Monday, November 30, 2015


As my inbox fills with assorted reminders of Cyber Monday, it's hard not to get caught up in it all--the feeling that if I don't act right now, I'll be missing something, the sense of opportunity passing me by. It is an effectively created frenzy. I am quite sure that the gifts I wait a week to buy will be just as good (and in many cases, just as cheap), but it is hard not to buy into the feeling that I must do it tomorrow or I will be out of luck.

Frenzy is not a good thing for me on a Sunday night. Even as a freelancer for whom these days, Sunday isn't always the end of my weekend, I have enough frenzy on Sunday. There is homework to be packed, there is a routine to resume, and there are deadlines to meet. The last thing I really need, on this or any day, is a little more manufactured frenzy.

One could argue that we thrive on frenzy--that the things that get done get done more reliably when there is frenzy behind them. One could argue that frenzy, not calm, keeps life interesting--keeps us always guessing, always reaching to catch up with the next big thing.

I'm all for keeping up and reaching higher. As for frenzy, I'd like to think I can do better--better than jumping through the next hoop, better than getting caught up in all the hype. So, while I may not blindly delete every Cyber Monday email, I won't be spending my whole tomorrow frantically online for the next bargain or the rest of my tomorrows on line frantically looking for the next big thing. There's nothing wrong with a little excitement, but when excitement turns into frenzy, it's time to take a step back--so that maybe we can actually take a step forward.

Sunday, November 29, 2015


Sometimes, it feels as if there's so much running and chasing and searching for and going after. And then, every so often, there's a time when the weather or your location or your current circumstances say you can't run right now. You can't chase today. You have to pause from your search and take a break from the going after. You just have to be still.

It is in the still that we discover we can do a lot with a little. It is in the still that we find new ways to think and different ways to spend our time. It is in the still that we realize stopping can be as important as going. It is in the still that when we look, we really see.

There will be time for running
tomorrow. There will be need for searching and chasing and going after before we know it. For just a moment, we may as well enjoy the still.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Ten Minutes With Seuss

At the end of a long and less than productive day, I come upon Dr. Seuss. No matter how many kids' books people unload over the years, Dr. Seuss tends to remain. Somehow, it is sentimental, or relevant, or entertaining, or all of the above, no matter what your age.

This particular one is Oh, The Places You'll Go!, a Seuss almost meant for grownups, or those on the cusp of grownuphood. As I read it aloud (because who wouldn't read Seuss aloud?), I am struck on each page by how relevant it is--to my kids, of varying ages and stages of life, and to me, now, as much as it was when I was when graduating or starting work or being out of work. It jumps right to the fear we all experience. It rather fearlessly reminds us, the readers, that we are stronger and more resourceful than we seem (or realize). Entirely in rhyme, it grants us being overwhelmed by the most terrible of things, and then reminds us that there are paths out of just about everything.

On a daily basis, we are much more often reading fiction or non-fiction or self-help or the newspaper to figure out our world and our place in it. Sometimes, we succeed in our figuring. For me, just ten minutes with Seuss opened my eyes in ways those other things often haven't. Seuss may not have given me the steps to take, but it certainly made me feel strong enough to look for the steps. And sometimes, at the end of a long and not very productive day, a little Seuss strength is a powerful thing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A Table Full

We gather around a full and festive table, prepared to eat more than we should. We've come from different directions, both geographical and psychological, since last we met. There is catching up to do in between the feasting. Will we feel under- or over-accomplished since last year? Will our stories be ones we are excited to tell, or ones we'd rather leave at the door or sweep under the rug with the pie crust crumbs?

