I Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore.

Do you ever feel as if we’re living in the age of the experts?

Parenting experts… relationship experts… health experts… make-up experts… career experts… culinary experts…

What exactly IS an expert?  According to our old friend Merriam-Webster (the definition expert), an expert is “having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience,” or “one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject.”

I would like to believe the person I entrust my health or my son’s health to is an expert in their field and their expertise came from years and months and days and hours spent studying and honing their knowledge of medicine and the human body.  I would like to think the mechanic who works on my car went through intensive training to know and understand just what that sound is and why the car is making it.  If I call a lawyer, I want to feel confident that they did not complete their legal training through the Law School of Elle Woods.

But as I scroll through social media, whether that’s Instagram or LinkedIn, I have found that the world has become over-saturated by experts of all kinds and in all areas and it makes me wonder if this is at all causing us as humans to rely less on our own wisdom, intuition and instincts to make the right decisions for our lives and the lives of the people we care about.

When I first became a mother over six years ago, the advice of friends and family was undoubtedly connected to me feeling comfortable in this new “job.”  Before a child is born, you truly can read every book there is, attend the classes and ask the questions about this incoming member of your family, but the truth is, until you’re in it, that information it sitting on a storage shelf in your brain marked, “To Be Used When Needed.”  And regardless of that available learning and knowledge, it may be hard to completely know what you should be expecting after you are done expecting and that little person is here.  But the most priceless piece of help I received in my new motherhood was found in the pit of my stomach.  I remember one frustrating evening where my son was once again sick (his first year of life was full of illness) and I was over my parents’ house with him.  I was concerned for his well-being, but was fighting that concern with justification that I had to go to work the next day.  I had exhausted my PTO and at that point, didn’t have a back-up plan in place.  I sat on the floor of their family room and – this hurts to admit, said, “You know what?  I don’t care if he’s sick.  He’s going to have to go to daycare tomorrow.”  My mom helplessly looked at me and everything in me felt… wrong.  My heart hurt and my stomach hurt because I was lying to myself.  And in this case, lying to myself didn’t make me feel any better.  That night, that little boy woke up at 3:00 in the morning gaping for breath and ended up in the emergency room again.  I’ll never know what would have happened had I taken him earlier that evening when I knew he wasn’t well.

Almost 15 years ago, I was dating a guy long-distance and we decided that the only way we would really know if we would work out was if I moved to be with him.  This wasn’t a small move but an Ohio to Florida move.  I was willing to make the sacrifice because I truly believed he was the one (this song has been on repeat many times in my life) and that we were meant to be.  He was obsessed with money and was very financially stable, and at that point in life, I … wasn’t.  About a week before the move, we had a discussion about finances and what he expected me to contribute to our livelihood.  We talked very candidly and I was open with him about the amount of debt I was carrying at the time.  And I can still see myself in my bedroom surrounded by packed boxes with my tiny flip phone pressed to my ear hearing him say, “You know, Jenny… I’m not even going to think about really committing to you unless you can get and stay out of debt.”  And my heart talked to me and it said, “this is not love.”  Is getting out of debt a good idea?  Well, of course it is.  But is getting out of debt a good idea just so you can be good enough for someone else?  I shared this with a couple of friends who reassured me that he didn’t really mean it like that and that everything would be fine.  Spoiler alert… that guy dropped me like it’s hot about nine months later and was engaged to another girl three months after that.  I have a feeling both her credit score and savings account balance were much higher than mine.

These are only two examples, but I call on them when I’m faced with another gut-wrenching (what an amazing, honest word) decision and don’t know what to do. I do not always choose correctly and when I’m wrong, I can almost always pinpoint a moment when my stomach hurt or when my heart raced because something inside me was screaming “WARNING.”

