The Blog

Are you sleepy?
September 11, 2017

“Go three days without your favorite thing,” my friend Elizabeth Fournier suggests. “Then go three days without sleep. Turns out sleep is actually your favorite thing.”

That will be all.

Were you warned?
September 7, 2017

rosesEver heard of a starter marriage? I had one. Had I paid more attention to at least a couple of signs before the big day, things might’ve been different. Maybe not different better. This was one of my stops on the way to becoming Katie’s mom, after all. Worth it!

I don’t know if time heals all wounds, but it certainly healed this one. The proof is in my ability to look back and laugh at other signs I was in trouble. When the starter husband and I moved into a house, for example -- the last address we’d share -- the master bedroom was too small to accommodate our furniture. I kept thinking, “This cannot be good.”

Come to think of it, there was some laughter as the relationship wound down. That’s how I knew I’d be okay, eventually. I could still laugh, occasionally. Which reminds me of something I heard several weeks ago and still find hilarious. It’s from my friend Brooks Palmer: “Whatever doesn’t kill you helps educate the thing that eventually will.”

Do you have a buddy?
September 6, 2017

Last summer Darrell and I ran a seven-mile road race on hills. I used to run it every year, but when I met Darrell and had Katie I put aside the tradition. Twenty years went by, and I was itching to mark that anniversary. Darrell had been running with me to stay in shape, and he agreed to join me for what would be his first race.

It was a blast. Seriously. I couldn’t get over how much more fun it was to make my way through the neighborhoods with him beside me. Don’t have to look far for the life lesson in that one!

As the miles went by -- as we enjoyed the attention from what felt like every single resident of the community who wasn’t already pounding the pavement with us -- I was also struck by how shaded, how dark, how almost sad the route felt. It was a sunny day. I was confused.

Then I realized the trees had grown in. Duh. That’s what trees do. Had I gone back every year the way I used to, I wouldn’t have noticed. Twenty years later? Wow. It’s like a kid you haven’t seen in twenty years: “My, how you’ve grown!”

The course looked different, but it was alive. The trees were growing. The neighborhood children had grown up. It was fun to think of all the ways I’d grown, too. I didn’t always have a running buddy, for example. I highly recommend it!

The most difficult thing about being Katie’s mom is letting her see how much I still have to learn.

On the one hand, it’s great. I’m still learning! On the other? She shot past me on so many fronts years ago, and it’s embarrassing to have her so far ahead.

It makes her feel pretty good about herself, though. When she helps me break a bad habit -- like apologizing out of habit -- it reinforces her already healthy self-image.

And, really. Who better to polish me than her? There’s no ulterior motive with Kate, no hidden agenda. We help each other be the best versions of ourselves. It seems silly to worry I’m getting more out of the arrangement than she is.

I do wonder how it’s possible for someone to be that much younger and wiser. Then I remember Katie had certain advantages growing up. To listen to her and Darrell tell it, chief among those was…me. That’s why being a parent is healing. You give your life over to someone, and she inspires a better version of it. Everybody wins.

A million billion years ago (or so!) I was negotiating with a soon-to-be ex partner. He wanted to know what I wanted for my share of an asset. “Four thousand dollars,” I told him. “How about thirty-five hundred?” he said, before telling me all the reasons he thought that was fair.

“If we’re talking about a difference of five hundred dollars,” I told him, “it doesn’t matter what I think. I’ll take the thirty-five.”

Sometimes it’s better to have a clean break than the last penny.

Candace JohnsonI’ve been talking about The Willpower Workaround a lot lately. I promised. I promised the woman you see here, anyway. Candace Johnson’s not only my editor but the latest addition to my cheerleading squad.

You need one. You need someone who isn’t afraid to nudge you to be more of yourself. Who promises that being more of yourself is a good thing.

Thanks, Candace!

Five years ago I offered to give my first presentation on what would become The Willpower Workaround. I’d been free of junk food for almost three years at that point, and I was eager to share what I’d been learning. “It’s too specific to you,” the woman said, “and requires willpower most people don’t have.” I thanked her for the consideration. And I thought, “She’ll come around. This actually requires less willpower. She’ll see.”

She did come around. A couple of years later, as a matter of fact. I teased her about needing -- what? -- science to catch up with me. Seriously. Sugar’s widely regarded as addictive now, but you didn’t hear much about that in those days. When I gave my presentation at her library, she was as delighted by the turnout as I was by the interest.

And, hey. I should probably give the gal credit for inspiring that book title I love so much. Nothing says “I don’t have unlimited willpower,” after all, like needing a workaround for it!

When I set out to write The Willpower Workaround I considered collaborating with a doctor or a nutritionist for credibility. The response was, shall we say, underwhelming. The professionals I approached kind of patted me on the head and acted like there was no way someone without their credentials could come up with anything worth sharing.

I’d smile. I’d thank them for sharing that. Then I’d keep writing.

I wasn’t writing it for them, after all. I was writing it for you.