Saturday Mornings

On Saturday mornings, my cat likes to eat her breakfast by the TV.

It’s not a “TV” like you and I typically think of. Ellie’s TV is the screen door — the front door flung wide to give her access to her favorite channel. A channel featuring scampering birds and squirrels, swaying trees, and dancing leaves. She is polite in her request when she asks that I “turn it on.” And she settles in happily to watch.

And, since it’s Saturday morning, I take her special breakfast off her regular place mat and allow her to enjoy it in front of her TV.

With pets — and people too — it’s about Listening. It’s about paying attention to not just their words but their actions and behavior, their eyes, their body language, how they respond to what we say. It’s learning to hear what they aren’t speaking.

Our pets mewl and bark to express their needs. We pay attention and care for them. In a world full of distractions, though, it’s easy to miss a message. More than ever, we need to be truly present, observing those we care most about, and doing what we can to support them … to understand what’s important to them. To hear beyond the bark, the mewl, or the words. To be kind.

We live in a predominately selfish world where the tendency is to focus on our own wants and needs — to be oblivious to what is going on with people surrounding us.

On the road, we’re annoyed by the driver who cuts us off — or won’t let us merge.

When shopping, we’re frustrated at the lack of cashiers, slowing us down at check out.

At the office, we feel slighted when we don’t get the recognition we feel we deserve — or when our boss seems oblivious to what is happening on our desks.

When someone doesn’t respond to a call, a text or an email as quickly — or in the way we think they should — we feel slighted.

In those moments, perhaps it might be a better choice to look beyond our limited view to consider that there’s more to the story … that we only see a part of what’s actually happening.

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How amazing it is then to share time with a a pet — a sweet creature who asks so little of us and offers unconditional love. There’s no subtext to try and interpret. Everything is straight-forward.

So, in the mornings when perhaps I might sleep in longer, her plaintive mewls awaken me. I find myself wanting to get up … wanting to do something for Ellie … wanting to spend time with just the two of us in our sun room.

Then when she sprawls out — literally taking over my exercise mat — I accommodate that request too, scratching her as I workout.

And, I take her Saturday morning breakfast to the screen door where she can enjoy it as she watches the Nature Channel.

It’s about more than us. It’s thinking about and truly caring about the needs, the hopes, the fears, the desires, the wishes, and the dreams of the people — and the animals — we interact with on a daily basis. It’s about listening to them as they speak — and hearing more than their words. It’s about being present with them as they sit beside you. It’s about the gift their presence brings into our lives and how we make the most of each encounter. Life is too precarious for anything less.

I’ll never forget when I was a kid and Grandmother Carmichael delivered cinnamon toast to me while I watched Saturday morning cartoons in her den. It was an act of love.

I’m pretty sure Ellie knows that when I bring breakfast to her while she watches her Saturday morning Nature Channel it is my way of saying I love you to her too.

                                                                                                                       — Jenni

 

 

 

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Bubbles In My Screen Protector

I bought a new Nook the other day. (No offense meant to you Kindle or iPad users. I’m just a Barnes & Noble girl.) I’m honestly not one to upgrade my tech every time a new version comes out. But my 10-year old Nook had recently begun to take it upon itself to turn the pages of my books all by itself.

I purchased the 10.1 Tablet by Nook along with a navy cover and took it home, following all the steps necessary to sync it to my B&N account and obtain books I’ve purchased over the years. Then, I settled in to finish my current read: Good Omens by Neil Gaiman.

The new Nook had a pretty glossy screen, glossier than its predecessor. It didn’t take long for my fingerprints to mar its sheen. I buffed it with a cloth and wiped it down with my son’s camera lens cleaner to remove marks. But, the tracks of my use began to bother me.

I returned to Barnes & Noble a few days later to purchase a Screen Protector, asking the Customer Service reps if they might be willing to put it on for me — as the Royal Oak store had done for me many years ago. The reps politely declined my request. So, I left the store, $14.26 poorer, to complete my mission.

Now, I consider myself a pretty methodical person. I read the instructions thoroughly and found a nice clean space in which to work. I cleaned my Nook screen and prepared to add the screen protector, which also promised to eliminate glare — bonus!

Do I need to continue? Can you predict the outcome? It’s a 10.1 inch screen. I lined the protector up as directed with the camera lens, slowly pulled it down to caress the soft, silky tablet screen and … bubbles!

Bubbles in the middle. Bubbles on the side. Well, the side had this line of air that no matter how I smoothed it down would NOT go away. Type AA me was ticked. I’d followed all the guidelines only to have this mess!

So … I took a deep breath and slowly and ever so gently began to pull up the corners to try again. You know … the “if at first you don’t succeed” mantra?

Well, that only made it worse.

So, I pulled it off — much more annoyed and frustrated — and tossed it in the trash. After all, the packaging came with two protectors. (A hint of the drama I should have foreseen.) I could learn from my mistake, go slower in the application process, and protect my glossy screen after all. Of course, as I was a bit peeved, I’d wait a few hours and return when my calm state reasserted itself.