I appreciate the Mommy bloggers and the pediatricians with Instagram accounts.  I like reading career advice on LinkedIn.  I enjoy conversations with my friends about everything from child-rearing to saving for the future to faith and where to go on vacation.  I believe we can be influenced without being taken over by influence, if that makes sense.  I think we can follow, but we must also know how to lead ourselves.  The world has become so loud and crowded with voices and opinions that it’s easy to lose the uniqueness of our own voice.  I think sometimes if you’re asking someone if something is a bad idea, it may be because you already know that it is.  And if you really feel strongly about a decision, sometimes the worst thing you can do is seek validation from others that they also believe it’s a good idea, because if they don’t, you may not follow your own heart… or stomach.

The next time you think you need to seek an expert, start by looking in the mirror.

Back In The World Again.

close up of text on white background
Photo by Leah Kelley on Pexels.com

Two weeks into a new adventure may be a bit premature to sit and write out thoughts and feelings about how my life has changed in that time, but I’ve decided I’m going to do it anyways…

Two weeks ago today, I signed off as the Compliance & Legal Services Manager of my longtime employer for the last time.  For years, I truly thought I would spend the rest of my career there, especially after making the decision to move and begin working from home full-time.  The freedom!  The flexibility!  Lunch hours by the pool!  Being at home when my little one gets off the bus!  What could be better?  So far, the last two weeks has taught me that a lot can be better…

1. These shoes were made for walking outside of my condo.  Giving more of a s&*t about getting ready each morning has led to a euphoria I didn’t really expect.  I do love clothes and fashion and I love it for more than the vanity aspect.  I love how I physically feel when I put effort into my appearance and I know my energy changes.  Feeling better about myself can only be a positive thing.

2. People are people.  And I am a person who feels better around people.  When I first started working from home three and a half years ago, it was for my boss of many years and with a team who felt more like family than co-workers.  Case in point, my work BFF and my former boss are my son’s godparents.  But things change… companies are acquired and people leave and soon, I felt isolated and lonely in my day-to-day work dealings.  I didn’t realize until I was back in an office environment again just how much that feeling of isolation and loneliness was hurting my spirit.  And now that I have time with people at work combined with alone time on the nights my little one is with his dad, I feel more balanced than I have in years.

3. This cook is back in the kitchen.  Chocolate chip raspberry bars… vanilla cupcakes with buttercream frosting… hash brown casserole.  Marriage and a bunch of (or more than one) kids did not happen for me (at least, not yet), but I am in heaven when I am in a kitchen throwing stuff together and making food for people to enjoy.  I’m pretty sure everyone at work is convinced I’m brownnosing and doing it for the accolades and the love (which may have some merit), but the truth is I just love feeding people.  A good friend of mine (who I met because she was feeding me at a yoga retreat) once so perfectly stated, “my favorite moment after I cook for people is when they’re eating and it’s completely silent as they enjoy what I made for them.”

4. The desire for positive feedback does not make you greedy.  I’ve spent hours, days, months these past few years being my number one fan and I’ve gotten really good at it.  I am not nearly as hard on myself as I used to be and I’m the first person to recognize my strengths and victories while being mindful of areas where I need to improve.  Regardless, when you work with a team that is supportive of each other and you hear the words, “we’re happy you’re here,” (and it’s not only in reference to your hash brown casserole), it’s meaningful and it’s okay to feel good about that.

5. Always, always, always trust your gut.  I was not looking for a job change.  I’ve responded to a few recruiters the last few years, submitted a couple of resumes and even went on an interview.  But I never had THAT feeling.  I remember going on an interview in the summer and sitting in the quietest office with a woman I couldn’t imagine working for, leaving there and thinking – no.  I remember feeling so peaceful that I was able to walk away from an opportunity that didn’t suit me and not think for a second that I wasn’t good enough for that job.  I also remember feeling grateful that I wasn’t in a dire financial situation where I had to take a job I may not want.

