Friday, February 28, 2014

New Chapter

Tonight, I started a new chapter--literally, actually--in my life adventures. For the next ten months, I will be part of a group, put together by the Children's Media Association (CMA), that will write and publish an Amazon e-book for children.

When I first heard about the project, I knew it sounded exciting. What I didn't know was whether I could handle the time for something new. For something that would, no doubt, force me to step beyond the day-to-day schedule that I knew, and to put myself "out there" doing something I had never done before. While I may write hundreds of words here daily, I have never published a book (e- or otherwise). I have never written something I hope my children and others will curl up with. I have only rarely sat in a room with others who would critique my writing. The thought of it all, while exciting, was pretty scary.

I dragged my feet on applying (and actually re-wrote my application multiple times before sending it), but, as you can see from what you've read so far, I did apply, and I did get in, and tonight, I sat at a table with the twenty or so other people who will be my collaborators for the next ten months. Some of them clearly had concerns similar to mine, but what came across much more at that table was the excitement part. The twenty of us will be making the time and putting ourselves "out there" to make this happen, one chapter each.

It's not easy to start something new, especially when you might feel as though you are just mastering where you are in life now. But do you ever finish a book if you read the same chapter over and over? It may be the best chapter in the book, but it is not the whole book. And there are a lot of books out there to be read, most of which you'll miss if you don't start the next chapter.

My first contribution, my chapter, draft one, is due in a month. Stay tuned for what, I imagine, will be the continuing saga of this new "chapter" in my life.

Just another reminder (because sometimes we need them) that I am not washed up yet...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Did You Go To Work Today?

Yesterday, as I was telling my family about various things I had done during the day, my daughter asked, "Mommy, did you go to work today?"

I laughed and replied that I had, of course, gone to work--I had just been very productive on my way to and from work, and during the lunch break that I don't usually take. I had probably accomplished more in the time that I had grabbed than I would have been if I hadn't gone to work!

They say that if you need something done, you should ask a busy person, and perhaps that's true. My list of things done might have sounded like a full day of errands with no time for work in between--it was actually more than I remember accomplishing on the days when I was home unemployed. Sure, those days were spent culling through job leads and composing killer cover letters (that, at the end of the day, resulted in very little forward movement). Those days also included moments of staring into space, trying to accomplish, but knowing that there would likely be time tomorrow for what I couldn't finish that day.

When we are busy, we never really know what we'll have time for tomorrow, so somehow, we squeeze as much as we can into today. The results can be amazing.

Not every day will be as productive as that day. But thanks to an innocent question from a kid, I was reminded of how much I CAN do in a day. Perhaps there's hope for clearing that never-ending "to do" list...

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In A Year

Today, in the course of doing an errand, I walked by a place where I might have worked. It was a year ago when I thought about working there, and seeing the building brought home how much can happen in a year.

In that year, because I didn't work at that place, I spent 2 months pondering the differences between unemployed and looking and freelancing. In that year, I spent five months traveling to Connecticut for "soap camp," reconnecting with people from my past, and wondering what the whole experience would mean for my future. In that year, I interviewed for jobs I didn't get, and "fell into" a job that went from one day to many. In that year, I went from days structured around meeting school buses (and some structured around school bus strikes) to days when it is a challenge just to get home for dinner. In that year, I went from hours of sometimes glorious, sometimes painful, quiet to moments of quiet grabbed only in the early mornings.

A lot can happen in a year.  I could have ended up working at that building I passed today. At the time, it was an agonizingly hard decision not to try to work there. What a very different year it would have been had my decision been different.

Never underestimate the power of each decision you make. They can change your days. And your years.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Blue Folder

Today, I worked with a bright blue folder next to me. A rather tattered, bright blue paper folder, labeled for one of my kids, repurposed for use by another of my kids. The folder was in my eyeline no matter where I looked. And that made it a very productive day.

Why a bright blue folder? This particular folder contained papers related to a phone call I would need to make during business hours. The sight of the folder, I figured, would ensure that I made the phone call. It turned out, however, that seeing the folder made me accomplish not just that phone call, but assorted other personal and family related tasks as well. All because I couldn't get that folder out of my sightline.

I have always attributed my ability to juggle work and family to my ability to separate the two--to focus on work at work and home at home. The only problem with this approach is that certain home tasks can't be done at home after the work day, so while I am focusing on work at work, I end up bypassing those tasks--not on purpose, really, but because they are just not part of my focus when I'm at work.

