Friday, January 31, 2014

A Few Extra Minutes

This morning, when I had a few extra minutes, I sat down to write a blog. In a busy life, it's not always simple to fit in the time, so when I have a minute, I grab it.

Problem is, there's not much to say at 9:00 in the morning. With any luck, the morning routine has gone along without any undue drama, the work routine has not yet begun to have drama, and whatever personal drama may exist has been largely shelved on the journey from home to work (because who has time to deal with personal drama and get any work done?). I guess I'll have to grab a few extra minutes later.

Flash forward, to many hours later, when many, many things have happened, but I no longer have that few extra minutes, so I can't sit down to write a blog. Perhaps I should have grabbed that few extra minutes a few minutes longer.

Turns out that sometimes, a few extra minutes are a lot harder to come by than you'd think.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


As my daughters come to the end of a week of midterms, I find myself wondering how it is that they do what they do--ingesting so much information that they then have to spit out during the course of an hourlong exam. They have been remarkably calm about the whole thing. They work hard all year, so perhaps it is not that hard for them. For me, it seems daunting.

It's not that we adults don't have to take tests. Even if we are not in school and studying from textbooks, we are tested multiple times every day. Often, our "scores" are even more important than those on midterms. They determine not just a grade-point average, but things like whether we will get or keep a job, the safety and comfort of our kids, and how we are viewed in the workplace or community. And we don't necessarily get a study period to prepare or a day off once we are done. We just move on to our next day of "testing," hopeful that we will score well when it matters, and at least survive each time.

I applaud my kids for handling the work and the stress of midterms--it is not an easy thing. Perhaps it's good preparation for the "exams" they will face down the road--the tests that will last for the rest of their lives.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

That Which Remains

Friendship. The kind that isn't just about the past and that makes you want to reschedule a dinner even if you haven't gotten together in a bunch of months and won't get together in a bunch more months.

Work ethic. Skills may come and go. Proficiency may change as systems change. But a strong work ethic trumps them all.

Heart. The ability to do good just because you do, and to follow love and passion, even when logic may not be on your side.

Growth. Each experience you've had has helped you to grow in some way. And even when you feel as if all your steps are backward, that growth remains.

Loyalty. To dreams, to people, to what is right. Because you're never really alone in this world, so you'd best look out for the people who look out for you.

Faith. Not so much the religious kind, but the kind that inspires you to keep moving forward.

The Best You. Underneath all the drama and the baggage, you are still there, even when it feels as though the best you has disappeared.

When it sometimes seems as though everything changes, these are just a few of the things that remain.

The Work Speaks For Itself. Or Does It?

I have always been impressed by people who can clearly state that they are good at something. Even years ago, when I interviewed middle school girls for a career video I was making, one of the things that struck me most was their ability to say "I'm good at." It didn't matter so much what they were good at. What mattered was their ability to own their proficiency. I hope that now that they are grownups (the video was almost fifteen years ago), they are still that confident. Not cocky, but confident.

I have always found  it incredibly difficult to own my strengths in that way. While I will happily work my hardest or do my best, talking about it is not so easy. And I guess maybe that has been one of the good things to come out of these last few years of job exploration. In order to find work, I have to give a little more thought to what I'm good at. And in order to get and keep work, I have to own the things I'm good at. If I can't own my capabilities, how can I own the work? And if I can't toot my own horn, just a little, how can I expect people even to know that I am here to do the work? It's not about shameless self-promotion, or about credit over substance. It's about self-awareness, and about career survival. If you can't own your own value, why should anyone else even see that value?

We've all heard the expression, "the work speaks for itself." Once in a while, maybe it does. Once in a while, people will look beyond the work to see the person who did it. The rest of the time, it can't hurt to throw in a little voice of our own.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Just Do

I often wonder what would happen if I didn't do the laundry each week or buy milk when we're out. Would people in my house simply complain about running out of socks and underwear, or about being unable to make cereal or chocolate milk, or would they visit the grocery store or the laundry room? It's enough to make a person feel overwhelmed, unappreciated, perhaps even put upon.

Yet, in the midst of doing the laundry today, I suddenly had a flash of viewing it differently. In that moment, I thought about all the things that wouldn't happen in the world if people spent their time caught up in wondering why others were not doing. Whether it's the volunteers at an organization or the parents who watch your kids when you are running late or the visionaries who create gadgets and world-improving projects, there are people all over who don't wait for someone else to "buy the milk," who don't question why they are the ones doing the legwork or "the laundry." They just do.