This time was different.  When I responded to the initial email, updated and forwarded my resume and a summary of my experience and then started the interview process, it felt different from the get-go.  I wanted this job.  I wanted to work for this company.  And even when I gave notice at my old job and they tried to negotiate to get me to stay, I knew where I wanted to be.  That knowing made me feel so strong and yes, even a little powerful.  But above  that, it made me feel thrilled that I was so in touch with my intuition.

So here’s to the first two weeks of a new adventure.  Two weeks of meeting new people, learning new things, and baking and dressing up.  Two weeks of my son incredibly enjoying his new afterschool caretaker and the big hugs I get from him when I get home at night.  Two weeks of waking up each morning excited about what I’m doing and where I’m going.

Two weeks of feeling like I’m the best Jenny I’ve been in awhile.  May it last at least another two weeks.

Go Back.

Quotefancy-1757260-3840x2160.jpgWhat was it for you?  Or who was it?  Who did you think about being when thinking about being was more acceptable than maybe trying to (re)invent yourself in your 20s, 30s, beyond?  What did others see you becoming?  Did you want to be rich?  Did you want to be a mom?  Did you want to write stories and be published?  Did you see yourself on stage or did you see yourself backstage as a roadie?

Did your dreams come from what made your heart beat or were they based on the suggestions of others?  Did the popularity contest of junior high school or high school shape who you wanted to be?

I think back to my younger days, especially the days when my great uncle was still coaching football.  I was obsessed with football.  Whenever the media guide arrived at the end of summer, I’m telling you I memorized page after page.  I knew stats, collegiate history, each player’s position and number.  I could tell you what day they were born (maybe this is why I still have a pretty uncanny ability to remember birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) and where they grew up.  It’s a bit creepy, but I also knew their wives’ and kids’ names.  But I pored over that data with gusto that has only re-revealed itself in few other things in the years since that time.  Maybe song lyrics.  Maybe baseball now.  Maybe cataloging my son’s experiences and events in a calendar.

But back to younger days.  That girl who studied media guides and watched football every Sunday wanted to be an NFL commentator.  She wanted to stand on the sidelines and talk to players.  Then she wanted to go into the studio of ESPN and interview players and coaches.  Can you believe I forgot all about this want and this love until recently when I read Barbara Walters’ 2008 memoir Audition?  Barbara Walters didn’t interview athletes on sidelines, but she was the queen of the interview until she retired.  She had an unforgettable voice and dialect, sure, but she also had a knack for getting people to talk about themselves and be comfortable.

So where did this dream get lost?  I think I know and without saying too much, I think it got lost in those junior high and high school years.  I don’t have much fondness when I recall those years.  I remember a perpetual sense of feeling awkward and out of place.  I remember how much the rumor mill and others’ opinions of you can change your status, your lunch table or your Friday night invitations.  I remember worrying about the wrong clothes or the wrong hair.  I remember forgetting about dreaming and instead, doing whatever I could to not be different or stand out.

But I have stopped sitting here thinking  that my dreams have passed me by and that I’m too old to reinvent myself or start something new.  I may never be on an NFL sideline, but why can’t I explore more opportunities to meet people, interview and learn about them, even if it’s just by making new friends or chatting up a stranger in a line at the grocery store?  It’s why I write, it’s why I am going to start yoga teacher training in the winter and it’s why I may just try to do a podcast with a friend of mine, even though there are currently 525k podcasts (and counting).

Take a moment this weekend and ask yourself to remember your “Who I Want to Be When I Grow Up.”  It may not have been something chosen from a popularity contest at school.  Remember YOUR most likely.  Ask yourself if you are living the life you would have most likely wanted to live all those years ago.  If not, ask yourself what you can do to get closer to it. (Disclaimer – this is not advice to leave your family, quit your job or sell your house and start living in a tent.  Unless…)  When you see your kids or friends get some excited about something going on in their lives, soak it in and use it to determine what brings you that joy.  If you’re lucky enough, you’re there, even if it’s just a little.  You’re living joyfully and purposefully, or you’re close to it.  But I know so many who can’t even see a glimpse of that joy and fulfillment and I’m not sure why or where we get lost in life.  I know taking on the responsibilities of adulthood is no joke.  Adulting is a full-fledged affliction and while it has its privileges, it has its challenges too.

