“The Happy Ending” That Changed Me Forever

rape

It had been a rough five months leading up to that warm August day in 2016. I had been unemployed and living on a tiny savings and then in that last month before getting my job, I relied on the kindness of my landlord and the Jewish Community in Boston, while I waited for a job to come through. Which it did, finally, in July.

From July 19th to that warm August day,  I thanked the universe for the gift of being able to pay rent and to get up each morning and do work I loved. I had landed a job as a account manager at a hip marketing agency in downtown Boston helping teachers learn Microsoft technology so that they could be both better teachers and could meet students in their native technology comfort zone.

I felt free. Alive. Finally comfortable living in the Boston area, which was still a new town for me after living in Colorado and California for so many years. While still foreign, the new job gave me more confidence to explore the city and to try new things. Perhaps, being cocooned in Boulder for so many years had made me less afraid of the dangers that lurk “out there”. But my new company was filled with people like myself: active, creative and passionate about living life to its fullest. I let myself trust and believe in the goodness of the world and in the city that seemed to embrace me.

Why, Boston?

Before moving to Boston, I suffered what seemed like an endless barrage of tragedies: surviving three brain tumors and three subsequent surgeries, losing my identical twin (and what felt like my entire world) and then only a few short years later having to undergo a radical hysterectomy due to advanced disease, before the age of 40, leading to the inability to ever have my own biological children. It was also during this time, that I loved and lost another important person in my life-my significant other of five years. The ending of our relationship was the impetus for my move from Boulder, CO to the Boston area.

That Day

That warm August day, the day I decided to find a local massage therapist to alleviate some of the post-surgical back pain, was a pivotal one for me. I had waited many months to be able to do something nice for myself. There were days in those months before I got my job, where if I was able to eat one healthy balanced meal, that was an accomplishment. So, you can imagine, how proud and excited I felt having the money I needed to give myself something a little extra.

Having gone to massage therapists for more than 25 years, I was no stranger to the licensing process or questions to ask the therapist before going to a session. That day, I researched local massage therapists in Somerville and found Karma Bodywork. I read the testimonials from women, I looked up the therapist’s license number and then I spoke to him on the phone. It all seemed to line up with all my previous experiences. Sure, he was a new massage therapist trying to get his practice off the ground, but, I had gone to massage therapists before in similar situations. Had I not spoken to him on the phone, I know I wouldn’t have gone. I would have decided going to a home office wasn’t necessarily the safest move. But he was disarming on the phone. He spoke clinically about Swedish massage. He also told me he was Jewish and from NY (two things we had in common). Growing up in a tight-knit Jewish community in NY, the people had always been good to one another. Was it naïve to think I was safe?  This is the question that has plagued me since that day, as it plagues all survivors.  And yet implicit in asking the question is the notion that somehow it is the victim’s fault. And, I can say with certainty I have zero liability.

That warm August day, I breathed in deeply as I walked from my condo to his apartment building only a few blocks away. I didn’t expect him to be waiting outside. And I felt a bit taken aback that he seemed to recognize me. But, of course there is Facebook and no one is really anonymous anymore. Still, the little hairs on my neck stood up. This is the part of the story, where I, like so many  survivors, wish I could turn back time because I would have paid attention to those hairs and quickly walked the opposite direction. But, I had waited so many months. And he said all the right things on the phone. And the testimonials from other women seemed positive. Maybe those little hairs were wrong.

When he greeted me he had an unassuming, gentle, hipster style. Wearing a red knit cap, a black fitted t-shirt and jeans he looked like any other Somerville hipster. He led me to his apartment. We sat at this kitchen table. He explained his approach to Swedish massage. He asked me if I had an issue with thigh work because it was intimate. I still had no inkling of what was to come. The alarm bells didn’t go off completely until he commanded me to take my underwear off. What had been optional was now an order. And well, dear readers the rest is a terrible blur.

A blur that is no one’s business. Or it shouldn’t be. Except, my rape and the actions I have taken since it happened have made my private parts very public. My pain and suffering have become critical to the indictment of this man on rape charges and have led to three other women coming forward with almost identical experiences.

It led me to tell my new employers that I was raped and needed to go to the police station to file a report. It led to a drastic change in how they looked and treated me afterwards.

In one instant, I went from Jenna the competent, fun and capable manager to a rape victim. Do you know what it is like to have people you barely know picturing you being violated? To know that my own bosses now had this visual? To know that I was and would never again be just the woman they hired?

