Things I’ve Learned at 45

5 May

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I saw a story in Huffington Post this morning about one woman’s reality at the age of 45 and it got me thinking about my own reality at the same age. I think back over the years and realize just how much things have changed, not just physically but mentally. When I look in the mirror, I still see the eyes of a nine year old girl with pigtails but with the reality of a woman.

* My heart’s been broken more than a few times, it’s also been filled with love even more than it’s been broken.

* I’ve loved and lost, I’ve lost and found, and I’ve found and hung on to.

* I see the world through the eyes of someone interested in what’s going on around me

* There will always be haters. Don’t be part of that crowd.

* No matter how bad things are, don’t be an asshole. Nobody likes an asshole regardless of your situation.

* Get out and experience people and places. There’s more to life than “reality” shows, Facebook, Twitter and sitting in front of the tv or computer.

* I feel the pain of those around me and I also feel the love of those same people.

* I realize how important watching the news is now when I used to want nothing more than my dad to change the channel to something “interesting”. Now it’s the first thing I watch in the morning. I want to see how the world is changing around me.

* I realize the importance of politics and want to see the difference in how my country is currently being run and how our forefathers meant for it to be run.

* I don’t have the “stretch mark trophies” from giving birth, I have them from pizza, beer and years of eating the wrong things.

* Life doesn’t always have to be fair and it won’t be. But life is always worth living.

* Losing weight isn’t as easy as it used to be and neither is picking up something I drop.

* I’ve learned to see the good in people instead of immediately focusing on their flaws and imperfections. It’s not always the first thing you see, but it’s there somewhere if you pay attention.

* It’s ok to cry. Do it often if you need it. Cleansing the soul is good and provides clarity when you need it.

* I’ve learned that there’s always someone else who wishes they had my life, even though sometimes I wish it were different.

* People will always find fault, criticize and be cruel. Doesn’t mean what they say is the truth, it does say that there’s more of a problem with themselves than there is with you.

* I see my parents aging and sometimes it’s hard to realize that time is really passing as quickly as it is and I realize that the time I spend with them and the things I give up to help take care of them is so important and will leave me memories I wouldn’t trade for anything.

* I realize that my mom’s music really isn’t that bad, in fact, it’s actually pretty damn great. I realize dad’s music has always been great ūüôā

* I know that scars will heal but they are always going to be there so learn to accept them and appreciate them. I now view them as “battle wounds” from surviving years of fighting my way through life.

* I realize that I’m never going to be that young girl with the cute body who turns a guy’s head anymore and I’m ok with that. I’d rather be the woman who grabs his attention because of who I am and holds his heart.

* I used to wonder if there was a God and honestly, with the state of the world, I sometimes catch myself wondering this same thing but I always know in my heart just by the beauty of things around me that there truly is.

* I’ve learned that our differences can sometimes bring us together instead of tearing us apart. It’s important to know that just because someone thinks differently doesn’t make it wrong, it’s simply another way of viewing things and we don’t always have to agree or see eye to eye. That’s the beauty of choice.

* Beauty is so much more than skin deep. It radiates from the heart, it comes from who you are. It’s in the way you carry yourself and the way you laugh at a stupid joke. It’s in the way you talk to other people. It’s in the way you learn to love who you are and be confident in yourself. Ugly is also more than skin deep. A beautiful face can never hide an ugly heart.

* Dirty jokes and fart jokes are funny. Sorry, but they are and at 45, there comes the time when you have to pull the stick out of your ass and loosen up a little. Have a sense of humor and stop cringing when someone talks about sex, farts or anything else that was once deemed “inappropriate.” It’s all part of being human, embrace it.

* I’ve learned that my circle of friends is so important. They’re the ones that I’m gonna lean on when things start to happen that bring you to your knees and take the breath out of you. They’re the ones to help me get back up and start to breathe again. The circle may not be large, but it’s important to realize who is really going to be there when you truly need them. Keep that circle close and keep it tight.

* I’ve learned that it’s ok not to be perfect, that it’s ok not to be a size 2 and that it’s ok not to have the flattest abs or the “apple bottom”. It’s good to just be who you are and work on improving what makes YOU comfortable and not what makes society comfortable.