I am always struck by how holidays can be both a break from our day-to-day good and bad and a time to examine all that good and bad more closely while catching new people up on the stories. While I might refrain from dwelling on the mundane, I tend to welcome the different perspectives that the holiday table has to offer. Though I may hold back on sharing absolutely everything, I can't help wanting to welcome some new opinions and learn a little from the other people's experiences of the past year. When I think about what I am thankful for, it may include all the yummy treats on the table. More often, however, I am grateful for the opportunity to escape to a new set of viewpoints. Maybe they make sense, maybe they don't. Either way, they have me leaving the table with not just a stomach full of food, but with a mind full of good ideas to ponder for the future. And that is worthwhile, whether it's over stuffing and sweet potatoes or over tea and toast.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Travel Day

It is just a few hour drive. It does not involve catching a train or checking in for a plane. There's no snow gear or sun gear. Just some small bags of clean clothes, our Thanksgiving feast contribution, and electronic devices at a rate of almost two per person. Simple. And, to my amazement, executed fairly simply.

Yet, for something so simple, it accomplishes a few things that are not so simple on a day to day basis--

1. We work together. We may each be packing a separate bag, but we have to coordinate, at least a little, to make sure all the bases are covered. We carry together, we load the car together, and once in a while, we even remember forgotten things for each other.

2. We plan ahead. Okay, it's really just a few days ahead, and we're not going to Mars, but traveling does require a little more planning than the flying by the seats of our pants that we do on a daily basis.

3. (And perhaps this is most important) We escape. While our bags may be full of schoolwork and work work, and while our devices connect us with pretty much everything we are leaving, as we drive away, we leave the every day of our every day. For a few days, we will be in a different place, and at least a little, in a different frame of mind. And sometimes that is exactly what a travel day is all about...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks-giving Feast

Earlier today, a friend posted a link to an article about gratitude. As I read it, I thought both about this blog, which quite often comes around to gratitude, and about my day to day life, which comes around to gratitude not nearly as often. It is, perhaps, easy to be grateful that we are not facing the dire medical issues or personal losses that we see friends go through. It is, perhaps, easy to be grateful for a regular paycheck or healthy children. But what of the things and people all day who turn what could be the rough patches of our days into the smallest of bumps in the road--

The tech help desk associate, who doesn't charge for advice and doesn't judge people based on their degree of knowledge or possession of technology.

The co-worker who talks you over the wall of fatigue on the overnight shift.

The friend who, happening to be up late, remembers that you too will be up, and will be happy to read her email.

The computer program that reaches one hundred percent just as you think you will never make it past eighty.

The neighbor, randomly encountered, who unwittingly provides much-needed perspective.

The long-forgotten skill that suddenly comes in handy.

The long-hidden kitchen ingredient that suddenly helps make a great meal.

The scrubby side of the sponge, which makes washing pots and pans a blip rather than a task.

The fuzzy socks that are in the wrong enough place to be found just when your icy feet need them.

Sometimes, it's the little things that make up our thanks-giving feast...

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

No Catching Up

Some days, no amount of sleep makes up for the sleep lost.

Some days, no number of hours doing homework gets the homework done.

Some days, no matter how quickly you walk forward, you still find yourself moving back.

Some days, for every "to do list" item that is crossed off, there are two more added.

Some days, success lasts seconds and failure seems to hang on for hours.

Some days, neat is fleeting, but messy grabs hold and won't let go.

Some days, you wish you could just skip to tomorrow, but you know you're not ready.

Some days, no matter how much you try, there's just no catching up...

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Understand Because

I understand getting caught up in your work, because I've been there.

I understand trying to please everyone (and sometimes pleasing no one), because I've been there.

I understand giving your all and it not being enough, because I've been there.

I understand not knowing quite what they want, because I've been there.

I understand wondering if things will ever turn around, because I've been there.

I understand hanging on tight in the hope that it will make a difference, because I've been there.

I understand guessing right and guessing wrong, because I've been there.

It's not that I've been everywhere. It's just that I have been enough places, and have remained close enough to where I've been to understand. Because...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Getting In, Part Five: Glad To Be On The Bus

The bus bumps up and down. It is fairly comfortable, quiet, easy. But truthfully, I think it wouldn't much matter what it was. I'm just glad to be on it.

It is a long-ish trip for this college visit/audition. It is a journey without a definitive result. It is just part of a process. But now, after days and months and overnights full of research and practical and emotional preparation and agonizing anticipation, we are on the bus.

