Friday, July 31, 2015

Throwback Thursday

One of my favorite parts of working at One Life to Live in the last bunch of years that I was there was my job's combination of production and editing. In a given week, I would spend several days in the studio, working on the show as it was shot, and on the remaining days, I would edit shows, create edited playbacks, and screen shows for air. While all the parts of my job dealt with the same show, my roles were as different as night and day. On a studio day, I would be surrounded by people, and I would talk almost constantly in the process of getting what we wanted. On an edit day, I might spend hours alone, tweaking and figuring, before finally showing my work to a producer. It was a lovely combination, in which I could escape from chaos, and then run right back to it, all in the name of doing my job. It satisfied both the people skills and the figure it out alone parts of me. And while it was a combination I may never have in a work environment again, I see glimpses of it as I navigate, once again, through the combination of parenthood and job search that I'm facing now.

Parenthood and employment, I suppose, can always be a challenging combination. The restraint that you may have to exercise at work faces the "get messy" attitude you may need at home. The focus on your own accomplishments at work gives way to a focus on your children's accomplishments at home. Today, however, as I immersed myself in the needs of kids, putting my own job search needs on hold till tomorrow, I felt that dichotomy I once felt at One Life to Live--a fairly complete studio focus on my studio days, and a complete edit focus on my edit ones. A realization that the two things might have to work together, but the pleasure of sometimes being able to focus on them separately.

It is unlikely that I will ever find a work situation like my One Life one again. But my current in-between situation reminds me how important it is to give the separate parts of my life the time and attention they each deserve. While one may inform another, as the studio days and the edit days once did, each deserves a singular focus, at least some of the time, and I am learning how to give them that.

Who knows how long it will be until my balance shifts again--we don't always know when things will change. In the meantime, I am trying to embrace this current dichotomy, and give both parts of my current daily job as much attention as I can.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


This is not auto-correct, or lack thereof. While the term usually refers to shoes, or to whatever makes a person look put together, I'm talking about a different kind of healing. For, you see, it used to be enough to have Bandaids, antibacterial wipes, and a little antibiotic ointment on hand. These days, healing takes a little more creativity...

1. Not just Bandaids, but Bandaids with faces. Why just cover a mishap when you can let it make you chuckle at the same time?

2. Time away--whether by genuine distance or simply by a small change in routine. Sometimes just a few steps away can have tremendous healing powers.

3. Choosing "yes." For reasons of money, time, calories, or all of the above, we say "no" to ourselves on a regular basis. What if, once in a while, we say "yes?"

4. Letting "feel good" sometimes be more important than "look good." It may not always be realistic to face the world in our pajamas, but allowing ourselves to dress how we feel can have enormous restorative powers.

5. Turning to the "doctors" in our lives. Our family members and friends may not have medical degrees, but on a good day, or even in just a tiny moment, they can often heal us better than the physician we visit, and without the need to make an appointment.

Sometimes, we all need a little healing, the kind that even the best-stocked first aid kit can't offer. As prepared as we may be to help others, it's not always easy to take care of ourselves. But if and when we do, we will likely find ourselves not just well-heeled, but well-healed. And far more ready to face the world that lies ahead.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's Really Okay

It's okay not to have all the long as you're still asking the questions.

It's okay not to say "yes" all the long as you say "yes" when it matters.

It's okay to go to bed long as you make the most of the hours before you do.

It's okay to reach long as you support yourself in case you wobble.

It's okay to step long as it's just to get a better view.

It's okay to speak long as you have something worth saying.

It's okay to say long as you listen to what's around you.

It's okay to long as you don't wait too long.

It's okay to jump long as the waters seem safe.

It's okay to long as you don't forget how to run.

It's okay to say "please" long as you're not always waiting for permission.

It's okay to be long as cautious doesn't mean paralyzed.

It's okay to long as you still aim to succeed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Wait A Minute

Life seems to be full of waiting--waiting for buses, waiting for a free shower, waiting for a response--the list could go on. And if you are a person who likes things to happen, waiting can be debilitating. You can't force a cake to bake faster. You can't make someone else make a decision. So, often, waiting is just inevitable, right?

What I am finding, in a time when waiting--for just about everything--could wipe me out, is that waiting for some things does not have to mean waiting for everything. Perhaps we can't eat the cake now, but we can clear away the extra ingredients and tools to make room for it. Maybe we can't force a response to come, but we can keep sending questions into the world so that there are more places from which a response might come. We still have to wait our turn, wait on line, wait it out, but we can do while we are waiting. And doing is worthwhile, whether it prepares us, or entertains us, or simply keeps us occupied while we wait.

