The Blog

“How’s it going?” a woman in town asked me when I was still new to my job as a radio news reporter many years ago. Apparently it had been a rough day, because I didn’t answer with the standard “fine, how about you?” fare. I admitted I’d been “making people mad” by airing stories that cast their friends or family members in an unflattering light. I didn’t like it, either. But if someone drives under the influence and crashes into a building, it’s news.

“You’re not making people mad,” the woman pointed out. “They get mad.” Pause. “You’re doing your job.”

It’s an important distinction. And wasn’t it sweet of her to take the time to share it? Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change someone’s life with a passing comment. You can. She did.

Another woman I know (barely) (I interviewed her once, a long time ago) mentioned on her blog that her posts about running made some women feel bad about themselves and she planned to adjust accordingly.

But she isn’t making anyone feel bad about herself, is she?

“If something you read makes you feel bad, read something else,” that’s what I always say. No, wait. I never say that. But I always think it!

Speaking only for myself, I love hearing what works for someone. The first step, so to speak, in doing what works is knowing what works.

I’ve been a bit of a maniac about running to stay in shape for decades now, but I still like hearing stories about it. They strengthen my resolve, because even after all this time I still have to do a sales pitch on myself to get out there. Every time.

If people are sure the path they’ve chosen for themselves is right for them, they won’t be offended by the path you’ve chosen to take -- or the fact you’ve chosen to share it.

Jason Piken bookJust because you can get something over the counter doesn’t mean it’s good for you. It doesn’t even mean it isn’t bad for you.

Take Ibuprofen, for example. No, wait. Don’t. Dr. Jason Piken doesn’t, not very often. He takes fewer than a dozen Ibuprofen a year.

When something hurts, do you ask yourself what pill you can pop? Dr. Piken says a better question is this: “What is my body trying to tell me?” If you reach for a painkiller before or instead of asking that question, he says you’re telling your body to shut up.

Never thought of it that way!

Now I will.

“Where does the time go?” It’s the kind of thing people toss off without expecting an answer. Like, “How are you?” Or, “Hot enough for you?”

You know. A throwaway question.

I’ve so often heard people wonder where the time goes that even as a kid I thought, “There’s one way to find out: keep track of it.” I started taking notes when I was nine. That’s when I became a journalist. It’s a way to save my life. As a kid this was going to be the title: Where It Went.

A funny thing happened as I continued to write my story. I learned to pay attention to it. You aren’t necessarily taught that in school or by your parents, to notice what you like and what you don’t and what scares you or bores you or scares you and calls to you. Writing takes you out of the equation for a moment, and helps you see yourself from a distance.

Do you like this person? Are things getting more interesting? Can you write a different ending?

It isn’t too late, you know.

When I look back on the young woman I used to be, I see someone who was obsessed with this job or that guy or the next move I was sure would change everything.

Why couldn’t I see, for example, that while my current boyfriend was lovely -- funny and fun and whatever else -- he was one guy? How was it possible, barely into my twenties, I’d found the single scenario that would make me happy? How? There was and is such a great big world out there! Had someone blindfolded me?

How sad.

And yet, and yet…

Had I not suffered the consequences of being so singularly focused, I might not be as open to possibility as I am today.

I’m the least into “stuff” as anyone I know. Seriously. Maybe you’ve seen those tiny houses that are all the rage, at least online. I’d have difficulty filling one. I know clutter when I see it. Goodbye!

And yet, and yet…

For several years I’ve had a big black computer tower on my desk. The other day I woke up from a dream my favorite drywaller had moved back in with us. I walked into the office and looked at the tower with fresh eyes. “What would happen if we moved that to the floor under the desk, and out of sight?” I asked Darrell. “Nothing!” he chirped, if it’s fair to use that verb with such a manly guy.

“Do it!” I suggested. I would’ve done it myself, but it’s connected to a modem and a printer -- and I’m not the one you want involved in connectivity issues of the electrical sort.

Darrell was wrong about “nothing” happening, though. When I sat down at my desk, with only my monitor to look at, I was overwhelmed. I felt light. Free!

It’s been weeks, and I still marvel at the expanse of the office when I walk in. That tower blocked our view of a lot of it, and now it doesn’t.

It’s changed how I feel about my work. No kidding.

What’s standing in your way?

170413 TwitterThe Container Store’s my favorite. There’s nothing I love more than the perfect container. I don’t even need it to contain something. Some of my favorite boxes are empty at the moment. They represent potential!

That’s one reason I love Twitter. It’s a place to put my lines. Twitter’s my Tupperware. It’s a little Tupperware party all day long. Some of my favorite (read: silly) people bopping in and out, sharing whatever catches their fancy. Nothing catches my fancy like the turn of a phrase.

So when Darrell apologized for bragging and I teased him about that coming with the marriage, package deal that it is, I thought it was worth sharing. Darrell isn’t the first person, I was sure, who wanted to linger on something that had worked: getting what he needed from someone without being pushy at all. When he hesitated to share, it broke my heart.

What’s the point of being married if you aren’t going to share the little wins? You have to celebrate them. You have to. They’ll keep you going on your quest for the bigger wins. And if you never bag the big win? You had fun along the way. Which you can put in the win column!

What I shared on Twitter was a bite-sized version of this. Bonus feature? You have a quick way of reassuring your beloved there’s no need to apologize for basking. You can quote me on that!

Do you panic?
May 11, 2017

Once upon a time I had a panic attack. I’d never heard the term, so I didn’t know to call it that. But there was something about the heart-attack-like feeling that made me not trust it.

The Plaza in Kansas City was the backdrop. It was a beautiful day, I was armed with gift certificates -- before gift cards became the thing -- and there was nothing to do but bask in a few hours to myself. I mean, what could be lovelier? Then, suddenly, at an intersection and out of nowhere, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

For the first and last time in my life, I didn’t panic. I waited it out. It passed quickly. As the years went by and I read up on people who’d shared a similar experience, I congratulated myself at not giving in to the panic. It happens once or twice a year now, and I ride it out as expertly as I did that first time.

Which is hilarious. I aspire to be relaxed, low drama, all of it. And I get better every day, thanks to a great diet and lots of exercise and plenty of sleep (blah blah). But this laid-back about a scary-feeling feeling? Like I said: hilarious.

The next time you’re sure the world is ending, give it a minute. You might be wrong!

Are you judgy?
May 10, 2017

“Should” is such a loaded word, isn’t it? It’s the fastest way to get an eyebrow raised around here, put it that way. I used to tell myself -- with the help of lots of other people -- I shouldn’t feel this way or that.

Can you imagine a bigger waste of time?

It didn’t matter whether I should’ve felt a certain way. I did. Admitting that sooner could’ve saved me a lot of time. I should’ve realized it sooner, eh?

But I didn’t. Now what?

Well, just as Katie’s fond of saying she’s becoming “unapologetically herself” -- as if she’s ever not been! -- I’m becoming almost defiantly myself. Making up for lost time, maybe. I can imagine being the old woman who tells you exactly how she feels without adding any disclaimers to soften the sentiment.

Should be interesting!