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DAY 006: sometimes the biggest gifts come in small packages

6 Jan

Yesterday I played a gift game.

It was with my friend Sheryl, who happens to be the most adorable 9-months pregnant woman I know.

We met for lunch at Cheesecake Factory.
And I had a gift card burning a hole in my wallet.

A Lord & Taylor’s gift card to be exact.

With a whopping $17.25 stored on it. I have had it for years… like seven years. In my wallet. Waiting to be spent. Wanting to be used. Begging to be swiped!

Actually it is so old that it doesn’t even have a swipe bar on it. Just a bar code. Old school.

The kicker is that it came from my “former” husband — as my dear friend Diane keeps reminding me to say, instead of “ex.”

I have not known what to do with it. I didn’t want to spend it on myself. I didn’t want to throw it away.

Then I met Sheryl for lunch right next to a L&T store.
I realized we could spend the money on the BABY!

After all, a baby needs LOTS of NEW things in the first moments of their new life. And, luckily, Sheryl agreed to play my little game — and let my GIFT OF THE DAY be to the baby — using my old gift card.

Now, the baby has yet to have a name.
And, we do not know his, er…um, hers.. well, IT’s gender yet.

But we knew we had $17.25 to spend on him/her/it. So off to the Lord and Taylor’s it was — with a gift for the BABY!

I have never seen so many adorable baby clothes in my life. The ruffles! The polka-dots! The stripes! The little suits for boys — with ties!

We finally found a cute little sleeper with monkeys on it for $11.99.

Close. But not quite.

We still had $5.26 to spend. And I wanted to spend ALL the money on the BABY.

Just as I was knee deep in a pile of stuffed animals sorting through fuzzy whales and green dinosaurs (actually, scary dinos with fangs and teeth) Sheryl called from across the aisle.

“I found it!”

And she did. One yellow sleeper with a teddy bear and a ducky on the front, made in the softest of fabric, with a flap on the back that says, “peek a boo.”


baby_gift, the promise daily, jamie eslinger, the promise 365

It reminds me that anything is possible.

Even turning bad memories on an old gift card into new dreams for a new life.

The gift may have been for baby, but in a way, it felt like the thrill was all for me. Or, rather, my heart.

More tomorrow.


P.S. Did you sign into The Promise Daily yet? More goodies there.

Day 268: have a theme song? (REPRISE)

25 Sep

I had a profoundly wonderful conversation with a friend today that made me remember this blog post from last year. So, I opted to republish tonight because I think it is significant.

This one’s for you my dear…believe in yourself.


On Day 149 I wrote about how I held on to this blog for one more day after seeing the movie Bridesmaids and it’s absolutely 80’s theme song Hold On by Wilson Phillips.

Later, Cheryl posted a fantabulous question:

My question to you is: if you had to pick ONE song as your THEME song, what would it be?’

Now, that’s a great question, especially during this year and through the course of The Promise 365.  So great, I am dedicating an entire blog post to it.  So, thank you Cheryl, from the bottom of my heart.

Here we go…

Before I share my theme song, I want to share what I think about theme songs ~ I believe in them.  I always have one.

I blame Whitney Houston.
If it weren’t for Whit, I wouldn’t have started my love affair with theme songs.

You see it all began at a 6th grade slumber party.

It occurred during a lip-sync competition in my friend’s living room.  My song was Greatest Love of All and I was stage ready, with hair brush in hand and collar turned up I stole the shag carpet living room stage with wood paneling backdrop.  I practically had the audience (five other 12 year-old girls) crying by the time I was done with that little number.

At least that’s what I remember.  I put my heart and soul into it.
And, yes, that may be right about the time I realized not everyone sings into their hair brush microphone in front of the bathroom mirror and bright vanity lights at night.

But, I won the lip-sync competition and was properly rewarded with a bag of Doritos and a movie we watched on a “VCR” ~ have I properly dated myself yet?

That was circa 1986, but it doesn’t stop there.

Zoom forward to 1991, a first kiss, a first fall for love and a first really bad choice in theme song.  Justin came into my life right about the time Paula Abdul came on the national scene.  Which explains why our first song will forever be remembered as Rush, Rush ~ one we couldn’t rush fast enough to regret (the song, not the first kiss!).