My moment may have passed quickly, as I made my way upstairs and assigned folding duty. But the next time I am feeling overwhelmed or put upon, or particularly special because I'm the one guaranteeing milk and clean socks, perhaps I will think about "just doing," and about how much gets done in the world because of people who "just do." Whether they have clean socks and fresh milk or not.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Things Change

The DGA (Director's Guild of America) awards were this weekend.  With the exception of once, pre-marriage and pre-children, that I attended the ceremony in New York, I have spent a great many years watching soap colleagues go to the ceremony in LA (some expenses paid if we were nominated) and hearing the next day about the awards won and the celebrities and soap folks seen (or by middle of the night text if we were the winners).

This year, as I received update emails from the Hollywood Reporter, I realized that a moment really has passed. Through the hard work of people I know, soaps, now too few in number for their own category, found a spot in the dramatic TV category, but a spot mixed in with prime-time, higher budget offerings. Nomination lists included people I knew, but not people with whom I would discuss the next day what went on at the awards. I'm not sad I wasn't there--I haven't been to one in years . But I am struck by the reminder of how things change. Just when you think you've forgotten, you are reminded that things are changing all the time.

I hope some people I know won. While I haven't gone to the event, I have always enjoyed receiving the bright golden award in the mail when I was part of a winning directing team. It's nice to be recognized, and to be reminded of work that mattered, and I wish that for many people.

But things change. And who knows? Maybe change again, very soon.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Out On A Limb

I can't help it--I go out on limbs. While some people take logical, ordered steps through life, I more often decide things SHOULD happen, then scramble to accomplish all the parts to MAKE them happen. Why just sit under a tree or simply climb the tree when you can take it that one step farther to get what you really want?

The thing about limbs is that, while you may not lay any groundwork before you climb out there, you need to be quite sure to equip yourself with enough padding to be comfortable on the limb (because you might be there for a while) and to be safe if you fall. And while going out on limbs inherently suggests that you don't care about following the rules, it's worth at least some ground rules (or tree rules).

1. Make sure that what you're going out there for is worth it--not necessarily logically worth it, but definitely "heart of hearts" worth it.

2. If you're going out there in the first place, don't let any distraction on the ground, well, distract you. You won't get what you went out there for, and you will likely go "splat" in the process.

3. Don't think what you have to do on that limb will be easy. You went out there--plan to do what needs to be done to make it worth having gone.

4. Rest when you're done. Going out on a limb (as opposed to sitting under the tree) is hard. And since--if you're a habitual limb-goer like me--you will likely be doing it again soon, you need all the rest you can get.

5. Pat yourself on the back a little. It is much easier to say "no," to go with the flow, to back off the limb (or never go up in the first place). But much more satisfying, sometimes even exhilarating, to be out there. You certainly get to see more.

So long for now. I'm resting up for my next limb.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Working With A List

I read yesterday that Bill Cosby is planning a new family show. Hard to know what that will mean, but interesting news.

It's been quite some time since, thanks to the generosity of a series of colleagues, I landed a job as the AD on the CBS incarnation of Cosby. In the four years of that show, I learned a tremendous amount not only about comedy, but about prime-time priorities and working with people as well. After all, the people at Cosby had not seen me move through any ranks. They took me for what they saw, and it was my job to prove in a matter of days what I'd had years to prove at One Life to Live. Suffice it to say, I survived, and grew incredibly, over my four years there, and I consider those four years to have been some of the best of my career, and the people from them some of my best ongoing career network.

So, the announcement yesterday not only filled me with excitement at the idea of production in New York--possibly production in which I could have a role. It filled me with all the memories and good feelings that came out of those years. It was more than ten years ago, and there are parts of it that I remember as if they were yesterday, and people from the production who remain firmly on my mental list of folks I'd like to work with again. I think that most of the time, that's really what it's about-- the people you're working with. No matter what the project, if you're working with people who are "on their game" and are making the work fun, it's a good thing.

So, whether on this, or some other project, I hope I'll get the chance to work with some of the people on my "list" again--very soon.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


When my kids were small, I used to pride myself on the fact that I could work well because I left home at home (and that I could be a good mom because I at least tried to leave work at work). And this was largely successful, because I had a good babysitter who ran the show during the hours when I couldn't, and cared for my babies as if they were her own. I may have missed a milestone here and there, but it was a setup that seemed to work.

