The Blog

One of my blog editors is taking a break from editing this week in favor of work that pays more and is more fun. As part of the welcoming committee for freshmen at the Stern School of Business at NYU, Katie’s accompanying them to the US Open -- and to Central Park for more fun and games. For starters.

I know, tough life.

So I’ll be digging into the archives over the next few days in case you’ve missed anything over at the Huffington Post.

Of anything I’ve written, an essay about Katie’s first day of kindergarten -- which doesn’t seem all that long ago -- will probably always be my favorite.

I hope you like it, too.

You won’t necessarily know why someone has stopped availing himself of your services. Maybe he’s low on cash. Maybe he’s consumed with a personal problem. Maybe he’s taking a step back from everything to give himself a fresh perspective.

Maybe it’s all of the above. Maybe none.

What happens next is up to you. You can let him know you wish him well and will be happy to be of service if something changes back. Or you can start rooting against him, dissing him to others, start pulling things behind the scenes.

I’ve always been fascinated by people who choose the latter. And it always reminds me what the friend of a friend once said: “Oh, well. They get the life that goes with it.”

When Darrell got laid off from his job a few months before Katie was born the timing struck us as less than ideal. But he went back to work again right away, from home.

Because of that seemingly unfortunate event, Katie grew up with not one but two parents working from home and doting on her constantly. We’ve been a pack, the three of us, since before she was born.

“It’ll be interesting to see what kind of person she becomes,” our friends told us, “for having grown up like that.”

The results are in, and they’re amazing.

Is it any wonder when Darrell looks back on twenty years of being in business, he counts Katie as his greatest achievement?

Not to me!

Giving up junk food was one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Much of what I love about my life can be traced to the decision to take in only good.

The origin of that decision was not exclusively, shall we say, only good. I think you’ll find it interesting, and I have Darrell’s blessing to share.

So here goes.

We were on a date many years ago -- as close as we usually got to one, anyway. A long, leisurely walk on the beach with Katie. It was a hot summer day -- blistering would be more accurate -- and off in the distance, I saw it. A lemonade stand featuring icy cups of the fresh-squeezed variety. It called to me in a way few things had before, or since.

Darrell and I had been married long enough for me to know better than to suggest spending three dollars on something this indulgent, just for me, very often -- but not long enough to have been prepared for what followed my suggestion.

Let’s just say he made quite the case for how much more lemonade we could buy if we spent the same three dollars at the grocery store. By the time he finished I was more wilted from the shame than the heat.

I didn’t realize it then, but my brain set to work on this problem. I knew those little splurges would call once in a while, and I doubted Darrell’s feelings about them would change. The way to solve this, I guessed, was to stop wanting what I wanted.

But how?

It took several years, but I did it. I became a new person, food and drinkwise, and it started with this blistering summer day.

That’s when I learned to make my own lemonade, metaphorically speaking.

Eventually!

Darrell and I used to run for an hour at a time at a steady pace. Then I suggested we try what I’d been reading about -- run hard for thirty seconds followed by a light jog for ninety seconds, over and over. We cut twenty minutes off our total time and get a better workout.

This is a better way to run for a lot of reasons. It’s easier on our knees, for one thing.

I’m not one to coast, though. I’m always on the lookout for a way to work -- and work out -- more efficiently, and recently I came across a suggestion for making a run even easier on your knees. Land flat, as opposed to landing on your toes or your heels…and take shorter strides.

It’s unbelievable what a difference that’s made. I used to have this nagging feeling my knees were on (forgive me) their last legs. Not anymore.

But I’m no doctor, so I feel compelled to offer one more thing. Your mileage may vary!

How do you appear?
August 24, 2014

Once upon a time I was a pretty twenty-year-old who didn’t think it was important to buckle up. Suddenly I was sporting a scar on my forehead so scary a little kid in the grocery store cried as she ran for cover behind her mom.

They say looks don’t matter. I would’ve been tempted to believe them, had I not lost mine for a while.

If you need braces -- or something to cover the gray, or a noncancerous mole removed -- to keep you from wincing when you look in the mirror, I wouldn’t pay attention to those who make fun of you for it.

Maybe they say, “You shouldn’t need that to feel good about yourself.”

You don’t have to tell them, necessarily, what would feel even better. People who don’t decide how much something should hurt and whether you should do something about it.

Employers care about your appearance. They might claim they don’t, but when’s the last time someone with a sloppy appearance got hired over a competitor who looked the part -- all other things being equal?

It’s called love at first sight. Not love at first inkling this might be a real sweetheart of a person.

And sure, you’ll want to make sure you’re as attractive on the inside as you are on the outside. There’s nothing particularly appealing about false advertising, either!

“You are the view.”

That was an observation in a post about laundry, of all things. The author, Becky Blades, was sharing tips for her firstborn daughter as she got ready to leave for college.

“As you roll out of bed and into your sweats for an unstructured day, think about all the people who will be treated to the vision of you,” Becky suggested. I felt a wave of relief for putting on at least a little makeup in the morning, even if I’m sure Darrell will be the only person to see me all day. He counts.

Katie laughed at that, but she didn’t like where this post was going. Caring too much about what other people think -- despite the care she takes with her own appearance -- isn’t her style.

She has a point, but I found another one. When I dress up, I feel better -- and people respond differently. Is that because I’ve dressed up, or because I feel better?

Early in my corporate career I had a cream-colored suit dress that made me feel as beautiful on the outside as I was insecure on the inside. Every time I wore it I had a great day. I felt like a movie-star version of myself, and the world responded accordingly.

It’s been so long since I’ve considered buying a dress I hardly knew what to think a couple of months ago, when I tried one on that was promising. I popped out of a fitting room to let Darrell and Katie weigh in. Something told me it was a cream-colored suit dress feeling, but I didn’t trust it.

That’s one reason I was touched when a woman on her way into another fitting room said, “You look stunning.”

I don’t know where the dress will make its debut, but something tells me it’s going to be a great day!

Positive thinking won’t pay the bills, but it might help you get -- and stay -- in the mindset of a winner, someone for whom paying the bills is a “but of course.”

Career consultants see the opposite all the time, people caught up in a cycle of fear. Clients so worried about losing everything they move through the world as losers -- scheming only about that worst case, giving off desperation with every breath. Not the profile of a winner-in-progress.

Success coach Mike Dooley says thinking small isn’t easy or hard. “It’s just a habit. A habit with consequences.”

“Same for thinking big,” he adds.

Which do you choose?