Two hours later … well, let’s just say, I wasted $14.26 and did NOT have a glare resistant, fingerprint preventing screen protector on my new Nook.

It’s not uncommon to dislike the ugly glow of finger marks on our pretty surfaces. To want to wipe them off. It’s normal to look for a way to prevent them … to protect ourselves from their oils. We seek ways to remove them and disavow scratches to our bodies, hearts and minds as well. We prefer everything to look attractive, shiny and fine — and that those around us see us that way.

As a parent, I have always done my best to protect, guide and keep my kids from things that might harm them. When they were babies, I placed socket protectors all over the house, locked down cabinets and moved matches to high shelves. But as they grow older, I can’t always be there to shield them.  I have to hope that the teachings I offered hold true for them, guiding them away from decisions, choices and actions that might cause them harm … that might scratch their glossy screens.

But, we are all human. They will make their choices and mistakes, just like I have. We all make decisions that leave marks … fingerprints if you will … on our own screens. They shape us. We can pull out a lint cloth and attempt to wipe them off, but we know their tracks are deeply etched into our very souls.

Trying to add that plastic thing to my Nook reminded me how we strive to keep our hearts and minds from harm. But life happens. We can wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and keep people or experiences at bay. Or we can accept that everything that happens — all fingerprints and scratches — shape us and make us stronger, perhaps even opening us to opportunities that will allow us to shine brighter in this crazy world.

I personally may have explored opportunities others would not have. I am adventurous and curious. I may have even made choices others might have been afraid to make or accepted challenges that may have intimidated another. I don’t always play it safe. I have fallen while ice skating and tumbled off my paddle board. But I’ve gotten up. When life scratches me, my screen doesn’t stop working. Oh, I have a few scars. But, that’s just a part of who I am today and who I am becoming.

Amidst the bumps and bruises, I’ve enjoyed amazing moments, climbed mountains and descended into valleys — noting the beauty along the way. I’ve touched hearts and others have touched mine. I’ve broken hearts and felt mine break. All the while, though, the glare I see — the marks that show up on my unprotected screen — they were made by me as a result of the “buttons” I selected.

No matter how bright and shiny my screen may appear to you, there are marks on it. I’ve not always been gentle with myself or others. I’ve spoken rashly and harshly. I’ve struggled and cried — I’ve giggled and laughed too. I’ve been dropped, handled with less care than I would have liked, and handled myself with less care than perhaps I should have. But I wouldn’t erase those fingerprints if I could. I don’t live my life with “should haves” or regrets.

Oh, I could still add a screen protector to my Nook. Shell out another $14.26.  But, I doubt I can keep the air from making the bubbles. So it’s up to me … bubbles or fingerprints.

I’d rather see the fingerprints. I can wipe them off from time to time. But, I feel their marks. They show me every day that I have truly lived.

                                                                                                                           — Jenni

 

 

 

THIS is the Moment

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.”

Eckhart Tolle

I sat on my deck, pen and hand and notebook open on my lap … seeking words. A butterfly soared by. I watched.

I came home stressed from work and longed for a bit of quiet. My kids came to share their days with me. We made dinner together.

I lay in bed, awake at 4:01am, and heard the first bird song. I listened.

I sat across from a friend, watching him mute his phone and turn it over. We talked and laughed.

I held the pose in yoga today, sweat dripping down my face and falling onto my mat. I shook as I focused on my breath.

In this technology obsessed world, it’s more difficult to stay “in the moment.” To be present is to be still, enjoying what is happening right then and there. Releasing goals and the pre-occupation with outcomes. Our cell phones make us accessible at every second of the day and in every place we go, distracting us with a combination of chatter as well as an overwhelming wealth of both useful and useless information.

But …

As I sat on the deck, hoping to write, I observed the butterfly.

As I chopped veggies with my kids, tensions disappeared.

As I lay in my bed, hoping to sleep, I listened to the music of nature.

As I sat with my friend — cell phone in my purse, I enjoyed words and connection.

As I held my pose in yoga, I grew stronger in mind, body and spirit.

This is the moment. You may be on your way somewhere, but, what you do along the way is as important as what you do when you get there.

It’s easy on the road to pick up my phone when I hear the ping of a text. It’s easy to sit at a red light and check Facebook or email. It’s harder to just drive. It’s harder to pay attention when so many distractions are readily accessible to make the drive home more interesting.

I’m bothered when I sit in restaurants and watch families and friends on their devices, not present in their surroundings. Not enjoying their now. Not enjoying their time with the people sitting in front of them. Because that moment cannot be DVR’d to experience or “watch” later. That friend cannot be downloaded at a more convenient time when you’re done tweeting or texting. There is no instant replay or streaming service to support human companionship.

