The Blog

Who’s in your corner?
January 11, 2018

more flowersA gal I used to know not only survived a traumatic childhood but transcended it. I loved hanging around her. She was well-adjusted and happy, and she brought out the best in me.

One day I asked how she did it. How did she emerge from such chaos so intact?

She credited her husband. They’d married young, and he’d been a continuing education class on emotional health. They were a great team. I spent a lot of time with them over the course of many years, and it was always such a treat.

They remind me of someone I started working with recently. She’s helping me reach a broader audience. She describes me in terms so flattering I’m tempted to look over my shoulder to make sure she is, indeed, corresponding with me. I’m tempted to reply to the latest with, “Ha! That’s a good one.”

Instead I’ve considered the possibility that, given how much this gal gets right, there might be at least a morsel of truth about what she says about even me.

Yeah, I know. Self-esteem’s an inside job. But if a friend inspires you to look at yourself through a kinder lens, do yourself and her a favor. Live up to that image.

Are you wasting time?
January 10, 2018

What do you most want, and what are you willing to give up to get it?

Michael Levine’s worked with the best of the best in his public relations career, and says everything boils down to that.

Are you doing what you came here to do, or not?

“Being sixty means your long-term goals are now short-term.” I heard Steve Martin tell David Letterman that when I wasn’t even fifty, but it still rang true. Even then I could see one advantage of growing older, more of a reverence for time -- as Michael Levine would say -- and less willingness to waste it.

I used to try to hold the attention of people who were stingy with it. One person in particular comes to mind, who’d recite “uh-huh, uh-huh” -- with a complete lack of anything on her face -- when I shared the occasional story. Maybe I relished the challenge. Not anymore!

You can’t always avoid people who don’t pay attention. But you can save your breath and practice deep listening yourself. Everybody wins.

What is it about happy gas from the dentist that makes me cry? “How much it costs?” Darrell teases me. Nope. That’s what makes him cry.

Me? I relax, and suddenly it’s okay to admit: “Oh, gosh. A lot of this has really sucked.”

To read almost anything I’ve written, you’d think my life was an embarrassment of riches -- and it is. I’ve also weathered things I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Like you probably have.

“The truth will set you free,” David Foster Wallace is quoted as saying, “but not until it’s had its way with you.”

What helps you tell the truth?

My parents spent a fortune on dentistry for my brothers and sisters and me. If our teeth weren’t perfect to begin with, they made the appointments and wrote the checks. I’ve never gotten over it, and it’s one reason I’m maniacal about taking care of my teeth.

Honda for the blogThat’s how you show you appreciate something, right? You take care of it. You pay attention -- to the job, to the relationship, to the Honda no one can believe has hundreds of thousands of miles on it because it looks almost as spiffy as the day you drove it off the lot.

And those gifts, those talents, you were born with? The things other people would practically kill to have themselves? I hope you nurture those, too. That’s the point, right? To develop your potential to the best of your ability, and to leave the world a better place.

We need you.

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photo courtesy of Katie Anderson

If you were in charge of passing out cosmic goodies, who would be more fun to bestow them on? Someone who’s forever complaining about “The Man” or his parents or how impossibly rigged the system is? Or the person who can’t believe her good fortune -- when her life, objectively speaking, isn’t even all that great?

Maybe you know people who can best be described as entitled. Do you ever crave more time with them?

Didn’t think so!

What enchants?
January 3, 2018

I’m at a broadcasting convention, listening to Darrell interview someone about alfalfa. The person holding forth couldn’t be more passionate. His enthusiasm is infectious. Bewildering, but infectious. As we leave his booth I tell him he made me care about alfalfa.

Can you imagine how much he loved hearing that? He started pulling people aside to share what I’d said. I had Darrell turn his recorder back on so I could pretend to give the guy a testimonial: “He made me care about alfalfa. Maureen Anderson, City Kid.”

I don’t know which felt better, listening to the man bask in my admiration -- or seeing the look on Darrell’s face, wide-eyed at the silly.

What do you do for fun?

What makes you swoon?
January 2, 2018

There’s a guy we used to work with occasionally and now see once a year at the most for maybe five minutes. He’s a good person to have on your side, but he keeps switching teams -- so our relationship with him has been complicated.

I find it impossible to stay mad at him, though. Not that I make it a goal! But you know how it goes. You afford more slack to people, depending. And this gentleman has a quality often ascribed to Bill Clinton. When he’s talking with you it’s as if you’re the only person in the room.

He makes eye contact, and it’s sustained. He isn’t looking over your shoulder for someone more interesting to talk with, and he isn’t checking his phone for something more interesting to do. He asks you a question, listens to your answer, and bases his next question on what you just said. It’s intoxicating.

You don’t have to send flowers or treat me to an expensive meal. But if you’re engaged? I’m putty. Promise.