Thursday, July 10, 2014

Paris again and Sweden

There's something about Paris and the Luxembourg Gardens that simply make me happy.  As soon as I arrive in Paris, I run over to the Gardens and just walk around until I find my favorite spots to sit and take in all the beauty.  

I just spent several days in Paris and though it had some difficult moments for me -- many reminders of being there when we were a family -- and this time I was alone, I found ways to enjoy most of my time there.  

It was definitely one of those AND experiences.  I love Paris, it makes me so happy to be there -- AND I wish I was in love or that my daughter, Zoe, had been able to come with me.  It's not a great place to be alone.  I still managed to enjoy myself and take some long, beautiful walks all over the city and see friends and eat lots of good food.

I also went up to Sweden for a job.  That was amazing!  Right up near the Arctic Circle to a city called Lulea.  It was a fantastic trip that came as a complete surprise.

As the character of the mother in my play says, "Life surprises."  I am grateful for most of the surprises that show up in my life.  And learning how to really be in the moment, helps so much.  (I'm still working on that).  

Lulea, Sweden.  July 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Allowing in the good

I am sitting in an apartment in Paris, looking out at the Seine, on the I'le de la Cite (minus the accent marks).  I am still trying to take in my good luck.  A few years ago, I felt that though I was grateful for many things, trips to Paris and soon Sweden, and recently London and Dublin, San Francisco and LA, and finding work that I love, and working with people I genuinely like and respect, and having my daughter close by, and living in SoHo again surrounded by wonderful neighbors, and slowly starting to date again -- I couldn't have imagined any of that was possible.  And yet....

I want to take these few moments before I leave this beautiful apartment in search of the perfect baguette and a long walk in the Luxembourg Gardens to give take a deep breath and take all of this in.

I woke up this morning and looked out at the Place Dauphine, the beautiful little park that I can see from the bedroom.  The first thing I saw was two dogs playing together in the park -- one of them was a beagle.  You don't see too many beagles in Paris.  I am always thrilled when I see a beagle because I think of my beloved Lucy and Lola and I give thanks for them for saving me in the most difficult times.  When my mother was dying, when my family was falling apart, when I was in the middle of the horrible terrible divorce -- Lucy and Lola were there, giving me unconditional love every single day.  I miss them more than words can ever express. And I thank them for over 13 years of so much love and laughter.

I know that the world is always in crisis -- bad news happened yesterday in Israel with the killing of three young men.  And in the U.S. with the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling about birth control. But I do still believe that so much good happens every single day and we forget that in the overwhelming evidence of evil and stupidity.

So let's take a minute and think of all that we can be grateful for and then get back to the work of changing the world.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

High Five

The other day I was riding my bike north along the Hudson River, on the bike path.  It was a beautiful day and I could see up in front of me a large group of kids, standing along a fence to the right, holding out their hands for riders to high five.  

The bicyclist in front of me was a young guy, he was able to high five a lot of the kids and they cheered.  As I was approaching the line I wondered, "Can I do this?  Can I ride close enough and hold out my hand without losing balance?  And not fall down and look like an idiot?"  

I decided to try, I got close to the fence and held out my hand for as many of the kids as I could. There had to have been at least 75 of them, they were probably around 8 years-old, all with their palms out, all cheering and screaming as I slapped as many hands as I could.

I could feel my oxytocin and endorphin or whatever levels rising as I slapped their palms and then rode off happily, continuing my journey north, along the Hudson River.  

There are studies about how people find happiness in a casual smile with a stranger, or a quick conversation in an elevator, or a doctor's waiting room.  

Try high fiving a group of 75 kids.  It made me feel like a rock star.  

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude

The past couple of weeks have been rather challenging for Zoe and me.  She started a new job and I have a busy month with difficult jobs.

So, I am reminded during these times when I feel overwhelmed, to always remember to be grateful too.

Here is what I am grateful for:

New York City
My job
Zoe's job
My home
Great friends
My ex husband Steve is feeling better and managing another round of chemo more easily this time
Great weather
The nicest people to work with

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Five years later

Five years ago this month, my marriage ended.  We didn't separate for several more months and the divorce took over two years to be final, but the marriage ended in April of 2009.

