The Blog

I used to think HuffPost writers had an okay job. But shortly after I started contributing to the site, Darrell and Katie and I got a tour of the New York office. I was surprised by how dreary it seemed. The main floor was filled with row after row of people sitting at screens, as you might expect, but the room was dark -- and a little depressing. It was so quiet.

I kept asking myself how I’d feel if I worked at one of those screens. The answer? I’d probably always be counting the minutes until I could get out into the light.

Maybe sunlight streaming in from a reliable source wouldn’t even make your top ten “must have” working conditions. Me? I need lots of light the way most people need plenty of air. Which reminds me of a fake commercial I saw once, probably on Saturday Night Live, about a free trip to Alaska -- which consisted of five nights and six nights.

How do you like to work?

Darrell and I snagged a seat to the best show in town. It’s called Katie’s Life. One thing that strikes us? What an original she is. She went to one of the best business schools in the country completely by accident (long story), and there -- surrounded by people so freakishly future-focused their parents were inquiring about internships on move-in day -- she bought into exactly zero of the madness.

We told Katie a long time ago we didn’t care if she went to college, that’s how “hands off” we were. It is, and always has been, her life. Still, neither of us could’ve predicted just how creatively she lives. Things are working out so freakishly perfectly I’d freak out about jinxing it by saying that, had I not gotten to know her as well as I have.

Katie lives with a sense of adventure. She takes one thing at a time. One day, one moment, at a time. She throws herself into whatever’s right in front of her so completely (and exuberantly!) the next step unfolds magically. And then the one after that.

I’m perched squarely on top of the precipice between a life I’ll mourn for not having done more with, and the life I feel destined for. It’s solemn and scary. Mostly solemn. But there’s a resolve in me that wasn’t there before, and I credit Katie.

With every step I channel more of her spirit, and I get stronger every day.

for the blog 171116Which reminds me of asking Kindergarten Katie why she was skipping (seriously, skipping) through the halls at school. “It doesn’t count as running,” she reported. Running wasn’t allowed, but she’d found a workaround -- to everyone’s delight.

Maybe it’s worth repeating. It isn’t our job, as parents, to teach kids how to live. Our job is to stay out of their way, to watch them live -- and to have the good sense to follow their lead.

Many years ago I worked with a guy I adored. He was smart and funny and fun, and no one -- not even Darrell or Katie -- has laughed harder at my stories.

He and his family became friends to Darrell and Kate and me, and one day while we were waiting for their delicious homemade vegetarian pizza to finish warming in their oven, he told me about someone in his extended family whose very name could make him sick. Seriously. He told us just hearing the name of the state that person was from -- let’s call it Michigan -- could trigger the same reaction.

I was Team This Guy, obviously. I held him in such esteem I was sure the other person was the problem. Which is…beside the point. The point is what changed as I listened to his revelation.

There are people -- not in my immediate orbit, thankfully -- who inspire the same reaction in me. I never crave time with them, not even for the practice of transcending that nails-on-a-chalkboard feeling. But until my friend -- my super-successful-seeming friend with the sweetest immediate family and a professional way about him I will always miss -- owned up to this messy part of his life, I’d always thought my aversion to some people was a character flaw.

Not anymore!

I’m really bored with working out. Almost every day I’m downstairs lifting weights, and then -- a little while later -- I’m outside, running three or four miles. But recently, when I was still awestruck by the beautiful fall colors, I started doing something new. Which was to give myself credit for the thousands of miles I’ve logged since deciding running was one secret to life.

I’m ridiculously healthy, but it isn’t magic. It’s rep after rep, mile after mile. Sometimes it’s kind of okay “during” -- if I remember to focus my attention on things I love -- and it always feels great “after.” But the next time a workout comes around? “Ugh. Are you kidding?”

Then I do what I’m supposed to do. I don’t like working out, and I’ll probably never look forward to it. Being a grownup about that, though, makes being a grownup easier. An hour or two a day, most days of the week, is actually a bargain.

There’s an art sculpture in town that wasn’t designed to be a playground. Nobody told the kids that, though. Apparently. Because they’re climbing all over it. It’s high enough in a couple of spots to be somewhat heart-attack inducing when you see them perched up there, which we have. Lots of times.

If a child would fall from that height onto the concrete below, something bad is likely to happen. I’m talking really bad.

And, yes. I’ve shared this with people a bit closer to the action. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I wasn’t about to keep my mouth shut this time. Having spoken up won’t save me from being heartbroken if something did happen to a youngster, but not having done so would mean feeling even worse.

clockIf you wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty getting back to sleep, what if the reason isn’t some health problem in the making? What if it’s much more benign?

If you’re like me, considering that possibility won’t hurt your chances of drifting off again.

I don’t have a lot of experience with this. I’m a good sleeper. But it’s happened. And it’s almost as if I’ve had a nap, so my brain is rested -- or so it thinks! -- and now it wants to play. It wants to chew on this problem, indulge that reverie, whatever. I have to talk to it like I would a toddler: “No, it isn’t actually time to get up yet.” But like a toddler, my brain is not so easily distracted. So I do what the experts suggest. I focus on my next breath. How it feels to breathe in and then breathe out again. And then again. How wonderful it is, that next breath, and then the next one.

It sounds sweet, but it’s actually boring as hell. Which is…the point! Keep bringing it back to the boring breath business -- in, out, in, out -- and rock your brain back to sleep.

I can’t promise it’ll work for you as well as it does for me. But it might!

What are you pretending not to know? Why don’t you do the things you know you should be doing?

As questions go, aren’t those beautiful? I could chew on them for the rest of my days. They feel like a great starting place for being proud of the rest of my days.

They came from this list. If you love a good question as much as I do, you might enjoy it!

I’m in the garage, rehearsing for another presentation. It’s late on a Saturday evening, but it’s unseasonably warm -- so it’s downright pleasant out there. I listen to myself tell a story I’ve told dozens of times before, but I’m putting the emphasis on different words -- to keep myself from sounding like I’ve told the story even one other time. Suddenly it hits me: “This is really fun.”

I’ve always imagined speaking would be part of my career combo platter, but for a lot of reasons I didn’t get serious about it until recently. I knew there was no guarantee I’d have as much fun with it as I did when I was in elementary school. I was quite the public speaking badass at St. Pius the Tenth. You can ask.

I’m happy to report it’s even more fun than I remember having as a kid. There’s more at stake, for one thing. I’m hell-bent on making it worth your time to be there with me, on making it fun, on making this be the start of a really fun chapter for both of us.

My goal with any particular presentation is to tickle your imagination. I don’t want you to get to a point where you decide, “Well, this is it. This is all my life is ever going to be.” No! Maybe the fun is just beginning. Wouldn’t that be something?

For you and me. Let’s make it a good story. Let’s not pretend to know what happens next.