Lonely Vs Alone

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“We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important, and I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness.”  Hunter S Thompson
 
  If you are reading this, chances are that you know what it is like to feel lonely. The stereotype of being single are generally categorized into one group: loneliness. Being lonely is that kind of aching that resonates in your chest. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing or whom you’re with, it’s impossible to shake that feeling. Being lonely comes with so many side effects: memories, insomnia, and confusion. Loneliness encapsulates the best parts of your life and forces you to notice their profound absence. Loneliness makes you wonder why you? Why haven’t you had a simple stroke of luck? It is that prominent, gaping hole in your life that just can’t seem to be filled regardless of what you do. Loneliness comes with settling for less than you deserve. It’s incurable by company, it swells in the presence of friends. Loneliness is the isolation that comes with nursing a feeling unreturned — an expectation unmet.
  Being alone is different.  Being alone is a state of being. Loneliness is a state of mind. When you’re alone you are forced to realize all the things about yourself that you couldn’t when you spent your days about someone else. Being alone is taking the time to really think about what you want from someone the next time around. Being alone is reading a book, taking a long walk on the beach, having a delicious coffee and enjoying every single minute of it. It is buying a single ticket to a foreign film you know absolutely nothing about. it is taking a trip exactly the way you want to do it. Being alone is doing things by yourself, but also doing them for yourself.

Sometimes  being alone crosses paths with being lonely. You see a couple across the street and their happiness radiates, or a young family out for a stroll and you remember the days when that used to be you. For a brief moment that dull feeling aches in your chest, but it doesn’t stay.

Being alone can be the most empowering experience of your life. If you let the loneliness consume you, you’re going to lose the chance to figure yourself out. We can’t allow ourselves to be defined by the people we surround ourselves with, our relationship status, weekend plans or the  silence of our mobile phone. Loneliness isn’t about being in a relationship or being single. We are always trying to find the balance between being alone and being lonely.

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Things That I Have Learned About Myself After Being In A Relationship For A Year

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Things That I Have Learned About Myself After Being In A Relationship For A Year.

“I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.” Lisa Kleypas

The year has been exciting, emotional, amazing, challenging, frustrating, enchanting, surprising, and about fifty other adjectives that range from great to terrible. But it has all been worth it. And it has been one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Here are some of the things that I have learned. 

I eat so much more than he does.

I boyfriend proofed my house. I hid everything that I did not want him to see. Don’t hide things that you use every day because you will need them and have to look for them in the middle of the night.

Character is important – loyalty,  discipline,  values, integrity, kindness  and  humility.

Intelligence is also important.

I still take my make up off after he goes to sleep.

One of you is going to be the sloppy one. Yes, my purse looks like an episode of hoarders. The other one will cook.

It is true that I have way too many pillows on my bed. They are all my favorite pillows. I like to have my  pillows arranged in a particular way because I am a terrible sleeper and I feel it helps. He can sleep with any pillow. It works.

Laughing is great. We can both laugh at ourselves.  Sometimes I laugh  when I am by myself and I think of something funny that he said earlier.  It’s a little weird.

We have the same taste in music. Not the regular stuff that everyone likes but also Tom Waits and Bach.

We have similar taste in clothes but he puts them together better now. I like having a blank canvas to work with. 

There are people who  leave things open – toothpaste, vitamins, cabinets and people who do not.

An argument is an annoying learning opportunity. We don’t have them often.

There is a difference between a red flag and a human flaw. Being in a relationship doesn’t fix anyone’s flaws.

Beautiful flowers always work when you make a mistake.

We are going to continue to get to know each other –  the good and the bad. It’s a process. Relationships get real. I’m learning that.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Kicking the Shit Out Of Plan B,C,D, etc

Kicking the Shit Out Of Plan B,C,D etc

“Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.” Sheryl Sandberg

I have always been a planner.  I‘ve always tried to figure out what I needed to do next or what needed to happen next in order for life to go on as it should. it turns out that life is unpredictable and even the best Plan A doesn’t turn out the way you thought.

Accepting change no matter how hard is a process that cannot be avoided. Some changes are easier to accept than others, but the decisions about how to cope with those changes are personal ones.

When Plan A fell apart I went through all the usual thought processes –  drugs, drinking, suicide, bank robbery, revenge killing, monastery/convent, prison etc. I screamed, yelled, cried, cursed beat the crap out of my pillow, hid, walked or hiked for hours and listened to a lot of loud angry or sad crying music.

Ancient cultures believe that the dark times are a time of transformation. It is a time when our strength is tested and we must draw on the things we have learned. Modern culture calls it a mid-life crisis. Instead of working out our problems we run from each other and are left alone isolated by shame. We get facelifts, sports cars, new houses and young new partners. People we believed to be our friends or family back away. We aren’t left with much in the way of support. 

After too much time wallowing and feeling sorry for myself, Plan B began to take shape. I thought it was a good plan. I pictured my future living in another country or maybe a few different ones.   