I suppose it's not all that surprising that I'm glad to be on the bus--I have always enjoyed the being "in the trench" far more than the planning "for the trench." I am almost always happier doing than anticipating, happier moving forward than moving in circles. The assignment of a school project may rattle me, but the process of doing the project excites me. The months of limbo before One Life finished were wearying, but at least the end let us move forward. The anticipation of new work dizzies me, but the actual doing of new work exhilarates me.

So, just like anything new, anything with stakes, the process of applying to college is a little daunting, a little overwhelming, a little scary. But for the moment, at least for me, it is a little better. Because I am really glad to be on the bus.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Getting In, Part Four: Introductions

As I listen to my daughter's introduction of herself in her college audition videos, I can't help but be reminded of the introduction she so effectively learned when taking karate. I don't imagine that either her love of performing or her confidence in presenting herself began there, but it probably didn't hurt to voice that introduction over and over before presenting in a karate class or at a large tournament.

As I continue to watch, I see how much of life in general goes into her performance. It's hard not to see signs of the triumphs of her young life and of the difficulties she has faced along the way. It's hard not to see hope--hope for a positive outcome, hope for success, hope for the future.

When I applied to college, the life and the confidence (was I confident?) and the hope were all poured into pieces of paper--typed essays and filled out forms and lists of school activities and accomplishments. While I may have had some interviews, I largely relied on what the papers and the numbers and the teachers said about me, and I largely hoped that was enough.

I listen to my daughter's introduction of herself in her college videos, and I am glad that in so many ways, she is way more confident than I was. Because these days, in college admissions and in life, the pieces of paper and the hope aren't always enough. So, if you can start with a strong introduction of yourself (in karate, in person, or on tape), perhaps you're already a few steps ahead of the game.

Friday, November 20, 2015

25 Hours

After years of wishing there were more than 24 hours in a day, so that I might have a fighting chance of doing everything that needs doing, I am convinced that today actually had at least 25 hours. By the evening, it felt as though the foot exercises I'd done in the morning had been yesterday, so that I needed to do more. By the afternoon, I couldn't quite believe that all the receipts had the same date on them. Somehow, I had been uptown and downtown and partly across town all in the same day, and had transported a kid to and from school to boot. And in the midst of it all, I had written a proposal and cooked a lasagna.

I am not writing this litany to pat myself on the back for how much I accomplished (though it is good sometimes to remind ourselves how productive we really are). Rather, I am writing it because today I had the realization that, while there can't really be extra hours in a day, there can be enough hours to do an awful lot--and be a lot of different versions of ourselves--if we keep our eyes, and ears, and minds open. We can go through each day with a goal, or two, and be happy when we accomplish those one or two things. Or we can start each day open to all the things we might do, and then just try to keep at it as we make our way through them all. It's not that we won't run out of time in a day. It's just that we might see the day as a lot longer if we are open to using it in creative ways.

It is quite possible that many days will feel far more like 12 hours than like 25. It is likely that the challenge of stretching time will be an unending one. But if one day out of many can feel as though it has 25 hours, just think about all the extra time we have...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fourth Anniversary

Tonight, I was reminded that four years ago, we shot the last scenes of One Life to Live on West 66th Street. While the rest of my day, I'll admit, had been full of all kinds of things unrelated to that anniversary of sorts, when I was reminded, it took me no time flat to be transported to that day and place, and all the feelings from four years ago. I remembered the speeches, and the hugs from unlikely coworkers, the sudden sinking feeling that it was real, and the hollowness of walking out of a studio that was full and alive for the very last time. I remember being scheduled as the booth AD for that day, because I loved being there, in the thick of things. I remember trying to capture it all, and staying just a little longer, so it wouldn't actually be over.

It is clear from the Facebook posts that we all, in one way or another, have moved on over the last four years. But it is also clear that the feelings I have about being reminded of the anniversary are far from mine alone. No matter where we each have ended up, geographically, or professionally, or psychologically, we all still share the bond of that day, and of the days and weeks and years that led up to that day.

