The Blog

What’s your aura?
April 25, 2017

It never fails. Every time we see Katie after being apart even a few weeks, I can’t believe how beautiful she is. It isn’t that we haven’t been in touch. We have. But the three-dimensional version of her is awe-inspiring. Yes, I’m biased. No, I’m not exaggerating.

She’s gone from little-girl cute to college-coed stunning to otherworldly. The last time we met up in our favorite spot not far from where she lives in Manhattan I couldn’t believe she was someone we knew, let alone know this well. Wasn’t she a movie star?

Ten seconds later I’d forgotten. Darrell had started teasing her and she was firing shots back so adeptly it was all we could do to stay upright given the laughter. Katie is, above all, silly.

She’s like Tim Conway. Do you remember those skits he used to do with Carol Burnett and Harvey Korman on Carol’s show? Hilarious.

You don’t have to be the best at what you do. If you’re silly enough it’ll help other people be at their best. Happiness is contagious.

“I would hate your job.”

Have you ever told someone that? If so, has anything bad happened? It hasn’t when I’ve used it. Waiters, customer service representatives, you name it. They’ve always given me the impression they appreciate me noticing how difficult their work can be. At the minimum they smile. But chances are they offer a little something back, about why the restaurant’s getting slammed or the computer system’s slow or whatever. Once in a while? They object. “I love my job!” they’ll say. And before I can ask them to elaborate, they elaborate. It’s great fun.

That’s how we recently got treated to more celebrity stories than you could fit into a supersized version of my favorite grab-and-go magazine, People. Our waitress had worked with the rich and famous in a job she had much earlier in her career. Her eyes just sort of twinkled with mischief as she gauged our interest. “Would you like me to dish?” she seemed to be saying. Oh, yes. Dish away.

I can’t remember whether I had dessert that evening. But I’ll never forget our waitress. She was sweet.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal bookI’ve cried twice in my life at sad news about celebrities. The first was when Peter Jennings died. Darrell and I loved the man.

The second was only recently, when I found out Amy Krouse Rosenthal had cancer.

I think I would’ve always been curious what Katie had for lunch or dinner -- breakfast doesn’t count as much, for some reason -- when she wasn’t with us. But Amy said if you really love someone, you want to know what she ate for lunch or dinner without you. Reading that made me positively exuberant about being curious. I quoted Amy to Katie more than once, and Katie pounced on the idea in the sweetest present.

With only this one sentiment, Amy became part of our family. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

What’s your question? You can probably get the answer online. That’s the good news. The bad news, depending on how you look at it, is that there’s often more than one “right” answer. Maybe the challenge of sifting through all that energizes you. It doesn’t me.

Now what?

I found someone who’s helping me navigate a brand-new world, professionally speaking. She charges by the hour, which thrills me. I can pose her questions without guilt, knowing she’s getting something for her trouble. Having her on call in case I get stuck? Priceless.

Who’s in your corner?

Do you make excuses?
April 18, 2017

Someone steps on your toe. It not only hurts like hell, but on closer examination the toe appears to be broken. You look up, and -- only because you’re writhing in pain -- you share how much you’re hurting.

The person who stepped on your toe says the following: “I’m sorry, but how was I supposed to avoid it? You were in my way!” Or, “If you would’ve been standing even a half an inch to the left this never would’ve happened!”

Feel better?

Didn’t think so!

And yes, I’m speaking metaphorically. But this kind of thing happens all the time.

When’s the last time someone told you that your plan was epic? Epic! I’ve had it happen once. Recently. My first thought at hearing my friend’s reaction was, “She’s right.” I’d signed up for some world-class coaching from a person who doesn’t do it for free, put it that way.

But my friend wasn’t kidding. She knew it would be worth it. “I feel it in my bones,” she said.

I was sure it would be a life-changing experience. It already was, after all. Deciding I was worth it, and deciding it will have been worth it. What happened during? Almost a bonus!

Epic. And a bonus.

Duluth for the blogMy guests have fun on the talk show. The reason is simple. I hang on their every word. It’s my job.

Think about it. When’s the last time you started talking, and someone pulled up a chair to listen more intently? When he didn’t pull out his phone or interrupt you or give you the impression he’d rather be somewhere else?

Attention is intoxicating. It costs nothing, and it’s priceless.

On our way back from Colorado one summer when Katie was little we needed an oil change. The lounge where we were waiting was okay, but hardly dreamy from a kid’s perspective. “How can I make this time fun for her?” I asked myself the way I always did. And as usual the first answer was, “I have no idea.” Not good enough. So I asked myself what a friend of ours would do, and I got the idea to ask Kate if she wanted to be my waitress. Did she! By the time she finished fetching coffee, napkins, a magazine -- and more coffee -- for the demanding customer I pretended to be, the car was ready.

And yes, of course the friend got this report.

You won’t always know what to do. But someone would. Maybe even a better, more creative version of yourself. Have a pretend conversation with that person.