But, that wasn’t even the worst part. It would get so much worse and my life would become unrecognizable. The constant flashbacks throughout my day, seeing my rapist at the Dollar Store across the street from my home and at the café only a few doors down from there. Knowing he was only a few blocks away and that I would never feel safe. That he could pop up anywhere at any time. Having to take Ubers to work for fear of seeing him on the T and then being fearful of male Uber drivers because what if they too turned out to be predators and I again trusted one of them to my detriment?

It led to the loss of several female friends who implied that I had no discernment skills and that I should never have gone in the first place. “Perhaps, now, I’d finally learn my lesson not to trust at all.”

It led to me becoming a recluse and prisoner in my own home and eventually to me leaving the state of Massachusetts.

It led to constant flashbacks of his hands and his mouth and the look on his face when he followed me to Whole Foods after the attack.

Night and day became undistinguishable. Flashbacks, nightmares. What was the difference?

This is what the court wants to hear. The impact the rape has on the survivor. And this blog is an attempt to do just that.

I am irrevocably changed in ways that have made my footsteps heavier in this world. A world where even going to a professional massage therapist has life altering consequences. A world that asks women to protect themselves at all times from men and yet there is nothing in our society that prevents men from raping in the first place. A world where the right to a fair trial makes the trial process unbearable for the victim as it draws out over years forcing the victim to live in limbo and at the mercy of what is just and right for the man who has violated us.  Our power stripped from us first by our rapist and again by the justice system. We are the faceless, nameless ones who have to try to go on with our lives, while our rapists wait for what’s fair- FOR THEM. And then there’s our day in court, where we will be called to testify about the violation of our bodies and souls to a room full of strangers where we talk about our vaginas and breasts while big, hot tear drops fall from our eyes and we tell ourselves over and over again he can’t hurt us anymore.

That will be my experience soon, this November, when I am called to testify ( please God give me strength).

I Want to Believe

Besides writing about how this rape has impacted me, I want more than anything to get back to the woman I was. The woman who believes in the goodness of people. I want to meet her on that warm summer day two years ago and tell her she didn’t do anything wrong. That it’s ok she didn’t run and then froze on the massage table out of sheer terror. I want her and every other woman to stop perpetuating rape culture where women are to blame and to instead take issue with the thing that makes it possible to violate another human being. I want her to know that her new normal is ok too and that I am in awe of her strength to stand up to this man and to help stop him from hurting other women even though there have been more victims since her attack.

And I want to tell those other women. I am so sorry. My heart is with you. We will see justice. There will be a reckoning. But we will have to be strong and speak the unspeakable. I promise we can do this ladies. I promise these scars will fade.

 

Jenna

 

 

Advertisements

How to cultivate compassion without resorting to ‘Pity Porn’

 

 

As human beings we have a genuine fascination with tragedies that befall other people. We seek these stories out in the media we consume through our newsfeeds, movies, television shows and online searches. Like hungry moths to the flame of human fragility and suffering we open that latest “Baby killed in hot summer car” article. But what are we hoping to feel when we read this? Perhaps we have lived through something like this and we are seeking connection to others who have lived through a similar experience. Perhaps for that one moment in time, we are captivated by the sheer unimaginability (I’m officially making this a word) of that loss, or level of pain, and we want to stand for a moment in their shoes and then be grateful we can take those shoes off and go back to the normalcy of our lives. Taking those shoes off feels awfully liberating doesn’t it? And social media has made it even more accessible to partake in putting on and taking off these shoes. But there is a very sad thing happening to all of us as a result of this curiosity and constant availability of tragic stories–a growing third-person sympathy addiction, which I’ve dubbed ‘pity porn’.

I call it ‘pity porn’ because porn is something we watch to get us in the mood to feel and act the way the actual people who are having sex do. It tricks us into thinking we ourselves are having sex just by the sheer voyeurism of the experience. And while we might reenact this porn in our own bedrooms with ourselves, it is not the same as being the person actually having that spontaneous moment with another living human being. And if there is another human being present while we are watching this, the experience of watching others shouldn’t and can’t be the only way to ignite the passion of connection and spontaneous passion. I call it ‘pity’ because pity is in essence feeling sorry for someone but not genuinely having empathy or the capacity for empathy.

In modern times, we substitute living lives ourselves for the watching of others living lives. This “watcher society” we live in stimulates those tiny friends inside our brains called “mirror neurons” which activate our empathy center and pain centers. The danger of this is that:

  • We reduce our genuine ability to feel our own feelings about our own lives
  • We reduce our genuine desire to live our own lives or feel our own pain after we’ve dosed ourselves on the tragedies of others.
  • We use others tragedies as a way to access our own emotions because we no longer can have empathy orgasms on our own.

