My Mostly Ridiculous Self-Improvement Journal

Ten Things I Love About Men

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1. Men don’t freak out over criticism. The other week, my babysitter quit. She said our parenting style was too “laid back.” (She was being nice, of course. She could’ve said my kids are brats.) After I read the email, I consulted with two friends at length, seeking ways to validate my choices and to work through my embarrassment. My husband, on the other hand? He read the email, made a single statement (which I won’t repeat here), then placed it all in a file and red-stamped it. Case closed.

2. Men are willing to take a backseat. My husband’s greatest joy in life is his mostly happy, mostly loving family. The role he chooses to play in keeping it that way is to support my parenting decisions as well as my self-care. He helps in any way he can, and doesn’t micromanage. Most of all, he realizes that the one who makes the plans is the one who gets to decide how to carry them out. (For more on gender differences in family decision making, see Tara Parker Pope’s discussion of household management in For Better: How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed.)

3. Men deeply appreciate real women’s bodies. Men love fat women, thin women, tall women, short women, beautiful women, plain women, dressed-up women, casual women, Barbie women, Martha Stewart women, soft women, angular women, curvy women and everything in between. Their tastes are much more wide-ranging and forgiving than the women they love often realize. (For evidence, see A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the Internet Tells Us About Sexual Relationships by Ogi Ogas.)

4. Men are Zen. I once saw a video recording of a spiritual conference in which the audience was mostly made up of women. During the question and answer session, one of them asked the speaker if women are more spiritually evolved than men are; after all, they’re the ones who come to these events the most. The teacher responded that there may have been good reason that more men weren’t there. “Maybe they don’t need to read as many books and go to as many conferences, since they’re already practicing these principles without realizing it.”

I, for one, think she was right. If Zen is define as living in the moment, appreciating the little things and not obsessing over the bad, men as a whole are way more Zen than women are.

5. Men are great conversationalists. I love girl talk. Mom talk, especially. But I also can’t live without a weekly debate regarding philosophy, news and/or politics. And for that, my dad, husband and other male friends are my go-tos. With them, it’s not personal. I can be as opinionated as I want to be. Friendly debates really feel … friendly. (I have had a few girlfriends who don’t mind the inevitable disagreements that come up, but not many.)

6. Men are honest. I like the emotional support I get from my girlfriends, but every once in a while, if I’m full of shit, it’s better just to be told straight up. One of the greatest compliments I’ve even received–maybe the very greatest–came from my husband, who said, “You have the best personality of anyone I know.” If this had come from a girlfriend, I would’ve deeply appreciated their kindness. But since it came from a person who as far as I know has never, ever lied to me–even a so-called ‘white lie’–I will treasure it forever. (I’d give you a few great examples of his brutal honesty, but that probably isn’t necessary. Just trust me.)

7. Men communicate clearly. Here’s a typical scenario: my husband and I in our living room, cleaning up after our dinner guests. “Did you catch that comment?” I say. “The one about the laundry?”

Blank stare.

“Maris was hinting that Niles didn’t appreciate her. You didn’t see it? Oh, I love you, Hon. You’re so great.”

When I tell my husband, “I’m stressed out. I need a break,” he gets it. When I say, “Will you do the laundry?”, he says yes or no. However, when I say, “I hate everything right now,” he has no idea what that means, or what to do. This is a major advantage in our relationship. David teaches me how to be direct. (I’m not all the way there yet, though. Only been with him for eight years. These things take time.)

8. Men appreciate the beauty of silence. When I was in high school, my dad opened a window into male psychology for me–a small one, but it let in a surprising amount of light. He said, “The person you can sit with, and say nothing, but still understand each other–that’s the person you want to marry.”

But I love talking, I thought. I want to marry a great conversationalist. Later, though, I understood what he meant. Men love talking sometimes, too. But what they truly need is respectful, peaceful, loving, companionable … quiet.

Like I said: a window.

9. Men are sexy. Enough said.

10. Men are smart. Obviously, women are every bit as talented and intelligent as men are. But it’s been a while since I’ve heard someone say, “Men have done so much good in the world, haven’t they?” A similar comment about women comes my way every three hours or so. So let’s all take a moment to acknowledge the many achievements of male-kind, even if you don’t appreciate every single one of them. (Personally, I’m not a huge fan of cars. But the birth control pill and sidewalks? Two thumbs up.)