You would think that the split would be easier as the kids get older. After all, there is no more worry about whether a baby will drink enough ounces or decide to start walking when you are at work. There is no more fear that you will miss your toddler's pricelessly adorable performance at preschool. Your kids can take care of much more on their own. Simpler, right?

Not so simple. Older means independent. So, there is not a sitter running the show every day. There are multiple kids with multiple agendas with multiple cell phones to call you at work multiple times to ask your advice on the agendas. Older means it is no longer just your opinion that counts, since nothing ever has a straight yes or no answer. Older means too old to clean up after but then living with mess. Older means it's not enough just to leave a note about how the week should go and expect it to go that way. Older=simpler? Not at all.

I am little by little negotiating a balance, a balance that factors in not only older kids, but a freelance life as well. Because while kids may change, when work changes too, that balance is not just about them. It's about me as well, so I'd better keep up.

Because they just keep getting older.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Just When You Think

Just when you think today is the day for a long-awaited dinner with an old friend, it turns out it's really just a snowy dinner at home day.

Just when you think you'll be home in time to cook dinner, even if that requires stopping to pick up missing ingredients, you end up staying later at work than you ever do, and what you're picking up is take-out.

Just when you think there's gonna be a snow day, you find out that "State of Emergency" doesn't necessarily mean "State of Snow Day."

Just when you think you've gotten the "shoes in the foyer" situation under control, it snows, and the foyer's full of boots--now wet--all over again.

Just when you think things from your past are in the past, you read posts on Facebook that remind you that the past doesn't always stay in the past.

Just when you think you are perfectly satisfied with the present, things appear in your path that make you question "satisfied."

Just when you think you have mastered something, you realize you still have much more to learn.

Thankfully, life doesn't go in a straight line. Just when you think it does, you realize how zig-zaggy it can be. And isn't that what keeps it interesting?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Break In The Routine

Today, as I made my way to work, not from a school bus stop, but just from home, not having seen children off to school, but having seen them sleep in on their day off, I found myself completely and utterly disoriented. Not only had I not needed to adhere to my strict wake-up time (since I didn't need to wake anyone else), I didn't have to make any lunches but my own, and I didn't need to make sure any sets of hats and scarves and gloves made it out the door (except those on my own body).

Sounds great, right? More sleep, no structure, less responsibility--who wouldn't want that?  

I guess I wouldn't. This morning, I found myself--well-rested, structure-free, and responsibility-free--wondering how I possibly could have made it through my months of unemployment without losing my mind. On those days, while I might have had a morning routine, I had no real rest of the day routine. How did I survive without "marching orders"? Though I might have been well-rested from taking afternoon naps, could I ever quite tell where I was and how I fit in?

While we may look for excitement and change in our lives, it is often our routine that supports us.  Routine helps us keep track of time and measure distance. It gives us a place to go, and a schedule for going. And when there is a break in our routine, all those things--support, measurement, schedule--are gone. It's a little challenging.

In the end, I got to work, and once there, I fell back into the normalcy of my day. It was just a temporary break in the routine, and we generally survive those.

And when the normal schedule returns tomorrow, I will probably be craving a break in the routine all over again.

Monday, January 20, 2014


Several years ago, my husband and I had a subscription to the symphony. Nothing huge, just a few concerts a year, but every few months we would meet at the concert hall and for a few hours, the classical music would wash over us.

While it was a lovely, relaxing experience, I remember always coming out feeling as though I was a hack. Here were these musicians who obviously had talent and clearly worked hours daily to nurture and develop that talent. They could learn and master new, very long, complicated pieces weekly, and look really good playing them. What was it again that I was doing with my life?

This weekend, at my kids' piano recital, I couldn't help feeling that way again. Now, I know from my own kids that the kids I saw probably don't practice nearly as much as the symphony members. Yet, here were these kids, my own included, who could make their two hands do two different things simultaneously. Who could memorize complex series of fingering patterns that made beautiful music. I'm not sure I could have done any of that at their age, and I am quite sure I couldn't do any of it now.

This is not a "feel sorry for myself" blog. We each make choices throughout our lives that ultimately determine what we can do, and what we can do REALLY well. Playing an instrument was not among my choices, so I listen rather than play. And, while I may be a hack where classical music is concerned, there's nothing really wrong with that, as long as I am dedicated to the things I HAVE chosen, and as long as I make a very appreciative audience for the people who have chosen to play, and play well. I suppose most of us feel like hacks at some point in our lives. It's what we do to make sure we're really not that makes the difference.