And the worst part? We actually reduce our ability to empathize, because empathy requires being genuinely present and available and not over-identifying with another’s experiences. It’s not self-referential at all. We don’t have to walk in another’s shoes to make a space for their suffering. In fact, we don’t have to make it about ourselves at all. Yet, our experience as watchers, makes it easy to distance ourselves from the tragedy and the actual every day life of the people who experience them. It also makes it easy to feel relief when the tragedy doesn’t befall us as well as use judgment to defend against feeling pain over that tragedy. It’s a lot easier to blame the rape victim for example, then sit with how it makes you feel scared, vulnerable and angry that such violence occurs and could happen to you or someone you care deeply about.

We post empty words on Facebook “thoughts and prayers” and for us, the show is over. The article has been read. We’ve done something. And we tell ourselves that tragedy is something that can and should happen to others as well as something we should be able to “try on” when we are feeling the need to connect (but not too much).

And what of the people who can’t take their shoes off? This is their new reality.  This is their new normal. How can we be truly loving and present in real life for others when it’s so easy to click on some other new version of reality?  My fear, dear ones, is that we are creating entire generations of people who can’t handle real life or develop genuine tolerance for distress or true intimacy and connection. And we are harming them more than any life-made tragedy because we are giving them the tools to be half alive without the capacity to deal with the full magnitude of life as it happens.

“Thoughts and prayers” are wonderful. The intention behind them is beautiful. But so is leaving your phone on at all hours of the night for friends who are grieving from that terrible tragedy. So is volunteering at a crisis hotline, or offering a meal to a homeless person, or going to the place of said tragedy and volunteering to help. Taking action is not posting on social media. It’s the opposite of sitting safely behind a computer or smart phone. It’s messy and it’s gritty and it’s right now, in person.

 

 

 

Go be alive everyone. Risk your heart breaking by being with someone who is suffering. Be fully there, because the pain really is worth the love and connection and wholeness. 

Many blessings,

Jenna

 

 

 

How to Go from “Help Me, I’m Alive” To “Heck Yeah, I’m Alive!”

pexels-photo-573238

Sitting with the uncertainty and fragility of life this morning and I wondered if it’s death we are really afraid of or the suffering that comes with being “Truly Alive”?

If you are reading this, then you (my friend) are alive. Congratulations! We are here together, both in a manner of speaking and conceivably at the same points in time. So, “alive” in this sense means we are both breathing air, we have thoughts, our hearts are pumping blood, we are housed in bodies. But, what is it to be “Truly Alive”?

 In the answering of this question, it is the meaning of being alive that speaks to me and the dance between life and death we do throughout our human journey to avoid the suffering that comes from being what I call “Truly Alive”. You see, there is a spectrum of aliveness that ranges from the physicality of life: breath, thoughts, heartbeat, consciousness and being housed within a body, to being “Truly Alive”, which encompasses more than the physicality of living, but also the enjoyment, vibrancy and spiritual commitment to living in each moment fully and completely. No one knows this difference better than trauma survivors whose dance between, “Help me, I’m alive” to “Heck, yeah, I’m ALIVE!” is a lifelong one.  Here’s a secret no one tells you when you’ve been affected by trauma: committing to being Truly Alive is the key to becoming Truly Alive.

pexels-photo-207962

 

For at least three years after Alyssa, my identical twin died, there were many, many, days where I felt hollowed out from grief. Days when just breathing hurt and having to be alive an actual insult. I would stare out of my eyes and see nothing. I would float from my bed to the bathroom on non-existent legs or feet. Nothing felt real because nothing was all that existed. It was, as I later described it to friends, as if a nuclear holocaust, had happened overnight in my own life and yet the world had gone on replete with blue skies and chirping birds. During this time, and because I had no one to teach me how to grieve properly, I took my half-alive self to a hospital and I allowed myself to succumb to labels for a small respite from the world. It was also during this time that I developed one very critical promise to myself. That even if I didn’t believe I would ever be Truly Alive again that I would commit to believing it existed.  I didn’t know then, that committing to being Truly Alive at that precise moment was my lifeline back, or that feeling dead was part of the spiritual journey of grieving.  It was also part of healing and yet there was no language for what had happened. No one could tell me I wasn’t crazy, and yet to my aching soul, the bigger crime was that no one could teach me how to find my way back to being Truly Alive.