BONUS #1: Men are funny first, serious as needed. My husband plays with my children differently. And his discipline style is often more lighthearted than mine. A common caution of his is, “It seems like you need tickles. Do you need tickles?” It’s beautiful. Humor is one of the most helpful conflict management strategies I know.

BONUS #2: Finally, when people use the term “white men” or just “men” in a negative context, men don’t usually complain. Often, they even welcome it. Some even consider themselves feminists. They like us women that much.

Much, much love to the men in my life who have debated with me for hours, told me the unvarnished truth, and shown me how neurotic I (occasionally) am.

P.S. Happy birthday to my amazing older son, who turns five very soon. Could not be prouder.

P.P.S. Kudos to Philadelphia for celebrating International Men’s Day today.

http://www.internationalmensday.com/

***

In the year 2081, Francie lived in a small village called Gallitia. It was simple. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. But there was one problem.

Francie couldn’t leave.

Oh, and then there were the people that wanted to bring electricity and change everything. And the boy with the very red hair, who Francie suspected was somehow part of this change. The question, then, became: Will Francie change, too?

Get Being Good on Amazon for 99 cents, or on Smashwords for free.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

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Would I Rather?

Today I’m asking myself the following questions:

1. Would I rather have clean carpets but constant carpet maintenance and a strict no-shoes, no dirty feet policy … or would I rather have stains on my carpet and a lot less hassle? (Or is there another solution, like dark brown carpet?)

2. Would I rather have a clean house with constant maintenance … or would I rather have a messy house but be able to let my kids do arts and crafts inside; let kids get head-to-toe dirty outside then track it in; not have to nag about chores all day; get less annoyed by kids being kids; let kids learn how to prepare their own food; let kids learn how to feed themselves; and not to mention spend a lot less time cleaning. (Or is there another solution, like teaching kids to do chores and exchanging chores for privileges?)

3. Would I rather have a nicely manicured lawn that I have to maintain weekly … or would I rather garden and rake when it brings me pleasure and exercise, and have lots of pine cones, leaves and dead grass in my yard, all of which are pretty in their own way? (Or is there another solution, like moss and clover instead of grass?)

4. Would I rather keep all bugs out of my house at all times but have to constantly nag the kids to shut the door … or would I rather leave the door open all day in the summer without a screen so that the kids are encouraged to go outside more often throughout the day? (Or is there another solution, like a screen with a magnetic closure that automatically closes behind you?)

5. Would I rather save time on cooking by going to a restaurant, then spend time driving, parking, ordering, waiting, paying, and driving … or would I rather spend the effort to throw together something at home, then linger after dinner at the table with the family?

6. Would I rather spend $30 extra for a restaurant meal … or spend $20 for an extra hour of housekeeping or nanny time?

7. Would I rather spend $1,000 on French doors for my patio … or use that money to buy 50 hours of household or nanny help?

8. Would I rather spend $3-5,000 on a family vacation to Mexico for a week … or $1,000 on a nice staycation for a week that includes long evenings with kids at the babysitter’s?

9. Would I rather buy and store a gas-powered lawnmower … or would I rather use a small push mower that I rarely need to sharpen and never have to buy gas for, and is much quieter and more pleasant to use and gives me some exercise?

10. Would I rather have a large variety of appliances that make various tasks easier and faster … or would I rather have a smaller kitchen with less cluttered cabinets and save time and hassle finding what I need?

11. Would I rather have a large, expensive house with high heating, cleaning and repair costs … or a house in a prime location with just enough room for the family to live closely and with less stuff?

12. Would I rather have three kids and spend more quality time with each … or would I rather have four kids and bring another life into our family and the world?

13. Would I rather make sure my kids go to several sports, clubs, or classes each week … or would I rather let my kids figure out how to overcome boredom on their own at home?

14. Would I rather clean up the food my kids spill under the table and move on to the next thing more quickly … or would I rather teach them how to clean up after themselves by taking away their food and waiting for them to clean it up before their next meal?

15. Would I rather drive my kids to the library … or would I rather walk them there?

16. Would I rather let my kids have three hours of screen time per day … or would I rather sit with them in the living room while they play and I read a book, not allowing them to interrupt me unnecessarily?

17. Would I rather buy a new fire truck for my child … or give him a box of recycled materials and help him make one?

18. Would I rather pick up all of the toys one by one when I need to clean the floor … or sweep them all into the corner with a push broom?