Sunday, January 19, 2014


As an Editor and AD, I spend most of my work life pulling together elements--bits of footage and audio and images, all designed to work together to tell a story. You might say that I am "in my element" when I am doing one of these jobs. Today, however, as I took photos and videos--elements, as it were--of my son's robotics tournament, I was decidedly OUT of my element. While the elements may fit together to tell the story of the day, they will leave out the stretches of time when I, as a parent there, had no idea what to do with myself, when I felt capable of neither understanding the robotics goals nor socializing with other accompanying grownups whom I might never see again. The stretches of time when I was out of my element both in a corner reading the book I'd brought and in the crowd cheering on the team (since I was never quite sure how they were doing).

No matter how many job and parenting experiences we've been through, no matter how good we think we've become at the social and supportive parent game, we seem always to face new parenting situations that throw us out of our element. You can put all the elements--choosing transportation, ensuring on-time arrival with the necessary props, adding a smile or "attaboy" when appropriate--together, but doing so guarantees only that you will be prepared. The rest, as they say, is up to you. As with any new situation, you make the choice about how you will fit in. You make the choices that will determine--short-term or long-term--if you will feel "in your element."

Perhaps things will be different at the next robotics tournament. Perhaps not. And perhaps it is enough--more than enough--that my son WAS in his element--building and testing and hanging out with kids as fascinated as he was at these little buildable, "teachable" machines. And perhaps that is the key to these situations where we feel out of our element. If the kid for whom we have assembled all the elements is happy, what does it really matter if we are out of our element for a few hours? If we are lucky, we have plenty of places in our lives to feel "in our element." And plenty is quite often more than enough.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Out Of The Dark

I get dressed in the dark (which makes it kind of amazing that my clothes ever match). For a while, I navigate my apartment in the dark (in an apartment, you try to wake as few people as you can any earlier than you have to). I come home from work in the dark. For many years, I went to work in the dark, and sometimes even now I am headed off before daylight. It's a lot of dark for someone who doesn't much like the dark.

Being up in the dark, however, provides me some of the quietest, and if I can stay awake, most productive hours of my day. All of that "wake as few people" means that, while I may be managing projects related to members of my family, those family members are not buzzing around me, advising me on how to manage them. In the dark, I manage on my own. In the dark, I am a gourmet (well, adequate) cooker of lunches. In the dark, I am a writer and an organizer, and a cleaner of at least some of the chaos from the night before. In the dark, I manage to gain a little clarity on all the things I'll have to handle once it's light.

Truth be told, I might rather stay in bed till it's light. But then I might spend the rest of the day in the dark. Sometimes it's those wee hours of dark that help me manage the many hours of light. That keep me from trudging through life only half-prepared--in the dark, as it were.

So, for now, I guess I'll appreciate the dark. And how each day, it brings me into the light.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Through The Eyes of A Child

We received a package today--something we ordered after much thought. But, despite all our thought, what arrived was not exactly what I expected. It's by no means a disaster. It's just not what I expected.

When I inspected the contents of the package, I felt my heart sink into my shoes. After all, how could something so carefully selected be not as it was in my mind's eye? Yet, as my daughter inspected with me, she very quickly said it was fine. For her, the  good of the contents far outweighed the unexpected. And, having pronounced it fine, she moved on to her homework.

We grownups could afford to learn a lot from kids. While they may present us with all manner of drama, they can also be flexible in a way we sometimes forget. In the course of a week, they are called upon to adjust to the expectations of numerous teachers and often far more peers than any of us encounter daily. The world is big around them, yet we expect them to go out and conquer it--to make decisions about how to act and what to consider important. And, by and large, they roll with it--far better than we do.

As we inspected the package together, my daughter reminded me that the essence can be more important than the details, and that even if something is not how you thought it would be, it can still be workable--and beautiful.

Sometimes, it's well worth seeing through the eyes of a child.

Bread and Butter and Chocolate Mousse Cake

There are things in life that sustain us. Like bread and butter, they satisfy us--with income, or a sense of accomplishment, or a feeling of competence and strength.

Then, there are things in life that, like chocolate mousse cake, send us flying. Like the cake, they are not necessary--after all, they are just dessert. And yet, they fill us with euphoria, kind of like the sugar and caffeine in the cake.