It has been a twelve-year journey and along the way, here are a few steps I’ve taken.  If you are on that road now, perhaps they will support you too:

Be willing to feel (even in small doses):

Part of being Truly Alive is being willing to feel EVERYTHING. That doesn’t mean you have to feel it at the same decibel each time, but you do have to find your way back to your body long enough to register the “alive” part. This means you will suffer. And if you are afraid of suffering, that in and of itself, will be part of the healing. Something I’ve learned along the way, is that surrendering to the pain helps the suffering part immensely.. The more I tried to suppress the pain from my childhood, my sister’s death and later on the loss of my reproductive organs, the longer it took me to get back to being Truly Alive. No judgment of course. Even understanding that in and of itself is a big lesson. And like so many before me, it took many years to learn how to feel in a way that was safe for me and I spent several of those years numbing out through sleep, television and the occasional red vine. Others numb out through substances,  sex and even codependent relationships. This happens because we often don’t have the tools or understanding of how to build a container large enough inside of ourselves to hold the emotional pain of the trauma. It’s why we need love and support from people who understand and can help us with this container. For me, that container has been slowly built from using tools including:

  • Journaling
  • Sensorimotor psychotherapy
  • Working with horses
  • Hiking
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Collaging
  • Painting
  • Comedy
  • Inspirational music
  • Tetris ( I swear, this one still works for moments when I’m needing to reground)

P.S. All of these tools are ones I still use both regularly and with rigor. You may find others that bring you comfort and help you get back to being Truly Alive

Get back into your body (even in small doses):

What does your coffee mug feel like in your hands in the morning? What does the steam from the coffee look like as it rises from that same mug? How do you feel holding the mug? These are the subtle yet powerful ways we can come back to our bodies and be here now.  Yet noticing these things is part of mindfulness training and like all skills you should always start small and not expect mastery overnight. In fact, many people recovering from trauma feel unsafe in their bodies due to panic attacks and the bodily sensations of agitation and overwhelm, which can be painful, frightening and unpredictable. Mindfulness requires the ability to track body sensations first and is best done in the care of a trauma-informed therapist.

Love the Toast, No Matter What (I swear this metaphor will make sense in a sec)

toast-toaster-food-white-bread

Healing from trauma means being gentle with yourself at all times. It means noticing when your inner critic is attacking you for having a flashback at work and you find yourself crying after a meeting (yes, this is autobiographical). It means, allowing your anger and grief a consistent place to vent on a page or on a couch, when the unfairness of what has happened comes knocking. It means applauding every step you take to be Truly Alive and noticing those steps with some serious pride. Being alive is just as much of a blessing as being Truly Alive. It’s just the difference between a piece of toast and a piece of toast with melted butter and jam. Celebrate the toast no matter what, but know that the butter and jam are possible too and that you’ve tasted that before even if you didn’t realize it or remember it now.

 

With love to you all,

 

Jenna

 

 

 

 

It was the Week Before Christmas and…Fired

 

snow-man-winter-cap-cold-39902Sometimes writing feels like an exercise in self-validation and at its worst, when I’m pulling words from my body like the last bit of flesh from a chicken carcass, a desperate cry for salvation. That is how it has felt these past six months. I’ve had nothing to give to the page; my every muscle and thought consumed entirely to my job as a director at a toxic nonprofit (is there any other kind?) and to what to do, if and when, it ends.

Knowing something is coming isn’t the same as living it.  And I knew my first month that the company wasn’t doing well. Staff meetings were devoted entirely to talking about revenue and tightening our belts. And then there was Jane, my first boss. She was something out of an 80s movie with her shoulder pads, pointy flats and steamroller personality. “Working Girl” certainly wasn’t lost on her or the notion that to have true power you have to mow everyone down within a three-second radius.  I became her very own personal punching bag when I didn’t conform to her way of doing things and as narcissists are wont to do, she sought to bring me down by belittling me in public every chance she could. It got so bad, I actually began crying at work to my boss’s counterpart Ally.  This was followed by backdoor conversations with HR and Jane’s boss (Jane #2) who seemed eager to move Jane out of the way and help me succeed at what I realize in hindsight was, and is, the Titanic except I was so blinded by their mission and my own mission to be of service and to help them turn things around, that I had no idea what lay in store only a few short months after what I’ve dubbed the “crying debacle”.

Keep in mind, I had just moved from Boston to San Francisco to start over with no help from this nonprofit. I footed the bill entirely. And to make matters worse, I was also escaping a rape that happened only four blocks from my home by a massage therapist (during a massage) who had been indicted but was still roaming free and popping up like “Where’s Waldo” in his creepy red knit cap everywhere I went. Yes, he literally does wear a red cap. I can’t make this shit up. 

