Monday, February 29, 2016

Making Me Laugh

Having seen the show Old Hats, featuring actors/clowns Bill Irwin and David Shiner and musician Shaina Taub and her band, today, I have come to the conclusion that I don't laugh nearly enough.

Don't get me wrong--there are times when my kids crack me up. There are times when a Facebook post just tickles me. On a day-to-day basis, however, everything just seems to become so important, and our need to accomplish and succeed so in our faces, that our earnestness tends to take over our sense of humor. Food spilled on the table is less a pratfall, and more a mess that will need to be cleaned. A child parading around half-dressed after a shower is wasting time rather than creating entertainment. Even job ads, whose requirements and compensation are unrealistic enough to be chuckle-worthy instead elicit stress rather than laughter.

Today, for two hours, I laughed at the ridiculous--physical gags, silent (and not so silent) comments on our world, and just general clowning around. I came out of the theater humming a little, with just a little more spring in my step. It didn't last--before long, I was back to the intensity of homework to do, and dinner to prepare, and routines to enforce. But for those two hours, plus a little, I was reminded how good it feels to laugh. So good that maybe, just maybe, I will start building a more of that into my days.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Victory Practice

As I look back at the volume of tasks accomplished today, I am exhausted. Between the steps walked, and the encouragement given, and the items folded, the accomplishment--mostly of fairly mundane tasks--has been fairly wall to wall.

So, though exhausted, I walk (hobble?) out of today with a good feeling. I saw necessity, I believed I could handle it, and I accomplished.

There are many days when I see necessity, and the sheer magnitude of it simply overwhelms me. I sleep instead of doing. I stress about instead of handling, I puzzle over instead of diving in. And I arrive at the end of the day defeated rather than victorious. Today, I can say with certainty, victorious feels better. To know that you have conquered, even when all you've conquered is laundry, to know you've accomplished, even when all you've accomplished is what you had to, is a powerful thing. It means that even on a tiring day, you can finish with a good feeling. It means that in the face of life, you can feel powerful. So that, when it comes to the bigger challenges, you don't have to shrink from them--you can attack them.

It was a long, busy day, and I may be exhausted, but I am also victorious. I beat the looming "can I do it?" I beat the "do I have to?" I beat the "couldn't I just?" And along the way, I also beat the giant pile of laundry and faced the giant pile of paperwork. There will be more important battles, and far more important victories. But victory takes mindset, and it takes practice. So, no wonder I'm exhausted. It was just another day of victory practice.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Just Right For Us

I spent part of my day doing some editing on a professional reel for a friend (yup, still editing on my day off!). As I navigated through the footage from her long career, I was struck by how many projects she'd done, and by how varied they were. Clearly, for at least part of her career, she'd been able to navigate successfully among genres, which made for a reel that puts forth a smart, curious, and multi-talented creative producer.

My experience over the past few years suggests that the diversity of her work would be much harder to come by now. These days, news producers are much more likely to look for news producers. Reality producers are much more likely to look for those who focus on reality. Entertainment producers tend to land only in entertainment. The list goes on. So, where does that leave a person who has done so much, and has such varied experience from which to draw?

I have no idea where my friend, or any number of my other friends with hefty resumes and reels will end up. It's a challenging job search world out there, and it's not one that always favors the well-rounded. I can only hope (for others, and for myself) that the words and images and personalities make a difference. That those who hire can look beyond the "just like us" to get to the "just right for us." Because you don't have to be the same to fit in. You simply have to know (as the video shows) that you'll fit quite well in all sorts of places.

Friday, February 26, 2016

We Want What?

I read recently that women's job satisfaction is often related more to their feeling about what they do and the atmosphere of their workplace than to the money and benefits they earn doing the job.

I have been puzzling over this one for a while. As I look around at the jobs that would pay a low wage, no matter what a person's experience, I wonder, would a situation that leaves a person stressed about finances really result in more satisfaction? Yet, as I think about the various work situations I have had over the years, I can't help but think about the factors that made me happy--and not so happy--along the way.

