Sunday, October 30, 2016

'Twas the Night Before Halloween...

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday, but this year I’m fighting through it.  As a child, there was nothing more exciting than the anticipation of Trick or Treating.  Planning my costumes with extreme detail; picking which friends to go join me in candy-hunting; and finding the biggest pillowcase or bag to fill up with the maximum treats was the highlight of my year.  My brother and I would spill our bags at the end of the night and barter for the best of the best – which obviously was the Snickers bar.  It took me a long time to grow out of that phase.  In high school I went to haunted houses (even though they scared the crap out of me) and stayed up late watching scary Halloween movies.  Even in college, I continued my love of Halloween.  My friends and I dressed up in costumes, taking on the closest neighborhood to see if we could still get away with my favorite childhood ritual.

When I became a mother, Halloween took on a whole new meaning.  Somehow presenting the best Halloween experience equated with good parenting and an ideal childhood.  It was important to me to get it right.  I couldn’t wait to plan the perfect costumes for my boys.  I decorated the house like Martha Stewart was watching.  I volunteered for school Halloween parties.  I baked pumpkin-shaped cookies and gave the BEST candy on the block.  I loved taking a hayride deep into the pumpkin patch to pick our “family” of pumpkins, which would be named and then carved with care. Watching Halloween through my boys’ eyes gave me such pleasure and satisfaction.  I never considered that one day it would be over.
Shelby & Noah 2002

A little over nineteen years ago, I had my first child.  Through the congratulations and baby gifts, many people would say to me, “Enjoy every minute.  They grow up so fast.” Or “Don’t blink or he’ll be all grown up.”  I listened with half an ear, and unfortunately, I blinked. 

This week, as I turned on the Charlie Brown Halloween special, that I watched every year with my kids, it hit me hard.  I was sitting on my couch alone.  The childhood that I had, and the childhood I’ve created for my kids, is over.  I have no costumes to create.  Nobody will be home to enjoy my Halloween-themed dinner. I wallowed in empty-nester self-pity. 

 Last night, I shared these thoughts with my husband on our Saturday night date.  While I’d been digging deep into my bag of positivity to find the silver lining in Halloween, he had the answer.  He said the five magic words.  “I’ll carve pumpkins with you.”  I realized that my life is not over because my childhood is gone, or that my kids are grown.  I get to look forward to sharing new memories and traditions with my best friend.  Tomorrow is Halloween.  I will look forward to the neighborhood kiddies and bask in their excitement; I will take pleasure in passing out the “good” candy; and when I turn out my lights on Halloween eve, I am “simply positive” that I  will be grateful for the cherished memories of Halloweens past and excited for Halloween futures.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

It's a WONDERful Life

I think I fell of my axis a bit this past week.  I found myself a little impatient and moody, which is not how I would typically describe myself.  Nothing major was happening to impact my mood, so what was up?  Was I drinking too much caffeine? Was it something in the water?  Was it a full moon?  While I half laughed at that thought, it dawned on me there could be something to it.  Upon referring to my pal, Mr. Google, I found it could, in actuality, have something to do with the full moon.   October 16th was a full moon, which also collided with the point at which the moon is closest to Earth.  How long has the moon been impacting the cycle of life? How about always!  While it is fact that the moon affects things like the tide, lunar phases have also been said to impact things like reproduction, crime, medical outcomes, and sleep patterns.  There are skeptics that disagree.  Either way, it sparked a little bit of an existential journey. 

We are only a fraction of a speck of dust compared to the moon. The powers it may or may not have are irrelevant to the fact that this massive orb visits us and everyone around the world each and every night.  Someone on a farm in Kansas sees the same moon as someone in a gondola in Venice.  We all know this, but how often does it overwhelmingly, radically amaze you? The concept of space and gravity and time are truly, truly astonishing.  The billions of cells in our body that grow and change daily are nothing short of miraculous.  To think that we have an understanding of how we began and how incredible life is, is simply arrogant.  We are mere mortals.  Yes, we invented electricity and airplanes and the Internet, but the fact that we even exist is simply amazing.