So on this anniversary of sorts, I am melancholy for what may no longer be, but even more, I am immensely grateful for what was, and for the people who remind me of everything we shared.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Dan and Phil and The Line Around The Block

As I approached my assigned waiting station, there was clear evidence that some people had camped there all night. There were empty coffee cups, and rotting banana peels, and scattered napkins. People had been here a while, and once the door opened for them, they hadn't much bothered to clean up after themselves.

I was late to the party--so late, in fact, that a few minutes would have made the difference between acquiring the book that my daughter was so eager to get, and the wristband that would allow her inside to meet the authors themselves. I was on line behind people in costume, and people who'd driven hours to get here. And when it comes right down to it, I was on line to do something for my daughter. And I was on line because my odd work schedule afforded me the possibility.

As I waited, I thought about how, in a world where I and people I know have tried--often unsuccessfully--to monetize creativity and great ideas, people are managing to do it all the time. One look at the YouTube history in my house reveals gamers and box-openers and crafters and comedians, each of whom has created a niche where his or her content is not just viewed, but discussed, and, in some cases, sponsored by commercials or interested companies, or, as in the case of the line-worthy people of today, a book deal. I could view it all as part of the reason that big-budget soaps, and the jobs that go along with them, have largely disappeared. And, on some level, I would be right. But I can also think of it as a reminder that it doesn't have to cost a lot to be creative. You don't always have to rent a studio to produce your work, or a large crew to help you make it. Which may not bode well for my job prospects, but bodes very well for the possibility of some really creative stuff getting out there.

Because of my time on line (and her time on line later on), my daughter got to see some people who entertain her and who have carved out a space for their creative endeavors. A reminder that, while the rules and the patterns may have changed, we each still have a chance of being not washed up yet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Today, on the daylight end of an overnight at work, I had coffee with an old friend. We'd kind of grown up in soaps together--only rarely on the same show, but connected throughout the years nonetheless. She apologized for keeping me from the nap she could see I desperately needed, to which I replied that the nap would come (and she'd know when as soon as I wasn't making much sense any more!). And so it was that for an hour, we recalled old times and discussed what new times meant for people with our history. We caught up on the children who were just infants in our soap days. We remembered old colleagues and did a little "where are they now?" And we shared thoughts of "where do we go from here," an inevitable question in the changing world of New York production.

When the hour was up (and it was very clearly time for my nap), I walked away with the warm feeling of having reconnected with a friend, a past, a former self. I walked away with the inspiration of seeing how someone else had handled some of the same challenges in different ways. And I walked away with new burst of energy for my next few days, months, and years.

Perhaps, because of the time spent and the sugar consumed (I do try to avoid actual caffeine pre-nap), I ended up with less sleep than I needed. But I came away with much more. Re-connection can be an eye-opening thing...

Monday, November 16, 2015

...And Then Assist The Child

I don't fly often. But I have traveled enough in my lifetime to have the airline safety speech imprinted on my brain, including that counterintuitive instruction to "place your own mask over your nose and mouth before offering assistance."

In what other circumstance would you see a parent (or any other basically caring individual) take care of his or her own needs before helping a child? The safety instruction is, I'm sure, designed to ensure that the well-meaning adult doesn't pass out before succeeding in helping either one of them. Without hearing it, most of us would automatically jump to help the child next to us. And so it is that those words have remained part of the safety announcement for as long as I can remember.

I am not getting ready to take a trip, or reflecting on my past travels, or considering the merits of air safety. But I have been realizing over the past week, a week that was, for me, full of working nights and napping days, of careful attention to my own stamina, how very spot-on that safety announcement is. We can't be of much use to our kids, or anyone else who needs our help, if we don't make sure to take care of ourselves too. We have to take at least a little time to preserve our own health and stamina before we can preserve the health and stamina of the other people in our lives.

I may not like stopping first, or saying that a nap has to come before I can help with homework. I may not like listening to my own needs before those of my family. But sometimes, "putting on your own mask" has to come first. Sometimes, taking care of that, before we "offer assistance," can be the safest thing we can do--both for the child, and for ourselves.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

In The Thick Of It

My son is elbow deep in goo--papier-mâché goo, that is (thanks, spell-check for the backup on that one). With help from online instructions and some pretty entertaining DIY videos on YouTube, he has transported me back to a childhood I don't even remember having. Did I ever even make anything out of this magical concoction of flour and water and newspaper, or is the reality that I only ever heard about it?