* Old movies on the couch with a comforter and a bowl of popcorn (and a box of Kleenex) is a great way to spend a night.

* I am no longer the all nighter, the party animal, the girl who can run on high energy all night long. By 10pm. I”m good with being in bed. I live for it. Sleep does a body good.

* Lists like this are great to make once in awhile, they make you see how things have changed and how important it is to notice.

And I’ve learned that 45 is a great place to be.

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Read the Stories of Life and See the Beauty You Might Not Have Seen Before

21 Apr

Every day I look at my social media feeds and see so much focus on negativity in regards to looks,¬†self-esteem and just our differences in general. What has happened to our society? It’s become so toxic and that toxicity doesn’t seem to end. There’s so much focus on what society deems as attractive and what is “acceptable” that it’s forgotten that perfection does not exist. Perfection is only a word in the dictionary.

I have heard young girls ask their moms why they’re not pretty just because some kid at school told them they weren’t. I hear people make snide remarks about the appearances of other people or the circumstances that other people are living with and it’s really sad to see that this is what’s going on out there. When I was growing up, I don’t remember bullying being such a huge problem like it is now. I don’t remember ever being made to feel ugly and not having any worth in my awkward growing up phase but having been in a mentally abusive adult relationship, I sure heard it plenty during those few months and because of those words, I have a really hard time seeing myself as anything other than that. It’s been 6 years since I got myself out of that relationship of unnecessary hurt, anger and pain but it’s been an internal struggle every day to build myself back up to the confident, strong person I was before I was knocked down by an insensitive, controlling jerk with no self-esteem of his own. Being told or just made to feel that you’re not good enough, you’re not pretty enough, you’re too this, you’re too that is something that doesn’t just sting, it’s burns and it leaves a mark, both in your heart and on your brain. I don’t understand why people feel the need to bring other people down, to make them feel horrible about who they are. You can think you’re the most confident person in the world but when someone you trust and believe in makes you feel otherwise, you start to believe it yourself and then when total strangers say things behind your back or sadly these days, even to your face thanks to the reality of the anonymity of the internet, it’s in your face every day, in some form and you find yourself falling into the trap of thinking that maybe these things are true if others are saying them. They’re not. I realize that in a lot of cases it’s a cycle that the bully has endured in their own lives, but when does it stop and how do we stop it from repeating itself? It’s not cool, it’s not hip and it sure isn’t attractive to tear others down when we should be working to build each other up. It makes YOU the ugly one, not the one you’re trying to break down. This goes on with both men and women, every day, all day.

Men are made to feel like they have to have 6 pack abs, a head full of thick hair, work a high paying job with a title and have a big wallet to be worth something to a woman and likewise, women are made to feel that unless they wear a size 2 jeans, have big boobs, wear a shit ton of makeup and dress like Barbies that we’re never gonna find someone¬†to love us for who we are, for the right reasons, the reasons that God put us here for – to be unique, to be exactly who we are That’s bullshit. Total bullshit. Society is the ugly one, not you.

There is good in everyone and beauty exists in all of us, whether it’s something you can physically see or it’s on the inside, it’s there if you take the time to look and pay attention to it. It’s in the way you can look into someone’s eyes as they’re talking to you and be able to see straight to their heart, it’s in the way that a single mother works 3 jobs to take care of her child, it’s in the way that a dad works the night shift to be able to take proper care of his family, it’s in the laughter of two girls embarrassed because the cute guy sitting at the table next to them just smiled at them, it’s in the way that your grandmother still looks into your grandfather’s eyes 50 years later and still smiles like they’re on a first date, it’s in a father’s eyes when he sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time, it’s in the way your best friend sends you a text just to say they were thinking about you, it’s in the way a child with an illness such as Down’s Syndrome or Autism laughs at the joke they heard in their special education class today or it’s the girl’s tears that run down her cheek because he never called. It’s not about what we look like, although when it comes to romance, a physical connection is what draws most people together. It’s who we are, it’s how we carry ourselves and it’s how we show love and caring towards those around us. Love and acceptance are all around us if we just pay attention and know what to look for. Instead of focusing on someone’s appearance, learn to look AT them and really see them instead of just looking THROUGH them. When you start to accept people and see the good that’s there, the cycle can stop, at least in your own life.

