Sunday, July 31, 2016

And Then The World Said "Stop"

It was working well--adding days and hours and endeavors and projects. And then the world said "stop."

It was working well--running for buses and scrambling for trains and racewalking when necessary. And then the world said "stop."

It was working well--helping to manage a whole family's worth of activities and lives. And then the world said "stop."

It was working well--doing more, sleeping less, feeling accomplishment close to twenty-four hours a day. And then the world said "stop."

We are conditioned to believe that more is better, so much so, that we just keep going. It feels good to use all of our time, and to get things done. But every so often, when we are too busy stepping ahead, the world steps in. Every so often, when all we can say is "go," the world says "stop."

And we just have to trust that accepting the stop will make us better equipped to "go" when it is over.

Chasing The Bus

You can track the bus with an app or a text system, but sometimes, no matter how fast you run, you can't catch it.

You can work more days and more hours, but sometimes, no matter how long and how hard you go at it, it doesn't feel as though you can stay ahead.

You can say "yes" a lot and "no" when it's necessary, but sometimes, no matter how much you care, you can't seem to feel you are mastering the parenting thing.

You can use all the hours and all the tricks and all the tools, but sometimes, no matter how well you use your resources, you can't quite seem to build what you want.

You can chase the bus, chase success, chase your dreams, but sometimes, success will elude you, sometimes your dreams will feel beyond you, and sometimes, the bus will beat you. The trick, I suppose, is to keep running. Because one of these days, the bus will slow down, just enough. One of these days, you will chase the bus, and your dreams, and success, and you will win. So, you've just got to keep running...

Saturday, July 30, 2016

But What If I Miss Something?

Among the effects of a loosely planned summer is the ability (imperative?) to make almost daily decisions about activities. Even when there are countless possibilities, there is always the risk that picking one means giving up another, and the fear that something along the way will be missed. And so it is that some mornings involve intense negotiations about what to do. Often, I am at a disadvantage in these negotiations, as I have been up at work all night, so have far less lawyerly skills than my kids. But negotiate we do, and somehow, each day, we come up with a plan. 

When I was working days, things were somewhat less negotiable--without me around, the kids had to have somewhere to be. With me home (at least physically, if not mentally), there is a chance of home being the better option. Will there be a mommy-planned, mommy-escorted activity? And if they choose camp or a play date, will they miss out on both time with Mom and the opportunity to do something they don't usually get to do? As my kids are learning, these questions are a roll of the dice daily. They can't really know whether I will sleep through a given day. They can't really know whether a given day will be so hot that I won't want to go anywhere. So, in some ways, we make their "informed" choices with not much information at all, and we hope that they turn out well.

Perhaps it seems risky. But isn't that how we make a great many of our decisions and choices every day? We may gather information, and analyze past results, but ultimately, we all make choices that risk our missing one thing because we have chosen another, that leave us unsure if we have made the very best use of our time.

So, how do we know if we are going the right way, if we heading for the good stuff and are avoiding missing the other good stuff? We don't. We don't know for sure, when we walk out the door, what we will miss. We don't really know, when we walk out the door, what we will discover. So, each day, we just have to keep making those choices. There will be days that end with "yay," and days that end with "I should have," and lots of days in between. But in the end, what we miss just leaves room for what we find.

What are we missing? It's hard to say, so we just keep making choices. And what we miss today may be just the thing we find tomorrow...

Friday, July 29, 2016

I Am, Part 2

There is one artist who shows us years worth of her creations, and another who creates on video right in front of us. There are some artists who show a particular angle of the world, and others who challenge our view with constantly changing angles. And as I watch their process over two days, I see patience in the face of technical difficulties. I see varied interpretations of instructions that were the same for everyone. I see hesitation turn to confidence, and I see confusion turn to pride. And all the while, I hear years of learning coming out of my mouth--the notes that over the years have made me feel good and work harder. The notes that made my work different, and hopefully better. The notes that made me feel as though I was worth teaching.

