No Improvement Necessary

Oliver Kendal

It’s been a beautiful few days in the neighborhood. Snowed in with Mr. Delicious and my last boy, I’ve done not much more than cook and bake and dig out when my assistance was needed.

I allowed myself the time. I could have gone the other way, I suppose. I could have seen this as an opportunity to get “really serious” about writing, or work, or something like that there.

But the stillness was calling to me.

Last week I wrote about how sad I feel that my kids are growing and going. But just this morning I was thinking about how grateful I am that I wasn’t snowed in with a house full of toddlers.

I’ve done that, too.

This was better.

I’ve been reading quite a bit as well. I go through these seasons where I “check in” with all the self-help gurus, and then I get tired again and need a break.

But this was my check in time, so you’ll be happy to know that there is nothing much new there.

As always, there seems to be an awful lot of pressure to make life “meaningful” — to pursue “greatness” – to figure out what you want – what it all means, and get going making that shit happen.

But I keep coming back to the quieter place, the one that says that, instead of worrying about making life meaningful, you just kinda sorta relax into your day and notice deeply what is going on.

And appreciate that.

Every day is just so beautifully rich – exactly as it already is. Why do we need anything more, or other?

Ours is a culture of dissatisfaction, and I suppose, there is a time and a place for that kind of driving ambition.

But these days, the lingering, the languishing, the deep, deep presence of the present holds enough deliciousness all on its own.

Yes, we need to be safe. We need to work, we need to have income, we need to care for our beautiful selves.

But do we all need to make some great big mark on the world?

I invite you to consider a quieter journey. I invite you to consider deep love and appreciation and freshly baked cookies.

I invite you to notice all the sights and sounds of an ordinary live well lived. Let’s take a slumbering approach to it all. Fall deep within yourself. Ground yourself to the precious present.

Take your time. Live deeply.

Renewal will come, when you are ready, if need be.

For now, though, rest.

All is well.

Blessed be.

Love, Jen

 

photo: flickr, Oliver Kendal

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I’m Sorry I Didn’t Trust You

audi_insperation

The last few months it’s felt like I’ve just been skimming the surface of life.

Phoning it in.

Doing the bare minimum of what must be done.

I didn’t wrap a single Christmas gift. I didn’t bake a single cookie, send out a single card, (okay, I never actually send out cards.)

But I meant to this year.

I was gonna.

But I just couldn’t.

I love you all so deeply here, and I’m so proud of what we’ve created, but I gotta admit, I’ve let myself get a little bit too lonely.

I’ve been unable to connect with anything of interest in my life. I stopped going to the coffee shop. Haven’t been to yoga in months. Didn’t see my friends. Stopped making beautiful suppers.

Phoned it all in.

Like I said, I did the very minimum for the holidays. I enjoyed my family so much but I was also so very sad.

Cause, you see, they’re all growing up. They’re all moving on. They’re all doing so brilliantly.

But, it just suddenly hit me.

Hard.

Cause it’s all over.

You see, they (my beautiful, beautiful boys) just don’t need me anymore.

Not in the same way.

I’ve done such a good job, I’m obsolete.

But just five minutes or so ago, my little guys still had little dimples on the backs of their pudgy little hands.

As I sit here and write this, so many random memories come back to me. I cherish each one so much. I relish my time with them. The way they smile. The way they smelled all freshly washed and tucked in at night.

You see, I still gaze adoringly at them in the way they once gazed back at me.

And I know that all of it is okay – that it’s all exactly as it’s supposed to be.

My mom told me this would happen.

She told me to savor every moment.

I was warned.

I know they are supposed to go.

I know they are supposed to be free.

I even love watching them do it.

But, oh how I miss those mornings with them in their glow-in-the-dark Scooby Doo jammies eating cereal and watching cartoons.

None of it is coming back again.

And, I am both utterly grateful for having been there for the all of it and astonishingly bereft that it went so very quickly.

I haven’t been able to work.

I’ve wanted to quit.

Honestly, I’ve even sent resumes out – I’ve got an interview later this week.

I’m sorry I haven’t told you any of this. I was too sad, too scared, too utterly uncaring about my own future. Plus, we have this rule that I wrote – our only rule – the only thing we DON’T talk about here is our kids and our men.

I just didn’t know how hard it was going to be when it actually happened.

And then this: A couple of weeks back, a publisher from New York read about me here, and then reached out to see if I wanted to talk about books and stuff.

I read the message.

And I felt nothing.

Dead.

In the middle of my sadness, my Big Dream may or may not be calling, I thought.

Sorry.

Too little.

Too late.

Besides, I’ve been through this before. You work and you work and you work in relative obscurity, and something happens and you think – “This is it. A BREAKTHROUGH.”

But, it isn’t.

It’s just another little step in an endless march, going nowhere. Your dream just the proverbial carrot that forever dangles just out of reach.

