Tuesday, February 28, 2017

You're The Boss, Right?

In a conversation with one of the handymen in my building, he told me that his "weekend" (a midweek two-day break) would start soon. "My schedule," I told him, "is different every week." 

"Well, you're the boss, right?" he asked, to which I laughed, "No. Not even close." Not that it mattered that much to him, but I think he was genuinely surprised.

There was a time, a long time ago, when I would have thought that by now, I would be the boss. There was a time, less long ago, when I was out of work and thought I might be my own boss. But years pass, and things happen, and bills have to be paid and kids have to be raised. And today, all these years later, I am nowhere near being the boss.

I could have walked away from this conversation feeling like a failure. After all, there were years when I seemed to be moving up, when I made mental lists of people I'd hire when I was in charge. There was clearly a time when I thought I might someday be the boss. So, maybe, some part of me did have a feeling I'd failed. But I also had a feeling of success. Because, despite the ups and downs, and the changes and the needs, I might not be the boss of anything, but I am making it work, much as the handyman does each day. Someday, perhaps I will make use of that mental list of people I would hire. For now, I am the boss of nothing, except maybe myself (well, at least some days).

And for today, I guess that's enough. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Back Into Darkness

I step out into the night to resume my schedule of overnight shifts. Though it has been just a week away, I have gotten used enough to sleeping in darkness that it is an adjustment. But, then, isn't most of life an adjustment of one sort or another?

The doormen, both at home and at work, welcome me back. I have had my requisite pre-work nap (not to mention a week of catch-up sleep). Perhaps nothing really prepares a person, but I have done what I can, even if my face says otherwise.

And then I arrive at my work station. And somehow, what has felt abnormal on my trip to work begins to feel normal, maybe even more normal than my days on a vacation time clock. Staying awake all night may not be easy, but it is the job that my body currently knows, and there is an odd comfort in that, as if I am a peg, finally returned to its proper hole.

My life in darkness will not last forever--it is simply a step along the continuing path. But for now, it is a step into familiarity. And sometimes, that which is familiar becomes that which is comfortable. Even when it's far from the place you thought you'd be--and the time you thought you'd be there.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hard Soft Landing

Returning to where you began is rarely easy. You want it to be comfortingly the same, yet excitingly better. You want the feeling of being away to continue and the feeling of being connected to reappear. And there is no way that any place, even if you left it in pristine condition (which we never manage to do), can live up to all of that.

So we return, to real life from vacation. We return, from walks on the beach to homework and laundry. We return, from days that spread in front of us to days that fly by while we are just trying to keep up.

It's no accident that the going goes along with a plane taking off. Even if the airport is tricky and the seats aren't comfortable, there is a feeling of climbing up to something unknown, of reaching for something beyond our everyday. While the return may include a takeoff, it is the landing that really means something--the return from flying, the process of putting our feet back on the ground, and walking the walk that our everyday life requires.

It was a twisty, turny flight, with a hard soft landing. It is, perhaps, never easy to return to reality, even when that reality is actually pretty darn okay. But in order to take off, we must be willing to land. And when we land, the best we can do is just keep walking...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Final Boarding Call

At the gate with time to spare, time for snacks, time to reflect on a week away and a return to normality, we were remarkably unruffled by the stresses of air travel--the taking off of shoes and the filling of bins and the management of bags through assorted terrains and temperatures. Unruffled, until that moment in the jetway, between the terminal and the plane, when suddenly, a jacket was missing. Not a generic, buy for the trip, jacket, but a commemorative, can't get it ever again, jacket. And before I knew it, I had sailed past the agent checking boarding passes to that row of seats where we had sat so unruffled for all that time. There were other unruffled people, and the other people's bags. And among them, no jacket. And a plane that would be leaving, and a me that was not on it. And so, with a look on my face of stress and despair and end-of-vacation motherhood, I started back toward the gate agent. But as I glanced back in hopelessness, a tall man in a checked shirt was holding up a jacket. And in the folds of black in his hand, I saw the orange and yellow of a logo. And in a split second, on feet I hadn't even told to move, I was taking the jacket from him, repeating, practically through tears, "That's it, that's it! Thank you so much!" And then I ran to the gate, never to see this "save the day" stranger again. Until it turned out that he had the seat right next to ours. There were more thank you's, and then the silence that exists between strangers. And the better, but not as unruffled as before, knowledge that the jacket was in the bag under the seat in front of me.