I can't say whether any of these kids will become video artists, producers, or editors. Who knows at that age what will happen by the time you are my age? I sure didn't. But I feel good about helping to make it a possibility. I feel good about providing a few words, some constructive notes, and a little validation. I went in thinking that my main contribution was sharing a technical skill. It turns out that what I had to offer was a little different and a lot more. If I, in such a short time, provide just a little guidance or just a little inspiration, prepare them for just a few of the notes that, over the length of their careers, will dash them or excite them, I will have done what was most important. And as I hear the words from my mouth and see the looks on their faces, I think I've done my job.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Am, Part 1

Thanks to a collaboration with one of those people we are lucky enough to meet along our paths, I am helping to teach a teen workshop called "I Am." Over the course of two afternoons, we, the professionals, are helping twenty teens make short videos about their lives. When the days are over, they will understand a little more about shooting and editing. When the days are over, we will understand a little more about what we know and what we don't, and about how it is that we got to where we are.

"I am" is an interesting statement for any of us to make.

"I am" is a statement that can change from today to tomorrow.

"I am" is both a statement about us and a statement about the circumstances that surround us.

"I am" is a statement we often avoid, favoring "I do" or "I wish."

"I am" is a reminder of how scary it can be to speak up for ourselves.

"I am" is a reminder of how empowering it can be to speak up for ourselves.

This is two days of imparting some of my years of knowledge and experience to a room full of kids just beginning to amass their own knowledge and experience. But having seen Day 1, I have a feeling I may be learning as much as I am teaching. And I may come out with my own somewhat new version of "I am."

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

New Again

One of the best things about the summer (particularly the very loosely planned version of summer that I tend to create) is the fact that there are so many new beginnings. During the school year, we pretty much all have our marching orders. We know where we're going, and when, and the structure of things looks pretty much the same, week after week.

In the summer, though, this particular Monday may look nothing like last Monday. Perhaps we can sleep more. Perhaps we are taking a different form of transportation. Perhaps we will have more time on our own. Or less.

Sometimes, the lack of consistent structure can be exhausting. During the school year, we (we, the adults AND we, the kids) know which friends we will see each day. We mostly know what will be expected of us. And we know the rules of the game, whatever the game may be. While summer may free us from some of the expectations, it also requires us to regroup, sometimes more than we'd like, and to make new friends and try new things.

Before we know it (no, say it isn't so!), our loosely structured summer will be over, putting us right back into that life where we know a lot more about what's coming our way. So, for now, we can bristle about adjusting to the new each day. Or we can enjoy what the new has to offer us--the ability to try something different, just for a moment in time, the opportunity to stretch our adaptability, and discover how much we can handle, and the chance to appreciate what a little freedom can give us. It's not the same old, same old. It's summer, and each day, we have the chance to be new again.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

All Paths Lead

I sit at a table with women with whom I used to sit in meeting rooms. We used to meet monthly, if not more. We used to collaborate on helping, and serving, and advocating. We used to speak together for an organization.

It has been a long time since those "used to's." Each of us has navigated through all sorts of pieces of life since then. And though each of us may still help, and serve, and advocate, we do it separately, and in our own little worlds. Though we meet, we meet only rarely, and not so much to create action, but to catch up. We are connected by the used-to's, but our paths from "used to" have been so different that it is sometimes hard to see exactly who and where we were then.

Yet, the starting place still brings us back. Though our paths have diverged widely, when we are back together, we always seem to have the bond that brought us together then. So, while paths lead where they lead, perhaps many paths really lead to where you created them. If you have laid the proper groundwork, you can find the path. If the people who walked it with you understood it back then, it is not so hard to remember where it leads.

We have moved along--and will continue to move along--all sorts of paths. But when we find the people in our lives who believe with us, speak out with us, work hard with us, perhaps even the most divergent paths lead back to them. And following those paths can be a really good way for us to keep from getting lost...


The last few years (by which I generally mean my post-ABC years, which are quickly becoming more than a few years ago) have been full of a lot of second-guessing. Second-guessing the motives of people who didn't hire me--or did, second-guessing the thoughts of people who heard my story and my ever-changing elevator pitch, and (perhaps most of all) second-guessing myself, as I tried to figure out who I was now and what I could do.