It might seem that we should spend our lives looking for those "chocolate mousse cake" experiences. Who wouldn't want to experience that euphoria all the time? The thing is, we can't live on chocolate mousse cake, much as we might like to. We'd be flying all the time, unable to do the "need to's" in our lives, and not so healthy either. We need that "bread and butter" (okay, maybe that's not actually healthy, but you get the idea) to get through the every days. It's the "bread and butter" that keeps us going--and going quite well--in between servings of the "chocolate mousse cake."

So, the next time you're wondering when you're going have your next "chocolate mousse cake" experience, just thank goodness that you have the "bread and butter" each day. It will keep you going. Until--and after--that next delectable piece of chocolate mousse cake.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Keeping Up

You could argue that life is about getting ahead. Or about accomplishing a lot. About doing good every day. Or about leaving your mark on the world.

The truth is, some days, life is just about keeping up. While in some areas, you can just go with the flow, sometimes, keeping up is, well, pretty important. For example--

1. Knowing what day it is. Even if you have a job that is virtually the same each day, there are any number of things that are NOT the same, so keeping up with the day of the week is pretty important. Is this the day when one kid has gym and needs sneakers and another has art and shouldn't wear that brand new shirt? Or is it the other way around? And is this the day with the early pickups or the late pickups? And more important, is it you doing the pickup, or someone else, a someone else who is only available on particular days? Ahh, keeping up.

2. Knowing what week it is. Is this the Friday you are supposed to be at a school parents' gathering? And, since, in your infinite wisdom, you scheduled certain lessons to be every OTHER week, is this an on week or an off week? Because even if you're sure it's Tuesday, not all Tuesdays are created equal. Keeping up...

3. And what time is it again? Can you make a 20 minute trip take only 12, when you are trying hard to keep up with work and keep up with family too? And is this a day when you can get away with an extra half-hour of sleep, or one when that half-hour will leave you irreparably behind for hours? Try to keep up.

So, while you can start out each day planning to do great things, for yourself, for your family, or for the world, at the end of the day, if you've kept up--been on the right day of the right week of the right month, and relatively on time--sometimes keeping up is more than enough.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Revolving Doors

As I spun through the revolving door in my lobby to run an errand, not an hour after I had spun through it coming home, I had this feeling of life being like one big revolving door. You see, most of the time, we think about doors closing--jobs ending, opportunities falling through--and doors opening--chances we get through friends, gigs newly discovered. In reality, though, it is all more continuous than that. Sometimes these things happen one on top of another, so that it feels as though we are always on the move. Rarely do we simply walk through a door to something new or stand outside the door that has been closed on us. More often, we spin through that revolving door, sometimes multiple times a day, each time emerging just a little different that we were the last time we went through.

Did you ever notice how fascinated kids are with revolving doors? Instead of just going in and out, you can spin to get where you want. And (if your parents let you) you can spin a little more on the way to getting there, just because. Who wouldn't like that? So, thinking about life that way--as more of the endless circle of the revolving door, rather than the absolute opening and closing of regular doors--makes things seem a whole lot more fluid (and changeable), and definitely more fun. When you go through a regular door, either you see the other side through a glass door or you see absolutely nothing through a solid one. And once the door is opened, you are there. But when you travel through revolving doors, what is on the other side is a little more of a mystery, and how quickly you'll get to it is up to you and how fast you spin. And, just as the kids have discovered, isn't that a much more enjoyable way to live?

In our busy lives, there will be many trips through the revolving door every day. Here's to enjoying what that revolving door--literal and figurative--has to offer us!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fully Engaged

Yesterday, we attended a performance at my daughter's musical theater workshop. Halfway through the series of scenes and songs, it occurred to me that I was not photographing or videotaping any of it. For a person used to recording everything, whether on video camera or with just an iPhone, this was unheard of--what kind of parent am I? Yet, I found myself so caught up in the performance, I just wasn't thinking "record for posterity." And after a moment of "bad parent" pause, I was actually glad. Glad to be enjoying the performance rather than sweating the video quality. Glad to be watching singing and dancing full size rather than on a tiny video screen. 

There's nothing wrong with capturing life's every move on video. It's nice to be able to look back on things we might not remember so clearly or have a record of how kids, who grow so fast, used to be. What I discovered yesterday, however, was how nice it was just to be in the moment, appreciating what I was seeing without worrying about having that moment on tape (or memory card) forever (or worrying that the card would fill or the battery would die). So often, we are so consumed with the keeping that we miss the enjoying. So wrapped up in the technical that we miss the beautiful.

