The Blog

The other day I got an offer from someone who wants to help with The Career Clinic, the show we haven’t been doing for more than five years. I would’ve been tempted to forgive the guy for the oversight, had I not embedded the name of my new show in the eMail address he used. And just for fun, I oh-so-carefully called his attention to the mixup.

eMailYou can learn a lot about someone, after all, by the way he fesses up to a mistake (or doesn’t). Had it been me I would’ve put “How embarrassing!” in the subject line of a reply -- then told the person not only how much I appreciated the heads up, but how I planned to keep from making the same mistake again. Many a loyal relationship’s been forged out of the graceful handling of a boo-boo. I considered the possibility I’d be enchanted by this man’s reaction to my reply.

I got nothing.

Which is fine, too. The second impression confirmed my first, that we weren’t meant to be together.

For now I’m back to deleting without fanfare what is -- while maybe not spam -- certainly not a well-thought-out sales pitch.

The more time you take to craft a message that tickles someone’s imagination, the more likely she is to respond. You don’t have to take my word for it. You can take Darrell’s. Next up, I’ll share excerpts from a pitch he wrote that I found particularly crafty.

May I help you?
January 23, 2019

A friend of mine was fast becoming a diabetic. She’d found out almost by accident, when she went to the doctor for an unrelated -- and minor -- problem.

Now what? The doctor wisely proposed a few lifestyle changes to begin with. A better diet, more exercise, that sort of thing. My friend, the patient, wisely took the suggestions seriously.

She and I had been talking about my diet for years. She’d occasionally tease me about it, but it was always in a blanket of respect. Suddenly my diet was her diet. Just like that! What we eat is so similar she even calls it The Plan, the nickname our family gave The Willpower Workaround. She’d been exercising consistently before this, but now she exercises religiously.

And guess what? Within two months -- two months! -- her numbers were great. Not only “not problematic,” great.

Bullet dodged.

I don’t know if The Willpower Workaround will ever be a thing, however you define it. Doesn’t matter. My friend’s experience renewed my determination to keep sharing that story. She would’ve made the changes regardless, granted. But she knew from talking with me all these years it wasn’t a death sentence. To the contrary. She’s losing weight without making that a project, she feels terrific, and what she eats is delicious. Is it difficult to pass up goodies at work, drinks at the bar, something gooey just because? Of course. Are those worth a life-threatening illness? Of course not.

This woman can tell you better than I can: “There’s no free lunch.” We’re okay with that.

Who inspires you?
January 22, 2019

There’s one thing I don’t miss about the way we used to do the talk show, interviewing a different guest every week -- which is finding a different person to interview every week. Especially if that person was a celebrity. Celebrities are fun but they’re a lot of work. You’re not generally working with the celebs in advance of the interview. You’re working with their people, and the more people involved the more likely things will go wrong. Worth it? I guess.

It would’ve definitely been worth it had I had the opportunity to talk with someone who writes stories -- and especially headlines -- for The Onion. On a recent walk back to Katie’s apartment from possibly the dreamiest night we’ve ever spent in Manhattan (which is saying a lot), we kept swapping Onion headlines as we tried desperately not to fall over with laughter. Have I ever had this much fun? Well, yes. A few minutes earlier! But this was the icing on that proverbial cake.

Katie once told me she hopes to be as silly as me one day. Who needs an Academy Award when your child has that to report? But I can imagine my acceptance speech: “I’d like to thank the folks at The Onion…”

When Katie was little she bumped her head -- hard -- on the back of a chair at McDonald’s. She started howling, which wasn’t her style unless she was in a lot of pain.

I almost started crying at her report: “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

This is the four-year-old version of taking one-hundred percent responsibility for your life. It was, as the kids say, impressive AF. I was in awe, but I snapped out of it long enough to realize there was something I could do to help. “I’ll count to ten,” I told her. “I promise you’ll feel better by the time I’m finished.”

It worked. And it made me wonder if we ever outgrow the need for reassurance that (1) we’re not alone in our pain, and (2) whatever it is won’t always hurt.

clockI’m really bad at estimating the length of time a task will take. You don’t have to take my word for it. We call it “Mom time,” which is code for “anybody’s guess.”

“How much longer before you’re ready?” Darrell will ask. For example. I’ll give him an estimate. He takes the estimate, doubles it -- and then multiplies it by three. Or whatever. Then he goes back to whatever he was doing before he decided posing that question was worth his time.

I compensate for this aspect of my character by making a calculation similar to the one I just joked that Darrell does, and rarely book appointments close together. I’m almost never late to anything because I build in lots of margin. There’s plenty of white space in my calendar.

You probably know people who are wildly optimistic about how quickly they can navigate rush hour, beg out of a meeting, or finish a report -- only to forever be disappointing you. How does it feel to get a text from them to say they’ll be late? It’s better than nothing, as they say, but not by much.

Maybe you’ve heard eighty percent of success is showing up. Bonus points if you’re on time!

“You don’t love someone despite her limitations,” I teased Darrell after he’d lingered on one of mine. “You love someone because of them.”

I forgot where I’d heard that. “It sounds like something,” Darrell teased me back, “someone with a lot of limitations would say.”

On a good day I’m thankful for Darrell’s limitations. It keeps either one of us from being too hard on me for mine.

On a better day I realize how boring it would be to (1) be perfect, or (2) be married to perfect. Challenges make life fun. Just keep telling yourself that, okay? I’ll try to do the same.

Are you a good driver?
January 15, 2019

There’s an intersection in town that makes me jittery. Teenagers often ignore the stop sign or race toward the stop sign as if they’re going to ignore it. I don’t trust them to stop. If there’s another vehicle anywhere near the intersection as we approach I get a little anxious. Which used to make Darrell more than a little anxious.

Not anymore!

Now we’re both anxious -- or at least, on guard -- not only at this intersection but everywhere else. Why? How many people text while driving.

The other night we almost got into a head-on collision with a van that crossed the centerline of four lanes of traffic right into the path of our Honda. Darrell had just enough time to (1) move us out of harm’s way, and (2) see the driver was texting. We narrowly avoided something really, really bad.

Darrell used to think I was too defensive while driving. Now we both think there’s no such thing.

Be careful out there.

What matters to you?
January 14, 2019

They say looks don’t matter, but what if they matter…to you? I say go ahead and make peace with that. Make peace with being attracted to people who look a certain way. Make peace with feeling better about yourself when you look a certain way.

Otherwise? You’ll be hunched over, metaphorically speaking, from the weight of the shame.

Not a good look!