Yet, every so often in the process, I have had moments when the second-guessing fell away. When an opportunity felt so right that I just went for it, or when a person seemed so interesting that I didn't care what she thought of me, or when I actually felt as though I knew where I was going. Suddenly, instead of second-guessing, I have found myself, shall we call it, "first-guessing." Forging ahead without looking back, acting before asking way too many questions or allowing in way too many doubts.

Have all my "first-guessing" moments netted success and accomplishment? Nope. Have all my "first-guessing" moments led to clear paths and an ongoing "I get it now" feeling? Absolutely not. But the "first-guessing" moments have given me a bit of clarity. They have re-upped my confidence when it was flagging. And they have led me to a better understanding of who I am and where I'm meant to be (even if I won't be that person in that place for a while).

We spend a lot of time second-guessing ourselves and almost everyone and everything around us. But when, every so often, we can listen to our "first-guessing," we have the opportunity to learn a little more, and do a little more. We have the opportunity to become not just the product of what has happened to us, but the product of what we make happen for ourselves. When we let go of the second-guessing, we have the chance to put ourselves, and what really matters to us, first.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


In the last bunch of years at ABC, the One Life to Live production team became quite the experts at what was called "six-packing." A genre that for years had shot one episode each day was now shooting six episodes in five days, and honestly, by the end, more like seven in five. Such a shooting schedule allowed the show to go "dark" for whole weeks throughout the year, which saved a tremendous amount of money, a huge concern as cheaper-to-produce talk and reality shows loomed large.

And so it was that we went from producing twenty-something scenes each day to producing fifty or sixty most days. For a period of time, I actually scheduled these days--it wasn't easy, but it was an education in how to make the most of time, and a constant reminder that it was often possible to do more than a day's work in a day.

And so, as I have spent an entire week feeling one day behind in blog posts, I can't help but feel as though I am seven-packing now, as I post my second in a day. Have I gotten ahead enough to go "dark" for a week, or even a day? No way. But for today, just being back on track is enough for me.

Day on the Dayside

I dress in the early hours of the morning, and prepare a lunch that will actually be eaten at lunchtime. I head for the bus with hundreds of people who, like me, are rested, dressed for the day, and ready to work. But for me, today is not just one day like every other day. Today, unlike most any other recent day, I am working dayside, 8-4, to be specific. And after several months of nights and overnights, I am genuinely confused.

I head into the kitchen--wait-people drink coffee at this hour, don't they?

I head to the shower--wait-I took a shower not that long ago, when I was on the back end of a night shift.

I go to get dressed--wait-am I dressing for daytime heat or overnight lack of sleep cold?

I pack a lunch--wait-does lunch look the same as stay awake snacks?

I head to my lobby--yes, Mr. Doorman, I am as confused as you are to see me leaving at this hour.

I walk to the bus stop--wait-I am with a crowd, not alone, and there are many buses coming, not just one or two.

I arrive at work--wait-relieving the overnighters, rather than the other way around.

I take my meal break--wait-I can actually go out, as it is not the dead of night!

My day is done--wait-what? Done? In the middle of the afternoon? Now what do I do?

It is truly amazing how our systems adapt so quickly to our current reality that what was once normal can feel so abnormal. It has been a lovely few hours on the dayside. But it's not so terrible that I'm a little confused. I'll be back at night before it will even matter.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hula Hoop

It's not easy to find a Hula Hoop in New York City. This week, it took thirteen places--thirteen!!--before my daughter and I finally located one. Apparently, what used to be an integral part of summer is not any more. One of the simplest and most entertaining exercises out there (not that I was ever particularly good at it) has been replaced by disks for throwing, and balls for catching, and more versions of "bubble stuff" than you can possibly imagine.

