The Blog

Are you raising sheep?
February 27, 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.

Is imitation really the sincerest form of flattery? Or is it the surest sign you’re being ripped off?

My feet were firmly planted in the latter camp until I talked with John Bush, a comedian who’s spent time with the likes of Louis CK and Sarah Silverman. John reminded me the people I’ve loved the most over the years -- the people who’ve loved me the most right back -- imitate me constantly. They pick up on my word choices, my gestures, everything. And they make me feel like I’m an okay person to be around.

John admitted he’s lost a few friends who weren’t crazy about how he imitated them. Which made me wonder how I’d react to an imitation that wasn’t flattering. What if someone held up a mirror and I cringed at the reflection?

It would sting. I’d feel terrible. Then I’d ask myself if it was accurate. If it was, I’d decide if it was something I wanted to change. And if I could, I would. I wouldn’t shoot the messenger.

That would be shooting myself in the foot!

Is it just me, or are the happiest people the least inclined to criticize?

It used to annoy me to be around people who are sure I’m doing it wrong. Life, that is. Mine. Not theirs.

Criticism is an art form, I suppose. And I bet you know someone who elevates it to a new low, then wonders why you don’t crave more time with her.

I’ll probably never relish more time with haters -- and they’re everywhere. But increasingly I’m using them as a test of focus. One of these days, if backed into that proverbial corner, I might even say it out loud: “If you don’t like the way I live, don’t live that way.”

I’ll let you know how that lands!