In any case, I can't help being slightly amused by the goo and his immersion in it, and before long, my hands are almost elbow deep as well. In a life that usually has our fingers create with only the keyboards of our smartphones, immersion in goo is a refreshing change.

The goo event has come about because of a school assignment--perhaps that has always been the case with papier-mâché. What I am curious to see is whether this adventure in goo leads to more of them. The making of something out of nothing, the willingness to get a little messy and discover things you never did before. With papier-mâché creators offering online videos just like gamers, perhaps what started as a school project will become a kind of hobby. For today, I'm just enjoying being in the thick of it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Getting To Be There

Having worked in television for quite some time, I am used to watching content online or on TV and wondering how it was made, and what it was like to be there during the production, often even wishing I might have a job working on it.

Tonight, what I was watching online was not a television show, but live streamed Shabbat services at the temple where I am a member. Sitting at the desk in my apartment, I was suddenly transported to a different place, out of the mundane preparing of dinner and picking up of dirty socks and into a room filled with song and celebration and community.

I have been in that room live. There have been times when schedules worked out and circumstances fell together, and I was there, among friends and strangers, absorbing the sights and sounds and feelings. Tonight, on a night when circumstances did not come together, I was able to be be there, differently, but there nonetheless. And for that hour, I really felt a part of it.

It's one thing to watch video and think that your greatest wish would be to have a job working on what you're watching. But to watch video, and be brought along as if you really were there, is a wish I never even thought to wish for. And a very lovely gift for a Friday.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Through The Motions

I crawl into bed mid-morning after a night of work, because even if I'm not tired right then, I know in my head I need to. And a few minutes later, my body is sound asleep.

I follow a daily path to the school where I pick up my child. I barely know what day it is, but my body knows when to go, so I start walking.

I direct the starting of homework and oversee the making of dinner, whether or not I really know what I am doing. But what needs to be done needs to be done, so I do it.

I read the daily emails that I always read and delete the ones I always delete, because it's just a question of getting through.

We are used to seeing "going through the motions" as a bad thing, as if we are not invested, not effective, not doing our best. Yet, sometimes, "going through the motions," because we are tired, or unsure of our next steps, or simply unable to do more, is how we actually accomplish. We move ahead, even when we barely know what's ahead. We do the work, even when we barely know why we're doing it. We take care of, because even unconsciously, we know that is what we need to do.

So, on the days when I fear that I am just going through the motions, I remind myself that some motion is better than none at all. And that the motions I've gone through will eventually propel me in the directions I need to go.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Walked Outside

I walked outside, and I realized that it was not too cold and not too hot.

I walked outside, and I saw people from my past, and people from my future.

I walked outside, and I discovered that you don't always have to run.

I walked outside, and I felt the familiar breeze of what once was, and the calm of what might be.

I walked outside, and I knew I should do it more often.

I walked outside, and I wondered if I worry too much.

I walked outside, and I hoped my head would be clearer.

I walked outside, and I was clearer than I'd been in a long time.

I walked outside, and I saw things that were new.

I walked outside, and I felt things that were different.

I walked outside, and when I went in, I could tell that something had changed....

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


There are days (like much of today, actually) when I wonder what I am contributing. If I am wandering through a day too sleepy to accomplish much, what I am contributing? If I do a job that affects people I can't see, what am I contributing? If I can't fix what needs fixing or solve what needs solving, what exactly am I contributing?

And then I am reminded that the advice I give from my own experience, even if it's just a tidbit in a moment of coherence, is a contribution. I am reminded that the dinner I get to the table, whether made on my own or picked up (possible because of the money I am making working) is a contribution. I am reminded that each phone call or email in which I lend support or clarity or information is a contribution.

Sometimes, the contributions we make are obvious--we have a job that helps people directly, we donate our time or money to a charitable endeavor, we participate regularly in our children's activities, we speak out about things that matter. More often, however, our contributions are in the form of making each day work just a little better--because we are contributing salary we've made, sharing insights we've gained, or offering support because that is what we are able to do.