While our Hula Hoop odyssey was finally a success, it was a reminder that sometimes, it is the seemingly easy stuff that is often the hardest. We are used to working hard for what we want to accomplish. We are used to being ambitious and creative, to staying clever and persistent in going after our goals. But we like to believe that there are pieces of life that we can count on--take for granted. We like to believe that we don't have to fight for every piece of life--just the especially significant pieces.

This week, the mysterious scarcity of the Hula Hoop kept us on our toes when we thought we would be kicking back. This week, accomplishing a little thing required the kind of persistence normally reserved for the big things. And I guess sometimes, that's just how life is--we have to look past the shiny bubbles to what we really want. We have to keep walking, even when all we really want to do is put our feet up.

And the world keeps spinning. Just like that elusive Hula Hoop.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Same Monitors, Different Pictures

I have spent the majority of my work life surrounded by video monitors. Whether standard definition or HD, whether on a control room wall or in an edit room, boxes feeding video have been my "wallpaper" for hours on end, so much so that I see in frames and shots and timecode, no matter where I go.

This week, however, I am shockingly aware of how much my monitor view has changed. This week, instead of seeing multiple camera angles of the same dramatic scene, I am seeing (and hearing, on assorted delays) multiple versions of the same news events. Speeches of which I would never have heard more than excerpts, fanfare much fancier than anything from a soap opera set. While I have worked in news for a few years now, this week, I find myself particularly struck by how my monitor view has changed--and yet, really hasn't.

Sure, the stories being told are radically different than those from soap opera stories (or are they? Really?).

Sure, the camera coverage is unbelievably different from anything we ever shot or edited on a soap (though I do recognize the tendency to see big events and stunts over and over from different angles!).

My monitor view is definitely different than it once was. But some days, when I look closer, I realize that maybe it is not that different after all. There are still stories being told, and events being seen from all sides. And while this may be fact and that may have been fiction, there are times when the lines are pretty blurred.

So I continue my life surrounded by monitors. Because there is always a story to tell. No matter which monitors surround you...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Grass Is Greener

In a matter of hours, I have traveled from a world of green fields and tag sales to the world of subways and skyscrapers. I have gone, in a heartbeat, from weekend to work, from away to very much here. 

You might expect melancholy, or even annoyance, as relaxation gives way to responsibility, as freedom gives way to structure. Yet, as I swipe my ID to enter work, I feel little of this. Instead, I feel grateful that this swipe enables the many family activities that happen when I am not here. Instead, I feel lucky to call the shots enough of the time and to be able to pay for the shots most of the time. Instead, I feel good to walk into a place where people know my name and trust my work.

It is true--I have left the green, and the fresh air, and the freedom that was my weekend. But sometimes, the grass really can be greener in the places you least expect. And that other grass? It'll still be there for next time.

Monday, July 18, 2016


I watch people at the gym who lift weights and pull up and push up over and over and effortlessly use those machines that have you move iron bricks that no one should be able to move. And I don't feel very powerful.

I see the people in the fancy suits and the expensive shoes who make a lot more money at a young age than I make at a not-so-young age. And I don't feel very powerful.

I think of all the opportunities that have passed me by when I hesitated or lost confidence or was simply involved elsewhere. And I don't feel very powerful.

But when I go where I want to go and do what I want to do, I feel powerful.

And when I master what I thought I couldn't, I feel powerful.

When I embrace the joyful and brush away the frustrating, I feel powerful.

And when I make personal choices, not just professional ones, I feel powerful.

When I stand up for myself, I feel powerful.

And when I speak up for what I believe, I feel powerful.

It often seems that the power is in someone else's hands. But we can feel powerful if we choose--IF we choose. Because sometimes, power is not about the big things. It's about the little things we can hold in our hands, and decide to handle. So that every day, in almost every situation, we can feel powerful.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Another July 15th

Another One Life to Live anniversary has come and gone, commemorated by multiple "family members" (or would you call them descendants?) posting on Facebook. How often does a place you used to work live on so completely, even after it is gone?