People are beautiful in their own unique ways and we all have untold stories behind the smiles, the sadness, and demons they fight every day. The person next to you may look different than you, live differently than you and that’s ok, we don’t need a bunch of Stepford clone who look alike, think alike, or believe the same things. This is what makes us great, the ability to be different and to not be like everyone else. People are walking, talking, breathing stories of life, experience and lessons. Learn from them, appreciate them and take the time to “read” their stories.

POSITIVE THOUGHT FOR TODAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2015

3 Apr

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We’re all trying to figure out the meaning of life – don’t say you’re not because you’re human and somewhere inside of you, you are trying to figure out what your story actually is. You’re just like everyone else – confused and just taking life one day at a time, building your storyline towards your own ending.

Hmmm let’s see. Life doesn’t have just one meaning, the combination of so many things make up the meaning for each of us differently. It’s made up of relationships, people, resolve, determination, inspiration, motivation, encouragement, discouragement, strength, passion, dreams, disappointment, heartbreak, love, laughter, tears, friendship, spontaneity, romance, music, dancing, weathering the storms, getting back up when you’ve been knocked down, prayers – both answered and unanswered, faith, hope, giving, taking, helping, caring and being there for people when you’d rather be somewhere else. Each story is different. You can’t tell from the cover what someone’s story is made up, what their plot is or what their ending will be but you can decide to take a chance and take a deeper look inside.

“My Name is Jennifer and I Am An Addict …”

22 Jan

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My name is Jennifer and I am an addict. Some people are addicted to drugs, some to food, some to love. Me? I’m addicted to music. ¬†The majority of my days involve music … listening to it, telling other people about it, writing about it, researching it and just breathing it in. Music is my drug of choice. It gives me a high that I don’t come crashing down from, it fills my heart with a permanent happiness and takes my mind off whatever madness is going on around me. It drowns out the noise of the world and keeps me in tune with my soul. It’s made a difference in my life, one that I am proud of and one that I feel I can share that can help others dealing with situations in their lives. There’s better therapy for a bad day¬†than putting on a pair of headphones and immersing yourself in a good song.

My world is full of enablers and dealers. The dealers are the songwriters, the musicians, and the singers. They are the ones who give life to the songs that make me feel good, the songs that keep my mind in a positive place and the music that keeps me sane at times when most people would be pulling their hair out. The writers deal in words and thought. They put down in words what most of us feel but either can’t find the words to say or what we emotionally can’t say. They write from personal experience, tragedy, life’s experiences and sometimes just a drunken night. Whatever means they use to come up with the right words is usually something most of us can identify with, they’re just given the gift of translation that most of us weren’t blessed with. They can then take those words and make something beautiful from them once they add the right notes. This is where the musicians and artists come in, the middle men, if you will, between the dealer and the addict. The deal only happens when the musicians come together to play the melodies and join with the artist to sing the words with the necessary emotions. The final product is a drug that is delivered by the artist who cuts the song and presents it to the addict. The addict becomes hooked and can’t stop listening and has to have another song, and another, and another. And so the cycle continues.

Music is a great high, a great way to mentally get away from it all. It’s the kind of high that can literally change your life if you inhale the perfect song at the perfect time. It can take you to a place you never imagined you’d see, take you from a dark place into the light, it can be a key that opens the most tightly closed heart, and it can turn a life around. To quote Bono of the group U2, “Music can change the world because it can change people.” It can and it does, every day.

If you have to find an addiction, find a healthy¬†vice in good music. It’s good for your heart, it’s good for your soul. We should all indulge in good music daily and appreciate its long term effects.

Lessons I Learned from 2014

29 Dec

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2014 was an eye opener and more importantly, a mind opener, for me. It not only reminded me how short 365 days are, it also taught me how important those days are.

