for the sins of others.

From the earth to the heavens, thank you. You make me smile.

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It feels the same in any language

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