The Blog

It’s none of our business, but it was a fun thing to chew on as a family. Did Cheryl Strayed go on an eleven-hundred mile hike through the wilderness so she could one day write a book about it?

Cheryl says no, if memory serves.

I know one thing. My next book was inspired by events I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But the book after that, about giving up junk food and getting my life back for good, was partially inspired by the possibility of a book. I thought giving up junk food for a year would be an experiment worth doing -- and sharing. At least as worthwhile as, say, The Year of Living Biblically -- nothing against that author or the Bible or even organized religion.

We’re all writing our life stories, as it turns out. People who write professionally might find it easier to remember that -- and to do something about the boring patches.

Whatever it takes!

The other day I ran into a gal who’d attended my latest presentation about my diet. “You said something in passing,” she offered, “that may have more to do with why you’re slender than what you eat.”

And that was?

“You stop eating a few hours before bedtime.”

Indeed I do.

She reminded me what I’d forgotten, that it is possible for me to gain weight even without eating junk food. When I realized that a few years ago I made that one little tweak, which not only sent the scale right back down to as low as I ever want to be -- but helped me sleep so much better it didn’t feel like a sacrifice.

I don’t go hungry -- unless I’m on one of those forty-eight hour fasts I do once every three months, more to reset my immune system than anything -- but I also don’t graze on even the healthy things just for something to do.

Magic!

Are you raising sheep?
February 26, 2015

New York CityWhen Katie decided to go to college at NYU people sometimes asked if I was worried about her. “I’m more worried about New York,” I teased them. “New York’s not going to know what hit it.”

We’d had plenty of previews, after all. We’d been to the big city plenty of times. It wasn’t long before Katie felt more at home there than she did at home.

So, no. I wasn’t worried. I haven’t worried about Katie taking care of herself since she was a preschooler on the playground -- scolding older boys for being too rough on some bouncy thing.

It comes in handy, that sense of self. Kate has an on-campus job she loves so much she’d do it if she wasn’t getting paid. She had to audition for it (this is NYU, after all) and it’s a lovely distraction from her scary difficult classes. Scary difficult to me, that is. More like annoyingly difficult, to her.

When the person who looked over her resume told her the people hiring for some internship wouldn’t care about some of her on-campus work her first thought was, “But I love that!”

Then, instead of trying to fit herself into some preconceived pretzel of an applicant for that target job, she immediately questioned the target.

Is that the best report card, or what?

Katie isn’t afraid to take an unpopular stance, and Darrell and I are so proud of her for that. We’re proud of her for knowing who she is, where she’s going, and who might be fun to have along.

I often wonder what I could’ve accomplished with even a fraction of Katie’s self esteem. Then I realize there’s still time to deliver on my own potential, thanks to her great example.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

No nonsense. It’s a philosophy of life, yes -- but also a brand of socks.

I love them. I love them in a way a normal person might be embarrassed to admit. But really. Is there anything better on a cold winter day than climbing out of a hot bath and tucking your powdered feet into a brand-new pair of cozy socks?

I would’ve probably left it at that, but when I recently realized the tights I love are the same brand -- they look great, they last forever, and you don’t have to wrangle a stiff piece of cardboard packaging out of one of the legs before you can wear them -- I thought, “Okay. That’s it. Somebody should get a letter from this most happy customer.”

So I wrote one and sent it by snail mail.

What do you do for fun? Watch TV? Bash people?

clockOnce upon a time I heard the suggestion to devote as much time to reflection as to action.

And I thought, “Really? Eight hours a day living, eight hours reflecting on that -- and eight hours asleep? That seems like a lot of time in reflection.”

As the years went by I realized how much of adult life is automatic. Making beds, paying bills, working out. Gradually it dawned on me the way to make the boring parts less boring was to use that time as meditation. How many problems can I solve while my hands are busy folding laundry? Plenty.

Now that housework and paperwork are filed under meditation, I do indeed have equal time to reflect on my life as I’m living it. I’m more than covered where that’s concerned. I spend so much time in reflection I guard against any more. Put me on a ski slope or in front of an audience. Exposure teaches, as a friend loves to remind me.

You’ve probably heard the unexamined life is not worth living. I love another friend’s take on that: “The unlived life is not worth examining.”

It’s a dance, isn’t it?

Digging into life with everything you have -- and letting go of the idea you’ll ever be sure what it meant.

Alarm clocks are dream murderers. So says Lauri Loewenberg -- a certified dream analyst who joined us on the show recently at the suggestion of another wonderful guest, Patricia Rossi. If you can’t wake up without an alarm, Lauri suggests you get one that wakes you up gradually and helps you remember your dreams long enough to make sense of them.

Something else that will help, Lauri says, is staying in the same position when you wake up. Don’t sit up. Don’t even roll over. You’re moving between dreamland and awakeland, and that’s quite a transition. Be still. Behave as if you’re still asleep, so you can capture what’s fast fading -- the insights you had when you were.

revised Huff PostTalk about doing what works.

This is one functional family!

Just because a lot of us read magazines like People doesn’t mean publications like that are bad for you.

Does it?

I’ll take a good success story regardless of the source. And I couldn’t resist asking John Bush, a comedian who worked in New York City as a young man, about any celebrities he got to know. He spent time around the likes of Louis CK and Sarah Silverman, as I mentioned in my last post. I wondered what might surprise people about them. “How hard they work,” John said without hesitation.

You want a recipe for success? Have a dream. Work your ass off. Repeat.

Forget shortcuts. The reward is in the work.

People who are the most successful rarely keep working, from what I hear, because they need the money. They keep working because it’s fun.

Hard work and great fun aren’t mutually exclusive.

Just keep telling yourself that. Embroider it on a pillow. Because one day you might look back and realize being there wasn’t nearly as much fun as getting there.

Not by a long shot.