Sometimes, life's drama comes in the most mundane of places. And yet, if we're lucky, just in time to answer that final boarding call...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Have Shoes, Will Travel

In preparation for our vacation, I tried to buy warm-weather shoes. Yet, driven by the secure feeling of my New York City sneakers and boots, and the lovely thought of a suitcase not weighed down with extra things, I traveled with only the high top sneakers on my feet--not easy to take off at airport security, and not particularly attractive with shorts and among palm trees, but comfortable, and comforting--a feeling of the known in the midst of the unknown.

And so, wherever I have gone, I have worn those shoes, only once or twice looking down and regretting my decision not to bring something more. I have just worn them--to go to the theater, to walk on trails, to walk to the pool. Everywhere, until we got to the beach.

Now, the taking off of my shoes at the beach was a no-brainer--there was no way I was going to risk having my favorite shoes--not to mention the only shoes I had with me--be covered in sand or saltwater. But, as I walked along the beach barefoot, shoes in hand, through soft sand and rocky sand and wet from the waves sand, I realized that my one pair of shoes had been enough. When it was worth it--in lovely sand I could not experience at home--I was perfectly prepared--all I needed was my bare feet. And the taking off and carrying of my shoes was well worth it. And for everything else, the me I was comfortable with, shoes and all, was enough. I may not have been the most attractive person at the mall, at the theater, on the boardwalk, but did that really matter? And why should it, any more on vacation than in our day-to-day lives? If we cannot be ourselves on vacation, then what purpose has our vacation really served?

I will head home soon with the memories of my toes in the sand and my feet, in comfortable shoes, in all sorts of other places. And I will be happy to know that whether on vacation or at home, my feet can be firmly planted on the ground, reminding me to be the me I want to be.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Same Destination, Different Vacations

It is becoming clear that when our family vacation is over, there will be several entirely different accounts of it. Because going to the same place doesn't really mean that a group has the same vacation experience. It doesn't even really mean that everyone saw the same things. What, after all, is vacation? Well, it depends on who you are.

My vacation story will include sites seen, but will also feature foods eaten and hours slept. For me, vacation will have been about a break from normal schedules and routines, about sleeping at night, choosing more of the steps in my day, and seeing a different view out my window.

My kids' vacation stories will likely start with the (sort-of) absence of schoolwork, and the ability to stay up later. They might include the outdoor experiences very different from our normal city environs (either for their natural beauty or for their interaction with particular video games), and foods they wouldn't necessarily eat at home. And they will almost certainly touch on the places we didn't go, because what kind of kid wouldn't need to speak his or her mind, at least a little.

Before we know it, we will be done with vacation, telling our stories, and then watching them fade into the woodwork as we return to normal existence. Will this be a week that remains in our memory, or just a blip in a busy life? Will certain pieces stay with us for years, and call us back next time?

The stories--all of them--are still unfolding, so, hard to know for sure yet how they will be told...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ninety Percent

Among the perks of a vacation in suburbia is the opportunity to visit suburban size stores, where lower real estate prices allow for larger inventory and, therefore, larger post-holiday sales. Suffice it to say, we will be returning home with far more post-Valentine's valentine candy than we probably need. But, at 90% off, who can resist?

As I sampled one of the 90% off candies, I began to consider the effects of the 90%. For the store, it meant an opportunity to make room for the next set of products, even if that meant losing money on the ones being sold at such a discount. For us, it meant buying items that might not be worth it to us full price, and more than what we might otherwise. It meant feeling as though we had gotten something special, both rescued from certain destruction and transferred to us because we happened to be in just the right place at just the right time.

In life, 90% is pretty good, but not perfect, giving it something, but not quite your all. But, in the context of a sale, 90% is about the best you can do--definitely worth looking at, and almost certainly worth acting on. So, for today, ninety percent sounds pretty good to me. When vacation is over, there will be lots of time to aspire to 100%. But, because of the 90, will be munching on some yummy treats while we do it.