19. Would I rather spend an hour a week driving to and from a playdate that I don’t particularly enjoy … or would I rather find an activity for my kids that is within walking distance?

20. Would I rather pack the kids up in the car and take them to the park every day … or would I rather sit in the backyard for an hour to encourage them to join me?

21. Would I rather commit to doing a favor that doesn’t feel good to me … or would I rather take the opportunity to practice saying no?

22. Would I rather buy the new furniture that we supposedly need … or would I rather let the kids continue to destroy the old stuff and wait to get new stuff when they’re older?

23. Would I rather leave my cell phone in the bedroom till evening and miss a few messages … or would I rather be tempted to check my messages or to-do list several times per hour during family no-screen time?

24. Would I rather prepare all my kids’ food every day and prevent messes and wasted food … or would I rather teach them how to open the fridge, get a cup, pour the milk and put it away, then help them clean up the mess later?

25. Would I rather continue to change poopy diapers every day … or deal with potty misses a few times a week?

26. Would I rather help my kids resolve their every argument … or would I rather help them only when they ask me to and they are choosing to use their words?

27. Would I rather keep the family on a strict bedtime schedule and hectic morning routine in order to get them to school … or would I rather homeschool them and keep the schedule we choose?

28. Would I rather make my young kids do homework every night at the expense of family and free time … or would I rather let their grades slip a bit and let them play more?

29. Would I rather keep everything in my garage that I may need someday … or would I rather risk having to rebuy an item–either a new one or a just as good or better used one off Craigslist–in a few years?

30. Would I rather stand underneath my children on the monkey bars every time … or would I rather relax on the bench and let them fall once in a while?

These are just some of the ways I have rethought my cultural upbringing in the years since having children. Just an off-the-top list; I’m probably missing some big ones. The important thing isn’t how I answer these questions, of course. The  important thing is that I ask them.

***

In the year 2081, Francie lived in a small village called Gallitia. It was simple. It was peaceful. It was beautiful. But there was one problem.

Francie couldn’t leave.

Oh, and then there were the people that wanted to bring electricity and change everything. And the boy with the very red hair, who Francie suspected was somehow part of this change. The question, then, became: Will Francie change, too?

Get Being Good on Amazon for 99 cents, or on Smashwords for free.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

Spiritual enlightenment. It isn’t just for gurus anymore.

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Lately I’ve been noticing that the term “spiritual enlightenment” has lost some of its exclusivity. People–friends of mine, and a few authors I’ve read–define it in a multitude of ways: peace. Calm. Positivity. Joy: smiling joy, constant joy, childlike, carefree joy.

Right now, I like this definition: happiness.

Isn’t that the best definition of spiritual enlightenment there is? It’s not knowing God; as I am part of God, I already know her. It’s not something you do; doing is not ultimately important in this life. It’s not having the ability to meditate for hours on end, though clarity of thought is a very wonderful thing.

It’s just happiness.

Happiness is the truth of life, and happiness is enlightenment.

And when you put it that way, suddenly enlightenment feels much more attainable; I know I can get it because, after all, I’ve gotten it before—a little.

Even recently I’ve gotten it. As I have tried to discipline myself to think positively on a continual basis, especially regarding my body, I have felt the happiness that I desire to feel all the time to some (heretofore small) degree.

Now, I just want it more.

***

“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather

“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley

“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah

“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee

“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia

“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous 

Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

How can we remember to be spiritual? You know, on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis?

buildings-123780_1920

Still reading Conversations With God, Part Three, and still loving it. Today read a passage in which the God character discusses people who’ve had near-death experiences. He says that even though these experiences are incredibly powerful and life-changing (like the spiritual awakenings that many of the rest of us have had, only much more extreme), after a time the person usually forgets what they’ve learned.

“Is there a way to keep remembering?” Walsch’s character asks God.

God replies that there is. He says that we must remember that the world we see around us is really an illusion, and that instead of acting based on what we see and experience here and now we must act according to what we know is really true, in the world beyond this temporary physical place. Because in the world of the spirit, everything is perfect, everything is beautiful, everything is right, and there is no sin, and no pain, and no fear and no struggle, nor will there ever be.