Enter the blue folder. That folder literally split my focus. No matter how hard I was working, I couldn't help but see the folder and remember that the papers in it had to be taken care of. And while I was at it, other home tasks had to be addressed as well.

I have made lists. Lists on paper, lists in my head, lists on my smartphone. Yet no list has been nearly as effective as the simple presence of that folder in my sightline was today. It didn't interrupt my work, but it ensured that in moments when I paused from work, I remembered the tasks at hand.

Thankfully, there are not always personal business tasks that need to overlap with work. A person could get extremely caught up and distracted. But for the ones that just have to be done, I'll be relying on that blue folder method again. Nothing like a recycled school supply to make things function just a little more efficiently.

Monday, February 24, 2014


For some people, Sunday is a day of rest, or a day of family, a day of gourmet brunch, or a day of special dinner. For me, while Sunday might sometimes include one or more of these things, it always, always includes getting things done. Once the week starts, things may fall by the wayside in the chaos of work and school, so on Sunday, things must be done.

The only problem is, every Sunday seems to end with many things undone. Bills not yet paid, rooms not yet cleaned, milk and bananas that might need to be replenished at the crack of dawn.

You'd think that after years of weeks started with things undone, I'd be better at Sundays--more determined, more efficient, more organized.

Not so. What I have gained, however, may be a bit more important. For years, the things that were undone come Sunday night had me going to bed anxious about starting the week. What's different now is that I don't let the undone make ME come undone. If I've accomplished a lot, fantastic. But if the Sunday brunches, or Sunday dinner, or just some Sunday rest keep the checklist from being completely checked, that's okay. I go to bed anyway, and somehow, things work out.

Weeks may always be crazy, and Sundays may always be Sundays. But if "undone" is just a state of affairs rather than a state of mind, then, believe me, we'll all be better off.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Little Perspective

Tonight, feeling quite heroic about all the things I had accomplished today, I headed to our building garage to retrieve our car for the last big endeavor--picking up a child whom I had dropped at rehearsal and taking her to a party a borough away.

As the friendly but weary-looking garage attendant handed me my car key, I asked him whether this was the beginning of his day or the end. He chuckled a little, and replied that while he was halfway through his shift there, he would be going to his other job--an eight hour shift somewhere else--right after. He wouldn't be sleeping much this weekend--particularly if his daughter wanted to play when he came home from the second job.

Suddenly, my heroic list of errands and pick-ups and accomplishments seemed pretty mundane. By the time he started Job 2, I would be snug in my bed, done for the day. And while all the things I'd done--grocery shopping, and laundry, and child transportation--seemed heroic, they were choices, useful things to have done, but things that could have waited, or been spread out over two days, or done more simply. The garage man would be working 16 straight hours--there was no getting around that.

It's amazing what a little perspective will do for you. How many times do we bemoan having to trudge to work in the snow, then walk by the people who have been shoveling that snow since dawn? How often do we complain about what's available to us--job-wise or salary-wise or location-wise--only to realize that we are lucky even to have these things to consider?

Tonight, the man in the garage reminded me that while the accomplishments of day to day life might feel heroic, they are simply what we do to make it work. And that no matter how hard we think we are working, there are likely people around us who have it a little bit tougher.

A little perspective can be a very good thing.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Oh-oh, These Are The People on My LinkedIn

Yesterday, I got a comment on my blog from a LinkedIn connection, a person I haven't seen in quite some time. While I post the link on Facebook and LinkedIn every day, and I know that people read it through those sources, somehow the comments through LinkedIn surprise me. Rather, they remind me that each time I connect with people there, I am developing not just a professional network, but a sort of "neighborhood," made up of all the "neighborhoods" where I have worked or done business over, well, a fairly long stretch of time.

Now, a professional network can be a valuable thing. If you're applying for a job, LinkedIn helps you know if there are people you know who can give you an "in." But a neighborhood--that's a bit more. For, while the people in your "neighborhood" might be your links to your next job, they are also the people who surround you (literally or figuratively) where you are right now. You can see what they are doing, and they are witnesses to what you are doing as well. It can be a comforting thing to have a "neighborhood."