THIS moment cannot be put on hold. Each moment offers us opportunities to experience something we may never encounter again. THIS moment arises one time and what you choose to do with it is up to you. It’s more difficult than ever to truly connect with another human being. We’re so caught up in posting status updates and playing with Snapchat filters that we can fail to notice and appreciate the person sitting before us. We can fail to make the most of these fleeting moments of connection that come our way.

In my Yoga class, my mind gets busy. There’s a lot of chatter going on! I can’t stop that … I don’t try. See, it’s okay because I let go of those thoughts that are seeking to distract me and watch them float down the river, carrying challenges, difficult people, anxieties, and personal concerns along with them.

In my Yoga class, I just have to take one pose at a time. And, if it gets too challenging, I move into Child’s Pose. No judgment. No prize for getting to Shavasana first.

Day by day, there are times when my words fail me as I seek for them to be profound or relevant — to choose them wisely in order to influence or inspire or intrigue another. In those moments, I’m more focused on the outcome than the message itself.

There are times I can’t sleep and busy thoughts and worries run through my mind.

There are times I’m worn out from a day and just want to sit down and shut down.

There are time I find myself riddled with anxiety and don’t know why.

There are times the flows are harder and I fall.

But … those are my moments. And if I truly want to Be Present, I have to accept them and recognize that — in the classic words of Doris Day — “Que sera sera.”

THIS is the moment. Whatever will be, will be. Use the time wisely.

                                                                                                        Jenni

Turn the Page

May 12, 2019

My son turned 20 today. At 6:18am.

First of all, the fact that I have a 20 year old floors me. I wonder if my parents felt the same disbelief when I turned 20 …

One minute you’re holding them in your arms, a tiny, wiggly baby incapable of doing anything on their own. Then, you’re walking them to school, holding their small hand securely in your own. Then, before you know it, they start driving a car and … graduate.

Thank heavens I have a portrait in my attic that keeps Me young … 😉

Yep. Jarod has officially ventured into his third decade … Twenty is kind of a transitional age. Not old enough to drink but old enough to vote, be drafted, and begin Adulting …

Grad 1My son’s senior year was a very emotional time for me. And for him, as he himself understood and expressed in his final ROHS video “I Will Never Forget.” So many  “lasts.” It was a year full of ceremonies and endings, wrapping up his first 18 years of life. Tying up his “childhood” with a neat, tidy bow and a graduation ceremony at Freedom Hill.

“Freedom” Hill … oh the irony.

Summer weekends were dominated with grad parties and college planning. Then, before I knew it, we had packed up his most treasured, worldly possessions and loaded them in three cars — with the help of a color coded spreadsheet he created — to caravan to Wayne State University.

No, he didn’t choose a college in another state. But, I promised to treat this move as if he were 3-hours away, guaranteeing him the freedom and independence he had shown himself ready for.

He was starting a new chapter in the book we had been writing together for 18 years.

Jarod was excited — and so ready. And I was happy for him. Really, I was. But there was this part of me that felt a loss so deep that the pain was indescribable … a sense that my compass was losing its true north.

The move was easy. And he was so happy … quickly hanging posters, placing photos and settling in. But I cried as we drove away and spent many hours just sitting in his room, missing him.

But then a strange thing happened. Calls came in. Texts to just say Hi. Successes or 75DB7A24-B67D-4E4C-9FD3-D5420D86F2DEchallenges in classwork that he wanted to talk about. With me. Invitations for coffee or outings to the Hilberry to see a play and get dinner. To quote a song from one of his childhood favorite Disney Channel movies, it was “the Start of Something New.”

The conversations changed and a New relationship began. No, he didn’t crawl on my lap or need me to hold his hand while he walked to class. But he still needed his Mom. He still wanted to share moments of his life with me. And something new and wonderful began to take shape.

Oh, I miss my sweet little boy. The last bite thief, Barnes and Noble song and dance kid, and his “this is my good idea” proposals. But I treasure the opportunity to get to know the Man he is becoming as he meets the challenges of Adulting.

There are still special moments … calls where he shares what’s going on, times he asks me about recipes as he prepares meals in his apartment, outings to Barnes and Noble and weekends when he comes home and says, “I just wanted to come home and be with you, Mom.”

We turned the page together. And though I look back at the memories that play out in my mind like films, we now have new chapters to write as our Story Goes On.

It’s far too easy to look back and miss the Now and all it delivers. But from someone who’s still featured in the script, I can honestly say the plot twists, scene changes, and character developments in the continuing adventures of Jarod Clark are a great read.

There are really no beginnings that can happen without an ending. Sometimes you have to leave behind something precious. But, if you release your hold, you might just discover that what you thought you lost, wasn’t gone at all … just transitioning or transforming.

And, there really is another Chapter in the book you started all those years ago with your child. Many of them, in fact. And this new book in the series is as good if not better than the earlier editions. I promise. It’s impossible to predict or see that story since its still in production when our children stand on the precipice … that stage … to take their diploma or drive off to college or move away to begin their lives.

So…

Breathe and Turn the page.