I suppose that in this case, it is not just the workplace, but the work product as well, that lives on. We were a part of two daily stories--the one happening in New York City (and then, for some of us, in Stamford), and the one happening in Llanview. There were days when Llanview was far more exciting than reality, but there were also NY moments that far out-ranked fiction. Ultimately, however, we made up generations of the family that kept it going--some of us there for a long time, others not as long, but all united by the connection.

So, as I read the "happy anniversary" messages, I can't help but feel lucky to have been part of that family, and to carry its legacy with me, even all these years later. Another year has come and gone. We are all a little bit farther from where we "grew up." But it's never too late to celebrate an anniversary with family.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Getting It Straight

Sometimes, a new endeavor requires a few stops and starts before it gets moving.

And sometimes, even older endeavors need rethinking, reworking, adjustment.

Sometimes, a new adventure requires surviving a difficult first day.

And sometimes, even a not so new adventure presents some survival challenges too.

Sometimes, learning a new skill requires stretching your brain to the point of discomfort.

And sometimes, even executing the skills you already have can be a workout.

Sometimes, a week ahead of you seems like a long time.

And sometimes, a week behind you went so fast you couldn't even feel your steps.

And most of the time, it takes more, and yet, less, time than you think to get it straight...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Days of Cake and Parties

Around this time, twenty-some odd years ago, I was finishing Month One in what was to become a many-year stretch at One Life to Live. I'm not sure my feet even touched the ground as I traveled to and from the studio each day. I had happened into my dream job, six days after graduating from college. How was that even possible?

For me, every day was exciting, but in that first month, added to the excitement were assorted staff birthdays (we seemed to have cake every day) and a major show anniversary, complete with a formal party. For a twenty-something, right-out-of-college soap lover, it was truly magical, an experience that few could match.

Jump forward to now--the parties and cakes tend to be the ones I make for my kids, and the formal occasions are few and far between. It is a long time since those "days of cake and parties." But it is also a big distance between the "me" I was then and the "me" I am now. Back then I was soaking in and following instructions. These days, I am much more likely to jump in, and much more likely to question. Back then, work was close to being my whole life. These days, I am careful to make sure there is life alongside the work. 

One could argue that the magic is gone, and perhaps if magic is defined by starry eyes and fancy parties, that would be true. I would argue, however, that magic is not just about parties and cake every day. Magic is what we find when we allow ourselves to enjoy where we are. When we engage and challenge. When we turn what happens to us into what works for us.

Those first months' days of party and cake are long over, but I am learning that there can always be parties and cake--as long as we're willing to take a bite. And take a chance.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Can You Hear Me?

Many control rooms ago, I had to read the lips of a pre-recorded character on screen in order to cue the lines of the character who was being recorded live. While the situation was one born out of a series of mishaps and technical problems, it was not so different from any number of odd, "I've never done that before, but I'll try" situations that came up back then.

Why would an event from so long ago come to mind now? Well, it turns out that lip-reading television is not just an important line on a resume (no, it is NOT really on my resume). It is also a very useful skill when you forget to take your headphones to the gym. And so it was, as I was deciding what would be most interesting in silence--a procedural or a cupcake competition--that I hearkened back to that day of reading lips on control room monitors.

I remember back then coming out of my day exhausted, but unbelievably exhilarated about my having been able to do what others thought was impossible. I remember clearly the feeling of power in believing I could do it, simply because it needed to be done. And this week, as I took my last steps on the elliptical in my silent workout, I couldn't help feeling a similar kind of power. I had considered not exercising at all when I discovered I'd forgotten the headphones. But when, instead, I went with the attitude that the gym should be done, headphones or not, I discovered--or perhaps rediscovered--a talent I'd forgotten. Turns out that I can still read lips (or at least faces). And that that I can pedal through, even when faced with the "I've never done it before's" of life.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Like Riding A Bicycle

It has been twenty years since I rode a non-stationary bicycle. Twenty years--until today.

I never did give away the bicycle from my teen years. It spent over a decade  in storage, then close to another decade in our apartment when the storage room was renovated. Kickstand down, untouched, kind of in the way. Just another item screaming "why don't you just get rid of me already?"

