Author Archives: Jessica

Resolve


‪I will not – in the face of loneliness or angry, ego-driven people or the jadedness of others or the feeling that it is all passing by too fast – give in to rage or despair. ‬

‪I will be lovely and understanding and calm and hopeful and generous and elegant and nice to everyone I meet, because that is, above all, who I am. ‬

‪My job is to enhance others, not drag them down. I will work hard and love with everything I have and give myself up to hope and be grateful for whatever is given to me.‬ 

Seeking a sense of direction


I have several ideas for projects that I think would be fun and interesting and potentially lead to something sellable or publishable … and I have absolutely no motivation to make them happen. I just daydream about them.

I don’t know if I need a life coach or a counselor, but I’m starting with counseling. Because I also think I have issues managing personal relationships. I’m far too dependent on other people (and possibly bourbon) to make my life fun and interesting and lovable. And I think both my upbringing and my former marriage have made it both difficult for me to communicate emotions and led me to expect derision when I finally do.

My behavior is making the people I care about most unhappy, and that’s not acceptable.

I found out from a colleague I get six free counseling sessions through my workplace. You can gain a lot of insight in six conversations with an impartial stranger.

So yeah, I’m gonna get a little help finding my sense of direction and purpose.

Correspondence & Beryl Markham


I wrote an e-mail to an old friend today and decided to share part of it as a blog post:

If I could afford it, I’d buy some sort of rustic vehicle that could house two dogs and me for a year or so, dump most of my belongings at Goodwill, and drive across America, stopping and talking to people as I went. I’d visit every state. I’d take countless photographs. And I’d write about it, in the (possibly vain) hope that people might be interested in reading it. 

And then I’d go to Paris. And do the same thing. 

And then Ireland. And Scotland. And New Zealand. And the Czech Republic. And Kenya. And South Africa. And Zanzibar. And any place. Any place other than where I am. 

But I can’t. Well, maybe. I should think about it. Maybe there’s a way. I could sell everything I own instead of dumping it at Goodwill. I could trade in my car (though I’m not sure it’s worth much.) Maybe I could get creative. 

I’m observing a weekend of radio silence. Starting when I go to work this evening at 5, I’m placing my phone in airplane mode and I’m spending the weekend (the time that I’m not working, which isn’t all that much, really) reading and writing and not talking to anyone. And not web surfing or scrolling through social media. 

That was the e-mail. I am indeed – shortly after posting this – taking a 48-or-so-hour hiatus from the Internet.

I’ve been reading a memoir written by a mid-20th-century pilot named Beryl Markham. I’m now rereading I because once wasn’t enough. But I took these things away from the first reading:

1) A cowardly life is not a well-lived one, and I must be braver if I’m going to look back on my life without regret in the future.

2) I wish we all still wrote letters. I hate e-mail, and I hate texting even more. Texting in particular has made me weaker, more concerned with instant gratification and a general pest to those I love.

3) There is no substitute for elegant prose.

4) It’s possible to love both another human being and one’s independence, but I think we’ve made it very hard.

5) Beryl was always alone. I’d rather not do any of the above adventures alone, but the only person I’ve ever met who is worthy of all that isn’t entirely available. So maybe I’ll just have to suck it up. See #1.

I want to be …

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I use the Notes app on my phone a lot to jot down things that come to my head when I’m out and about and don’t have a notebook. And then I forget about them. So it’s fun to go back and reread what I’ve written. This is one I found from just a little over a month ago. Such a small amount of time, but I’d forgotten all about it.

“I want to be …

An artist

A storyteller

A noticer of things

Alert to the everyday extraordinary

A philosopher

Full of grace and kindness

Responsible

Elegant

Sexy

A doer … and a dreamer.”

(What I long for at age 37 doesn’t seem all that different from what I longed for at age 22. A little closer to being all that, I hope, but I’m not sure the journey ever ends … or ever should.)

Be a favorite of your favorite people.

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I just had this thought: “If there aren’t an equal number of people saying bad things about you as there are saying good things, you’re not being entirely authentic.”

I may have the proportions wrong. But this got me thinking.

You can never please everyone. It’s taken me a long time to grasp this.

And here’s something that I’ve found extremely liberating: I know that there are people who don’t think highly of me. That’s fine. You know why? Because I don’t think highly of them either. The ones that come to mind are, in fact, terrible people.

