Archives for May 2010

Surprise Party


If anyone has ever worried about arriving too late for a surprise party and potentially ruining said surprise, let me tell you that I did exactly that on Saturday night…and lived to tell the disastrous tale.

The surprise party was scheduled for 8pm at a hotel in Boston. My cousin and her husband would be eating dinner at the hotel and we were to all wait in the bar area on the second floor. I arrived at exactly 8pm…on the dot…because I am nothing if not prompt. As I spun my way through the revolving door, I saw my cousin heading out of the restaurant and into the bathroom. (Problem with surprise parties in hotels…typically the bathroom is in the lobby…a lobby that needs to be crossed at all bathroom intervals…a lobby that could be entered at any point by a surprise party-goer.) So she saw me. We locked eyes but she looked down and continued on her way. My first optimistic thought was, “She didn’t see me! I made it under the radar!” Then common sense kicked in and I began to realize that she MUST have seen me. There was no way she couldn’t have seen me. There was no one else in the lobby but me and my cousin. She definitely saw me. So then I thought, “Well, she must know about the surprise party and will therefore continue with the facade. She’ll act surprised when she arrives at the party and our momentary eye-lock will be our own dirty family secret. (Everyone has those, right?) So I proceeded to the party. Told my other cousin that I had almost been spotted but we were in the clear!

Then my cousin arrived at her party.

We yelled surprise.

She looked into the gathered group of friends and family, smiled weakly and said, “I saw Jocelyn. I figured out what was up.”

At this point everyone turned to stare at me, the ruiner of the party. (Not a real word, but it fits the description of my role at the party.) Why my cousin couldn’t have just pretended to be surprised, I may never know. But that’s what family is for, right, to confuse and baffle us all.

I sucked up all the moxie I could and continued to smile and socialize, knowing full well that everyone viewed me as enemy #1. I ate, drank and was as merry as possible. And that was how I spent my Saturday night…how was yours?

Mother’s Day


I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day! If you are a mother, I hope you were lavished with love and attention. I also hope everyone bestowed love on their mothers, aunts, grandmothers, sisters and friends. I think Mother’s Day is about recognizing the women in your life who have helped you grow, provided you with comfort and given you strength. When women work together instead of against each other, when they encourage and support, amazing things can happen. We are so often caught up in a vicious cycle of envy, jealousy, anger and frustration and we take it out on those closest to us. We compare ourselves and measure each other’s lives, our successes and our failures. We need to learn to adjust our way of viewing the world and the people in our lives. We need to open up our hearts and give and receive more love than we know what to do with. We need to stop comparing and competing and just enjoy the ride.

Tonight I was lucky enough to visit with my mother and two of her closest friends. They live on opposite sides of the country, so getting together is no longer as simple as a car ride. It requires planes and luggage and timing. But tonight the stars aligned and these three phenomenal women were able to sit down together on Mother’s Day and talk and laugh and visit. They were able to look back on their crazy single days, talk about their children and what it feels like to love and lose and love again. It was such a great night and it reminded me how important it is to have strong women in your life. How important friendship is and how often we take it for granted. Mother’s Day is a reminder to me of the women in our lives who help shape us, who help us become who we were always meant to be, who love us unconditionally.

Happy Mother’s Day!



When a man fails, he blames someone else. When a woman fails, she blames herself. Women have this appalling tendency to internalize everything.

He didn’t call. (I must have done something wrong.)

The job went to someone else. (I am good for nothing.)

It’s been a bad day. (I am the unluckiest person in the world. )

The waitress is rude. (She hates me.)

Women have this rapacious need to not only have an answer for every one of life’s disappointments, but to also blame themselves. Why do we insist on being the axis on which the earth spins? Is it possible that not every failure is directly caused by our own existence?

Men have a completely different approach to the obstacles in life.

She didn’t call. (Who cares?)

The job went to someone else. (Who cares?)

It’s been a bad day. (Who cares?)

The waitress is rude. (Who cares?)

Okay, so I may be oversimplifying the male reaction, but I suspect I’m pretty close. Essentially men have the effortless ability to take many of life’s burdens and neutralize them immediately. These “failures” or obstacles are not a specific punishment for one person, they are just examples of the ups and downs of life. A common occurrence and one not to get worked up over.

These events are not defining moments alerting us to our personal failures in life. As women, we take things far too personally. The statement I hear quite frequently is, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” But to me business is personal. The people I interact with daily are a part of my life. How can I not take things personally? I blame it on my overachieving tendencies in life that started at an extremely young age. I always wanted to finish my homework early. My book reports were completed a week before deadline. My handwriting was impeccable.  I was always on time. I never misbehaved. I was, essentially, a teachers’ pet from 1st grade through college and prided myself on my blue ribbon life. But that doesn’t last forever.

In adulthood, things change. People are not going to like you because you do everything “right.” Staying within the lines doesn’t guarantee friendships or love. Business associates don’t care if you tried your hardest. There is no “A” for effort.  And so we beat ourselves up internally. We fail on a daily basis. And yes, we may take this all too personally. But it is our life. The only one we have been given. If we want to keep striving for that blue ribbon, no one is going to stop us. But there is a catch! There is only one person who is capable of awarding us that ribbon, that symbol of success and achievement, and it isn’t our boss, our husband, our children or our parents.

The recognition has to come from within.

We have to stop blaming life’s mistakes and failures on ourselves. No more heaping it onto our overburdened shoulders. When we get knocked down, which we will, we have to pick ourselves up and move on. And when that happens, we will hold tight to the blue ribbon that is nestled safely in the palm of our hands.

Do you take things too personally?

Do you think men have a healthier approach to failure?

Do we become more accepting of ourselves with age or achievement?



What a cheery and happy title for a Monday morning, huh? But stay with me here because it really is all about hope and optimism with me. Over the weekend I was reading the latest issue of O, The Oprah Magazine and particularly delighted in Martha Beck’s column. Beck details the ten life lessons you should “unlearn.” I found myself highlighting practically every other word. This, of course, helped me decide that this may be inspiring to you all, as well.

Having experienced a double whammy of loss recently and being painfully aware that loss is inevitable in life, it is helpful and optimistic to see the silver lining. Loss teaches us some very valuable lessons and helps open our hearts to love and appreciation. It teaches us how to heal and how to live.

Beck writes:

Ten years ago I still feared loss enough to abandon myself in order to keep things stable. I’d smile when I was sad, pretend to like people who appalled me. What I now know is that losses aren’t cataclysmic if they teach the heart and soul their natural cycle of breaking and healing. A real tragedy? That’s the loss of the heart and soul themselves. If you’ve abandoned yourself in the effort to keep anyone or anything else, unlearn that pattern. Live your truth, losses be damned. Just like that, your heart and soul will return home.

Whether the loss you are experiencing is the death of a loved one, the end of  a relationship, or the distance of friends, it is important to understand and appreciate the cycle of breaking and healing. Loss does not define us, it does not make us unlucky or cursed, it is simply a part of life. Yes, it is probably the most difficult part of life, but it is one that helps us learn and grow and strengthens us. From loss we learn that we are stronger than we ever believed possible.