And for heavens sake … don’t put down the book now. There’s so much more in the coming pages. Celebrate those moments from the earlier chapters. Relive them and smile. But keep in mind that the story goes on.

What I’ve learned in the past two of Jarod’s college years? The diploma, graduation and departure to college is by no means an ending of my special relationship with my son. The continuing adventures … and the fact that Jarod wants to share His Adulting with me … that’s priceless.

Turn the page …

                                                                                                                        Jenni

And P.S. For those of you without kids or for anyone not here yet who experiences changes as relationships ebb and flow … just keep turning the page. What you think is an ending, may just be the start of something new …

My Sock Drawer Is Messy

I don’t live in Perfect.

But, I don’t live in Good Enough, either.

Somewhere along the way — in my formative years — I inherited my Dad’s neat-nick habits. Everything has a place and there’s a place for everything. I like and maintain a neat and clean car, a neat and clean desk, a neat and clean house, a neat and clean kitchen, a neat and clean refrigerator and cabinets.

I clean my home weekly. I appreciate vacuum lines on my carpet and non-sticky floors. Dust makes me nuts. Counters are wiped down regularly and bathroom mirrors are streak free. We have a cat, so making sure the litter box area is swept up and cat hair is vacuumed supports my sanity.

During my workout this afternoon, though, my personal trainer Jillian Michaels mentioned that there are those of us who are too obsessed with “being perfect.” We’re hard on ourselves when things go awry or don’t happen in that nice, planned structured way we want them to. We’re critical of our looks, our bodies, our weight, our homes, our lives, our friends, our performance, our significant others … and so on. And that criticism holds us back. Makes us give up too quickly. And, it keeps our minds, spirits and bodies from achieving their personal potential.

We’re focused on something that cannot be achieved.

Perfection.

Well, I don’t live in perfect. And as neat as my home is, there are still places where it’s messy … where I’m messy. And when I look too close at those places, I can make myself crazy.

I jump around with Jillian, swinging that kettleball and doing my best to achieve toned arms and that super flat stomach. But, I’m not there. Yet. So, I keep working out. It’s a process. When I’m doing jumps or lunges, my breath comes quicker and my heartbeat races. And I’ve been working out 5-6 days a week for over … well, let’s not talk age okay … a really long time. I’m in shape. But not Jillian Michaels shape.

Exercising supports my mind and my spirit. It supports my health and my body. But, if you think I’m going to give up the occasional beer, basket of fries or delectable slice of chocolate cake to achieve that super flat belly, well … not gonna happen.

‘Cause, I don’t live in perfect.

I guess that’s another reason why I’m drawn to yoga. Yoga isn’t billed as an exercise … it’s a Practice. I practice yoga. And, I don’t perfect it or strive to be perfect when I’m on my mat. There are times I’ve lost my balance. Times I’ve literally fallen over. There are poses I just can’t do. Period. I may never be able to stick my leg straight out and grab my toes. I may never be able to hold crow pose on my arms for longer than a moment. I may fall in King Dancer. But, I can still practice. I can still try.

Yoga … the Firm workouts … Barre3 … Kettleball Circuit Training … each of these workouts help me align my body, mind and spirit. I will never master them. Some days on my mat are better than others. Just like some places in my home or projects on my desk or blogs in the Corner are neater or stronger or more structured than others.

Just like some relationships in my life are messier or more challenging or more inspiring on any given day. We don’t live in perfect. We are all works in progress. And to place the pressure of perfection on any aspect of our lives is to court certain doom.

Yet … I don’t live in Good Enough. I can’t look at a relationship or a project and be satisfied if I don’t offer my best. But, I can let go when I know I’ve done all I can. I’ve accepted that there are some things beyond my control. Some people with whom a relationship is too difficult, some projects that may never be completed, some dust under the bed I can’t reach … a drawer full of socks that never seems to be organized no matter how many times I dump it on the floor and reorder it.

But, if I’ve offered my best … that’s all I can do. And then be brave enough to let go.

No, I don’t and never will live in Perfect. I fall on and off my mat. It’s part of my Journey. As neat and organized as I may seem, there are places in my life that are just plain messy.

I’m okay with that. Jillian accepts me as I am. My yoga instructors support me despite my imperfection. Each time I come to my mat, I work out and I work in. Heck, that’s what I do daily. I wouldn’t want to change that … I’m still in process.

And if what I offer isn’t good enough for someone, well, they can move to Perfect and leave me be.

                                                                                                                    Jenni

Coffee with my Cat

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve needed an alarm to wake me. No, I have a cat. A sweet torty with sea-green eyes and an orange heart on the top of her velvety soft, furry head.

Ellie. Well, Elena Marie — a blended name inspired by Catherine Zeta-Jones strong-willed Elena from The Mask of Zorro and the playful Marie from The AristoCats. Of course, I typically call her Miss Ellie … a throwback to my devotion to the evening soap opera Dallas.