Perhaps first among them has been the way I, and others, have been treated. Is the atmosphere one that assumes employees walk in prepared to do their best, or is it one that assumes they are nincompoops lucky to be there? Clearly, I have been happier in situations that, and with people who, presumed my good intentions and talents. Does the place encourage input and creativity, or it "their way or the highway"? Perhaps it is my field of work, but I prefer to have at least a little creative wiggle room. Do the people, or the organization, care that I have a family, or a life? While no workplace is obligated to care, it tends to feel a lot better when its people do.

Would these factors, as the article indicated, be more important than the financial benefits of a particular job? Hard to say. Yet, the assertion has made me think a lot about what we expect from our work. We--the "not washed up yet" ones--expect our talents and experience to be recognized. We expect to be respected, not simply for our tenure, but for our dedication and for our good intentions. We expect to be valued, not simply through our paychecks, but through the interactions that make up the days between our paychecks.

Do we working women place more importance on workplace mission and atmosphere than on compensation? I'm not sure. I only know that when I leave my "able to pay the bills" home to go to work, it feels much better to feel good when I get there.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fine, Fine Lines (With Thanks To Avenue Q)

There's a fine, fine line between helping your kids succeed, and making sure they know how to make their own success.

There's a fine, fine line between doing what needs to be done to make a living and doing what needs to be done to make a difference.

There's a fine, fine line between sitting out to recover, and hanging in to keep up.

There's a fine, fine line between doing too little, and giving too much.

There's a fine, fine line between following your dreams, and embracing your reality.

There's a fine, fine line between doing what you love, and loving what you do.

There's a fine, fine line between creative use of time, and a total waste of your time.

There's a fine, fine line between what makes you live, and what makes you sing.

There's are fine, fine lines along every path you walk, on every day you live. Which side of the lines will you be on...?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Doing A Double

I worked a double shift this week--sixteen hours, to be specific. It seems like a long time, and it was. And I certainly felt the effects of it afterward. But the truth is (and any number of One Lifers, and soap folk in general, can back me up on this), I have worked sixteen hour (and longer) shifts before. In the ABC days before budget cuts, I called the long days "Double Louie's," because I would see the night security guard both when I arrived in the early morning and when I left late at night. On the production of the online soaps in Connecticut, the days making the first few episodes simply melted into each other, punctuated only by union-mandated schedule adjustments. In my line of work, sixteen hours may be a lot, but sixteen hour days also happen to happen a lot.

Perhaps I never thought too much about the number of hours way back when (though I must have enjoyed the boost to my paycheck). Now, I find myself with lots of thoughts...

If you work sixteen hours and travel a half hour or more on either end of that time, pretty much the only way to get your recommended daily amount of sleep is to sleep for every minute of the rest of your day.

If you work sixteen hours (and you don't actually sleep the rest of your day), you are left with scant little time to split among the needs of your family members, the needs of your health, and the needs of your household.

On the other hand, if you work sixteen hours (and whether you sleep or not), your household, both organizationally and financially, may be better, as you don't even have time to clutter anything or spend any of the money you are making.

And if you work sixteen hours, you might as well be working sixteen hours (and sleeping the rest), because you won't be of much use to anyone.

If you work sixteen hours, there are precious few moments left to remember what you used to do, or plan what you want to do, or do much more than work sixteen hours.

