The Blog

“Are you prepared for the disappointment if you don’t get this job?”

It was a question from my sister, who knew I was going after “the big one,” the one that could change everything.

“I’m not prepared,” I admitted. “I’ll be crushed.”

I was so proud of that! I was leaving myself open to heartbreak, which I’ve since decided is the secret to life. You won’t get everything you want, but not letting yourself want it is an express ticket to “oh, the hell with life” land.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing a few people who love with so much abandon I’m sure they’re in for a world of hurt. Not everyone will love them back as fiercely.

But what’s the alternative? Talking them into holding back a bit? Not in a million.

A broken heart can teach you a lot. You’re alive, you’ll survive, and a bigger life is worth it.

What are you doing?
August 20, 2018

You’ve done all the right things. You enrolled your child in swimming lessons, paid for them, arranged for transportation to and from. On the last day of those lessons you took time off work to watch the big graduation ceremony. Your child was so excited to show you what he’s learned.

Your beloved climbs out of the pool, huffing and puffing and so proud of himself. He looks up at you and dies a little inside. Because you weren’t looking at him. You were looking at your phone.

Yeah, I know. That kind of parent probably isn’t reading this post or the article that inspired it.

Maybe we need a “please pay attention to your children” suggestion before the proceedings get underway, almost like the announcements before a movie or a play. Wouldn’t it be great if parents took that to heart?

They’d break fewer hearts. I’m sure of it.

“Do you ever try adding foods back into your diet one at a time,” a friend once asked, “like people do when testing for allergies?”

“Oh, yes,” I told her.

The Willpower WorkaroundI continue to experiment. I recently tried adding sugarless gum to the mix. I remember getting home after a late-night grocery run, unwrapping and chewing every single stick -- in quick succession! -- from a big pack. That’s how much I craved those hits of even fake sugar. This is not how I want to spend my free time. So I thought, “Nope. Not even sugarless gum.”

Maybe you’ve heard the suggestion, offered in twelve-step programs, to admit you’re powerless over alcohol or whatever it is. That was a big turning point for me. I’m no match for sugar, and acknowledging it makes life easier. “Sugar is crack,” I often tease people (except I’m not really teasing). “Just say no.”

Do you like cheese?
August 17, 2018

I’d been eating in eight-hour windows, daily, for months. Which meant I was fasting for sixteen hours a day, every day. And sure enough, my hair was getting thinner. My face looked thinner, too.

The scale said 114. Not good.

Overnight I asked the heavens what to do about this and I woke up with an undeniable craving for -- it was more like a calling for -- cheese. I need the protein and I need the fat. So I added cheese back into my diet after going without it for several years, and stick mostly to Parmesan.

I don’t like looking gaunt, and I love my thick hair. The cheese solved both problems immediately. I gained a few pounds. Just enough.

The cost was microbial confusion. The only break I’d taken from my junk-food free diet was in Europe a few years ago. I ate a lot of cheese and ice cream and everything else I’d been denying myself. Now that cheese was part of The Plan, I started looking at a box of Twinkies with the tiniest hint of a question mark.

Then I remembered what’s probably always and only been the problem, which is sugar.

How big of a problem? You’ll find out tomorrow.

One benefit of being a small company (a “mom and pop,” literally) is that when we need to take a meeting, we take a meeting. We don’t have to ask an assistant to ask someone else’s assistant to schedule one. No calendar invites. We turn around in our office chair and ask the other person, “Do you have a minute?”

One thing we’ve noticed is how often our meetings start about noon. They sometimes go a while, too -- which is unusual for us. Or not, once we remember what’s really going on: “Running avoidance.”

We run in the middle of the day as a break from the screens, but in the winter it’s such a project to dress warmly enough. As much of a hassle as that is, it’s more fun than running in the heat. Heat means sweat. Sticky. Sticky sweat. Yuck.

So after a while one of us will remind the other person the route isn’t going to run itself, and within a few minutes we’ve begun.

What are you putting off?

“May I interrupt you, please?”

You might be surprised how often Darrell and I ask each other that question, given how rarely -- if ever! -- the answer is no. But it’s the right thing to do. We afford everyone else we work with that courtesy. Why wouldn’t we treat each other with the same respect?

Acknowledging an interruption is a sweet way to lead into it.

Now you can build on the sweetness. Keep the exchange concise. Say, “I need this because…” Why? Because “because” is a magic word. It spares you the “why” and the “why now.”

“I need that bank statement because estimated taxes are due and they should be postmarked no later than tomorrow.” Okay, then.

Have you noticed what I’ve noticed about effective people? They never go “on and on.” They say what they need to say, with a few carefully chosen words. They put all the exclamation points in. And they understand the power of a well-placed pause.

Better stop there!

“I’ve been there. I know the feeling.”

It makes me wince to think of how often I’ve said something similar. It’s been a while, thankfully. It did eventually occur to me I can’t know how someone feels because I’m not that person.

30 RockKatie helped. As she grew up I noticed what worked when she was stinging from something. “Do you want to talk about it?” was a great place to start. “Please, tell me more” never backfired. Listening, really listening, was magic. I waited for an invitation before I said much of anything. It didn’t matter what I thought about what had happened. What mattered was how she felt about it.

And, sure. After the storm had blown over I wasn’t shy about asking if she wanted to hear about a similar storm I’d weathered. She always took me up on it. Her feelings had gotten their due, and now she could entertain other perspectives.

Your children can teach you a lot if you don't pretend you already know it all.

Have you ever lived with so much uncertainty you’re forever frozen with fear?

Sometimes I forget to be afraid, and it’s always because I'm taking action.

Begin. Keep going. And don’t give up. You might not “arrive,” whatever that means. But it won’t matter, because you will have become a better person -- stronger, more interesting -- for setting out, and staying the course.