Wait a minute? We all probably wait far more than a minute on a very regular basis. But when we choose to use our waiting time, rather than simply wring our hands through it, a minute, and even more, can go quickly, so that before we know it, we are moving, and succeeding, and eating cake as we go.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Spending of Days

You can spend your days just looking, but you may not find.

You can spend your days asking, but you may not be answered.

You can spend your days thinking, but the ideas you want to have may take more than just thought.

You can spend your days watching, but do you really see?

You can spend your days hoping, but what if hope is just all talk?

You can spend your days talking, but to whom, and for what?

You can spend your days alone, but can you do what you want alone?

You can spend your days finding, sometimes with help.

You can spend your days asking, starting with questions that can actually be answered.

You can spend your days putting thoughts into action.

You can spend your days seeing, so that you can really understand.

You can spend your days turning hope into reality.

You can spend your days talking to people who care.

You can spend your days realizing that you are not alone, that there is hope, and that with hope, there can be action.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


I have been using the words "re-inventing myself" a lot lately. It seems to be a more sophisticated version of "deciding what I wanna be when I grow up." The thing is, when I say it, I expect that people will be curious, or surprised, or perhaps a little concerned or sympathetic. But these days, the reaction I'm getting isn't any of those things. What I am hearing, over and over, is "well, we all re-invent ourselves every day, don't we?" I guess I'm not the only one experiencing change.

Perhaps it used to be that a life that stayed relatively the same was the norm. A person might get married, or have children, but while these changes were happening, that person's job or mission would stay the same. These days, as I try to find (and re-find) myself, and what it is I was meant to do (which, some days, is as specific as "work in children's television" and other days is as general as "work"), I am realizing that re-invention does happen over and over. As I tell my story, I see that re-invention seems to have become the new norm.

So, how do we re-invent on a regular basis, but still hold on to some kind of concept of ourselves, and maintain some kind of living that recognizes our level of experience? If I had all those answers, believe me, I'd share them. If I have learned anything at all, it's that re-invention takes a lot of help along the way. But for now, I'm still in the inventing lab of life, working on my next big thing, waiting for the "aha" moment, or the perfect solution, or simply the pieces that will finally--well, at least for a moment in time--fit together.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Banging On Doors, Looking in Windows

Many days, I spend a lot of time banging on doors. After all, that's pretty much what applying for jobs is. You stand outside, pulling out all the stops you know how, to try to get someone to open the door to a place you can't even see because you are standing outside the solid door. Though you may be eager for the door to open so that you can get in, often you don't even really know what you will find on the other side. You just know that it is a door you've heard you should want to get through.

Sometimes, however, you have the opportunity to look in a window. Instead of banging on a door, unsure if anyone will answer, and unclear about what will happen if someone does, you get to observe what is going on inside. There is no guarantee--none at all--that you will be invited in, but for a short time, you can see what it is you think you might want to be in on. You can observe how it is done, perhaps get answers to your questions, all without having to bang and wonder. All the banging in the world might leave you tired, no more informed, and no closer to having the door open, but a few hours looking through a window can at least allow you to see what might (or might not) be worth getting in for.

The banging on doors will likely continue--that's just part of our daily journey. But if we can spend a little more time looking in windows, and really learning from what we see, we'll be a lot more likely to walk through the doors of the places where we're really meant to be.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Turning The Corner

You think your life will be a series of straight lines--a career path from entry to training to managing, a family path from meeting to marriage to parenthood, a personal path from questions to learning to answers. Yet, how many times are the lines really straight? How often are they actually wiggly or swervy or full of so many turns that it's hard even to see the path ahead?

I am learning, slowly, how to stay on the road, even when the twists and turns make me a little dizzy. I am learning to keep walking, even if I can't quite see my destination. I am learning to speed up when I can and slow down when I have to. And I am learning that sometimes, it takes a lot of walking the path before you can turn a corner.

It takes a lot of going to the gym before you can see the results.

It takes a lot of reaching out and breathing in and writing and rewriting before people see you in different ways.

It takes a lot of falling down and dusting off and looking around before you can envision yourself in different ways.

It takes a lot of following the straight and wiggly and swervy paths before you can actually turn a corner.

And it takes a lot of faith to keep believing that what you can't quite see is worth turning for.

Because you never really know until you turn the corner.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Wake-Up Call

In the days before smartphones, when you stayed in a hotel, rather than traveling with an alarm clock (though those folding ones were mighty cute) or learning how to use the clock in your room, you placed a "wake-up call." You'd call the front desk the night before to put in your time request, and fairly faithfully, the desk clerk, or an automated system, would make your room phone ring at a particular time, so that you wouldn't miss your meeting or your airport shuttle or anything else. It was pretty dependable--as long as you got up when you got the call. With no "snooze button," the wake-up call was highly effective--if you heeded it when it came.