I worked a double shift this week, and though I am still feeling its effects, I am happy to report that I've still got it in me to do it. With just twenty-four hours in each day, I can't imagine going back into "Double Louie" mode on a regular basis any time soon. But sometimes, in life, you've got to do a double.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Life As A Tennis Ball

As I wrote yesterday's post, pondering the bouncing that I've been required to do, I found myself thinking about tennis balls. It, of course, doesn't hurt that over the past week, I have both watched and played a fair amount of tennis. But truthfully, who among us doesn't feel a bit like a tennis ball sometimes? I mean, what other ball is both fuzzy and fluorescent? We might feel new and bright and bouncy, or we might feel faded and old and flat, but either way, there's a racquet waiting to send us flying. And another across the way to pummel us--or deliver us--once again. Sometimes, the flight is exhilarating, sometimes, it is just another hit. And either way, we, a little tough, but a little fuzzy, stay in the game.

It is nice to be the bright, bouncy ball, ready for the hits, and excited for the ride. But when our bounce is a little gone, and our bright colors are a little worn, it's also nice to know that we still have a place in the game. We are still worthy of the power of the players. We are still worthy of the focus that makes the match exciting. 

So, when it begins to feel as though we should be traded in for what is brighter and bouncier, we can try to remember that there is almost certainly a place for the not quite so bouncy. There is still value we can add, even if we're feeling not so fuzzy, and not so ready for the hit. In the hands of those who keep at it, we are still part of the excitement. And isn't that what the game--be it tennis or life--is all about?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Working Toward Not Washed Up Yet

I used to think that "not washed up yet" was about bouncing back after twenty-some years working on ABC soaps came to an end. What I have begun to realize, however, is that it is also about continuing to bounce along with the other changes in life. For, you see, how I am now, while perhaps greatly affected by the changes that happened four years ago, is also about the changes that have happened since. While I have been reacting to the absence of long-term work, and the daily relationships and secure bank account that went along with it, I have also been adapting to the aging of my children and the overall changing of the world. The disappearance of two ABC soaps (not to mention assorted other NYC soaps along the way) was a big one, particularly for those of us who had spent our lives on them, but it was not a change that happened in a vacuum. So, if I am to be truly "not washed up yet"--if any of us are--there is bouncing to be done at every turn. We must be able to bounce as our kids' needs change. We must be able to bounce as the requirements for looking for work change. We must be able to bounce as our daily schedules vary and our daily responsibilities shift and our place in the world never seems the same from one day to the next.

I used to think that "not washed up yet" was a reaction--a fighting back response to a major change in my life. Turns out that it's a little bit more. It's about bouncing back almost daily, and discovering bounce in yourself even when you think you can't bounce any more. Moving on from soap life may have been the beginning. But I suspect that continuing to be "not washed up yet" will be going on for a long time.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Bag Is Red

The bag is red, and like a red balloon against a clear blue sky, like the red envelopes of Chinese New Year, like the cherries on top of a slice of cheesecake, it stood out from a distance. And even from far away, it captured my heart.

It was to be my new carryall (and I do carry a lot) for work. And yet, months later, I had not taken it to work. Months later, it sat, receipt inside, on the verge of being (if they'd even take it back after so long) returned.

And then, it was suddenly the perfect size for a short trip I was taking, a trip that turned out fabulously. And then, it accompanied me on another trip, and each time I looked at the red, it made me happy, and grateful that I had kept the bag and discarded the receipt.

What I have realized, though, is that maybe it was never meant to be my work bag. Maybe it was never meant to carry the mundane necessities of commuting and long days, to do the schlepping and the practical work. Maybe, all along, it was meant to be a part of the other adventures of my life, to be the appropriately bright accompaniment to my escapes into the world.

The bag is red, and I am finding its place in my life. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

A Year From Now

As we start to finish a week that rolls around each year, I wonder--

Where will we be a year from now? Will we be on vacation, and will we have gone to the same places in the same ways?

Who will we be a year from now? Because kids grow, and people change, and it's hard not to wonder what we will look and sound like.

What will we be doing a year from now? Will we be working at the same jobs, exploring different subjects, talking to the same people?

How will we be feeling a year from now? We we be strong physically and emotionally? Will be surer of ourselves or unsure of anything?

What will we want a year from now? Will we still be looking for the same things, or will we have moved on? Will we have new goals and different priorities?