The cliches are there to remind us (YOLO, FOMO, IDUNNO), so what can be done to remove our blocks to living a life we love living?  What can we do in order to lay down at the end of the night and have the ability to quote Ice Cube and say, “Today was a good day,” or at the very least Brooks & Dunn’s “It’s Getting Better All the Time.”

Mindfulness teaches us to live in the present moment, but I also think you have to visit your past to improve your present and your future.  I’ll leave you with lyrics to Darlingside’s “Go Back”… may you remember who you were in order to be who you want to be.   May it be of benefit.

We were always on our way
Rolling up our sleeves
Ever moving forward
In the tracks where we lived our simple lives
Kept our blinders on
Eyes to the horizon

And return to who we were
Before we disappeared
Into the thick of big ideas
Now we can see the sweeping view
But we’re waiting out the storm
Stuck under the awning
Into everglades
Greener yesterdays
Skip the stones away
Go back to the start
Photos in the darkroom before they fade
So we hold to who we are
Even into the arc
Beyond our furthest edges

To a world full of strange and towering skies
And a chance to choose in time
To set out on our own way

I know I’m no doctor but I know
You can’t live in the past
But the only way to go is to go back

 

 

Working Title.

Or…

I have had a million ideas running through my head since March and haven’t taken a moment to write any of them down.  I have this tendency to think of an idea – believe it’s something someone else will want to read about – draft it in my head while I’m walking around doing mundane tasks – and then scrap it.  I feel that when you do something that others recognize as a talent – whether you’re a good writer or cook, or an unforgettable teacher – there will come an inevitable moment where you have such a hard time believing the praise and you start to question your gift more than before you were ever recognized for it.  It’s like when you get a promotion at work.  At first, you’re so excited and you know how much you deserve it.  But after you go home from that celebratory happy hour,  you might lay in bed and think… “Oh, crap.  Now I actually have to show that I am worthy of this.  I have to live up to that potential that others feel I have and I’ve been commended for and I can’t let anyone down.”

This doesn’t mean I sit here and think that people care enough about my writing that they’re judging it.  This is all perception.  And the more people I open up to about perception, the more I learn that most of us fall victim to worrying about other people’s perceptions of us. I try to remember a quote I’ve read, allegedly contributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: “You wouldn’t worry so much about what people really thought of you if you knew just how seldom they do.”  Nothing about this idea is self-deprecating or full of self-pity or self-loathing.  It’s the exact opposite.  It’s the most liberating thought in this world.

But I digress.  I was talking about those working titles and why I left them behind…

Some examples…

“What Do We Owe Our Children?”

This came to me after taking my child on vacation and realizing that at 5 years-old, he’s had more experiences than my 92 year-old grandmother and sometimes acts entitled and I’m not sure if all these things I give him are the best way to raise him.  I felt preachy and like it would come off to others like I knew exactly what I was doing.  Pretty much clueless about being a parent since January 12, 2013.

“How I Defeated My Laziness.”

I have confronted most laziness in my life by using a timer.  Anything that I avoid doing (vacuuming, dishes, unloading the dishwasher, etc.), I started timing so I could get a better idea and appreciation for how much time it actually took me to do something.  It was usually mere minutes, which proved to me that I spent more time thinking about how long it took me to do something than it did to actually DO it.   I wasn’t sure this concept would actually help someone, so I shelved it.

“The Living Eulogy.”