There was my high school senior song, Right Here, Right Now by Jesus Jones.  That was 1992 and it came into my life following my diagnosis of cancer and months of treatment followed by the hoopla of graduation, college acceptance, and a new frontier I was grateful to explore, leaving the IV’s, radiation and surgery behind.

(As a side note, the rest of my graduating class voted for Joker, by Steve Miller Band).

Five years later, after college and dating and break-ups and the craziness of trying to grow up, I celebrated my 5 year remission mark by renting out a bar and throwing a party in Washington D.C. with all my brand new co-workers who had known me for all of five minutes.  There’s nothing like meeting someone for the first time with an intro of:  “Hi, I’m Jamie. I had cancer, want to come to my remission party?”

It worked, the bar was packed.  I hired a band and they brought another band to open for them.  And they played my theme song.  What was it?  Alive.  It was the “I’m still alive” part that got me drunk, singing at the top of my lungs.  Hey, I was 22 years old.

A few years later I experienced the first deep loss of my life.

It was also the moment that I had my first encounter with a mystical force that is beyond words.  My mother passed away after a long battle with breast cancer.

On the night she died, I was over 1,000 miles away from her in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  In the middle of the night, I woke up and bolted straight up in bed.  I looked at the clock and stared with confusion until I fell back asleep.  I later found out that was the exact time of my mother’s death.  Shortly after her funeral this song found me, 1000 Miles by Vanessa Carlton.  In fact, it still finds me, at the most appropriate times.

There were many happy years with lots of happy songs, jobs, condos, marriage, until of course there wasn’t.  Disaster struck.

I left my home, my marriage and my life all in one night. 
That’s another story for another day, but my theme song got me through it.  Whenever Pink came on the radio belting out So What I turned up the volume and screamed from the top of my lungs.  I did that for two years until the divorce papers came through signed, sealed, and delivered.

And, that pretty much brings us full circle, which brings this little story back to Justin.

We reconnected on Facebook, of all places, fifteen years after that first kiss.  Well, you can’t blame us for “rushing” into anything.  You could say we took our time or maybe held our breathe, or a little of both.  Either way, Just Breathe by Pearl Jam played in our hearts and minds as we moved to a little island off Cape Cod to figure it all out.

And, now, to answer Cheryl’s question. 
My current theme song of 2011 for this Promise of 365 Days is….

Drum-roll please.

I could have chosen Raise Your Glass or Firework or so many more.  But here’s where I landed, for a year of focusing on my head, heart, body & soul:

Believe In Yourself by Brad.

Because, I believe you can do anything…
If you believe in yourself

I would love to hear some of your theme songs.
xo ~Jamie

Day 258: the rock solid shape of your heart #love

15 Sep

When I arrived home after our funny little thing the other night, I found a pile of rocks on my desk.

Actually, I didn’t see them at all. When I crawled into bed Justin finally asked, “Did you see what I left on your desk?”

“You left something on my desk?” I said with half sleepy eyes. Justin just gave me that look. The look I have come to know as Jamie Stop Complaining. 

I peeled myself out of bed, somewhat annoyed and practically sleep walking into the other room to see what was so urgent it couldn’t wait on my desk until morning.

It was a pile of rocks.
But not just any rocks.

They were all heart shaped.

Justin found them on the beach that day and reported back to me. “I kept seeing a theme so I brought them home. I thought maybe you could write a blog about it.”

Boy, can I.
That man constantly surprises me.

Just when I think he has left me a pile of rocks I realize he has left me the shape of his heart.

I just have to listen and trust and pay attention more. 

Day 24: pop goes the birthday!

24 Jan

I love birthdays.  Problem is, I forget birthdays.  
I’m sure I would forget my own if I didn’t have such wonderful people in my life to help me celebrate.

And, it is, in fact, birthday week around here (the official day is Thursday).  That means …our bags are packed for the Bahamas!  We leave in the morning!

Justin surprised me with this little trip as a way to help celebrate my birthday, and to celebrate everything that happened with The Promise 365 last year.

I love celebrations, marking time, reflecting and honoring where we have been.

And, tonight, my first birthday gift, the first marker of this 38th birth year, came in with a POP!   Debbie and Rob gave me a fun send-off with a surprise gift just after our Women on Fire Live Chat ended.

First, there was this beautifully wrapped box.
(With a bow that Debbie’s big, white, fluffy cat Wilbur loved more than anything!)