I suspect that far fewer people use the wake-up call method these days. After all, you can easily set your smartphone for multiple alarms with multiple ringtones and multiple snooze options. It is no longer necessary to involve a desk clerk or the clerk's automated system. The problem is, whether the "wake-up call" is from a clerk or from your own phone," it only works if you're listening and responding.

Each day, whether we are in a hotel room or not, whether we have requested it or not, we get "wake-up calls." Do we answer them? Do we respond right away, or do we simply answer, but keep "sleeping?" Sometimes, the "phone" rings just once. If we ignore the "call," will we make our shuttle or meeting or life change? If we answer, but don't leap into action, has the "wake-up call" actually done anything?

The wake-up call was a brilliant invention for a traveling world, a little way to assure that things on the road could run as smoothly as they did in the comfort of one's own home. The convention may be practically obsolete, but its lesson is not. A wake-up call only works if you answer it, and if you react accordingly. Otherwise, it might as well be a phone solicitor or a prank call, forgotten the moment you hang up, and useless for moving you forward at all.

When your "wake-up call" comes, will you answer the phone? Will you get up and act, so that you miss nothing, or better yet, that you get something? Or will you find yourself still fast asleep, because you answered, but did nothing else? A wake-up call is just that--a small service by life's sometimes sleepy desk clerk. And it will only work if we answer--and act.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Baking A Life

There's been a lot of baking at my house recently. I guess a lack of school schedules and a mom at home and a cabinet full of ingredients wanting to be used will do that. As I see (and taste) the results of our efforts, I have to wonder--why can't life be a little more like baking?

1. In baking, you have a plan. With steps. And if you follow all the steps, you generally end up with the result in the picture. How often does life ever come with such specific instructions, much less guarantee you picture-perfect results?

2. In baking, you can combine a whole series of ingredients that look kind of the same as each other (and don't honestly look very appetizing), and come out with something people are eager to eat. In life, if you present a series of uninteresting parts of yourself, no amount of rearrangement is going to make you seem interesting to anyone.

3. In baking, adding chocolate chips makes just about anything better. Okay, never mind, that's true in life too.

4. In baking, "the heat is on" is a good thing. In life, "the heat is on" just makes you sweat the small--and big--stuff.

5. In baking, most things turn out bigger and better when they're done than when you mixed the ingredients. In life, you may hope for the bigger and better, but it doesn't always happen.

6. In baking, all it takes is a trip to the store to acquire what's missing. In life, filling the gaps is rarely that simple.

7. In baking, a little decoration can sometimes smooth over a mistake. In life, there's not always a do-over.

8. With baking, you almost always have an audience for your efforts. In life, it's not always so easy to attract interest.

9. In baking, you can stray from the recipe, but not too far without risking your results. In life, you can--and you often need to--stray farther if you want any results at all.

10. With baking, you can make something new every day. Which, I guess, is kind of what life's all about. The end might not always be a sweet one, but the ingredients, if you choose to use them, are still there for the taking.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Coloring Outside The Lines

When I have worked full time, the outlines have been clear--what time I needed to leave home, what buses and trains to take, when I needed child care. I could be creative in my work, but most of the time, I was "coloring inside the lines." Even late nights were part of the plan. They might go later than scheduled, but they were accounted for, both in my energy level, and in the life accommodations made for them.

Now that I am freelance, it is becoming hard to stay within those lines. The outlines may draw a pretty picture, but those outlines darken and lighten by the day, making the distinction between inside and outside the lines a fuzzy one. And the picture that I draw for myself, whether in the resumes and letters I write and rewrite, or in the ever-changing daily schedules, can be a masterpiece. Or not.

I used to believe that coloring outside the lines meant a person was more creative. After all, it's not easy to make your own choices rather than work with the outlines made for you. It shows character when you are not constrained by what is pre-drawn. These days, I find myself wondering. While I may like creating my own picture, there are times when I wish that I could just stay within the lines--count on the lines--so that I could know what to expect, how to plan, what my finished picture would look like.

It can be freeing to color outside the lines. I have learned about new colors and new patterns, and new ways to draw a life. But some days, I just long for those clear outlines, ready to color within them. So that, at least for a while, I would know how my picture would turn out.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Who We Are and What We Do

As we watched old movie clips (because our dinner table conversation often leads in that direction or in the direction of watching TV commercials from the 70s), I was struck by a single camera shot that seemed to go on forever. During this same shot, a couple drove and another walked. Extras crossed streets. Merchants pushed their carts. I thought about how many takes it must have required to accomplish all the pieces, and how many ADs it must have taken to make sure each event and movement happened at just the right moment. I've never seen the movie, and I couldn't shed any light on the plot, but I was blown away by what must have gone in to that opening shot.