Worried you're not making a contribution? Think again--you're probably giving a lot more than you think.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Resumes of Life

It's not that the job that you had at that major show fifteen years ago didn't help make you who you are now. It's just that right now, it doesn't matter.

It's not that it doesn't matter that you wrote this or edited that. It's just not that relevant right now.

It's not that you need to erase everything you've done. But for now, you've just got to press "delete" more often.

It's not that they don't care that you've done a lot of things. It's just that they don't necessarily care about most of the things that you've done.

It's not that you have to forget your former life. You just have to refrain from detailing it to people to whom it doesn't matter.

It's not that taking it off means it never happened. It just means it won't help the next thing happen.

Rewriting--really rewriting--your resume can make you feel as though a part of you has died, or at least has drifted away. But it is in our being willing to focus on the living parts, and willing to wave goodbye to the ships that have sailed, that we find our new selves. And that we introduce people to the person in us who is willing to glance back, but is willing, and able, to move ahead.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Nap When The Baby Naps

New motherhood is perhaps one of the few times when napping is considered more than just a luxury. Seasoned parents, in-laws, even pediatricians give the new mother such explicit instructions to nap, it is labeled as almost as much of a necessity as clipping baby fingernails and administering baby vitamins. Then, suddenly, it seems, the baby is no longer a baby, and the parental nap returns to its luxury status. The problem is, when a person's life schedule involves working at night, the nap is no longer a luxury. It's a necessity. And there's no seasoned parent or pediatrician there to provide the instruction manual. It is suddenly up to you to carve out the nap time, to give the nap back its "not just a luxury, but a necessity" status. It's up to you alone to add it to the rule book. And adding to the rule book is hard.

The reality, however, is that the rule book changes in some way almost every day of our lives, in ways far more significant than the status of naps. And most of the time, we won't have someone holding our hand through the rule changes. We just have to manage them ourselves, so that we can manage the changes in life for ourselves. Some days, I feel as though I am still learning the rule book, and figuring out how I can change it to suit the "here and now," rather than the "what used to be." But sometimes, we need to carve out what is necessary and make the world, or at least our own small part of the it, follow our new set of rules.

Even in a post-infant world, it's important to stick up for what we need, even if it's not in the rule book. I guess that's just what you have to do sometimes when you're not washed up yet...

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Partners in Coffee

A number of years ago, on the advice of a friend who knew me too well, I began having coffee. Not "having coffee" for its caffeine purposes, but "having coffee" for networking and learning purposes. And so it was that I met all sorts of people who might someday give me work, but who, for now, could give me all sorts of advice and insight into jobs, careers, and life.

What I am finding these days is that the people with whom I want to have coffee aren't necessarily older or more experienced than I. These days, I am finding that I learn a tremendous amount from people just starting out, people who are just beginning to explore and make choices. The paths of their lives are still very much in front of them, and their view down those paths is fascinating. They are brand new in the ways that I was, but savvy in ways that I wasn't. They are both freed by technology and tied down by it. They have ideas and are not afraid to express them.

It may be that some day, they will be in a position to hire me. But for now, having coffee with them--the people below, not above--gives me a view that is just as helpful for getting me work. If I am short-sighted, they are a reminder that there is more to see. If I am stuck in what was, they are a reminder of what is. If I am worried that my years have been for naught, they are a reminder that nothing is for naught, as long as you are learning along the way.

So, on my friend's advice, I am having a lot of coffee. And thanks to my coffee partners, I'm making sure I'm staying perky along the way.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Piece of My Mind/Peace of Mind

It can be hard when you care. Whether it's caring about your work, and how you do it, or caring about your family, or simply caring about the people around you, whether you touch them directly or not, caring can leave a person confused, off-balance, vulnerable.

And so it is that when we care, we speak up--or we don't. We stand up for what we believe--or we don't. We express what we think--or we don't. Because sometimes, it feels hard, or harsh, to give the world a piece of our mind. Sometimes, it feels that we will lose something if we speak up too much, stand up too much, express ourselves too much.