Then, I opened up a huge, rolled up scroll of paper that was protected with bubble wrap.

And, finally, I realized that THIS wasn’t your average bubble wrap …it is the BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR! — the one I found online and pined for earlier in the month.  I was so surprised, you can see the photo is blurry from my utter excitement.

So for the rest of 2012, as each day goes by, I will POP it off my calendar.  What fun.  How special.  I. Love. It.  (you can watch a video of how it works here)

And, I love the people in my life who remember my birthday.  What a beautiful act of love, to just say, “hey, happy birthday, glad you’re on the planet.”

So it is, with this popping calendar, I finally had a POP! go off in my mind.
I love birthdays.  I love the people in my life.
Why don’t I remember their birthdays?

So, that is exactly the birthday promise I vow to make, as I blow out the candles on this 38th birthday week celebration.  There is no reason to forget a special birthday, especially with Facebook reminders and technology all around  …and now, this fun, popping calendar!

So, if I don’t already have it, send me your birthday.
We’ll celebrate and make it go Pop!

You can watch the popping video below or at this link.

Day 22: it’s your lucky year

22 Jan

Tomorrow begins the Year of The Dragon and the Chinese New Year.  There will be much celebration.  Tomorrow also marks Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year.

One stands for luck.
The other represents a moody, depressed, hide-in-bed-with-covers-over-your-head kind of existence.

How can these two diabolically opposed ideas be the same day?
I suppose it depends on if you see the glass (or rather — the day) as half-full or half-empty.

Maybe it depends on what side of the field you sit.

Today, everyone in my household was focused on luck, huddled around the television watching men in tights run an odd-shaped ball up and down a 100-yard field.   Luck was top of mind (actually PRAYING was top of mind) as the New England Patriots barely pulled out a win and landed a place in Super Bowl XLVI.

But, it was close. They almost lost, many, many times.

And that got me thinking…
What would happen if we always focused on the lucky side of the equation?  When we win.  And, when we lose.

Isn’t that, indeed, love?

Wherever you sit on the field tonight, I wish you a Blue Monday full of roses.
And, I wish you a Year of The Dragon full of luck.

As they say in Mandarin: 
Gong Xi Fa Ca!
  — “wishing you prosperity”

Day 21: i’m a believer

21 Jan

I am home alone tonight.
It’s just me, Pup and a bowl of popcorn.

The perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading and browse entertainment on TV.

First up:  Shrek The Third
Just the sight of Shrek, any Shrek (1, 2, or 3), makes the song “I’m A Believer” continuously run through my mind.

And, that got me thinking …what do I believe in my heart?
So, I made a short list.

I believe…

  • the best sound in the world is a baby laughing
  • graduating to the “real world” feels like high school all over again (with less hair and better cars)
  • technology is good
  • dogs rule
  • there is power in knowledge
  • there is greater wisdom in intuition
  • my mother is still with me in spirit
  • in music
  • in sleep
  • in kindness
  • friends are better than chocolate
  • vacations are essential
  • life should be easy
  • energy is everything
  • in pursuing dreams
  • in happy endings
  • nothing ends, life goes on

I know I missed some major points on this short list, but, as this year progresses and I begin to explore all matters of the heart, I also know, more than anything, I believe in the power of love.

The song I’m A Believer (the one playing through my head right now) begins, “I thought love was only true in fairytales.”

Seems to me that when we live with an open heart, life becomes a fairytale.  At the very least, it is my goal to find out over these 365 days.

Oh, and one more thing: I believe that we — you — can do anything.

What do you believe?

Video: I’m A Believer – by Smash Mouth

Day 362: the wrap up part 2 :: heart

28 Dec

Here we are, closing in on 365 days and the end of this year.  And, what a year it has been.

So much has changed in my world, in this year, that I am dedicating a full day to each of my promises: head, heart, body and soul.

Because if I have learned anything this year, it is this: the magic is in reflection.

Part 2:  heart

I heart clothes. And shoes.
Love them.  Always have.  It’s been a life-long love affair.

As a toddler I dressed myself and changed outfits throughout the day, to my mother’s (and her laundry schedule’s) chagrin.

And then my feet grew.
It seemed for a handful of my teenage years, as my body stretched inches and inches every year and I towered above the boys, the only thing that really fit were shoes.

