Tag Archives: life challenges

Relationships and Love: The Only Constant in Life is Change

For this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to bring up Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher who said that the only constant in life is change. He was SO right – thank goodness!

I have found in my life that for all of the things that seem to stay the same; family, kids, friends; it all can change, and in a blink of an eye too. In fact, if you really look around, you find the old philosopher’s perspective everywhere. It seems then that for me to keep a healthy outlook on living means that I have to be open to these changes. Right? Several of them have happened to me in the last several years: divorce, moving (three times), and a major career change. This is not to say that these changes came easily: they did not.

Most of these changes (except moving out for 3 months due to a flood) were my choice but just because I chose to do them didn’t mean they were without pain or sadness, some of which still comes and goes. It probably always will just to lessening degrees (I hope).

The point is that even though change is inevitable, it’s how we deal with the change that will define how we move through this life.  If we choose to wallow in the sadness and become stuck instead of acknowledging it, accepting it and moving through it, however slowly the moving may be, we will walk around with the proverbial rain cloud over our heads and be perpetually sad.  If this sounds like a great idea to you, have at it.  Personally, I don’t love the look. I don’t have any shoes to go with it for starters, and I hate carrying an umbrella wherever I go.

People have said to me that I have moved through these multiple transitions with grace.  I’m not that good, I just choose to do my screaming and internal struggle out of the public eye-behavior strictly reserved for close friends, but if that’s how they see me who am I to argue?  I say thank you as humbly as possible and put one foot in front of the other moving forward.  My theory is that if I continue to move forward then, the change I didn’t like will change again, and I hopefully will like the new one better.  Doesn’t that sound like a better idea?

Fran’s Soapbox: There’s Only One Winner

I’m going to step on my soap box now so be warned! When I was growing up, medals, trophies and awards were all things that you worked hard for, practiced hard for. It was still the case when my kids were growing up. That’s not the case anymore in so many ways and it makes me crazy. I don’t understand why people feel the need to acknowledge a child’s simple participation in an activity with a trophy -this isn’t the way of the world. What did they do to earn that trophy? Did they simply say “ok” when Mom or Dad said, “you have to play little league”? – Like they had a choice.

The world we live in is a very competitive place. People study and work hard to achieve a certain status in their field – they are not given awards simply because they thought it might be an interesting occupation or because their sibling is doing the same thing and their parent thinks it’s a good idea for them to do it too. It’s just not how it works; it has never been how it works. That’s not to say that some, very few, don’t achieve status through nepotism or because they were born into a certain family but those few know that’s how they got there and it is definitely not how the vast majority of us got where we are.

The idea that we have to be “careful” of our child’s feelings, ego or sense of self…or make sure we don’t do anything to dampen their spirit is not going to help them navigate the real world. I’m definitely NOT advocating cruelty, meanness, or bullying. Quite the opposite. Not only was I bullied in grammar school (we moved a lot, I skipped a grade, was small, etc.) but my eldest was, as well, so I’m very sensitive to how mean kids can get.

What I am saying is that we have to be honest with our children. The world around them is not going to give them anything extra just because they participated. The accolades should come from us as parents in the form of encouragement, not a trophy.

Kids are smart. They know when they deserve something and when they don’t. They will certainly know it when they have a shelf full of trophies for “participation” or being a “team member” and they still don’t get to pitch in the game when they get a couple of years older and the real competition starts.

I asked a friend who coaches a competition team of young kids his opinion. He said all of the kids on his team know that the participation ribbon they give to everyone who shows up is, in his words, “stupid and useless”. He said it was the organization that his team is a part of that has the rule that everyone gets something. If the kids know it’s bogus what’s the point?

So, be completely frank with your kids. In a ski race, there is only ONE person that comes down the mountain first. Only one who clocks the shortest time. It’s the skier that not only had the talent but also practiced like there was no tomorrow. Let your kids know that there is only ONE person who deserves that trophy – the person that did the work. Do your kids a favor – be honest with them.

Travel Lightly and Deal With The Issue Now

wherever+you+go+there+you+are+quote.pngA favorite saying of mine comes from Confucius: “Wherever you go, there you are.” And I find that this philosophy never fails to bring out deeper meaning to just about every situation.

I was having dinner with one of my “extra” kids last week and we were talking about a mutual friend who keeps having the same personal dilemma occur in their lives. They don’t seem to be able to avoid it and they keep wondering why it happens to them again and again. My “extra” said – “This is just like what you always tell me – wherever I go, there I am.” He was right.