People say we define ourselves way too much by what we do, and not enough by who we are. As I realized tonight, though, what we do, whether it is one thing for years, or many things over a series of years, can't help but affect how we see the world. For me, that is being impressed by a long movie shot or thinking about how pieces of life will "edit" together, or back timing what can be done before a deadline. It's what I've done, but it's also who I am. I may not define myself every minute by my work, but if work, whatever it may be, gives me a unique view of the world around me, and if that makes up a bit of who I am, I am glad to have worked to tell stories, and to make pieces fit together, and to help people get things done on time.

We are who we are, and we do what we do, each wrapped up in the other. And if we're lucky, we get to do at least a little of something we're happy to have as a part of who we are.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Freelancer Weekend

This morning, I emailed two resumes. I know--it is Saturday. Those resumes will go into inboxes of people who might currently be at the beach. Or they will land in inboxes that aren't even checked during non-work hours. My letters will sit, unconsidered, maybe even unseen, until Monday.

The weekend is not always a freelancer's friend. When you're working five weekdays, you may be grateful for the break, for the change in routine. When you have already spent too many weekday hours sleeping or catching up on your reading, trying to make connections, or just generally homemaking, the weekend can feel like simply an extension. If you write emails during the week, why shouldn't you write them on the weekend? If your brain is in job search mode during the week, why should that stop, just because you've reached the day called Saturday?

Today, I emailed two resumes. While they may not even be seen until Monday, they are out in the world, because for me, the weekend is no reason to stop putting myself out in the world. But having sent them, I guess I am now ready to go out in the world. It is the weekend, after all...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Either Or

I can calculate what I've lost, or I can count what I've gained.

I can focus on the words that are missing, or I can highlight the ones that are there.

I can bemoan what is undone, or I can revel in what is done.

I can mourn what is no longer here, or I can celebrate what is yet to come.

I can see emptiness, or I can see room for something new.

I can crumble under the weight of difficulty, or I can fly with the wings of opportunity.

I can cry because I feel alone, or I can smile because I feel independent.

I can scramble to pick up the pieces to discard them, or I can gather the pieces to be part of some kind of whole.

I can want what someone else has, or I can appreciate how what I have fits me.

I can dig myself into a hole, or I can write myself out of a corner.

I can wait, or I can act.

I can wish for, or I can work to make happen.

I can dwell in what I wanted, or I can travel to what will be.

Life full of either's and or's. Will you stay with the either, or will you let yourself shoot for the "or"?

Friday, July 17, 2015

It Turns Out

I am rarely out in the world at lunchtime. It turns out that at lunchtime, you can see all sorts of work attire and hear all sorts of conversations.

I rarely have stretches of time alone. It turns out that there's a lot to see and hear when you're alone.

I rarely have enough minutes and hours to finish what I start. It turns out that even just starting is worth it.

I rarely believe without a little bit of reservation. It turns out that a little bit of reservation can sometimes protect you from way too much belief.

It turns out that things aren't always how they seem, or how they've always been, or how we want them to be. And sometimes we have to take a few steps away from "always" and "rarely" and "want" in order to see how things can really turn out.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I read this morning that on this day in 1968, One Life to Live premiered on ABC. You would think I would have known that. After all, in my time on the show, I went to numerous anniversary parties (including a black tie one just a month after I started there), worked on countless anniversary shows, was part of multiple anniversary cake pictures. But reading it this morning actually caught me by surprise. So much for the power of a milestone...

We come upon many milestones in our lives--family occasions, work accomplishments--all things so large that it seems that we will remember them forever, that they will literally create a dot-to-dot of our life history. But as I made my way through my day, and the OLTL anniversary faded into the background of more immediate needs and concerns, I began to realize that though milestones may create an outline of what our lives have been, it is the not-so-milestone moments that fill in the outline. I may have been at One Life to Live for many anniversaries, but it is the control room days and the friendships and the learning and growing that make up what I remember. I may have celebrated many family occasions, but it is the day to day interactions with my children that fill me up.

So I am proud and happy to have been a part of a show that lasted so long, and to be reminded of its anniversary, even now when it is just a piece of history. And I am grateful for milestones. But I am even happier for all the tiny moments that come in between.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Searching For The Order Of The Day

In the months after I finished One Life to Live at ABC, since my long-planned new career in children's media didn't quite happen, I spent hours sending job posts to former co-workers. So many listings, I thought, spoke directly to people I knew, and if I couldn't get work for myself, by golly, I would get work for someone else. I'm not sure if any of those forwards got anyone anywhere, but I do think it at least made us feel as if we were all somehow in it together.