2014 taught me¬†quite a few things –

Your circle of friends isn’t as big as you’d like to think. Your Facebook list may be large but how many people do you really talk to? How many take the time to call you just to say hi and how many do you keep in regular touch with? If you look at your phone contacts, how many of those numbers have you called in the past 6 months and how many have called you? When you hit rock bottom, who was really there to pull you up and see you through? Who encourages you, who inspires you, who is THERE and not just “there”? Pay attention to the ones that matter, the ones that define the word “friendship”. They’re the ones you hang on to. Make sure those in your ship are keeping you afloat and not causing you to start sinking.

The relationships and friendships you thought were solid and would last, don’t always do so. I’ve learned to love and let go when it’s needed. Most people are made to simply pass through our lives while only handful were meant to stay. Know the difference. Sometimes it’s those you love the most that are meant to go on their way and those are the ones it’s hardest to let go. Life happens that way. Don’t hold a grudge, wish them well and move on with your life.

Promises, big talk and bullshit may get you into certain circles, but your character is what keeps you there and it speaks louder and says more than anything your mouth ever will. Character is what you do when others aren’t looking but it’s also what you do when they are. You know why you do things, what the agenda is, and what you hope to gain and so does one other person that can ALWAYS see what and why you’re doing something. Honesty, integrity and character are 3 things you can never buy.

No matter how much you care for and love someone, those feelings aren’t always going to be returned and that’s ok. Some people are meant to just reserve a spot in your heart. I’ve learned to just keep loving them and be the same friend I’ve always been. Not everyone you want to be with is everyone you need to be with. I’ve learned if they want to be with you, they’ll make an effort and you won’t have to wonder where you stand. If you have to wonder where you stand with someone, maybe it’s time to stop standing and start walking.

A 13 hour road trip and a week in another state with your 72-year-old father is not only a great idea, that I’m glad I did it. The quality time with the man who shaped me, taught me life lessons, taught me the importance of laughter is something I will cherish until the day I leave this earth. It reminded me of being a kid again, when it was ok to stand between your parents on the hump on the floorboard between the seats and sing along to 70’s radio. It reminded me that while I might not feel like I’m 44 years old and that he’s 72 years old, we are and that time isn’t waiting on either of us. It reminded me that time with those you love is time well spent.

I’ve learned that paying your dues is necessary, having things handed to you is nice, but working for them and getting them is even better. There’s a satisfaction both in what you’ve done and in yourself when you work hard and it pays off.

Be a friend, even when it’s hard to and be there even when you’d rather be somewhere else. People need you when they need you, not on your schedule.

Good music matters.

It taught me that there is always hope. You may feel like giving up, but remember that hope is something that is never out of reach, it’s always there and it can keep you going long after you thought you couldn’t go any farther.

Stop bitching about what¬†doesn’t matter and concern yourself with what does. Who cares if they put pickles on your burger when you asked them not to, take ’em off and eat the damn thing. Long line at the store? Stand in it and be thankful you have the money to purchase whatever it is you’re standing in line for. Think before you bitch.

No matter how bad you think your life is, someone else out there would love to be in your shoes. Life really is pretty good even when you can’t see it at the time.

Be honest with people, don’t tell them what they want to hear, care enough to tell them what they need to hear even when it’s not pretty. Care enough to want the best for people and sometimes the best includes blatant honesty.

People matter. No disclaimers, no conditions, no questions. They matter, all of us, every color, every background, every last one of us. Treat everyone like they are someone because they are.

Do the things you want to do while you can. Wanna travel? Save up what you can and go where it will allow. Just have some fun in your life, do the unexpected and be spontaneous. Life isn’t a day planner, why treat it like one.

Take a long walk outside, look around you and really notice the beauty surrounding you, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the “music” in everyday life. Say hello to the stranger you pass on the street, make eye contact with them and wish them a nice day. Hold the door for someone. Thank a cashier or someone in public service for what they do, it’s not an easy job although you may think so. They deal with some of the worst attitudes and rudest people every day. The public is not easy to deal with.

Just appreciate the time you have left, you don’t know how long that is. It really is a gift that you have a present, that you’ve made it through the past and that we all like to think of the future ahead of us. Right now is all you have, just use it wisely. Make it count. Make your memories worth making, they’re all you’re really taking with you.