Petty. Ruled by their ego. Materialistic. Disingenuous. Liars. Dull.

Really REALLY boring, in fact. To me. Not to others – and that’s good, too. We all deserve our champions. We all deserve someone in our lives who thinks we’re the bees’ knees – preferably multiple people. Everyone deserves loyalty.

But I don’t give a fuck what the other people think. Because at the end of the day … EVERY day … the people I admire most also admire me.

I want to make it clear, I’m not being snotty. This is not sour grapes. This is real. This is important. It’s a revelation to me, after 37 years of trying to please everyone.

I can’t. I won’t. And that’s okay. Because when I look at my life and my sphere of influence, this is what happens in my brain:

– I know (and love) who I am.

– I know (and love) that I can and want to always improve.

– I know (and love) a lot of wonderful people who …

– know (and love) me.

– I know (and love) that I can’t please everyone.

– And I know (and love) that I can stop trying.

– I know (and love) that some people won’t like me. Often because of the things I (and others) love about me.

You can’t go through life telling people to fuck off. That’s not nice or productive or maybe even sane, really. But you can recognize what matters … WHO matters … to you personally. THAT is your real “sphere of influence.”

I am a favorite of my favorite people.

That might be my new life motto: “Always be a favorite of your favorite people.”

Don’t Let the Dog Urine (or the Ants) Get You Down

I came home the other night after an 11-hour work day in reasonably good spirits, took my dogs out, poured a glass of wine, walked into the bedroom and found a puddle of dog urine on my bed. 

This has started to occur with some frequency.

And for a few minutes, I started to melt down. Every self-pitying thought about coping with things alone, and how no one ever takes care of me, and how my life (along with my apartment) is a fucking mess, etc. came flooding into my brain and I sat on the edge of the bed and cried. And then I rolled into a ball (away from the puddle) and lay there wishing my life were different. 

And then I went through a litany in my head of all my failings, of everything I need to get done that I haven’t done because I’m always too busy or too sad or too happy or too lonely or too something. 

And I lay there for a few minutes longer wishing someone would just take care of all these things for me. 

And then … I got my shit together, and started thinking of very practical solutions to my problems which brought that downward spiral of thoughts to a halt. 

Everything I don’t like about my life is my responsibility, and I can change it. They’re small things anyway, because most of the time, I rather love my life. Yes, I wish I had a clean, antless apartment all the time and dogs that always behaved and no debt and a car that didn’t make annoying noises all the time. 

But I don’t really want someone to take care of everything for me. It’s my life. All mine. I wake up in the morning and every decision about my day is mine to make. 

This is not a small thing. I feel like I’ve always put myself in positions where I was relieved of the ability to make choices. (That’s oversimplified and sounds rather dramatic, but it will take another blog post to write about what I feel about freedom vs security and the ability to make choices about one’s life. Next time, maybe.)

And it’s all temporary. I won’t always work so much. I won’t always live paycheck to paycheck and have a ridiculous amount of debt. I won’t always have dogs. (I kid. I love those monsters.) I’ll eventually find a guy who is smart and funny and loving and respects my autonomy who isn’t already married or a work of fiction. 

Or awkward. Or predatory. Which seems to be mostly what I attract. One or the other. Possibly both. 

It’s a journey. If nothing else, my life is teaching me patience. And I was inordinately proud of myself for jumping off that train of negativity. If I can consistently do that, I’ll be fine. 

Contemplating the Nature of Love

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I don’t think I ever in my life felt more vulnerable than I do right now.

It’s an uncomfortable fog of thoughts swirling around in my brain, one that never seems to cease, even in my sleep.

But if it coalesces into a coherent treatise on the nature of love, I suppose it will be worth it.

I have been on a mission over the past two years to understand love better and love more selflessly in the process. To love as I want to be loved – not with a grasping possessiveness but with generosity. Not because I want to gain something but because I want to give.

It’s hard in part not because I’m naturally possessive (I don’t think I am) but because love is inextricably tied up in our society with gender relations and power and pride. Despite the Judeo-Christian ethics largely dictating American culture that give lip service to the notion of love as a generous act, we don’t treat it that way.

We are a grasping, materialistic, power-hungry people. And we will likely become more so under the influence of our current leadership.