I will not be able to watch my daughter's performance again. I will have to count on my memories of that performance to take me back, and that's okay. I was there--not as a camera person, but as a fully engaged audience member. And sometimes, that's even better.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hurry Up And Wait

To this day, I still remember a location shoot I went on years ago. Well, actually, I don't really remember the content of the remote at all. What I do remember, however, is  talking to crew members who were used to working on films, who were boggled by the pace we were trying to keep. In soaps, there was rarely time for countless takes or multiple setups for each scene. For me, anything even resembling that felt like "hurry up and wait." So, while they were frustrated by what seemed to be a quicker than normal pace, I was frustrated by what seemed to me to be a slower than normal pace. It's all a question of your perspective, isn't it?

Even now, I feel as though I live in that soap pace (production pace, that is. Not storyline pace). I want things to come together quickly. I want to "finish an item" and move on. I want to cover all the angles at once, not sit and wait while each one is studied individually. It makes for a hurried life--or an efficient one--again, all a question of your perspective.

Funny how, all these years later, what I felt on just a day or two of location shooting still rings true. If "the floor is ready," I want to get it done. If things worked reasonably well, I want to move on. I guess that soap pace never really goes away.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Many years ago, when I was interviewing for a job, I was told that, should I be hired, I should plan for my answer to any question to be "yes." Could we shoot something in a different way? Yes. Could I have all the camera people ready with their shots at a moment's notice? Yes. Could I block cameras for a scene I had never seen before (or one that changed completely from the one I HAD seen?) Yes.

I got the job, and I have to say, I found the "yes" directive one of the most empowering edicts I had ever encountered. Saying "yes" makes you try harder. Saying "yes" keeps the creative juices flowing. Saying "yes" makes you realize that you (and the people around you) are capable of a lot more than you might have imagined.

Both as workers and as parents, we are surrounded by the opportunity to say "no." "No" to things that are unsafe, "no" to things that are inconvenient, "no" when we just want to be in control.

Tonight, as I thought about that job, and perhaps in the spirit of Friday night, I tried out saying "yes." "Yes" to dessert, "yes" to a video, "yes" to trying a game. It was challenging, as it was when I started that job all those years ago. But it was also freeing. And satisfying. And joyful.

That day in the job interview, the question of whether I could handle always having to say "yes" was designed to determine whether I was right for the job. But these many years later, I am still motivated by that question, and that challenge. "Yes" may be harder to say than "no," and certainly harder to accomplish, but, in the end, "yes" takes you a whole lot farther.

Friday, January 10, 2014


As I find myself once again writing in the early morning because the previous day and evening have completely slipped away from me, I am struck by how quickly things in life can change. While it once seemed that sitting home unemployed (and being able to write at any hour) would never end, it is now hard to remember how I got through all those hours. While it once seemed that I had all the time in the world for coffees and email exchanges, there are days now when I can't even imagine sitting in a coffee shop, and my emails are less than three words each. While it once seemed that the people I used to see were my only pipeline to the world, being adrift in the world for that period of time has made me realize that my pipeline is much bigger than I ever realized.

My point here is not that I am busy. We're all busy, in one way or another. My point is that, whether you are happy or frustrated with your life, things can change. Things WILL change. While on a daily basis, it may be hard to see beyond the hours of that day, in the big picture, life is like a merry-go-round where the horses and the music change each time it turns. It may seem that you are only going in the same circles, but each circle is actually quite different, and each circle teaches you just a little bit more about what you enjoy and what you can handle.

So, on the days when I feel as though I just want to get off the merry-go-round, I remind myself how fast the music can change, and how quickly there'll be a new horse for me to try--whether I like it or not. And I decide to stay on this merry-go-round of life.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lucky Half-Hours

Every so often, even in a very busy life, a person has a half-hour. A half-hour between drop-off and work. A half-hour, because suddenly, a meeting is delayed. A half-hour, because the bus or train gets you there quicker than you planned.

I used to think that those half-hours were an invitation to "play hooky," to do some window shopping--or real shopping, to stop for a smoothie. In general to do something "decadent" that, without that half-hour, I would never have the time to do. It was satisfying.