Until today. 

Today, I put the kickstand up and took the bicycle out. I got on, slowly, tentatively, doubtful that the adage "like riding a bicycle" was really true. Would I really remember how to do it? Would I really have the balance or the coordination, even if I still remembered the steps? 

Within moments, I found myself riding around the courtyard outside our building. The pace was slow, and steady--no racing here, but no fear of falling either. As I circled around and around, the breeze wafting through my hair, I discovered that sometimes, life really is "like riding a bicycle" (especially, I suppose, when what you are doing is riding a bicycle). While your skill set must be maintained, the things you have learned don't just evaporate from lack of use. Many of them are still kicking around within you--it's just a matter of pulling them out and choosing to use them.

Today, riding a bicycle was just like, well, riding a bicycle. New, yet oddly familiar. Difficult, yet remarkably simple. So much of what we can do spends years sitting in the corner. It's nice to be reminded that much of it can still be taken out, dusted off, and discovered again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I'm Going

It was mid-morning--past breakfast and before lunch, up for hours, but nowhere near getting the day moving. I waited for progress, for a sign of how the day would go, and what we all might do. And when I was tired of waiting, I said "I'm going to the gym."

Now, such a pronouncement is not a big deal for many people or, perhaps, in most households. For me, however, regular gym attendance comes and goes, and in the times when it comes, it happens "under the radar"--in the early morning, when the house is asleep, or in the middle of a weekday, when everyone is out. There is no asking, or announcing, because there is no need to ask and no one present to whom I would announce. So, today, as the words "I'm going to the gym" came out of my mouth, they felt strange, oddly new, and a little earth-shattering. It's not that anyone blinked really. After, perhaps, a brief pause, they went back to their screens, and I walked out. It was, I imagine, monumental only to me. And when I returned, close to an hour later, the world hadn't shifted. We went on with our day, as we would have, whether I'd gone or not. Nothing had changed. And yet, everything had changed. I hadn't asked, I had stated. I took the time that might have gone to other things or other people, and used it for myself. I grabbed time that was not "under the radar," but right out in the open. And when I came back, I think I was walking (and not just because of the elliptical) just a little differently.

Sometimes, it is on us not to ask. Sometimes, it is up to us to say "I'm going," no matter where it is that we are going. Sometimes, that's the only way to get anywhere.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Turning The Clock

Today, instead of working overnight, I worked all the hours BUT the overnight. I arrived as the overnighters left, and I left shortly before they returned. I slept at home, at night, but worked all day. And when day was done, I literally forced myself to sleep. I guess that's how it is when you turn the clock on yourself.

It was unquestionably nice to sleep in my own bed at night. It was unquestionably nice to feel as though if I needed to, I could go outside during my breaks (which I wouldn't do at 3am!). But I think the nicest thing of all was the realization that I COULD do it--that I am still flexible enough and adaptable enough to turn the clock or the place or the situation on myself and still be able to function, and function well.

Perhaps what we seek each day is stability--financial stability, logistical stability, psychological stability. We like there to be patterns, so that we know what to do, and how to do it, where to go, and when to get there. But life doesn't always come with stability. More often, it comes with constant change, and the need for constant adaptation. If we are to survive, then, and survive well, we must be able to manage the changes and work well within them. Today showed me that I can do that, and do it effectively. It reminded me that whatever time it is, whether I am coming or going, I can manage the turning of the clock. And when we can do that, we have a good chance of making good use of our hours--no matter what time it is.

Saturday, July 9, 2016


If you are the only family member called upon to find things in the refrigerator, does that make you a specialist?

If you are the designated go-to person for all things snack-related (healthy and non-healthy), does that make you a specialist?

If the name called in a crisis is almost always yours, does that make you a specialist?

If you are the keeper of the calendar and the human version of everyone's electronic datebook, does that make you a specialist?

If you choose to spend more time on the tasks you like than the ones that just annoy you, does that make you a specialist?

