The Blog

A guy I used to know introduced me to the concept of running to stay in shape. He did it for fun. Had he ever met a 5K he didn’t sign up for? To look at his closet filled with souvenir T-shirts, apparently not.

When his job got stressful he’d come home from work, change into his running clothes, and jog for ten miles. Ten miles! Running, to him, was as natural as reaching for the remote is to other people.

BixIt was inevitable I’d become a runner myself. Right? The next time you’re at the mall, try this exercise (so to speak). Notice families, or groups of friends, or just couples. You might find, as I do, that slender people run in packs -- and so do overweight people. There’s science behind that, if memory serves.

It’s one more reason to choose your companions carefully.

What gnaws at you?
March 15, 2018

One of the first things I noticed about Darrell after we got married was how he had the same lunch every day. I couldn’t get over that. The same lunch? Every day? How could he not go crazy with boredom?

Let’s pause here to show my appreciation for a husband who finds something he likes and sticks with it!

Okay. Back to lunch. More amazing than his (boring) lunches was his attitude about them. He was fine. Having the same thing every day didn’t bother him a bit.

You can guess where this is going. Now I wonder where I found the time to have something different for lunch every day. Now I think that time could’ve been better spent -- by, for example, figuring out why variations in the menu were so important to my happiness. Now “decision fatigue” is widely accepted. Darrell was ahead of his time.

I’ve learned the best ideas often follow this pattern: “That’s crazy.” And then, “That’s really interesting.” And finally, “That’s genius.” It’s so ingrained that now when I think something’s crazy I almost immediately wonder how soon I’ll embrace it.

Are you open to new ideas?

If you want to know what your future holds, I have a question. What are you doing right now? It’ll tell you a lot about what you have to look forward to.

That little gem’s courtesy of Thriving Through Uncertainty author Tama Kieves.

Those hours of watching television add up, you know. So do those hours of slaving away at something that may or not pay off -- but are, moment by moment, making you a stronger and more interesting person.

What will you choose?

After I finished an interview a while back, my guest asked if I’d record a different close for the show. Well, sure. That’s one benefit of “recorded” versus “live.” After I recorded the new close I asked her if it was okay. At first she said yes. Then she changed her mind.

It isn’t enough, she explained, to tell people where they can find her online. You need to tell them about the “free resources.” People respond to “free.”

I recorded another close to included that reference. Now she was happy.

This was the first request of its kind I’d fielded in more than nine years of the talk show. Had the situation been reversed and I’d been the guest, I don’t think it would’ve occurred to me to ask. But how refreshing, I told her. It’s a fairly recent development, she offered. It had taken her a long time to get to that point.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get what you want. But there’s one way to make sure you won’t. Don’t ask!

This is a tale of two requests for help. One was from a woman I had on the show. You might not recognize her name, but if you’re old enough you’re almost certainly familiar with the television program she produced. The other request was from someone I barely know. Her life was a mess.

Exec Producer Woman wanted my advice on a work project. The Gal I Barely Know wanted a shoulder to cry on.

I jumped at the chance to help the first, but balked at the second. It gnawed at me, though. Surely the second woman deserved my time as much as the first. Was I only willing to help people who could potentially help me?

140411 3 for the blogAfter a while I decided that wasn’t it. My heart soared at the thought of more time with Exec Producer Woman. She was smart and funny and fun. I knew I’d come away from our chat full of energy and ideas. The Gal I Barely Know depressed me, so I offered her help that didn’t involve getting together for coffee on Thursdays.

If you cultivate friendships with people who leave you feeling drained -- the way I used to -- maybe it’s time to be a better friend to yourself.

I’m a sucker for good questions. “Why do you do that?” is a favorite. Maybe I have a “good” reason, maybe I don’t. That’s subjective. But I’ve likely given the matter some thought -- and have either made peace with a not-so-great way of doing things, or welcome ideas for doing them differently.

One thing I learned early on is that “Why do you do that?” isn’t a conversation starter to some people. It’s an attack.

It doesn’t matter how sweetly I’ve asked, how genuinely curious (as opposed to judgmental) I am, or how many disclaimers I include. Some people would rather sit through multiple viewings of Ishtar (nothing against that movie, though I heard it’s awful) (but come on, it starts with “ish”) than analyze a single thing they do.

To each his own.

If forced to decide what my least favorite color is, yellow would be right up there. Down there? Wherever! I have nothing against yellow, necessarily. But I don’t look good in it, and it doesn’t seem to work even as an accent color -- not that I’ve made that a project.

Why, then, the splash of yellow in almost every room in our house? Because a decorator once told me every room needs a burst of yellow, the same way you can’t go wrong with sunlight streaming in through a window.

So there’s a yellow sponge in the bathroom, bananas on the counter in the kitchen, a souvenir rubber duck (from a swanky hotel) in my closet. I get a little hit of happiness whenever they catch my eye, probably because I think I’m supposed to.

Whatever it takes!

I made a not-so-savory discovery in the course of going through some audio files. In the early days of the talk show I talked so fast. I don’t know which is worse -- that, or the fact I thought I sounded okay. Which reminds me of Mike Rowe’s observation about people in the first episode of any season of American Idol. It isn’t that they can’t sing that’s fascinating. It’s that they’re realizing it for the first time.

“You didn’t have your current sound to use as a target,” Darrell pointed out. “Nice try, bub,” I teased him. Eventually I realized I talked fast on the show because I talked fast in real life. I thought if I shared a story quickly enough I’d be forgiven for holding forth at all.

The most difficult thing about doing the talk show -- or being married! -- is the often painful awareness of how much there is to learn. It’s also thrilling when, after years of marking the same lesson, you finally get it.

No character transformation, no story.