Shoes have always been here for me.  And I have loved them greatly.

Then along came 2011 and my promise not to buy shoes or clothes.

Over the course of this year, I have come to love my clothes and shoes even more, the kind of love that happens when you cherish something because you can’t entertain the notion of buying something new or replacing it.

Especially those pink and green rain boots that carried me through the year, from a freak snow storm in Michigan to a blustery rainy day in New York city.

But even deeper than my love for fashion, I have opened my heart to a bigger source of love over this journey.

Maybe I found the location of my heart chakra, or maybe I learned how to close my mouth and open my ears in order to listen deeper (instead of interrupting with my own commentary), or maybe, just maybe, exploring all matters of the heart was always as simple as setting an intention and following through.

It seems the secret-magic-recipe-formula-elixir to having and holding anything we want in life is really just as simple as that — L.O.V.E.

It’s more than a four letter word.
Funny it took me this long to figure it out.

So what did I learn about the power of the heart?
This: all we have to do is let love it.

After that, the head, heart, body and soul know how to take care of the rest.

Let the magic begin.

Day 358: christmas cookies and holiday hearts

24 Dec

Oh. Frosting.

I never thought I would see this day.
I turned down a Christmas cookie.

As we decorated the sugar cookies, with fingers caked in white fluffy frosting, I was tempted to take a lick.

But, I didn’t.
I suppose one lick wouldn’t matter.
Nor, would one cookie hurt.

The problem is once I hit the green light and say go, my sweet tooth kicks into overdrive and doesn’t know when (or how) to stop.

There may come a day when I can just say no, stop at one, and only devour a single cookie instead of a platter or plate-full.  But, I know that day isn’t here yet.

And, so it was, on this day before Christmas that I realized it may indeed be the first of my cookie-less holidays.

Even still, I decorated with care, a smile on my face, singing that old holiday song:

Christmas cookies and holiday hearts,
That’s the way the holiday starts.
Christmas cookies and holiday hearts,
Goodie, goodie, yum, yum, yum!

Because even though I won’t be eating any scrumptious cookies this year, I will be filling my heart with the sweetness of the season (and maybe my glass with a little wine!).

The cookies, of course, would taste sweeter – momentarily.
But the heart beats on long past the holidays.

Goodie, goodie, yum, yum, yum!

Day 355: when serendipity has other plans

21 Dec

(Submitted at Gate 23 Houston airport via iPad. Not a small feat. Will post photo tomorrow when I have real computer access.)

We just arrived in Houston on our way to Seattle. We arrived at Gate E3 and our next flight leaves out of Gate E2. Justin and I both looked at each other thinking of serendipity and said “That NEVER happens!”

Turns out it doesn’t.

After eating a sit down dinner (including alligator bites) we arrived at our gate only to find a plane headed to Mexico. Gate change. Off to Gate C23.
On our way to C23, in the middle of the airport hustle and bustle we heard a joyous cry and stopped in our tracks. It was Kim and Dave Justin’s cousins! There we all were heading to different gates amongst gate changes and holiday travel taking us to different parts of the country. As if we were supposed to meet in the middle. As if serendipity wanted to say happy holidays.

Day 354: are you making a commitment for 2012?

20 Dec

I woke up this morning to walk along the beach and see the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico.

What woke me up at this early hour? I had a commitment to meet Debbie on the beach to film a portion of our year-end video.

It was so beautiful and serene I wondered, why don’t I do this more often?

The answer is pretty simple of course.  I don’t always have a reason to go, a person to meet, an appointment, a commitment to keep.

And, that is the secret sauce, isn’t it?  Commitment.

Whether it be working out, eating better, taking a break, or taking care of ourselves, sometimes all we need is a little commitment to push us over the “think about it” line and into the “just do it” arena.

Which kind of sums up my year.

With eleven days left (eleven days!!) I can hardly believe this year is almost over.  But, in my heart, I know the work has just begun.  Taking care of my head, heart, body and soul is really a life-long commitment.

It’s easy when the pressure is on, but how will it be when I take this public promise private?

It’s a good question.

That’s why I am officially re-upping The Promise 365 for 2012.  The rules will be different and my promise will change (which I will share with you soon!).

But, here’s what I love best — you can join me.

So, what do you want to do in 2012…
Eat better, do less, laugh more, watch the sunrise?

It’s a good question.

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