Where will we be a year from now? Moving forward, looking back? Getting stuck, forging ahead?

As I look back over the years since I finished at ABC or the years since I began writing this blog, I see more changes than I can count. I may never be a five-year planner, but it's hard not to wonder--about a year from now...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Just Away

If you are away from work, are you automatically on vacation?

If your kids are out of school, are you automatically on vacation?

If you are sleeping somewhere other than your own bed, are you automatically on vacation?

If you are making choices about your day, rather than having them made for you, are you automatically on vacation?

If you are eating foods you wouldn't (because of cost or nutrition) otherwise allow yourself, are you automatically on vacation?

If you are yelling less and sleeping more, are you automatically on vacation?

If you are better rested and better fed, are you automatically on vacation?

If you don't have to be in charge of every moment of your own life and everyone else's, are you automatically on vacation?

While we so quickly define "vacation" as time away, real vacation can be more about our interaction with life than about our location for a week. Sure, going away physically from our day to day can make vacation simpler, but every time we simply take a little break or offer ourselves an unexpected treat, we are "going on vacation." Which is, perhaps, a healthier way to think about it. Instead of anticipating "vacation" and dreading its end, we can choose to grab the vacation opportunities around us every day--the little extra nap, the unexpected special meal, the break taken from nagging our kids about their homework. Because, while we may not always be able to afford a fancy trip or even time out of town, we can almost always justify a few moments when we are just away.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

It's A Stretch

I play tennis, and I am sore, which is not too surprising, as I have used muscles that just don't come into play when I am walking or editing or cooking, or even decluttering. I actually do better than I thought I would, but still, it is a stretch.

I work in a new area, on a new shift, and the next day, I am tired, which is not too surprising, as I have used muscles that don't come into play when I am doing the same work at the same time, accomplishing tasks I have before, or keeping my family on a meal and sleep schedule. I come away with new skills and new knowledge and new confidence, but still, it is a stretch.

I try to help my kids with homework, the content of which I learned more than twenty years ago. By the time we are done, they may be more test-ready, but my head hurts. I have been helpful, and I have refreshed my own memory, which is a valuable thing, but I can't help but feel that it is a stretch.

In so many parts of our lives, we can settle for what is comfortable, for what doesn't make us stretch. Perhaps we then feel better the next day, but have we really accomplished anything? Sometimes, while it may be a stretch, trying what is new gives us a good soreness--the kind of pain that pushes us to keep trying. There will always be days for doing only what we know well. But trying the things we don't will make us that much more ready to believe that we can handle something new--job-wise or life-wise--even if it is a stretch.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Good Day?

Often, at the end of the day, my son asks "Good day?" Once in a while, my response is immediate--something earth-shatteringly good has happened, or the day's activities have left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. More often, however, my response is ever so slightly delayed. It takes me a moment to decide whether I considered the day "good," or even "amazing."

This frustrates him a bit, for in his estimation, if nothing bad has happened, it can be called a "good" day, and if you add something good to the nothing bad, the day often rises to "amazing."

It seems a little simplistic, perhaps, particularly to us grownups, who are managing and trying to make the best of all sorts of situations. And yet, when (after that moment of hesitation) I view my days through his filter of "good" and "amazing," they tend to look a whole lot better. I am able to see the joy of "nothing bad" and the even greater joy of "something good." I am able to be grateful for the small, often unnoticed moments, and able to let go of some of the mundane life moments.

Was it a good day? Sometimes, I'm not sure at first--there's a lot of "I wish" and "What if" in the way. But then I look again. And it turns out that most of the time, it was a pretty good day after all.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Ahh, Instincts

I can think things through, inside, outside, and upside down. But sometimes, it just comes down to "thinking" with your instincts.

I can do the research, do the math, do the work. But sometimes, it comes down to doing what feels right.

I can listen to my friends, listen to my family, listen to all sorts of advice. But sometimes, it comes down to listening to that little voice inside of yourself.