I have never experienced anything quite that painful.  It didn't help that I had also lost my job because of the economy and that on June 9, 2009 my mother died.  And my daughter decided to move to California and then I had to move.  So with two dogs and no job, the end of a 23 year relationship and the death of my mother, I somehow managed to get through the most intense period of fear and grief I had ever known.

I got so much support from friends.  I was so lucky to have resources like therapy and different communities (especially Friends In Deed).  The grief was so intense I don't think I could take a deep breath for months and I know that I lost probably 20 pounds within the first two months.  That was a perk, to be honest.  For years I'd struggled to lose those pounds and they simply fell off.

Five years later, I feel stronger in many ways and happier most of the time.  I feel grateful that I've learned to live an independent life and that the loneliness I feel sometimes is better than the loneliness I felt when I was married.

This too shall pass.  One day at a time.  Surrender.  

All those trite expressions really are true.  Everything I learned from reading Pema Chodron helped me.

I think I will go back to the Big Group at Friends In Deed tonight just to give thanks for all the support I got there and to listen.

Five years later I am not the same person was and I am deeply grateful for the lessons I learned.   They were painful lessons, but I think maybe that's the only way we really ever learn them.  And I am grateful most of all for my sense of humor -- which I sometimes forget about -- but somehow I'm always reminded to laugh.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Survey redo

I was looking back at the year 2010 for the book that I am writing about traumatic growth (i.e. my lousy divorce) and I found this little questionnaire/survey.  So I thought it would be interesting to answer it again, four years later and see how different the answers are:

Your cell phone: BlackBerry I phone
Your hair: Brown  Still brown
Your mother: Dead  
Your father: Dead
Your favorite food: Chocolate chip cookies   Eggplant Parmigiana
Your dream last night: I visited my mom  Can't remember
Your favorite drink: Champagne   Water
Your dream goal: Writing and making a living at it again   Writing and speaking and coaching public speaking
What room are you in: Bedroom   Bedroom
Your hobby: bicycling    Dancing!
Your fear: dying too young    Watching someone I love being sick
Where do you see yourself in 6 years: Writing and in love    Writing, traveling and in love
Where were you last night: Friends In Deed    Home (it was cold out)
Something you aren't: Daredevil    Depressed - sometimes I'm sad, sometimes I'm happy.  But there's so much in the world to worry about. 
Muffins: Chocolate zucchini from City Bakery    Chocolate chip
Wish list item:  Book contract or play produced   Play was produced!  Now I hope for a book/speaking tour
Where did you grow up: Long Island
Last thing you did:  Watched Jon Stewart   Ate lunch
What are you wearing: a T-shirt   Polar tech jacket
Your TV:  I'm addicted   Mostly watch TV on ipad these days
Your pets: Two beagle girls    Waaa
Friends: All around me   A few close friends
Your life: Up and down, mostly up   Interesting!  Challenging!  Travel, coaching, meeting lots of people.
Your mood: Edgy   Depends on the hour - right now, good.  Happy (considering it's winter)
Missing someone: My daughter   Lucy
Vehicle: Feet   Citibike
Something you aren't wearing: shoes   A bra
Your favorite store: Lord and Taylor (because no one else is there)   Still Lord & Taylor
Your favorite color: Blue   Still blue
When was the last time you laughed: Last night watching John Oliver on Jon Stewart  Biggest laughs 700 Sundays
Last time you cried: Last night watching John Oliver on Jon Stewart (kidding) Last night  A few days ago
Your best friend: Lucy   Karen/Abigail/Bella/Barbara   all great friends in NYC - I miss Emily
One place you go over and over: Movie theaters   Central Park
Facebooking: Too often   Annoying and helpful
Favorite place to eat: NoHo Star, Shake Shack, Gotham  Ummami Burger, NoHo Star, Lovely Day

Some things have changed...some remain the same.  Most of all I miss Lucy and Lola and I'm so grateful Zoe lives in NYC again.