I may not be "borrowing a cup of sugar" from anyone in my LinkedIn "neighborhood" any time soon, but I am glad to be reminded that I am surrounded by a series of doorbells I could ring if I needed to. People as varied as the people in the Sesame Street song. The "people that I meet when I'm walking down the street"--of LinkedIn and life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Like birthdays and holidays and any number of special occasions in our lives, vacations tend to be long-awaited, then, once started, over very quickly.

Ours was no different. We have returned from a warm all year, relax when we want place to the gray and cold of our everyday life. Back to work and homework and a living space cleaned by us, not for us. What took months to plan and anticipate is over until the next time.

Yet, despite how bleak this description sounds, it's actually okay. Because the space cleaned by us contains lots of things we like to do. And the work and homework mean that we will be seeing friends. And the gray and cold just mean that we can wear different clothes and look forward to seeing the sun again.

And all of it means we can start anticipating the next special occasion.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

If I Were To Retire Today

Over the years, my husband and I have talked about what it would take to retire. While neither of us is even close to this stage (and we've still got multiple children to put through college), being on vacation in a place where lots of people are retired made me think a little about what I might do...

1. Swim every day. Not swim intensely for exercise or physical fitness--that's a not-retired way of thinking. Swim just to swim, or float, or just stand in the pool. Just because it feels good.

2. Do away with alarm clocks. Sleep when I want. Wake up when I feel like it.

3. Go out when I want. And, more importantly, stay home any time I like, because there isn't always somewhere I need to be.

4. Read--unencumbered by alarm clocks and places I need to be.

Perhaps the fact that I am beginning to rise earlier, ready to be out and have things to do, means that I have a while before I'm ready to retire. And those kids to send to college mean it will be a while before I can. But there are things about retirement that we can, perhaps, incorporate even now. We may be bound by alarm clocks and places to go, but sometimes, just sometimes, we can choose how to spend our days, a little more than we actually do. Whether for swimming or reading or just staying home when we like, we can carve out little pieces of retirement for ourselves, long before we get to retiring. And maybe, just maybe, that will make working--and coming back from vacations--just a little bit easier.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Things That Matter

I recently discovered a copy of Start Something That Matters, an autobiography-slash-business/
life manual by the founder of the TOMS shoe company (who, by the way, is named Blake, not Tom). While it is unlikely that I will do anything even close to founding a company, shoe or otherwise, any time soon, I am fascinated by both his story and his opinions on making businesses and charitable endeavors work. It all starts, he says, with a good story.
For Blake, the story was discovering simple, durable shoes in Argentina and realizing that he could both introduce these shoes to the American consumer and provide shoes in general to the millions of people worldwide who couldn't afford them and were suffering immensely without shoes. Through a tremendous amount of creative business-building and telling his story, Blake turned Toms into a worldwide phenomenon, both in business and in charitable giving.
So, if I am unlikely to create anything nearly that large, what do I take away from the story?
Well, the story itself. The idea that telling your story not only strengthens your own cause, but enables others to buy into it. Which somehow sounded a whole lot like my blogging daily.
The idea of keeping the things that can be simple well, simple. When we are surrounded by things that are hard to understand or hard to accomplish, it is immensely freeing and empowering to have some things that are manageable, simple, and not encumbered by layers of baggage and bureaucracy.
The idea of using the free and available resources around us--whether social media, our own personal networks, or local goods or media outlets.
Again, don't be expecting me to start a company any time soon. "Starting Something That Matters" is about starting all sorts of things in our lives, many of which can be guided by the same principles that help create a successful large business or charity. Story, passion, simplicity, resourcefulness. All pretty good ways to start a new day or a new plan.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Instant Gratification

Life is full of things you work for--no paycheck without doing your job, no A+ without doing your homework, no delicious meal without doing the grocery shopping and cooking to create it.

But what if you want NOT to work, just to enjoy? There is no better place to go than an amusement park, where other people have done the work for you, all, it seems, so that you can enjoy a day of instant gratification. Right?

So, what exactly does instant gratification (in an amusement park, that is) give you?

1. The ability to drive vehicles your parents would never otherwise let you--that is, if you are willing to wait on line with hundreds of other kids who want to do the same thing.

2. The opportunity to have your insides turned inside out on a ride--that is, if you can convince one of your parents or siblings to do it with you.

3. The chance to go home with the very coolest souvenir that can only be gotten (or so you think) at the amusement park--that is, if it fits your parents idea of what you need and what they can afford and what everyone can carry.

4. The option of running around in a much more open space than you ever have at home--that is, as long as you stay close enough to keep your parents happy and go slow enough to keep the park workers happy.