I can go where I need to, go where I should, go where it seems right to go. But sometimes, it's best just to go with your gut.

As we make decisions and plans and moves every day, there are all sorts of factors to consider--those that help us along, and those that slow us down, those that lead us in the logical directions, and those that take us totally off course. And then, there are our instincts...

Monday, February 15, 2016

Those Twenty-Two Minutes

There are the twenty-two minutes of show content, which make up what we call a half-hour TV show.

There are the twenty-two minutes on my phone timer, which let me sleep in just a little longer.

There are the twenty-two extra minutes I left for my trip to work, which allow me to stop and happen upon a few bargains.

There are the twenty-two minutes of evening, which I get back when I treat myself to a cab rather than waiting for a bus.

There are the twenty-two minutes of watching YouTube with my kids, which sometimes make me understand them just a little more.

There are the twenty-two minutes of cupcake baking time, which can feel like an eternity, especially when raw eggs mean you can't lick the bowl while you wait for the oven.

There are the twenty-two minutes each day, which stand between me and a perfect schedule, but offer to connect me with what sometimes can be a very interesting life...

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Cause For Celebration

This weekend, former One Life to Live coworkers of mine won a Writer's Guild Award for their work on General Hospital. I am reminded that the world that died in New York lives on in other places. Just this past week Days of Our Lives was renewed on NBC. People I know are still doing soap work, and a genre pronounced dead here is still very much alive elsewhere.

It makes me wonder a bit where I would be now, had the soaps not ended in NY. Would I still be there, alternating days between control room work and edit room work? Would I have advanced, or would my job have stayed basically the same? Would I have had time to do anything new in my home life, and would I have learned the new things about editing that I have working in news? Would I have met new people, or would my network stop at the soap studio doors?

We will likely always live with "what if's," whether the changes we face are our choice or someone else's. Life, of course, would be different if I still lived in the soap world. It might be calmer. It might be more secure or more predictable. But it also might not have expanded my circle or my family role or my skill set or my confidence.

So, as I celebrate my colleagues' honor, I also celebrate the changes of the last few years. It has not always been easy, but we are still standing, and doing, and learning. And sometimes, that is also a worthy cause for celebration.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

In Other Words...

I have learned a lot over the past few years about going with my gut. I have developed a sense of which posts are real and which are just a come-on. I have discovered what is impossible and what just takes a little stretching. I have learned to make decisions with not enough information and with too much.

But sometimes, my gut's just not enough. Sometimes, sitting in a room alone, puzzling over pros and cons, just doesn't get me to the answer. Which is when I call in the reinforcements. It turns out that what has grown even more than my gut over these few years is my network, and even more important, my willingness to call on that network.

It's not, you see, that other people necessarily know more, or know better. It's not that they always have ideas you've never thought of. But almost without fail, other people will say things in a different way. And almost without fail, you will hear things in conversation that you can't possibly hear in a room by yourself or in the voices from your own head.

Sometimes making decisions is about more that just the real factors. Sometimes, it's about hearing the factors in a different way. So, when I'm a little stuck, perhaps the very best thing I can hear is "in other words..."

Friday, February 12, 2016

Counting The Hours That Count

If I were working at a regular job with regular hours, perhaps the hours of my work (and, therefore, those of the rest of my life) would fade into the background--just a steady factor in the daily experience of life. But I am not, so they don't. Each week, sometimes each day, is a new negotiation about time. Where will I be when, and consequently, where will anyone in my family need to be? Will there need to be daytime sleeping, or special arrangements made? Will I be available for discussions, or unable to talk until the time when everyone else is asleep? Things may work out just fine, but how do we get from "how the heck?" to "just fine?"

And so, as I make my way through work and life, I can't help but "count the hours." It's not about watching a clock or filling out a time sheet. Rather, it is about conserving energy when I see there is a late shift ahead. It's not about wanting to redistribute my hours. Rather, it's about making sure I make the most of them, whatever and wherever they are.