Several years later, I still feel as though we are in it together. Whether it's having coffee with a former "Lifer" or chatting with colleagues who worked on other soaps, I find that there is a connection that years do not break. All these years later, we have dispersed, some ending up closer to the soap studio than others, but all of us having grown up in the same crazy, perhaps dysfunctional, family that got us to where we are now. The paths we take may be uniquely ours, but they can't help but be influenced by where we all were together.

I'm not forwarding job posts nearly as often as I was back then. Years of experience have taught me that many of those posts just send you down a dead end.  But the coffee and the chats remind me that I am part of a family whose members and whose opinions still matter to me. We went, together, from lives planned around directing calendars, orders of the day, and out times to lives that are still being planned and re-planned daily. We can't go back. But it's awfully nice when we get to take some of the steps forward together.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Piece Of The Pie

It was strawberry-rhubarb. The pie, I mean. We made it today, and it won't last long.

Pie is so pretty--so organized, with its perfectly round pan and its perfectly circular crust, and the way the ingredients form the slightest little mountain in the middle. But then you cut the pie, so that you can savor all the yummy goodness. And the organization is gone, as filling drifts away from crust, and what were supposed to be perfectly shaped slices become oddly misshapen, cobbler-like scoops, eager for ice cream topping. The pie is no less delicious. It just lacks its original organization, the planned perfection created by the pie pan and the recipe.

I suppose that life is not so different from pie. We mix together what we think will be ingredients for a functional and enjoyable life. We plan to have distinct slices of work and family and personal time, each enjoyable--one might even say, delicious. But when it comes to cutting the slices, filling slips out. Straight lines become jagged, and pieces of strawberry and rhubarb end up not quite where we imagined they would, making some moments sweet, and some a little sour. Where we expected neat and organized, things get a little messy. What was once a slice of pie becomes more like a scoop of cobbler. The thing is, whether it comes to us in distinct slices or as scoops that have to be contained, whether it's neat and orderly or just a little bit messy, life can still have that strawberry-rhubarb yummy goodness. Because having a piece of the pie doesn't mean we have to get that piece as a perfect, just as we expected it, triangle. It just means making sure we get our share--or several shares--of the whole package. We don't have to have distinct slices in order to enjoy the pie that is life. We just have to try to savor every crumb.

Monday, July 13, 2015


As I shredded and recycled bags upon bags of paper that were cluttering my space, and my life, I felt a little giddy. While the process wasn't actually making a substantial difference, it felt good to shred. It felt good to remove. It felt good to say "I can live without this." It didn't simply feel good. It felt powerful.

There are days when it feels as though we have little power--little power over the jobs we do and how we do them, little power over how the people around us will get along, little power over what comes into our space and what we can keep out. We react to what's in front of us, but we can't always control how it gets there.

As I shredded papers today, knowing that the resulting freed up space would barely be visible, I realized that it was not so much the space I was seeking (though I suppose we city dwellers are always seeking space). Rather, it was the feeling of being powerful in my space, the feeling of having control over my choices, and the realization that I didn't (at least not every moment) have to settle for the status quo.

Finding our own power each day is as simple as speaking up for what we want, or what we think is right. Finding our own power is striving for more while working with what is there. Finding our own power is shredding and saying goodbye to. And it is digging deep enough to find what is lost and to figure out how to use it.

We don't need to yell or to be in charge to be powerful. Every day, we can find simple ways to use the power we possess. Sometimes the result is a little less clutter. And sometimes, if we're lucky, we walk away with a strength we never knew we had.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

In Someone's Shoes

I tried a claw machine today. And through a combination of determination and sheer luck, I walked away, after just one try, with a small stuffed animal.

This doesn't mean I will be clawing my way to a collection of stuffed things and assorted other claw-able doodads. One success doesn't mean there will be others, and how many doodads can one person own? I simply wanted to know how it felt--the positioning of the claw, the pressing of the button, the anxious wait as the claw either grabbed or didn't, the shaky ride from pick up to deposit into the prize shoot. As a parent of a kid fascinated by these machines, I just needed to know how it all felt.

I'll admit, it was kind of exciting. I get it now, in a way I didn't quite before. Sometimes, as the quote from To Kill A Mockingbird (loosely paraphrased here) goes, you don't really know until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes. I "walked" just a few yards, really, but in that short time, I gained more insight than hours of watching have given me.