Anyway, Ellie is my first cat. Technically — as my daughter regularly reminds me — she’s HER cat. But, Ellie isn’t waking her up early in the morning …

Now, I didn’t know much about the personalities and habits of cats when we adopted IMG-0078Ellie. I have two dear friends with cats that I spent lots of time with. I did some research about the needs and habits of cats. But there were definitely areas of non-disclosure and things I just did not know … such as …

Torties are Talkers. And, Ellie is a Chatty Cat.

She sleeps at the foot of the bed most nights, curled up at my feet. On cold nights, she prefers the warmth of my husband and sprawls out to claim her space. But, at around 6:17am, she emits this rumbly purr — kind of like the sound a young child makes when they want out of their crib.

It begins softly and becomes more insistent when I ignore her, like an alarm clock tone that gets louder and more frequent before you slam it off. But, unlike an alarm clock, Ellie doesn’t come with a snooze button.

So, there’s this purr … which I translate as all humans translate their animals’ sounds into human words … to mean “Up?”

Sometimes I feign sleep. But Ellie is pretty clever. And insistent. The purrs grow in frequency and they get louder the longer I delay. When I finally agree to rise and shine, she sits up and stretches — languidly — as though I’m the one dragging HER out of bed saying, is it that time already??? I give her a scratch on her head and she leaps from the bed to sit near my slippers. Waiting.

We have a routine, Ellie and me. She bounds down the stairs at my side and sits at the mat at the front door. This is her “ask” that I turn on the Kitty TV and initiate the required screen time. Doesn’t matter the season or temperature inside or out. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, it’s the same demand. Doesn’t matter that the house has plenty of windows with similar vantage points. It’s Door Time.

Then, while I pour that first cup of coffee — which of course I make the night before and set a timer — she waits by my side, purring if I’m too slow — before scampering into the sun room and launching up to her favorite perch for morning “scratchles.” Only once she’s well loved, does she sit up and demand that a window be opened so she can smell the outdoor air. If it’s cold and I open the window, her front paw does a little shake — a hurt so good kind of wiggle.

It’s a structured and very specific routine. Trust me, she has me well trained. It’s as if SHE were the Event Planner and I her minion. Like my kids were in their earlier years, Ellie is an Early Riser.

I’m not complaining … well, not most of the time. There are days I want to dive into my pillows and ignore her. There are days I do. But, my early moments with Ellie are truly some of my favorite times of the day. Reflective. Quiet. Deeply spiritual. Thankful thoughts and journaling begin our day. I read my devotions as she sits with watchful eyes and her tail curled delicately. I pray. I write. I read. And, we play too, before she moves toward the kitchen and asks for her breakfast.

I enjoy my Coffee with Ellie.

Something Ellie has helped me learn … Love is not Finite. An animal … Special or new friends … a first or second baby … something or someone additional in your life … and there is still room for them. Love for them. Appreciation and value and joy with them. Even when you think you’re settled and comfortable in your existence, there is still more Love to share with special people and pets. They may come into your life unexpectedly, but they secure a place in your heart and you wonder how you ever existed without them in your life. You can open yourself up in ways you didn’t realize you could … and discover incredible joy.

You love them. Deeply. Rising to be with them when they purr, bark, tweet or hiss. And, in the case of two-legged friends and family members, responding to a call or a text when they reach out to you. When they want to spend time, catch up, talk, grab a drink or coffee or get together. When they need you.

During those early mornings of Coffee with my Cat, she offers me Lovey eyes, telling me how much she too enjoys our time. And in those moments, I know she doesn’t just want food, she specifically wants this time with me. That she loves me. Treasures me. Values me. And, that I’m important to her.

So, I rise and shine. Love isn’t finite. Even at 6:17am.

— Jenni

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Glass Houses

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.  John 8:7

I was raised on a golf course. My father was a terrific golfer — still is. Every summer, my dad would play on his Thursday and Saturday afternoons off. When I was little, my mom would take my brother and me to the Valparaiso Country Club pool. But once I started Junior Golf, I’d spend those summer afternoons hitting range balls or playing golf with my friends.

My dad was my teacher — along with several course pros and my dad’s cousin Sam who owned a course in Martinsville, Indiana — and incidentally coached the IU girls golf team.

Yes, I had plenty of teachers and I became a pretty good golfer, joining the VHS Golf Team and earning a 3-year letter. Along the way, I hit lots of golf balls, practiced my putts, spent hours trying to master chipping and get out of sand traps. Oh, it didn’t hurt that there were several cute guys working outside the pro shop that I could flirt with, er, hang out with as I waited for my dad to wrap up his golf days. 🙂

But, I digress.

My dad watched golf on TV too. In my house, we all had our favorite players.

But in those days, our favorite players remained in the TV. Oh sure, there were articles about them in Golf Digest that my dad read. But, he read more to learn tips than to learn about them.