After Kate Spade’s suicide, I read article after article about how lovely and wonderful she was.  How her impact on the fashion industry changed the way women chose their handbags and how her name is synonymous with style.  I also read articles about how lost she felt after she sold her company because she sold her name with it and was never able to develop anything under Kate Spade ever again.  I read the articles with a sad heart and wondered if she was told and actually knew the weight of that impact she was described as having.  Not only that, was she appreciated for her apparent generosity and talent?  After reading so many good things about this woman after she died, it made me want to write living eulogies for all the people I love because I want no one to question how much I care about them.  I couldn’t write it eloquently and I was so concerned about offending anyone with mental illness by suggesting that depression can be healed by kindness, that I couldn’t finish what I started.

“The Intervention.”

I have a friend whose health is in so much jeopardy that I feel he walks this earth as a ticking time bomb.  I’m not the only one in his inner circle who feels this way, but our concerns go on deaf ears, if and when we choose to voice them.  Writing an article about it felt like the passive aggressive way to confront a subject that at this point in a 15-year friendship, I should have the balls to do in person.  I probably just failed at that whole not being passive aggressive thing, didn’t I.

“I Want to Retire In a Home With My Friends.”

I wanted to write about a concept of not ending up in assisted living or long-term care.  I want my friends and I to buy a big house and have a doctor on call and a chef and a manicurist and a yoga instructor and I want to wear Lilly Pulitzer and maybe smoke a Virginia Slim every once in awhile.  Doesn’t that sound like the best way to end your days?  No?  I know… that’s why I didn’t write about it.

“Staying in my Catholic Faith Even After Seeing Investigation After Investigation About How the Church’s Most Powerful People Took Advantage of Small, Vulnerable Children.”

Oh boy.

______________________________________________________________

I hope I can pick up the pen (or tap the keys) enough in the not so distant future to complete a thought.  I hope I can let the insecure thoughts simmer and evaporate and just let myself write.  I think about Erma Bombeck and Dave Berry and even Dear Abby and how they just wrote about whatever they wanted to, or wrote in whatever way suited them best.  Especially Dear Abby.  Someone asks her a question and she does not hold back and does not care if you like what she has to say.  That woman will tell you if your mother-in-law is trying to steal your children or your best friend is trying to steal your husband.  I think about Dr. Phil and Steve Harvey and their bluntness and lack of apology for who they are and what they have to say.  I am not comparing myself to these people.  But I am hoping to stoke a little of their spunk.

I want to just write.  And be okay with me even if others don’t agree.  To harvest this love I have for scripting my thoughts and believing that even if one person gets something from it – and even if that person is only ME – it is worthwhile.

I hope that whatever talent you have… whatever makes your heart happy and regardless of whether or not others see it or recognize it… that you don’t put it on a shelf.  That you don’t hit delete and that you believe in yourself enough to hit “post” or that you take the stage at karaoke and rock your best ever rendition of “Copacabana.”  That you paint that sunset you see outside your window or maybe you start a business helping people with their bookkeeping because you rock at helping people.

Let’s be free together and publish our working titles, in whatever form they are written.

Self-Love for the Lonely.

As published in Elephant Journal on March 21, 2018.

“You must love yourself before you can truly love anyone else.”

We’ve all probably heard this many times by now whether it’s in a quote, an article, a book, or a song—and with good reason, as there is evidence that without true, authentic love of self, it’s significantly harder to thrive in relationships with others.

But what happens for those going through prolonged periods of loneliness in life who may feel that this lesson is pointless because there’s no one around to love, anyway?

I never sought to be the mom who referred to her child as her best friend. But as I sit here on yet another night that I’ve spent by myself while he’s with his dad, I’ve realized that from the physical perspective, my five-year-old son is my best friend right now. He’s who I spend the most time with, and who I go out on dates with. I ask him if my shirt looks nice or which earrings I should wear. On the days and nights he’s not with me, I might go grocery shopping or to the yoga studio, but I am otherwise staring at a blank calendar with zero plans.

This is not at all what I expected upon moving here two and a half years ago. Finding and having friends has never been difficult for me. My closest friends are still the girls I met when I was in junior high and high school. I continued to make other friends in my 20s and early 30s who are still my soul sisters.