If you are always the one who makes the appointment phone calls and the complaint phone calls and the "why is this like this?" phone calls, does that make you a specialist?

Who knew that Mom, the ultimate generalist, could be a specialist as well?! Just wondering--is "specialist" a higher pay grade??

Friday, July 8, 2016

That Final Hour

One could argue that the first few hours of any day are the most telling--that what happens in those few hours sets the tone for the whole day. Sometimes, I would agree. On the days when I accomplish the laundry or the gym early, I figure that if I do nothing else, I have at least done that. It is easy, then, to write off a day that doesn't start so well, a day on which you can't even seem to get moving, or doing, or even thinking straight. But, as I find out almost daily (perhaps multiple times daily when I am working nights), writing those days off can be a big mistake, becomes sometimes what takes a while to start makes for the biggest finish...

Hours 1-8: Work, which, I suppose could be argued, starts the day already with the accomplishment of doing something and earning money. (Perhaps I am actually off the hook for the day.)

Hours 8-9: Travel, which can be the most productive hour of the day, or the least, depending on your mode of transport and your tolerance for noise and crowds.

Hours 9-11: Sleep, a perhaps necessary pause, that either enables the rest of the day (if you wake up refreshed) or obliterates it (if you wake up fuzzy in the head).

Hours 11-?: Okay, what's it gonna be--a bucket of things done, or a stretch that ends with wondering where the day went? A time span the rests on the laurels of those first few hours, or a set of minutes that defines the day?

It could be argued that the first few hours define a day, but with so many hours left, some days simply can't be judged until hour 12, or hour 16, or even hour 22. So, we keep doing, and trying, and looking. Because you can't always tell, until that final hour...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Camp Mom

Camps all over the city and bus rides away in the country start their days early in the morning, preparing sports lessons and water games and arts and crafts. At the moment, my kids are not attending any of them. Early in the morning, as I am approaching the end of an overnight, I too am starting early, preparing for what will be today's version of "Camp Mom."

Camp Mom is not nearly as organized as most of the operations around, but it has flexible start and end times, and a rainy day backup plan.

Camp Mom is not usually as sweat-producing as most of the places around, but its campers are still active, just in other ways.

Camp Mom doesn't include brown bag lunches or afternoon Popsicles, but its participants eat well, and regularly.

Camp Mom doesn't provide the much needed 9 to 4 break for Mom, but it provides hours of time for its campers and their "counselor" to see each other in action.

Camp Mom isn't for the faint of heart (or, perhaps, for the small of child), but it is a welcome reminder that summers weren't always non-stop activity.

Camp Mom, while not planned back in February or even in June, is just as much summer as any expensive week in the city or the country. It's simply summer one day, and one minute, at a time. Courtesy of its intrepid campers. And an offbeat work schedule. Oh, and the counselor of the day--Mom.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

For Today

For today, if a little less sleep means a little more time appreciating my out-of-school kids, I will sleep a little less.

For today, if working nights means being able to control my days, I will happily teach myself to make night into day.

For today, if peanut butter feels good and chocolate feels even better, you will see me eating them right alongside my fruits and veggies.

For today, if "yes" is safe and easy, and "no" isn't really necessary, I will let things fall as they may.

For today, if I get to the gym, I am happy. If I stay five minutes longer than yesterday, I am even happier.

For today, if there is success, on any front, I am successful.

For today, failure is just temporary.

For today, today is enough. Tomorrow will be another day...

Monday, July 4, 2016

Independent's Day

My day began early, with a shift that literally started Independence Day. But then, as if to confirm what day it was, my day began again, with coffee with a friend.

I didn't actually drink coffee--that is hard to do on the bridge between a night up and a day that requires sleep. But as I talked, and listened, no coffee in my hand, I suddenly appreciated the independence I was enjoying. For, while I might have had freer July 4ths in my life, in that moment, I had already worked and had the rest of my day ahead of me. In that moment, I was sitting with a friend who didn't care what I looked like after a night/day of work, didn't care whether I drank coffee or not, didn't care whether I was one hundred percent coherent or not. In that moment, I had a kind of freedom that all the years of dark studio July 4ths didn't necessarily buy.