Monday, February 20, 2017

On A Jet Plane

All our bags are packed...
(Well, at least as long as we're going someplace where we can buy what we forgot.)
We're ready to go...
(Well, as ready as we non-frequent fliers ever are.)
This flying thing presents an interesting dynamic for us--
Rarely, these days, are we all going to the same place at the same time (rarely are we all even AWAKE at the same time!)
Rarely, these days, are we called upon to be quite so interdependent--relying on each other for everything from holding documents to retrieving each other's shoes from the security conveyer belt.
Rarely, these days, do we sit together in such confined spaces (and wow, are those airplane seats confined spaces!)
We are still ourselves, with our particular interests and our own electronic devices.
We are still ourselves, with our own choices about snacks and drinks.
We are still who we always are, yet, we are different--in among strangers, and perhaps because of that, more attached to those we know.
And maybe, that's what a family vacation is all about, no matter where you go. It's about being "together" in different ways than you're used to. It's about working together, simply to make it through. It's about managing individual interests while preserving the group interests that will make the trip work.
We leave on a jet plane, knowing full well when we will be back again, and knowing that when we return, we will be just a little different than when we left...

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Do As I Say...

There are days when I'd rather be surfing my Facebook than working the elliptical. So, can I fault my kids for enjoying Pokemon and YouTube as much as tennis and baseball?

I choose chocolate over cauliflower far too often. So, can I blame my kids for being attracted to the Cupcake ATM?

I dig my heels in to finish what I've started. So, can I blame my kids for wanting "one more minute"?

I don't always have the attention span to read a less than exciting book or stay awake through a less than exciting movie. So, can I really fault my kids for being less than engaged in homework that is not engaging?

I am skeptical more often than I'd like to be, and wary for my own protection. So, is it so surprising that my kids don't follow instructions blindly "because I say so"?

One of the most challenging parts of parenthood is being able to give the best of yourself without letting your "not so best" rub off on your kids, of sharing who you are without sharing some of the things you'd rather not be. I suppose, then, that the best parents simply try to teach their kids to know the difference. So, that's what I'm trying. So, please, children, do as I say--at least some of the time--and not everything--only some things--as I do.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Natasha, Pierre, and Nick

I had the opportunity to see "Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812" this week, and was excited to see Nick Choksi, one of the funniest actors I ever worked with on One Life to Live, in a featured role. Now, I realize that for most people, seeing Josh Groban in the show would be the attraction. Yet, while I don't mean to take any credit from him or the rest of the cast, I couldn't help focusing on the performance of someone with whom I'd worked, and wondering about the varied roles an actor plays over the course of a career.

For many a New York actor, One Life (or one of the other soaps that was once here) was just a brief stopping point--one gig among many--so that when the soaps went away, there were simply fewer places to work. For others, the soaps became a much longer-lasting endeavor, perhaps punctuated by other gigs, but fairly central to existence. Either way, the genre played a key role for many a New York actor. And when it went away, actors, like the rest of us, simply had to focus on other areas. Like the rest of us, they landed all over, demonstrating that where we were together was simply a stop along the way. As satisfying as it always was for me while I was working in soaps to see "one of our own" turn up on Broadway or on a prime time show, it is perhaps even more satisfying now, because it reminds me that life goes on in all sorts of big ways.

In the case of Nick, this is perhaps nothing so new. But when I see him, or any other actor with whom I was privileged to share the soap studio, I can't help but clap a little louder. I am reminded that, for us all, there is way more than one life to live...

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Wisest Use Of Time

There was a time when I had hours for coffee and conversation. These days, more often, it's an email or a "hello" on the run.

There was a time when there were stretches of time to think great thoughts, write new words, discover uncharted paths. These days, the brain has to work faster, my pen has to move quicker, my strides have to be longer.

There was a time when I wondered about "down the road," planned for "something different," looked for change. These days, I gulp today, celebrate right now, leave the future to the future.

There was a time when I had hours for coffee and conversation, great thoughts, and all sorts of plans. And maybe those were glorious days. But making the most of a moment of silence or an email or a quick "hello"--that is perhaps my wisest use of time...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Can't Go Back

After days of trying to catch up from a backlog born of twelve hour days and political bewilderment, I found myself thinking about the years and experiences that gave birth to this blog. For, while I have glanced back and shared memories of what my life once was, I have prided myself on looking not back, but forward, on not bemoaning the losses of the past, but rather, using those losses to propel me into the future.