And so love often becomes a power play, more about control and having than generosity and giving. That model perpetuates because it’s the only model some of us have ever known, and it rarely occurs to us to question it.

But I’m questioning it. I’ve had an excellent example to follow – a friend and mentor and possibly the first person I’ve ever met who is entirely capable of selfless love.

I haven’t always shown gratitude for his lessons. I’m stubborn and proud and rarely good at being vulnerable. And perhaps this post is as much a love letter and thank you note as it is an essay on the nature of love. Because he has always been patient with me. And as a result, he has taught me greater patience and self-confidence and compassion.

Friendship, truth, loyalty.

I falter, often, but change takes time. I consider myself something of an existential philosopher, constantly considering how best to live this one lovely life I’m given.

Love has always stood at the center of that life, the most important thing. But I’m trying to consider it in very different terms these days. As something I give without asking anything in return. As something I can experience without the physical and often arbitrary manifestations of it.

I’ll continue contemplating it and working on it and writing about it. It’s good, meaningful work, and I need some good, meaningful work in my life.

Tomorrow Will Be Better

My quote for today comes from Maria Popova – something she said in a post about a graceful and loving post-break-up letter Simone De Beauvoir wrote

“To give space when what one most yearns for is closeness, that is both the great test and great tragedy of love.”

I can’t help but feel a little bleak today. So I’m indoors with my dogs and a book. Veronica Franco: Poems and Selected Letters

It will get better. I have plans. Embryo plans, but plans nonetheless. Hard work is the answer to any kind of grief. And I worked hard today. 

I’ll work harder and finally accomplish something. “At last I can start suffering and write that symphony.”

I need a life that makes me excited to get up in the morning. 

Not a very insightful post, really, and probably more than a bit self-centered, especially in the wake of Manchester. 

I’m grateful for a lot of things. Friendship. Truth. Solitude. Books. Dogs. My beautiful brain. A paycheck. Two of them, in fact. Love, from a distance or otherwise. 

And tomorrow will be better. 

Do What You Can

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In that last post, I quoted a line from a book by Shauna Niequist. There’s a part of that quote – the part about not fast-forwarding yourself into a future you haven’t yet earned – that I’ve been considering a lot in the past several days.

There are a lot of things that I want in my life that I don’t yet have. And while I fully believe I’m the only one who can make things happen in my life, I hadn’t exactly thought of it in terms of “earning” my future.

I think I should start asking myself that question as part of my morning and evening journaling. What can you do today to earn the future you want? What did you do today that puts you one step closer to that future? Does the way you live your life now make you worthy of the future you desire?

I feel like that’s a good reflection exercise.

I’ve read from a variety of different sources about the value of writing down on paper, in very specific terms, where you want to be, say, 5 or 10 years in the future. I’ve always had a hard time with the specifics. I think that’s because sometimes the specific things I want to be part of my life are beyond my control. And I don’t want to commit to paper something I can’t guarantee.

But I had a very clear vision this morning as I was getting ready for work of what I wished I was doing instead – of exactly how my day would be carried out and who would be in it if I had my way. It was a lovely way to start my morning.

And then I went to work and got bogged down by a bureaucracy that only seems to be getting worse every day, and all I can think about now is that vision of my future. A future that – while it isn’t wholly in my control – could be exactly what I need.

I’m always harping on control, and I get frustrated sometimes because I feel like a lot of what I think will make me feel fulfilled is beyond my control. So what am I supposed to do?

“What I can” is inevitably the answer. Focus on what you can do and work your ass off for it, and ultimately everything else will follow. The result may not look exactly like what you’d envisioned, but if you put in the effort, it will be good.

It’s not scientific, but I believe sending out positive vibes will result in good things coming back to you.

So I’m going to spend some time today writing out my vision. It’s not for public sharing – not right now, anyway. It’s just for me, to give me a beautiful sense of direction (something I feel like I’ve been lacking a bit.)

And I’ll take what I write and develop a list of what I can do to make it happen. Something concrete I can review every day while I ask myself “Is the way I’m living now pushing me toward what I want?”

I already know that some of what I’m doing now is. And the major thing that needs to change is my attitude toward my work and where I want my career to go. It’s stagnant and has been for awhile. Ironically, it’s probably the one area I have the most control over. Which should be comforting.

I just need to get off my ass and get to it.