Enter Tiger Woods — who incidentally was also tutored and guided into golf with the help of his dad — and the game literally changed. Maybe it was the uniqueness of his game or his amazing talent. I’d be naive to ignore that he was one of the few African-American golfers to hit the scene so dramatically, though I dislike thinking his rise to fame was due to skin color. More likely, it was that Tiger was just an incredible talent who arrived on the scene in the era of expanded press attention and amidst the full onslaught of “social media.”

He won match after match. Media attention exploded from all angles. Along came endorsements. His image and name were associated with everything from sports equipment to Buick to fancy, overpriced watches and clothing lines. To this day, he’s one of few golfers to wear his own line of clothing on the course.

But, amidst all that, he was truly just a guy who enjoyed the game of golf and was good at it. He wasn’t much of a public speaker and didn’t do great in post-match interviews. He was a guy who made golf his career — and succeeded brilliantly in a manner few had achieved.

And then, the glass tower shattered and for many he fell from grace. Suddenly, he was the news headliner with a murky story that had nothing to do with golf. In those moments, a media-made hero came crashing down as the public peered into the cracks of his personal life and found him lacking, passing judgement and shunning him in disapproval.

In those moments, the mighty Tiger was discovered to be human after all.

I didn’t read the articles. I avoided the news clips. I didn’t listen to commentators who threw stones at him from their lofty, perfectly coiffed seats.

See, to me, he was a golfer. No more heroic than any celebrity that I enjoy. I had not placed him on a pedestal. I simply enjoyed watching him play golf. His personal life was no concern of mine. The personal challenges he encountered did not make him less of an athlete. They only made him more like me … flawed and real. Besides, his personal stuff was his to deal with … not mine to judge.

We all live in Glass Houses. I’m far from perfect. I make mistakes and poor decisions. I allow my emotions and passions to exceed what some might consider their “proper setting.” They are mine to wrestle with — mine. And, I’ve never claimed to be perfect.

Tiger never claimed that either.

I’ve been honest with my kids, too. I’ve shown them my flaws and shared my struggles. I’ve shown vulnerability and apologized when I’ve made mistakes that affected them. They need to know I’m not perfect and that I don’t expect perfection from them either — just courage and kindness, the strength to be true to themselves and the confidence to reach out for help or support when they need it.

I was saddened to see Tiger struggle with the judgement of the masses as well as his health and back. And I was thrilled last weekend to see him find victory on the Masters stage and earn one more green jacket. The Tiger I watched play had been brave enough to find the help he needed and grow from the struggles he faced. And, perhaps along the way he even discovered a little more joy in the game, coming from behind in so many ways to regain that place on the leader board.

Jesus said: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone …  John 8:7

We’re all works in progress. We all stumble at times. Luckily, most of us don’t have the media outside our house filming our darker moments. Yet, if we’re honest, we all live in Glass Houses. At least, I know I do. So, throwing stones is not part of who I choose to be.

I’m just glad to see Tiger has found his way back onto the course. Watching him play is an experience — and wow, did you see those putts — and that he’s faced down whatever demons he needed to face to get back to the game he so clearly loves.

Far from me to throw stones from my glass house.

Bravo Tiger. Well played.

Jenni

 

 

Soften the Focus

Do you recall a day when things didn’t go right for you? Maybe you didn’t get the job after multiple interviews? Or perhaps there was a time you didn’t get cast in the role you worked tirelessly preparing for? Or a gym hour when you were one of the last to be picked for that elementary school team?

Or a day when things just did not go your way at work?

Or a yoga class when you were trying to gently move from Majorette pose to Airplane to King Dancer and you fell over?

What was your initial response?

Okay, I’ll go first. It was: What’s wrong with me?

Ever do that? Ever think that? Something doesn’t go your way and you immediately turn on the judgement meter and begin listing your inadequacies, mistakes or faults?

A few months ago, I had a really rough day at work. I was as low as I could get, so I reached out to a friend to share some tears and wine and perhaps find some much needed consolation. She pointed out something to me … something I had not accounted for in my self-flagellation. She told me to stop judging myself so harshly and give myself a break … to be Kinder to myself.  And, as this was the year I was focused on Kindness, her remarks shed a light on something I had truly failed to consider.

In all these scenarios, something went awry. But my response was pretty consistent. It was to point the finger at me and create a litany of my failings — because clearly I must be the problem. Clearly, I wasn’t talented enough or clever enough or good enough.  I was to blame. I needed to be fixed or to be better.

Why do we do that? Take in the blame or the shame? Why do we consciously allow ourselves to feel “less” because of other people and situations?  Why do we judge ourselves harshly when someone fails to value us as we want to be valued — or when we fall short of some goal or ideal that we’ve set for ourselves.

We need to Soften the Focus — especially in regards to how we view our selves.

I don’t know about you, but I’m frickin’ amazing. I’ve done some awesome stuff in my first 52 years. Of course, not everything has gone my way. Not sure I would have appreciated the wins as much as I do if I hadn’t taken a few hits. But still, if another person fails to recognize my exceptional self, well, it’s their loss.