And so, after days of trying to catch up, I realized that in looking backward, I was missing what was happening right in front of me. In trying to catch up, I was just putting myself farther behind.

In life, we don't like to leave gaps. We want the blanks to be filled, the road we travel to be paved. But when we focus too much on filling the gaps, we run the risk of creating bigger ones.

It is easy to wish we could go back and fix all the things we didn't do or should have done differently. But we can't go back. We can really only move forward. And when we make peace with the gaps of the past, moving forward becomes far easier. And when we look forward, the mistakes of our past can remain just that--mistakes of our past. We can't go back. So we may as well go forward.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Remembrance Of Things Past

In a different place, a friend from a different time is going through the same experience as I am. In a different time, we traveled in the same circles, and in different circles, we grew and changed. At the same time, we are passing through different experiences of similar lives. While we walk similar paths, we walk to different places...or are they really the same?

As time passes, we can't help but commit to our own paths, focus on our own steps, live our own lives. Yet, once in a while, we are reminded of the people who began the walk beside us, and the places where we started. We can't go back. We can't change the path we have taken, nor would we necessarily choose to. But it is comforting to remember. It is enlightening to see the footprints. And it is encouraging to know that making different ways, we have all arrived safely.

In a different place, a different time, we started on the same path, and all these years later, we are far apart, yet closer than you'd think. I guess you never really know when you start on a path where it will lead...

Sunday, February 12, 2017

And...Snow Day

Following the hourly weather forecast in the middle of the night is a funny thing. But when you go to work in the aftermath of a sixty-degree day, not a flake in sight, there is a certain fascination...

By the time I was heading home, it was clear the weather service had done well--wet snow, low visibility, slow going. I had actually anticipated an extended work day--after years of One Life to Live when people hadn't been able to make it in, I was sure I'd be spending my day cutting snow feeds from all over and texting with my kids about Mac and cheese. Instead, I was heading home, as if on a normal day--sleep, sleep, and more sleep.

It is not so easy to sleep with a house full of people.

There were people reveling in the non-normal of a snow day, people wanting to do, to talk, to see. And there was me, just wanting to sleep. Which I didn't. And then did. And then didn't.

It's amazing how quickly we make a new normal normal. For me, an empty house and a morning nap have become my normal, as much as early wake-ups and school are for my kids, as much as early to bed for early morning work once was. And when normal is interrupted, as on a snow day, it can make for euphoria, or it can make for exhaustion. This time, for me, the exhaustion won out.

I have spent too many years living with the excitement of a snow day not to be intrigued each time one becomes a possibility. But I hope it's a while till the next one. This "new normal" me is still recovering.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Snow Night

The forecast had stayed pretty specific. We knew, as well as you can know anything about the weather, that there would be snow. The question was, would there be school? As it turned out, by dinner time, we knew that too--school was cancelled for the following day before kids even went to bed.

Now, given the forecast, this was probably not so earth-shattering. Yet, for years, the years when my kids were too young to stay alone, and I worked countless daytime hours (especially on a snow day, when my commuting co-workers couldn't get there), the announcement of school or not came in the wee morning hours. I might wake at 4 and 4:30 and 5 to check, but if the white stuff wasn't already blinding, you never really knew till you knew. So, at 5:30 am, there were "who can stay home" looks, and "how will our sitter get here" conversations, and in general, a whole lot of chaos at a very early hour.

And so it was that this week's night-before "schools closing" announcement shocked me, not only because of its parent-friendly timing, but also because of the degree to which it suddenly mattered a lot less to me than it once did. Suddenly (though, I suppose, not so suddenly), my kids are old enough to fend for themselves for a while. Suddenly (though, I suppose, not so suddenly), we don't have to worry about a sitter having to travel. And suddenly (though, I suppose, not so suddenly), I am actually home during the day anyway. Not necessarily so coherent after a night's work, but home. 

We forget sometimes that as things around us change, we are changing too. Suddenly, the things that mattered so much are just a blip on the radar. Suddenly, the way we once thought has given way to the way that we now think daily.