What I am discovering these days is that there is something equally satisfying about spending those half-hours accomplishing things that seem hard to get done in the rest of the time that you have, but that need to get done (preferably sooner rather than later). Not the "buy milk," because you will do that regardless, but the "make annoying insurance phone call," because you will try to put that off forever. Not the "write a note to the teacher," because that is a must, but the "buy stamps for the letters that will need to go out in a few weeks," because that will make life a whole lot easier in a few weeks.

Essentially, I have discovered that a little thought to filling some of those half-hours differently makes the rest of my hours more than just a little better. It's not that I will never "play hooky" again. It's just that sometimes, I find satisfaction in making my life more pleasant for the long haul, not just for the half-hour.

So, here's to having those lucky half-hours--as often as possible. And here's to all the different ways we can use them well!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Editing Life

My daughter is making a documentary. A documentary. With which I am not allowed to help. She is twelve.

As I watch her pick up iMovie effortlessly (or so it seems), it's hard not to wonder what we professional editors are going to do when all the twelve year olds become iMovie whizzes--and beyond. And yet, as I have been watching her, I have also been reminded that editing is not just about knowing a program. I try not to jump in, but sometimes, I just "feel" what should come next. I just "feel" that a shot should be shorter or longer, or that a cut should be a dissolve, or that a moment would be more powerful if it played out for just a few more frames.

For, you see, while you have to have the tools to edit, and know them well enough to use them to tell your story, and troubleshoot when there's no professional troubleshooter around, being an editor is about more than just the tools. It's about telling a story. A story that will move people because of how you put it together. A story that is made up up of all those choices you made because you "felt."

And no matter how many twelve year olds become iMovie whizzes (and my daughter may be one of them), there will always be a place for people who know how to tell a good story in pictures--with feeling.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

You Know The Day's Got To Get Better When...

You're chasing coffee beans you spilled all over the counter while trying to grind them at 5am.

You spend most of the early morning deciding if the kid who woke up with a bad head cold is okay enough to go to school or should just stay home and sleep.

Having left the sick child home, you take the well child to the school bus, only to find out that his bus route and time have been changed without you knowing, and that you have, therefore, missed the bus by ten minutes.

You spend ten minutes trying to get a cab in the rain and then hit your head--hard--on the door getting in.

After managing to get the missed-the-bus child to school in the cab, you practically drown in the torrential rain while trying to get to work.

Though you don't drown, you, and every important piece of paper in your coat pockets, arrives at work soaked.

Luckily, with a start like this, there's not anywhere to go but up. By day's end, you are dry (though the papers and coat take a little longer), the sick child is on the mend, and somehow, just somehow, you have put it all behind you and moved on. Because with a morning like that, you know the day's just got to get better.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Go Giving

Before the holidays, I happened upon a book called The Go-Giver. It is a small volume, a quick read (attractive to a person like me with limited free time!), designed, I figure, for business training. The idea behind it is that you end up doing better in work and life if you are focused on what you are giving TO people and situations, rather than what you are getting FROM those people and situations.

Now, I am not a corporate type. I am not a salesperson or a marketer. But I AM a person who has spent many years being ambitious in work situations and these last few years being as driven as possible in a job search--definitely a go-getter. Yet, these past few weeks, a number of the things in the book have stuck with me. Things like networking being more about who you can connect than about what you can get from the people in your network. Like how your value is directly related "to how many people you serve and how you serve them." And like how being yourself, and giving of yourself--authentically--is ultimately the best thing you can do.

Perhaps none of these is such an earth-shattering idea--or perhaps they all are. Either way, they are new ways to think about both our work and our everyday situations, and for me, any opportunity to mix things up with a new way to think is a good opportunity. So, in this new year, I am thinking about being a go-giver. Check it out--it may appeal to you too!

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Last night, I watched an episode of Phineas and Ferb, in which one of the characters is having difficulty making choices because he is unable to see the results of his decisions before he decides. Boy geniuses Phineas and Ferb create a device that allows their friend to split himself when making a decision, so that he can see the ramifications before really making the choice. Cumbersome, perhaps, and beyond reality for most of us, but there are days when I really wish I had a machine like that. Some decisions in our lives are clear, and some, not important enough to be worthy of much energy. The ones that fall in between, that have no clear-cut right or wrong, but that feel significant enough to stress us, are the kickers. And for those, sometimes I think I would gladly step into a gizmo (even if it were like some of the amusement park rides I can't stand) if it would allow me to split myself to get a ramifications preview.