It really clicked with him many years ago when he was going through a very tough time and was seriously considering moving back home into his mother’s house. He was a young adult at the time, maybe early twenties, and had really struggled with just daily living and coping. He had friends here, a job and an apartment (beautiful furniture, etc.) but was so personally unhappy that he really wanted to just go back home and basically curl up and disappear. He wanted to go back to what he remembered as a simpler time for him when someone else, his mother, was making all the decisions.

He has always referred to me as his “second Mom” and fortunately has always been able to talk to me about anything that is going on in his life – good and bad, so he came to me with this. He was so unhappy he just wanted to run away. We’ve all been there.

What I shared with him, over several meals and very long talks, was that going home could be an option, but that whatever was plaguing him here would follow him wherever he went. I told him that when he looks in the mirror, no matter where he is, he would still see himself. I said wherever you go, there you are. If he truly wanted to get rid of what was burdening him he had to deal with it now. If, after working through the issue, he still wanted to go home then he should definitely go. Apparently he heard what I was telling him and to his credit dealt with what was troubling him. He decided to stay here, a much happier guy with one big weight he was no longer carrying around because he worked through the issue instead of running.

Remember, it will still be you staring back in the mirror-deal with the issue now. And where ever you go, there you STILL are.

I’m a Really Nice Person… but Kindness is not a Weakness

People tell me that I’m really nice. Friends say that I’m very supportive and that they call me for opinions because they know I’ll be honest with them. They know that I will always tell them what I believe but that I’ll try to do it in a way that they can hopefully hear. At my age, I’ve learned that sometimes a good “edit” is needed before I actually speak-otherwise it might not go so well.

But, what truly amazes me is how surprised they are when after I’ve been pushed to my limit, how really scary I can be. Ask my kids – they’ll tell you they always knew when they went one step too far by just looking at my face.

Never mistake my kindness for weakness.

Don’t Cry Wolf, Be Honest With Yourself

Threats only work the first time – Never Cry Wolf 

Always do what you say you will do. If you’re not sure you can, then just don’t say anything. How many times have we seen people, either with their kids or pets, repeat “don’t do that or I’ll ….” over and over and over? I don’t know about you but it makes my head hurt to watch it. 6166c0be0a7c71e5b01942653898d990

Never cry wolf. Threatening to do or say something only works the first time you threaten. No one will believe you about anything you say you will do when you simply repeat the threat without any follow through. It only works the first time – after that, your credibility is shot. And, especially, don’t come running to me to ask why no one believes you – My head will already be hurting.

The Power to Make You Happy

photo-iren-petrova_lightning

The happiness that we can bring to ourselves.

I’ve always found it interesting when someone says to me, “that person made me so unhappy”. What I’ve found in my life and tried to instill in my sons’ is that their happiness is theirs – not someone else’s to either make or deny.

This is an absolute truth. If you go through this life not keeping the power of your happiness for yourself, but giving that power to others, you will unwittingly be giving them the ability to control your life. For many of us, when we’re not happy we don’t function very well. It affects how we are with everything and everyone around us – family and loved ones included. I don’t know about you but I’d rather be the one who has that power over me. I’m told I look a lot better with a smile on my face and when I’m smiling, people react to me in a much more positive manner. Try it in an elevator in New York City sometime!

The Cure for the Holiday Season Blues: A Nice Trip

This year, the holidays snuck up on me.

Usually I’ve finished my shopping for gifts long before everyone else, am feeling quite smug about it and am ready to put on my dancing shoes. This year, not so much and, to my surprise, I’ve beebyb-christmas-post-blues-puppy-dreamstime_87564021n hit with a slight case of the “holiday blues.”

It might have had something to do with my being out of my home (that I lived in less than a year) for over 3 months due to a flood and dealing with construction. Or perhaps it is because that was my third move in as many years, or maybe it’s my decision to retire from my restaurants that I’ve owned for more than 20 years to start a new career, or maybe it was just actually succumbing to a case of those holiday blues that seem to affect a lot of us. In any case, and no matter the reason, it’s been a surprise – and now I’m going to do something about it.

If you know me, I am never one to stay low for long. I always have a cure right on hand. And nothing’s better for the holiday blues than some traveling. I got myself invited to a girlfriend’s house for Christmas Eve, complete with plans for Chinese food for Christmas Day. Then I’ll move on to see another friend for dinner and a movie. And I’m going to keep traveling – deal with my ‘blueness’ one day at a time until the holidays are finally over and I can start a new year.

Haven’t figured out New Year’s Eve yet, though. I’ll bet it means another trip.