Sometimes, we find a bit of freedom in the funniest places. For me, today, independence was a job done, and a hand with no coffee, a little time with a friend, and a whole day stretching out in front of me. And that, this year, made for a very happy Independence Day.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Four Dollar Risk

I have never tried it before, but the sign on the grocery shelf announces that it is the low price of four dollars. It is a fantastic price, if I like it, or a total waste if I don't. It is a risk. And before I know it, the four dollar item is in my cart.

I am not a risk-taker by nature. I have rarely been the one on the high dive, and I was the child who spent hours in the toy store making sure I spent my birthday gift money just the right way. 

But four dollars is a risk I can manage, at least today. As I blithely take that risk, I can't help but think of my days between jobs, when I would have hesitated to spend four dollars on a sure thing, much less, a risk. As I happily accept the chance that I will have wasted my time, money, and trust, I can't help but think of times when all I have wanted was a sure thing.

But life is full of all sorts of risks, and not that many sure things. That doesn't mean we have to climb all the diving boards and gamble all our savings. But when we can take that four dollar risk, when we can take a chance that may open our minds or expand our view, whether in a culinary way or in a more significant way, isn't the risk worth it? When we are not so trapped by circumstances that we avoid any risk, doesn't it feel good to allow ourselves that little risk once in a while?

The coming days will tell me whether my four dollar risk was a worthwhile one, or a waste of my money and time. But I can say already that taking a little risk--when I am able--makes life a little more interesting.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Doing Right By

Does it ever feel as though you are spending your days "doing right by" rather than "making the most of?" Are you "doing right by" your job, or your spouse, or your children (and not just your children as a group, but each child individually)? "Making the most of" can be a challenge, but "doing right by" can be an even more daunting goal.

When you "make the most of," you are simply grasping whatever is out there and appreciating it or working toward it. But if you are trying to "do right by," you can't just grasp--you have to consider how your grasping will affect those around you.

When you "make the most of," you are often looking for the best or the most. But if you are trying to "do right by," the best and the most may be less important than the best for a particular person or the most equitable.

When you "make the most of," your goals feel at least slightly universal--smelling the flowers, tasting the food, experiencing the events. But if you are trying to "do right by," the goals change with each person or job in your life.

When you "make the most of," you can often feel you have accomplished something. But if you are trying to "do right by," it is remarkably easy to feel you have missed the mark.

It is not surprising that we want to do as much as we can as we travel through life. The trick, as I see it, is balancing our attempts to "make the most of" with our responsibility (or just our desire) to "do right by." So that, when all is said and done, we will have made, and given, the most that we possibly can.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rules of Engagement

I have heard the word "engagement" over and over these last few days. It is clearly very important to my daughter's college that I engage with it, that she engages within it, and that she and I engage with each other about it.

I am exaggerating a bit. I heard about a lot more than engagement. But it is definitely a priority not only that students and families get involved with what is going on, but that they invest their hearts in it as well. It is not enough just to "do the work." The goal is to make connections, to form bonds, to establish a real caring for the processes, the activities, and the people.

As I have heard the word over and over, I have been wondering why it seems so new to me. I have been part of many workplaces and organizations before--should this really be so different? As I look back on the places I've been, though, I recall a lot of working hard, and being a team player (or a star), and getting the job done. But did anyone ever really know or care whether my coworkers or I were engaged? If we did what needed to be done, was that really all that mattered?

I would venture to say that "engagement" is more of a talking point in professions and workplaces other than mine, and having heard so much about it these last few days, I am glad about that. It is one thing to work hard, but if you are truly engaged, don't you work better? It is one thing to be able to get along with your coworkers, but if you are truly engaged with their goals and interests, don't you make their time, and your own, more productive and satisfying?

A field or a workplace doesn't change overnight, but I am encouraged to see that the workers of the future (and we, their parents) are being taught that engagement, not just hard work, matters. The rules of engagement are changing, and I think I like this new game.