We can't always take steps "in someone else's shoes," but we can make the effort to understand what moves someone. It takes a bit of stepping outside our own opinions and constraints. It takes an open mind, and some willing feet. And sometimes, it takes a few quarters. But walking that mile, or just a few steps, gives us perspective that helps us walk a lot farther. And the cost, in exercise and in quarters, can be well worth it.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Control Rooms

One of the most exciting parts of being an AD is the feeling that you can really make a difference. You can use strategies and take steps to make a production day move quicker. You can help make the camera shots better by having people or furniture moved or by explaining shots to the camera operators. You can call for pickups that will work in the edit. You can suggest acting notes that will make a scene more powerful.

An AD, while not in charge, is charged with making sure a lot of things happen. And making things happen, whether in a control room or in life, feels good.

I don't AD nearly enough these days, and I can't help but miss the pressure, the adrenaline, the feeling that I can change outcomes. While editing, and life in general, certainly provide opportunities to control outcomes, they are also filled with things I can't change. And when you can't change outcome, you too often have to accept outcomes that other people control. Whether it's about footage or about hiring or about salary, it can feel out of your control, and out of your control can make a control room veteran feel pretty powerless.

Yet, just as I learned along the way what things I could change as an AD, I am learning how to find the things I can change in life. I may not be able to control who hires me, but I can try different strategies to move the process along. I may not be able to control how an event is shot, but I can have a lot of control over how it comes out of the edit. I can listen, and explain, so that my co-workers feel as though we are working together to make things better.

I couldn't always control everything as an AD. I could just work to make things better. And I guess that's the mindset that gets us through life. As long as we're working to "make it better," at least we feel as though we have some control over how "it" turns out. And sometimes, a little control goes a long way.

Friday, July 10, 2015

What You Know To Be Real

As we go through life, sometimes it seems that we are surrounded by half-truths, illusions posing as reality. It's important, then, to hold tightly to the things we know to be real...

Connections on social media may be solid or just the result of a few random mouse clicks. Connections in person are almost certainly real.

Accomplishments you list on a resume may be slightly exaggerated for effect. The troubleshooting you do each day is most definitely real.

The stories you tell about your kids may include embellishments to make them more exciting. The hugs your kids give you are real.

A "like" or an "endorsement" may be easy and accurate, but an in-person recommendation is real.

Job postings online may be more of a legal requirement than a genuine opportunity, but word-of-mouth referrals are generally real.

Good spin can be valuable, but actual ability is real.

We can't necessarily know what is reality and what is just appearance. We may always have to sift through the illusions, but we can do a much better job when we stay clear on what we know to be real.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Just Passing By

I passed by Grand Central Station today, the place through which I traveled when I worked on the online soaps in Connecticut two years ago. I thought about the two years that have passed by--years full of opportunities taken, and some, well, passed by. What seems large in the moment--as both Grand Central and the journey to Connecticut did at the time--passes by quickly. Days that pass quickly blend into years. It makes me wonder---

How many times do we let something exciting pass us by because we are clutching on to something secure?

How many times do we let something secure pass by while we are looking for something more exciting?

How many times do we let personal milestones pass by while we are pursuing professional ones?

How many times do career opportunities pass us by while we are focusing on the personal ones?

How often does one season pass us by while we are planning for the next?

How do we know when we should just be passing by and when we should actually be going in?

Two years have passed, and my six months of traveling to Connecticut have become just another moment in my work history, another line on my resume. Yet, it's hard to know each day what is passing us by--and what we should or should not let pass. I guess, just like those six months, it's about going in sometimes instead of just passing by. It's about seeing the doors and the opportunities before they have passed, and walking slowly enough to take a look. Because life will pass us by. But all the opportunities of life don't have to.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Day Training

Will eating a good breakfast fuel your day's bumpy ride?

Will pedaling faster on the exercise bike prepare you to outrun your competition all day?

Will scrubbing the counter teach you how to erase all the events that you don't want to remember and reflect on the ones that you do?

Will closing your eyes tight change what you see when you open them again?

Will using every minute give you more minutes to use?

Will trying to satisfy everyone leave you satisfied?

Will fighting through make you a stronger contender?

While I can't say that I exercise so that I can outrun or clean so that I can see more clearly, I would like to believe that these things matter. And while I can't satisfy everyone, I am quite sure that every minute I use well gives me a few extra ones along the way. Each thing we do matters, whether its effects are direct and visible or not. We may not open our eyes to something brand new. But we can become stronger and faster and more satisfied--once we realize that every bit of "training" we do each day makes a difference.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

New Week, New Start

It's Monday again, same as always. Except it isn't the same. This particular Monday, I've decided, is going to be the start of not just a week, but of something new.