But here, in this place I now call home, I haven’t a single true friend to spend quality time with—and I’m realizing for the first time how much this state of physical loneliness is impacting the person I want to be. Someone who sees each day as a blessing. Someone who is open to challenges. Someone who smiles and laughs freely without wondering if my amusement is causing me to look silly or out of place.

I never thought I would see a week where I could say I cried every day and rarely laughed, but I can say it now.

I fear the isolation is turning me into an embittered and angry person. Someone I don’t recognize. I’m sometimes scared to leave the house these days because I may just be looking at another situation where I feel rejected.

Don’t be mistaken, I have tried here. I’ve dated. I attempted to start a book club. I joined a yoga studio. I talk to the other moms when my son is at soccer or swimming practice. I can’t tell you how many times the words, “We should get together,” have fallen from my lips, only for those invitations to not be accepted or even acknowledged. I get it: people are busy, and to be a single mom in her late (yikes) 30s, hailing from a different place and just trying to integrate herself into already established circles, is a hard hand to be dealt.

I ask God at times why this is happening. I’m here on my own free will, so I won’t blame anyone for my circumstances. I’ve gone to therapy to work on my self-image and self-esteem and self-compassion. But I’ve become tired of talking about it. I’ve likely exhausted my friends who have their own lives and problems going on. I’ve worried my parents.

It’s left me to wonder—where are the self-love books about loving yourself when you feel so incredibly alone in your life that you worry with each day if all the doors you see will close in your face? How do you love a you that you think others find unlovable? How are you supposed to be your own number one fan as you sit in leggings on your couch binge-watching “The Mindy Project,” eating frozen pizza while scrolling through Instagram, double-tapping the photos of your friends living a fun, happy life?

How do you find that place of inner love and acceptance when the jeans feel tighter and the grey hair is beginning to show? When you feel left out of the very place where you live, and when you can’t remember the last time a man told you that you looked beautiful, and it’s been over a year and half since you’ve been kissed?

I don’t think you’re going to find it in a book. I don’t think it’s in a quote or in an article. Or rather, you may find it there, but you’re sure as sh*t going to lose it if you temporarily rely on those words and ideas but don’t use the teachings to cultivate your own garden within.

It may feel that self-acceptance is easier to attain when you’re in the presence of others and radiating in their love for you. I can’t deny that I feel my best when I’m around people who bring out the best in me.

But why is it that I am not one of those people? I know the love I give to others, and can honestly admit that I’m more likely to be focused on loving others than I am on taking care of myself. If I likened myself to a garden, I’m the patch that has gone untended for far too long.

I need to remember that gardens grow regardless of who else may stop to admire the sight or scent of the blossoms.

They grow when they are watered, tended to, pruned, and exposed to light. And it truly only takes one pair of capable hands—my own—to help a garden grow.

When I think more of what is currently going on in my life, I wonder if the most painful times come because we are so convinced that outside forces—and even other people—will make things better or hurt less. And you know what? Sometimes they do.

But when we don’t have something or someone real to come home to, nothing outside of ourselves will matter. Or when we find ourselves in a situation where we have to move and start all over again. Or when the time in our life comes that physically strips us of what we believe makes up our identity—our homes, our friends, our romances. Our jobs, our wealth, or our social status.

But if those kinds of conditions must always be present in order for us to feel worthy and lovable, what happens when the inevitable life storm hits and wipes them away from our grip? Where are we when we’re just us?

If you feel alone in life right now, by all means read the books. Listen to the songs and watch the TED Talks. Let others inspire you, and let others into your struggles and your fears and your worries. Work through the loneliness, but not by drowning it in that which is outside of you. Let it become an opportunity to love yourself more deeply than ever before, without outside distractions and without any other acceptance than your own.

Take what you learn and pour it inward to create the you that is so lovable to you that regardless of the weather, regardless of the storms, you are still your greatest caretaker.