Every single day, we probably make hundreds of decisions, small ones and large ones. We make many of them without even realizing it. We choose the local bus because it comes first, or the red apple because it's at the top of the fruit drawer. We put on a warm sweater for the day because we are cold in the morning. We take a certain train because we are used to it, even if it is not necessarily the best way to every destination. By and large, we are pretty good decision makers. And yet, just when we think we have mastered it, there come decisions just crying for that me-splitting machine.

But in our non-animated world, there is no machine like that. Sometimes we just have to take a leap--make a choice without really knowing what the result will be (or knowing what the result of the thing not chosen would have been). We can do all the research and all the speculation we like, but ultimately, we then have to trust that our choice will end well.

Perhaps this is what makes life that much more interesting. We don't always know how a story will end, so there's always something to surprise us. Sometimes what feel like the worst decisions in the moment yield the best outcomes in the end.

So, let us embrace our choices--and our ability to choose--whether we can "split ourselves" to anticipate their outcomes or not. We may not know what will happen, but, chances are, will have choices about how to handle what does.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Snow Day

I admit it. I was hoping for the snow day. Perhaps even more than my kids.

It wasn't that it would have me home and playing in the white stuff. I'd be working regardless. Perhaps it was my not wanting to worry about my kids' travel to and from school, and their staying warm and dry for the day. Mostly, though, I think it was the idea that, with their return to school after a long time away, I just wanted them to have one more day of down time. One more day before having to return to the whirlwind of homework and activities. One more day to catch up on sleep and on organization. Just one more day.

And how did it go?

Sleep--check. When I woke to find out schools were closed, not only did I not wake up any kids, I grabbed an extra hour myself.

Organization--check. Well, not so much. Had I not been working, maybe. But steps were taken on big projects, so overall, not bad.

Playing in the white stuff--nope. But, as I traveled to work, I was immensely glad that I was not worrying about them trudging to school.

The down time--a success. Some board games played, some relaxing done. And a few steps closer to all of us being ready to handle the barrage as we return to our full plate of life.

Thanks to the snow. And the snow day.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


It used to be that when I went away for the winter holidays, it was because One Life to Live was dark. I wasn't working, but no one else was either. When I came back, we all came back, comparing notes about our holidays and time off.

Things are different now. In a freelance world, there is always something going on. I know, mostly from Facebook, that some of my former colleagues worked in Times Square for New Year's. I know that others of my friends worked right down to the wire of holidays and for much of the time in between. And I know that life went on where I've been working. I just missed it.

It's a funny thing coming back after a long time, knowing that things have gone on without you. It can be every freelancer's nightmare--will things have gone so well without you that taking off will have been the biggest mistake you ever made? Will drama have happened while you were gone that will make you woefully uninformed once you are back?

Or will it be every freelancer's dream--that perhaps you will return to the happy news that you actually were missed--that both your work and your personality mattered? That while life may have gone on, there is still plenty of life left for you to come back to?

"Going back" (see yesterday's blog) filled me with great anticipation, even dread. As it turns out, "missed" was on my side. For, while there were things I missed, I was missed as well. I came back to a place where apparently my work and personality do matter. And where missing something doesn't mean losing something.

Sometimes, when you're afraid you have missed the point, or the boat, or the opportunity, it turns out you have not missed much at all. And what you've gained is a whole lot more than what you've missed.

Going Back

No matter how long the vacation, going back to the "reality" of normal daily responsibilities is a challenge. A few thoughts as we "go back"......
1. Do all these work and school things really have to start so early? I mean, weren't we happier and more productive sleeping till 10? (Okay, maybe happier, but, I guess, not more productive.)
2. Is it really possible to have had more homework to complete than when we were not on vacation? (Okay, I guess not more if you split it over all the days. But who wants to split it over all the days of a vacation?)
3. Is it really possible to have created more clutter in the calm of vacation than in the chaos of normal life? (Okay, I guess we are just clutter producers, whether stressed or relaxed!)
4. Does feeling not ready to go back mean we squandered the days of vacation? (No way. On the contrary, perhaps it means we really used them, but could just use more.)
5. Shouldn't I be ready to kick my kids out of the house and back to school? (Maybe, but perhaps the fact that I'm not means we mostly got along, even enjoyed each other, and now will just have to look forward to the next vacation.)
Good luck going back!