We need a Cybil Shepherd approach to ourselves.

Those of you who recall the hit series Moonlighting (circa 1985-1989) know what I’m referring to — the soft lens used for all of Cybil Shepherd’s close up camera work. It blurred the lines, romanticized her look, and softened everything about her.

We need to give ourselves that same Soft Focus — to honor what we offer and release the judgement when something doesn’t go the way we’d hoped or planned.  We need to be our own cheerleader. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a friend like I did that day — a friend who reminded me to Soften the Focus and be kinder to myself.

See, I am enough. And You are enough. And if there are those who don’t recognize our magnificence or if something doesn’t go the way we had planned, well, we need to find a way to let that go and move on.

On the mat in my yoga-speak I’d say, Breathe in Compassion and Exhale to Release the Judgement. And if I happen to wobble or fall over while moving from Majorette to Airplane and King Dancer, well, I’ll just Breathe in some Compassion, dust myself off, and get back on m9308fa559b7b1040b42a3fd94be3e2fey mat. It’s just yoga. I need to put it in perspective

It is our mind that creates the struggle. A pose is a pose. A day is a day. A win is a win and a loss is a loss.  Offer your best and let go of the rest. Soften the Focus. It’s just life. Put it in Perspective. And Bloom where you’re planted.

– Jenni

 

 

 

 

Find Delight

I took my son to a play last night. The particular theatre we attended does not typically offer “plays.” They traditionally feature only musicals.

Now, I love musicals. Heck, I’ve not only seen my fair share of musicals but I’ve performed in quite a few as well. They are easy to settle into. Audiences can sit back and be entertained as they await the next song and dance or musical number.

My son and I agree that plays take more effort — more of an investment at least mentally. I mean, you can’t download the soundtrack before you see a play and familiarize yourself with the plotline thru song. With a play, you have to get more engaged — truly listen and invest yourself in what they actors are saying and doing.

Big fan!

Anyway, immediately upon entering the theatre, we were all in. Not only do my son and I truly enjoy plays but this particular one resonated with us both in so many ways. The curtain was up and the set reminded us both of the Clue movie, which we both adore. Next, the Stage Manager is running about the set, hiding her face behind her hand because that ensures no one can see her. (Ah … Not!) And then there’s the Sound/Light Board, set stage right, with a highly visible, atypical tech guy scrolling his cell phone.

Fear not readers, no spoiler alert here. Suffice it to say that the entire evening was an absolute Delight.

We laughed from the beginning to the end. And, so did the rest of the audience. It was perhaps the best comedy I’ve seen in years — save  Tom Hanks in “Money Pit.” My cheeks hurt from laughing — it was that funny. Overall, the entire experience — since I knew nothing of the play when I walked in the door — was Delightful.

As a society, we need more of that. We need to seek more of that too. We need to be open to making discoveries and finding joy in unexpected moments. We need to embrace curiosity and offer up acceptance more frequently then judgement or disdain.

Too much time these days is spent dividing us from one another. Pushing us apart in an effort to position us as the smartest in the room. It’s as if we need to feel that our notions and ideas are the best — the correct ones. That there’s one way of doing or saying something. One correct approach.

Now I don’t know about you, but to me that seems short-sighted. It divides and separates us at a time we desperately need to find intimacy and connection. And, it doesn’t help us grow, learn, or discover that differences and new approaches might just teach us something new and lead us somewhere exciting.

So, I laughed with my son, and a thousand strangers. We smiled at each other, these strangers and me, as we walked from the theatre. And my son and I agreed that it had been a very long time since we’d laughed that much.

Delight arrives in many forms. It finds you in unexpected places, wearing faces you might not recognize upon approach. It can be a good book, a surprise gift sent to a friend — or received from one. It can be cookies baked and frosted to share with the people I love.

I find Delight in knitting nights with girlfriends and glasses of wine amidst tales of Kitty Interns and their antics. In yoga poses and pretty attire. In rehearsals and conversations that follow them. I find Delight in music and poetry. In organizing events and checking off lists. In a kind text or a soft smile and touch. In workouts with my cat. Over fries and beverages. In candlelight with a cup of tea or coffee. Heck, I even find Delight in caring for and cleaning my home.

The trick is — I find it. I chose to find it. I seek it and I treasure it and the people and experiences that come along with it. And last night at the theatre, I shared it with thousands of strangers.

So, what Delights you? I challenge you to find it and celebrate it. There’s too much going on in our world to lose sight of the joy found in the simple things.

                                                                                                              — Jenni

 

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Mat … aka Bloom Where YOU’RE Planted

I started a new job in August. Instead of a quick 3-minute commute, I have a longer drive, typically on the freeway. And, periodically, there are accidents or stalled cars or any number of random problems at the side of the road which cause slow downs.