I was still grateful for the early "snow day" announcement, because I know how much it matters in a great many households, and because I remember how much it once mattered in mine. And because though I may have been at work when the snow began to fall, the rest of my family got not just the snow day, but the sleeping in day that only a night-before announcement can give. Sometimes a snow night is just as great as a snow day...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Getting The Job

When I moved on from soap work to work in other genres, I rewrote my resume constantly. I understood that my skill set wouldn't necessarily be obvious to employers in other genres, but I believed that with some explanation and proper presentation, I could get past that. Turned out, it was a harder road than I thought. I began to joke that people were saying "you've only worked on 42 minute shows, but we have a 41 minute show--how could you possibly know how to do THAT?"

I had some good interviews and some awful ones. I was reminded daily how much I didn't know and how little what I did know was worth to some people. And over and over, I worked to prove myself.

When I woke up from my midday post-work nap earlier this week to find out about the confirmation of a cabinet appointee with a resume not even close to fitting the position and a televised "interview" that made some of my worst interviews look darn good, I was more shocked than I probably should have been. The voices of opposition had not been enough to change the course of events as I thought they might be able to. My kids and countless other children and families would be paying the price. And perhaps almost as shattering, a job candidate who was ill-suited for the job AND woefully unprepared for her interview had gotten the gig, as if none of those things mattered.

Obviously, my horror at the injustice of the hiring process is the least of the concerns here. But in the context of "you've only done 42 minute shows," this was an assault not just on the educational system, but on the labor system as well. For the common person, qualifications and preparation would matter. For the common person, respect for the system and the people affected by it would matter. But here, only money and politics mattered.

There have been, and will continue to be, many reminders that what we, as workers and as re-inventors of ourselves, go through isn't expected of those with money and power, that the standards that should matter are waved when it's convenient. As people who had more expected of us, we should expect more. And as people who fought through the letters and the resumes and the interviews, we shouldn't stop fighting for dedication, preparation, humility, and respect (for those interviewing us, and for those we will serve), to count. That's what should matter in getting the job--and getting the job done.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

More Than Nothing

I tried to write about politics, but I didn't feel qualified.

I tried to write about how current events made me feel, but I felt guilty for not doing enough to change them.

I tried to write with outrage, but I was embarrassed that I didn't back it up with action.

I tried to write about dismay, but it made me feel weak.

I tried to write about disbelief, but it made me feel foolish for believing.

I tried to write about admiring certain people, but it felt inadequate.

I tried to write about being disgusted by other people, but it felt ineffective.

And then I just decided to write--write something. Because something is at least more than nothing...

Monday, February 6, 2017

From A Different Angle

I may be frustrated with my latest goose chase. But it's hard to stay that way when I find myself staring across the water at the Statue of Liberty.

Out my high floor window, I can see rain and police cars and slow-moving traffic. But I can also see the moon on a clear night and fireworks on a summer Sunday.

The kitchen is full of dirty dishes and pots and pans to be scrubbed. But my belly is full of my husband's latest gourmet meal or my daughter's newest baked goodie.

My days (or nights) are consumed with hours at work and traveling to and from. But when I want to treat myself or one of my kids, I don't have to count the pennies.

I've lost a number of jobs over the years, due to cancellations, and non-renewals, and work politics. But I wouldn't be where I am or who I am now if I hadn't lost what I had then.

Life can look all sorts of ways when you see it from a different angle...

The Way We Were

This weekend, I had occasion to watch the Hallmark Channel's Home and Family All My Children memorial reel, put together as part of their All My Children reunion show. It took me back--not just to my soap career, but to the years before, when I was simply a soap fan, possibly dreaming of a career, but mostly just enjoying the daily stories. Every face there was a face from my younger life, and it was hard to believe that they were all gone, some for many years, some only recently. As it was All My Children, not One Life to Live, I hadn't worked with most of them personally, but I couldn't help feeling as though they had been a part of my life.

I was struck by how powerful the short montage was. I suppose we are all affected by an emotional song, and it had that. And given the number of years I was immersed in the genre, I suppose sentimentality is not surprising. But I guess what really struck me was how vividly I remembered the stories--not just my working in the genre, but the stories the genre told. They were immersive, and inviting, both when I was a viewer, and when telling those stories was my daily work. It was a reminder that the work was not just work. It was a reminder that I really did get to live out a childhood dream.