When completely unexpected health problems made Plan B fall apart, I went through all the usual thought processes  – drugs, drinking, suicide, bank robbery, revenge killing,  monastery/convent, prison etc. I screamed, yelled, cried, cursed beat the crap out of my pillow, hid, walked or hiked for hours and listened to a lot of loud angry or sad crying music.  But it did not go on for as long this time.  I started unwillingly working on Plan C.

I learned C wasn’t the answer either and faced challenging family problems. Change is the rule, not the exception. Whether you like change or not, (and most of us hate it), you at least know to expect something, and that makes the unpredictable more predictable.  I’ve learned that not knowing is part of the process. It is the scariest and greatest potential that we have.

I’m not going to lie  – Plan D needs some work. The twists, turns and barriers are clearly visible. I’m waiting to figure out what the best course of action will be. I don’t want to give up on it. So since plans A through C are no longer available, I’m going to kick the shit out of Plan D. If that doesn’t work,  I’m going to have to kick the shit out of Plan E (when I have it)  because that is life.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Peace In The House, Peace In The World

Peace in The House, Peace in The World

“Where there is righteousness in the heart, there is beauty in the character. When there is beauty in the character, there is harmony in the home. When there is harmony in the home, there is order in the nation. When there is order in the nation, there is peace in the world” A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

In the Jewish tradition, there is a high idealized standard of family life characterized by wholeness, fulfillment, nurturing, respect and kindness. It is believed that God dwells in a pure and loving home. It is called shalom bayit -peace in the house.

Peace starts with us. We must create peace in the home to carry it outside and share it with our communities, our cities, our states, our country and then the world. It is more than saying I want World Peace. It is making a conscious choice do something differently in our lives. It is choosing to deal differently with our own conflicts and frustrations. It is learning communication skills and taking responsibility for our  actions. It is taking these commitments we have made to ourselves and bringing them out into the world.

As Gandhi says, become the change you want to see. We can’t depend on our leaders anymore. I do not believe that I will see World Peace in my lifetime. But if we do not change how we behave to other people, it will not be in any lifetime.

Be good to those around you. Selfless acts of service to those in need will change your life and theirs. Teach your children about the world around them. Learning about other cultures, religions and customs enables children to understand different perspectives and develop a feeling of connection with all people.

There are more people in this world who want love and peace than there are who want hate and war. The media focuses on the bad. We need to focus on the good.  I have met good  people from all over the world which makes me still believe that peace is possible. There are more people who want to live in harmony then chaos.

I try to do something nice for a stranger every day. It started after seeing the movie Pay It Forward. Sometimes it is small like leaving money in a parking meter for the next person, buying a coffee or a drive through meal for the person in line behind me, giving food to a homeless person, picking up garbage that I see on the beach, listening to the person standing in front of a store who is raising money for something or talking to an old person sitting on a bench alone in a park. My hope is that they will do something for someone else. Maybe it will make one person a little less angry, or more peaceful and connected during their day. 

Become an expert at living your life with wholeness, fulfillment , nurturing, respect and kindness and maybe those around us will follow. If we are lucky, it will trickle up.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

Sometimes A Kid Is Just A Kid

“By endurance we conquer.” Edward Shackleton

In life you will meet a lot of people and most of them you will end up forgetting. I will never forget an eight year old boy who rolled into the first day of 826LA summer writing program  where I volunteer.

It wasn’t just a wheel chair. He was strapped in with a plastic plate across his chest and a large clear plastic tube attached to a hole in his throat. I have lung problems and hate to see breathing tubes.  Since I was a child, I have always had a strange fear of deformities and people who look sick. The pediatrician told my mother that it was because I had watched my grandmother who lived with us, shrivel away and die when I was three years old.  I don’t know if that is true.

“Please don’t sit at my table” I thought when he entered. I’ve often heard that when you phrase something negatively and put it out into the universe, the universe doesn’t hear the negative word.  It hears “Please sit at my table” and that is what happened. I won’t be able to help him. But I smiled and introduced myself. After all, I am grown up now. He says his name is Tony.  His eyes lit up and gave me the most beautiful smile. He participated shyly as all the kids did on the first day. I wasn’t sitting next to him and he couldn’t reach a paper in his binder. I froze for a second because I did not know if I was supposed to get up and help him or let him struggle and do it himself. Alejandra, the girl sitting next him quietly gets it for him. Neither of them say a word to each other. He is sitting next to a boy named Omar and he says that there is someone in his class named Omar. Omar smiles in delight at him and says ‘You know someone with my name?” It will be all right at this table.

I am late the next day and a volunteer is already sitting there when I arrive. The program leader tells me that  the kids at my table  were asking for me. I seem to be doing ok. Do we talk about the wheel chair and all the stuff he has with it? No one that I have asked seems to know. I watch nine-year old Alejandra who is sitting next to him this week. She does not interact much with any of the kids at the table – only adults. She is on it. If Tony can’t reach something or drops something, she gets it and hands it to him in total silence. I learn from her that helping someone is just something you do. You don’t need a big discussion about it.

