The Blog

With school back in session, a lot of work-from-home parents suddenly find themselves with time to start something -- and finish it.

Darrell and I spent so much time with Katie this summer I put the day in the win column if all I accomplished was working out.

Now that she’s back at NYU I have time to work. There’s so much time it’s unnerving. The other day I realized, with more time to listen to my own voice, I almost feel guilty about that.

Is this my brain, not on drama?

It doesn’t matter.

All that matters is having something to show for it.

Back to work!

You know the feeling. The feeling you get about someone that tells you she’s going to be trouble.

Have you ever been wrong? Seriously. Has that feeling ever steered you wrong? Have you ever taken pains to avoid someone, only to find out later you’ve been missing out on a real sweetheart?

I didn’t think so. I’m sure it happens, but I bet it’s rare.

Not that life isn’t filled with people we’d rather work around than work with. Every good story has quite a cast of characters. You won’t find your story compelling if it doesn’t have a villain or two, or one around every corner for a stretch.

Remembering this will help you trust your life.

I hope!

Who sees the best in you?
September 18, 2014

When I sent Katie the last set of posts to edit, I almost included a disclaimer. “I’m rusty from our vacation, honey,” I wanted to say. “Feel free to nix every one.”

I didn’t, though. I knew she’d tell me if something wasn’t worth sharing. She’s done it before. I love knowing she’ll tell me the truth. She loves knowing I can handle it.

So I kept it zipped. I didn’t want to color her impressions with my insecurity.

I needn’t have worried. She appreciated the tips and the insights, and she loved how I presented them.

Katie’s my toughest critic. She’s also a big reason I summon the nerve to keep showing up, here.

Thanks for reading. It’s a thrill for both of us.

The world won’t end if you make a mistake.

I bet you know people who live as if it would. The man who can’t bear to be wrong -- for whom proffering an apology is unthinkable because it would mean admitting he was. The woman who apologizes for everything, just in case -- to avoid being humiliated if someone points out a mistake before she does. And people who refuse to speak in public because they worry something terrible might happen.

I think I can help with that last one. Well, not me. An organization called Toastmasters. My friend Colleen Wainwright joined us on the show recently to talk about it. She reminded me Toastmasters is a place to fail safely, though she was quick to add she isn’t the first person to have that observation. It’s one I wish I would’ve lingered on during the show.

A place to fail safely.

You know, like home.

Maybe you grew up knowing it was okay to fail -- indeed, encouraged to fail -- because mistakes are, as the saying goes, nothing more than directions: “Go this way. No, not that far. Back the other way a little bit…”

If not, and if you’re paralyzed with fear at the prospect of public speaking, Toastmasters might be just the ticket to a great big beautiful new life.

Bottoms up!

This is the most hilarious observation I’ve ever heard from a newly-married man about his bride: “She talks a lot.”

Darrell and I had been married many years by then, long after I’d broken the habit of talking for recreation. The talk show helps, by the way. I still analyze every exchange on the program, and talking feels more like work now.

But when we were first married, the wife of someone I knew spooked me. She talked so much she could’ve been in a carnival. She went on for hours without seeming to take a breath. She was also the sweetest woman, just a peach. But interesting? No. Three words into her second sentence and I started wishing I would’ve brought something to color.

Her name became code for, “Am I boring you?” All I had to do was look at Darrell, invoke her name, and he’d know I needed reassurance.

One of the best things about being married to your best friend is not constantly feeling like you have to entertain each other. Always being “on” is exhausting.

But we’ve gotten so intent on plowing through piles of work around here sometimes we go hours without comparing notes on very much -- and pretty soon a few days have gone by and, well, I get rusty. I kind of forget how to talk.

Doesn’t that sound silly?

Darrell doesn’t think so. He noticed, on a recent Saturday as I compared notes with my good friend Colleen Wainwright about our mutual love of public speaking, I wasn’t as quick on the draw. I found myself wondering how to turn an idea into a sentence.

You know, speak.

Darrell agrees it might be better to talk more in between recording sessions.

Too bad we didn’t record that statement, eh?

My friend Larry Nettles, a sales executive, is like so many of my other favorite guests on the talk show. He takes it seriously. He’s on time, he’s caffeinated, he’s ready with all kinds of useful advice wrapped in fun -- as if he’d just pulled you aside in an airport lounge in hopes he can make your life a little easier.

I’d listen if it wasn’t my show.

That’s how I know I’m doing a good job, when I’d listen even if it wasn’t my job. I’m careful with how I spend my time -- because the more time goes by, the less I have.

I value your time, too.

Thanks for listening!

“I think Mom has a good system.”

That’s what Darrell told Katie recently about how I decide what to watch or read.

I give a movie thirty minutes -- if we’re watching it at home, that is -- and I give a book thirty pages. If I’m not hooked by then, I bail. Why suffer through something that’s just okay when so many other delights await? There isn’t time to take everything in, and there’s no rule that says you have to finish because you started.

Do I miss the occasional gem that would’ve enchanted after more than thirty minutes, or pages? Without a doubt.

Have I figured out a better system for hedging those leisure time bets?

Nope!

Why get away from it all?
September 10, 2014

Now that Katie’s in college in New York we’ve spent much less time with her, of course -- and much of the time we have spent is in the car. We love the change of scenery, and we especially love sharing that with her. Getting away also illuminates aspects of our relationship that aren’t as front and center at home.

If you had to describe my driving in one word it would be “polite.” I hadn’t realized that, until Katie watched me being surprised -- over and over again -- at how not polite some people can be. “Of course you don’t understand,” she reported. “You’re not wired that way.”

Suddenly I realize how I’d describe in one word the way Katie has always treated me.

Nurturing!