Isn't that always the problem with Mondays--that they are just a return from the adventure of the weekend to the mundane normalcy of the week? And who would choose "mundane normalcy" over "adventure?" So, if we are able to view Monday as not a return, but a new start, we can automatically change how we feel about it, right?

I woke this morning with just such an idea. It didn't hurt that I was without definite work--there's nothing like a little uncertainly to make you want to start over. It continued with an attempt at new approaches. There's nothing like the feeling that what you're doing isn't quite working to motivate a few new approaches. And it finished...Well, I can't say that my "new week, new start" actually started much of anything new. It may be easy to think about something new, but it is far harder to get the world to play along.

Today didn't end all that differently from any other Monday, but its start reminded me that Monday doesn't always have to be a return. Sometimes, instead, Monday can be a start. The start of a new week, the start of a new idea, the start of thinking differently or doing differently, or simply being someone a little different than the person you left on Friday.

I can't say whether this week will really be new or any different than any other week. But because I began it with the idea of a new start, perhaps I've got a fighting chance. Because Monday's not just a day to return. It's a day to start something new. And not just the week.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Paths We Take

I began work at One Life to Live just a week after my college graduation. I went from hours of research and intellectual pursuits to pouring coffee and running errands and answering phones. I was in heaven.

I sometimes wonder about my little journey--how I went from liberal arts college to television production, from psychology department senior thesis to soap opera script distribution. I had no family connection (though for my first few years, there were people convinced that I must). I had taken no college courses in TV production and done no summer internships at production companies. Quite simply, I met a head writer who gave me a name and address, and I happened to be in a few of the right places at a few of the right times. And the rest of my career, and in some ways, my life, followed from there.

I sometimes wonder what my life would have looked like without the liberal arts college or the head writer or the senior thesis. What it would have looked like with a class in television production or a summer internship or a career services office that knew something about the things I wanted to do. Perhaps I never would have poured the coffee or delivered the scripts, or learned about camera angles and show time and back story. And I would never have been where I am today.

The bottom line is, we don't always know where the steps we take are going to take us. When we start on a path, we can't be sure whether it will take us straight to our destination or lead us to someplace different altogether. A production course or a summer internship might have situated me better, but might have sent me running in another direction. A personal connection might have started me out higher, beyond the pouring coffee stage, but then might have left me without the "working my way up" view that has informed my entire career.

We can't always know how our paths will end, so the best we can do is make what feel like the right decisions along the way. We can choose to learn--not just because specific skills will matter in specific places, but because being able to learn quickly will matter everywhere. We can choose to take a few risks, because sometimes landing where you belong requires a little wondering where you belong. We can meet people who are interesting, because you never know where interesting people can take you.

Would my life now be different, had I not bought into liberal arts, had I not met a writer, had I not poured coffee, had I not looked outside of the career services office? Absolutely. I might be somewhere completely different now--farther along, perhaps, with different sets of skills, maybe, working more, or less. You never really know where your choices will lead you. All you can really do is try to make the most of your path, every step of the way.

Sunday, July 5, 2015


On a day like today, it just seemed like an appropriate topic. It seems we spend so much time trying to be "a part of"--a part of a group, a part of a workplace, a part of whatever activity is going on--that the idea of independence sometimes eludes us. So today, on Independence Day, I focus a little on what's pretty good about not always being "a part of," of being a little independent.

1. When you're independent, you can decide when you're getting up, when you're getting out, when you're coming home. Well, maybe not always, but you're far less bound by the "when's" that other people have set up.

2. When you're independent, you can decide what's important, what's miss-able, and what requires your attention. Well, maybe not always, but you're far less controlled by other people's "what's."

3. When you're independent, you go where you like, you work where you like, you rest where you like. Well, not always, but you find yourself, at least some of the time, in places that make you happy.

4. When you're independent, you think about why you're doing what you are, why you're not doing the things you're not, why you're always having to think. So much "why" isn't easy, but sometimes it beats just doing without "why."

5. When you're independent, there is often a question of how you'll get by, how you'll handle the next challenge, how you'll move from one thing to the next. But sometimes, "how" keeps you creative. "How" keeps you open-minded. "How" keeps you thinking.

So, on this Independence Day, I celebrate the challenges of independence, and the rewards that go along. It may not always be the easiest road, but sometimes, it gives you celebrations along the way, and fireworks if you hang in long enough.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Catching Up

It was a simple coffee, one of the standards of my social life, scheduled at a time and place that worked with work, for a duration that allowed for kid commitments and job commitments, that was not for job exploration or unemployment comparison. This little coffee was simply for the purpose of catching up.