The bottom line is, while you may not have to work or study or shop or cook every day to enjoy the things you like, there are always trade offs--conditions that make instant gratification well, not quite so instant. And, while these trade offs might not be so attractive to a kid, they are our reminder as adults that the best things in life sometimes take a little work, even if that "work" is just waiting our turn or making a choice. The kinds of work that, in the scheme of things, are not much work at all.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


When I was working at ABC, there never seemed to be a good time for a vacation. Either there were special shows to be done, or the loss of income was too much to consider. And when, as a cost-cutting measure, the shows began having dark weeks, those weeks didn't necessarily coincide with school breaks, so family vacations were hard to schedule.

When the shows ended, I suddenly had all the time in the world. Except that unemployment expected me to job search weekly, and the last thing our "nothing coming in" bank account could manage was the expense of a trip. Plus, what if we made plans to go away, and that turned out to be just the week that I was wanted for work?  (For the record, when you're freelancing, those "just the week" weeks always manage to come up at the trickiest times.)

In any case, it has been a long time since time and money and stars aligned to allow for vacation. Until this week. It's not fancy or extravagant. And perhaps it was not so much the alignment of things as the decision that you can't always wait for alignment, which is a lesson it has taken me years to learn. You see, one of the many things I have (perhaps) learned over these last few years is that you can't always know when something will end. You can't always predict which weeks will be "just the week," and which days will be the quietest, bleakest ones you think you've ever had. You can't know for sure which months you'll feel solvent and which you'll be blindsided by an unexpected household repair. What you can know is that, if you wait to know all of these things, you will be far too busy waiting ever to go on vacation.

So here I am, alignment having worked (or alignment be damned), on vacation. It will be over before I know it. But then, even that will be better than sitting around waiting for alignment.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

There Was A Day When I Thought...

...If I had a list, that would make everything that needed to be done get done, no distractions.

...If we said we needed to clean, we could clean and have a clean apartment.

...If we needed to get up at 4am, we could actually get everyone to bed by 8pm.

...Preparing to go on vacation would create a universal atmosphere of calm.

...Going on a trip to somewhere that is not Mars would not require taking everything plus the kitchen sink.

There was a day when I thought a lot of things. Clearly, that day was not today.

Maybe tomorrow.

Valentine's Day

I have lived through a lot of Valentine's Days. Ones with boxes of flimsy cards to a whole class, homemade doily projects, parties of red and pink, expectations of candy and roses. This year was no different--and yet, it was. Yes, I was surrounded by people talking about candy and roses and dates. And yes, my children came home with the flimsy paper Valentines and a new influx of candy (hey, we finally finished the Halloween candy). But a post I read from a friend kind of reminded me what Valentine's Day really is for me. While it may come boxed in red or pink and largely pushed upon us by the retail world, Valentine's is a reminder of what--and who--is important to us. As my friend put it (loosely paraphrased here), it's not all about Romeo and Juliet (we all know how that ended). It's about all the other kinds of relationships we have in our lives--Spongebob and Patrick, as she put it, or whatever caring, laughing, and enjoying life partnerships work for us. Whether those relationships include flowers and candy (on a regular basis, or on Valentine's) or not. Whether there is intense romantic drama, or just a better life because we are connected.

There was some chocolate in my Valentine's, and I am always grateful for chocolate. I am even more grateful that I have people I can eat chocolate with--and laugh with--every other day of the year.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Chasing Trains

As my travel these days is largely on foot, I didn't have to chase anything in the snow. The walking may have taken a little longer, but I was not dependent on anything with wheels.

But sometimes, the "trains" we chase are not in the form of large people containers with wheels. While my transportation may have been uneventful, my day was certainly not. Some days, the "train" of life just goes too fast for us to keep up.

I have my lists. I know what things I need to accomplish by day's end. I review all those things in my head on that walk to work. The problem is, while there may be a list--kind of like a schedule of trains--there are inevitably a whole bunch of unscheduled trains, and somehow, the unscheduled ones always overtake the ones on your list.

So, I ended the day exhausted from chasing the trains that appeared before me--it's hard to ignore those--but feeling as though I missed the ones I really needed to take.