(I told you, I’ve been a little down.)

So, anyway, this guy writes me.

And I look at message and kinda go, “Yeah, whatever,” in my mind.

And I ignore it.

For days.

I’m not biting.

I’m not risking.

I’m not trying again.

But some time goes by, and I’m able to shoot him back a quick message, “Yeah, I’m free to talk. How about Friday?”

And we have this pretty neat little conversation. And the long and the short of it is that he wants me to write a book proposal so he can share my idea about a book for us to the other decision makers at his publishing house.

And, I’m like – “Do I want to do this again? Do I want to hope? Do I want to invest a thousand work hours or so – for FREE – on a project that will likely go nowhere?”

It’s just so damned hard to trust. Sometimes, it’s just so hard to BELIEVE — in the goodness, the rightness, the gift of perfect timing.

It’s so scary to hope again.

I know you know what I mean when I say that.

By the time you get to our age, you’ve had so many ups and downs, you can’t help but look at things like this with a slightly jaded gaze.

But, I’m going to give it a shot.

Cause, here’s the truth – Writing books and sharing them with Beautiful You and others – talking about my ideas – listening to yours — this is my ONLY dream.

The one I had before — the one that involved raising three stinky back-talking boys — is over.

It’s finished.

But that doesn’t mean I have to be.

Love, Jen

Photo: flickr, audi_insperation

 

 

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What if You Don’t Want a New Beginning?

Ian Sane

The last few Januarys I have felt like I’m from another species or something. Everyone in my industry is talking about resolutions and weight loss and finances and big dreams and that THIS is YOUR year to do thus and such and so and so.

And all I can think about is “why?” What’s wrong with things as they are? Why do we always have to be lured into the idea that something is broke that needs fixing?

What’s wrong with things as they are?

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for transformation. But the messaging in January seems to point toward wholesale changes.

I’m nearly 54. I’m too tired to change my whole life. Or maybe I’m not tired. Maybe I’m just content.

If you have enough to eat, and a warm bed to lie your head on, and something interesting to occupy your days, you already have so much more than so many.

Why buy in to the culture of dissatisfaction?

When I was just starting out, I had this idea that I was going to “change the world” or “leave my mark on it.”

Lordy, how grandiose.

But I had this idea nonetheless.

Three decades later, it doesn’t look like I’m going to fulfill this promise. And I’ve been so disappointed in myself. I’ve spent years just punishing myself for my unfulfilled promise.

I’m tired of it. When I step outside of myself and look at my life from a different lens, I see that there has been nothing wrong with the way I have lived. I’ve been a good person, I’ve raised three amazing sons, I’ve dealt well with difficulties, and, to the best of my ability, I’ve been available to help and serve others.

I’ve started this community, where thousands of us from around the globe find comfort and community.

But the ball drops in NYC at midnight on December 31 and all the “you’re doing it wrong” messaging begins anew.

I hereby reject that philosophy.

All is well as it is.

That doesn’t mean that the world couldn’t have a little less pain and suffering. It just means that it isn’t my responsibility to “fix” things for anyone. And that includes myself.

Let me be content. Let me feel – really feel – that I am already enough. That there is enough. That nothing needs to be any different than it already is.

Let’s ease into this new year with a grateful heart. Give what you can. Love where you can.

And be kind to yourself.

Love, Jen

Photo: flickr, Ian Sane

 

 

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For Once and For All

tracy ducasse, flickr

It’s that time of year again. Fresh starts, New Years Eve, blah blah blah.

Every year I blow it.
I make all kinds of resolutions I’m never able to keep. One of my favorites is

“ . . . for once and for all.”

I’m gonna eat healthy – for once and for all.
I’m gonna get thin again – for once and for all.
I’m gonna discover how to be happy – for once and for all.

When I don’t do these things – and others – I take them as personal failures. It looks to me as if “everyone” else has the for once and for all thing down.

Now, at the same time I’m setting myself up for once and for all failure, I’m also living this spiritual life that says, “one day at a time.”

I’m guessing you can see the problem.

I’m supposed to be living one day at a time and yet, what I really, really want is the promise of the end of doubt, pain, and suffering for once and for all.

It’s really hard to live a day at a time program. It means you gotta live right smack in the center of TRUST.

It means that you have to let go of this kind of thinking: “Well, right now I’m okay but I’m probably not going to be tomorrow – or next week – or next month and so I better GRAB and HOLD ON TO everything I think I’m going to need for those times.

And so life gets very very heavy. Cause you have to carry everything forward with you.

For once and for all is the opposite of faith. For once and for all requires you to live completely on your own resources all the time.

And, I don’t know about Beautiful You, but I don’t seem to be big enough, good enough, whole enough for that.

Give us THIS DAY our daily bread. Just for today, let there be enough.

Let tomorrow’s worries come with the dawn. For today, all is well.

Love, Jen

photo: tracy ducasse, flickr

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