The hours are flying by. Are you counting them, or making them count?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What If "Perfect?"

What if "perfect" meant "working for now," not just "the right thing forever?"

What if "perfect" meant "can learn something from," not just "makes me happy every minute?"

What if "perfect" meant "fruit with my chocolate," not just "multigrain bread at every meal?"

What if "perfect" meant "real understanding and hard work," not just "straight A's?"

What if "perfect" meant "trying hard always," not just "winning every time?"

What if "perfect" meant "coloring to be colorful," not just "coloring in the lines?"

What if "perfect" meant "there when really needed," not just "always in the right place at the right time?"

What if "perfect" meant "the best you can be right now," not just "the best anyone ever was ever?"

What if we saw "perfect" as "perfect" a lot more often...?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Front Row From The Back Row

In my current job, I spend a fair amount of time in a place called "The Back Row." Unlike the back row in a soap control room, this "back row" is not full of producers and network executives. It is the home of technicians and tech supervisors who edit news feeds and send clips to the network server. It is apparently a standard newsroom term, but as I have not spent most of my life in a newsroom, it is one that is new to me.

What's interesting for me about the "back row" is that, while it may not be in the front, it still provides me with a view of news that I wouldn't ordinarily get. Because I sit in the "back row," I see and hear news feeds about primaries and debates and natural disasters that might barely be on my radar in my regular life. Because I sit in the "back row," I watch clips and packages put on the server by stations all over the country, giving me insight into the world that I might never otherwise have.

When I was sitting in the control room front row, it was hard to think about being anywhere else, for while I may have wanted to produce, I was hesitant to leave the excitement of the trench that was the front row. These days, I'm learning about a different kind of "back row." And along the way, I am discovering how a little change of angle can really affect how I see the world.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

36 Hours

It would be easy to define our little getaway by the train delay on the way back. It would be easy to define the time away as time out of time--simply a grand escape from the mundane responsibilities of every day. It would be easy to define the 36 hours out of town as just that--36 hours somewhere else.

None of these definitions would be inaccurate. It was, to be sure, a short getaway, punctuated by a stopped train and a change of venue. But more important, it was the following through on a plan. It was almost complete immersion in a world other than the one we experience daily. It was quiet enough for real hearing and loud enough to counteract the quiet of boredom. It was 36 hours of time well-spent in a life that can contain many, many hours not so well-spent.

We can't always be on vacation. We can't always just leave behind our surroundings or our responsibilities for a day and a half.

But when we can, maybe we return better able to face reality, or at least with a head full of sights and sounds to counteract reality. When we can, maybe we come away with a little more insight into what makes us tick and what makes us happy. When we can, maybe we come home with not just souvenirs to surround us, but with memories that prop us up when we need them.

In a daily life, 36 hours is often just a blip that is behind us before we know it. But when we take hold of our 36 hours, those hours can feel like so much more.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Living Up To

When I started working at One Life to Live, it was a wish come true. I had been watching the show for years, so the idea that I would actually be working there was amazing. And while the reality didn't always match what I had imagined, and while there were certainly bumps along the way, it pretty much lived up to (and went far beyond) my initial expectations.

Not everything in life works out that way. Whether it is a long-anticipated trip or an eagerly awaited book or movie, sometimes the reality can't live up to the imagination. So, given that, do we restrain our expectations? Do we keep ourselves from getting excited, so that we won't be disappointed? Do we avoid the soaring highs so that we can avoid the crushing lows?

A few times in my life, I have tried that--to aim in the middle, so that there's not so far to fall. The problem is, doing so often makes for polite smiles rather than hearty guffaws. Doing so can make for little victories rather than huge successes. Doing so can leave you meandering pleasantly through life without allowing yourself to celebrate it very much. So, while on a day-to-day basis, I may be a little cautious and responsible, I remind myself of the twenty-plus years of a life that came out of following a dream. I remind myself of the laughter and really tasty baked goods that have come out of letting go a little. I remind myself of the friendships and family ties that have grown out of risks taken and time spent and selves revealed.

We can live down to what is safe, or we can live up to what is possible. Which would you rather do?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Two Hours, Seventeen Minutes

I walked in the door at 6:30am, after one of a long string of overnight shifts. No kids to wake for school, no lunches to prepare, and within moments, I was asleep on the couch. For exactly two hours, seventeen minutes. Awakened by a child in search of office supplies, I arose from what had been an enormously deep sleep, and I barely sat or lay down again for the next thirteen hours.

As I write about it, I am exhausted. How is it that I could get through a day, after being up all night, on just two hours, seventeen minutes of sleep? How is it that I could walk miles and accomplish errands and laugh with my kids on just two hours, seventeen minutes?

The two hours, seventeen will surely catch up with me. But on a day when there was much to do, and life to embrace, two hours, seventeen minutes was enough. Enough to build a bridge between work and home, enough to clear the eyes and the head and recharge the feet. Enough to make me ready to face and manage and enjoy the day ahead of me.

We may all strive for our straight eight or our luxurious eleven or even our standard six. But sometimes, if the day is right, two hours, seventeen minutes is just enough.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Taking Back

We give our time.
We give our talents.
We give our choices.
We give our energy. our work. our children. our families. our communities.
We give because that is what we are supposed to do.


But once in a while, we have the opportunity to take back... take back our time. take back our energy. take back our choices. take back what we want to see and feel and hear.


And if we take that opportunity, we find that what it gives us is the strength to give back when we need to without giving ourselves away.

Taking back isn't about being self-centered. Taking back is about re-finding ourselves in the midst of all we give.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Where Are They Now?

Television work being as transient (more so now than ever) as it is, you are constantly saying "goodbye" because a project ends, or a company closes, or simply because new opportunities come along, for you, or for other people. Perhaps these days, it is becoming true in other fields as well. People don't necessarily stay in one place forever, so you can spend a lot of time wondering "where are they now?"

For me, the question remains present with my One Life To Live buddies. It continues to interest me where people have landed. But as I work in more places, I have an increasingly long list of "where are they now?" When I feel as though I'm standing still, someone's always moving. Sadly, the "where's" are not always a good thing--landing in a place that works can take a long time. But sometimes, "where are they now?" is answered when I show up at a gig, only to find former colleagues there too. After a project, people may scatter, but the TV world is smaller than you think.

I have been lucky to land over and over--not always right away, but in a string of interesting places. When people have asked "where is she now," I have had a long list of answers--not always good ones, but, I suppose, ones that have continued to move me forward--whatever "forward" means on any given day.

I am constantly asking "where are they now?" It is a sign, I believe, that I have worked with people whose lives matter to me. And a sign that we're all still moving. And sometimes, in this business, remaining in motion is all you can do.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

By Its Cover

I found myself in a school cafeteria, with over an hour to wait, and nothing in particular to do. I could simply have passed my hour playing Candy Crush (if I played it) or poring over old emails (which I do far too often). But before I knew it, I found myself reading my son's English class assigned book, a small volume presenting The Iliad on a middle grade level.

I'll admit, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea. I'm not so much into battle, and my life tends to be fairly grounded in the language of today. Yet, as I read, I began to feel (as if sitting in the school cafeteria hadn't done this already) a little bit of what my son goes through every day. For, while I might eagerly ask about his day, and genuinely be interested in the details of his daily adventures, I do so largely as an outsider--one who makes sure the books are in the backpack, but doesn't know what they're about. One who comments on the grades, but doesn't sit through the trauma of taking the tests.

In my hour and a half, I learned (relearned, I suppose, as I read about it in multiple forms as a kid) a little bit about the Trojan War. But more important, in my hour and a half, I learned a little bit about my son, or at least a little bit about his daily life. It's an exercise we all should probably do more often. Because sometimes, you can learn a lot about the reader of the book by going beyond the book's cover.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

All Things To All People

I am at drop off and pick up. I am on homework duty and laundry duty. I work for pay and I accomplish other work without pay. I am upbeat in the face of change, adaptable when I have it in me, and accepting when that's all there is to be. I am, it seems, all things to all people. Or I'm trying to be.

Sounds like a big job, doesn't it? Yet, when I break down "all things," I discover sometimes that I am really just where I want to be. I may pick up and drop off because "pick up" and "drop off" must be done, but I also do it because the walking and the talking and the touching base matter to me. I may spearhead the homework and the laundry because someone has to, but I also do because it makes me feel involved, empowered, in charge. I may work for pay because I have to, but I also do it because I like to feel it make a difference. And I accomplish things for no pay because I've learned that some of the best things sometimes come that way.

There are days when it feels as though I am trying to be all things to all people. But then I realize that the "all things" are for me too. The "all people" for whom I'm doing include me too. So, when I do drop off and pick up and homework and laundry, what I'm actually doing is staying involved in the "stuff" of life. And that's not just about being all things to all people. It's about being the best you can be for yourself.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Skill Sets

I have written and rewritten my resume so many times and so many ways over the last few years, you would think I would be well aware of my set of skills. You would think I would know exactly what I have done, and exactly what I can do. And perhaps on paper, and in the eyes of resume-readers and employers, that is true. But every so often, there is a day when I realize that my skill set is much more than the piece of paper. Among the skills I see when I let myself look up from that piece of paper...

1. I manage crises--calmly. Crises that include suddenly due forms, suddenly sick kids, suddenly changed schedules.

2. I act with compassion. Compassion for tired kids, compassion for overwhelmed coworkers, compassion for friends handling more than they should have to.

3. I edit video and I write, but mostly, I tell stories.

4. I figure it out--whether "it" is the mastering of a new computer program, the making of dinner with no available time, the finding of things lost in a place where nothing is findable.

5. I may not be a fine artist, but I hold my own quite well when it comes to papier mâché, duct tape, beads, and paint.

6. I have the capacity for more patience than anyone should be expected to have.

7. I expect progress more than anyone has the right to expect.

8. I am more than who hires me, more than just my successes, and certainly more than just my failures.

While it may be important to have marketable, transferable, quantifiable skills that fit nicely on one page, we are more than just those skills. So, every once in a while, it pays to look beyond that piece of paper. Who knows what sets of skills we'll discover?

Monday, February 1, 2016


I had the opportunity today to reunite with some friends from my past--not co-workers from my early One Life to Live days, but the people who made up my non-work life during those days. While we haven't been completely out of touch, we have not been in the same room for quite some time. There was a lot to catch up on. And the results, for me at least, were amazing.

Often, when we try to "go back," we are disappointed, as people and circumstances have changed, and what worked so well way back when just doesn't. In this case (perhaps because it was just two hours, but I don't think so), I was not disappointed at all. There was, of course, showing of kid pictures. There was, of course, laughing over parenting stories. But underlying it all was an understanding of each other that began long before we were all parents, in a time when we were each beginning to find our way. You might think that relationships from that part of life lose their relevance. For me, the opposite was the case. These were people who knew me when it was just me. When life was unencumbered by the changes and developments and ups and downs that just happen. When life was about figuring out and nurturing the "best me," a process that is easy to lose hold of when there are so many balls in the air to juggle.

When our time was up, I wished for more hours. I wished for just a few more moments to step back in time and for a little longer to reconnect with these people and the "me" I was when I first knew them.

But time marches on. Perhaps we will not wait so long for the next reunion. It can seem like a lucky extra in a life of moving forward to stop and look back. But it is sometimes the looking back that makes the marching forward feel a whole lot better.