As I pump the pedals, I feel that urge myself … the urge to glance over and check out what’s at the side of the road. It’s called rubber-necking and the fallout impacts everyone on the road, whether they look or not. The temptation is always to look … to check out what happened or see for yourself what makes this particular situation fascinating enough to slow down so many busy commuters.

In yoga class the other night, we were reminded to keep our eyes focused on our own mat — that glancing around and comparing our pose to that of our neighbors didn’t serve us. It wouldn’t make our poses any better, and it would distract us from our own work.

This gentle reminder made me think, as I am want to do, about how that applied off the mat. I found myself wondering why we spend so much time rubber-necking, looking at others and comparing our poses — or lives — to theirs. Seeking to find out what’s going on at the side of the road. What is it we hope to find? What is it we hope to gain?

I once took a yoga class where there were only two of us. Afterward, our teacher Marty mentioned how reluctant he was to lead a class with only two students … how in past experience such a session led to competition. I was stunned. It never occurred to me to compare what we were doing. The time I spend on my mat is about me, my work, my mindfulness, my focus and my spiritual and physical growth. Why would I use that hour to compete with someone else?

But, if I’m truly honest, I do it elsewhere. Most of us have areas where we’re competitive. Where we want applause or recognition or likes and comments or the feeling that we’re superior or special.  Perhaps, deep inside, we are all a little bit like Sally Field in her notable 1984 Oscar speech when she declared: “You like me. You really like me.” We too want to be liked. Noticed. Valued. Sought After. Appreciated. Desired and Admired.

Take Social Media for example. We post something on Facebook … why do we do that? We type something from the privacy of our own computers or phones or tablets for the world to see, like and comment on. We say something because it pops in our mind and we want to share it. And … to be noticed. We place a photo or a saying or a link on our “Home Page” so it is seen by others. And depending how many friends you have, it can be seen by a helluva lot of people.

Then, in so many cases, we sit back and wait for comments and likes and hearts and emojis to pop up.

Question: Once you’ve posted whatever it is you want to say, do you look at those comments, likes, hearts and emojis? How often do you check back? Do you wonder how many people liked your post? How many new followers discovered what you had to say?

Are you curious why some people liked it or commented on it, while others didn’t?

Do you look at posts by others and see all those likes, comments etc. and wonder why they attracted all those “friends” while your post didn’t?

That brings me back to why we post on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter to begin with. Is it simply to share a quick quip or photo with friends and family far and wide, or are we actively seeking to connect and communicate across the wires? Are we looking for love — or likes — to support our often lonely selves? And does this spur feelings of competition and isolation when our words, thoughts, ideas and photos don’t receive that sense of value from those in the virtual word who we call “friends” and “followers”?

The flowers in a garden — the roses on a large rose bush — do not look at each other and compare their blooms.

The stars in the heavens do not gaze at each other and say … hey, she’s shining brighter than me!

So why, in a world where a “cursor” that flashes annoyingly on a white screen, do we feel the need to seek likes and hearts on a “social” media site?

I’m guilty. I have posted blogs and quips and checked back to see my stats. I have a certain number of followers of The Corner. And there are times that I wonder why I don’t have more — why so-and-so doesn’t follow me or comment or like my witty repartee. Why does so-and-so comment on another post and not mine? Why don’t my stats go up, even though I have all these so-called blog followers?

It’s not pretty. But I’m being honest here. It’s something I’ve done. And I don’t like it.

So this year, I’ve refocused my efforts to simply to Bloom where I’m planted. To post my thoughts, quips, blogs, photos and not look back. To not scroll through other social media posts and wonder why I don’t have the Friends or Likes that another person has. Comparing myself to the other Rose out there, doesn’t make me Bloom brighter, bigger or better. No, just the opposite. It usually makes me feel inadequate, uninteresting, and dull.

Mary, Mary quite contrary … how does your garden grow? With Silver Bells and Cockle Shells and Pretty Maids all in a row. – Mother Goose

Nowhere in that nursery rhyme is it suggested that the Silver Bells, Cockle Shells and Pretty Maids are in competition. Nowhere does it indicate one is prettier than the others or that Mary has any desire for that to be the case.

There’s freedom and joy when I simply Bloom where I’m planted and find satisfaction in what I’ve offered — letting go of the rest. When I post something — a blog or a status update or a photo — it’s simply something I want to share. It’s something I want to say or offer for others to take or leave. So what if only a few people discover or read it. I’ve said it. I’ve written it. I’ve put myself and my ideas out there.

Of course, maybe it’s just me who has longings for approval, comments, friends/followers and likes. Maybe it’s simply my own insecurity.  But, I’m discovering at 50+ that I really truly don’t care if I’m the biggest, boldest bloom in the garden. I just want to Bloom.

I’ve figured out how to do this on my yoga mat. Guess that’s why I selected the word Bloom for 2019. I need to reclaim focus on my own path, words and growth and stop glancing around at others.

If the drivers on the freeway figured that out, I could get to where I’m going a lot faster.

                                                                                                – Jenni