Always 15 Minutes Late: What to do About Chronically Tardy Friends

One of the things that absolutely kills me is when a friend is chronically late. Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 3.51.24 PM

They will say “Oh, I’m just a few minutes late!” when they are always 15 minutes late or more.  I’m not talking about the person who is rarely late and when they are they have called to let you know what’s happening.  And, I’m not talking about the person whose watch is just a minute or two slow.  I’m talking about that person we ALL know who runs on their own time. We’ve all excused them on more than one occasion – usually with “Oh that’s just —–“ or “—– is always late so I just tell them a different time to arrive.”

It is never OK to be late just because you can’t manage your time properly. It’s just plain rude!  What I have never understood is why someone would think that his or her time is so much more important than mine.  It’s one of the “absolutes” that I drilled into my kids from the time they were little – 5 minutes late is NOT on time and never will be. 5 minutes early is on time.  That way no one is waiting for your grand arrival because really, what’s so grand about your arrival? 

If you’re that person (and if you are you know it) who just can’t seem to get someplace on time, simply start whatever you need to do before you leave 30 minutes earlier than you normally would.  Just do it.  Whoever you are meeting will so appreciate your effort. 

Friends That Stay Connected No Matter What is Going On

group-of-friends-hugging+LoRes2

My family and friends mean everything to me and I make sure I “touch” them on a regular basis.  I don’t mean physically touch all the time, it might be a phone call, text or simply thinking of them as I’m going about my day.  But, the disruption in my current living situation caused by my construction/repair mess (I’m out of my home for 3 months for repairs from a flood) has made it a little more challenging to keep all this touching going.  You could say it’s put a real kink in how I normally connect with them.

The deal is that they are an integral part of the comfort in my life and keep me grounded, so when my routines are disrupted, I have to find a way to make sure they all stay right where they belong – close.   Under normal circumstances, I might ask them over for coffee or a casual Saturday girl’s night with popcorn and a movie or just a glass of wine and a long chat.  What I’ve realized is that it really doesn’t matter so much where I am with them, but just that we are together for whatever time we have planned.

The phone calls and texts are all the same, of course, but I’ve gotten a little more creative with where we are able to spend time together.  Everybody enjoys time spent with friends differently – not everybody loves a big dinner out.  Sometimes the best time is just an afternoon walking around with a friend and then a spontaneous dinner at my temporary digs of ravioli from my freezer, salad fixings from her apartment, a good baguette and a satisfying bottle of red wine watching silly TV.  Now that’s a really good night that actually happened a week ago!

The trick is making sure the time happens, however you spend the time.  I’ve just had to put a little more effort into making sure I get my “friends fix”.  Maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve had to get out of my routines.   Hmmmmm.

 

Don’t Get Crazy Over Something You Can’t Control

photo-by-mikael-kristenson

Are you driving yourself crazy over things that are beyond control?

Anybody that knows me knows that I can be a little bit of a controlling Type A personality. Actually, some of you may think “little bit” doesn’t really apply! Ha Ha! Oh well, some things may never change I guess, but one of the things I have tried very hard to change about myself over the years is to make my best effort to not get crazy over what I cannot control. This has been a real challenge that I work on all the time.

My latest challenge has been with the result of a flood that happened in my apartment at the end of August. You think, how long could it take to make a simple repair in a wall and then just dry out the small area of your new wood floor (less than a year old) that actually got wet? As it turns out, a whole lot longer than I thought AND I had to actually move out for the repair. I will be out of my apartment for about three months! My entire living room and kitchen have had to be completely destroyed, entire wood floor removed in both rooms and kitchen cabinets/counters destroyed and removed. Of course, now all of that has to be replaced – time is not your friend with this process.

Here’s the really hard part. I had no control over the actual flood. I couldn’t have prevented it but am really glad I was actually at home when it started, and I have no control over how long it will take to finish the repairs and be able to move back home. Making my best effort to accept the fact that I have no control and just do my best to make the decisions on the repairs as they are brought to me has made this whole life upset a lot easier.

Trying to control everything around you, including those things over which you have absolutely no control (my flood), is a serious recipe to drive you crazy and keep it in your life as a constant. Crazy is not a good life companion – it sucks way too much energy.

Sometimes, out of this “letting go” can come silver linings. In this case, I get a new kitchen that I will love that will replace one that was not functional (a lot of my pots and pans lived in my oven because they didn’t have a place that fit them). I would have lived with my existing kitchen and would never have voluntarily gone through the chaos of redoing it.

So, the trick is… realize you can’t control everything around you, look for the silver lining and most importantly of all… BREATHE!!