I felt the threat of job loss at the end of October when Jane #2, my first boss’s boss and now supervisor, implied that if I didn’t produce some magic cure via content marketing for the financial crisis that had since revealed itself in full regalia that there’d be no place for me within the new org structure.  Or maybe that was the bug-eyed consultant they brought on board or a combination of both of them singing an early-warning song I didn’t want to hear.  In case you’re wondering, financial crisis likes to dress up in purple-and for the record this is my least favorite color. If you are going to punch someone in the gut right before the holidays the bruise you leave should not be purple. Make it “rainbow bright” colored; a nice Tutti-fruitti-get-your booty- out- of- our- company color. Something I can cover up with a nice drug store bought rouge since that’s now the budget I’m on.

I’ve gone through all the emotions and mental machinations of being “fired”. I am choosing to see this as being set free.  From day one, it was a toxic place and yet I chose to give my full devotion to bringing love and transformation. I’m such a monster I even conducted mindfulness meditation sessions for the marketing team. And up until the end of September, I believed it possible. And then Jane’s demotion happened, Ally saw her window to move up, and my existence at the organization was called into question as were my abilities and job function. And then, there were the covert moments of being tested to see if I was the next Joe (another coworker who they’d decided wasn’t performing) or if I could be the next Jane and frankly I wasn’t asked if I was willing to be these things…it was absolutely crazy-making.

At the end of the day, if your company doesn’t understand what you do and they are in financial crisis, there’s not much you can do to “prove your worth” and the more they put me in this position the sicker my body became ultimately forcing me into bed with the flu and early stage pneumonia. When my birthday came and not one person on my team acknowledged it, I had further proof that I’d landed in the wrong place. I think about that day of my birthday when I told my coworkers in muted tones how much it hurt me that I didn’t even get a card or an acknowledgement. Maybe I had no business telling my team members how much this hurt, but if I’ve learned nothing over the past five years, it’s that bottling things up doesn’t do me any favors either. And how the heck will people learn to be more genuine and loving if I don’t model the way through compassionate honesty? Did I make Ally feel uncomfortable? Ok. So, what? I’m tired of being afraid of who I am. Of not loving myself enough.

I have no more answers to the questions that batter against my brain to no avail. It doesn’t really matter. To quote Mateo Sol

“The secret to operating smoothly in relationships with other people is not about getting them to accept us as we are, but having so much self-acceptance for ourselves that we accept the way they see us.”

pexels-photo-556665

 

I am once again trying to figure out my next move. Applying to jobs, networking and hoping like hell that damaged voice inside of me just gives me one day of respite; just long enough to rock it back to sleep so that I can love myself into a new beginning.

Sending love to you all.

xoxoxox

Jenna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cheese Stands Alone

cheese-alone“I’m waiting to become the farmer in the next round”, said no child ever I thought to myself the other day, as I watched children singing and playing The Farmer in the Dell in a nearby park. Like most playful things in life it made me wonder about the ending of the game when the single child left in the middle of the circle is designated as the “Cheese” and everyone sings “The Cheese Stands Alone. The Cheese Stands Alone. High Ho the Derry O the Cheese Stands Alone.” Supposedly, the consolation for that child is that in the next round they get to be the farmer. And as we all know the farmer is at the top of the life-choice food chain because ultimately after the farmer picks his wife it goes all the way down from the wife to the child to the nurse to the cow to the dog to the cat to the rat and to the last piece of the covetous puzzle-the cheese. And as we all know cheese can’t pick a friend or mate or even someone as prey. And so like most inanimate objects it just stands there. Alone.

And as random as this blog post is I vote for “The Cheese”. I’m standing up for solitary pieces of cheese everywhere and saying, “Cheese is Awesome”. “Be the Cheese”. Stand alone. Or don’t stand at all because you can’t. And that’s ok.

And also, I vote for a new version of this song and game where the Cheese is the farmer and it picks a cracker as a mate and the cracker picks a slice of toast as a friend and the toast picks peanut butter who picks jelly as his mate and they all live in harmony inside of a wooden picnic basket where no one stands alone-especially the cheese.

 

This is Your Awakening

images

The Awakening
(Author unknown)

A time comes in your life when you finally get…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying and blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening.

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you learn not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than your heart’s desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

The Funniest Singles Ad Ever

funny

“I grew up in a shoe box at the bottom of a lake in England with 17 siblings. My parents were two halibuts and I always felt like I was adopted because I didn’t have fins or flippers. But I knew I was loved and that was all that mattered. I have both my parents in my fish tank at home.

I’m looking for someone who can accept me for me, someone who sees beyond the barnacles and sea weed and who can open themselves up to a splashy life with a half-fish man. I can offer a hot tub and low mercury content.”

Michael from Mill Valley, thank YOU for making me laugh and for reminding me not to take this life thing too seriously. Happy holiday everyone and happy Sunday.

 

Love,

Jenna