The Blog

We talked about caregiving on the show recently and one thing struck me above all else. The people who do the best at transcending this most difficult transition have always had a good relationship with their parents.

On the one hand, duh. On the other? It might be worth remembering if you weren’t close before things got difficult, the added stress won’t make things less difficult.

So get help. Not just for those you love, but for yourself. You count!

30 RockThere’s no such thing as a perfect parent, I heard once. Because even if you could be perfect, which you can’t, you wouldn’t provide a way for your child to learn how to deal with imperfect people.

That’s either the smoothest rationalization of all time, or one heck of a good way to look at life.

You get to know people really well when you live with them. Katie, for example, knows me really well.

I’d like to think my not being perfect takes the pressure off her to wish she was. I’d like to think acknowledging just how imperfect I am has been freeing for both of us.

Regardless, she watches me make mistakes and atone for and learn from those. I’m much less perfect than I aspire to be -- and because of that, more perfect for her.

I love finding out what I’m stuck with is actually okay!

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

One secret to living or working with anyone, I’ve decided, is zones. To say clutter is more soothing to Darrell and Katie than it is to me is quite the understatement. So there are rooms in the house and zones within some of those rooms I mostly look past, or pretend I don’t see. I’m surprisingly good at it, too. You don’t have to take my word for it. You have theirs.

I’m partial to open spaces. They represent possibility. Clutter makes me feel as if the past is closing in on me and I’ll never be able to escape it.

What you need to be at your best will probably often be at odds with what others need to be at their best. Then what? How do you negotiate that overlap?

With absolute mutual respect, that’s how -- as a friend of ours once put it. I’ll explain in the next post.

sunset photo

I bet you’ve had this feeling. Someone you know is in the exact wrong job. “Why?” you wonder. “Why is he squandering his gifts? Why isn’t he doing the work he was obviously born to do? What is he waiting for?”

I’ve wondered this about people I love, but not lately. The more I learn, the more I treasure the detours. My career path, after all, looks more like the route a school bus takes than an expressway to anywhere -- and that’s okay. I’m too busy savoring the scenery to race toward a so-called better moment in the future.

That’s one reason we don’t talk about legacy on this blog: “Legacy is for others to decide.”

Tear into your story, sure. Find a way to help people, definitely.

But try to decide in advance what your life will have meant?

You’re missing a sunset for that?

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

What comforts you?
October 31, 2014

When I look back on my childhood it’s stunning how little I remember.

Maybe you can relate.

And maybe that’s why certain scenes stand out so much -- they aren’t competing for space in our brains.

One image that comes to my mind most often is my mother standing at the sink and my dad coming out to the kitchen. He’d tease her about something and kind of squeeze her shoulders a little bit as he did.

Oh, how I loved that. It wasn’t constant -- not that I remember, anyway -- but it was often enough to make me feel secure.

I didn’t know if I was going to be a mom back then, but I knew what kind of feeling I’d want a child to have.

That one.

The other day I was contemplating how uncertain our financial future is. You know, like Darrell and I have been doing for the past twenty years or so.

I’d like to think we’re getting smarter, that the risks we’ve been taking are about to pay off in a way that will reassure us beyond any doubt we were smart to take them -- but who knows?

Not me.

It’s either going to work or it isn’t, I decided. Why not adopt a sunnier outlook in the meantime? Instead of worrying, why not give thanks for a story that isn’t boring? What could that possibly hurt?

Sold.

Not that anyone will know the difference. I’m pretty obnoxiously upbeat as it is. The proof was on Twitter recently: “When kids grow up, they hear their parent’s voice in their subconscious. Make sure it’s positive.” I felt not one twinge of anxiety when I read that, not one tiny bit of panic I’d failed Katie somehow.

Which is really something -- because if there was a way to feel guilty about something, I’d find it!

If there’s a better tale of redemption than this one, I hope you’ll let me know.

That will be all.

“Hope depends upon taking care that we have at least two alternatives,” my friend Dick Bolles says, “in every situation we find ourselves, and with every task confronting us.”

I’ll second that notion and raise you one, Dick.

A good attitude depends on remembering there’s always a choice. Maybe you’re not in the mood to call what you “have to do” something you “get to do.” But at least do yourself the favor of remembering it’s your choice to honor the commitment.

Keeping promises feels good. Building a reputation as someone who does feels great. Do what you say you’re going to do when you said you were going to do it -- and watch your stock soar with your boss, your family, and your friends.

Don’t forget the promises you make to yourself, either.