The Blog

Who inspires you?
January 22, 2019

There’s one thing I don’t miss about the way we used to do the talk show, interviewing a different guest every week -- which is finding a different person to interview every week. Especially if that person was a celebrity. Celebrities are fun but they’re a lot of work. You’re not generally working with the celebs in advance of the interview. You’re working with their people, and the more people involved the more likely things will go wrong. Worth it? I guess.

It would’ve definitely been worth it had I had the opportunity to talk with someone who writes stories -- and especially headlines -- for The Onion. On a recent walk back to Katie’s apartment from possibly the dreamiest night we’ve ever spent in Manhattan (which is saying a lot), we kept swapping Onion headlines as we tried desperately not to fall over with laughter. Have I ever had this much fun? Well, yes. A few minutes earlier! But this was the icing on that proverbial cake.

Katie once told me she hopes to be as silly as me one day. Who needs an Academy Award when your child has that to report? But I can imagine my acceptance speech: “I’d like to thank the folks at The Onion…”

When Katie was little she bumped her head -- hard -- on the back of a chair at McDonald’s. She started howling, which wasn’t her style unless she was in a lot of pain.

I almost started crying at her report: “I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

This is the four-year-old version of taking one-hundred percent responsibility for your life. It was, as the kids say, impressive AF. I was in awe, but I snapped out of it long enough to realize there was something I could do to help. “I’ll count to ten,” I told her. “I promise you’ll feel better by the time I’m finished.”

It worked. And it made me wonder if we ever outgrow the need for reassurance that (1) we’re not alone in our pain, and (2) whatever it is won’t always hurt.

clockI’m really bad at estimating the length of time a task will take. You don’t have to take my word for it. We call it “Mom time,” which is code for “anybody’s guess.”

“How much longer before you’re ready?” Darrell will ask. For example. I’ll give him an estimate. He takes the estimate, doubles it -- and then multiplies it by three. Or whatever. Then he goes back to whatever he was doing before he decided posing that question was worth his time.

I compensate for this aspect of my character by making a calculation similar to the one I just joked that Darrell does, and rarely book appointments close together. I’m almost never late to anything because I build in lots of margin. There’s plenty of white space in my calendar.

You probably know people who are wildly optimistic about how quickly they can navigate rush hour, beg out of a meeting, or finish a report -- only to forever be disappointing you. How does it feel to get a text from them to say they’ll be late? It’s better than nothing, as they say, but not by much.

Maybe you’ve heard eighty percent of success is showing up. Bonus points if you’re on time!

“You don’t love someone despite her limitations,” I teased Darrell after he’d lingered on one of mine. “You love someone because of them.”

I forgot where I’d heard that. “It sounds like something,” Darrell teased me back, “someone with a lot of limitations would say.”

On a good day I’m thankful for Darrell’s limitations. It keeps either one of us from being too hard on me for mine.

On a better day I realize how boring it would be to (1) be perfect, or (2) be married to perfect. Challenges make life fun. Just keep telling yourself that, okay? I’ll try to do the same.

Are you a good driver?
January 15, 2019

There’s an intersection in town that makes me jittery. Teenagers often ignore the stop sign or race toward the stop sign as if they’re going to ignore it. I don’t trust them to stop. If there’s another vehicle anywhere near the intersection as we approach I get a little anxious. Which used to make Darrell more than a little anxious.

Not anymore!

Now we’re both anxious -- or at least, on guard -- not only at this intersection but everywhere else. Why? How many people text while driving.

The other night we almost got into a head-on collision with a van that crossed the centerline of four lanes of traffic right into the path of our Honda. Darrell had just enough time to (1) move us out of harm’s way, and (2) see the driver was texting. We narrowly avoided something really, really bad.

Darrell used to think I was too defensive while driving. Now we both think there’s no such thing.

Be careful out there.

What matters to you?
January 14, 2019

They say looks don’t matter, but what if they matter…to you? I say go ahead and make peace with that. Make peace with being attracted to people who look a certain way. Make peace with feeling better about yourself when you look a certain way.

Otherwise? You’ll be hunched over, metaphorically speaking, from the weight of the shame.

Not a good look!

140707 5In an elementary school art class in a small town in northwestern Minnesota, the children are on the floor under their desks. They’re painting their little-kid masterpieces on paper that’s been taped to the underside of those desks, each child a Michelangelo in the making.

What a picture, huh?

It’s been years, and I doubt I’m the only one whose heart does a little dance when she sees that art teacher around town. We showered Katie’s teachers with appreciation when she was in school and for many years after that. I’m sure this gentleman knows what we think of him. What he might not know is how fondly we’ll always think of him.

Recently I got an eMail from a listener in Holland, Michigan. She was asking about an interview I did with Dr. Darcia Narvaez, psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, almost two years ago. Darcia talked at great length about the importance of not letting your baby “cry it out.” The listener wanted a copy of the interview to give to a new mom.

I don’t mind telling you I live for things like this. But the most interesting thing, to me, was what I was doing the day before I heard from that listener -- wondering, as I bet you sometimes do, if your work really matters.

Maybe it does!

“Don’t get your hopes up.”

Have you ever made that suggestion? I forgive you, not that you asked. It would be difficult to find more good intentions in one statement. But you can crush someone’s spirit with it if you level it too often or with too much enthusiasm.

Why shouldn’t someone get her hopes up? Because you did, and were disappointed? Do yourself and the dreamer a favor. Give yourself another chance. Don’t be the weatherman whose reflections in a newspaper column about turning forty included this little gem: “What I have right now is essentially my lot in life.” He talked about what he hasn’t done and added, “What bothers me is that I likely never will. I know myself too well.”

Isn’t that sad? I mean, forty is a baby -- but that’s beside the point. “What age did you give up on your dreams?” is an awful question to be able to answer. Don’t do that to your children. Nothing puts a drag on a child’s spirit, as they say, as the unlived life of her parents. And in doing right by your children you’ll do even better by yourself. Because, really. Who wants to leave this earth, as Gregg Levoy puts it, kicking and screaming and begging for more time?