But sometimes, it is only when we give a piece of our mind that we can truly find peace of mind. When we are willing to speak up for what we believe, we find the peace of having tried. When we are willing to stand up for what we need, we have the peace of having ventured. When we are willing to express ourselves, we can truly be at peace with ourselves.

It doesn't always make sense to give the world, or anyone in it, a piece of our mind. It can be exhausting and frustrating and futile. But when we do it from a place of need, a place of knowing who we are, a place of holding on to who we want to be, we can find the peace of mind that makes it all worthwhile.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Meaning of a Day

I've been thinking a lot recently about the meaning of "a day." With a larger number of my work days starting on one calendar day, when I get in a cab to head out into the night, yet officially beginning in the next calendar day, when I settle into my work station at midnight, I can't say that I'm ever quite sure exactly what day it is. I could say that breakfast, lunch, and dinner still exist, but what, then, do I call the meals between midnight and 8 that help to keep me awake? And is a school pickup at 4pm part of the same day that began at midnight, or is it part of a new day that started after a morning nap? Are days twenty-four hours, or are they simply defined by the hours you are awake within them? And is it possible to live in multiple versions of "a day," being a part of both the hours when others are sleeping and the hours when others are awake?

I am sure that at some point, I will begin to know what day it is, and to understand how to manage the days that seem to go on, without much pause, for a week. I am sure that the pieces and parts of sleep will add up to what they need to, at least most of the time, and that perhaps coffee will fill in the blanks. And, in the midst of all of it, I am hopeful that I will remember that a day is not defined just by how many things you do in its hours, but by the difference you have made in some of its minutes.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

But Why?

It is perhaps one of the most dreaded toddler phrases, repeated over and over as a child navigates the world with endless questions.

Somewhere along the way, we humans start spending much less of our time asking "why?" and much more asking "how?" How can we get into the right schools and the right circles? How can we make more money? How can we advance our careers? How do we balance any of this with personal and family life? We learn how to answer the "how," coming up with new strategies and new pathways, and quite often, we succeed. But rarely, along our path of "how," do we stop to ask ourselves that favorite toddler question of "why."

So, that means we get a lot done, right? And that we are far less irritating than all those "but why?" toddlers, right? Maybe. But when we go through life just figuring out "how," and never asking "why," we run the risk of going down all sorts of paths with no particular reason for what we are doing. We chase--and capture--the money that seems good or the title that seems prestigious, but do we stop to think what either of these actually means? We acquire what we say we wanted, but are often left wondering what it was exactly that we actually wanted.

While not every decision we make, job we choose, path we take has to make complete sense, we have a much better chance of making all of those paths and decisions worthwhile if, at least once in a while, we let the toddler in us out. We can make something work, "but why?" We can try a new job or a new schedule, "but why?" We can aim for the top, but the top won't matter much if we never ask--and answer--the question "but why?"

"But why" helps us understand our world. "But why" slows things down long enough for us to process new things. "But why" gives us the time to make choices, rather than just make things work.

So once in a while, perhaps we should take a lesson from our younger selves. A little "but why?" may go a long way.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

School Holiday

It is a school holiday, and I am not sleeping in. On the contrary, I have been up all night, ready for sleep just as my school holiday gang is ready for its vacation day. It turns out that, after just a short recovery, I am too. There are necessary things accomplished, because in a busy life, that is what you do with a day off. There is work for school, because a day off is really just a tiny pause in a stream of expectations. But for a short time, sometimes too short even to remember, there is a feeling of abandon. For just a moment, there is an escape from the "need to" and the "should" and the "must." And in that moment, there is ice cream. In that moment, there are goofy looks, and a lot of laughter, and the kind of complete abandon that leaves us feeling really connected, not by the studying of vocabulary words or the carting back and forth or the routines of daily life, but by the joy of making each other chuckle. The joy of appreciating the moment.