At the end of the week, we do a group project and everyone has added something important to save the sea turtles. We have become a team.. Tony tells me that he hates doctors but likes the dentist. I have to go to the dentist for a filling and a crown and I tell him that I HATE dentists. He laughs hysterically as if I have just said the funniest thing. He is a warrior and clearly I am not. He looks like he has gone through so much at such a young age. Most of us cannot even imagine doing that but the smile never faded from his face. He told me he didn’t smile a lot when he was in the hospital  but he smiles all the time now.  Sick definitely does not mean weak.

The following week the kids have changed tables.  I arrive early. “Tony is sitting at the second table”, says the program leader.  He is very happy to see me there when he arrives. I am happy to see him as well.

The summer program is ending and I do not know if I will ever see Tony again. I have dealt with worsening health problems that seemed big to me but are small in relationship to his. I learned from him to be grateful  for the health I have and always make the most of my situation. While I was busy wallowing in self-pity, Tony was smiling through adversity and putting a smile on my face as well. But more importantly, he taught me that at any moment, even when you least expect it, someone or something can change your life.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Amelia’s Divorce

Amelia’s  Divorce

“But in the real world, you couldn’t really just split a family down the middle, mom on one side, dad the other, with the child equally divided between. It was like when you ripped a piece of paper into two: no matter how you tried, the seams never fit exactly right again. It was what you couldn’t see, those tiniest of pieces, that were lost in the severing, and their absence kept everything from being complete.”  Sarah Dessen

 I  have noticed that kids around the world are all the same. They might eat different foods or attend a village school in the rainforest but they share universal commonalities. They all need to have their basic needs met and feel safe, secure and loved.

A little girl came over to my dog Banksy  at the hairdresser.  She wanted to pet him. I said that  he was kind of nervous because we had just moved to a new place and dogs don’t understand moving, She asked where we had moved to. I said to Venice/ Marina Del Rey.

“My dad used to live in Marina Del Rey but now he lives in the valley.  My dad doesn’t live with me anymore. I am from a divorce now. I live with my mom near here in a new house,“she replied.

“Since you are in a new house,  maybe you could help Banksy. Do you have any ideas how to make him more comfortable in his new home?“

She asked if Banksy was from a divorce? I said “No, it was just me and Banksy.”

”It is just me and my mom now,”she answered. Amelia told Banksy not to be sad because everyone will still love him the same even if he has a new stepmom who is going to have a baby.  “My new stepmother is Filipino so we don’t know what the baby will look like because my dad is Jewish. But the baby won’t look like  me and no one will know that she is my sister.”

“You will know and she will know and that is all that counts.” I said.

“She isn’t really going to be my sister. She will be my half-sister because we don’t have the same mother.”

”To her, you will be her big sister and a very important person in her life when she gets a bit older.“ I said.

She smiled and said “Yes, but the valley is very far away. Banksy, even though you are scared now, your new home will be great. You won’t have to miss things when it is your weekend with your mom or your weekend with your dad.” Amelia is seven.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

Things That  I Have Stopped Thinking About Since I Started Traveling

“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within.’  Lillian Smith

How I look when I travel   I’m a little vain. I’m the kind that doesn’t like to go out without makeup or the right kind of casual attire. (Which jeans should I wear today?) But when I travel, I don’t think about my appearance, which lifts an incredible burden off my shoulders. I wear what’s comfortable, easy to travel in, and just go. I notice from my photos wearing the same clothes in every country, that I have a travel wardrobe. It works.

Personal Drama   Someone is inevitably mad at me because I say whatever comes into my head. There is usually drama in my life. Real relationships and friendships stand the test of travel because going away puts life into perspective. There are people who I miss and keep in contact with while exploring the world. Traveling does have a way of quickly separating strong, healthy bonds from dysfunctional, dramatic ones. Some of the people I have left behind should probably have been left behind a while ago.

Possessions    When I travel, my possessions boil down to essentials. As I packed up my house that I have lived in for a long time, I reminded myself of how little I need around the world.

Anxiety   Traveling keeps you in the present moment. I rarely have anxiety when I travel because whatever I am worrying about is usually not happening at that moment.  It helps me in my not traveling life as well. Not as much as I would like, but I’m working on it.

My weight   I’m genetically a thin person. I’m basically a healthy eater with a closet junk food mentality. I’ve learned that I can eat what I want in moderation . I don’t get on a scale very often any more. I don’t worry that I’m not perfectly ripped and toned. i don’t work out like a maniac. I’m a foodie . I enjoy trying food and restaurants here and abroad. I don’t eat meat or gluten except when I do. My focus has become on everything else around me and not on how I come across. It’s a big thing when you realize the world is not about you.

Social media   The robotic and frequent opening of email and Facebook stops when I am traveling. A lot of places I go to don’t have service and whatever is going on at home seems very far away from what I am doing. Other than posting on instagram and sending out my quotes, I tend to read a lot more instead.

What people think about me   I used to care a lot about what people thought of me and my family. It’s human nature to care what people think.  At the end of the day, you are the one who has to live with the choices you make. Now I only care about where I’m going next.

Having regrets   Everyone has their own path in life, and their own way of achieving it.
When I am traveling, I don’t worry or compare — I know that this is exactly the path I was meant to be on.

Fly safe,

JAZ