The Blog

Four pens. No big deal, but for a gal who prides herself on keeping only the essential they were objects of fascination. I was saving them, not using them. What gives?

One pen was from the swanky resort we stayed at on the birthday Katie became a teenager -- the one we can hardly drive by without Darrell having cardiac arrest, the rates are that high. But a late-April snowstorm had plowed through, derailing our plans to celebrate out of town. Anything less than magnificent wasn’t going to cut it, and all three of us cherish the sweet memories we made during this spur of the moment Plan B(lizzard).

We have the stories, we have the photos. A pen won’t bring that time back.

Another pen was from the fancy hotel we stayed at in New York City the weekend we decided to join the ranks of national talk show hosts. It was during March Madness and I’ll never forget kicking back with my sweethearts one night after the conference wound down to watch basketball on TV. I could barely contain my happiness.

We got our talk show, we got the child hooked on college basketball. We don’t need a pen to prove it.

Another pen was from the hotel we stayed at in Minneapolis to celebrate getting Katie back for the summer after missing her so desperately during her freshman year at NYU. Suddenly I realize keeping the pen didn’t make saying goodbye again three months later any easier. Next!

I was using the fourth pen at breakfast toward the end of our vacation last summer, and every time I look at it I think about what Katie told me that morning. She thinks I’m a better writer than (insert the name of wildly successful author here) and have my act more together, to boot. Katie makes me feel the way Darrell does, that for someone who flies mostly under the radar I have lots to offer the world. I’ve taken the good feelings from that breakfast to heart, which was the best way to mark the moment.

So goodnight stars, goodnight air, goodbye souvenir pens.

So there!

If you’re one of those people who’s forever being asked for your honest opinion but dreads it every time -- it takes a lot of effort, after all, to be honest and kind -- this article might help.

Don’t read it if you’re offended by a word that rhymes with trucking!

“I might be making another mistake,” I told a friend when Darrell and I announced our engagement, “but at least it’ll be a different one.”

That’s how Darrell came to be known as Mr. Step in the Right Direction.

There was nothing particularly appealing about his proposal, except for this -- and it was a doozy: I could imagine talking with him for the rest of my life and never getting bored.

What’s the one thing that’s constant, after all, no matter what’s going on? The chat you’re having about it over breakfast, that’s what.

Go ahead and make fun of me for the importance I place on sparkling conversation.

The man who does it best is at breakfast with me. But he does it so well my stomach hurts from laughing, so he cancels himself out!

What’s your truth serum?

For some people it’s alcohol. For some it’s a surprise question. For me it’s a nap. When I wake up in the morning I’m eager to remember a dream and have that first hit of coffee and reflect on the dream and think about the day ahead. When I wake up from a nap I’m less eager to bound out of bed for the same reason I was napping to begin with -- I have the time.

That’s when the truth comes out. Here’s mine.

There’s so much more I want to accomplish. Better get cracking.

Bye!

the sunThe older I get the less patience I have with jealous people. No, wait. Make that, the less patience I have with people who are jealous of me -- and bend my ear about that for even a minute.

You want to trade lives? Fine. But you have to take everything. My existence looks pretty sweet during the two hours a week we’re recording the talk show, for example -- granted. But in terms of challenges? I don’t feel ripped off in that department.

I love my life. I do. And much of the reason I love it is what I focus on. When someone crosses my radar who seems to have it all -- or at least, more than me -- I thank my lucky stars for the inspiration.

It just feels like a nicer way to be.

Smug and judgmental as that sounds!

But truly.

We have good friends in Chicago. The guy’s a doctor -- and instead of railing against the healthcare system and malpractice insurance and whatever else, he works with those frustrations while being compassionate to his patients and a role model for his students. His wife is in commercial real estate and is doing really well. But you should’ve heard her account of how many cold calls -- that finally, finally became lukewarm and eventually friendly -- it took to get even one client. She makes it look easy, and it’s always anything but. And their kid? Can you imagine his potential for growing up with two people like that?

Customer service expert Shep Hyken and I compared notes about career envy on the show recently. He’s often asked -- the way I am -- how to get a similar gig. When we explain what’s involved the person almost always interrupts to say, “No, thanks.” It’s too much work.

Life is a lot of work. Speaking only for myself -- well, and Shep, and our friends in Chicago and other people Darrell and Katie and I crave more time with -- it’s thrilling when other people succeed. It gives us hope. That’s why you get up in the morning, right? For an opportunity to work at something that’s meaningful.

The reward is in the work.

Learn to drive on a car with a stick shift and you’ll practically fall asleep at the wheel of an automatic transmission. Train in the mountains and your running partner will find it difficult to keep up with you in a valley. Survive a less-than-ideal childhood -- weren’t they all? -- and you’ll be better prepared for a life that, if lived well, will knock you around but good.

My new friend Dan Gregory calls it training at altitude. I knew we’d be pals when I saw what he named his company: The Impossible Institute.

When I sent him a link to his podcast I told him he’s welcome back on the show whenever he’s interested. “I don’t say that very often!” I added. He replied with the same sentiment, expressed with the same enthusiasm.

Who do you crave time with? People who up your conversational game, who make you feel like you’re soaring through rarified air?

Me, too!

Who’s your boss?
April 20, 2015

People backing out of a parking space do that more slowly if someone’s waiting to pull into it. At least according to Selfish, Scared and Stupid co-author Dan Gregory, who says it’s human nature. In a hurry to get home? Not so much, Dan says, if we see someone waiting. Then we become territorial. Our survival brain hijacks the more rational part of our brain and we make a decision that seems silly.

Silly, but believable. I couldn’t help but laugh when Dan shared this observation on the show recently because -- while I don’t actually remember doing this myself -- I can imagine doing it.

I can totally imagine doing it if the person waiting seems impatient, creeping closer or honking or whatever. “You’re not the boss of me,” I can imagine thinking.

Is that why, when the situation’s reversed and I’m the one waiting, I do it from such a distance the other guy doesn’t realize I am waiting? Maybe. I don’t want to seem impatient. I know the effect it has.

That’s why Dan talks about the darker side of human nature. It’s more pragmatic to work with it, he says, than to pretend it isn’t there.

“I could make croutons for my spinach salads out of the crispbread I eat,” I heard myself report recently. “But I don’t. Too much trouble.”

I chewed on that for a while. Too much trouble? Really? How long would it take to bust up a couple of rectangles of crispbread? Thirty seconds. At the most.

So I did that, and I couldn’t believe how much tastier my salads were. It was like going from a barebones hot dog from a warehouse grocery store -- microwaved and slapped in a stale bun with no condiments -- to the juiciest steak from the fanciest restaurant in town.

You think I’m kidding? Try it. Chunk the apple or the pear, chop the dates, add the walnuts, mix with baby spinach, and drizzle with olive oil and the juice from a real lemon. Not bad. Now add said crispbread.

See! I told you.

We call it discovering a new continent. Find a new way to combine the foods you already eat -- only those foods that make you feel great, by the way -- and watch your life satisfaction skyrocket.

I know. It sounds silly to be this passionate about something so seemingly little. But when you ask me where I find the most joy in life, or what my sweethearts love the most about me, that’s where it is.

In the little things.