The day off is over in an instant. The moment is gone, the joy of abandon put on a shelf for next time. But if we listen carefully, we can still hear--and feel--the laughter...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It Is What It Is

I leave work at 8am, having made it, awake, through another night. I see the bus I need to go home pull into, then away from, the stop, all as I wait for the light to change so I can cross the street. I could check the electronic system to find out when the next bus will come, but instead, I just wait at the stop. I will get home, eventually. It is what it is.

I mix up a batch of fudge. Our cabinets are full of Halloween candy, and likely will be for weeks, but what I want is fudge, not gummies. What I want is homemade, not packaged. So I make the fudge. It is what it is.

I am home, and I could make dinner. I have a shelf full of cookbooks and a cabinet and fridge full of possible ingredients, but no particular idea about what to cook. So, while home dinner is within our reach, I pick up takeout instead (and people enjoy it). It is what it is.

I get dressed for work and the things that used to look good, feel good, make sense no longer do, so I change to things that look good, feel good, make sense now. I could bemoan my weight or my shape or my age, but instead, I just enjoy feeling better. It is what it is.

I know basically what I have to do in the next few days, but I couldn't tell you what my schedule will be next week, or next month, or next year. It is what it is.

Sometimes, I can maintain a relatively orderly apartment, and sometimes, just the simplest of clean-up tasks is far beyond what I can commandeer. So, sometimes, we live in order, and often, we live in chaos. It is what it is.

We are so used to being able to, and expecting ourselves to, take charge of the situations in our lives, that just letting things remain out of our control can seem shocking. But sometimes, it's okay just to let things fall as they may. Sometimes, in life, it just is what it is...

Monday, November 2, 2015

Centers of Attention

I have begun to notice that in ways far beyond "how was your day?" at dinner, my work has become a more central presence in my household than I remember it being before. While I have had a career for my whole adult life, it has often been just a piece of the puzzle, a place where I am during the day, a source of a few tales at supper time.

These last few years, alternating between looking for work and managing a schedule that requires transportation planning, daytime sleeping, and strict attention to stamina management, I sometimes feel as though I have made myself the center of attention. One could argue that I should enjoy being in that spot. After all, we moms spend all sorts of time focusing on our children--shouldn't we have some moments to focus, and have others focus, on us? Yet, it is a position that does not come naturally for me. I have a hard time sleeping in preparation for a night shift when there are homework assignments to help with, costumes and hairdos to advise on, games to play, and treats to make. I am self-conscious when too much conversation revolves around if and when I'll be working and the logistics surrounding that work or lack of work.

I suppose that in a family, the center of attention changes on a fairly regular basis. There will be days when a middle school social studies test is the most important thing, and days when a head cold grabs everyone's attention. There will be days when it's all about college applications, and days when, yes, it's about when Mommy's gonna take a nap. Unemployed or working, I won't always be the center of attention--there are far too many people and things to take on that role most days. And that's really okay. I'll get that nap when I need to, and still be around to focus on a whole bunch of other centers of attention. Because what kind of life would it be if we were always looking in the same direction?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Just Another Hallow's Eve

It is Halloween, and I am at work. There is a particular irony here--after years of arranging weekday work to be home to costume my kids and give out candy, we arrive at a year with Saturday Halloween, and I am not there.

I could have arranged to be off, I suppose. After all, freelancing does include the (use it wisely!) privilege of giving "unavailable" dates. But when I was choosing those dates, I simply didn't think of Halloween as one of them.

It's not that my kids would be sidelined in my absence--they are old enough, and quite eager enough, to trick-or-treat in our building on their own, and I have spent my free hours over the last few weeks and my free moments over the last few days putting together costume pieces. And while I have enjoyed receiving candy-seeking visitors these last few years, I'm okay with not having had to buy pounds of treats.

And so it is that I am receiving updates--on wardrobe malfunctions (not many) and candy acquisition (huge) long distance. There will be pictures, and there will be excitedly told stories about all the adventures. And for weeks, if not longer, there will be candy.

It is Halloween, and I am at work. Because I'm a freelancer. Because I currently work in a business that doesn't stop for weekends. Because my kids are learning to be what is ultimately the best of all things--independent. And because it's just another Hallow's Eve.