As a child I would anxiously stay up late at night thinking existential thoughts like “why are we here?” and “what is the meaning of life?”  I think most of us did.  Why did we stop questioning, as we got older?  Maybe we realized we would never have the answers so we just decided to get on with the business of life.  Perhaps we’ve become arrogant and self-consumed?  Are we blocking our growth and potential by being closed-minded. Socrates famously said- “wisdom begins in wonder.”  Just think of the unleashed potential you have, that could spark from a few moments of being amazed.

When was the last time you were amazed?  I’m “simply positive” it’s time for you to be moonstruck.

Your homework this week is simply to slow down and be amazed.  I personally, am giving myself some homework.  A lot of people talk about having a Gratitude Journal.  I’m going to start a Wonderment Journal and write about the things that amaze me every day.  In doing so, I am sure it will set the intention for exploration and will set a deeper appreciation for my life and everything in and around it. 

Have a simply amazing week!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Are You Lost?

Warning – this week’s blog may get a little political.

Oprah gets a 10.  Ellen DeGeneres gets a 10.  Mother Theresa gets a 10.  On a scale of 1 through 10 on the role model scale, these women are perfect tens for me.  Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, however, gets a 25! I was blown away by her impassioned speech this week about the path our nation has taken in this electoral race (as well as the immoral Republican nominee).  In a dichotomous, triumphant display, Michelle Obama reminded America that we need to reprioritize our lives and make integrity a priority.  Her delivery impressed me.  She was powerful, yet kind; bold, yet gracious; emotional, yet strong.  Michelle Obama holds herself to  the highest standards of morality and will not stand for less from those around her.  We could all use a reminder to do the same.

Growing up, I do not remember our nation as such a hateful, misogynistic, selfish place.  We had higher standards for ourselves.  We said please and thank you.  We wrote letters in appreciation of a gift or gesture and remembered birthdays without emojis.  Our neighbors and extended families were sometimes one in the same.  We lived in homes, build on a foundation of stability and pride, rather than overextending ourselves with boats, vacation homes and sub-zero appliances. We had no credit card debt.  We took pride in our patriotism, our families and even our appearance.  There was actually a time when people flew on airplanes dressed in their best attire, instead of footie pajamas.  I think you get my point…we have lost our way.

We have grown into an oversexualized nation, where one’s appearance is held in higher regard than intelligence.  We communicate with fingers and electronics instead of eye contact and emotion. We help ourselves before helping others.  Doing the right thing and living a purposeful,  generous life is overlooked for the here and now.  I love it when our FLOTUS says “when they go low, we go high.”  Remind those around us and  BE the example. I am “simply positive” that if you are reading this blog, you are the example.   We owe it to ourselves and the the world we live in to do and be our best selves.

Your homework this week is to evaluate your moral compass.  Does it need a little tweaking?  If this were your last few minutes on this earth, would you feel proud of the way you’ve lived?  Think about your character.  Would you be a role model?  How do you interact with those that are “living below the standards of human decency.” Is it an opportunity to show compassion, educate or lead the way to better behavior? I am positive we all can do better, starting now.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What's New with You?