Because once that seed is really and truly planted, you’ll find that life begins to bloom.

Author: Jenny Roman
Editor: Callie Rushton

This Fad Deserves An Extension.

It’s Thanksgiving.

This means family time and hearty meals.  It means possible late night shopping excursions, parties, time in planes or in cars, pajamas for hours and days off from work, if you’re lucky.

It also means an extra helping of gratitude.  The emphasis on gratitude is everywhere this time of year and it’s never a bad thing.  Focusing on the people, places and things that bless our lives and make our hearts warmer can never be a bad thing.  I love this time of year because even though we may eat more and become “heavier,” some appear lighter.  They appear lighter because they are lit.  They are lit from the inside with a glow and a warmth that is perceptible to anyone within their realm and the gratitude they feel for their own blessings seems to pour into their lives in all kinds of ways.  They may be more prone to hold doors open, let someone into their lane in a traffic jam, or even allow another customer have the last cream-filled donut (don’t look at me… I probably wouldn’t go that far).

So… it leaves me to wonder… what happens the other 11 months of the year?  Where does gratitude go on Black Friday when one stranger threatens another over a toy?  Can we dig into that space in the middle of February when we’re freezing, but have a warm bed to sleep in and hot coffee to drink?  Can we sit around the table with family in May, the same as we did in November, and be thankful that God gave us these people to share time with?  Would it be crazy to go around the table on July 23 and say, “I’m thankful for…”?

A heart of gratitude is more than just a fad.  Over the last 10 years, study after study has been conducted about just what happens to people when gratitude becomes an integral part of their daily lives.  It’s a free investment into your well-being and yourself that pays dividends beyond anything you could truly imagine.  It’s not junk science or new agey, granola BS that is being sold in an infomercial at 3:00am.  It’s this: “a growing body of research shows that gratitude is truly amazing in its physical and psychosocial benefits.” -Drs. Blaire & Rita Justice.

It’s 100% cliche for me to write this today and I understand that.  I understand that I’m emphasizing the regular, not just seasonal practice of gratitude on the day that is most associated with gratitude.  Maybe I’m inspired to believe that today you’re more inclined to be inspired.  To soak it up and in, to lather, rinse and repeat… maybe you’ll start today,  plant the seed and see your gratitude grow.

Almost 18 months ago, a dear friend and I started a daily gratitude practice.  We exchange texts each morning that include gratitude statements, professions of self-love and our intention for that day.  There is no standard or pressure and I can only tell you that it is just as heartwarming to be grateful that you didn’t really run out  of toilet paper as it is that you met the love of your life.  Start big.  Start small.  But most importantly… start.

Gratitude does not prevent tragedy or heartache.  There are many days where I sit and struggle to find things to be grateful for, even when I’m well aware that I have more blessings than problems.  It has, however, softened those blows.  It allows for more hope and more peace and a glimpse of calm during times that feel difficult to get through.  It has transformed me in ways that may not be evident to others, but I can see so clearly.

May the spirit and attitude of gratitude carry in, with and through you today, tomorrow and well beyond.  May you be crazy blessed with all the love and laughter your heart can handle.  And may you know how much you matter. ❤️

Everything I’ll Never Say In My Online Dating Profile.

As posted in Elephant Journal on 08.19.17

I once listed my rocker and ottoman for sale online.

I wrote of its lush fabric and beautiful pattern. I described the memories created sitting in that chair. I didn’t include the fact that scuff marks were created when it was carried up the stairs, or the arms had breast milk stains I just couldn’t get 100 percent out.

I declined to describe the accident a baby boy had while sitting naked in that chair. I left out the part that the ottoman has a tendency to squeak just at the moment when your little one has finally fallen asleep after hours of cluster feeding.

Creating an online dating profile seems to be much the same process. Putting together the positive details and rainbow colors of my life and personality and exposing it to God knows how many men in the hopes that one of them (or a few of them) will like what they see and want to meet me.