Perhaps next time, I'll shoot for buses. They take it a little slower. And there are a lot more opportunities to get off and transfer.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


When TV shows end, they often sell off and/or give away many of the props, costumes, and set pieces that made the show's world come alive. If you work on the show, you can walk away with a piece of your experience there. Over the years, I have been the proud owner of shirts and robes worn on Cosby, pots and pans and police evidence boxes from One Life to Live--the list goes on.

When OLTL ended, I brought home assorted clothes, most of which fit my daughters, not me (I have nowhere near an actor's figure). A few items, however, were too much fun to resist, so they entered my closet. The funny thing was, for more than two years after the show was over, I couldn't wear them. I can't explain it, really. It just felt odd, as if I were trying to be someone else, or as if people would look at me and know that I was wearing something that wasn't, well, mine.

Today, I wore one of those items. It just seemed as though it would be fun. It fit, it was comfortable, it brought back some entertaining memories. And maybe, just maybe, it made me feel a little bit like someone else for the day.

I think that one of the great things about mementos is that, if you let them, they can take you back to the good parts of things you've done. While the memories might make you sad, somehow the mementos put a happy twist on things. For me, perhaps the time and distance helped a bit too, but I can say for sure that enjoying my little costume memento made for a happy blend of good memories of yesterday and a good mood today.

When things end, you may think you can remember everything just in your head. But take mementos when you can. They make those memories all the better.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


I used to think that my success at work and at home was due to my ability to separate the two things--to leave home at home and work at work--the less overlap, the better.

Perhaps that still holds true, but I am finding that these days, overlap is everywhere, largely unavoidable, whether it is between home and work or work and life or home and school--the list is endless. Little by little, I am learning to accept--perhaps, even embrace--overlap. It has been an ongoing journey....

When your kids are small, there is child care--an adult who runs the show in your absence and makes decisions for those small people who are not yet capable of making their own decisions. As your kids get older, there is less child care. And those small people are more capable of making decisions. Which they run by you. When you're at work. Overlap.

When your kids are small, they are not interested in what you did at work. They are interested in dinner on the table and a game of Candyland, a story at bedtime, and their favorite stuffed animal. Okay, with the exception of Candyland, maybe they're still interested in those things, but they are also interested in office politics, which becomes dinner table conversation. Overlap.

When your kids are small, the weekends are largely determined by you, meaning that errands and catch-up can happen on the weekends, apart from the work week. When they are older, they have their own weekend commitments--ones that require your involvement--meaning that all those errands and catch-ups need to be part of the regular week--before, during, and after work. Overlap.

When you are early in your career, you don't know that many people. Your job is your job, and your life is your life. As you get older, there are inevitably connections between the two, whether it's people you've met, or shared experiences you've had. Overlap.

Whether we like it or not, the parts of our lives can't really help but overlap. We can rail against the intrusion (which I sometimes do), or we can embrace the gift it gives us--perhaps a degree of family compassion when dealing with work situations, perhaps a degree of work organization when dealing with family issues. And the ability to carry the things and people that are important to us from one part of our lives to another.

How will your "lives" overlap today?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Forest or the Trees

When I was first out of work--in fact, even before I was really out of work--I had goals. This was my chance to do new things--to transition to children's media, to write a book (or series of books), to meet entirely new groups of people. The problem is, unless you are independently wealthy and/or unbelievably single-minded, the goal quickly goes from something lofty to just being able to pay the bills and keep up your self-esteem. While I took steps to conquer the whole forest, it was often hard to focus on the forest when every day, all I could see were a whole lot of trees.

Even now, it is unbelievably hard to see past the trees of day to day life. There are a lot of things to accomplish each day, both professionally and personally. There is accomplishment in just getting everyone off and getting everyone home, in doing a good job with the tasks at hand. Where, then, do the big goals, the "forest" goals, fit in? If you are successfully negotiating all the trees, does it really matter about the forest?

I am still figuring out that answer. It feels good just to handle the trees.  The daily forward motion gives me a sense of strength, of competence, and who wouldn't like that? But when I step back and realize that I have let some of the big goals fall by the wayside, will I be sorry I spent so long just handling trees, barely seeing the whole forest?

I suppose what I am finding is that, while the forest may be a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight, the trees in it grow and change every day. And if I spend all my time gazing up at the forest, I will miss the daily changes in the trees right around me. And, at least for now, that is not something I am willing to miss.

If I take care of the trees, the forest will still be there, bigger and more beautiful than ever. And maybe someday, I'll conquer it. In the meantime, I'll be trying to make sure that each day, I see the forest AND the trees.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wild Worm-Chase

While I managed to accomplish a lot of things during the weekend, perhaps the most significant was my success in acquiring earthworms for my daughter's science project.