Thank you 2014 for the clarity, the confusion, the love and the occasional slap in the face. I’ve taken your lessons to heart and am looking forward to learning more from the year to come.

Jenn

Did You? Have You? If Not, You Should …

15 Sep

Did you say it? Did you say I love you? Did you say thank you to those who have helped you and stood by you because they see something special in you that you can’t always see yourself and that others may not be paying attention to? Find your passion, ignite a fire, make a move, make that call you’ve been too busy or too damn stubborn to make, date someone completely wrong for you because it might be you that’s been wrong about them, say hello because that one word could result in a lifelong friendship and opportunity you might have missed by not speaking, forgive and move forward, listen to good music and whatever you do, take the time to really look around you, to realize that life is pretty good. Appreciate it, it could all be gone tomorrow and you wouldn’t have another chance to do any of these things. #SoapboxMomentOver

Songwriters: Appreciation for Those That Give Music It’s First Breath

29 Aug

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So I’m sitting here listening to my iPod and find myself, once again, really thankful for songwriters. If it weren’t for them, personally, my days would be a lot different. I wouldn’t have songs to sing really bad karaoke to in the car, nothing to sing in the shower, and I wouldn’t have a reason to do what I truly enjoy, promote great artists, because there would be no artists. Writers are artists that paint their personal experiences, thoughts and lives on silence and bring those thoughts and ideas to life for the rest of us. They really are the first breath of a song.

There truly are untold stories behind our favorite songs and thanks to them, the stories within each song make us laugh, cry, think, forgive, move on and accept things that have happened in our lives and learn to deal with them. Music is truly one of the most powerful things we’ve been given. It does have the power to change lives in some cases. I know it changed mine and for that, I am most thankful. So thank you to guys like Jason Matthews, Eric Paslay, Matt Ramsey, Matraca Berg, Joe Leathers, Ben Glover, Brian White, Josh Pruno, Ben Hayslip, Bob DiPiero, Skip Ewing, Ben Glover, Bruce Wallace, Steve Holy, Scott DeCarlo, Josh Charles, Ray Scott, Aimee Mayo, Matraca Berg, John Griffin, Bridgette Tatum, Brian Davis, Scott DeCarlo and all of the many others who share their talent in writing. I truly appreciate what you do and the work that goes into it.

We are ALL Perishable Items With a Limited Shelf Life

29 Aug

We¬†all need someone or something to motivate us, to inspire us and to make us realize that our time is limited, we don’t know how long we are going to be here and how long we have to make a difference, to go after what we want and build towards our dreams. The reality is that we’re all “perishable items” with a limited shelf life and most of us are just sitting around waiting on our expiration date. What are you going to do before your shelf life expires?

The Lesson Robin Williams Left Behind …

12 Aug

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Watching this Robin Williams story really makes it hit home that you never really know what someone is going through internally, emotionally. They can be the happiest person in the world on the outside and the saddest, most broken person on the inside. Life is about the people around us, the lives we touch, the memories we make and the hearts we help to heal. Pay attention to other people. When it comes down to it, in the end, people are the only thing we have. They’re so important. Tell those closest to you how you feel about them, make sure they know, make the call, forgive transgressions and move on, show them that despite everything going on in your own life that you always have time for them because you really do if you want to. People matter, lives matter, feelings matter.¬†

It’s heartbreaking that he’s gone, he was one of the finest actors but above that, he was a good person. The world will miss his charisma, his laughter, his good spirit and his giving hear. One thing he did leave us with is a a much more acute awareness of the illness of depression. I hope his loss teaches us to pay more attention, to educate ourselves to recognize the signs of someone with this illness and to open our hearts to help those who come to us with the need to understanding and help. It’s time to come together and help those who need it.¬†

 

Be That Person …

30 Jul

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Today how about giving someone a piece of your heart instead of a piece of your mind. We’re all struggling with our own battles, why add to someone’s lack of confidence, bad mood, or struggle just to get through the day? Just be nice, be helpful, lend a hand instead of a criticism. Be that person you’d like someone to be towards you, the person that gives you hope, peace of mind and a reason to smile. Life is hard enough without unnecessary drama and negativity. Don’t you just get tired of it?¬†