What is there to catch up? Well, when you live a life like mine, there is almost always a feeling of never being caught up. Yet, aside from the day-to-day race, there is a several decade career behind me, so when I reconnect with someone who has been a part of that, "catching up" can become a major undertaking.

Over large cups of tea, and wonderfully anonymous in a sea of tourists, we "caught up" for hours--about former co-workers each of us had seen, over the state of the industry (both the one that we shared and the rest of what's out there), and about how our own lives have gone on since we worked together and since we last had coffee. I emerged, two hours later, not only with new perspective on my own life, but with renewed thoughts of people I'd seen daily for years, but not at all in the past few years. Perhaps my day-to-day race was still very much in progress, but I suddenly felt "caught up" in a million ways.

We spend a lot of time each day racing to feel caught up. Sometimes, it takes not just running faster, but a little looking back, and a little looking around, and even a little stopping for coffee in order to feel really "caught up." We can choose to run as fast as we like, but catching up in other ways can sometimes be the smartest step we take in our daily race.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Good Tired, And Bad

My muscles are sometimes tired at the end of a day when I've worked out, but it's worth it because of the energy I feel in between. 

My eyes are sometimes tired after a long day of editing, but it's worth it because of the sense of accomplishment I feel as I'm creating. 

My feet are sometimes tired after a day of deciding that walking, even if it's a few miles, is better than a subway or bus, but it's worth it because of the time I don't spend waiting, and the money that I save, and the strengthening of my legs.

My voice is sometimes tired after a long day of directing, but it's worth it because I have communicated, and collaborated, and made something better.

My brain is sometimes tired after I've written and rewritten a long series of cover letters, but it's worth it because it is a step toward getting me in, getting me out there, and sometimes just "getting" me. 

My spirit is sometimes tired after a day of believing things that aren't true, or waiting for things that don't come to pass, or putting my faith in the wrong things, but it's worth it because...because... 

There's nothing wrong with a little bit of tired, as long as it comes from real work, or real exercise--physical, mental, or otherwise. But when our tired comes from waiting, or hesitating, or things we can't control, then tired is really just tired. And weary is, well, weary. And that is rarely ever worth it.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

It Still Matters

Just when you think you must be way too far removed from where you started for that to make any difference, you realize it still matters.

Just when it seems that the kind words or the covering for or the little bit of mentoring or friendship are forgotten, you are reminded that they still matter.

Just when you begin to believe that all the things you learned aren't relevant anymore, you face situations that make it clear that those things still matter.

Just when you think your words are obsolete and your work ethic is something no one appreciates any more, you discover that both still matter.

Just when you're close to writing off your past because you think you have to in order to look to your future, you find out that your past still matters.

Just when you're ready to give up on doing what feels right, you see that what feels right still matters.

Just when you begin to believe that "who you know" can't possibly help you, because who even remembers you, you hear from someone who reminds you that "who you know" still matters.

Just when you're convinced that you can't possibly write another pithy cover letter that goes into the abyss, you receive email confirmation that your pithy (or powerhouse or witty) words still matter.

Just when you stop walking forward because it feels as though your steps get you nowhere, you hear a voice from behind you, or in front of you, or beside you whispering "it still matters."

It still matters.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Make Your Own

It is Day 2 of yet another "make your own" week. I used to view "am I working or am I not" weeks as decidedly NOT "make my own." I used to feel trapped by the uncertainty, unsettled by the lack of income, boxed in by the waiting. It's not that I don't feel all those things anymore. I'm not sure that those things ever go away. But when you're a freelancer, if those feelings don't motivate your work searches, they often just wear you down, and whether you're working or not, worn down is not a good way to be.

How does a "make your own" day look? Kind of like a freelance day, it can look a little different each time. Perhaps it starts with a few goals--some tasks to accomplish, or a view of how you'd like the day to end. It might include taking steps to minimize future "make your own" days (i.e., job searching and networking), but it doesn't include just that. A "make your own" day acknowledges that there is no work, but takes advantage of the situation rather than bemoaning it.

Many years ago, I went to one of those "paint your own" pottery shops. As I stared at the white plate, I had a moment of terror as I tried to imagine how it would look when I was done painting. "Make your own" days are kind of like that. Unlike "go to work" days, they are a white plate, a blank canvas, waiting for the colors and designs you choose to make. Will the result be just the confusion of a day without work? Or will it be something beautiful, because you chose to make it your very own?

As freelancers, we will always have "no work" days. That is virtually unavoidable. But we can choose whether to see our "no work" days as simply that, or as "make your own" days. "Make your own" takes a little more vision. It takes the belief that we really can turn that white plate into something beautiful. So that when we go back to working, we actually have something to show for the days when we weren't.