After you say "eww," which, believe me, I have countless times, understand how hard it is to find earthworms in New York City in the middle of winter. The pursuit has fairly well consumed me for the past two weeks, with trips to pet stores, and calls to fishing stores, emails to friends, and Internet searches in multiple directions. I could have mail ordered, but at the cost of $20, plus $20 or more shipping (they are alive, you know, so it has to be express mail), for a quantity far above what we needed, I just couldn't stomach it. (Okay, I can't quite stomach the whole thing, but I guess I was asleep when the project was approved in our household).

So, local it would be, and by Friday, I'd found an ecology group that would sell me worms at a weekly green market. Problem solved, right? Except the worms were stolen before I ever got there. Stolen worms? Yup.

Long story short (okay, not so short), we acquired just about the right number of worms at a fish store just a bus ride away, a place found on yet another Internet search, the last ditch effort before I gave up and mail ordered, shipping and all.

And the moral of the story? Well there a few. Don't sleep through the decisions that will have ramifications for you down the road. Try not to let the little things consume you. And when the little things do consume you, know that they can be conquered, if you keep at it. Even if it means going on a few wild worm-chases.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Last night, I dreamed I made a documentary. Well, perhaps not a documentary--more like a several minute news package, complete with video and pictures and voiceover. In my dream, I did it all--the writing, the editing, even the voice--and each time I began to wake up, I forced myself back to sleep, so that I could finish this creation.

Dreams, of course, are just dreams, so I did not get up in the morning with an edited news package in my hands. I don't even really remember the subject matter, only the fact that I was doing the thing, and was quite determined to finish.

Did I spend the day scrambling to write something? No. Searching the Internet for pictures and video so that I could start something? Nope. Setting up an editing timeline for a project yet to be? Not that either. The day was spent, as most days are, accomplishing the necessary tasks of a family. For now, my dream remains just a dream.

But dreams, of course, do stay with us. So maybe, when I least expect it, that dream will remind me if something I CAN do. Maybe, when I most need it, that dream will give me the inspiration to try something I've never done. Because that's what dreams are--a little maybe, a little can, a little try, and yes, a lot of inspiration.

Saturday, February 8, 2014


I rode down in the elevator with a coworker who is becoming a friend. And though when we arrived at the first floor, I zoomed off, needing to negotiate complex family arrangements that depended upon my getting home quickly, I thought a lot about how rare that trip in the elevator had been. Rare, not because of any profound conversation we had undertaken, but rare because there was simple connection. We were leaving at the same time, and we chose to ride down in the elevator together. And when I had to zoom away, it mattered enough to me to write later and apologize for my haste.

One of the things I've learned from jobs ending is that connection is a mixed bag. On the one hand, connection means that when a job finishes, you still have people with whom you can network for new opportunities and people who can commiserate with you about the ups and downs of the completed job. On the other hand, when the job ends, you are losing not just the job and the income. You are also losing a social network that can never really be recreated outside of that job.

I have been a little skittish about making connections since my work at ABC ended. While a number of my work situations have been too short for it even to matter, as the gigs become longer, I am finding myself faced with the question--do I form connections, knowing that they might end as quickly as they started? Do I invest not only my abilities, but my emotions as well?

My time at ABC was obviously unusual. My connections there spanned half a work lifetime, complete with numerous life events. My friends there were part of my wedding. They threw me baby showers. They were my entire social network on days when I saw virtually no one else. It is unlikely that there will be a level of connection like that again. The question is, do I open myself to the joy and risk of connection at all?

Earlier in the day, I got an unexpected visit from friends from my work past. It was just a matter of minutes, but we hugged and chatted, and I smiled for hours after that.

And perhaps that is my answer. I smiled for hours because connections I had made previously reappeared in my life. Do I miss seeing them the way I used to? Sure. But am I sorry that I connected enough with them that their brief visit would make me smile? Absolutely not.

Connection may come with risks, but it also comes with rewards. Just one of the things that reminds me that I'm not washed up yet.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Take Me Seriously

I am sitting at my work computer, dressed well (jewelry, even!), and I am editing with a Muppets Band-Aid on my thumb.

The Band-Aid protects no huge injury--just a hangnail. The injury is not what makes this blogworthy. It is the Band-aid itself that got me thinking. When I was working in soaps, I joked that wearing things like crazy leggings or a cow costume on Halloween "screamed 'take me seriously!'" Now that I am working on the news side of things, you'd think I'd be even more worried about being taken seriously. And yet, here I am with a Muppets Band-Aid.

What I am finally learning, after half a lifetime in television, is that the people who are taken seriously are not the ones who refuse to give in to color and joy and mirth. They are the people who work hard and accomplish things, and aren't afraid to be true to the things they love while they're at it. I love the Muppets. Did my Muppets Band-Aid keep me from working hard and accomplishing today? No. On the contrary, glancing down at Beaker and Animal as my fingers flew across the editing console actually helped me. Reminded me that I am more than just a person editing news. Reminded me that any day, I could be the person who also works in children's media. Reminded me that I am allowed to be me, no matter what I'm doing. Reminded me that, even in the midst of chaos, it's okay to laugh.

The Muppet Band-Aid has come off. Perhaps the moment has passed. You can still take me seriously. Just not too seriously.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Life Is Like A Puddle

I walked through a lot of puddles this morning. As I gradually realized that, despite my wearing snow boots, my feet felt as though they had fish swimming around them, I also realized that my path through the puddles was oddly analogous to any number of situations in life. And once I'd stopped to buy taller, drier boots, I figured I should make a record of some of the analogies.

1. Life is like a puddle #1--Things may seem like a mess. And they may be uncomfortable. But you will survive.

2. Life is like a puddle #2--You can't avoid every puddle or every slippery situation. But sometimes, you can choose which puddle has to be stepped in and which one should really be avoided.

3. Life is like a puddle #3--If you watch the people who have gone in front of you, you can get a pretty good sense of what might work and what definitely won't. Don't be afraid to follow a lead (or avoid a pitfall!).

4. Life is like a puddle #4--Unexpected things can, and will, happen. You may get stuck, or splashed, or slowed, or stopped. Prepare for the unexpected. Leave extra time, take extra socks, make back-up plans.

5. Life is like a puddle #5--If you lose your footing along the way, it's okay to ask for help. Everyone needs a little assistance to get back up sometimes.

6. Life is like a puddle #6--On the puddle-filled days, it may seem as though you'll be walking through puddles every day. But the sun does come out. And the puddles do dry up. And if you've remembered "Life is like a puddle #1," when it does, you'll be off and running again.

Straddling Worlds

When I was working at ABC, and even at Cosby, there was no real question of who I was. I was a mom who worked. With the exception of the weeks of maternity leave after each of my children was born, I left home just about every weekday morning and returned home each night (sometimes after bedtime). In between, I was at work, comfortable in the knowledge that I was well-paid and fulfilled, and that my children spent their days well cared for and entertained by my longtime sitter (and the bevy of sitters and young friends who spent the days with them).

This all changed when I finished at ABC. Suddenly I was home--looking for work, of course, and intending to go right back to being that person, but in the meantime, handling the home front, school pickups, and all things domestic. And while the amount of time that this lasted is minuscule in comparison to the number of years I worked full-time up until then, the experience totally changed my picture of who I am.

Before, I couldn't imagine doing anything but going to work in the morning. Now, I remember what it was like to be home in the quiet once everyone was gone. And while I remember how lonely and frustrating some of those days were, sometimes I miss them.

Before, I would face weather and health crises by wondering who I would need to call to handle the crises all day while I was at work. Now, I remember what it was like when I could react to things like snow and school bus strikes and sick children by just jumping in myself to handle the crisis.

Before, there was no question of whether I should be working. I was making good money to support us, doing work that I enjoyed, and seeing my kids be entertained all day far better than I thought I could accomplish. Now, there is still no question of whether I should be working. The difference is that now, I have seen the other side. So now, when I am working, I am not just that working person I used to be. Each day, I am straddling the worlds of that person and the person I was for that time that I was home. I am back to scrambling to be home on time, but still in the mode of intending to be there for pickups. Back to being just a ship passing other parents in the night (well, evening), but now knowing the other parents well enough to be sad not to have time to talk to them. Back to making sure I have everything with me at 7:30am, because I won't be back till dinner, but some days feeling as though I'd just like to go back to bed once the kids are up and out. Amazing how such a relatively short period of time--a blip, really, in the course of my work life--can so radically change the way things look.

And because of that blip, I think that, for better or for worse, I will be straddling worlds for a long time to come.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


We are attempting to cut back on screens at our house. Which is ironic, since I am writing about this on a small screen and will then proofread my post on a bigger screen so that it will then go out into the world to be read on screens, hopefully many, many of them. Oh, and since, working in television, I spend whole days looking at screens.

But I digress. Our cutback on screens has, not surprisingly, resulted in some complaints of "I'm bored." I get it. There's a lot to see and do when you have access to a computer or a tablet or a smartphone. Without these things, a whole group of activities goes away, so why wouldn't a person be bored?

What we are learning, however, is that "bored," if handled carefully, is really just a transition to "creative." In our short experiment, we have played highly competitive games of tabletop finger soccer. We have developed time-specific versions of Monopoly, complete with time-specific ways of scoring so that the "counting up" doesn't take longer than the game. We have written about all sorts of facts and talked about what words mean. We have taken "bored" and turned it into "creative."

Removing any sort of crutch in our lives is hard. We like the things we're used to, and we like the way we feel when we have that "go-to place" that enables us to pass our time in comfort. What we are finding out, however, is that "creative" is okay too. It may be a few steps out of our comfort zone, causing us to feel nervous, or bored, or both. But in the end, it's a new place to go. And isn't the real solution for "bored" to have as many places to go as you possibly can?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Spilling Over

You know that your to-do list has spilled over when you wake up in a sweat at 4am to do it.

You know that the laundry job has spilled over when the piles you left on the couch last night are, sigh, still piles on the couch in the morning.

You know that cleanup duty has spilled over when you see that the areas that were neater just hours ago are back to their normal cluttered selves.

You know that the pasta you were cooking has spilled over when it suddenly looks as though you are boiling an albino volcano.

You know that your stress from last week has spilled over when you're sure that you relaxed a lot all weekend, but are just as tied up as you were before.

You know that your attempt at family improvement has spilled over when your kids are quoting things you said that you thought had gone in one ear and out the other.

You hope that a little weekend is spilling over, so that in moments of weekday stress, you can remember what it felt like to sleep a little later, rush a little less, listen a little more.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Cooking and Stewing

No, this is not a post about my cooking all weekend so as to have tasty at-home meals for every night of next week (though that would be a lovely idea!).

I am coming off a week during which I spent a lot of time stewing. Stewing about commitments, stewing about work situations, stewing about children and their progress. Not much forward movement, just a whole lot of stewing. Stewing (while perhaps valuable in a kitchen) doesn't accomplish much in life. In my week of stewing, I have written lists, looked at lists, and barely done the things on the lists. I have worried about kid stuff, fielded phone calls about kid stuff, and not really fixed kid stuff. I have thought about work, dreamed (nightmared?) about work, and not resolved things about work. A lot of stewing, but not a lot of cooking.

So now, after jumping around, like the food that is boiling in the pot after stewing too long, I am going to try to start cooking. While I am by no means a chef, I know that when I hear "cooking," there will be something to eat soon. I know that when I hear "cooking," there will be a result, not just a process. So now, it's time to start "cooking"--checking things off on those lists, and finding answers for the kid and work issues without letting them consume me. Cooking, so that I have something to show for it, and fast.

Because stewing might be good if you have all the time and patience in the world, but it's no good if you spend all your hours worrying about the pot and being hungry for the results. I will try to leave the stewing to someone else, thank you very much. It's time for me to start cooking.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Loose Ends

It seems that Friday lends itself to tying up loose ends. Emails are sent to work folks on Friday because those work folks might not check, much less respond to, emails on the weekend. Backpacks that have been in transit all week get checked for notes and things gone missing. The mess that has accumulated for days is suddenly visible--and sometimes horrifying. Perhaps the ends have been loose or loosening all week, but on Fridays, the need to tie them up becomes more urgent.

The problem is, as with all loose ends, the Friday ones aren't necessarily easily tied up. And while a person might see them more clearly on Friday, that doesn't mean that a person can handle them any better on Friday (note that even this blog about them is being written not on Friday, but on Saturday).

So, while Friday may be a good day to see the loose ends, and Saturday may be a good day to start tying them up, sometimes it may be necessary just to accept that there will be loose ends--things that you can't easily tie up, things that will wake you in the night, things that will go on even past the Friday or the Saturday or the next week.

Because sometimes that's how life is. Lots of loose ends, and not always enough knots in the world to tie them up.