And that is of course my true goal in life, my challenge—the challenge not just of losing weight, but of achieving enlightenment, and of finally being truly, deeply happy. Not just fulfilled—not just pretty happy.

But really, really, truly, smiling, singing, spreading-it-around, happy.

I have never experienced this feeling on a continual basis, but I have gotten glimpses of it—recently quite a few, actually. I’ve known what it’s like to be able to hold on to my understanding that it is all much bigger than this visible world, with its longing, its pain, its perceived desire—even one as huge and consuming as the desire to be thin—and that it is all truly well with my soul, and with the world, and it always would really be.

So I am not there yet.

But I am getting closer.

***

“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather

“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley

“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah

“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee

“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia

“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous 

Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

I really don’t know how to be humble.

law-of-attraction-tree

Reading the wonderful Matt Kahn’s book, Whatever Arises, Love That. (Great title, eh?) So, the main message is to send love to whatever comes up in your experience, which is what Eckhart Tolle, my friend Leta Hamilton, and many others agree is one of the most useful spiritual practices you can do.

And man, I super suck at it.

I don’t love a lot of things. A whole lot of things. My ego is just always–right–there. I can’t let go of my opinion long enough to love what is, even though I know that doing so is the core definition of humility.

I really don’t know how to be humble. But I’m working on it.

***

“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather

“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley

“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah

“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee

“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia

“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous 

Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

Something I may or may not have learned since last Sunday

new-thought-entity

Ever since getting into this New Thought/New Age spirituality thing, I’ve been confused about something: If God isn’t God as I once thought him to be, but instead the substance of all that is and ever will be, who should I be praying to? I’ve been praying to God, since presumably the message still gets through. But it doesn’t feel quite right. Well, earlier this week, I remembered some advice from Kryon to talk out loud to the many angels and guides that surround us constantly … and so, that is what I did. I imagined a group of real beings with individuality and personality listening to me and going to work on my behalf (since, again, presumably that’s what they do). Beings who know me, like me, and are like me–not some ethereal love-fluff in the air.

It felt right. I felt heard. It made sense.

I think I really learned something here.

(Anyone else prefer this kind of prayer?)

***

For more spiritual quest questions–and a few answers–read You’re Getting Closer: One Year of Finding God and a Few Good Friends.

***

 

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.

A moment of clarity

law of attraction success stories - super child

At a playdate the other week, one of my sons hit another kid. The playdate wasn’t with just one other family; a whole big group of us was there.

Sometimes, when something like this happens, I have a moment of, “Okay. How do I handle this situation calmly but effectively, in a way that makes me look like a good mom?” I didn’t know the others well, so this response may have been even more likely–normally.

That day, though, wasn’t a normal day. That day I was “in the zone.”

In You’re Getting Closer, I discuss this phenomenon–this state of continuous meditation, during which everything you do feels inspired. That morning, I decided this would be one of those days; I’d listen for guidance on what to do–even the little stuff.

And so, when I saw what happened, I knew without hesitation what to do. I talked to my son, and gave him the choice to either apologize or to leave the playdate.

Then, we left the playdate.

It’s so, so nice to have that feeling of clarity, of knowing exactly what to do and how. I don’t have it nearly often enough.

***

“This is the kind of writing that makes me feel as if I’d sat down with the author on the sofa with cups of tea and we were talking together for hours. The style is so vulnerable …” – Heather

“I don’t know what to say other than it is the most beautiful book that I have ever read.” – Ashley

“Really, I am rather speechless.” – Sarah

“I loved the book!! I couldn’t stop reading it!! It touched me so very much.” – Haydee

“Player has given a beautiful gift to her readers. I was very touched.” – Celia

“Player’s chatty style evokes a realism and empathy for the story. One is able to feel her pain.” – Anonymous 

Get What I Learned from Jane on Amazon.

***

More Stuff to Read:

Some Spiritual Practices Actually Work. It’s Amazing.

There are hundreds of spiritual techniques for overcoming depression and increasing inner peace. Here, stories about the ones that actually work. (In some posts, I rate the practices on a scale of 1-10, too. Sort of like county fair pumpkins, but more spiritual.)

These Are the Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Kids, here it is. Have at it.

I’m a Partner, a Mom, a Friend, a Mom, a Sister, a Daughter, a Businessperson and a Mom. Here’s What Helps.

Don’t read this section. It’s nonsense, mostly.