The Blog

What refreshes you?
March 2, 2017

card game for the blogIn the “everything is relative” department I was amused by a recent report from Katie, that booking a weekend trip had given her “a new lease on life.” And I thought, “Who would need a new lease on that life?”

Not only that, but she gave less thought to visiting this guy -- in Italy, where he’s living for a few months -- than Darrell and I did to the purchase of a smaller-sized bottle of olive oil when the larger one was out of stock.

From doing volunteer work with celebrities to auditioning for television shows to being the reason some people attend NYU (because they mention Katie by name on their applications!), can you imagine how much fun it is to have a front-row seat to her story? Especially when she pulls us up on stage with her, to go kayaking in the Hudson River or just hang out and play cards.

Yeah. All those years in New York, already, and the answer you’re most likely to get when we ask what she wants to do next: “Play cards with Dad.”

Makes the guy feel pretty good about himself, I tell you.

What’s music to your ears?

What’s the point?
March 1, 2017

Did you know cup stacking is a competitive sport?

Neither did I.

It supposedly helps with focus -- how could it not? -- but that’s beside the point. The joy on the faces of competitors is a thing to behold.

When’s the last time you did something for the sheer joy of it?

“Don’t give up, Mom!”

That was Katie, watching another Tetris game about to unravel. But guess what? It didn’t! I didn’t give up, and it didn’t unravel. Well, it did eventually. But you know what I mean.

I hadn’t fancied myself an “oh, to hell with it” gal who bails when all might be lost. I fancy myself more the Tom Brady type, who explained how he’d engineered quite the historic Super Bowl win this year: “That’s why you play until the end.”

But you need a coach. Even, or perhaps especially, when it comes to the silly. Except Tetris isn’t silly, is it? It’s life. Yes, you can afford more mistakes early in the game. No, you don’t have any control over what pieces you get. But you can get better and better, have lots of fun -- and have a really, really good run.

Where do you take refuge?
February 27, 2017

Do you remember the first time you told someone the truth and got punished for it? I do. It was a gift, actually. I learned to be mighty selective about who I confided in from then on. And I learned to pay attention to what made me feel better on really bad days, namely plenty of sleep and lots of exercise.

It’s tempting to think you can “think” your way out of a problem, when the more pragmatic thing might be a nap or a hard workout. Or both.

“Difficult people strengthen your ability to choose love.” I can’t remember where I heard that, but it’s easier to remember when I’ve had enough sleep!

Who sees your potential?
February 26, 2017

KBNPOnce upon a time my radio work consisted of The Career Clinic vignette, and that was it. It was a fine little program, and it left lots of time to write books and be a good mom.

Then one day the general manager at our affiliate in Portland told Darrell and me if we ever did a talk show based on The Career Clinic, he’d pick it up. So we did, and he did.

The rest is history. Well, sort of. But a lot of fun? Most definitely. And we have Keith Lyons and Sam Moskovic to thank for it.

I could have a thousand affiliates and never get quite the same thrill of adding that second one. Just as Katie made Darrell and me a family, KBNP made what became Doing What Works a national talk show.

Go ahead. Make the leap. If you’re lucky, you’ll have friends like Sam and Keith reassuring you it was the right thing to do.

Once upon a time I read about a celebrity who took a break from talking once a week. Yeah. No talking. For twenty-four hours.

It sounds soothing.

It’s been soothing. I’ve been experimenting with talking much, much less ever since realizing -- after recording another couple of hours of the show -- how exhausting it is. I’m not much into small talk, and the alternative is taxing.

I mean, it’s great. But it’s taxing, too. Conversation is my canvas, and sometimes it’s nice to put the brushes down and give it a rest.

Funny thing about keeping your mouth shut. You can hear the sound of your own thoughts.

It’s been interesting!

What will define you?
February 24, 2017

“You don’t know what pain is,” Jay Coughlan told me on the show recently, “until you hear something like that.” Which was? “When your mom leans over your hospital bed and says, ‘Your dad didn’t make it.’”

Dad was a passenger in the car Jay was driving after both gentlemen had too much to drink. It’s your worst nightmare, isn’t it?

They say you don’t know how you’d feel if something like that happened to you, but they’re wrong. I know how I’d feel. I’d feel like I didn’t deserve to live.

Jay could relate at first. Then he decided he didn’t want to be defined by his worst moment. That’s what drives him now, the thought he can keep someone from a similar fate -- or help them through it if they share that fate.

“Go for a run,” an executive once suggested before I became the maniac about running I am now. “There’s no problem you have that won’t seem a little less of a problem for having done that.”

He was right. Running is magic. I mean, I hate it -- and it’s magic. It’s a hassle, for one thing -- in the winter, anyway. But the day rarely takes a turn for the worse once we’ve gotten back from a run.

The same with writing. I almost forgot to eat dinner the other night, I was so absorbed in committing a few thoughts to paper (read: this screen). I’ve interviewed a lot of high-functioning people on the talk show, and you might not believe how many of them credit a journal for their sanity. One person says he writes to empty himself out. That’s it! That’s what it’s like.

“You can’t write if you can’t think,” one of my high school writing teachers said. I think there was probably a better way to say that! How about this? “Writing helps you think clearly.” Writing something down not only helps you process what you’re feeling, but it frees up brain space for other things. Like what’s for dinner!