They’ll see the professional headshot, in which my eyes sparkle, and my hair is smooth and on point. They’ll see what I feel is the best amateur photo of me—tan and sitting at the bar smiling with one of my best friends. They’ll see a photo taken of my son and me as we view the ocean and step in into the waves (only from behind, of course, so as not to reveal the face of that little boy I’m not ready for anyone to be familiar with just yet).

They’ll read words about my love of reading. About how I like to have a nice dinner out, as much as I love to sit on the couch under a warm blanket as I watch 80s movies, documentaries, or old episodes of “Dateline.” They’ll know all about how when I’m not being a mama, I’m working, or practicing yoga, or traveling.

It’s boring. It’s common. It’s anything and everything—except how I would truly describe myself and the woman you may end up getting to know.

The truth is darker, but also brighter. Because any truth, even the ugly ones, contain sparks of light as we chip away at the layers of concrete we’ve built around our heart walls after years of heartbreak and missed connections. After the disappointment when the ones you believe to be the one turn out to be anything but.

The truth goes something like this:

 

I’ll meet you for a first date at a coffee shop or restaurant. Depending on how I felt that morning, I’ll either put a lot of effort into getting ready, or will ho-hum it through my routine of hair and make-up. I’ll wear something flattering—but not for you. No, for me and for the chance to feel as if I actually have something I can control in this effort.

I’ll walk through the doors, and you’ll be waiting—and before we even sit next to or across from each other, I’ve likely already decided whether or not I want to spend more time with you.

It may be the lack of direct eye contact or the hesitancy in your smile. It may be whether or not you understand my sense of humor and can recognize movie quotes or song lyrics. I’ll whisper to myself, “Don’t do this. Don’t give up,” and I’ll try to listen.

We’ll talk about our childhoods and careers. I’ll tell you why I moved from a place that I love to where I live now, and you’ll remark on my selflessness and sacrifice. We’ll glaze over past marriages and relationships, and I’ll describe my last love affair so briefly that it will seem to you that it had little meaning, when the truth is, I’m still reeling from the loss of him—of us—and the dynamic impact he made on my life in such a short time.

I’ll tell you that my co-parenting relationship with my son’s father is easy and cooperative, when oftentimes, I don’t like being in the same room with him because of his domineering attitude and nature. I’ll tell you that I’m adjusting alright to this new city and state, when actually, homesickness sends me running 550 miles west any chance I get.

I’ll skip the part where the only time I felt genuinely full and happy in this new place was when he was in my life, and I had something—someone—to look forward to sharing my time with.

I won’t tell you that there are stretches of days—or weeks—that I don’t believe in magic anymore.

So why am I here? Why am I even giving this a shot? Because of the sliver of me that still does still believe in magic. Because of the work I’ve put in to becoming someone who I would want to be with.

Someone who is a listener as much as she’s a talker. Someone who wants to do life with someone else, who yearns to be less jealous and more understanding. Someone who will jump in the car at four in the morning to see a sunrise with you, or drive to your parents’ house on a Sunday afternoon to have dinner with them. Someone who wants to be your emergency contact and do your laundry as much as I want to help you get your clothes a little dirty.

I’m here because of the simple fact that I’ve felt it. I’ve been there—and can I really, truly say that I can’t be there once, twice, three times again? Maybe not every day, but today may just be the day that I believe.

I’ll believe, because I think it’s possible I’ll meet someone who is in this same cycle. Who is so much more than a few words on an app or website. Who is terrified that, again, someone may check out and leave. Who may feel like they’re on their last chance, but something in them is telling them to just try…one more time.

Perhaps, you’ll look at me like I am magic—but I won’t believe I’m magic because you think I am; I’ll believe it because I know I am.

Beyond perfect headshots and common interests—and the hope that you’ll like my cooking and corny jokes—I’ll believe you’ll see me for me, and I’ll see you for you…and perhaps, we can believe together.

Author: Jenny Roman 
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina