Sunday, May 31, 2015

All Dressed Up And...

It is rare that we all dress up. While I have overseen wardrobe for my daughters to wear to shows or parties, for my son to look spiffy on picture day, or for myself for a networking event, I have not had to coordinate the efforts of all five of us very often. This is probably a good thing, because as we prepared to attend a family wedding, I was way out of my readiness league. Though we'd reviewed clothing days ahead of time, I still found myself buying shoes both the day before and the day of. Though the ties and hosiery were chosen, inhabiting them was another story. Somehow, we all made it out the door. I'm just not sure that any of us looked quite the way I'd imagined.

Yet, as we sat at the ceremony and then the reception, I began to realize how little the perfect wardrobe mattered. While it was good that we were not wearing t-shirts and tattered sneakers, and while it felt good to be dressed specially for the day, most of it kind of fell away in the midst of seeing relatives and watching the wedding couple. I wasn't sorry that I had filled in the gaps in shoes and little accessories, but I was definitely glad that I hadn't gotten any more caught up in the dressing everyone aspects of the day. Sometimes, you see, we spend so much time on the trappings that we have no energy left for the really important parts of a wedding, or of life. So, while it may be good to be prepared, and it is appropriate to be appropriate, it is perhaps most important to be vigilant, so that our focus on the little parts doesn't obscure our view of the big ones.

Today, we got to celebrate the marriage of two people whose friendship and humor could inspire us all. We dressed up for the occasion, because that is what people do. But I am happy to say that we didn't over-think or over-dress. Because that can just get in the way of thinking at all, or doing just about anything.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Iced Tea and Life

I stopped on my way to work for an iced tea. It had been a long week, and thanks to a rewards program, I had a free drink coming my way. I was on a schedule, but was fairly confident that I had time for the stop, and that the iced tea would help me through this last day of the work week. And then, as I waited for my drink, I watched as the customer in front of me thrust her drink back at the counter, demanding rather harshly, "can you fill it up?" Seems the froth at the top of her cup was occupying an inch or two of space that she expected to contain liquid. Behind the counter, the drink was remade to her specifications, and she huffed away, much as she had arrived. As I waited for my own drink, I thought about the day of the worker who had been spoken to that way. Presumably, she'd already been there for hours, making drinks to the assigned specifications. Who knows if she was having a good day up until then, but clearly, the woman's outburst had rattled her. The customer's attitude had startled me--what impact had it had on her?

It is easy for us customers of life and iced tea to challenge how exactly our days and beverages are made, and to believe that we, not the counter people, should have the last word, especially when we're spending many dollars on drinks and endless energy on life. Yet, getting what we want from our days and our beverages doesn't entitle us to treat the counter people in our lives as incompetent. It doesn't give us the right to upend someone else's day in order to fix our own.

I imagine that the iced tea maker moved on quickly--she probably deals with similar situations daily. But what I witnessed reminded me that both iced tea and life can be a lot more refreshing when approached with a smile and a "thank you" than when taken with a huff and an attitude. And when you're investing that much, in your beverage and in your life, shouldn't you make sure your experience is a satisfying one?

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Little Things

Many days, I am rushed. Many days, I am stressed. And yet, almost every day, I am grateful...

...for help that comes from unexpected places.

...for a friend who doesn't laugh at my choices of coffee.

...for the opportunity to go to places I know how to get to, and ones that are a little harder to find.

...for the "make it work" switch that flips on inside me when things just need to work.

...for children who keep me on my toes.

...for words that come when I need them to.

...for early morning email, and late night ice cream.

...for younger people who see that my experience matters, and older people who see that my energy matters.

...for first dibs and second chances.

...for "thank you," and "you're welcome," and "no problem," and everything in between.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Agents Of Change

I began the day thinking I might not be working. But TV being what it is sometimes, by lunchtime, I was sitting in my edit chair, churning out news elements even faster than usual (after all, we were already and hour or two behind). And then my work day ended with extensive fixes (for re-air) of a show that had gone, well, not so well, when it was shot. A day that began with an assumption of time at home ended with more time than normal at work. Let's face it, whether you work in television or not, things change.

There are days when I feel that nothing really defines my life as much as change. While the last few years have certainly put me on a roller coaster of job change, it is not just work that has changed. Each day, as we learn the rules and patterns of our current situations, we are faced with change that will force us to re-learn and adjust. Whether it's our kids getting older or changing schools, or our living situation shifting slightly, or not so slightly, we deal with change pretty much every day. How we handle our jobs or parenting our children may seem to run our lives, but how we manage change is what really defines us. Do we let change stop us in our tracks--render us powerless to take the next steps? Or do we face change as the adventure it can become? Do we complain about change, because it leaves us unsteady? Or do we embrace it, because it teaches us new skill sets and new strengths?

Today was just one of many days that became very different than what I'd expected--life'll do that to you. We can't control that--we don't have the power. But when we control how we react to change, we become very powerful--able to fix, and learn, and even grow a little along the way. Whatever life is now, it's likely to change. We can all become agents of change (or at least managers of it). It's simply a question of believing in our ability to handle it when things change. And knowing that managing change will make us that much more ready for whatever the next steps in life will be.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


It wasn't until I went to post yesterday's entry that I realized that it was number 1000 in a string of posts that began close to three years ago. I doubt that I realized on Day 1 that I would still be posting all these days later, or that I could have imagined 1000 posts and counting. I suspect that the creators of soap operas that lasted into the 5-digit numbers didn't imagine those numbers either when they began creating their serial worlds.

When I started, 1001 posts ago, I simply wanted to tell a few stories, to keep twenty-plus years of working in soaps from becoming just a dim memory, to recognize people who had shaped my life, and to make sense of a world that had been turned upside down. Posting has taken me up and down, through the euphoria of new experiences and the despair of difficult ones. It has reminded me daily that we really are capable of changing and growing and discovering. It has given me a purpose on days when purpose was hard to see and a calling card when I was unsure quite what to call myself.

1001 is a big number. It would be enough to stop and still feel that I had accomplished something. But there is more to say. There is more to discover. And there is still room to grow. And still more chance to remind myself that I'm nowhere near washed up yet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Play Day

For most of my career, I have worked on at least some of the national holidays. Whether it's news or entertainment, television doesn't necessarily stop for commemorations and for start of or middle of or end of summer sales. Today, however, I was free and clear. And while there were chores to be done, I embraced the day for what it gave me--a day to spend with my kids--not me at work with them at home on their own or with a sitter. Not me cleaning all day with them watching videos or doing homework. Today, we all played, at least a little, and it felt good.

It is not always easy to stay in sync with the myriad schedules that rule our lives. School vacations don't always correspond to work vacations, free times for kids don't always match up with free times for adults. I have spent years working while my kids played, and some years with available time when they had none. Today, we were together, free both in time and in spirit. There were games, and laughter, a little cooking, and a brief putting aside of some of the responsibilities that control us daily.

Not every day can be a play day. There is work to be done, and there are things to accomplish, and the clock rarely stops for long enough for us just to play. But I was reminded today how important--and enjoyable--it is to grab a play day when we get one--for the laughter that we otherwise miss, for a view of our family that we often don't get, for the literal and figurative fresh air that we don't always breathe.

Tomorrow, it will be back to work and back to school. But because of our play day, we will all return to normal life just a little more ready to face whatever comes.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Here Now Hero

I travel home in a complicated, but smoothly running, series of steps. Aside from the souvenir that is too much of a liquid to come along in my carry-on (perhaps someone will enjoy Kentucky lemon meringue!), it all goes off without a hitch, right down to the hugs on my return and the child's performance I feared I would miss if my plane was late. I am home.

Without question, it feels good to be with my family, in my own bed, in my own chaotic apartment. It feels good to be part of and there for. And yet, quickly upon my return, I am faced with things I should be able to fix, now that I am back, and I can't fix them. Quickly upon my return, I am reminded that being here, rather than miles away, makes me present, but doesn't always make me powerful.

There will be unpacking, and regrouping, and returning to the day-to-day life that I missed for a few days. I may not be able to solve all the things awaiting solving, but I am here, and I guess at least I can try.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kentucky Bound, Part 4

...In which I prepare to be New York bound...

My work here in Kentucky is done. After days of prep, and days of nerves, and days of travel, and days of shooting, I am packing up the scripts and the camera cards, saying goodbye to the new group of people I have gotten to work with, and hoping against hope that there will be a next time. It's funny how life works out--the things that make us comfortable certainly make us comfortable, but sometimes the things that make us nervous, that test us a little, are the ones that make us soar. In the past few days, I have been reminded that AD work is not dead. I have been reminded that though I am not in an AD/Editor job, as I once was at ABC, I am still very much an AD and an Editor. I have been reminded that being away from my family briefly doesn't mean I don't care, it just means I'm away from my family briefly. And I have been reminded that there's a person in here, a person with whom it can be easy to lose touch.

And thus ends my Kentucky bound story. A few days to work and remember, to grow, and to look forward. Who knew you could find out so much from a little trip to Kentucky?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Kentucky Bound, Part 3

As I finish Day 3 of my Kentucky gig, I can't help but think how nice it has been to share meals and cars and work and laughter with this group of people, most of whom I've never worked with before. I think about how every one of them is working as hard as I am. I think about the ones who are new at this, and the ones who have been at it for years, and the ones who, like me, are both veteran and new at the same time. I listen to stories of other jobs and of families back home (wherever home is), stories about new methods and new equipment. I learn all sorts of things from all sorts of people. And I find that I, too, have stories to tell.

Soon, my much-anticipated trip south will be over. I will go back to the day-to-day of local work and family life. I may return to the same things as I left, but I will not be quite the same person. That's just how it is when we open ourselves to new experiences. Working on a sitcom changed how I worked on soaps. Editing news changed how I edit promos. Being part of a traveling crew in Kentucky, on a program of classical music, will change how I AD, how I choose work, and how I approach the adventures that life continues to throw at me. And I am glad for that. Soon, I will go from Kentucky bound to New York bound. But I will be glad to take a little bit of Kentucky home with me.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kentucky Bound, Part 2

So--for the burning question--"Why Kentucky?" I am working these next few days on a Live From Lincoln Center special about the Chamber Music Society's residency at Shaker Village in Lexington, Kentucky. It is what has become a rare opportunity for me to AD, and each minute takes me back to what I love about that...

The director and I are talking about shots, and the Chamber Music Society Coordinator says it's as if we are speaking a different language. I know that language, and it is exciting to be able to understand it and have an opportunity to speak it.

I am going over setups and schedule with camera operators, some new to this kind of endeavor, some veterans. What I say to each may be different, but my message is the same--your particular expertise matters here, and together, we will get through this and make a great show. I love being the person who conveys that kind of energy.

I am hearing and overhearing information that matters, and I am passing it along so we can do something about it. I feel knowledgeable and proactive, and it feels good.

I am seeing things that will affect shots or traffic or the day in general, and I can do something about them. It really does matter that I'm here.

I'm on my feet with the crew, cold when they're cold, standing on the meal line and sitting at long tables with all the people working on this job. I am part of a team, a production team. It has been a long time.

I am back at my hotel, preparing to sleep before an early call and a busy day. It will be long, but I've done longer. It will be the good kind of "we did it" tired.

Yesterday, I wondered how traveling to work would feel. Today, I am reminded of how worth it the travel can be when you love the work.

To be continued...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kentucky Bound, Part 1

In a cavernous space full of gourmet snacks and iPads, I wander with a duffle and backpack full of scripts and shot cards. The weight makes me lean, but also props me up. It is my reminder of why I am in this cavernous space alone--no children to re-shoe after the security checkpoint, no vacation gear or family gifts. I am traveling for work, something I haven't done (unless you count commuter trains) since a location shoot for the soap Passions close to twenty years ago.

Once on the plane, I wake from a deep sleep, only to find that the plane's wheels are still on the ground. In the time during which I would normally have edited ten pieces for the news, we have gone nowhere except closer to the front of the takeoff line. It was a good nap, but I wonder, should I be working, not sleeping? But working would require taking out the scripts, and the cards, and far more than I could realistically manage in the space of my tiny seat. There will be time for working. This is transportation. Long transportation, but just transportation.

I leave home daily to go to work, knowing each day that I am a bus or train or cab or "ankle express" ride from home. I make schedules and plans, knowing that I can jump in to alter them if needed. You can't jump in when the time in the takeoff line alone is longer than the trip from work to home. I have made the schedules and plans, and they will unfold without me, for better or for worse. Perhaps once I am really working, I will forget about them. For now, they play through my head like the music I will be hearing on this job--complex, dramatic, big. Very big.

I was booked for this job during a particularly bleak work time--delayed paychecks, bills to be paid, expenses mounting. The invitation was not just exciting--as out of the blue invitations are--it was like a gift from above, a reminder that past work done well does matter, that people you've done right by do look you up the next time. It was, literally, a bit of music in a cacophonous world. So I said "yes."

"Yes" means a lot of things. "Yes," I can do something I don't do daily. "Yes," I will help you in what you are trying to do. "Yes," and thank you for thinking of me. "Yes," I will make it work, even if it takes a lot of behind the scenes scrambling to make it work.

And "yes" put me in an airport and on a plane and Kentucky bound.

To be continued...

Planned and Unplanned

When I woke up in the morning, there was a day full of plans ahead of me--things to get done, places to get to, a need at least to get by. There were plans, and I followed them. I did what I was supposed to do, went where I was supposed to go, and, by and large, got by.

And then emails happened. And then schedules running over happened. And then a stalled car happened. And suddenly, a straightforward day that was planned became a seemingly endless day that wasn't. A Tuesday that melted into Wednesday. A reminder that all the plans in the world can't keep the unplanned from happening.

But when the unplanned happened, I remained calm, because somehow, I just did. When the unplanned happened, I screamed a little, because sometimes you have to. When the unplanned happened, I shifted a little as I felt the planned day shift beneath me.

I guess sometimes, planning doesn't always mean you'll have a completely planned day.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One Thing At A Time

There was food. So I cooked it. 

There was something broken. So I fixed it. 

There was a rip. So I sewed it. 

There was a skinned knee. So I bandaged it. 

There was a fly ball. So I fielded it. 

There were balls in the air. So I juggled them. 

There was time. So I filled it.

There was work to do. So I did it. 

There were banners to carry. So I carried them. 

There was hurt. So I soothed it. 

There was sadness. So I tried to hug it away. 

There was exhaustion. So I slept. 

There was confusion. So I talked it through. 

There was fear. So I tried to calm it. 

There was chaos. So I tried to organize it. 

There is always something we can do, and even the small things add up. Never underestimate what you can accomplish when you take just one thing at a time...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Open Mind, Insert Knowledge

As I held shadow-clearing and brightness-raising boards during my daughter's headshot shoot, watching carefully as the photographer assessed whether I should change my holding angle and whether the boards were doing what she wanted, I thought a lot about how many times I'd seen lighting directors make similar adjustments for light and shadow, yet had never really internalized how it was that they accomplished what they accomplished. Though we go through life acquiring all sorts of information without even being aware of it, we also go through life not absorbing the things around us that are just taken care of. We may know well the things we know, but we fall short of knowing more because we are so focused on our own pieces of knowledge.

There's nothing wrong with specializing, or leaving things to the experts, but I was reminded today that there is always more to learn, if we keep our eyes open. There is always more to know, if we remember that knowing someone else's specialty can only enrich our own. There is always more to discover, if we look in more directions than just straight ahead. I don't have to be a professional photographer to benefit from knowing about lighting. I don't have to be an electrician to benefit from knowing how things connect. Each skill or subject I am open enough to learn enriches the ones I think I am after, so learning them can't help but enrich me and my own process.

I was glad to be a small part of creating my daughter's photos, and at the same time, learning a little something that could help me down the road. That's just how it is when we keep an open mind.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sources Of Power

Some days, I'm cooking with gas. Other days, my kitchen and my life run on a combination of nervous energy and "what time is it?"

Most of the time, my car runs on regular unleaded gas. Some days, I swear it runs on a combination of "I'll get everyone everywhere" and "I hope the GPS is right."

Many mornings, I jump-start my day with a protein bar. Some days, it jump-starts itself with a combination of 5am anxiety and 5:30am "you're already a half hour behind."

Often, I am swept through the day by the sheer momentum of life. Sometimes, my daily journey is powered by a little guilt and a little chocolate.

Once in a while I truly believe that I am operating on free will and my own choice. Much of the time, I realize that my decisions are based more on time and distance and other people than on what I'd really choose to do.

Most days, I end the day feeling as though I have accomplished something. Some days, I am grateful just to end the day feeling anything.

Sometimes, my motor runs all day, whether I'm going anywhere or not. Other days, my motor doesn't even want to start, no matter how many places I need to go.

Some days, I feel powerful, simply because I've made the coffee or done the laundry or written a few words. Other days, no amount of fuel--protein, chocolate, guilt, or accomplishment--can give me that power.

Stoves and cars are easy--you know where you're getting your power. If only our own sources of power could be quite that simple...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Reality Checking

If you get fewer magazines, you'll have an emptier magazine rack.

If your children get older, you then only own older kid toys.

If you have less time, you make simpler meals.

If your children are having trouble getting everything done, you cut back on their activities.

If you find you are too tired, you just sleep more.

If your clothes don't fit, you just throw them out and buy new clothes.

If you aren't getting jobs in your field, you simply change your field.

If you can't work out coffee dates with your friends, you get new, more available friends.

Had you going, didn't I? Sometimes what might appear to be reality just isn't. Or shouldn't be. It's important to have a reality check once in a while--your magazine rack, your children, and your friends will thank you for it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Good, The Bad, and The In Between

I am pretty good at the good. I have learned to survive the bad. But the in between may be the thing that gets the best of me.

Today, I found myself at home--released from one gig, not booked for another--nothing dire, just something different from what I'd expected. It should have been a celebration--not out of work, just home from work, not desperate for free time, but full of it. I could have chosen to enjoy the sun. I could have chosen to accomplish the normally unaccomplishable. Instead, I spent my day halfway between here and there, partway between done and undone, midway between a feeling of complete freedom and a feeling of complete captivity.
Tomorrow, I will return to work as usual (as usual as work is in the life of a freelancer). Could today have been better? Maybe. Could today have been worse? Perhaps. Honestly, I really couldn't tell you, because I pretty much spent it in between.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Prep Day

In what has become a rare occurrence since my soap days, I am doing a few-day Associate Directing gig. It's not that I don't want them. They are just few and far between these days. And if there is one thing (well, actually, there are lots of things) that I have learned over a few years in the freelance world, it is that "Avid Editor" opens a lot more doors than "Associate Director." So I have become largely an editor, branching out across editing platforms and across formats, spending hours in small rooms communing with a computer.

Yet, every so often, an AD job pops up, and more important, pops up for me. And it's hard to resist the collaboration with a director. It's hard to resist the challenge of coordinating cameras and making an organized plan out of an artistic vision. It's hard to pass up the opportunity to sit in a different kind of small, dark room. Once upon a time, I moved daily between AD and Editor, a setup that ensured I never tired of either. And while the AD gig at hand will be only a blip in my "now" life, it is a lovely reminder of what was and what can be, of the fact that we never really have to settle for how people see us, as long as we are able to keep looking and to see ourselves in other ways. As I did in my soap days, I will likely go back to the edit room with new eyes and new enthusiasm. And that is, perhaps, one of the best things about stepping out once in a while. We are never exactly the same when we go back.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Steps In The Journey

Today, I officially became a Contributing Writer for a site called This doesn't mean that I will be "quitting my day job" (whatever that may be on any given day). It doesn't mean that I will no longer be writing here. It simply means that every week or two, something I've written will appear somewhere else.

Obviously, I am excited about being published in other places--isn't that what all writers want to go along with their love of writing? But I am also excited about the website itself. Its mission is to inspire creative people. So the work that I publish there will not only keep me writing even more regularly, it will, I hope, inspire other creative people (and people who haven't yet unleashed their creative side) to go for it--to write, to paint, to stitch, to craft--whatever it is that moves them. The site will have lots of voices--all sorts of approaches to the idea of being creative--and it will be an interesting place for me, and its viewers, to explore all kinds of self-expression.

Almost three years ago, this blog was born from a need to tell a few stories. It has grown, along with me, and has become a place to process, a way to make sense of, a reason to stop and think about things each day. My pieces for may be a little different, but perhaps they are just another step in a journey--from silence to voice, from "maybe" to "yes," from "I wonder" to "I can." And along the road of life, those sound like some of the best steps a person can take.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Keeping It Moving

Sitting still is easy. It doesn't tire your legs or strain your heart or make you sweat. It puts you on solid ground. It keeps you in a place where you know exactly where you are and what to expect and what to do.

Running is hard. It hurts your feet and legs. It pushes your heart so that you feel it. It makes you sweat, both during and after the activity. It can put obstacles in your path. It forces you to have a goal when all you want is a rest. And it can take you to places where, if you're not careful, you might get lost.

The problem is, sitting still doesn't always move you ahead. Sitting still isn't always best for a strong backbone or for a healthy heart. Sitting still can make your feet forget how to run and your brain forget how to find its way.

Running can clear your head and make your heart handle the good and the bad and the racing and the "sweating it out." Running can keep you alert and adept at beating the obstacles. And running can keep your brain in shape to find its way.

There are days when all I want to do is sit still, to enjoy what is here and now and easy. But without at least a little running now and then, I will be left with a fuzzy brain, and an out of practice heart, and nowhere but where I am sitting here and now. And I don't need to be a fitness guru to know that my body and I can sometimes do a little better for ourselves.

Monday, May 11, 2015


A friend of mine has a birthday that often (including this year) coincides with Mother's Day. As I wrote to wish her happiness for both, I began to think about how many things coincide--Christmas babies, who each year celebrate in the midst of a major holiday, people married on a long holiday weekend, who will forever have to pay holiday fares to go away for their anniversary, parents of kids a certain number of years apart, who will always be dealing with coinciding graduations and admissions processes.

For me, the coinciding may have little to do with dates on a calendar, but much more to do with there simply being so many directions to go that things can't help but coincide. Kids' performances coinciding with travel for work. Ceremonies for one child coinciding with exams for another. Ends of certain activities coinciding with beginnings of others. It's enough to overwhelm even the calmest, most multitasking-adept person.

As I think about my Mother's Day birthday friend, I wonder if she enjoys being celebrated in two ways or longs for her birthday to be separate. As I feel myself trying to cover all the bases on a day when everything coincides, I wonder if that's even possible, or whether these situations are really designed to remind us that we simply can't cover all of the bases all of the time, and that that's okay.

Sometimes, a coincidence is just a coincidence, and sometimes, perhaps, it is more. Either way, all we can really do is to do our best with the choices--the important ones, and the not-so-important ones that happen to coincide. How did we end up in this position? Hard to say. Sometimes, it's just a coincidence.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Auditioning For Life

I took my daughter to an audition today. While the young actors were acting and singing their hearts out in a room down the hall, we parents (and some of the kids waiting for their turns) were treated to a little advice from the audition organizer. "Audition well," he said. "Go in, and give it your all." (I know, not earthshattering--I'm getting there). "You can control how you do in the audition," he continued. "You can't control the outcome of the audition. So be your best 'you,' and then go home and forget about it."

I thought a long time about what he said. We are accustomed to believing that we can change the course of history with what we do, and perhaps in some cases, this is true. In many, many cases, however, what we do is not enough to get us what we think we want, whether that outcome is winning a game or getting a job or landing the lead. We can, perhaps, improve our chances by doing the research or putting in the practice, but in the end, outcomes are based on so many factors besides our own value, that if we expect results every time we pay our dues, we will likely be very disappointed.

Should this mean that we give up reaching? Give up striving, and auditioning, and doing what it takes to get ahead? Of course not. Success never (well, rarely) comes from not trying. We can always control our part. But when our part is done, we'd might as well move on. Because the rest will just fall how it does--beyond our control, and sometimes in our favor, sometimes not.

Just when you least expect it--advice for life from an audition waiting room...

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Revolving Doors

A coworker announced today that he was leaving to pursue a new opportunity. He is far from the first. I guess that's just how it is in the life of a start-up. Come to think of it, maybe that's just how it is these days in life in general.

Working on a soap--well, working on a soap when I did--gives you a very particular perspective. With the exception of actors, whose storylines ended, and whose contracts or thirteen-week cycles came up, and writers, who might disappear and reappear on another soap when ratings went down, many of us stayed for decades. Where else in television production could you find a job that enabled you to go to the same place for years on end, a job that had the permanence of a corporation combined with the creativity of a circus troupe?

These days, there don't seem to be many more of these--soaps or long-term situations. More and more, I see friends in corporate life re-finding themselves, when what was long-term turns out to be no longer. And now, more and more, I see coworkers keeping eyes and ears open, because often the best opportunities come up in unexpected places, when you least expect them.

I used to be sad when there seemed to be a revolving door. Now, however, a revolving door means that life is in motion, and motion is exciting. A revolving door means that going out doesn't keep you from easily coming back in. A revolving door means that those inside can see out, and those outside can see in, and that the difference between "here" and "there" is not necessarily that much of a difference at all. A revolving door doesn't have to be opened, it just has to be pushed a little to make a change. Even the smallest revolving door can be shared.

A coworker announced that he was leaving today to pursue a new opportunity. And as he revolves through the door and out of my daily life, I am happy for him. Because he is in motion. And that's an exciting place to be.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Cause For Alarm

I get up well before my alarm, hopeful that this is a sign that I have gotten enough sleep. Usually, however, it is really just a sign that there are things I've left undone or unfigured out, and a little voice is screaming at me, earlier and louder than the alarm, that I had better get up and do them. So, is waking early a sign of ambition and forward thinking, or is it merely a sign of unrest? Is it the way to get things done, or the way to start the day already undone?

I have begun to believe that, just as work days are reported to be longer than they used to be, sleep expectations have changed as well. In order to cover all the bases, we can't spend too much time under the covers. In order to finish things on time, we have to be aware of time, even before the alarm reminds us. In order to be "in the game," we have to be out of bed. So, whereas in days past I might have curled up waiting for the alarm to buzz, these days, I try to appreciate the few extra minutes awake. Whereas in days past, I might have worried about the afternoon hours when the sleep lost would catch up with me, these days, I try to focus on now and not then. Whereas in days past, I might have let the undone and unfigured out things play over and over in my head, these days, I find myself doing them and figuring them out.

We can't always control the alarms--internal and external--that control us. What we can control is what we do when--or before--the alarm rings. So that unrest really does become ambition. And what seems like "undone" is really just the first step toward "done."

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Sometimes I

Sometimes I think it's a good thing I live in a tall building, since my elevator pitch, which should be of a length deliverable in, say, five floors, generally takes at least eleven.

Sometimes I figure it's useful that I've done a lot of different jobs in my career, since it often feels as though we are all now expected to do a lot of different jobs.

Sometimes I assume that everyone is generally scrambling to keep up with the curve, rather than staying ahead of it, because who can possibly curve that fast all the time?

Sometimes I hope that whatever I am giving my children in support or advice or just being there is enough, since I am generally doing the best that I know how.

Sometimes I wish that I could know what is two days or two months or two years ahead, so that I could plan based on reality rather than supposition.

Sometimes I believe that making a decision can be more important than whether that decision turns out to be right or wrong.

Sometimes I speak so that I feel that I am contributing.

Sometimes I am quiet, because that is more of a contribution.

Sometimes I write because I can, and sometimes I write because I have to.

Sometimes what we do today makes a difference tomorrow, whether it's in an elevator or in our careers, in our families or in the quiet of our own thoughts.

Sometimes, what we do sometimes is what really creates what we do all the time. So we may as well make the sometimes good.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Writing Change

This morning, I interviewed a friend for an article I'm writing. Having become so used to writing from my own head in my own space, I was a little boggled--would we just talk, or would I take notes? Would the notes be on a device (I've gotten used to writing my own things that way), or would they be on paper (perhaps less off-putting than typing what could just as well be texts into one's phone)?

I left the house with some notecards and a hastily retrieved pen--not fancy, but serviceable, or so I thought. Half a notecard into the interview, my pen was no longer producing ink (before I could reach into my bag for another, my interview subject had handed me one of hers--an odd throwback to my being the mom on the playground who never had tissues or wipes or Bandaids). It was a little awkward, but how many new things aren't? We continued our conversation, and I walked away with a head full of information and close to ten notecards full of scribbled words and thoughts.

It was not easy listening and scribbling simultaneously. I am used to a real dichotomy, where my writing is my writing, in a place of quiet and solitude, and my interactions with people are face to face--listening, sharing, reacting. Today's combination of the two reminded me that the two things don't have to be so separate. While my conversation may not have been as natural as one not involved with writing, there was still connection while I was scribbling. While I was not alone in a quiet room while I scribbled, I realized that there will be a lot of places to start putting together the pieces. The quiet will come, just in a different way.

Often, we get caught up in doing the same things in the same way. After all, if something is working, why change it? Yet, when we step out of that "same things, same way" comfort zone, we sometimes find new skills, new approaches, and new knowledge--and discover that we are capable of things we might never have imagined.

I am excited about this new writing challenge, and about the new pen and notecard and method changes it may bring. Stay tuned to see how it turns out...

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Monkey Wrench Challenge

You're chugging through your day, the same way you always do. You have been moderately successful at accomplishing your various tasks, and the end, or at least the next part of your day, is in sight. And then someone throws in a monkey wrench. But wait, is it a monkey wrench? Or is it a challenge?

One of the hardest parts to manage, in work, in life, and perhaps most of all, in the combining of work and life, is the uncertainty of things. You can set up structures and calendars to orchestrate where you need to be and how you need to get there, which can be enormously helpful when the pieces fall as they should. You can make plans and make arrangements and make dinner, as long as your structures and calendars hold up, but when the monkey wrench is thrown...

But what if that monkey wrench is not a tool of destruction, but an instrument of challenge? What if that monkey wrench is designed not to undo all of your structures and calendars and plans, but to make you look at them with fresh eyes? What if the monkey wrench can actually begin to tweak what has become too well-oiled a machine?

Many days, we have what feel like monkey wrenches thrown into our carefully (or not so carefully) designed lives. The question is, what do we do with the newly arrived tool? Do we view the monkey wrench as an annoyance, as an impediment to our chugging along as usual? Or do we grab the monkey wrench, and let it help us find new skills and to conquer new challenges? A new tool in the mix always makes a difference. It's up to us whether to call that difference a monkey wrench, or a challenge.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Chasing Time

I thought that I was multitasking, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was taking pictures to capture the moment, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was walking quickly to stay on schedule, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was watching the clock to make sure I wouldn't be late, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was extending celebrations to make the festivities last, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was running home to save on babysitting hours, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was making the "quick weeknight dinner" recipe from the magazine because the picture looked pretty, but I was really just chasing time.

I thought that I was jogging with my son to give us both some exercise, but I was really just chasing time.

Some days, every moment seems to be spent trying to catch up with the time we wish we had. What have you done today? If you're anything like me, you've done a lot of chasing time. And there will probably be more tomorrow, because so far, at least for me, there hasn't been all that much catching.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

No Thanks, But Thanks

I'm a big believer in gratitude. I think it matters when people say "thank you" at the end of a long day of work. I like receiving a thank-you card, even if it contains just a sentence or two of writing. I believe that whatever I have, even when it doesn't quite measure up to what I thought I'd have, is a lot.

I'm finding, however, that freelancing, and more important, intermittent work, can do a number on the gratitude meter. On the one hand, you see, a freelancer must always be grateful--grateful for a day of work, grateful for a paycheck that comes quickly, grateful for a higher-than-expected rate. On the other hand, however, the freelancer is faced constantly with images of what others might have--steady work with steady pay, ready answers about work hours and money for afterschool treats, decisions about long-term expenses. So, while the freelancer may be grateful for every minute of work, he or she also struggles to remain grateful in the face of the unknown, and to explain gratitude to the people sharing the journey. And sometimes, explaining is hard.

When I was first out of work after my time at ABC ended, I remember explaining cutting back. I remember making choices about how to spend and how to think. I remember trying to get my kids to understand that things were changing, at least for the moment. What I have discovered over the last few years is that the "moment" passed, and things are still changing. Can we still be grateful? Yes. We have ridden the ups and downs and haven't gone under yet. Is it still worth saying "thank you"? Yes, and maybe even more so, as sometimes, "thank you" is the only thing that stays the same. Do I wish that things were different? Sometimes. But then I think of the things I'm grateful to have learned, and the people I'm grateful to have met. And I realize that if I have to learn (and teach) some new ways to say "thank you," maybe that's just part of the job.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Head In The Game

Sometimes, I just want to sit out. When things become overwhelming, or the rules become too hard to follow, or I'm tired of my team or the other team or the odds, I'd rather be on the bench or in the dugout or nowhere near the field at all. It is tempting, at these times, to take myself out of the game completely--to avoid the stress and the rule-following and the overall wear and tear. The problem is, it's really hard to win if you're not even in the game.

I would imagine we all want at least the chance of winning, whether on the field or in life, so how do we keep ourselves "in the game"?

1. Learn the game and get the right equipment for it. Sometimes, staying in the game requires new knowledge or a new skill. If we don't pay the dues, we're likely to pay the price.

2. Get warmed up, and STAY warmed up. We wouldn't run a mile on the track without stretching first. We shouldn't try to run the miles of life without taking care of our bodies and brains daily--whether with good food, exercise, or simply doing things we enjoy.

3. Break (or at least bend) the rules sometimes. It may not be allowed in baseball or basketball or hockey, but in life, sometimes we do better when we allow ourselves a little creativity.

4. Use the team. Even if we feel we're in it alone, chances are, we have a team that can cheer us on. There's nothing wrong with needing a little cheering on to keep us going.

There will be times when we find ourselves on the sidelines, by our choice or by someone else's--it's hard to avoid. But when we keep those times short, when we fight to keep ourselves in the game, we see how strong we really are. We see how well we stand up to the competition. We see that we can do things we might never even have tried. And we allow ourselves something that we can only get if we stay in the game--the chance to win.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Taking A Step Inside

Today, I was the parent volunteer bringing dinner for the cast and crew of the teen theater group with which my daughters are performing this weekend and next. (Shameless promotion--

Aside from requiring that I make sure to get out of work on time, the task was relatively simple--order 10 pizzas, meet the delivery person at the rehearsal location, set up the food and plates, and leave the space as I had found it, after the forty-something kids and adults had finished their very brief dinner break. I had counted on glitches in the process--getting stuck at work, ending up on a delayed train, the delivery happening too late for the scheduled dinner break, the kids wanting or needing something other than what I'd brought. What I hadn't counted on was what I experienced as the cast and crew flew through the pizza. I saw kids so wrapped up in what they were doing before dinner and would be doing after that they hardly even saw what they were eating. I saw appreciation for what was for me a fairly small contribution, but for them was one that made their evening infinitely easier. I saw kids who were a part of everything and kids still trying to find their way. I saw just a bit of the process that was creating the show I'll be seeing this weekend.
Quite often, I am a parent spectator, remaining comfortably on the outside, looking in. In taking the evening's dinner, I was suddenly, at least for a half hour, inside, seeing just a little more, understanding just a little more. It was a nice view. We can't always be on the inside--at least for me, there are too many "insides" to have time to explore them all. But when we allow ourselves to take a step inside, we see, and hear, what we can't really understand through a window or from after-the-fact descriptions. When we step inside, we come out, even after just a half hour, with a head full of pictures and experiences that will stay with us, even when we return to being spectators. 
Today, I took a step inside with some pizza. And I'm really glad for what I saw on the inside.