The Blog

Amy Krouse Rosenthal bookI’ve cried twice in my life at sad news about celebrities. The first was when Peter Jennings died. Darrell and I loved the man.

The second was only recently, when I found out Amy Krouse Rosenthal had cancer.

I think I would’ve always been curious what Katie had for lunch or dinner -- breakfast doesn’t count as much, for some reason -- when she wasn’t with us. But Amy said if you really love someone, you want to know what she ate for lunch or dinner without you. Reading that made me positively exuberant about being curious. I quoted Amy to Katie more than once, and Katie pounced on the idea in the sweetest present.

With only this one sentiment, Amy became part of our family. Funny how that happens, isn’t it?

What’s your question? You can probably get the answer online. That’s the good news. The bad news, depending on how you look at it, is that there’s often more than one “right” answer. Maybe the challenge of sifting through all that energizes you. It doesn’t me.

Now what?

I found someone who’s helping me navigate a brand-new world, professionally speaking. She charges by the hour, which thrills me. I can pose her questions without guilt, knowing she’s getting something for her trouble. Having her on call in case I get stuck? Priceless.

Who’s in your corner?

Do you make excuses?
April 18, 2017

Someone steps on your toe. It not only hurts like hell, but on closer examination the toe appears to be broken. You look up, and -- only because you’re writhing in pain -- you share how much you’re hurting.

The person who stepped on your toe says the following: “I’m sorry, but how was I supposed to avoid it? You were in my way!” Or, “If you would’ve been standing even a half an inch to the left this never would’ve happened!”

Feel better?

Didn’t think so!

And yes, I’m speaking metaphorically. But this kind of thing happens all the time.

When’s the last time someone told you that your plan was epic? Epic! I’ve had it happen once. Recently. My first thought at hearing my friend’s reaction was, “She’s right.” I’d signed up for some world-class coaching from a person who doesn’t do it for free, put it that way.

But my friend wasn’t kidding. She knew it would be worth it. “I feel it in my bones,” she said.

I was sure it would be a life-changing experience. It already was, after all. Deciding I was worth it, and deciding it will have been worth it. What happened during? Almost a bonus!

Epic. And a bonus.

Duluth for the blogMy guests have fun on the talk show. The reason is simple. I hang on their every word. It’s my job.

Think about it. When’s the last time you started talking, and someone pulled up a chair to listen more intently? When he didn’t pull out his phone or interrupt you or give you the impression he’d rather be somewhere else?

Attention is intoxicating. It costs nothing, and it’s priceless.

On our way back from Colorado one summer when Katie was little we needed an oil change. The lounge where we were waiting was okay, but hardly dreamy from a kid’s perspective. “How can I make this time fun for her?” I asked myself the way I always did. And as usual the first answer was, “I have no idea.” Not good enough. So I asked myself what a friend of ours would do, and I got the idea to ask Kate if she wanted to be my waitress. Did she! By the time she finished fetching coffee, napkins, a magazine -- and more coffee -- for the demanding customer I pretended to be, the car was ready.

And yes, of course the friend got this report.

You won’t always know what to do. But someone would. Maybe even a better, more creative version of yourself. Have a pretend conversation with that person.


Ever thought about asking your kids how Mom or Dad can make the family better? I just sort of ooze that question through every pore -- the Mom part, anyway -- as Katie will attest. But Dr. Harriet Lerner, who joined us on the show recently, amused me with the report she hears from children: “Say it shorter.”

“Tell us what you want,” the kids seem to be saying to their parents. “What you really, really want.” Then stop talking! Silence is golden. The person who said that first was probably a teenager who couldn’t get out from under the fifty-paragraph explanation of what might be growing under the piles in his bedroom.

The Far Side said it best, I think: “Eventually, Billy came to dread his father’s lectures over all other forms of punishment.”

Are you sorry?
April 10, 2017

I recently heard about a book called Why Won’t You Apologize? And I thought, “Really? Does the world really need a whole book on that subject?”

Yes. Yes, it does.

I’m as loathe as the next person to admit I’ve messed up, but you can ask my sweethearts. Once I realize it, there will be no doubt in your mind I’m sorry. I’m the person who at least considers the possibility whatever bad just happened is at least partly if not totally my fault.

So why does it make me uncomfortable when I’m on the receiving end of an apology? Because I don’t want to put anyone else through that discomfort, and forgiving someone for a so-called transgression feels like I’m playing God. No, thanks.

But bad things do happen, and repairs are sometimes in order. The book I just mentioned, by Dr. Harriet Lerner, will help you make those repairs. It’s worth the price just for what she says about the word “but.” Want a hint? When you add “but” to an apology -- “I’m sorry I lost my temper, but I'm only human” -- you’ve wasted your time. You cancel yourself out.

Read this book. You won’t be sorry!