Every Thursday I volunteer at our local hospital.  One of my duties is to process new volunteers, entering their personal information into a database.  This week I came across not one, but TWO volunteers in their mid-to-late 80s.  My first thought was that it was impressive these two women were in such great health but then I realized there was something bigger in play.  Some people associate the elderly population as slow-moving, bingo-playing curmudgeons.  I will admit that when I think of the elderly I sometimes think of people who are very structured in their lives, sticking to routines and things they are comfortable with.  I haven’t thought of them as adventurous or open-minded…until now.  What these two women have in common is that they are willing to try something new.  Involving oneself in a new environment, meeting new people and tackling new jobs or tasks can be daunting for anyone, let alone someone in their later years.   Trying new things and being open to possibility is imperative to growth and I’m “simply positive” we are never too old to try.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.  It might be scary, it should be challenging and at the very best, it will make you feel uncomfortable.  The reward of your effort, however, is always worth it.  This year has been one of growth for me.  It has made me feel all of the above – scared, challenged, uncomfortable, but the result is that I’m learning new things about myself. I’m learning what I’m capable of doing and I’m learning to enjoy the adventure of trying new things.  I’ve tried Nadi Yoga to get in tune with my chakras; I started this blog; I’ve put myself out there and made new friends well into my 40s; I even tried replacing my Grande nonfat latte with a Misto (crazy, right!?)  The biggest thing I tried this year was finding my inner goddess.  That is maybe a little crazier than the Misto but here is what it meant for me.  Finding my inner goddess was about discovering what is holding me back from growing.  What is holding me back from doing the things that I want to do and what is holding me back from finding my purpose.  I was lucky enough to be able to go on an amazing weekend journey of the minds called the Girls Goddess Weekend (check out It was everything that makes me uncomfortable.  Traveling alone to Miami, I would soon meet dozens of new people and would open up and share my feelings and my deep-rooted fears.   As overwhelming as it was to embrace all of these things, it led me to so much positivity.  It unlocked me in so many ways and I’m so proud of myself trying something new and begin open to change and growth.

Your homework this week is to try something new every day this week.  Reflect on the journey.  Was it easy for you?  What was the result of the change?  Did you enjoy it?  Did it make you uncomfortable?  I guarantee the change won’t kill you.  Some suggestions: drive a new way to the office, listen to a different station on your commute to school, cook (or order) something you’ve never tried before, ask someone for a coffee date that you’ve enjoyed speaking with but never socialized with before, try a new exercise routine, go see a movie outside of your normal genre OR change a behavior.  Try a new approach or attitude to an everyday encounter.  I can't wait to hear about the newer you!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Happy New-You Year!

Summer is over, and let’s face it – it was AWESOME.  As much as I love the sunshine, splashing in the ocean, my chocolate-dipped cone from Dairy Queen and flip-flops, I am not mourning the fact that it is over.  I celebrate the summer for what it was and I’m moving on.

There is just something about fall.  Poetically, I love the smell of apples and cinnamon burning on the stove; I love the crunch of autumn-colored leaves under my feet; and I love taking a hayride into the pumpkin patch to find the perfect one.  I also love the simple things.  I love wrapping up in a sweater and pulling on a cute pair of boots; I love picking Honey Crisp apples from the orchard (I really go for the donuts); I love an occasional pumpkin spice latte and I love catching the new fall lineup on TV.  Fall just makes me smile.

You know what else I love in the fall?  I love the first day of school. I love Halloween.  I love Thanksgiving and I love New Year’s.  Yes, that’s right -my New Year’s celebration is in September.  Tonight marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.   It is one of the only Jewish holidays I “celebrate” and hold sacred.  We eat apples and honey to represent a sweet new year.  We do not make resolutions or promises.  It is not a religious ritual for me, but a calendar alert for self-reflection, growth and sweet intentions.  It’s the refresh button in my journey of moving closer to being my best self. 

Next week is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. It is the time Jews atone for their sins and make amends with those we have hurt.  We ask ourselves how we can do better and promise ourselves to do so.  I do not participate in this holiday by going to shul or fasting.  I do not promise a higher entity to do better. I have never understood why someone would wait an entire year to take stock of one’s self.  I have never understood why we can’t slow down enough to do this every single day.  Evaluate every day.  Apologize every day.  Try harder every day.  Any day can be your “New Year’s” – your intent for starting anew.  We don’t need to hold on to yesterday, or last month, or our misdeeds.  On this day I reaffirm my internal vow to continue to make a daily practice of reflection and growth.  I am not perfect, nor am I striving for perfection.  I am just “simply positive” that it’s important to try to do our best, be our best, and give our best – whatever that is every day. 

Your homework this week is to take a few moments to think about your day and the interactions you have had.  Where did you go wrong?  What did you do right?  What could you do better?  How did your actions affect others good or bad?  What intention can you set for the start of tomorrow?  How would it affect your life if you practiced this way of thinking every day?  Any day can be your “New Year’s” – your intent for starting anew.