Some days, memories feel like just memories--snippets of time long past. And some days, they bring back the feelings that once accompanied them--time with family or friends, a sense of belonging, the ambition and aspiration that can't help but change as we get older. So, maybe the song for the montage was not simply a piece of music moving me--it was exactly what it said--a small, and very welcome, glimpse of "the way we were."

Sunday, February 5, 2017

By Definition

Fuzz keeps you cozy--but also has to be cleared from your head before you go to work.

Rest is a welcome respite from all you do in your day--but is also the bunch of stuff still left to do.

Watch means you can sit back and observe--but is also the thing that keeps you on a schedule.

Fix can make things better--or it can stack things against you.

Editing is supposed to highlight the best stuff--but sometimes requires losing some of the good stuff.

Stuffed may mean chock-full--but sometimes it leaves a person uncomfortable.

Socks cushion your path--but can deliver a tough blow.

Done offers a feeling of accomplishment--but may end up leaving you exhausted.

A start is sometimes just a beginning--but sometimes, it's the fright of your life.

Thread can often fix a tear--but even more often, it is what keeps you connected to your past and future.

By definition, words are not always what they seem...so it's important to keep looking for meaning...

Friday, February 3, 2017

Groundhog Day

Among the perks of working in a news environment in the early morning hours is the ability, on February 2nd, to witness multiple hours of Groundhog Day festivities. Never (except, of course, in the movie of the same name) have I seen so much dancing around a tree stump by so many people, both wearing top hats and wearing big-eyed, buck-toothed caps. And the pulling out of the groundhog and having a conversation with him before reading a poetic proclamation from a scroll--well, let's just say, that never gets old.

Obviously, it is ridiculous that we believe that the groundhog's seeing his shadow or not in that specific place on this specific day determines how much longer we will be dealing with winter. And perhaps few of us really believe--we simply enjoy the tradition, the ritual of it all. It gives some sense of normalcy to a life that, even more so these days than most, feels anything but normal.

As I strung together the groundhog highlights to send out to stations across the country, I thought happily about the movie (would I really want to repeat this day?!) and about the fact that in the midst of all kinds of change, some things, odd as they are, remain the same.

And thus ends Groundhog Day 2017...

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The Fine Print

Courtesy of my daughters and social media, I took the ankle express in search of a Broadway deal. Problem was, when the ankles reached their destination, I found that all my planning and walking were for naught, as the deal was limited to days that were completely impossible for us. Note to self--"next time, read the fine print."

Now, a long walk in the city on a nice day is not a terrible thing. Given the nature of my day-to-day life, which includes sleep deprivation and around-the-clock meals, a little back door exercise is actually a gift. So, the day's misadventure was simply that--a misadventure. A waste of time, perhaps, but no disaster.

Our lives are full of fine print potholes. If we are not careful, we can end up blowing both time and money because we haven't read the fine print. We want so much to believe the big print that we are off and running before we've checked the facts. Sometimes, like today, our omission results in a little side benefit, like some unscheduled exercise. More often (including, I'll admit, some moments today), the result is disappointment, and frustration, and the feeling that the world is not quite what we thought.

Today's theater deal was not meant to be--it was an endeavor shattered by the words I didn't bother to read. Next time, I'll make sure that even on a tiny handheld screen, I read the fine print.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Just Me

It used to be that I was surrounded by other parents--those out of work, or work-from-home, or stay-at-home, or just somehow around. We'd talk, or not, but there were a lot of us, using (or killing) the time while we waited for our kids.

These days, mostly it's just me. I am neither unemployed (as I once was) nor work-from-home or stay-at-home. I'm just here.

Perhaps everyone else's circumstances have changed--mine certainly have since the days when I raced in from work. Or perhaps our kids are just older, more independent, less needing of our presence, and I simply haven't quite realized that yet.

So, I sit, just me, using time, or killing it, wondering if I am lucky to be here, or crazy to stay so close, wondering when "just me" will turn into "not even me."

"Just me" can be a little lonely. We want to know that we have company, that we fit, that our choices are like others' choices. But that's not always possible. Sometimes, to do what we want to and to be who we would like to be, we have to accept--and embrace--"just me." Because there's a time to do what others are doing. And there's a time to make a different choice--one that sometimes calls for "just me."